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King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand Dies at 88
A woman cries while holding up a portrait of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej while his body is being moved from the Bangkok hospital where he died to the Grand Palace, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)
This week’s snapshot focuses on the 13OCT death of Thailand’s longtime monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and the ensuing uncertainty over the nation’s future. Bhumibol was born in the US and was an important ally for Washington in combating the spread of communism in Southeast Asia during the Cold War. Many Thais came to see the King as a unifying-figure who they saw as being dedicated to the wellbeing of the citizens. Moreover, the military junta, which seized power in a coup two years ago, derives its authority from the king. The announcement of the king’s death was met with with anxiety, as critics charge his son lacks his father’s charisma and has dealt with his enemies ruthlessly, displaying his low regard for democratic institutions. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn decided he would not immediately ascend to the throne as King Rama X, and Prem Tinsulanonda, a former Thai prime minister and head of the king’s advisory council, will serve as a caretaker to the throne. This move may temporarily assuage fears of the possible reign of the Crown Prince who has been embroiled in scandals over the years and has a problematic friendship with the ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The country’s economy is uncertain without a uniting figure. Low-level tension could develop into the reemergence of conflict when the military decides to hold elections, which are scheduled for late 2017.
News summary of events during the week of 10OCT16 – 17OCT16
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Paul Chambers, Research Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Chiang Mai University
“The instability brought by his death will definitely diminish tourism.”
Bill Hayton, Associate Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House
“In 70 years, everything else in the country changed, but he was a symbol of stability.”
Masato Horie, Analyst, Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co.
“There are very few students educated in science and technology. Japanese companies would move out of Thailand if they judged that it doesn’t pay to do business there anymore.”
Tom Pepinsky, Associate Professor, Cornell University
“His death means that the Thai political system must find an alternative focal point around which to unite the country’s factionalized population. It’s simply impossible to imagine that will transfer immediately to the crown prince. The monarchy’s narrative is going to have to change from deference for an individual to deference for an institution.”
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Political-Science Professor, Chulalongkorn University
“He has left behind a great nation, a grieving and grateful nation. There are detractors and critics who might argue that the monarchy has impeded democratic development over the past decade, but in the broader, overarching perspective, Thailand would not be where it is today without this monarchy and this monarch.”
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Byline: David Brunnstrom
Date: 13 October 2016
The death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday adds a new layer of uncertainty to U.S. President Barack Obama’s faltering “pivot” to Asia less than a month before the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential elections.
The king was important in cementing the long-standing alliance between the United States and Thailand after World War Two, in a reign that spanned the Vietnam War and development of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which Washington still considers vital to maintaining its influence in the region.
Media: Associated Press
Date: 13 October 2016
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand began its first day in 70 years without a king on Friday in a profound state of mourning, with people across the shaken nation dressed in black following the death of the world’s longest-reigning monarch, Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The 88-year-old king had spent much of the last decade hospitalized and the momentous news, announced in a palace statement Thursday, had long been both anticipated and feared. But the nation remained stable and life continued largely as usual with most shops, banks and tourist sites open.
Byline: Khettiya Jittapong and Pairat Temphairojana
Date: 14 October 2016
As Thais begin a year of mourning for their king, parties and celebrations will be toned down, particularly over the next month, temporarily crimping consumer and tourist spending in an economy that has been struggling for traction in recent years.
With the government asking for people to “refrain from festivities” for 30 days, and embassies advising tourists to show restraint after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, even Bangkok’s bustling bars and the country’s famous holiday resorts could go unusually quiet.
Date: 14 October 2016
The streets of the Thai capital turned into rivers of black with tens of thousands of loyal subjects weeping and bowing as they paid respect to their king as his body was transported from the hospital where his reign ended to the palace where it began seven decades earlier.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88, passed away Thursday at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, marking the end of a reign that saw Thailand transition from an agrarian backwater to Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy. His only son and heir apparent Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, led the procession from the hospital, across the Chaophraya, or River of Kings, and into the golden-spired Grand Palace.
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 14 October 2016
Tokyo, Oct 14, 2016 (AFP) – Thailand’s biggest foreign investor, Japan, said Friday it would offer support to its firms in the kingdom as concerns grow that the death of its revered monarch could derail the economy.
Japan has more than 4,000 companies operating in Thailand, dubbed the “Detroit of Southeast Asia” due to the huge number of auto manufacturing plants.
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