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Contact with the People.


    During visits to the people in remote areas.

    During visits to the Hill-Tribes people.

His Majesty the King obtains knowledge about local conditions and problems from the people themselves and, after consulting with the officials concerned, devises the best courses of action to improve the conditions or solve the problems
Parallel to these foreign visits but infinitely more important and meaningful are the continual visits paid by Their Majesties to various parts of Thailand. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has chosen this continual contact with the people to be the focal point of his Constitutional Kingship and the cornerstone of his Reign. Professional men and officials in the capital city of Bangkok, we have seen, Their Majesties could meet regularly in the course of performing their official functions, so they have made it a point to spend all available spare time between those functions and even most of their so-called holidays to pay visits to other kinds of people in the capital and in particular to visit people in the outlying districts throughout the length and breadth of the Kingdom.
These visits sometimes take the form of extended tours, originating with the one early on in his Reign to the North-Eastern region where the soil and the people are reputed to be the poorest. It was in fact the first time in the history of Thailand that a King made a visit to the North-East and it set the pattern for future extended tours to other parts of the country. Throughout the 20 days of the first tour, Their Majesties were most enthusiastically received. Everywhere they went, people turned up to greet them in hundreds of thousands, some of them having had to travel on foot over some of the most rugged terrain for two or three days in order to be in the spots to be visited by Their Majesties. Even though the pre-arranged programme was already quite crowded, yet Their Majesties spent longer than scheduled at all places of stop and even made extra stops between schedules to make real acquaintance with the people. The mere presence of the King meant for most of those people that for the first time the highest symbol of the nation became alive and was brought before them as a recognizable feature. The manner in which Their Majesties conducted themselves, giving their whole hearts and attentions to the people even at great physical discomfort such as taking luncheons and dinners in mid-afternoon and late at night, immediately linked the living symbol of the Nation to the people in a bond of mutual understanding and personal affection.
From the infrequent trips of modest beginning in the 1950ís, to-day, Their Majesties spend almost eight months out of a year in each of the four widely dispersed Royal Residences outside of Bangkok at Chiang Mai in the North, Sakon Nakhon in the North - East, Prachuap Khiri Khan in the Mid-South and Narathiwat in the Far-South. At each of these locations, His Majesty visits many remote villages--- in fact, he has been to every one of the 72 provinces which go to compose Thailand and becomes familiar with the needs of the people all over the country.
It is from these contacts that His Majesty learns at first hand, from the people themselves, of the local conditions and problems. He converses with the local inhabitants after having put them at their ease and thus learns from them the problems with which they are faced according to their thinking. After consulting further with the officials concerned, His Majesty would deduce his own conclusions of the problems, including the causes of the troubles and the possible methods to redress them. After his return or sometimes even on the spot, He would indicate what he has learnt to the members of the Government, requesting them to assist and give support to the people wherever feasible, The numerous projects which His Majesty has initiated in such manner could be roughly classified under the following categories : development of irrigation projects throughout the Kingdom, reforestation and watershed development as well as crop substitution for opium growing in the North, irrigation network and water conservation in the North-East, drainage and re-clamation in the South and land reform with co-operative farming in the Central Plains.
In conversation with the ordinary people His Majesty would emphasize to them the necessity of self-improvement, the importance of basic factors of life such as education and public health in order that at least the level of their general welfare could be improved. Year by year as these visits become more frequent and pro-longed, Their Majesties are still received everywhere with the same degree of enthusiastic welcome as when they started off about thirty years ago. It should also be added that, to-day, often when Their Majesties visit the people, they are accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Princess Chulabhorn. But when Their Majesties are pre-occupied with other functions, sometimes either His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn or Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn will visit the people in their steads. Indeed, the personal bonds of understanding and affection between Their Majesties and their people never seem to cool but seem to grow all the time closer and stronger. Thus what King Bhumibol Adulyadej in his clear sightedness has set up to be the cornerstone of his Reign and his interpretation of the Thai Monarchy has turned out to be a tremendous success, making the influence of the Throne welcome and effective in all other areas of life some of which will be described in the following sections.
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