Top Asian News 2:07 p.m. GMT
BANGKOK (AP) — King Bhumibol Adulyadej, revered in Thailand as a demigod, a humble father figure and an anchor of stability through decades of upheaval at home and abroad, died Thursday. He was 88 and had been the world’s longest reigning monarch. The Royal Palace said Bhumibol died “in a peaceful state” at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, where he had been treated for various health problems for most of the past decade. During a reign that spanned 70 years, the U.S.-born Bhumibol became much more than Thailand’s constitutional monarch. He was the nation’s one constant as myriad governments rose and fell, a gentle leader who used the influence of the throne to unify the nation and rally troops through the Cold War as Thailand’s neighbors fell under communist control.
Thailand’s next king, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, carries a son’s burden of living up to a great father. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died Thursday at the age of 88, reigned for 70 years with almost legendary rectitude and devotion to his country’s development. The 64-year-old Vajiralongkorn, the second child and only son of Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit, however, is dogged by a reputation that some fear could weaken respect for the monarchy. Bhumibol designated Vajiralongkorn to be his successor more than 40 years ago. There were other possible candidates for succession — including his older sister — and there had been speculation one might be chosen.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, died Thursday at age 88 after being hospitalized for much of a decade, the Royal Palace said. Hundreds of tearful mourners gathered outside Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, grasping photos of the king, chanting prayers and looking up at the building where he had been treated. Some continued to chant, “Long live the king!” Bhumibol Adulyadej (pronounced poo-mee-pon ah-dun-yaa-det) became king in 1946 and was revered in Thailand as a demigod. He anchored the Southeast Asian country through violent upheavals at home and communist revolutions next door with a blend of majesty and a common touch.
President Barack Obama is offering his condolences to Thailand on the death of its king. Obama says King Bhumibol Adulyadej was a tireless champion of his country’s development and also showed an “unflagging devotion” to improving the standard of living for the Thai people. The king died Thursday at age 88 after his health declined. Obama says the king was a close friend of the United States and a valued partner of many U.S. presidents. He recalled meeting the king during a 2012 visit to Thailand. Obama says the king leaves behind a legacy of care for the Thai people that future generations will cherish.
BANGKOK (AP) — King Bhumibol Adulyadej was Thailand’s lone constant as the country hurtled from a traditional agrarian society to a modern, industrializing nation, and as myriad governments rose and fell. His loss is deeply felt by Thai people, who begin a period of extended mourning for the only monarch most of them have ever known. He was the world’s longest-reigning monarch, on the throne for 70 years. He was widely viewed among his people as a gentle leader who used the influence of the throne to unify the nation and rally troops through the Cold War as Thailand’s neighbors fell under communist control.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The Maldives government says it has decided to leave the Commonwealth because the grouping of former British colonies has treated it “unjustly and unfairly” and sought to interfere in its politics. The statement Thursday by the Foreign Ministry comes weeks after the Commonwealth threatened the country with suspension if it failed to show progress in key democratic governance issues by next March. It said the Commonwealth seemed to think Maldives could be used as an easy way to increase the organization’s relevance and leverage in international politics. Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008 after decades of autocratic rule.
SYDNEY (AP) — A state Parliament in Australia on Thursday unanimously passed a motion that described U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump as “a revolting slug unfit for public office.” Jeremy Buckingham, a lawmaker from the minor Greens party, introduced the motion to the New South Wales Legislative Council, the Parliament’s upper house. “This house … agrees with those who have described Mr. Trump as a ‘revolting slug’ unfit for public office,” the motion said. The house “condemns the misogynist, hateful comments” made by the Republican candidate about women and minorities, including the remarks revealed by media at the weekend “that clearly describe sexual assault,” the motion said.
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — There is one Buddhist nun everyone in Nepal knows by name — not because she’s a religious icon and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, nor for her work running a girl’s school and a hospital for kidney patients. Ani Choying Drolma is famous as one of the country’s biggest pop stars. With more than 12 albums of melodious Nepali tunes and Tibetan hymns that highlight themes of peace and harmony, the songstress in saffron robes has won hearts across the Himalayan nation and abroad. “I am totally against the conservative, conventional idea of a Buddhist nun,” the 45-year-old nun said.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — China should not see increased military cooperation between Singapore and Australia through a deal that will dramatically expand northern Australian training facilities as an attempt to contain it, the two prime ministers said on Thursday. Australian and Singaporean officials signed a pact under which Singapore will spend up to 2.25 billion Australian dollars ($1.7 billion) to double the capacity of its facilities in military training areas in Queensland state. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said China is the biggest trading partner of both Singapore and Australia. The agreement was part of regional cooperation, he said. “I don’t think that Singapore and Australia together could possibly be seen as a bloc” against China, Lee told reporters.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Two 16-year-old Australian boys arrested in Sydney after each bought a knife were charged on Thursday with planning a terrorist attack on behalf of the extremist Islamic State group, police said. The two were arrested by the federal-state Joint Counter-Terrorism Team in the western suburb of Bankstown on Wednesday, New South Wales state Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said, as Australia marked the 14th anniversary of extremist bombings in Indonesia that killed 202, including 88 Australians. Burn said police had been concerned about the pair for some time and that the boys had potentially been radicalized by peers.