A remarkable life

A remarkable life

Tributes flow in from nation and abroad for statesman

Privy Council chairman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda puts on a beret before addressing cadets at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy at Khao Cha-ngoke, Nakhon Nayok province, in 2006. (Photo by Surapol Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)
Privy Council chairman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda puts on a beret before addressing cadets at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy at Khao Cha-ngoke, Nakhon Nayok province, in 2006. (Photo by Surapol Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)

Thais and the international community are in mourning over the death of Privy Council president and statesman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, who passed away from heart failure at a hospital on Sunday morning at the age of 98.

They said the death of Gen Prem is a significant loss to Thailand as Gen Prem had contributed greatly to the country's development.

The former prime minister was rushed to Phramongkutklao Hospital by military officers from his Sisao Thewes residence at 5am for emergency treatment. He was pronounced dead at 9.09am.

Gen Prem's birthplace in Songkhla draws mourners (Video by Assawin Pakkawan)

His Majesty the King designated Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to bestow bathing water for Gen Prem on his behalf at Wat Benchamabophit in Phra Nakhon district tonight, according to remarks issued by the Tinsulanonda family.

However, details for his funeral rites have yet to be announced by the Royal Household Bureau (RHB), Lt Gen Pitsanu Phuttawong, a close aide to Gen Prem, said.

Meanwhile, the government's executives, senior politicians and top brass on Sundaymourned the loss of Gen Prem.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed deep condolences to the passing of Gen Prem, who he said was a venerable person who had contributed a lot to the country throughout his life.

"Gen Prem was a role model for his patriotism, integrity and contributions to the public,'' deputy government spokesman Lt Gen Werachon Sukondhapatipak quoted the premier as saying.

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai said he had worked closely with Gen Prem who was then the prime minister and praised him for his honesty and good intentions.

Gen Prem has made many recognised contributions to the country, said Maj Gen Krit Chantaraniyom, a spokesman for the armed forces. "His profile and achievements would be remembered as a model for all military personnel," Maj Gen Krit said.

At Phramongkutklao Hospital, Air Marshal Pakdee Saengchuto, deputy secretary-general of the RHB; Phra Thamkawee, abbot of Wat Benchamabophit; and Panuwit Pumhirun, the former chief of the Royal Thai Army Medical Department, turned up to pay tribute to the late prime minister.

In Songkhla, where Gen Prem was born, hundreds of people gathered at Phathammarong Museum on Chana Road in Muang municipality to pay tribute to the late statesman. The museum exhibits his profile and personal items.

Meanwhile, the European Union, the United States Embassy and the Chinese Embassy in Thailand expressed their deep condolences for Gen Prem's loss.

"In decades of dedicated service to the monarchy and country, Gen Prem made a contribution to shaping modern Thailand that remains unmatched to this day," read the EU message shared on its Facebook page.

"Gen Prem will always be remembered for his deep commitment to the long-standing partnership between our two nations,'' said Peter Haymond, the US' charge d'affaires.

"We are shocked to learn that Gen Prem passed away,'' said Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian.

"He was an eminent leader of Thailand, who made great contributions to the development of the country."

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