The condition of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej has improved after he received treatment for a condition affecting his large intestine, the Bureau of the Royal Household said.
The monarch’s fever has been reduced and his general condition has improved after receiving saline and antibiotics intravenously, the bureau said yesterday. Doctors will continue to treat the king with antibiotics.
The king, 86, was admitted to Bangkok’s Siriraj hospital Oct. 3 suffering from an infection and fever and later underwent an operation to have his gall bladder removed. In early November, the king was found to be suffering from diverticulum of the large intestine, a condition he experienced in 2007, 2011 and 2012.
The health of King Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, is watched closely in Thailand where he is revered by many for what they say has been his unifying presence during a seven-decade reign marked by 16 successful or attempted coups, 17 constitutions and 29 changes of prime minister. Under Thailand’s constitutional monarchy, the king is head of state and the prime minister and parliament govern, though legislation must still be approved by the king.
Thailand’s latest coup in May saw Junta leader Prayuth Chan-Ocha topple the elected government of then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. While hospitalized, the king has endorsed members of a so-called national reconciliation council and a committee that will draft a permanent constitution before elections that may be held at the end of next year.
Many of Thailand’s 66 million people are grateful for the palace’s charity projects and public works initiatives and show their reverence for King Bhumibol, whose name means “Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power,” by displaying his picture in their homes, businesses and public spaces. His birthday, Dec. 5, is also Father’s Day in Thailand.
Though the king is officially above politics, protesters on both sides of the political divide that has beset Thailand for the past decade have frequently displayed his image or those of other members of the royal family at street demonstrations, and accused opponents of disrespect for the monarchy.
Criticism of King Bhumibol is curbed under Thailand’s code of lese majeste, laws that can be used against anyone accused of defaming, insulting or threatening the king, queen, heir apparent or regent. The use of the law has been criticized in recent years by activists, academics and rights groups as unjust and an impediment to public discussion. Prosecution of offenders, who face as long as 15 years in prison, has increased since the May coup.