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Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej

‘The heart of the Buddha’: the world pays tribute to Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 9:08pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 10:15pm

In the days since Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away, aged 88, prominent figures – heads of state and business leaders alike – have been queuing up to offer their condolences and best wishes to a nation in mourning.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Bhumibol worked to strengthen ties between China and Thailand and “made an irreplaceable contribution to cementing the two people’s friendship and expanding bilateral cooperation”.

“China deeply mourns King Bhumibol’s passing and expresses sincere condolences to the Thai people and government,” the ministry said.

US President Barack Obama call the king “a tireless champion of his country’s development and demonstrated unflagging devotion to improving the standard of living of the Thai people”.

Former President Bill Clinton and his wife Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton have offered their heartfelt condolences over the death of Thailand’s king, calling him a kind, good leader.

“His Majesty deepened ties between the US and Thailand, our first ally in Southeast Asia. He was a true servant leader, acting with wisdom, strength, humility, and genuine care for the welfare of all people,” the former president said.

The UN General Assembly and Security Council stood in silent tribute and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called him “a unifying national leader” who is “highly respected internationally”.

“At this time of sorrow and loss,” Ban said, “I hope that Thailand will continue to honour King Bhumibol’s legacy of commitment to universal values and respect for human rights.”

Hong Kong’s acting chief executive, Carrie Lam, expressed profound sadness at the passing of the king.

“On behalf of the people and Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, it is with great sadness that I express our profound condolences on the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej,” Lam said. “We join the people of Thailand during this period of national mourning and reflection.”

South Korean President Park Geun-hye credited King Bhumibol for his leadership as the “father of Thailand and its spiritual pillar” in offering her condolences to the people of Thailand and its royal family.

Park also expressed gratitude that Thailand during King Bhumibol’s reign sent troops to fight with allied forces led by the United States during the 1950-1953 Korean war, which was triggered by North Korea’s invasion of the South.

“On behalf of the government of the Republic of Korea and its people, I express deep condolences to the royal family and Thai people,” Park said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he was in “deep sorrow” at the death of Thailand’s king and remembered him as a gentle person.

“On behalf of the government of Japan and its people, I express my sincerest condolences,” Abe said. “I remember King Bhumibol as a highly gifted and gentle person.”

Condolences for King Bhumibol’s passing also came from the world of business.

In a letter addressed to Thailand’s Queen Sirikit and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma said King Bhumibol had influenced the people of Thailand with “the heart of the Buddha”.

Ma noted that he had travelled to Thailand more than 10 times and the Thais were always smiling. He also said the king had always pursued peace, independence, justice and wealth for the people, and hailed his unique achievements.

Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.