BANGKOK: Fears for the health of Thailand’s 81-year-old king have triggered two days of big losses on the country’s stock exchange amid uncertainty over the royal succession.King Bhumibol Adulyadej was admitted to hospital in Bangkok last month with pneumonia. The Royal Household Bureau has issued statements almost daily that his general condition is good, but a lack of detailed information has given weight to rumours that he is seriously ill.That uncertainty was reflected on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, which closed down 5.3 per cent on Thursday after falling 8.2 per cent at one point – the biggest one-day fall since the global financial crisis began last October. On Wednesday, the market fell just over 2 per cent.Trading was to be halted yesterday if shares continued to fall, but they appeared to be rallying.Bhumibol, the world’s longest-serving monarch, has ruled Thailand for 63 years, a reign that has seen 15 coups, 16 constitutions and 27 changes of prime minister. He is revered as an almost divine figure who single-handedly restored the glory of a once-moribund monarchy.Bhumibol’s son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, is not perceived to have the stature or moral authority of his father, who has risen above partisan politics to become a unifying figure.The 25th statement from the Royal Household Bureau since the king was admitted to hospital on September 19 said his lung infection was clearing up, but he was not completely recovered. The royal physicians had requested ”that His Majesty remain in hospital … to improve his nutrition status and to provide continuous rehabilitation therapies”.Portraits of Bhumibol are displayed prominently in almost every home, business and public place in Thailand, and wristbands reading ”Long live the king” are hugely popular. Newspapers have been publishing front-page articles daily updating readers on the king’s health. The length of his stay in hospital – and the absence of photographs of his convalescence – have led to speculation that he is seriously ill.The stock exchange president, Patareeya Benjapolchai, called for calm. ”The market would like to warn investors to closely follow announcements from the relevant agencies. They should not panic about rumours.”The Finance Minister, Korn Chatikavanij, asked investors not to trade on hearsay. The stockmarket was ”very sensitive” and investors should consider all information logically before making decisions, he said.Adding to the anxiety has been the political crisis triggered in 2006 when the army ousted the prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, after he was accused of corruption. The struggle has been played out in streets of the capital, where Mr Thaksin’s supporters and opponents have staged a series of mass protests.Last year anti-Thaksin activists occupied the Prime Minister’s offices for three months and seized Bangkok’s two airports for a week. A protest by Thaksin followers was planned for yesterday.Guardian News & Media
Nanjing Night Net

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