Published on December 05, 2005

His Majesty cites his own example in calling for tolerance of others’ opinions; urges practice of Sufficiency Economy

The King is not infallible and is ready to accept criticism, King Bhumibol Adulyadej said in his address to the Thai people yesterday on the eve of his birthday.

His Majesty the King, who turns 78 today, sprang a surprise by discussing royal power and prerogatives in his annual address, which was closely followed by Thai people nationwide.

Accompanying His Majesty the King were HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and HRH Princess Chulabhorn Valayalaksana.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shina-watra led the Cabinet and their spouses, dignitaries and citizens to seek an audience with the King at the Sala Dusitalai, Chitralada Palace.

His Majesty the King will celebrate his 60th anniversary on the throne next year.

In his speech His Majesty refuted the long-accepted tradition of constitutional monarchy that the King can do no wrong.

He said: “If the King can do no wrong, it is akin to looking down upon him because the King is not being treated as a human being. But the King can do wrong.”

It is a violation of the law to criticise the monarchy in Thailand where criticising the King amounts to committing lese majeste, liable to punishment by the law. In Section 8 of the Thai Constitution, it states: “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.”

But His Majesty the King welcomed criticism – if it helps to keep the monarchy informed and helps to correct any mistakes.

“If you say that the King cannot be criticised, it suggests that the King is not human,” His Majesty said.

“If someone offers criticisms suggesting that the King is wrong, then I would like to be informed of their opinion. If I am not, that could be problematic... If we hold that the King cannot be criticised or violated, then the King ends up in a difficult situation.”

His Majesty said everyone should practice awareness in everything they do and think. He admitted that before he became King, he experienced moments of regret, but after taking the throne, he became more careful in his actions, because if he was not careful enough, he would have been faced with death.

“If we do wrong, we will all die. Everybody is in this same situation,” His Majesty said.

“Those who hold a high rank in society, if they are not careful enough, they will die too… I am not condemning anyone, but if we are not careful, Thailand will perish. I ask you all to be careful, very careful with what you think, speak, or do. If you think it is right, go ahead and do it.”

He said the King had never imprisoned people for such violations. Even King Rama VI (King Vajiravudh) did not punish anyone for rebelling against him. His Majesty added that during his reign, he has never allowed anybody accused of violating him to go to prison.

“If they get sent to prison, I pardon them. If they don’t go to prison, I won’t sue them, because those who violate the King and are punished are not the ones who are in trouble. It would be the King who was in trouble. It is strange, but the lawyers like to send people to prison (for allegedly violating the King).”

His Majesty the King also called on everybody to adopt his Sufficiency Economy theory as a way forward, echoing remarks made by His Majesty in 1996, before Thailand plunged into a full-blown economic crisis the following year.

The principles of the Sufficiency Economy urge Thailand to stand on its own two feet no matter what happens in the outside world. People must thus live within their means and use the country’s natural resources wisely. This theory is exemplified through the more than 3,000 projects nationwide sponsored by the palace.

His Majesty the King said if that if the prime minister and his spouse and all other Cabinet members practised economic self-sufficiency, Thailand could sustain itself for another 40 years.

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