BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA – Thailand in 2016 is forever bookmarked as the year in which the country lost its guiding light. King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on Oct. 13, having been on the throne for 70 years. While the whole nation has plunged into a restricted mode of mourning, the departure of the king has already raised the level of anxiety among the people over what the next reign will look like.
King Bhumibol was first hospitalized in 2009. Certainly his deteriorating health became a subject of concern not only among the Thai power holders but also domestic businesses and foreign investors. The first half of 2016 was colored by relentless news of Bhumibol’s near death. The king’s illness represented one of the main driving forces behind the coup of 2014. The military wanted to ensure that the royal succession would be handled in ways beneficial to the old elites.