Awhile back, I promised to let you know why I think that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand is possibly the coolest world leader of all time, and I haven't forgotten that promise.
Anyone who knows me might find it strange that I consider a king to be praiseworthy. That would be because you haven't done your homework. Here's your chance :
Click HERE to read virtually all there is to read about this man, and see if you don't agree that this is one of those very very few Good people in the world. He started out as the Man Who Would Not Be King, and has become, to my mind, someone who has spent his allotted time here on Earth in some of the most admirable ways possible.
Before we moved here, I had heard that HM the King was revered in Thailand - fanatically so. I'd read about an American-owned Thai restaurant (in D.C.) which used a [photoshopped] picture of the king dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and sporting a birthday hat to promote the one-year anniversary of the restaurant, and the resulting letters to the restaurant (wailing protests and death threats, for mocking the king, from very angry Thais). Also, I recently found out Thailand is only one of two countries in the world (The Sultancy of Brunei being the other) which still has the charge of lese majeste on the books (although the king has said that these charges wouldn't be taken seriously any more).
I thought at that time (before moving here) that maybe this was one of those countries in which "I Love The King" is just a bit of patriotic lip service - "I Love Whichever King Happens to be Sitting on the Big Gilded Throne". I have since come to realize that the Thai people don't love him because he's King - they love him for who he is, and for what he's done. In fact, some of my students have let me in on what seems to be a national attitude here, and that is that the next king isn't much liked, much less adored like King Bhumibol (pronounced 'Pu-mee-pon').
Anyway - I like this guy, and if you spend a little time reading up on him and his life, I think you'd be hard pressed to disagree. The Bangkok Post has put up an impressive bio, and it's really worth the time to read it. They certainly have saved me a lot of typing - all the reasons that I could have given for being awfully impressed with the king are there. Enjoy it, please. In the meantime, here's a picture of one of the reasons to be impressed with the king - he hung out with The King!
Posted at Sunday, November 26, 2006 by chris