King Bhumibol Adulyadej is dead. The longest reigning monarch has ended his 70-year regime after succumbing to a multitude of ailments that he has been enduring for several months now.
The king died peacefully at 3:52 p.m. in Siriraj Hospital according to the Royal Palace. Announcements were immediately made about the new rules to observe as the country enters a period of mourning. The Thai cabinet put in place a 30-day period of grieving where the whole nation is expected to hold off any kind joyous, celebratory, and jubilant activities. The friday that followed which was October 14 was declared a holiday for all government offices. Meanwhile, civil servants are now required to wear black for a one year starting friday. The rest of the public is encouraged to wear only black or white clothes.
This string of events triggered by the King’s death is seen as a shadow cast over Thailand’s already struggling economy. First off, analysts and economists see the period of mourning as an indication of significantly lower economic activity that will definitely have an effect on the country’s growth. This event is also expected to add weight to the already slowing productivity and lackluster workforce of Thailand.
The King is a beloved figure seen as an icon of hope for the country. Prime minister and junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said, however, that the business world will resume its activities as normal. In fact, Thailand’s stock market has closed 4.6% higher following a series of slumps in the previous days. The Prime minister was able to ease some of the worries of traders as he assured them of the succession of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn in the coming days.
While the head of the country struggles to maintain normalcy in the financial industry, it is a different story in the streets of Thailand. The mourning period is already expected to drag tourism which is one of the few industries left that is driving the economic growth of Thailand up after the military junta took control last May 2014. It accounts for 10% of the country’s economy. Concerts have already been canceled and festivals have been postponed. Add to that the closing of many entertainment hubs such as restaurants, the red light district, bars, and other establishments. It appears that the Thai economy will definitely take a hit.
With the struggle for political leaders remaining undetermined and the effects of the succession seemingly vague for now, the country is expected to remain in the dark. As the country continues to mourn the loss of their revered leader, the future of the Thai economy remains unclear.