P. S. Suryanarayana

60th anniversary of the King's accession to the throne

SINGAPORE: Popular joy and solemnity marked the commencement on Friday of celebrations in Thailand to hail King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne.

The five-day celebrations will be attended by monarchs and representatives from several royal households across the world.

Thailand, which abolished absolute monarchy in 1932, has had 16 constitutions since then. However, the popular belief in Thailand, as also the consensus among external observers, is that King Bhumibol Adulyadej has held "an all-steadying influence" during crises.

The celebrations have attracted attention in southeast Asian capitals also because the people of Thailand seem to expect their deeply revered King, a constitutional monarch, to guide the country through its current political crisis as well.

According regional diplomats and analysts, the crisis centres on organising a fresh general election as a sequel to the judicial annulment of the April 2 snap polls. The King had advised the authorities to put the country back on course in the context of that crisis.