Expats grieve with the Thai nation on Royal cremation day

Published:  24 Oct at 6 PM
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This Thursday marks the cremation of Thailand’s much-loved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who ruled the kingdom for 70 years.

The beloved monarch died last October 13, leaving the Thai nation mourning his passing and celebrating his extraordinary life spent serving his country and its people in a manner unique in Southeast Asia. Many Thais might well have been surprised at the number of expats who also mourned the death of a genuinely good man whose wide spectrum of talents included becoming an accomplished jazz musician and composer. The late king was known worldwide for playing Dixieland jazz with famed musicians such as Benny Goodman, as well as for receiving international awards celebrating his contribution to the genre.

One Australian expat who’s lived in Thailand for five years told the Bangkok Post he’s sensed a change in the Thai community since the king died, with people drawing closer together and supporting each other in their grief. His own sadness caused him to look more closely at the many contributions to Thai society made by the late monarch, especially his efforts to eradicate the infamous Golden Triangle drugs trade by changing the region’s focus to sustainable agriculture by means of growing profitable edible crops.

A New Zealander who’s lived in the kingdom for six years told reporters that, for her, the mourning period helped her understand the country’s unique culture more fully. She hopes expats who’re new to Thailand as well as tourists who’re just visiting will take the time to learn about the monarch’s life’s work on behalf of his people as this will enable them to better understand Thailand’s amazingly multi-faceted culture.

Vietnamese expat Jeff Pham has also lived and worked in Thailand for five years at the headquarters of a large company which employs both expats and Thai nationals. When the sad news broke last year, many of his Thai colleagues couldn’t help but cry, with Jeff doing his best to comfort them. No-one wanted to go out in the evening for some months, as they were still mourning the nation’s loss.

In the present day, with world instability spreading like a deadly virus and political uncertainly infecting Western countries formerly considered as models of reasoned governance, the loss of one exceptional and much-loved human being is indeed a tragedy.
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