The Dec. 14 editorial “Thai king’s call for unity” is overly pessimistic in assessing the Thai monarchy. Similar to the Imperial institution in Japan, the Thai monarchy is widely respected in Thailand. It is the country’s principal institution that has evolved amid changing circumstances for more than 700 years. As such, it will remain a main pillar of Thai society.
Given that Thais have had such a great king as monarch for so long, it is normal for people to be apprehensive about the future. Be that as it may, it is inappropriate to prejudge or speculate about how his successor would be.
His Majesty the King’s extended stay at Siriraj Hospital is a matter of choice. While there, the king has continued to perform his multifarious duties — granting audiences to state officials and working on his various projects to uplift the hardship facing the Thai people, including during the recent flood.
In fact, on Nov. 24, the king took a boat trip to preside over the opening of two of his royally initiated projects to alleviate traffic congestion and flooding in Bangkok’s vicinity. These are the two new bridges across Chao Phraya River, which forms part of a transportation ring-road connecting the city’s main port with industrial areas in nearby provinces, and a water gate at Lud Pho Canal, a waterway shortcut to help drain overflowing water in Chao Phraya River into the Gulf of Thailand.
The editorial is right, though, to state that Thais should take the king’s words, as expressed in his annual birthday speech, to heart. Indeed, the fact that political differences are now debated in Parliament rather than on the streets is an encouraging sign, as is the commitment of the present government to achieve reconciliation, which should bear fruit in the not-too-distant future. Rather than the sense of gloom that the editorial tries to convey, Thailand today is moving forward with a clear sense of purpose and optimism.