Thai king advises prime minister to accept criticism in annual birthday speech

Thailand's revered king has advised the prime minister to be more thick-skinned when it comes to criticism because it comes with the job.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej talked at length Sunday in his annual birthday speech about Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's inability to handle criticism, adding that even the king has made mistakes, and it is better to know if one has erred.

"Anyone in a very high-profile position must be able to take criticism lightly," the king said in the speech, which was broadcast on radio and television and lasted more than an hour.

The saying "The king can do no wrong" is "actually extremely insulting to the king because why can the king do no wrong? That would mean that the king is not human," he said. "The king can do wrong."

He also reminded Thaksin, who is one of Thailand's richest men, to think before speaking and not to act on his emotions, otherwise he would regret it later. He acknowledged making many mistakes before he became king, but seldom afterward because he was cautious.

"If I weren't careful, I would probably be dead already. This is the nature of politics or being in the public eye," he said.

Thaksin, who has filed massive lawsuits against his critics, should not sue them because it will only cause him further problems, the king added.

As an example, he noted that anytime someone was imprisoned for criticizing the king, people in other countries would then criticize him as well.

Thaksin has been at odds with the press since taking office in 2001. Critics say his administration has manipulated press coverage, forced the cancellation of TV and radio shows that criticized him, and colluded with political and business allies to take over media companies to eliminate independent news outlets.

The king also reminded the government to develop alternative energy sources. Pointing out that his car runs solely on palm oil, he said the government should do more to develop biodiesel as a fuel, AP reported. V.A.

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