04/19/2006, 00.00
THAILAND
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United Nations gives award to Thai King Bhumibol for his initiatives in favour of his people

by Weena Kowitwanij

In nearly 60 years of reign the king promoted a series of economic as well as cultural and social initiatives in favour of the population.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Thai Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathienthai told parliament yesterday that the United Nations is going to give King Bhumibol Adulayadej an award. The minister told the assembly that the UN permanent ambassador informed him that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan requested an audience with the sovereign on any day during 25-27 May, 2006, to present him with the United Nations Development Programme Award "for his dedication to develop and industriously uplift the living condition of Thai people all through his 60-year reign".

In that period, King Bhumibol helped the Thai people through a series of proposals and reforms. In the health field, the sovereign was instrumental in getting mobile health units established, something important in a country where 80 per cent of the population stills earns its living from agriculture.

In education, he promoted the development of satellite-based education programmes that have given students living even in the remotest corners of the realm the opportunity to follow the same studies as their fellow students in Kaikangwon School, which is located near the King's Palace in Hua Hin province.

The monarch played an important role in developing water conservancy and building irrigation facilities that have enabled farmers to grow rice even in the generally dry summer time.

He has promoted the idea of a more self-sufficient economy based on spending what is necessary and consuming what is locally grown, drawing support among many Thais.

He has also urged his subjects to read at least one book on Dharma (religious virtue) per year that encourages discipline, forgiveness, saving and praying for wisdom and courage.

"Thais should show filial devotion and obedience to their king, a righteous and wise man," said Card Michai Kitbunchu, head of the Thai Bishops' Conference. "Forgiving is a great victory and if people have love in their hearts there shall be peace amongst Thais."

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX, was born on December 5, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA). He is the ninth monarch of the House of Chakkri that has ruled Thailand since 1782. His grandfather was King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910) and his father, Prince Mahidol of Songkhla, was a student at Harvard University when he was born. He married Princess Sirikit Kitiyakara in April 1950 and was officially crowned on May 5, 1950.

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