Category Archives: Thailand News

Chakri Memorial Day – Honoring the Present Dynasty

Chakri Dynasty

Chakri Dynasty

By Jeff Petry © 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012 commemorates 230 years of the current Chakri Dynasty, of which the present monarch, King Bhumibol the Great, is the ninth king, or Rama IX. He is the longest ruling monarch in the world, having ascended to the throne in 1946, 66 years ago. He is also undoubtedly one of the most beloved monarchs ever to have ruled, viewed by many of his subjects as far more than merely a mortal man.

This Thai national holiday is celebrated with great fanfare, especially in the capital Bangkok, as this was also the day that Bangkok was declared the capital of what was then known as Siam in the year 1782. On this day, the King, accompanied by members of the Royal Family, perform religious ceremonies to pay respect to the former rulers of Thailand.

The entire dynasty is honored first by the King at the Royal Chapel, then at the Royal Pantheon  followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of King Rama I, the first Chakri King and founder of the Dynasty, at the Memorial Bridge.

Thai government officials, the Prime Minister, Ministers, high ranking officers, students, public and private organizations and people from all walks of life join together at the statue amid great celebration to honor and express their appreciation for all the accomplishments, peace, and stability that this revered Dynasty has provided the country for so many generations.

The Chakri Dynasty was founded by Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, or Rama I, born March 20, 1737 with the name Thong Duang; he ascended to the throne on April 6, 1782, and ruled for 28 years, consolidating the Kingdom like never before, as well as providing protection from Siam’s historical enemies, particularly the Burmese who had sacked Ayuttaya 14 years before.

Rama I has long been hailed as a devout Buddhist, a great leader, an inspired statesman, a brilliant lawmaker, and a poet. He also chose Bangkok’s present location as a highly defensible position and established Krung Thep, or the “City of Angels” in Thai, as the capital. He built the awe-inspiring Grand Palace, home of the Emerald Buddha, and passed on from his much accomplished life at the auspicious age of 72.

A succession of 8 Kings has since ruled Thailand, each contributing in their own way, according to their own abilities and affinities: Rama II and III oversaw a Golden Age of Literature and Arts in Thailand, not seen since the time of King Narai in Ayuttaya’s prime; Rama IV & V ruled wisely at a time of colonization of Thailand’s neighbors, negotiating Thailand’s position as an uncolonized “buffer state” between the British in Burma and the French in Indochina: Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

This was also the time of the introduction of Western science, technology, and increasing modernization to Thailand, as well as growing  official relations with many nations. This was even more the case under the great, beloved, and benevolent King Chulalongkorn, or Rama V.

Change and reform were the order of the day under Rama V, and a modern system of administration was introduced to Thailand for the first time. Education reform spread throughout Thailand during Rama V’s 42-year reign, and the financial system was revised and set upon a firm footing. He remains many Thais most beloved historical monarch, and is honored in many households throughout the land.

His successor, King Vajiravudh, or Rama VI, further consolidated the great changes precipitated by his forebears. He was known for contributing greatly to the Thai language and Thai literature, so much so that he was referred to as the poet who was also a king. Many treaties between Thailand and world powers were signed during his reign and he replaced the old red flag with a white elephant with the modern tricolor Thai flag.

King Vajiravudh’s younger brother King Prachadhipok, Rama VII, became King upon the death of Rama VI in 1925. On June 24, 1932, a revolution took place and Rama VII accepted the proposal of a constitutional regime, thus becoming the last absolute monarch of Thailand. On March 24, 1934, he turned the throne over to his nephew King Ananda Mahidol, who ruled Thailand for 11 years.

This brings us back to the illustrious Rama IX the Great, our current King who presently performs the ceremonies on Chakri Memorial Day. In fact the whole nation participates in celebrating this grand and accomplished Dynasty with the King, proudly flying the Thai flag, offering flowers and garlands at the many statues of these Kings, and generally honoring these nine men who gave their powers and lives to make the House of Chakri the grand legend it has become.

Abhisit Leads Rajaprasong Rally

BANGKOK/ UDON THANI—Thailand’s Democrat Party on Thursday night used a controversial Bangkok election rally to focus on the perceived threat posed by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, while divesting the government and security forces of responsibility for the deaths and destruction wrought during the March-May 2010 “Redshirt” protests.

“If you want to get rid of the poison that is Thaksin, then you should vote for us to get more than 250 seats,” said outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, rounding off a five-hour rally held at the same Rajaprasong intersection which the Redshirts blockaded for much of their two-month rally last year.

Abhisit

A Thai Democrat party supporter wears a mask of Thai Prime Minister and the party leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva, during a campaign rally in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 23, 2011. (Photo: AP)

Thaksin Shinawatra won successive elections as head of the Thai Rak Thai [Thais Love Thais] party in the early 2000s, but some Thais viewed his governing style as mercurial and overly authoritarian, with whispers that his popularity, particularly in rural areas in the country’s north and northeast, posed an implicit challenge to the country’s monarchy. He was ousted in a September 2006 coup, and though the party backed by him from abroad formed a government after a 2007 election, this entity was in turn removed from office after a combination of Yellowshirt street protests and court decisions paved the way for coalition partners to defect to the Democrat side.

Thursday night’s crowd of perhaps 6,000 to 7,000 howled and gesticulated with derision when clips of Thaksin Shinawatra were shown, interspersed with clips of Redshirt leaders and scenes of violence from the 2010 rally, on the two video screens to the right of a stage bedecked in Thailand’s national flag. The Democrats accuse Thaksin of hindering reconciliation in Thailand, and say that a Pheu Thai [“For Thais”] government would include senior Redshirts, some of whom the Democrats have accused of terrorism.

The rally opened with Abhisit’s deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, giving an audio-visual presentation during which he outlined what his party deems as the truth behind the events between March 12 and May 19, 2010, when the Thai army launched what turned out to be a bloody crackdown on the remaining Redshirts at Rajaprasong and the surrounding streets.

Controversially, Suthep claimed that “No one died at Rajaprasong on May 19 last year”, and accused Redshirt leader Jatuphon Prompan of complicity in the shooting of Seh Daeng, the nom de guerre for a Thai army officer who was aligned with the Redshirts, who was assassinated by an unknown sniper while talking to foreign media at the rally site.

Story continued here (www.irrawaddy.org)

CPN aims for over 50 malls in 10 years

Central Pattana Plc (CPN), the SET-listed commercial property flagship of the Central Group of Companies, aims to increase the number of its shopping complexes to 40-50 within the next decade, from 19 by the end of this year.

CPN’s president and chief executive

Kobchai Chirathivat (centre), CPN’s president and chief executive, joins Wallaya Chirathivat (third right), the executive vice-president for business development and construction, and other Central Group executives at Central Plaza Chiang Rai.

President and CEO Kobchai Chirathivat said the company planned to spend 50-60 billion baht from now until 2015 to develop 10 new shopping complexes in both the domestic and international markets.

The new outlets to be opened in 2011 and 2012 include Phitsanulok, Rama IX in Bangkok, Surat Thani and Chiang Mai, while the company will also renovate its existing store in Udon Thani.

An industry source said CPN also planned to develop new shopping complexes in Rayong, Ubon Ratchathani and Lampang in the future. It has already bought a plot of land in Songkhla as well, said the source.

CPN celebrated its 30th anniversary last Wednesday.

“We have set our business objective for our fourth decade to be one of the leading mall developers in the region in terms of the number of shopping centres and size,” Mr Kobchai said.

He said the company would move at a faster pace than in the past by increasing gross building area by 15% every year, compared with 13% average annual growth over the past 10 years.

Continue reading on the Bangkok Post here