The King misses the traditional birthday speech : “a little sick”

Thailand’s ailing king failed to deliver his traditional speech to the nation Thursday on the eve of his 81st birthday because of ill health — a stunning development that is likely to deepen the country’s political paralysis.

Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn went on national radio to inform Thais that his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, was unable to deliver the speech “because he was a little sick.” […]

But after a one-hour delay, the radio announced that Vajiralongkorn would take the king’s place at the function. The prince spoke for only three minutes to inform the nation of his father’s condition. (AP)

3 minutes… So it’s fair to say that there wasn’t any speech. The previous years, the King used to give a long (and sometimes spicy) speech.

Many people were waiting for this year’s speech, with great impatience, after the political crisis of the previous weeks… They wanted to get some guidance from the monarch. It didn’t happen.

And another striking detail, related to… protocol :

Immediately after the crown prince’s short address, his sister, Princess Sirindorn, spoke to the nation to say the king was suffering from bronchitis and inflammation of the esophagus.

She said he was “eating fine” on Wednesday but had a “lot of phlegm” and was unable to eat properly Thursday.

Then the article of Associated Press gives a very worrying view of the last public apparition of the King (wednesday) :

He looked haggard and weak while inspecting a guard of honor by royal troops. He spoke briefly, reading hoarsely from a text, and seemed barely able to keep his head up.

The King is 81 years old. And had several health issues in the past (3 weeks of hospitalisation one year ago, and other before read here).

5 Responses to “The King misses the traditional birthday speech : “a little sick””

  1. 1 Bedwyr 4 December 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Trust your uncle Bedwyr.

    Bedwyr does not like to say ‘I told you so”

    But he will. Come the day. Which is not far off.


  2. 2 Daniel 4 December 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Bless him, but his is not the time to call in sick. He has been meddling in politics for all his life, apparently for the good of the country, so why stop now? Then again, if he really is that sick, that he can’t make his birthday speech, and should he have to go any time soon, then the real crisis has not even begun yet…

  3. 3 fall 5 December 2008 at 3:02 am

    So does that means the Silver Bullet was still in the chamber?(no pun intend)

    By the way, why not the HMQ speak on his behalf?

  4. 4 Bedwyr 5 December 2008 at 5:31 am

    By the way, why not the HMQ speak on his behalf?

    Probably because they wanted to keep it low-key. Appearance is everything in Thailand and the decision would have been carefully considered.

    Think about this.

    HMK, against a background of unprecedented political turmoil and equally unprecedented resentment among many Thais for the Palace, prepares an eagerly-awaited speech, knowing the dependence Thais have for his guidance.

    Nothing trivial would have prevented that. No way. Not a chance.

    Had a speech existed, the CP would have been careful to deliver it as prepared. But instead… nothing. The only conclusion one can reasonably some to is that the King had no speech prepared or that it has been decided by the Palace that it should not be delivered. In either case… why?

    Why the CP and the Princess in a deliberate and planned double representative role? What messages of unity are delivered by that rather odd occurrence(as has been noted elsewhere)?

    Then there are conflicting reports as to the nature of the illness. A mild cold. Bronchitis. A little phlegm. Esophagitis (one cause of which is radiation therapy). Loss of appetite. Digestive tract blockage. Intestinal blockage. Tired. Exhausted. ‘A little unwell’. Significantly and specifically, no fever (so local infections may not be the cause, nor a cold or the ‘flu).

    Were it someone common – like you perhaps, or me. What would we make of the following?

    81 years old. Noticeable rapid decline in physical and motor appearance. Familial history of intestinal cancer and stroke. Suffered a stroke 2 years previously. Persistent rumours of rapid and significantly diminished cognitive function recently. Inability to deliver a scheduled speech for the first time. Ever. At a time of unprecedented anticipation.

    On their own, perhaps something, perhaps nothing. All things taken together?

    Bedwyr (doing the job of the Thai press for them)

  5. 5 ThaiCrisis 5 December 2008 at 5:44 am

    Bravo Bedwyr, a very good summary and analysis. Couldn’t agree more.

    You should do my job sometimes… I need some vacations. 😉

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Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.

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