Today is a very special day, Mother’s Day in Thailand and also the birthday of Queen Sirikit. Queen Sirikit is widely beloved in Thailand and respected and admired throughout the world.
Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s has supported over 350 projects and to enumerate all of them today would be impossible. Some of her Majesty’s most prominent projects are in the areas of the environment, handicrafts and public health.
Among her many environmental projects, the Queen has given patronage and her time to organizations such as the Association for the Conservation of Wildlife (ACW) and the Wildlife Fund of Thailand (WFT). But I think her most important insight was that she realized that deforestation threatened the livelihoods of needy people.
I would like to share some of her Majesty’s words on the subject of deforestation. On the eve of her 76th birthday she addressed the country from Dusit Palace. Her Majesty addressed the pressing issue of dwindling forests. The Queen said that forests help to store the ground water that gives life to watercourses, big and small.
“A forest is a water source,” Her Majesty said. “Think about fresh water – we can’t do without it. Our industries, our lives, need water,” the Queen said.
She noted that many experts predict the world will suffer a serious shortage of water within the next 15 years. As well as encouraging renewed forest protection, Her Majesty pleads for reforestation efforts.
Her environmental concerns extended to the Chao Phya River and mangroves, too. “The Chao Phya River used to be abundant,” Her Majesty recalls.
She hopes to see the river clean enough again to be a vibrant habitat for water life. Factories and farms must cease discharging effluent into the Chao Phya.
“Mangrove forests are important. Don’t destroy them,” she added.
The Queen has supported the traditional handicrafts of Thailand in many ways. The Queen has personally provided seed money for many for support groups and cooperatives that have promoted traditional handicrafts. Her projects in this area have improved the lives of rural females in Thailand tremendously.
The Queen has been active in the area of public health. The Queen is the President of the Thai Red Cross. She has held this a post since 1956. Her role in this area gained new prominence when she was active in coordinating disaster relief after the tsunami disaster in Southern Thailand.
Perhaps the Queens greatest contribution has been in the area of diplomacy. The Queen has worked tirelessly to promote tolerance and understanding for the Muslim minorities in Southern Thailand. Her quiet diplomacy in this area demonstrates a far reaching understanding of soft power long before soft power became a major theme in global circles.
In conclusion, the Queen has shown herself to be an invaluable resource for the people of Thailand, a person of foresight, and a true mother of all the people of Thailand.
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