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Cover story : 25 Nov 05 / Vol. 22 No. 16
  and His Royal Development
                                                        By Rachawadi
    Photos by Royal Courtesy

his is the text of the Oath of Succession to the Throne taken by His Majesty King Bhumibol during his coronation on the 5th of May, 1950. For 55 long years since then, the King has faithfully and earnestly carried out his pledge. More than 3,000 development projects have been initiated by the King and implemented throughout the country, most of them aimed at improving the living conditions of his subjects, especially those in the remote rural areas.

All these development projects have originated from the frequent and extensive trips made by His Majesty, sometimes accompanied by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and other members of the Royal Family, to all regions of the Kingdom, using one of the four provincial royal residences as the starting point. They are located in Chiang Mai in the North, Sakon Nakhon in the Northeast, Hua Hin in the Mid-South, and Narathiwat in the Far South.

HM King Bhumibol in his frequent visits
to his people in the rural areas which
make him a most travelled king.

Before the King visits a particular area, he will study the information from documents and maps in order to learn in detail about the conditions of the area. After arriving at the site, he will collect more information on pertinent facts and the latest data by interviewing the local people, conducting an on the spot survey and discussing with relevant officials.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej
was crowned as the 9th king
of the Chakri Dynasty on 5 May 1950.

From the King's initiatives, the government agencies concerned will seek more information to plan the operation or draft the master plan consistent with the King's wishes. The King always insists that his initiatives are only suggestions, so that there is room for others to manoeuvre. If the proposed project is found feasible in terms of benefits and cost-effectiveness, the government will carry it out. Otherwise, the government has the right to abandon it.

When the King's initiative is judged feasible, the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (RDPB) will coordinate with various agencies and assign to them the task of drafting the details of the project. Afterwards, the Office will again study the drafts to make sure that they will be implemented effectively and in line with the King's initiative. Then the responsible agencies will proceed with the project with the coordination of the RDPB Office. In some cases, a special central organization is established to take charge.

When the King goes on a visiti to his subjects, HM Queen Sirikit (the one on the right-hand
side of the King) often goes with him to assist
in alleviating the suffering of the people.

During the implementation, the RDPB Office will periodically monitor and evaluate the work. And the King himself will return to the project site, whenever there is an opportunity, to observe the progress, and to suggest solutions if he finds any problems or obstacles.

The King has thus become not only the most travelled monarch in Thai history (and perhaps the monarch who has made the most working trips among rulers of the world today), but also the best informed about the whole spectrum of rural problems in Thailand.
His Majesty never simply issue instructions and go it alone. The impetus always come from the local people, who must agree with the proposal and cooperate to see to its success. The Royal Development Projects have all been started in this way.

They cover a wide range of subjects from the introduction of new crops to water conservation, from swamp drainage to the preservation of forests, and their aim has been sustainable development, serving not only immediate needs, but also those of future generations. This is to be achieved by conserving the environment and restoring areas that have already suffered from misuse.

The Royal Development Projects are divided into eight categories according to the sector of the economy that is targeted viz: Agriculture, Environment, Public Health, Occupational Promotion, Water Resources, Communications, Public Welfare, and others. They can also be classified according to how they are related to His Majesty, as follows:

The Projects initiated according to His Majesty's wishes: These are the projects in which the King conducts study and experiments himself. They are based on the recommendations of experts and carried out with his private funds in the early stages. Once the projects have yielded satisfactory results, His Majesty passes them onto the government for further development.

The Royal Projects: They are the private projects of Their Majesties the King and Queen, such as the crop substitution project in the North, which aimed at stopping opium cultivation, deforestation and the slash and burn cultivation method traditionally used by the hilltribes. His Majesty has given them advice and assistance on the planting of cool climate fruits and flowers for a better income.

The Projects Under Royal Patronage: These are projects operated by the private sector using its own financial, technical and human resources and based on His Majesty's advice and guidelines. They include the Thai Encyclopedia for Youth Project, the Dictionary Project and the Din Daeng Cooperative Village Development Project.

In order to facilitate the implementation of the Royal Development Projects, His Majesty initiated the establishment of six Royal Development Study Centres, in various regions of the country to serve as the place for conducting study, research and experimentation in search of development guidelines and methods suitable to the different conditions of each area and the occupations of the local people. The results of such study, research and experimentation will be disseminated to the local people. The Centres are also intended to serve as "living natural museums" where interested people can come to observe and gain knowledge from the real thing. The Six Centres are located in Chiang Mai in the North, Chachoengsao, Phetchaburi and Chanthaburi in the Central Plain, Sakon Nakhon in the Northeast and Narathiwat in the South.

The King talks directly with his subjects.
That's how he learns about their miseries.

From the above you will see how His Majesty has diligently upheld the traditional Thai precepts of virtuous kingship by assisting his subjects to alleviate their distress and increase their happiness. Indeed, he is today recognized not only by the Thai people, but also by knowledgeable foreign people, as the only monarch in the world who is dedicated both mentally and physically to development work for the sake of the nation.

Sources: The Government Public Relations Department, the Golden Jubilee Network, the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board (RDPB).

For the correct pronunciation of romanized Thai words, see
Romanization System of the Thai Language .

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