Thais should remain united and thus honour the King: The Nation

A portrait of Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is seen at Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre in Bangkok.
A portrait of Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is seen at Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre in Bangkok. PHOTO: REUTERS

In its editorial on Oct 17, the paper reminds its readers that maintaining peace is everyone's responsibility with King Bhumibol Adulyadej's unifying power not there now.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej served as an important unifying force in Thai society throughout his 70-year reign.

Thanks to his guidance and presence, conflicts between rival groups of people have not worsened or turned into large-scale armed battles.

The lack of unity among people in the country was certainly a major concern for the King.

On many occasions over the seven decades of his reign, His Majesty called on Thai people to stay united and perform their duties for the country's sake, although he agreed it was ordinary for people to have different opinions.

"Unity or harmony does not mean everyone must agree on everything. That way, life is meaningless.

There must be differences of opinion but people have to work consistently. Although there is difference, there must be consistency," he said during a gathering of well-wishers on the eve of his birthday in December 1993.

His advice to Thais often attributed unity in this country to its independence and prosperity, its survival when faced by different kinds of threats, and its resiliency in times of crisis.

Over the past decade, however, many people have seemed to ignore the King's fatherly advice about unity. They have been involved in bloody political conflicts that dangerously pulled the country towards the armed battles experienced in states ravaged by civil war.

Many of those people claimed to be loyal to the King but they failed to heed his call for unity.

It is time now to prove that they have sincere respect for the Father of the Land. It is time to unite for the sake of the country and as a show of respect for the late King.

It is time to forget about the bitter conflicts of the past that have deprived the country of many opportunities. The conflicting parties have to join the rest of the country in working together for a better future for all of us.

At least we should start by lessening the conflict, in order to reduce the risk of violence that may result from a lack of unity. Many people are prone to using violence to gain victory over the other side in a conflict.

That could lead to armed battles and eventually expand into civil war, as has been the case in many countries.

Thanks to the late King's moral influence, Thailand has avoided a large-scale battle between people in the country.

However, that major unifying power no longer exists. What we need to do is to uphold the spirit that he bequeathed us.

Conflicting parties need to bury the hatchet unless they want the country to end up in disarray and sink into years of suffering due to civil war.

Let us hope that Thailand will not become another country ravaged by war. If our generation lets that happen, we deserve to be severely blamed for disappointing our beloved King.

Let us turn our country's great sorrow at this time into a strong force that can hold us together, in the same way as when the King of our hearts was still alive. The goal is not too difficult to achieve if our determination is strong enough.

* The Nation is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 21 newspapers.