HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, center left, and Queen Sirikit, center right, pose with the visiting representatives of 25 royal houses from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Thailand’s Asian neighbors in the elaborate century-old high-ceilinged Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok Monday, June 12, 2006. (Photo: Chiangmai Mail)
“As a group, the world’s 15 richest royals have increased their total wealth to 131 billion dollars, up from 95 billion last year,” Forbes said on its website.
AFP | Aug 22, 2008
NEW YORK (AFP) — With a fortune estimated at 35 billion dollars, Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the world’s richest royal sovereign, and oil-rich Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi is far back at No. 2, Forbes magazine reported Thursday.
King Bhumibol, 80 and, at 62 years on the throne the world’s longest-serving head of state, pushed to the top of the richest royals list by virtue a greater transparency surrounding his fortune, Forbes said.
It said that the Crown Property Bureau, which manages most of his family’s wealth, “granted unprecedented access this year, revealing vast landholdings, including 3,493 acres in Bangkok.”
Forbes called it a good year for monarchies, investment-wise. “As a group, the world’s 15 richest royals have increased their total wealth to 131 billion dollars, up from 95 billion last year,” Forbes said on its website.
With oil prices soaring, the monarchs of the petro-kingdoms of the Middle East and Asia dominate the list.
Sheik Khalifa, 60, the current president of the United Arab Emirates, was estimated to be worth 23 billion dollars, on the back of Abu Dhabi’s huge petroleum reserves.
In third was the sovereign of the world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, 84, who inherited the Al-Saud family throne in 2005, came in with a fortune of 21 billion dollars.
The previous king of kings, wealth-wise, 62 year old Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of tiny, oil-endowed Brunei on the Southeast Asia island of Borneo, fell to fourth place with 20 billion dollars.
“The sultan, who inherited the riches of an unbroken 600-year-old Muslim dynasty, has had to cut back on his country’s oil production because of depleting reserves,” Forbes explained of his dwindling fortune.
Fifth was Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, 58, of another Emirate, Dubai, with a net worth of 18 billion dollars.
One of two Europeans on the list, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, 63, ranked six on the list with 5 billion dollars in wealth. However the bank that is a key source of his family’s wealth, LGT, is under investigation by the United States for helping wealthy people evade taxes.
Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, 56, came in at seventh, worth two billion dollar; eighth was King Mohammed VI of Morocco, 46, his 1.5 billion dollar fortune based on phosphate mining, agriculture and other investments.
Number nine was Prince Albert II of Monaco, 50, his diverse fortune in the southern European principality put at 1.4 billion dollars.
Tenth on the list was Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, 67, worth 1.1 billion dollars.
Rounding out the top 15 were: The Aga Khan Prince Karim Al Hussein, 71 (1.0 billion); Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, 82, 650 million dollars; Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, 79, 500 million dollars; Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard of the Netherlands, 70, 300 million dollars; and King Mswati III of Swaziland, 40, with 200 million dollars.
Forbes noted that because many of the royals inherited their wealth, share it with extended families, and often control it “in trust for their nation or territory,” none of those on its list would qualify for the magazine’s famous annual world billionaires ranking.
“Because of technical and idiosyncratic oddities in the exact relationship between individual and state wealth, these estimates are perforce a blend of art and science,” it added.
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Facts about King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Former US president George Bush (L) talks with Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (2L) while Barbara Bush (2R) and Thai Queen Sirikit (R) look on during dinner at Palace in Bangkok, 11 December 2006. Former US president George Bush had an audience with Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who marked his 60th anniversary on the throne. (Photo: HO/AFP/Getty Images)
“Bhumibol has manipulated Thai politics to a degree far beyond his constitutional power. As a traditional conservative force he has hindered the democratic development of his country.”
– Serhat Unaldi, in Modern Monarchs: A Comparison of the Democratic Roles of Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyad and Juan Carlos of Spain
King Bhumibol Adulyadej “My Way”
Bhumibol Adulyadej – Wikipedia
Having reigned since June 9, 1946, he is the world’s longest-serving current head of state and the longest-serving monarch in Thai history.
Reported to be the richest man in the world… He is immensely popular in Thailand, and is revered as a semi-divine figure by the Thais.
Bhumibol was born at the Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States. Bhumibol finished his primary schooling at Mater Dei school in Bangkok and then left with his family in 1933 for Switzerland, where he received his secondary education at the École Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande in Chailly-sur-Lausanne. He received the baccalauréat des lettres (high-school diploma with major in French literature, Latin, and Greek) from the Gymnase Classique Cantonal of Lausanne. He was studying science at the University of Lausanne when his elder brother, Phra Ong Chao Ananda Mahidol, was crowned King of Thailand in 1935. King Ananda Mahidol then elevated his brother and sister to Chao Fa status, the most senior class of the Thai princes and princesses. They came to Thailand briefly in 1938, but returned to Switzerland for further study in Lausanne, remaining there until the end of World War II in 1945.
Sarit Dhanarajata era
Sarit Dhanarajata seized power, and two hours later Bhumibol imposed the martial law throughout the Kingdom. Bhumibol issued a Royal Command appointing Sarit as “Military Defender of the Capital” without anyone countersigning this Royal Command. The said Royal Command contained the following matters:
“The military under the leadership of Field Marshal Sarit Dhanarajata has successfully took over the administrative power and is acting as the Military Defender of the Capital. I, therefor, appointed Field Marshal Sarit Dhanarajata as Military Defender of the Capital. All the people are requested to remain calm while all public servants are to follow the Orders issued by Field Marshal Sarit Dhanarajat. Henceforth onwards”.
During Sarit’s dictatorship, the monarchy was revitalised. Bhumibol attended public ceremonies, toured the provinces and patronised development projects. Under Sarit, the practice of crawling in front of royalty during audiences, banned by King Chulalongkorn, was revived…
The CPB spearheaded a plan to turn Bangkok’s historical Rajadamnoen Avenue into a shopping street known as the “Champs-Élysées 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.
Although Bhumibol is held in great respect by many Thais, he is also protected by lèse majesté laws which allow critics to be jailed for three to 15 years. The laws were toughened during the dictatorship of royalist Premier Tanin Kraivixien, such that criticism of any member of the royal family, the royal development projects, the royal institution, the Chakri Dynasty, or any previous Thai King was also banned.
Book: The King Never Smiles
The publicity materials at the Yale University Press website originally described the book as telling “the unexpected story of (King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s) life and 60-year rule — how a Western-raised boy came to be seen by his people as a living Buddha, and how a king widely seen as beneficent and apolitical could in fact be so deeply political, autocratic, and even brutal… Blasting apart the widely accepted image of the king as egalitarian and virtuous, Handley convincingly portrays an anti-democratic monarch who, together with allies in big business and the murderous, corrupt Thai military, has protected a centuries-old, barely modified feudal dynasty.”
The New York Times noted that the book “presents a direct counterpoint to years of methodical royal image-making that projects a king beyond politics, a man of peace, good works and Buddhist humility.” McCargo praised Handley’s “understanding of Bhumibol as a political actor, as the primary architect of a lifelong project to transform an unpopular and marginalized monarchical institution—on the verge of abolition more than once—into the single most powerful component of the modern Thai state.” McCargo also praised Handley’s “brilliantly intuitive grasp of the seedy interplay between money and power,” regarding the workings of the Crown Property Bureau.
Thailand’s Royal Wealth
How Thailand’s Royals Manage to Own All the Good Stuff
Thailand: Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation
Around 80,000 women and children have been sold into Thailand’s sex idustry since 1990, with most coming from Burma, China’s Yunan province and Laos. Trafficked children were also found on construction sites and in sweatshops. In 1996, almost 200,000 foreign children, mostly boys from Burma, Laos and Cambodia, were thought to be working in Thailand. (Mahidol University’s Institute of Population and Social Research, “Trafficking of children on the rise,” Bangkok Post, 22 July 1998)
Enforced disappearances a blight on Thailand
Thailand is a democracy, or so we claim, but we have yet to face the uglier side of our society – the forced disappearances that have been occurring throughout Thailand. The Working Group on Justice for Peace (WGJP) has compiled 90 cases of disappearances throughout Thailand, six of which took place last year. It is interesting to note that Kalasin, one of the poorest provinces in Thailand, has the highest number of reported cases of disappearances, violations of human rights and extrajudicial killings. The police force in the province systematically abuses its powers with impunity. Each year, hilltribes suffer at the hands of security forces. For instance, the Lahu hilltribes in Chiang Mai’s Fang district reported 15 disappearances. Most of the cases occurred between 2003 and 2004, and the main perpetrators were said to have been members of paramilitary forces. There has not been any progress in these cases. Although the Constitution and the penal code carry punishments for those who carry out enforced disappearances through random or other means, they contain no provisions to punish the perpetrators when a disappearance is the result of dark political forces at work.
Thai State Crimes
Thailand’s King Bhumibol is a traitor
The role of King Bhumibol in the most recent and the other coups in the past in Thailand is highly questionable to me. He never really defended democracy. Because he obviously is anti-democratic if you look a little deeper. He always supported the Military or at least kept quiet when they staged another coup. Would the military ever even stage a coup without the prior approval of King Bhumibol? They for sure consult him before each coup. Bhumibol never disagrees, condems or even publicly calls for resistance in case of any of the past coups. Bhumibol, you are a traitor. Shame on you.
Who Owns the World
The hidden facts behind landownership
King Bhumibol of Thailand third biggest landowner with 126 million acres
Land ownership is an increasingly topical subject that affects us all in one way or another. Kevin Cahill’s book Who Owns the World provides an in depth and informative resource on the subject, no matter where you live on the planet.
Child prostitution, trafficking, and sex slavery in Thailand
Recent International Labor Organization research suggests a speculative figure of 12,000 children per year being trafficked for sexual exploitation in South East Asia, mostly to Thailand. Thai non-governmental organisations and the Thai government estimate that 30,000 to 40,000 prostitutes are under 18. A proportion of prostitutes over the age of 18, including foreign nationals from Asia and Europe, are also in a state of forced sexual servitude and slavery.
Royal book ban stirs debate in Thailand
Thailand’s banning of a rare “warts and all” biography of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej could risk an eventual explosion of pent-up political tension, an academic says. “Banning books is usually something we associate with fascist and repressive regimes,” Australian anthropologist Annette Hamilton told a seminar on the book The King Never Smiles at an international Thai studies conference in Bangkok on Thursday.
Thailand’s military junta tightens its hold on power
The Thai military junta strengthened its grip over the weekend by appointing a retired general as the new “civilian” prime minister and imposing an authoritarian constitution that sanctions the September 19 coup. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who supported the military takeover, approved the arrangements.
Made in Thailand, made in hell?
Thai government blocks YouTube over insult to monarch
Censorship in Thailand
Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery in the Kingdom of Thailand
Thai junta wins royal blessing, begins purge
Thai king endorses coup
Sex banned on Thai king’s birthday
Thai govt toughens laws against criticism of feudal monarchy
Popular Thai website closed down for anti-monarchy comments
Sex-slave trade flourishes in Thailand