World Remembers Thai King Bhumibol as ‘Towering Presence’

BenarNews staff
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161013-TH-world-reacts-620.jpg The U.N. General Assembly pauses for a moment of silence to mark the death of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Oct. 13, 2016.

Messages of grief and sympathy poured in from world leaders and ordinary people following Thursday’s announcement in Thailand that King Bhumibol Adulyadej had died of complications with his health after seven decades on the throne.

The United States, a longtime ally of Thailand, was among the first to react after palace officials in Bangkok broke the news.

American President Barack Obama called the Thai monarch a valued partner and expressed “heartfelt condolences to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, her children and grandchildren, and the people of Thailand.”

“As the revered leader and only monarch that most Thais have ever known, His Majesty was a tireless champion of his country’s development and demonstrated unflagging devotion to improving the standard of living of the Thai people,” the president said in a statement issued by the White House.

“His Majesty leaves a legacy of care for the Thai people that will be cherished by future generations,” said Obama who called his 2012 visit with King Bhumibol an honor.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement noting the late king’s ties to the city in the Boston area where the monarch was born.

“His Majesty the King was one of America’s most valued and trusted friends, and was the only monarch in history ever born in our country. The Bhumibol Adulyadej Square in the city of Cambridge, in my home state of Massachusetts, marks his birthplace and will remain an enduring memorial to the special bond he created between our peoples,” Kerry said.

In New York, the U.N. General Assembly paused to observe a moment of silence in the king’s memory.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Bhumibol for his “long dedication to his country and his legacy as a unifying national leader.”

“He was revered by the people of Thailand and highly respected internationally,” the U.N. chief said.

‘Close to the people’

Leaders from countries in South and Southeast Asia conveyed their sympathy to the people of Thailand as well.

“On behalf of the government and people of Indonesia I express my deep condolences over the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej,” Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said.

“The world has lost a leader who was close to the people, a carrier of peace, unity and prosperity for the people of Thailand. The simplicity of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his concern for the people should become a model for us,” Jokowi said in a statement.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak praised King Bhumibol for his contribution to Southeast Asia.

“King Bhumibol was a towering presence whose contribution to Thailand, and the rest of the region, is beyond words. We join the Thai people in mourning his loss,” Najib said in a statement.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted two tweets about the monarch.

“[The] people of India and I join the people of Thailand in grieving the loss of one of the tallest leaders of our times, King Bhumibol Adulyadej,” Modi wrote. “King Bhumibol Adulyadej or Rama 9, was widely revered by his people. My thoughts are with his countless well-wishers & family.”

The leader of the Himalayan nation of Bhutan posted a tribute on Facebook.

“His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol has been an exceptional leader, a comforting presence in the lives of every Thai citizen. His Majesty’s enduring service for the welfare and wellbeing of his people will be remembered with honor and respect,” Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck wrote.

Thais mourn

In Bangkok, thousands of mourners converged on Siriraj Hospital, where the king died in the afternoon, upon hearing the news.

Many toted portraits of the king and wept as they poured out their grief over the passing of their beloved king.

“I went to Siriraj today to learn of his condition more accurately because of many rumors. But he passed away, so I can only give the King my prayers,” Bangkok resident Parichai Satasuk told BenarNews.

Razlan Rashid in Kuala Lumpur and Nurdin Hasan in Jakarta contributed to this report.


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