King Bhumibol Adulyadej / Thais are encouraged to do good deeds on late king’s birthday anniversary

By: Madeleine Keck - Posted on: December 5, 2017 | Current Affairs

Thousands of people across Thailand will gather to commemorate the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and are being asked to partake in selfless acts in his memory

Mourners gather for a candle light ceremony in memory of late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej on his birthday anniversary in Bangkok, Thailand on 05 December 2016 Photo: Diego Azubel/EPA

A public holiday will take place across Thailand today as citizens attend alms-giving ceremonies to do good deeds in celebration and remembrance of the birthday anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the country’s enormously adored monarch who was renowned for helping others.

Admiration for the world’s longest-reigning monarch has not declined in the 14 months since he died on 13 October 2016, as thousands of mourners lined up to visit the king’s shrine and engage in selfless acts in his memory.

The people of Thailand have recently completed a year of mourning for the late king and are being urged to donate blood in celebration of Father’s Day and National Day, the two holidays being held today in honour of King Bhumibol’s birthday anniversary.

Among an array of special activities taking place across the nation is the Father Ray Foundation SOS Rice Appeal, where citizens are asked to make a donation of a bag of rice to help feed the children living at the Father Ray Foundation.

Echoing the country’s philanthropic effort is Thailand’s National Blood Centre director Dr Ubonwan Jaroonrengrit, who announced yesterday that the centre is launching an initiative aimed at inspiring citizens to donate blood in commemoration of the late king.

“Donating blood is a selfless act. It’s giving without expecting anything in return,” Ubonwan told Thailand’s newspaper The Nation.

Bhumibol took reign of Thailand 70 years ago after his predecessor, who was also his brother, King Ananda Mahidol was found shot through the head in Bangkok’s Grand Palace. At the time of his initiation, Bhumibol was 18.

King Bhumibol was widely praised throughout his reign over the country. He was thought of as the epitome of Thailand’s national identity, and has also been perceived as a stabilising influence in a kingdom that had been ragged by a series of military coups and violent protests.

Thailand’s Ambassador to Korea, Sarun Charoensuwan, announced in a speech on Friday that Bhumibol worked diligently to improve the lives of the nation’s citizens, especially the rural poor.

“Through thousands of development projects he initiated over his lifetime, his majesty oversaw a period of profound social, economic and developmental transformations across Thailand. He helped the rural people become self-reliant and escape their poverty.”

In 2006, Bhumibol was presented with the United Nations’ first Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award by then-secretary-general Kofi Annan. Annan labelled the monarch as a “visionary thinker” thanks to his work commencing 4,000 improvement undertakings within agriculture, irrigation and public health.

“If human development is about putting people first,” Annan said in a statement from the UN, “there can no better advocate for it than His Majesty.”