The crowd gathered at Siriraj hospital had been there, in some form, for the last several days. When news broke that HM the King’s condition had worsened, the crowds swelled yesterday as the faithful showed up to sing and pray, wearing healing pink colors and clutching photos of their beloved King.
Live video: David Pfizenmaier
In this video, shot outside the hospital, the emotional state is reaching fever pitch and most of what can be heard on the audio is just people crying for their deep, profound loss.
David Pfizenmaier, 38, is a half-Thai, half-German man born in Germany but living in Thailand for more than a decade, where he co-founded Bangkok Vanguards.
When he heard that the King’s condition had been listed as critical, he shuffled around his work schedule and rushed to Siriraj to show respect for the King’s lifetime of work serving the country and it’s people.
“The motivation for me to go to the hospital was the sad news that King was in critical condition. That’s the first time the palace has said that in five or six years. For me, that was a signal that it was serious, serious times.”
When he arrived, he came upon a group of 600-700 people and more gathering every minute. They were spilling out of the hospital grounds and onto the streets and Siriraj pier.
When they made the official announcement at 7pm, “It was a really sad moment, emotionally. You felt it in the air, until that moment, people were still hoping and praying for his health.”
Thakoon Kumut, 52, a company employee, was also on the scene and agreed that the moment when they announced the King’s passing was one of the most devastating he’d ever seen.
“There was so many people, all there hoping for a miracle and praying for HM King Bhumibol to be okay. Everyone didn’t want to believe his death, and were still hoping. There were rows of people in front of the hospital with candles, continuously praying. Many others would start singing the Royal Anthem of HM (Phleng Sansoen Pra Barami).”
“But when news came out that he passed away, it was like the world stopped. People stopped praying and there no one was singing anymore. As if we all became one mind and one heart, everyone (old, young, soldier, child) started crying and no one said anything. It felt like everything good in the world was drained away,” he said.
Thakoon went to the hospital at about 5:30pm and was still hoping for a miracle about his King’s health. He left by 9pm because he had to work in the morning. As he walked and stood and sang and prayed, he heard other people consoling each other. One theme that repeated was people telling each other not to give up hope, that sometimes the news gets things wrong
Thakoon had strong words about the future of Thailand, however. “Personally, I believe that life goes on. His death will have a huge impact on Thais, but I believe that we still have a responsibility to lead Thailand to a better future, and make the country great. We would want to make him proud of us. His death will not be the end of Thailand, and we will be stronger because of it.”
University lecturer Tirote Thongnuan was also at the hospital for the moving moment. He said, “I’m very fortunate to have wished my beloved king recovery at Siriraj Hospital for the last time. His passing made me totally devastated, considering how much he has done for his people and how we all shall live without him from now on. I promise to follow in his footsteps and lead my life, with him being my inspiration to do good things for society.”
With additional reporting by: Pattiya Chuwiruch
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