Connect with us

People

Profile: The man who met the King

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Ngeem Damrongkaset is a member of Rawai sea gypsy community. Now in his 70s, he had a chance to meet His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej when he first visited Phuket in 1959.

“I was about 12 years old at the time,” says Mr Ngeem. “I can still picture it clearly. Every person in our community had gathered together and was anxiously waiting to meet him. I remember feeling so blessed on that day – it was the most important day of our lives. He was the Father of the Nation, and he came to see us – poor people, who did not even have a place to call home.”

Mr Ngeem recalls the excitement of that day with a feeling of gratitude.

“Some adults presented His Majesty with marine creatures they had caught. It was the best we could do, as we could not afford anything else. He accepted all the gifts with his own hands. He even drank water which the community members gave him. I do not think this is something any other King would do,” he says.

“His Majesty and Her Royal Highness Queen Sirikit were graceful and respectful in all the things they did. It really was the best day of my life and I have never felt such joy and veneration in my life,” he adds.

Mr Ngeem says he has been shocked and grieved ever since he heard the news of His Majesty’s passing.

“His Majesty worked tirelessly for the country his whole life. He never stopped or took a day off from his duties. His presence and guidance were a huge blessing for the whole nation,” he says.

Mr Ngeem was born and raised in the Rawai sea gypsy community. He has never been anywhere but the sea, which is the only means of living for his family and community.

He attended a local school called Wat Sawang Arom School, which is located inside a temple close to where he grew up.

“All the kids in my community went to the same school, as they could not afford to enroll anywhere else and were certain to grow up to be fishermen anyway,” he says.

Mr Ngeem says he and his fellow community members try to follow the example His Majesty set for everyone.

“His Majesty worked hard and never complained about it. He helped poor people and enabled them to be self-sufficient. I will strive to keep on doing good things to honor him and his legacy,” he says.

Although Mr Ngeem is no longer in a leadership position in his community, he says he does what he can to help his community members.

“In my role as an elder of the community, I sometimes see some inappropriate things, and do whatever I can to set things right when it is in my power. The best I can do is give advice and let people know what is right and what is wrong. The rest is up to them,” he says.

Mr Ngeem feels that a lot has changed since others from outside the community have settled in the area.

“Earlier, we used to be just fishermen, but now the trend of other types of employment has taken hold. We are who we are, but there is nothing I can do if our younger generation doesn’t want to follow in the same footsteps. It is their future, so they must be the ones to decide,” he says.

“Ultimately, we must follow His Majesty’s advice of doing our duty to the best of our abilities. He will always be in our hearts – our great King, the King of Kings.”

— Chutharat Plerin

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Bangkok15 mins ago

MRT says Bangkok won’t suffer any Seoul-type metro flooding

Politics15 mins ago

Exiled Sri Lanka president expected to arrive in Thailand tomorrow

Northern Thailand17 mins ago

Tourists can see rare orchids in bloom at northern Thailand waterfall this month

Sponsored5 hours ago

LASIK eye surgery with state-of-the-art procedures in Thailand

Tourism1 hour ago

StyleCation: latest TAT campaign aims at young domestic tourists

Thailand2 hours ago

Thailand to consider Chinese engines for S26T Yuan submarine

Weather2 hours ago

Tropical storm ‘Mulan’ to hit several provinces of Thailand between August 11-13

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Pattaya3 hours ago

Pattaya’s tourist busses are back at the floating market, but missing Chinese

Phuket3 hours ago

TikTok post accuses Phuket restaurant of unfair, unlisted prices

Krabi3 hours ago

Whale shark washed up on a Krabi beach in Thailand

Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand introduces fine for not wearing seat belt in the back seat

Eastern Thailand4 hours ago

Baby’s birthday party turns violent in eastern Thailand

Thailand4 hours ago

Thailand’s new narcotics laws offers drug offenders treatment

Thailand4 hours ago

Toad travels from Thailand to Wales in student’s suitcase

Crime4 hours ago

Thai stunt director released from Myanmar

Economy4 hours ago

US’s Chips & Science Act good news for Thailand’s car industry

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending