A Millennial Thai recalls with fondness how King Bhumibol Adulyadej led the nation along a road to growth and sufficiency. By Puvanat Kuntanarumitkul
While I have spent most of my life overseas, away from my home country of Thailand, my feeling of admiration and loyalty for His Majesty still holds strong. Like many in my generation, I did not have the opportunity to personally witness His Majesty’s accomplishments throughout his seven decades on the throne.
However, the tales of these feats have been passed like folklore by word of mouth. Mothers telling their daughters about how The King would personally wade through the fields, working with the common man to solve the country’s irrigation problems. Fathers mentoring their sons about The King’s concept of a sufficient economy, and the importance of moderation.
I still remember a time several years ago when my mother would discipline me to squeeze every last inch of toothpaste out, citing a popular story of how even His Majesty the King does not waste a single drop. Through these stories, His Majesty became a nationally respected figure as well as an integral part of Thai culture.
An International Reputation
Even overseas, no matter which country I visit, there would be an individual who has heard stories of His Majesty, commenting on how charismatic a leader he must have been to invoke such loyalty in the people.
In Japan, I came across a shrine which symbolised the bonds of friendship between Japan and Thailand nurtured by his Majesty. On a flight to Dubai, I met an elderly Emirati who shared with me his admiration of His Majesty’s revolutionising concept in the field of agriculture.
Whenever such an interaction would occur, a feeling of pride for my country and admiration for His Majesty would surge through me. To be able to connect with so many different cultures on a global scale shows how massive an impact His Highness had in his efforts to network Thailand with other countries around the modern world, developing the major economy that it is today.
Legacy Of Hope
With his passing, His Majesty left more than a simple legacy. He left behind a set of concepts and ideals that would be followed by the people of Thailand for generations to come. Whether it be through his innovations in the agricultural industry or his philosophy of the “sufficiency economy”, His Majesty will inevitably remain in the hearts of the Thai people, regardless of gender, age or ethnicity, acting as a spiritual pillar of support in troubling times.
With the recent political instability and social unrest, a future without the unifying symbol of Thailand looks disheartening. However, I believe the legacy left behind by His Majesty and his sincere wish for peace in the nation will help guide the people along the road ahead.
Puvanat Kuntanarumitkul is a university student currently pursuing a BBA in Finance at the S P Jain School of Global Management, Sydney. He was born in Bangkok, Thailand. He conducted his primary and secondary education in Singapore.