Ailing king suffers ‘severe infection’

Heir to the throne, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. Source: Wikimedia

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej has been treated for a “severe infection”, his palace announced, the latest medical report about the continuously deteriorating health of the veteran monarch.

The 88-year-old was reported to have a high heart beat and thick mucus and a test result “indicated a severe infection”.

Bhumibol has been in hospital for most of the last few years and was last seen in public in January.

Recent official announcements about his health have increased in frequency, but their narrow and technical focus make it hard to gauge the king’s cognitive capacity.

On Friday, the authorities said an X-ray revealed that the king had fluid in his lungs, which treatment helped to reduce. The king’s low blood pressure and a fever had since improved, it was announced. Whether he can engage with his aides about the state of his kingdom is another question.

At various times the king had reportedly been fed intravenously and given oxygen to assist his breathing, statements said.

In June, doctors apparently drained excess fluid from his brain for a second time.

His heir, the 63-year-old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, does not yet command the same measure of respect and adoration.

Meanwhile, the Thai junta has announced peace talks can go ahead with Muslim separatists along the Malaysian border but it insisted that rebels observe a ceasefire.

Militants in the Muslim-majority provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat are suspected of involvement bombings in August last month that targeted tourist towns and killed four people and wounded many more.

The ongoing southern insurgency reignited in 2004 and more than 6,500 people have died since, according to the NGO Deep South Watch.

Talks began in 2013 under former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra but there has been no dialogue since the May 2014 coup.

The Thai defence minister, Prawit Wongsuwan, said negotiations would restart in Kuala Lumpur next Friday.

Thai negotiator General Aksara Kerdphol said the separatists had to show good faith by ending the attacks.

“I have been instructed to tell the groups that there must be a peaceful situation on the ground before we are willing to sign any document,” Aksara said.

The Malaysian Bernama news agency said the Thai generals would meet representatives of Mara Pattani, which is called a “separatist umbrella group”.

Bangkok-based security analyst Anthony Davis of IHS-Jane’s said a lasting ceasefire was unlikely, as the principal force behind the insurgency, Barisan Revolusi Nasional, was not invited to the talks.