Thais in Singapore mourn the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Darunee Thitchan, 52, weeps after hearing of the demise of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Darunee Thitchan, 52, weeps after hearing of the demise of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Fighting back tears, all Ms Darunee Thitchan could utter between sobs was "The King, the Thai King has passed away."

The 52-year-old Thai visitor, in Singapore to see her boyfriend, was among scores of Thai nationals having dinner at the Golden Mile Complex on Thursday (Oct 13) night when news broke that their monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88, had died after a long illness.

Business owners and customers at the popular hangout for Thai nationals had been checking their phones for updates all night and some burst into tears upon hearing he had died.

Ms Thitchan had planned to go home next month but will now fly home on Friday.

"I loved him so much; he was like a father to me," she said.

On Facebook, Thai users had changed their profile photos to messages saying "Love the King" and "Long live the King", when it became known earlier that his condition was critical, but many had expected him to pull through.

"I knew he was very sick but I thought he would be able to hang on for a bit longer," said Ms Phattharawadee Nikomwan, 29, who is unemployed.

"I am very sad. He did everything for us. He took care of the country and worked very hard," she said.

Ms Nikomwan said she will be visiting the Palelai Buddhist Temple in Bedok with her family on Friday to pray for and pay her respects to King Bhumibol, who ruled Thailand for 70 years.

Ms Oraphan Suwanbon, 29, a shopkeeper at Golden Mile Complex, said she had been getting updates from her family through message and social media.

She will be wearing black on Friday in remembrance of King Bhumibol.

"He looked out for all Thais and treated us like family," she said of the well-loved monarch, the nation's highest moral authority, who created thousands of projects to help the poor and marginalised.

 

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Ms Suwanbon and a friend plan to fly to Bangkok at the end of the month to pay their respects to the late king at a temple there.

"He will be remembered by everyone in Thailand forever," she said.

Ms Karnney Juntafun, 27, who is on holiday in Singapore, said she was still in shock and disbelief. She has been praying for his recovery every night since he fell ill.

"Without the king, I don't know if Thailand will be good or bad. Many people worry about this," said the freelance actress.

She too will be wearing black and plans to visit the Thai palace once she gets back to Bangkok next week.

"The king did everything for Thailand," she said.