Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman - An All-American Hero

Thanks, Wikipedia.

This is a tribute to Paul Newman, the all-American screen hero who died after a long illness yesterday.

Paul Leonard Newman (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008) was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian and auto racing enthusiast.

He won numerous awards, including an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award and an Emmy award.

He also won several national championships as a driver in the Sports Car Club of America road racing and his race teams won several championships in open wheel IndyCar racing.

Newman was a co-founder of Newman's Own, a food company from which he donated all profits and royalties to charity.

As of May 2007, these donations had exceeded US$220 million.

Newman was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), the son of Theresa Fetsko and Arthur S. Newman, who ran a profitable sporting goods store.

His father was Russian-Jewish and his mother was born in Pticie, Slovakia.

Newman showed an early interest in theatre, which his mother encouraged. At the age of seven, he made his acting debut in a school production of Robin Hood.

Graduating from Shaker Heights High School in 1943, he briefly attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he was initiated into the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.

Newman served in the Navy in World War II.

He was sent to the Navy V-12 programme at Ohio University, with hope of being accepted for pilot training, but this plan was foiled when it was discovered he was colour blind.

He was sent instead to boot camp and then for further training as a radioman and gunner.

Qualifying as a rear-seat radioman and gunner in torpedo bombers in 1944, Aviation Radioman Third Class Newman was sent to Barber's Point, Hawaii and subsequently assigned to Pacific-based replacement torpedo squadrons.

These torpedo squadrons were responsible primarily for training replacement pilots and combat air crewmen.

He later flew from aircraft carriers as a tail gunner in the Avenger torpedo bomber.

As a radioman/gunner, he served aboard the USS Bunker Hill during the battle for Okinawa in 1945.

After the war, he completed his degree at Kenyon College, graduating in 1949.

Newman later studied acting at Yale University and under Lee Strasberg at the Actors' Studio in New York City.

Newman made his Broadway theatre debut in the original production of William Inge's Picnic, with Kim Stanley.

He later appeared in the original Broadway productions of The Desperate Hours and Sweet Bird of Youth with Geraldine Page.

He would later star in the film version of Sweet Bird of Youth, which also starred Page.

His first movie was The Silver Chalice (1954), followed by acclaimed roles in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), as boxer Rocky Graziano; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), opposite Elizabeth Taylor; and The Young Philadelphians (1959), with Barbara Rush and Robert Vaughn.

Newman appeared in a screen test with James Dean for East of Eden (1955).

Newman was testing for the role of Aron Trask, Dean was testing for the role of Aron's fraternal twin brother Cal Trask.

Dean won the part of Cal, while the role Newman was up for went to Richard Davalos.

The same year Newman would co-star with Eva Marie Saint and Frank Sinatra in a live and colour television broadcast of the Thornton Wilder stage play Our Town.

In 2003 Newman would act in a remake of Our Town, taking on Sinatra's role as the stage manager.

Newman was one of the few actors who successfully made the transition from 1950s cinema to that of the 1960s and 1970s.

His rebellious persona translated well to a subsequent generation.

Newman starred in Exodus (1960), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966), Hombre (1967), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Towering Inferno (1974), Slap Shot (1977) and The Verdict (1982).

He teamed up with fellow actor Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973).

He appeared with his wife Joanne Woodward, in the feature films The Long, Hot Summer (1958), Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, (1958), From the Terrace (1960), Paris Blues (1961), A New Kind of Love (1963), Winning (1969), WUSA (1970), The Drowning Pool (1975), Harry & Son (1984) and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990).

They also starred in the HBO miniseries Empire Falls, but did not have any scenes together.

In addition to starring in and directing Harry & Son, Newman also directed four feature films (in which he did not act) starring Woodward.

They were Rachel, Rachel (1968), based on Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God, the screen version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972), the television screen version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Shadow Box (1980) and a screen version of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (1987).

Twenty-five years after The Hustler, Newman reprised his role of "Fast" Eddie Felson in the Martin Scorsese-directed The Colour of Money (1986), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

In 2003, he appeared in a Broadway theatre revival of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, receiving his first Tony Award nomination for his performance.

Newman was nominated for an Emmy Award, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie.

His last screen appearance was as a conflicted mob boss in the 2002 film Road to Perdition opposite Tom Hanks, although he continued to provide voice work for films.

In keeping with his strong interest in car racing, he provided the voice of Doc Hudson, a retired race car in Disney/Pixar's Cars.

Similarly, he served as narrator for the 2007 film Dale, about the life of the legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, which turned out to be his final film performance.

Newman and writer A. E. Hotchner founded Newman's Own, a line of food products, in 1982.

The brand started with salad dressing and has expanded to include pasta sauce, lemonade, popcorn, salsa and wine among others.

Newman established a policy that all proceeds from the sale of Newman's Own products, after taxes, would be donated to charity.

Newman was married twice. His first marriage was to Jackie Witte and lasted from 1949 to 1958.

Together they had a son and two daughters.

Their son Scott Newman, who died in 1978 from an accidental drug overdose, appeared in the films Breakheart Pass, The Towering Inferno and the 1977 film Fraternity Row.

Newman started the Scott Newman Centre for Drug Abuse Prevention in memory of his son.

One of their daughters Susan Newman is a documentary filmmaker and philanthropist and has Broadway and screen credits, including a starring role as one of four Beatles fans in 1978's I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

She also received an Emmy nomination as co-producer of his telefilm, The Shadow Box.

Newman had eight grandchildren, all by his daughters.

Newman married actress Joanne Woodward in 1958. They have three daughters Nell, Melissa and Claire.

Newman directed Nell in the central role alongside her mother in the film The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.

Scottish rock band Dogs Die In Hot Cars wrote a song entitled Paul Newman's Eyes on its first album Please Describe Yourself.

The Chanukah Song of actor-comedian Adam Sandler refers to Goldie Hawn and Newman as half-Jewish and then declares, "Put them together, what a fine-lookin' Jew!"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Samad Ismail’s Favourite Fried Rice Recipes.

The late Tan Sri A. Samad Ismail was a great cook and he excelled in preparing delicious fried rice.

Here are two of his beloved recipes, for all Malaysians and non-Malaysians to share, in his memory.

2 small bowls cold or overnight rice.
2 shallots.
2 pips garlic.
1/2 dried sepat fish.
5cm salted kurau fish.
1 egg.
Cooking oil.
Salt to taste.

Cut the salted kurau into small pieces.
Fry the kurau and the sepat separately. Remove.
Saute the sliced shallots and garlic.
Mix in the rice and fish.
Beat egg slightly and add to rice.
Stir well.

2 small bowls cold rice.
2 sausages.
2 shallots.
2 pips garlic.
1/2 cup mixed vegetables (carrot, green peas and corn).
1 egg.
2 tablespoons butter.
Salt to taste.

Slice (slanting) sausages thinly.
Saute sliced shallots and garlic in butter.
Add in the sliced sausages.
Then mix in the rice followed by the mixed vegetables.
Lastly stir in beaten egg.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Words Of Wisdom From Tun Hussein Onn And Tun Abdul Razak Hussein - A Merdeka Special

"We have a society in which people of various racial origins have been brought up to be tolerant and understanding. We are a nation of people with conscience.

"The Indians can be very magnanimous, so can the Borneo Natives, the Malays and the Chinese. The great diversity is a blessing, not a handicap.

"It is a challenge and a blessing because no one race can dominate the others. I would hate to see the day when any one race dominates the others.'' - Tun Hussein Onn (1922-1990), third Prime Minister (1976-1981) and Father of National Unity.

"Prosperity is not for any particular group or community. That prosperity must be widely shared and must be spread throughout the nation.

"This prosperity is for all. On our ability to achieve this objective rests the survival of our nation and the peace and happiness of our people.'' - Tun Abdul Razak Hussein (1922-1976), second Prime Minister (1970-1976) and Father of Development.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

RIP Pak Samad (1924-2008)

Malaysia has lost its Father of Journalism.

Tan Sri Samad Ismail or Pak Samad (Grandpa Samad) passed away today at 84 after a long illness.

My heartfelt condolences to my former editor Nuraina Samad and her family.

May God bless Pak Samad and may all Malaysians cherish his vision for the nation and the sacrifices he made in bringing up the newspaper industry and the nation.

As a Malaysian journalist I'm eternally grateful to him as a grandpa and pa to all members of my trade.

Blessed are they who return to the Lord in the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Pak Samad is one such man and he'll always be a titan amongst men. RIP and Al-Fatihah.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Tale Of Two Taksins, The World’s Richest King & Patani, The Poland Of Asia

Thailand has two famous Taksins. Both were men who tried to do things differently and ended up ousted from power (the first one was executed for treason).

Both Taksins were great men but like the other rulers of Thailand, they were prejudiced towards the long-suffering people of Patani.

Rama 9 (or Bhumibol Adulyadej) is the world’s richest King and longest reigning monarch.

He is revered as a living Buddha in his homeland, Thailand, and rightly so, for he has done a lot to improve the lives of the low-income folk.

The man of many talents, however, has his failings, in that he bows to a higher power, that of Anna Leonowens’ tribe, the British.

For the uninitiated, Anna was a British-Indian (Eurasian) expatriate in Bangkok, the tutor of the Thai monarch’s children and a lifelong pal of Rama 9’s illustrious ancestor Rama 4, or King Mongkut in the 1800s.

Her life in Thailand was immortalised in the Broadway musical The King And I [starring the late Mongolian actor Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr] and the film Anna And The King [starring Chow Yun-Fatt and Jodie Foster, and filmed in Ipoh and George Town, Malaysia].

However, both American works unfairly exaggerated Anna’s brilliance and made the King look narrow-minded and somewhat despotic.

The tutor herself, like all British and Anglophiles of her time, grossly exaggerated the wisdom of the superpower’s agents and the lack of it amongst the non-European natives.

Mongkut is the Father of Modern Thailand and so is his son, Anna’s favourite pupil Rama 5, or King Chulalongkorn, the man who cared for Patani, unlike his successors.

Information is all from Wikipedia and the New Straits Times, plus my own.

Thaksin Shinawatra.

Colonel Thaksin Shinawatra (born July 26, 1949 in Chiang Mai, Thailand) is a Thai millionaire businessman and politician.

He was Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006.

Hugely popular for his skilful management of the country and ability to improve its economy, he was idolised by the country’s village dwellers because he involved himself in boosting their incomes.

He also scored a lot of points from village dwellers for his loathing of the Patani people and his likening them to pigs who should be slaughtered.

Many of his supporters, especially the villagers, cheered him on when he slaughtered Patani folk in cold blood with help from the equally racist top military officers who eventually ousted him from power.

[Some of the worst killers of the Patani people were Patani generals themselves].

Thaksin currently lives in exile in London, Britain.

If he returns to Thailand, he faces trial for corruption.

Thaksin owns the English football club Manchester City.

Thaksin started his career in the Thai police, and later became a successful entrepreneur, establishing Shin Corporation and Advanced Info Service, the largest mobile phone operator in Thailand.

He became one of the richest people in Thailand prior to entering politics.

Thaksin entered politics by joining the Phalang Dharma [Moral Force] Party in 1994 and later founded the Thai Rak Thai [Thais Love Thais] (TRT) Party in 1998.

All Thai parties are conservative parties. The army only allows conservative parties in the country.

All conservative parties are descended from the Democratic Party which is the oldest political party in Thailand.

He became Prime Minister in the country’s freest and fairest elections and despite his tendency to monopolise the Thai economy, has proved to be Thailand’s most open-minded and liberal Prime Minister besides General Chatichai Choonhavan and the revered father of Thai democracy Pridi Phanomyong.

Thaksin is married to Potjaman Shinawatra, and has one son, Panthongtae and two daughters, Pintongtha and Peathongtarn.

Thaksin's great-grandfather Seng Sae Khu was a Hakka (Beijing) Chinese immigrant from Meizhou, Guangdong, who arrived in Siam (old name of Thailand) in the 1860s and settled in Chiang Mai in 1908.

His eldest son, Chiang Sae Khu, was born in Chanthaburi in 1890 and married a Thai woman, Saeng Somna.

Chiang's eldest son, Sak, adopted the Thai surname Shinawatra (“does good always”) in 1938 because of the country's anti-Chinese policies spearheaded by the then fascist Prime Minister Field Marshall Phibun Songram.

Thaksin's father, Lert, was born in Chiang Mai in 1919 and married Yindi Ramingwong.

In 1968, Lert Shinawatra entered politics and became a Member of Parliament for Chiang Mai and deputy leader of the now-defunct Liberal Party.

Lert Shinawatra quit politics in 1976.

Thaksin's great-grandfather Seng Sae Khu made his fortune through tax farming.

The family later founded Shinawatra Silk and then moved into finance, construction and property development.

Lert Shinawatra opened a coffee shop, grew oranges and flowers in Chiang Mai's San Kamphaeng district, and opened two movie theatres, a gas station and a car and motorcycle dealership.

By the time Thaksin was born, the Shinawatra family was one of the richest and most influential families in Chiang Mai.

Thaksin was born in San Kamphaeng, Chiang Mai.

At 16, he helped run one of his father's cinemas.

He became a policeman in the early 1970s, graduating from cadet training in 1973.

In 1975, he studied criminal justice at the Eastern Kentucky University in the United States.

In 1978, he received a doctorate in criminal justice at Sam Houston State University in Texas, the United States.

Thaksin rose through the ranks in the police force and eventually became a colonel.

In 1980, he married Potjaman Damapong, the daughter of a police general.

Thaksin and his wife ventured into several businesses while he was still in the police force.

These included opening a silk shop, opening a movie theatre and developing an apartment building.

All of these ventures were failures, and left him over 50 million Baht in debt.

He established the company ICSI in 1982 and using his police contacts leased computers to government agencies with modest success.

In 1986, he founded Advanced Info Service (AIS), another computer rental business.

In 1987, after resigning from the police force, he produced a Thai romance drama called Baan Sai Thong, which became a hit with viewers.

In 1988, he teamed up with Pacific Telesis to operate and market the PacLink pager service, which was a modest success.

In 1989, Thaksin launched IBC, a cable television company, which lost money and was later merged with the station UTV.

In 1989, Thaksin established a data networking service, Shinawatra DataCom, today known as Advanced Data Network.

In 1990, Advanced Info Service launched analog 900 MHz mobile phone services after receiving a 20-year concession from the Telephone Organisation of Thailand and was the first company allowed to operate on the GSM 900 frequency.

The mobile phone boom in Thailand was just beginning, and Total Access Communications also received a concession to the GSM 1800 frequency.

AIS grew rapidly and was listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in 1991.

It established a GSM network in 1994 and eventually became the largest mobile phone operator in Thailand.

The Shinawatra Computer and Communications Group was founded in 1987 and listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in 1990.

In 1990, Thaksin founded Shinawatra Satellite, which has developed and operated a total of four Thaicom communications satellites.

In 1999, the Shinawatra family spent approximately 1 billion Baht establishing Shinawatra University in Pathum Thani's Sam Khok district.

The private university offered international programmes in engineering, architecture and business management.

After the 2006 military coup, half of the junior students dropped out, fearing repercussions in the job market.

As of 2007, the University had an endowment of 300 million Baht.

In 2000, Thaksin acquired the iTV television station from the Siam Commercial Bank.

Thaksin entered politics in 1994 through General Chamlong Srimuang, the leader of the Palang Dharma Party (PDP).

Thaksin was appointed Foreign Minister in the government of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai from the Democratic Party.

Years later, in 2006 after Thaksin was removed from power, his old sponsor Chamlong expressed regret at getting "such a dictator" into politics.

The PDP soon withdrew from the government, causing Chuan Leekpai to lose power.

Chamlong soon retired and hand-picked Thaksin as the new PDP leader.

Thaksin then joined the government of Prime Minister Banharn Silpa-Archa and was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Bangkok traffic.

In 1996, Thaksin quit the cabinet.

In 1997, he returned to the government as Deputy Prime Minister to General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, an ethnic Patani and member of Patani’s royal house, and served for a year.

Thaksin founded the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party in 1998.

The party was swept to power in 2001.

As Prime Minister, Thaksin initiated many distinctive policies affecting the economy, public health, education, energy, drugs and international relations.

Thaksin's policies were particularly effective at reducing rural poverty and at providing affordable health coverage to the people.

His cabinet was packed with academics and former student leaders.

The opposition frequently accused his government of being dictatorial, corrupt and repressive.

After the 2006 coup, many of Thaksin's economic policies were stopped.

Thaksin initiated two key healthcare policies: subsidised universal health care and low-cost universal access to anti-retroviral HIV medication.

Thaksin's healthcare programmes won the applause of the general public, but was criticised by many doctors and officials.

During the Thaksin government, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS noticeably declined.

Thaksin allowed the estimated 2.3 million migrant workers in Thailand to register and seek health coverage under the Thai national healthcare system.

They were also eligible for work permits at the end of the registration period, entitling them to full labour protection.

Thaksin initiated several highly controversial policies to counter a boom in the Thai drug market.

After earlier anti-drug policies like border blocking, public education, sports and promoting peer pressure against drug use proved ineffective, Thaksin launched a multi-pronged suppression campaign.

The policy consisted of rewarding government officials for achieving drug-busting targets and "ruthless" crackdowns on drug dealers.

In the first three months of the programme, 2,275 people, real and alleged drug dealers, were killed.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in his 2003 birthday speech, supported Thaksin's anti-drug approach, although he requested that the commander of the police categorise the deaths as those killed by police and those killed by fellow drug dealers.

Transparency International reported that Thailand's reputation for transparency amongst business executives improved during the years of the Thaksin government.

Thaksin initiated the Income Contingency Loan programme to increase access to higher education amongst Thais youths.

Under the programme, needy students may secure a loan to support their studies from vocational to university levels.

Thaksin made Thailand one of the first supporters of Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, with the Thai Ministry of Education committing to purchase 600,000 units.

His successor later cancelled the project.

In energy policy, the Thaksin government encouraged renewable energy and energy conservation.

Many Thaksin-era energy policies were reversed following the 2006 coup.

A resurgence in violence began in 2001 in the three southernmost provinces of Thailand which were all former components of the scrapped Sultanate of Patani.

Attacks were made against police, the military as well as civilians, unlike in the past when independentist rebels only attacked the first two.

It is believed that the rebels were a whole new independentist movement which was highly secretive and led by graduates from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, two countries known for creating such crazy people and which have excellent trade ties with Thailand.

Thaksin, aping his predecessors, fought the violence with “phoenix fire”.

He had the army slaughter Patanis at random and forbid them from forming moderate political parties that demanded autonomy and the restoration of the annexed country which was absorbed into Thailand and dissolved during Phibun’s premiership.

There have also been complaints that Thaksin appointed relatives to senior positions in the civil service and independent commissions, for example by elevating his cousin, General Chaiyasit Shinawatra, to army commander-in-chief.

In 2006, the Shinawatra family sold its entire stake in Shin Corporation to Temasek Holdings, the investment company of the Singapore government.

The Shinawatra and Damapong families netted about 73 billion Baht (about US$1.88 billion) tax-free from the sale.

The transaction made the Prime Minister the target of accusations that he was selling an asset of national importance to a foreign entity, and hence selling out his nation.

Army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratgalin, an ethnic Patani who was no friend of autonomy or independence for his motherland, ousted Thaksin in a bloodless coup in 2006.

Sonthi became interim Prime Minister, with the blessing of the King and privy council chief and ex-Prime Minister General Prem Tinsulanonda.

King Taksin The Great.

King Taksin or Taksin the Great (1734-1782) was a Chinese-Thai ruler of Thailand recognised for his prowess in warfare, his leadership in liberating the country from the Burmese in 1767 and his unification of the country.

Taksin was executed by his successor Rama 1 (founder of the Chakri Dynasty) when he was 48 after a 15-year reign.

His remains were buried at Wat (Temple) Bang Yireua Tai.

A tomb containing Taksin's clothes and a family shrine were found at Ching Hai district in Shantou, China in 1921.

It is believed that a descendant of Taksin the Great must have sent his clothes to be buried there to conform to Chinese Buddhist practices.

This supports the claim that the place was his father's hometown.

Taksin’s successors have declared December 28 as a day of homage to the great King.

Taksin was born in Ayutthaya City, Siam [then also called the Kingdom of Ayutthaya] and given the name Sin (Treasure).

His father Hai Hong was a tax-collector of Shantou Fujian (Teochew Hokkien) Chinese ancestry.

His mother Nok Lang was Thai.

Sin served as the deputy governor and later governor of Tak province.

During this time, he was renamed by the King of Siam (Ayutthaya) as Taksin (Treasure of Tak).

He fought for his kingdom when Burma invaded it in 1767 and destroyed its splendid capital city Ayutthaya City.

Taksin and his childhood friend, the half-Laotian (Hmong) Tong Duang (later Rama 1, founder of the Chakri Dynasty which now rules Thailand) controlled the parts of Thailand not occupied by the Burmese King’s army.

As boys, they were told by a Thai fortune teller that they would both end up ruling their country.

Within months, they successfully drove the Burmese out of Thailand and established a new capital city in Thonburi, near the site of the razed former capital.

Two years after becoming King of Thailand, Taksin invaded Cambodia at the behest of the Cambodian monarch to force the Vietnamese out of the country.

In 1773, the King of Vietnam signed a peace treaty with his Cambodian and Thai counterparts.

In 1779, he made Cambodia a Thai protectorate.

During this time he actively encouraged the Chinese to settle in Thailand.

He also forced Laos to become a protectorate of Thailand.

Likewise the Malaysian kingdoms of Kedah, Kelantan, Patani and Terengganu which were then under the weakened Johor Empire.

In 1821, the province of Perlis was carved out of Kedah as a separate kingdom and protectorate of Thailand under the rule of a nephew of the Kedah monarch.

King Taksin established trade ties with Britain and befriended British colonial agent Sir Francis Light who acquired Penang for the King of Britain from Kedah in 1786.

Soon, the King became a religious fanatic and believed he was the Living Buddha.

He killed anybody who refused to worship him, including the monks.

Rama 1 ousted him in a coup and had him sealed in a velvet sack and beaten to death with a scented sandalwood club, in accordance with the ancient tradition that no royal blood should touch the ground.

His execution was viewed as necessary in order to prevent the former king becoming the centre of a revolt against his successor.

Taksin’s statue stands in the middle of Wongwien Yai (the Big Traffic Circle) in Thonburi district of Bangkok and is a well known Bangkok landmark.

The Na Nakhon (also spelt Na Nakorn) family is descended from King Taksin.

King Taksin's fanaticism is today viewed as a mid-life crisis.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama 9).

Bhumibol Adulyadej or Rama 9 (born December 5, 1927), is the King of Thailand.

Having reigned since June 9, 1946, he is the world's longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history.

Although Bhumibol is a constitutional monarch, he has several times made decisive interventions in Thai politics.

He was credited with facilitating Thailand's transition to democracy in the 1990s, although in earlier periods of his reign he supported some military regimes, including that of Prime Minister Sarit Dhanarajata.

He has also used his considerable influence to stop coups, including recent attempts in 1981 and 1985.

Unfortunately, he has been unable to curb the Thai Armed Forces’ heavy involvement in illegal businesses and its well-known collaboration with the murderous Khmer Rouge militia of Cambodia.

The richest monarch in the world with a personal net worth of US$35 billion, Bhumibol has used part of his great wealth to fund over 3,000 development projects, particularly in rural areas.

He is immensely popular in Thailand and is revered as a semi-divine figure by the Thais.

Bhumibol was born in the United States and educated primarily in Switzerland.

Bhumibol is also an accomplished musician, artist and sailor.

Bhumibol means Strongman of the Land and Adulyadej means Incomparable Power.

Read together, it means Super Strongman of Thailand.

Bhumibol was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the United States.

He was the younger son of Prince Mahidol Adulyadej.

Bhumibol returned to Thailand in 1928, after Prince Mahidol graduated from Harvard University.

In 1933, his family went to Switzerland, where he received his secondary education in Lausanne.

He learnt French, Greek and Latin [Ancient Italian] and graduated with a science degree from the University of Lausanne.

In 1935, his elder brother King Ananda Mahidol was crowned King of Thailand.

Bhumibol ascended to the throne following the death of his brother on June 9, 1946.

Ananda Mahidol's death resulted from a gunshot to the head while in his bedroom in the Grand Palace, under circumstances that to this day remain a mystery.

It is widely believed that ex-Prime Minister Phibun Songram’s agents killed him.

Bhumibol was proclaimed the new King but promptly returned to Switzerland to complete his education.

His uncle, Prince Rangsit, was appoined Regent.

Bhumibol eventually obtained a law degree which helped prepare himself for his position as a monarch.

While pursuing his degree in Switzerland, Bhumibol visited Paris frequently.

It was in Paris that he met his first cousin Sirikit Kitiyakara, the daughter of the Thai ambassador to France.

He was 21 and she was 15.

On October 4, 1948, while Bhumibol was driving a Fiat Topolino on the Geneva-Lausanne road, he collided into the rear of a braking truck 10 km outside of Lausanne’s city centre.

He hurt his back and incurred cuts on his face that cost him sight in his right eye.

He subsequently wore an ocular prosthetic.

While he was hospitalised in Lausanne, Sirikit visited him frequently.

She met his mother, who asked her to continue her studies nearby so that Bhumibol could get to know her better.

Bhumibol selected for her a boarding school in Lausanne.

A quiet engagement in Lausanne followed on July 19, 1949, and the couple were married on April 28, 1950, just a week before his coronation.

Bhumibol and his wife Queen Sirikit have four children - Princess Ubol Ratana (born April 5, 1951), Prince Vajiralongkorn (born July 28, 1952), Princess Sirindhorn (born April 2, 1955) and Princess Chulabhorn Walailak, (born July 4, 1957).

One of Bhumibol's grandchildren, Bhumi Jensen, was killed in the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

He was the son of Princess Ubol Ratana.

Bhumibol was crowned King of Thailand on May 5, 1950 at the Royal Palace in Bangkok where he pledged that he would "reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people".

In the early years of his reign, during the government of Phibun Songram, Bhumibol had no real power and was little more than a ceremonial figure.

In August 1957, General Sarit Dhanarajata staged a coup.

The King sided with the general and told Phibun to quit.

When Sarit died of an illness in 1963, he was given a grand burial by the King.

The new Prime Minister Field Marshall Thanom Kittikachorn also enjoyed a close friendship with the King.

In October 1973, after massive protests and the deaths of a large number of pro-democracy demonstrators, Bhumibol opened the gates of the Chitralada Palace to fleeing protesters and held an audience with student leaders.

Bhumibol subsequently appointed the Thammasat University Rector Sanya Dharmasakti as the new Prime Minister, replacing Thanom.

Thanom subsequently moved to the United States and Singapore.

In October 1976, the army seized power again, under the flimsy excuse that some university students had criticised the royalty.

One of the men involved in the coup was Thailand’s current Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, a propagandist for the army.

In 1985, Bhumibol told the army to stop running the government and restore civilian rule within five years.

In 1992, Bhumibol played a key role in assisting Thailand's return to a democratic system of government.

He told military dictator General Suchinda Kraprayoon, who seized power and became Prime Minister in 1991, to quit and return power to civilians.

Bhumibol has been involved in many social and economic development projects which have uplifted the economic standings of many Thai villagers.

In 2006, the United Nations presented the first Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award to Bhumibol.

Bhumibol set a world record for receiving the greatest number of honorary university degrees (136) in 1997.

Most of his degrees came from Thai universities.

Bhumibol is a painter, photographer, author and translator.

His book Phra Mahachanok is based on a traditional Jataka story of Buddhist scripture.

The Story of Thong Daeng is the story of his dog Thong Daeng.

In his youth, Bhumibol was greatly interested in firearms.

He kept a carbine, a Sten gun and two automatic pistols in his bedroom and he and his elder brother King Ananda Mahidol often used the gardens of Baromphiman Palace for target practice.

Bhumibol is an accomplished jazz musician and composer, particularly good at the alto saxophone.

He was the first Southeast Asian composer to be awarded honorary membership of the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna, Austria at the age of 32.

In his travels, he has played with jazz legends as Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Lionel Hampton and Maynard Ferguson.

His songs can often be heard at social gatherings and are performed in concerts.

Bhumibol is an accomplished sailor and sailboat designer.

He won a gold medal for sailing in the Fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games [now SEA Games] in 1967, together with Princess Ubol Ratana whom he tied for points.

This accomplishment is all the more remarkable given Bhumibol's lack of binocular depth perception.

Bhumibol has also sailed the Gulf of Thailand from Hua Hin to Toey Harbour in Sattahip, covering 110 km in a 14-hour journey.

Like his father, a former naval engineer, Bhumibol was an avid boat designer and builder.

Bhumibol is the only Thai monarch — and possibly the only monarch in the world — to hold a patent.

He obtained one in 1993 for a waste water aerator named Chai Pattana and several patents on rainmaking since 1955.

Bhumibol owns massive amounts of land and equity in many companies through the Crown Property Bureau (CPB).

The CPB is the majority shareholder of Siam Cement (the largest Thai industrial conglomerate), Christiani & Nielsen (one of the largest construction firms), Deves Insurance (which has monopoly on government properties and contracts), Siam Commercial Bank (one of the largest banks) and Shin Corporation (a major telecommunications firm, through the CPB's holdings in Siam Commercial Bank).

The CPB also rents or leases about 36,000 properties to third parties, including the sites of the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Siam Paragon and Central World Tower.

The CPB spearheaded a plan to turn Bangkok’s historical Rajadamnoen Avenue into a shopping street known as the Champs-Elysees of Asia and in 2007, shocked longtime residents of traditional marketplace districts by giving them eviction notices.

Bhumibol's substantial income from the CPB, at least five billion Baht in 2004 alone, is exempt from taxes.

The CPB receives many state privileges.

Although the Ministry of Finance technically runs the CPB, in reality the decisions are made by Bhumibol.

The CPB's annual report is for the eyes of Bhumibol alone.

In addition, Bhumibol has numerous personal investments independent of the CPB.

He is personally the majority shareholder of the Thai Insurance Company and Sammakorn, as well as many other companies.

Bhumibol has a fleet of two personal aircrafts: a Boeing 737-800 and an Airbus A319.

Bhumibol stated that he was not above criticism in his 2005 birthday speech.

He said: "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.

If the King can do no wrong, it is akin to looking down upon him because the King is not being treated as a human being.

But the King can do wrong."


Patani is a region in South Thailand consisting of the modern-day provinces of Pattani (Patani), Yala (Jala) and Narathiwat (Menara).

In much earlier times, it controlled the Kra Isthmus which contained its vassal state Satun [comprising the modern-day Ranong (Rundung), Phang Nga, Phuket (Bukit), Phattalung (Petaling), Satun (Setul), Trang (Terang) and Krabi provinces].

Satun used to be under Kedah’s control and its kings were Kedahan Hmongs, but they intermarried with Patani’s Cham royal family, and subsequently became vassals of Patani.

There was also the Cham-ruled vassal kingdom of Ligor centred in modern-day Nakhon Si Thammarat and also covering Surat Thani (or Vijaya), Chumphon and Songkhla (or Singgora).

In the 1200s, the Thai tribe which was a minority in the huge Cham kingdom of Ligor, became strong enough to wrest control and subdue it, to create the kingdom of Thailand (Siam).

Once they conquered Ligor, the Thais demanded tribute from the kings of Patani and its southern neighbours Kedah and Kelantan.

This state of affairs was reversed in the mid-1400s when Johor, the protector of Patani, Kedah and Kelantan at the south of the Malay Peninsula, licked the Thais in battle, thanks to the brilliance of military strategist and Prime Minister (Bendahara) Tun Perak.

In the 1770s, when Johor became weak due to royal power struggles and Dutch aggression, Thailand (or Siam) once again extracted tribute from Kedah, Patani and Kelantan, adding Johor’s offshoot Terengganu to its list.

In 1821, Thailand milked a new protectorate Perlis, which it cut out of Kedah in 1821 and placed under the rule of a half-Arab Kedahan prince.

In 1909, Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu were made British protectorates and effectively returned to Malaysia.

However, both Britain and Thailand agreed that the latter keep Patani as its protectorate after the great King Chulalongkorn promised to respect the territorial integrity of his protectorate.

Sadly, the good King’s policy was discontinued after his demise. Successive Thai governments dismembered and dissolved the Patani kingdom.

Bangkok has, until today, employed an uncompromising and harsh approach in dealing with the Patani people’s struggle for self-determination and the restoration of their ancient state.

All non-violent attempts to fight for Patani’s autonomy and reconstitution have been met by brute force and stamped as treason.

This has resulted in violent resistance, first by secular nationalists and in recent years, by horrifyingly brutal terrorists masquerading as freedom fighters.

Thanks to Bangkok’s splendid trade and educational ties with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Patanis have been poisoned with Saudism and injected with Osama Bin Laden’s deadly poison.

Osama’s minions have committed horrid war crimes against Thai as well as Patani civilians, and the Thai government has done no better.

All Bangkok has been able to do is shoot and kill any Patani who votes against being absorbed into ethnic Thai ways and losing his or her history, and that includes non-violent and secular-minded nationalists.

As a result, the highly-disciplined and secretive foot soldiers of Osama have stepped up their barbarity towards Thai and Patani civilians and no end to the dirty war is in sight.

The current Thai government which replaced that of millionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has proved to be far more anti-Patani and anti-Muslim than its predecessor, despite chastising him for “alienating the Patani people”.

Only American, Chinese and British pressure on Thailand can save Patani from suffering the fate of Poland during the dark days of German occupation in the last two centuries.

Having ethnic Patanis helm the Thai army (like General Sonthi Boonyaratgalin) and even rise to the post of Prime MInister (like 1996-1997 Prime Minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, Thaksin’s ally and a prince of Patani) has not helped the oppressed former kingdom’s people.

More often than not, these Patanis with power side with the Siamese majority and sometimes behave worse than their paymasters.

Only worldwide pressure by countries that are not too dependent on Thai goods can make Bangkok change its stubborn Patani-phobia.