A look back at the life’s work of one man, which changed a nation.
With the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand mourns the loss of a father figure, beloved throughout society for the wisdom and guidance he employed during his reign. So much more than a monarch, His Majesty was responsible for massive strides in the development of this country and, as we look back on just a few of the projects and initiatives he pioneered, we are inspired again by his selfless dedication to the advancement of Thailand.
Dusit Palace is a unique royal residence, surrounded not by rolling parks and rose gardens, but by fields of crops and homes for livestock. His Majesty used his own palace as an experimentation ground for the community and environmental initiatives that changed and sustained a nation. While the projects began their incubation at his home, the research for them did not. HM King Bhumibol insisted on personally visiting the country’s most rural and remote areas to explore the challenges facing the people there, and to provide solutions.
His Majesty’s Royal Projects were launched in 1969 and since then they have provided ways for hill tribe communities to sustain themselves through the production of their authentic handicrafts and the tourism they generate.
His initiatives to redistribute water during dry season and times of drought included the cloud-seeding technique that made artificial rain available and earned him the name, Royal Rainmaker. Besides this, his design for a system of small “check-dams” regulated water flow and maintained groundwater. Both projects were crucial for year-round agriculture and crop maintenance.
Perhaps most significant was His Majesty’s philosophy of a self-sufficient economy. His groundbreaking “New Theory” for farming and agriculture emphasized the importance of balanced and moderate production, substantial enough to sustain life, while maintaining harmony with nature. Applied to his integrated farming method – a set of systematic guidelines for proper management of land and water resources, this theory ensured the livelihoods of farmers throughout the country, even during times of economic turbulence.
In further pursuit of sustainable development, His Majesty set up six Royal Development Study Centers to continue to research and explore strategies for environmental development, each focusing on its own region and the issues there.
A trailblazing king devoted to learning and research, His Majesty holds the title for the most honorary degrees awarded to a monarch, and he is the world’s first and only monarch to hold a patent, which he received for the “Chai Pattana”, a wastewater aerator and was followed by a number more for his rainmaking projects. In recognition of his distinctly superlative reign, the United Nations presented His Majesty with the first Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award in May 2006.
On the day of his coronation, His Majesty vowed to “reign with Dhamma for the benefit and happiness of all the Thai people.” The word Dhamma refers to the Buddhist teaching that outlines the ten necessary virtues of a king. These include freely giving advice, knowledge, wisdom and forgiveness; maintaining good moral conduct; making selfless sacrifices; performing royal duties with loyalty and honesty; being gentle and open-minded; leading a simple life of restraint; showing compassion; adhering to peace; maintaining calm and composure and being steadfast in righteousness. It is his dedication to uphold this oath and his commitment to these virtues that informed his actions during his reign and inspired his people. Now it’s up to us to maintain the legacy of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej; we are motivated more than ever to uphold our own beliefs and remain dedicated to our pledge to be a catalyst for positive change.