HIS MAJESTY THE KING’S BIRTHDAY SPEECH: ‘Actually, I want them to criticise’

Published by The Nation on December 05, 2005

His Majesty the King gave a speech after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra led his Cabinet and their wives to offer their well wishes to His Majesty on the occasion of his 78th birthday at Chitralada Palace yesterday. A translation of a key portion of the King’s speech, in which he says that he is open to criticism, follows:

I thank the prime minister for wishing me well on the occasion of my birthday [today]. I thank you for making people here and outside happy that you spoke well. I have no idea whether there may be some people who disagree with my compliments that the PM speaks well. Saying this, I create trouble for myself because if I compliment the PM some other people may not compliment me for complimenting the PM. They may question why I compliment the PM. But we have the PM for complimenting. If you have the PM, and you do not compliment, the PM may not be satisfied. If the PM is not satisfied, how can the work be managed? I have to compliment the PM on speaking well, because he complimented me.

It is normal that every one likes compliments and does not like to be criticised. I have criticised people consistently and people are not satisfied. Even though I do not criticise people, sometimes they have said in the newspaper that the King criticised this person, or that person. Actually, I do not criticise much. I may criticise but I do not openly say that I criticise. People who are in the open are normally seen more and are criticised more because of more public exposure. Suppose you have done a lot of goodness, it is all right, but if you have done some bad things, and people criticise you, you feel emotion, and sometimes you feel delighted and sometimes you feel upset. If people feel that they are criticised and show that they are upset for being criticised, there will be damage and there will be turmoil in society. I have spoken enough; if I speak more, there may be difficulties.

Today I intend not to implicate anyone or criticise anyone because criticism will cause people to be upset. But as I can see before me here, there are people that said - you know who said it - there are people who said that I am not good, the King is not good and did wrong, but they have to show that the King is not wrong, cannot be wrong, which is true under the Constitutional Monarchy, that the King can do no wrong. They said that the King can do no wrong, as the privy councillors like to say in English. But when you say the King can do no wrong, it is wrong. We should not say that.

When you read the Constitution of the United Kingdom, there are textbooks that always claim, and people who study English and study English law always claim, about how the King can do no wrong. Lawyers here nodded that yes, because that the King can do no wrong is very much an insult to the King, because why can the King do no wrong, why can not the King do wrong, because this shows that they regard that the King is not human. But the King can do wrong. But the most important thing, I am the King, and they said the King “does no wrong” and I agree with them.

Whatever you do, you must have consciousness which means that you must realise what you are doing and what you are thinking and do not do wrong and you will not be wrong, cannot be wrong. This is to say that I am not wrong, in no way can be wrong. Suppose if I speak wrongly, because I am not aware, that is another case, but do wrong without realising, and realising that it is wrong. It is not good to do wrong with full awareness but sometimes you do not realise, you must apologise. If you speak without awareness, lack of awareness is not careful, afterwards you will regret.

Before I was the King, I regretted many times but after I became the King, the Thai King, which foreigners call the King, I understand that I hardly do wrong because I am careful. If I am not careful, I would have died. Must be careful, if not then I would die. This is natural for politics or for being in the public eye. The public eye can kill. If we are not careful, we die. That is why I said the King can do no wrong because it must be “do no wrong’’ because to do wrong is to die. It is the same for everyone. It is not that the King is competent but everyone is also able. They have positions, high positions, receive decorations. People said this person is in a very high place, has high rank. The King has a high rank, but people who are here also hold high ranks, if you are not careful, you also die. Do not think that this or that person will die if they are not careful. Every one, from the first row to the last row and even outside. Everyone that is not careful faces dangers.

What I say may sound a bit strange. Some may think that I curse. Actually I do not curse, I sympathise. Because if you are not careful, Thailand will die. I ask for one thing only. Today be careful, careful, careful, careful to think, to say, to do. If you believe it is right, do it.

In referring to what they said in the newspaper, in radio and television that they will not criticise what the King does and says, do not criticise, actually I want them to criticise because whatever I do, I want to know that people agree or disagree. If they do not say, it can seen as good. But actually in the news, in the interviews that said do not criticise the King, they must say do not criticise the King because it is not appropriate. In the Constitution, there is a part that said [the King] shall not be violated. But if you say the King does right, speaks right, it is not violation. If you speak English, it is “approve”. The King approves.

But there has never been anyone telling me “approve” because the King speaks well and speaks correctly. Actually I must also be criticised. I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong, because then I know. Because if you say the King cannot be criticised, it means that the King is not human.

I am also afraid, if you say you cannot criticise. It means the King is not good, how do you know? If you say do not criticise the King because the King is very good.

Sometimes it is all in the brain. ‘The King speaks strangely’. If I shall be open, criticise me that sometimes I may be wrong so that I know that I am wrong. If they say that it is wrong to criticise the King, I would like to know where it is things are going wrong. If I do not know, I am in trouble. So if criticism is a violation, and the King can be violated. If they violate wrongly, the people bomb them [who criticise the King]. I just want to know how they criticise. If they criticise correctly, I have no problem. It is not good to give false criticism. But if you rule out all criticism as a violation, the damage is done to the King or the King is not a good person. If Thai people, firstly do not dare, and secondly do not care for the King, then they do not want to violate that law.

But foreigners often violate the King, and then they laugh at the King of Thailand. ‘Your King, Thailand’s King cannot be violated’. Ultimately if I cannot be violated, I am not a good man. I am bad. So on some occasions, please violate those rules, so we know who is good and not good. I have spoken too much. But the people who sit in front of me do not have to be afraid, because you have not committed any wrong. Those who believe they commit wrong, nod. Nod to show that they have committed wrong. Actually they do not take responsibility. Previously people have committed wrong. Some of those who nod do not try to correct things. The wrong here is in not correcting, evading responsibility.

In Thailand people who do not follow the track, quit. Quit and are found not guilty, even though they may have committed grave wrongs. If they are bureaucrats, they are transferred to the ministry, into Bangkok, then that is the end of the story. Hardly ever do they go to jail. What I am referring to is becoming a serious issue. They are transferred to Bangkok and sent to jail. There are stories about going to jail.

However, after going to jail, if they violate the King, the King is troubled, troubled in many ways. First, foreign countries see Thailand as a country where people cannot criticise the King, otherwise [they] go to jail. The King is in trouble [for this]. I have to say that after going to jail, I have to pardon them for seriously insulting me. Foreigners say ‘In Thailand you go to jail if the King is insulted.’ Actually, shall go to jail, but because foreigners said so, do not send [them] to jail. No one dares to send people who insult the King to jail because the King will be troubled because they will accuse that the King is not a good person, [or] at least is sensitive. Whoever insults a little, send them to jail. Actually, the King has never told [anyone] to send them to jail.

[Under] previous kings, even rebels were not sent to jail, were not punished. King Rama the VI did not punish rebels. During [the time of] King Rama IX, who were the rebels? Actually, there had never been. I also followed the same way: Do not send them to jail, but release [them]. If they are in jail, release them. If they are not in jail, I will not sue because I am in trouble. A person who is insulted is in troubled. People who violate the King, and are punished are not in trouble but the King is in trouble. This is strange. Lawyers like to launch suits and send them to jail.

Lawyers teach the PM, telling him to sue, to punish. This is how they teach the PM. Who said to punish? Do not punish them. Punishment is not good. Finally it is not that the PM is in trouble, the King is in trouble - or want to see the King in trouble, I do not know. They commit wrong, they insult the King in order that the King is in trouble. And truly, I am in trouble. Because whoever insults me, do we like it? But if the PM punishes them, it is bad. All lawyers want those who insult the King punished. Eventually we follow them. Some people insult the PM. Is the PM in trouble? He should not be. If people insult the PM, the King is not in trouble because it is the PM’s affairs. If people insult the King, the PM is in trouble because he has to handle the case. This is how things get complicated. The lawyers teach the PM like that. They teach him that whoever insults the King, we have to insult them. This is not good. My speech is going quite wrong, more personal. I will not tell what you should do. Lawyers should know what is right and wrong. Do not speak every day. Actually they do not speak every day but they record in tapes, DVDs and distribute to people. People listen and watch, they are fed up with it, for making excuses on behalf of the PM. Today I am here to make an excuse on behalf of the PM because the PM is not wrong. The PM can do everything. No need to go on air on the TV, on air in the TV every day. Someone told me that people are fed up. But if you have a duty to go on air in the TV, then go. There are some people in trouble in the programme - they have to speak out. People who spoke out then were hit with stray bullets. However, it is ok to make excuse one time, but it has been 10 times for going on air. People are getting fed up. They want to see soap dramas. Enough, wasting electricity. It is not wasting electricity of TV watchers but electricity of broadcasters. Waste oil. This makes me think that I must stop speaking. I am wasting a lot of electricity. They might say ‘Quit speaking. Do not speak too much’. But I shall continue speaking because this is a programme that is recorded on a tape and not [live] on air and not wasting electricity for television.

Summary of other subjects in HM the King’s birthday speech

Substitute energy

Let me talk about power supply and energy.

Every time we have an energy crisis, the authorities concerned often advise people to turn off their televisions. Turning on televisions is in fact fine since we can always find new sources of energy to generate electricity. We have to try to find new kinds of fuels to replace the current ones that could run out in years or decades. If the current sources of fuel run out in 40 years, I will be then 118 years old.

Palm oil seems to be a viable substitute. The prime minister may have seen a Royal car that runs on biodiesel, 100 per cent of which is produced from palm oil. The exhaust smells good and causes no cancer.

I have created such a substitute fuel because I may still have it to use when I am 118. Everybody must think of themselves and they must consequently try to find substitute fuels.

At the age of 118, the prime minister might say I am old but I am not old since I keep trying to create new substitute fuels all the time.

At age 94 in the next four decades, the prime minister might then successfully have gasohol and biodiesel refineries built. He will then have no trouble with energy shortages since he can travel on a plane fuelled with biodiesel. Now there are some aircraft that run on biodiesel but they are not the big ones. In the future, big planes like the one now used by the prime minister might be able to run on biodiesel.

With substitute fuels, I and the prime minister will have new sources of energy to use in the next 40 years. The substitute fuels might then also be used to power TV stations’ airing of the prime minister’s public announcements, advertisements, and whatsoever.

Sufficiency economy

People who are in trouble should take a look at Royal projects based on the sufficiency economy theory. The prime minister and spouses of some Cabinet ministers have practised it well and there seems to be nothing to worry about.

As regards some deputy prime ministers, they might have yet to get into a sufficiency economy since they are more accustomed to a big-spending economy.

The prime minister and the first lady might be able to advise them on how to practise sufficiency economy to help the country save money. The prime minister himself might also educate the House on sufficiency economy and then the latter can subsequently teach other people.

There is no need to teach the Opposition about sufficiency economy since they seem to practise it well. The former Opposition leader has practised sufficiency so well that he has made the country spend little money and even quit the party’s helm.

Anyway, those who believe in sufficiency economy should practise it. It will keep them going, though not very comfortably.

Dams and flood prevention

When I first talked about the “Monkey Cheeks” technique for flood prevention, people laughed and wondered what it was.

Since they have learned what it is, they now understand why we need it. Like a monkey with big cheeks to store food, we need retention areas for floodwater. Despite the existence of some irrigation dykes in Chiang Mai, the northern city was recently flooded by heavy rain and that was a cause of fury to the prime minister.

Those dykes were in fact badly designed. People should observe a Royal project on the expansion of a dam in Kui Buri district and see how it has worked so efficiently.

Thanks to the dam expansion, flooding in Prachuap Khiri Khan this year has not reached Hua Hin. Because it was a Royal project, the expansion of the dam from the original capacity of nine million cubic metres was finished at an expedited speed of two years instead of three years under the common bureaucracy.

About Bt100 million spent on the dam expansion was paid back considering the possible extensive flood damage it has averted. The money spent on expanding the dam was very well worth it.