In the midst of extremely difficult times in Thailand, the king failed to give his traditional birthday speech.
The king’s absence was disconcerting to many Thais, who had hoped his words would help reconcile the increasingly dangerous political and social divide emerging in the country. The king, whose moral influence overrides the temporal power of politicians and generals, has intervened in the past at critical moments to avert bloodshed.
“I’m frightened because everybody is waiting for his speech,” said Sujittra Chanchaicharoengul,30, a writer for a woman’s magazine. “I was shocked when I heard this. I didn’t want to believe it, because normally, no matter what, he will come as our esteemed king and the spirit of the people.