‘If he asked us not to fight, we would not fight’: Thais in Hong Kong mourn death of beloved monarch
People with a Thai background from all walks of life, including executive councillor Bernard Chan, express their grief
Hong Kong executive councillor Bernard Chan, who is a member of the Thai-Chinese family that founded Bangkok Bank, is saddened by the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej but is confident the country will remain stable under the current government.
Chan made his comments as Thais in Hong Kong join their countrymen at home in mourning the loss of their beloved monarch.
Watch: Thais mourn King Bhumibol
Thailand’s revered king died at age 88 on Thursday afternoon.
Chan, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong-Thailand Business Council and a close friend of Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, said he was saddened by the death .
“The King had high standing in Thailand and was widely revered by Thai people, whose love and respect for him is beyond imagination,” Chan told the Post.
“Although he did not have any real power, he had been a unifying and stabilising force in the country in the past three decades. Rival camps often heeded his calls to sit down for talks to reconcile their differences.”
Chan, said he expected some short-term impact on Thailand’s stock market in the wake of the king’s death.
But he said he was confident the situation would remain stable under the current government led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Chan is grandson of Chin Sophonpanich, the late founder of Bangkok Bank. Chan’s father Robin Chan, one of the six sons of Chin Sophonpanich, was sent to Hong Kong in the 1960s to diversify the family’s business.
The family is still actively involved in politics and business in Thailand. His aunt, Kalaya, was the science and technology minister in former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s cabinet.
Meanwhile, Thais in Hong Kong are also feeling the loss.
“The king is like our father. I just can’t believe the news, as we wished he would live for a hundred years,” Vivian Jan, a Thai who has been living in Hong Kong for 26 years, said.
Jan, who has been running a restaurant in Kowloon City for 16 years, said the king has been a kind and generous monarch.
“He always helped those living in remote parts of the country,” she said. “I felt really unwell when I heard the news. I don’t think anyone would not cry.”
“If he asked us not to fight, we would not fight,” she added.
The television in her shop, connected to a Thai channel, was showing special programmes about the deceased king since 8pm on Thursday night.
Jan said they would pay tribute to the king by making offerings such as incense and fruits to him.
Saner Bootdee, a 66-year-old Thai man who runs a small fruit stall in Kowloon City, also said he was saddened by the news.
“I feel sad. It seems now my country has lost [its pillar],” Bootdee, who has lived in the city for five years, said.
“I love the king ... he had the ability [to lead] and he loved the people too.”