Aside from Brunei’s Sultan, it is expected that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, Abdul Halim of Kedah state and his wife, Tuanku Haminah binti Hamidun, the Raja Permaisuri Agong, will visit. Tuanku Abdul Halim is currently the world’s second longest-serving monarch, after Queen Elizabeth II.
Other international leaders who have contacted the government about their plans to visit Thailand and pay their respects are the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (who is due today), the Singaporean leader and his wife, the Cambodian leader, the Lao leader, the Qatar leader and a representative of Saudi Arabia, Mr Suwaphan said.
The leaders of the Philippines, Zambia, the US, South Korea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Maldives, Gambia and Japan had also notified the government about their intentions to visit or send a representative. Mr Suwaphan did not disclose their arrival days.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan and Indian people in Thailand have expressed their grief and promised to follow the King’s teaching to honour his goodness. Sri Lanka and India, which have shared strong Buddhist ties with Thailand since the early centuries, have held chanting ceremonies dedicated to His Majesty the King in Bangkok over the past two days.
Sri Lankan ambassador Kshenuka Senewiratne said the royal rain-making initiative known as fon luang was among environmental projects devised by the King which had saved thousands of drought-affected farmers in her country in the past.
“Sri Lanka has suffered severe droughts which affected thousands of people, particularly farmers. On learning of His Majesty’s initiative to induce rain by cloud-seeding, Sri Lanka sought assistance from Thailand. His Majesty sent planes to induce rain and alleviate our people. We were in dire straits but the entire island was relieved,” recalled the Sri Lankan ambassador.
Ms Kshenuka was speaking prior to a Buddhist chanting ceremony held by the Sri Lankan embassy at Wat Arun Ratchawararam in Bangkok yesterday (Oct 20) in memory of the late King. About 80 people attended the ceremony, including the president and members of Sri Lankan Association of Thailand, embassy staff and Sri Lankan citizens who live in Thailand.
As Thailand and Sri Lanka share similar climatic and geographic conditions, many officials and scientists have travelled from Sri Lanka to join training programmes at royal project centres related to agriculture in Thailand over the years. “We are seeking further help from Thai authorities to modernise our agricultural sector,” Ms Kshenuka said, adding her country views His Majesty’s sufficiency economy philosophy with admiration and will continue following his teaching.
The lives of Sri Lankan people who, in the 1980s, suffered from a bloody civil war also were improved by His Majesty’s efforts to stop opium plantations and encourage the planting of vegetables and fruits instead to encourage healthy and sustainable livelihoods among people.
“His Majesty is viewed as a symbol of integrity, peace, unity and stability. His selfless dedication to the welfare of his people is recognised and honoured by Sri Lankans,” she said.
Ms Kshenuka, who considers Thailand as a “home away from home”, said the reign of King Bhumibol will be remembered as a guideline for people’s lives. “His Majesty’s approach ensured Thailand would not encounter the pitfalls that most countries around the world experienced while striving for accelerated development. He was a true visionary,” she said.
Meanwhile, Indian-linked communities and associations attended prayer session yesterday at the Indian-Thai Chamber of Commerce to pay tribute to the late King. The event was organised by the Indian embassy in Thailand.
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