brad brace contemporary culture scrapbook

November 19, 2004

king’s stray dog

Filed under: thailand — admin @ 6:13 pm

Tale of a stray dog wins hearts in Thailand


12 November 2004 11:12

A heart-warming comic book about a stray dog on the streets of Bangkok who won the heart of Thailand’s much-loved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, hit the kingdom’s bookstores on Friday, said the publisher.

The king himself penned the original story of Tongdaeng, or “Copper” who was sent to the royal palace as a tiny puppy after the monarch took an interest in the treatment of street dogs in the Bangkok suburb of Wang Tonglarng.

In a country where the king enjoys a level of love and respect that his counterparts elsewhere can only dream about, Tongdaeng’s story has been widely interpreted not just a feel-good tale, but also as a a homily to Thais — politicians included — on how they should behave.

A best-selling book on Tongdaeng’s life was launched in 2002, but the comic book’s publisher, Amarin Printing and Publishing, said the monarch felt the dog’s respect towards his mother had been overlooked in the original version.

“The king expressed his concern that the story of Tongdaeng lacked… her gratitude toward her mother unlike people who become famous and forgot their own humble patronages,” said a spokesperson for Amarin.

She said the comic book would also be a better way of promoting the dog’s tale among younger Thais.

The story lauds Tongdaeng’s qualities of loyalty and humility, recounting how she behaves respectfully in front of the king and still shows gratitude to the older dog who adopted her when she arrived at the palace.

The first 100 000 “story of Tongdaeng” comic books went on sale nationwide on Friday with a second run of 100 000 editions still on the printing press, said the publisher.

Thousands of shoppers queued for hours in 2002 to snap up limited-edition T-shirts emblazoned with Tongdaeng’s image, sold to raise money for the king’s charitable foundations.

King Bhumipol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, has seen more than 20 prime ministers, 16 constitutions and 17 coups in Thailand since he ascended to the throne in 1946 at the age of 18. – Sapa-AFP

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