HM backs Surayud govt
The aged will benefit country more, King says, as he defends the govt's elderly Cabinet, and the premier's strong personality
King Bhumibol Adulyadej last night expressed his support for Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont and pointed out that old age is an advantage over the young and inexperienced, which could be turned into great benefits for the country.
Although the country has faced a year of political turmoil, His Majesty avoided talking about political issues - saying he was bored with them.
On the eve of his birthday, the King delivered a 40-minute address to Surayud and his ministers, their spouses, dignitaries and more than 20,000 citizens, who sought an audience with him at the Sala Dusitalai Thronehall, Chitralada Palace.
Accompanying His Majesty the King were HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and HRH Princess Chulabhorn Valayalaksana.
His Majesty, who turns 79 today, showed his support for Surayud, saying the prime minister had a strong personality and was a man of principle.
"Foreign critics might say I can order the prime minister. How can I order him? Nobody can order him to do anything," he said.
His Majesty praised the determination of Surayud to deliver initiatives for the country and believed the PM would accomplish his goals.
Although His Majesty doubted if some of the government's plans were on the right track, he believed the Surayud government would finally produce results as it had good intentions and the determination to back all of its plans.
His Majesty said the people had now given all responsibility to the government, which apparently lacked energy because it comprised many "old men".
"But, actually, old age is strength," he said.
His Majesty also praised the Cabinet, which consists of mostly retired bureaucrats. He said old people could ensure the most benefits for the country as they have knowledge and experience, while the young might have no knowledge or not enough capability.
"The older people are, the more benefit they will contribute to the country," he said, and dismissed criticism that 29 Cabinet members were all old guard, who could not match young executives.
Old people were superior to those of a younger age because they had more knowledge, experience and competence, he said, adding young people who looked down on older people were actually inferior and incompetent.
"If the old men are well-behaved and moral, they will lead the country forwards," His Majesty said. "If the country only has unqualified young people, the country will never grow."
His Majesty said his older sister HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, 84, had told him that having turned 80 it was hard to keep up her strength. Her health was not good, and he hoped she would get well soon, he said.
Despite his praise for the government, His Majesty said the government's plan for water management to handle flooding was poor. As a result, the damage was more serious than the flood in 1995 - although the amount of rain water flowing from the North was less.
In June, the whole nation celebrated the 60th anniversary of His Majesty's accession to the throne as the world's longest reigning monarch.
His Majesty yesterday apologised for his weak health, which prevented him from standing in front the audience before making his speech.
The King underwent spinal surgery in July after suffering back pain for years from a condition known as lumbar spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that can be a result of ageing.
He also suffered a fractured rib shortly after the celebrations in June when he fell during a walk outside the palace.
Time magazine named His Majesty the King, in its special November 13 issue marking the 60th anniversary of its Asian edition, as one of "60 Asian Heroes" who had shaped the destiny of Asia throughout the last six decades.
Time said His Majesty had been an inspiration to Thais and had helped the country through many political crises.