World, Asia - Pacific

Thai king visits Bangkok palace after health bulletin

Short outing by ailing 88-year-old monarch follows health bulletin revealing his recent battle with new bout of lung infection

11.01.2016
Thai king visits Bangkok palace after health bulletin

Banghok

BANGKOK

Thailand’s 88-year-old king, the world’s longest reigning monarch, briefly has left a Bangkok hospital to visit his palace in the capital, a day after a health bulletin reported him suffering from a new bout of lung infection.

Bhumibol Adulyadej left Siriraj Hospital, where he has spent much of the last six years, to visit the nearby Chitralada Palace on Monday, The Nation reported.

“Hundreds of people lined the streets around the hospital as the king left in a van wearing a blue shirt,” according to the daily.

The short outing appeared to be aimed at reassuring the Thai people after the bureau of the royal household issued a health bulletin late Sunday, saying that the revered monarch has been battling another lung infection.

The king had been battling a fever for the past two weeks and tests “found an infection in the lower part of the lungs,” according to the bulletin, the first to be issued in four months.

The monarch was given oxygen and intravenous antibiotics.

“Currently, the fever has eased but his breathing is occasionally faster than normal, while his pulse and blood pressure are normal,” it added, without providing details on whether the infection had passed.

Adulyadej, who is venerated as a demi-God by the majority of Thais, did not appear publicly on the occasion of his birthday on Dec. 5.

He has repeatedly been placed under medical care since being hospitalized for flu and pneumonia in 2009.

The king has spent some time outside of the medical ward by traveling to his seaside ‘Far From Worries’ palace in Hua Hin, 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Bangkok.

He was diagnosed with an intestinal inflammation in 2011 before suffering subdural bleeding in the front of his brain the following year.

Each health alert is cause for anxiety among Thai people, the majority of whom were born under his reign, which started in 1946 following the mysterious death of his brother, King Ananda, who was found dead with a bullet wound to his head in his bedroom.

Adulyadej represents a unifying figure among the country's tenuous, military-controlled politics, and many Thais worry about the likely succession.

Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn – 63, who divorced his third wife in 2014 -- is much less popular than his father.

The tense political climate following the May 22, 2014 coup that overthrew an elected government and deep divisions in the country between supporters of the traditional elite and those who want social change have added to the sensitivity of the royal succession.

After a military-appointed assembly rejected a draft constitution on Sept. 6, extending the junta’s stay in power by 20 months, some analysts speculated that the military organized the move to ensure their control over Thailand at the time of the succession.

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