His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was revered as the father of the nation among
Thailand's 67 million people, passed away 13 October, 2016.
The late Monarch was beloved among all his subjects � homes and businesses throughout the
kingdom displayed His Majesty's portrait in an honorable, prominent position, illustrating the
people's love for their king, who reigned for 70 years (1946 � 2016).
His Majesty King Bhumibol � the ninth King of the Chakri Dynasty � will be remembered as
the Monarch who worked hardest to improve the livelihoods of all Thai citizens, through his
comprehensive understanding of their living conditions. This earned His Majesty the welldeserved
title of father of the nation from his people.
At His Majesty's coronation ceremony, the monarch made the pledge that We shall reign with
righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people. Throughout his 70-year
reign, His Majesty proved through his tireless efforts that he truly believed that it was the
Crown's duty to serve its subjects.
Following his accession to the throne, His Majesty King Bhumibol dedicated himself to visiting
every part of his Kingdom. There was not a single location considered too remote for the young
Monarch to travel to in order that the King could learn how his subjects lived and the struggles
they endured in various rural and remote areas. His Majesty was often seen fording rivers or
trekking up mountainsides in order to reach many of his subjects. The King was even known to
fly by helicopter into remote areas that were inaccessible to even the sturdiest off-road
vehicles. His Majesty was often accompanied on these expeditions by Her Majesty
Queen Sirikit and their children. Such selfless efforts enabled Their Majesties to gain a clear
understanding of all levels of Thai society.
Upon learning of the difficulties that his subjects experienced, His Majesty began researching
projects and initiatives that could help alleviate their hardships and help to improve their
lives. His research led to the creation of over 4,000 Royal Development Projects. Among these
projects were an initiative aimed at helping hill tribe people who were engaged in unsustainable
farming practices, as well as programs aimed at improving water management and reversing the
effects of soil erosion. One project generated renewable energy from palm oil, while
the Chaipattana Aerator received a patent and was successfully employed around the world.
As a visionary, His Majesty King Bhumibol understood that the attempt to improve the lives of
the Thai people could not be a temporary effort, so to bring about real benefits to the people,
projects were long-term while also aiming to sustain and protect the nation's environment and
The projects to help the hill tribe people were of particular importance to His Majesty, for these
people were then deriving their income from growing opium in northern Thailand, in Chiangrai
right in the heart of the notorious Golden Triangle. In the 1960's, His Majesty encouraged the
promotion of crop substitution programs for the hill tribe people in northern Thailand, which
over the years has successfully transformed the opium-growing areas into agricultural farms fully
enriched with high-value products such as strawberry, coffee, macadamia, flowers and various
fresh vegetables, generating stable income for tribal and rural farmers. The reduction in opium
production also aided in reducing the number of drug addicted population within and outside
Thailand. The clearest proof of the projects' success is that the Golden Triangle, once known
to be a stronghold of drug mafia, is now a popular tourist spot in Chiangrai.
One of the main reasons for the success of the projects was the system used to manage
them. His Majesty King Bhumibol did not issue simple orders or decisions. Rather, the King
utilized a detailed consortium, which he had personally devised. The first step involved
researching available data, then combined this with the information His Majesty gathered during
his interactions with local people. Next, His Majesty would consult with academics and officials
to ensure the best possibility of success for each project. Once this stage was completed, the
initiative was passed on to the government for implementation.
While he worked tirelessly for the country, His Majesty King Bhumibol felt that his people would
be better served if centers were created where research could be carried out for the benefit of
the projects. The idea was that the variety of climates and ecological conditions found
throughout the nation could be taken into consideration. With this in mind, the Royal
Development Study Centers (RDSCs) were initiated. His Majesty opened six RDSCs, covering the
country's major regions, from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the north, where they help to
advance the opium crop substitution projects, down to the southern province of Narathiwat.
Each center works closely with academics, the government and local communities on ways to
apply research, along with modern agricultural techniques, to create sustainable livelihoods
for people living in the areas using local resources while protecting the environment at the
same time. Another unique feature of the centers is that they do not try to alter the land or
disrupt local culture, but work hand-in-hand with the local people and resources
available in each area.
There is no doubt that the Royal Development Projects and RDSCs greatly enhanced the quality
of life for people living in Thailand's rural areas. However, His Majesty's most significant
achievement was the creation of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP), which was
introduced in 1974.
The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy encourage people to live within their means and not
abuse natural resources in order to enhance sustainability and create resilience to external
challenges. The core principles are quite simple; live a life of moderation, applying
reasonableness and self-control � this philosophy also aims to utilize a bottom-up approach.
The Royal Development Projects and RDSCs has served as testbeds for various applications of
the philosophy, such as the RDSC at Khao Hin Sorn, which tested practical application of the
philosophy on farming and agriculture.
Over the course of more than 40 years, the philosophy has become ingrained among Thai
citizens, regardless of their gender, age or economic status, and it has become part of their daily
lives, particular following the hard lessons learned from the 1997 economic crisis. It has even
become a key element among the business practices of large Thai corporations. The philosophy
has not only taken hold throughout the kingdom, but was also adapted and applied in several
other countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, the Lao People's Democratic
Republic and the Kingdom of Lesotho. Thailand also continues to share its positive experiences
implementing the philosophy with the international community, such as the G77 countries.
His Majesty King Bhumibol's lifetime dedication to his people and his efforts to protect the
environment did not go unnoticed within the international community. In 2006, His Majesty was
awarded the first United Nations' Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award. The UN
recognized that His Majesty's focus on helping to develop small-scale agriculture, farming
technologies suitable for the country's geography and the proper management of water
resources to better cope with drought and floods had in turn helped to benefit millions of His
subjects living in the country's rural areas.
His Majesty was also awarded the IAUP Peace Award by the International Association of
University Presidents in 1986, the UNEP Gold Medal of Distinction by the UN Environment
Program in 1992, and the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Plaque in 2000, along with
numerous other international awards, which all acknowledged His Majesty's dedication to his
people and his country.
His Majesty's life-long devotion towards advancing and refining Thailand's agricultural sector
resulted in a significant improvement in the welfare of Thai people and paved way for Thailand
to become the world's number one net food exporter.
Through royal development projects, Thailand became self-sufficient through its ability to feed
itself as well as the rest of the world.
Source: Royal Thai Embassy, MYANMAR