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  • Date :
  • 6/9/2011

Today in History:

Bhumibol Adulyadej Becomes King of Thailand (1946)

bhumbol_coronation

Bhumibol Adulyadej (Royal Institute: Phumiphon Adunyadet; Thai: ??????????????, pronounced [p???m?p??n àd?nj?dè?t]  ( ); see full title below; born 5 December 1927) is the current King of Thailand.

He is known as Rama IX (and within the Thai royal family and to close associates simply as Lek. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he is the world's longest-serving current head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. He was admitted to Siriraj Hospital in September 2009 for flu and pneumonia and has remained in the hospital since. Rumors about his ill-health caused Thai financial markets to tumble in October 2009.

Although Bhumibol is legally a constitutional monarch, he has made several decisive interventions in Thai politics. He was credited with facilitating Thailand's transition to democracy in the 1990s, although he has supported numerous military regimes, including Sarit Dhanarajata's during the 1960s and the Council for National Security in 2006-2008. During his long reign he has seen over 15 coups, 16 constitutions, and 27 changes of prime ministers. He has also used his influence to stop military coups, including attempts in 1981 and 1985.

Bhumibol is revered by many Thais, despite what the Thai government claims are serious threats to overthrow the monarchy. Bhumibol is legally considered "inviolable", and insults, claims that he is involved in politics, and criticism of him can result in three to fifteen years in jail, though he claimed in his 2005 birthday speech that he would not take lèse majesté seriously.

Bhumibol is very much credited in his country for the localist policy he has introduced, although he currently holds major shares in several private companies, including, more than 40% in Sammakorn, 30% in SCG,[9] 30% in Thai Insurance PLC and 20% in SCB. Forbes estimated Bhumibol's personal fortune, including property managed by the Crown Property Bureau which is considered the national property, to be US$30 billion in 2010, and he has been consistently placed at number one of the magazine's list of "The World's Richest Royals". Nonetheless, Crown Property Bureau spends a lot of money on public welfare like youth development and conservation programs. Bhumbibol himself has made donations to numerous development projects in Thailand, in areas like agriculture, environment, public health, occupational promotion, water resources, communications and public welfare. Commemoration of Bhumibol's contributions to Thailand are therefore ubiquitous in the Thai media.


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