Thailand: Monarchs Said To Be Recovering from Latest Bouts of Ill Health

BenarNews staff
thai-royals-620.jpg Women show their support for Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit at Siriraj Hospital, June 9, 2016.

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is being treated for fever following a possible infection in his blood while Queen Sirikit has a lung infection, according to recent bulletins on the condition of the octogenarian royal couple who have been in ill health in recent years.

Both of them are recovering in a hospital, separate statements by the palace said.

A monthly update on the revered 88-year-old king’s health by the palace on Monday said doctors continued to use antibiotics to treat the infection causing a low fever.

“In the month of July 2016 a low fever was present,” said the palace statement, according to Reuters news agency. “Blood tests showed a possible infection and physicians therefore had to administer antibiotics.”

“After the treatment His Majesty’s condition showed some improvement.”

In a June statement, the palace said the monarch was treated for “water on the brain,” or hydrocephalus, a build-up of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain.

“The medical team has continuously monitored the condition of the cerebrospinal fluid and found drainage of cerebrospinal fluid throughout the month of July to be satisfactory,” Reuters quoted the latest statement as saying.

Meanwhile, Sirikit, 83, suffered a lung infection, but her condition has improved, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

Sirikit was moved on July 24 from Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, where Bhumibol has been living for most of the past few years, to Chulalongkorn Hospital for treatment of minor lung inflammation and blood infection, AP quoted a palace statement as saying.

It said that after treatment, symptoms of fever and cough had subsided.

The Siriraj Hospital has served as the de facto royal residence as Bhumibol and Sirikit have also suffered strokes, with the queen’s apparently being the more severe case, according to AP.

Bhumibol, the world’s longest serving monarch, since 1946, was last seen in public on Jan. 11, when he spent several hours visiting his palace in the Thai capital.

Tightly controlled

Anxiety over the king’s health and an eventual succession has formed the backdrop to more than a decade of bitter political divide in Thailand that has included military takeovers and sometimes violent street demonstrations, Reuters said.

News about the royal family is tightly controlled in Thailand, where laws protecting the royals from insult make it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the king, queen, heir to the throne or regent.

On Monday, the mother of a prominent student activist was indicted by a Thai military court on royal defamation charges over a one-word Facebook message.

Patnaree Chankij, 40, was initially arrested in May by Thai police for violating Thailand's severe royal defamation law, which bans disparaging the monarchy with up to 15 years in prison on each count, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.

Her lawyers say the charge stems from writing “ja” – the Thai equivalent of “yeah” – in response to a private Facebook message from someone that allegedly insulted the royal family.

The case has been seized upon by activists as a terrifying example of how the ruling military junta has broadened its interpretation of the crime to include even vague references to the monarchy, AFP said.

Police eventually dropped the charges after an outcry, but they forwarded the case to prosecutors from the military who have pressed ahead.

“A military court today accepted the case filed by the military prosecutor,” lawyer Anon Nampa, told AFP, adding his client was granted bail ahead of an upcoming plea hearing.

Use of Thailand’s Lese-Majeste law and military courts has skyrocketed since former army chief turned Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-Cha seized power in May 2014, sparking international condemnation, including from the United Nations.

Record-breaking 25- and 30-year sentences have since been handed down for people over Facebook posts, while a man even found himself arrested for making sarcastic comments about the king’s late dog.

Many convictions occur behind closed doors while media must heavily self-censor when reporting cases to avoid falling foul of the law.


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