Thailand Head of State: King Bhumibol Adulyadej


When the company run a business that have globalized or regionalized, the importance of having social security and stability in the country where you are doing business is most important. Thailand is both a market as well as a production base for many foreign companies.

Social unrest in Thailand will affect its trading partner in terms of impacts on currency fluctuations and share holdings in Thai companies.  It will have an impact on regional stability and economy.

Civil unrest by their nature erupts suddenly. For the HR practitioner, the chief concerns is for the safety of expatriates and their families who are deployed to Thailand on the company’s business as well as regional employees who are travelling into Thailand, either for business or pleasure.

Chief Concern

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand had ascended to the throne in 1946.He is the longest serving monarch in the world. He is a man of many gifts and talents. He has received numerous national and overseas decorations and honorary appointments as monarch of Thailand. The list can be found in Wikipedia.

A 1932 coup overthrew the kingdom’s absolute monarchy in favor of a constitutional monarchy. The King continued to be a unifying force for Thailand despite of Thailand being labelled as the country with the most attempted coups.

“Political scientist Jay Ulfelder, an expert in failed states, proposed that one possible reason that Thailand had so many coups is that in the history of Thailand’s coups the government has always eventually ceded control over the nation back to a civilian government.

When these civilian leaders fail to quell unrest in the nation, the military has repeatedly stepped in to crack down on freedoms and avenues of dissent, as well as oust the government leadership. Throughout these coups the king has acted as a stabilizing force. His decades-long presence allows for a sense of continuity and stability even while the army ousts the elected government.” (source: Why Thailand Has Had More Coups Than Almost Any Other Country,The World Post, 14 January 2015).

The King is now age 87 and recently his health has been on the decline. As reported in International Business Times, 5 December 2014 article “Who Will Succeed Thailand’s King Bhumibol?” that since his coronation, King Bhumibol Adulyadej had experienced two heart procedures, a spinal operation, a stroke, a throat ailment, bleeding in the brain, depression, diverticulitis of the large intestine and a lung infection and recently the removal of his gall bladder. He may also have Parkinson’s disease.

The main concern is about who will succeed him after he dies, or abdicates, from his 64-year reign. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, the rightful heir to the throne, is deeply unpopular among both the populous and establishment.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand: A Lesson in Humility

As described in International Business Times, 5 December 2014, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is perhaps the most revered, hailed as a near-deity in politically turbulent Thailand.

His portrait hangs on government buildings, on roadside billboards, in taxis and in living rooms and politicians often seem in competition with each other to proclaim their love for him. Thai children are taught that respect for the king, patriotism and religious devotion are closely intertwined, lending the royal a seemingly divine status.

The King was given a Human Development Award Lifetime Award by UNDP IN 2006. This is the first time that such an Award has been given.

The UNDP brochure wrote: “Human development puts people and their wellbeing at the centre of development and provides an alternative to the traditional, more narrowly focused, economic growth development paradigm. Human development is about people, about expanding their choices and capabilities to live long, healthy, knowledgeable, and creative lives. Human development embraces equitable economic growth, sustainability, human rights, participation, security, and political freedom. (Source:

It is a lesson for business corporations on the importance of humility.

History Channel :King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand – The People’s King

BBC: Soul of a Nation – The Royal Family of Thailand (1979)

History of Coups in Thailand

The website published the reproduction of article from the Washington Post on 22 May 2014 titled “Thailand Coup: A Brief History of Past Military Coups”

1932: The bloodless coup of 1932, also known as the Siamese revolution of 1932, was a turning point in Thailand’s history. A small group of military officers, known as the “Four Musketeers”, overthrew King Prajadhipok, ending nearly seven centuries of absolute monarchy and establishing a constitutional monarchy. Thereafter, Thailand got its first constitution, paving the way for social and political reforms.

1933: Military stepped in to remove the first prime minister of Siam after 1932, Phraya Manopakorn Nititada. Phraya Phahon, who played a key role, then became Siam’s second prime minister, a position he served for five years.

1947: Thai military stepped in again to remove the government of Rear Admiral Thawan Thamrongnawasawat, which was marred by scandals and corruption. The “Coup Group”, put Khuang Aphaiwong, a founder of the Democrat Party, as the prime minister. The coup solidified the role of the army in Thai politics.

1951: The Silent Coup was attempted while King Bhumibol Adulyadej was in Lausanne, Switzerland. The group then appointed Field Marshal Phibunsongkhram as the new prime minister.

1957: When the rigged parliamentary election of 1957 continued to keep Phibunsongkhram in power, mass protests occurred in Bangkok, making King Bhumibol Adulyadej unhappy. That led Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat to stage a coup, and Pote Sarasin was appointed the head of an interim government.

1958: Sarit, the military leader, led a coup in 1958. It heralded the arrival of a new authoritarian era in Thai politics.

1971: Saying that there was a need to suppress the Communists, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn staged the coup of his own government and dissolved parliament.

1976: Less than eight months after an unsuccessful overthrow attempt, the Thai military staged a coup and overthrew Prime Minister Seni Pramoj. In a nationally broadcast address, Admiral Sangad Chaloryu declared himself in charge of the newly formed National Administrative Reform Council, which would oversee martial law in the country.

1977: Thanin Kraivichien, only in government for one year, was overthrown in a bloodless military coup led by the man who had put him in power, Admiral Sangad Chaloryu, after Thanom was accused of leading a repressive government.

1991: Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan was arrested on his way to meet the king, where he was reportedly planning to ask to appoint a deputy defence minister viewed as a rival to the military elite. General Sunthorn Kongsompong assumed power as leader of a National Peacekeeping Guard.

Sept 19, 2006: The armed forces dismissed the government and revoked the country’s 1997 constitution. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on a visit to New York, declares a state of emergency in Bangkok after news of the coup.

May 22, 2014: Thai Army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha declares military coup after months of deadly political turmoil.
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Patriarch revered for humility