In 1950, King Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended the throne and crowned as Rama IX of Thailand who later became the world’s longest-reigning monarch in 2016. Throughout his 70-year reign, His Majesty the King has introduced great changes to this country with the ultimate goal to better the lives of his people regardless of their race, religion and socioeconomic status. Against the backdrop of the changing global landscape, His Majesty has led the country by bringing change to needy areas nationwide and innovating to improve the well-being of millions of people, from the northernmost to the southernmost regions. His Majesty’s vision to change and innovate stands the test of time. It is a major part of the legacy he has left for us.
One of the first major changes that His Majesty has brought to people in Thailand began in 1969 after he went to the Ban Doi Pui hill tribe village near Bhubing Rajanives Palace in Chiang Mai province. His Majesty learned that the poverty-stricken hill tribe people in the village made a living by planting opium and persimmon. His Majesty also learned that the Doi Pui Agricultural Experiment Station by Kasetsart University succeeded in producing a new variety of persimmon of better quality. All of these led him to come up with the idea to replace opium cultivation on the mountains with cultivation of winter fruits based agricultural research and experiments. His Majesty gave 200,000 baht as seed money to the agricultural experiment station to conduct more research on winter crops. This agricultural experiment station, later the Royal Agricultural Station Angkhang, marked the beginning of more than 4,000 royal projects initiated by His Majesty. And the rest is history.
All the change that His Majesty brought to hill tribe people on Doi Pui four decades ago has transformed their lives in a way that they had never imagined. The story of the Doi Pui royal project exemplifies how change can turn life around for people, particularly the underprivileged, and drive success. We were blessed to have a leader like His Majesty to spearhead change in this country.
Furthermore, I believe there has been no monarch in the world who has innovated to solve problems for people like His Majesty has done. His Majesty is regarded as the Father of Innovation in Thailand following his “Klaeng Din” or soil aggravation initiative to tackle the southern region’s serious agricultural problem of soil acidity. The Pikul Thong Royal Development Study Centre in Narathiwat province was later established to improve soil conditions, mainly by applying various techniques to de-acidify the soil, making it suitable for growing crops. The Klaeng Din initiative has been expanded to improve soil acidity in farmland in other areas as well, and until now, there has been no place on earth that can deal with the problem of soil acidity as successfully as the Pikul Thong Royal Development Study Centre.
Perhaps the most famous innovation of His Majesty is the Chaipattana Aerator—the innovation that made His Majesty the first monarch in the world to be granted a patent. Developed to help tackle the problem of water pollution, the low-cost Chaipattana Aerator treats polluted water by adding oxygen to purify it. The aerator obtained a patent from the Department of Intellectual Property on 2 February 1993 and won a gold medal from the Belgian Chamber of Inventor at Brussels Eureka 2000—one of the world’s largest technology fairs held in Brussels, Belgium.
I have chosen to write about this topic to show you how His Majesty has led this country with change. Throughout his seven-decade reign, His Majesty has never stopped working for his people to bring about positive change with his creative and innovative ideas. We need a leader with a vision for change like His Majesty to create a better world.
Thais will come together once again to bid our final farewell to much beloved His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej during the Royal Cremation on 26 October 2017. May His Majesty’s life and work keep inspiring and continue to be the guiding light to illuminate the future for us all.
Ms. Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading Executive, Leadership and Innovation Capability Development Center.
She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa
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