Resettlement of Population following the Dam Construction: The Case of Srinagarind Dam, Thailand
1981, Manat Suwan
In this doctoral dissertation, the author investigates the construction process of the Si Nakharin Dam in Kanchanaburi (completed in 1980), with his main focus on the socio-economic impact on the relocated villagers.
See also Satellite Exploration of Thailand / Lost Rivers - Kanchanaburi
This research focuses on the benefit-cost analysis of the displaced population because among the other costs created by the dam project, the resettlement of the reservoir evacuees is a significant problem in the general context of the country's economic development. The dam project is a good example of a development project in which the immediate benefits and costs may be unequally distributed. The principal economic result of a poorly planned and under-financed resettlement project is that the evacuees personally shoulder a disproportionate share of the real costs of the dam project; they may have fewer valuable assets, are less productive, and may have less income than would have been the case had they not been flooded. They are likely to become socially and politically disaffected.
There is a lack of money for the resettlement project, especially for payment of compensation to the evacuees. It was found in many projects that the construction of dams has been financially supported by the rich countries, but the evacuation of reservoir people has been left as the responsibility of the countries where the projects are located, which are usually poor.
The formation of the Srinagarind reservoir, with the designed high retention level of +180 meters (mean sea level), will inundate a ground surface area of about 433 square kilometers or about 216,875 Rais (33,365 ha). A large portion, approximately 169,675 Rais (26,104 ha), or 78 percent of the total inundated area, was classified as forest area. The remaining portion of the flooded area included agricultural land of approximately 45,200 Rais (6,954 ha), or 21 percent, and villages and the district office of Amphoe Srisawat, around 2,000 Rais (308 ha), which represented slightly less than one percent of the total impoundment area.
Lead and fluorite are the two most important mineral resources in the reservoir area. The estimation by the Department of Mineral Resource indicated the presence of 3,465 tons of lead and around three million tons of fluorite. Fortunately, the larger deposits of these two resources occur in areas above maximum reservoir surface level. The mineral deposits inundated by the reservoir were exploited before the reservoir was filled and, thus, did not constitute a cost.
Many important prehistoric artifacts have been found in the Quae Yai Basin area covering the Pleistocene and the Hoabinhinian ages, through early farming to the beginnings of the Iron Age. The Ongba Cave, located above the reservoir surface level, about eleven kilometers west northwest of the old Amphoe Srisawat, has been rich in artifactual material. The deposits date from the early Hoabinhinian occupation (135,000 B.C.). The first domestication of plants and stone pottery leading to the development of pottery took place in southeast Asia and provided the idea of agriculture for the West. Although archaeological sites above the reservoir level would not be inundated, they would be made more accessible to pillage. Unfortunately, no salvage archaeology was undertaken and no calculations were available concerning the costs of protecting the sites.
Finally, an unquantifiable cost of the Srinagarind Project is the social cost due to the forced evacuation of the people from the reservoir area. The reservoir, formed after completion of the dam, covers portions of two districts in two provinces, namely, Amphoe Srisawat of Changwad Kanchanaburi and Amphoe Banrai of Changwad Uthaithani. The main portion, about 90 percent of the total area, would cover five villages in Amphoe Srisawat where a heavy population of about 800 families were settled along both banks of the main Quae Yai River. Among those villages were: Tambon Tha Kradarn, Tambon Nongpet, Tambon Dan Mae Chalaep, Tambon Nasuan, and Tambon Khao Chod. The remaining portion, representing about ten percent of the total flooded area, was in Amphoe Banrai where only one village of about 140 families lined both sides of the river. The total population affected by the reservoir was estimated to be 8,000 people.
Besides the people who were forced to move because of the flood waters, there were additional social costs, including the inundation of 10 schools, 4 Wats, the Srisawat District Compound, and other public buildings.
The Resettlement Site Selection Committee proposed that the area, just downstream from the dam site, be the evacuation place for the reservoir people. This site was considered optimal in terms of the land's suitability for cultivation and its high degree of accessibility. However, the area was not sufficiently large to accommodate all of the families. Another problem was that the area lay in the forest reservation area managed by the Forestry Department; it was desired that it remain as a forest area rather than be given to EGAT to manage as a resettlement site. Because of these constraints this optimal site was not selected for the resettlement project.
According to the same estimation by EGAT, the average gross income at the resettlement sites would be 32,400 Baht per family per year (net income per Rai would be 21,000 Baht per family per year). The finding from this study reveals an average gross income of only 14,477 Baht per family per year, an amount even lower than the annual income each family earned from selling crops in the river basin, which was about 20,598 Baht per year. The average income of about 5,088 Baht per family per year from bamboo cutting was not included in the latter figure. This shows that the average annual income per family at the resettlement sites has been markedly decreased.
Unlike the old economy, which was quite varied, i.e., some people's economies were based on cash while some employed bartering without money, the economies at the new sites are almost exclusively cash-based. This makes life more difficult for the evacuated people at the new sites. As revealed by the evacuees, cash reserves of 1,000 Baht per family could have lasted for months or even a year previously, but this same amount of money now does not even last a month, and is often spent within two weeks. A statement commonly heard in the resettlement areas is that the money earned does not cover the expenses.
Buddhadasa: Theravada Buddhism and Modernist Reform in Thailand
2003, Peter A. Jackson
This book was originally published by the Siam Society in 1988 as,
"Buddhadasa: A Buddhist Thinker for the Modern World"
which, in turn, was an edited version of the author's doctoral dissertation in 1986,
"Buddhadasa and Doctrinal Modernisation in Contemporary Thai Buddhism."
In this work, the author introduces, interprets and analyzes Buddhadasa's thought and teachings.
Buddhadasa began to systematically reappraise and reinterpret Theravada Buddhist teachings in 1932, and some of his sermons and articles were published in local Buddhist journals in the 1930s and 1940s. However, it was not until the late 1960s and early 1970s, in particular during the period of civilian government from 1973 until 1976, that Buddhadasa's ideas found a broader national audience in Thailand.
Not since the Visuddhimagga, written by Buddhaghosa in Ceylon in the fifth century of the Christian era, has there been such a comprehensive attempt to systematically reinterpret the entirety of Theravada doctrine in the light of contemporary views and expectations.
Gradually since 1932 Buddhadasa's ideas have become more and more widely recognized. While not always being in agreement with them, Buddhadasa enjoyed the company of two generations of liberal democratic politicians, indicated by his meetings with Pridi Banomyong and his sometimes stormy interactions with Kukrit Pramoj. During the Second World War a politician from Buddhadasa's home province of Suratthani, Wut Suwannarat, came to know of his ideas and gave some of Buddhadasa's books to the democrat and former prime minister, Pridi Banomyong. Pridi invited Buddhadasa to Bangkok and when the two met they spoke from 1 P.M. till 10 P.M. on three consecutive days. While the content of their conversation is not recorded, the mere length of time the cabinet minister took off from his duties indicates something of the importance Pridi placed on the discussion. Pridi was also inspired to consider arranging for a temple like Suan Mokh to be built in his home province of Ayutthaya, but his being forced into exile after the death of King Rama VIII in 1947 meant the plan was never realized.
While Buddhadasa's reinterpretations of doctrine have been severely criticized by many religiously and politically conservative individuals, both monks and laypeople, he has never been criticized by the Sangha hierarchy. This is because, given that his work is neither illegal nor subject to secular censorship or restrictions, and that he strictly abides by clerical practices, there are no institutional means that can be used to criticize Buddhadasa.
Whereas Buddhism has traditionally taught that an individual's dukkha or suffering is a self-caused condition which is relieved through individual spiritual practice, Buddhadasa maintains that the suffering caused by socioeconomic exploitation and political oppression has an external source and can be ended only by spiritually guided action in the social world.
As already noted, popular Buddhist beliefs are often in contradiction with doctrine. For example, belief in the transferability of religious merit or good kamma between individuals, that thete is personal continuity after death, and that nibbana can be attained as a result of an enormous accumulation of merit rather than through liberative insight, cannot be justified by Buddhist doctrine but are nonetheless widely adhered to. The contradictions of popular beliefs with doctrine have long been recognized and have been accepted as the unavoidable corruption of the Buddha's teachings by world-involved laypeople who are unable to grasp the subtleties of the transcendent doctrine. It is generally held that it is better that laypeople grasp things in their own inadequate way, and so act morally, than that they be left out of Buddhism entirely because of their spiritual turpitude.
Various criticisms of Buddhadasa's reinterpretations of doctrine discussed in the following chapters have as much basis in political disputes between the traditionalist and progressive sections of the Thai elite as in disputes over strictly doctrinal matters.
Thai Buddhism's institutional role in legitimating the traditionalist military-monarchist elite has created disenchantment with official Buddhism among the rising middle and intellectual classes, who are outside of the system of Sangha-monarchy-military-bureaucracy alliances. The rising classes are seeking an alternative definition and approach to Buddhism which can be used both to oppose the traditional religio-social order which limits their chances for advancement and simultaneously to promote their own interests and view of the world. In this situation of conflict Buddhadasa's modernist critical reforms have been taken up as an important component of the alternative Buddhist ideology sought by the Thai middle classes or new bourgeoisie.
In contrast to the traditional Theravada view that nibbana is only accessible to world-renouncing monks, Buddhadasa regards Buddhist salvation to be open to all, lay and monk. At the level of individual salvation Buddhadasa retains the traditional teaching that nibbana, as a condition which is independent of all changing things, is attainable no matter what one's material circumstances. However, at the social level he maintains that a supportive social order is a necessary prerequisite for every person to in fact have the opportunity to work for and attain nibbana.
Buddhadasa denies the traditional view of spiritual practice in which aiming to attain nibbana necessitates retreating from social involvement to the monastery or forest hermitage. When, as in the traditional Buddhist view of salvation, the quest for nibbana is limited to a small elite, equating the attainment of salvation with detachment from social involvement does not pose any great difficulty. But when nibbana is regarded as a universally accessible ideal it is clearly impossible to equate the quest for salvation with retreatism. It is impossible for every member of society to avoid or retreat from mundane distractions without social order collapsing, and so for Buddhadasa nibbana must be defined as a goal attainable within the social sphere. And given that the ability of a layperson to work for nibbana is dependent upon a supportive social order, such as having sufficient wealth and free time to be able to practise meditation or study Buddhist teachings, salvation in Buddhadasa's system consequently becomes conditional upon the state of the social world. For when retreating from social involvement is no longer an acceptable path to nibbana, and when injustice and inequality inhibit some people's ability to work for that spiritual goal, then removing those inhibiting social factors is essential if nibbana is in fact to be a universally relevant and accessible goal.
Buddhadasa does not limit his criticisms of the failings of contemporary religion to Buddhism, and he sees similar misinterpretations in other religions as also promoting the capitalist materialism which produces the social ills of poverty and exploitation in contemporary society and the communist reaction to these ills.
Morell and Samudavanija note that the traditional accusation of various Thai governments' counter-insurgency propaganda was that "When the communists control a village they will force all the monks to leave the temple and thereby destroy the village's religious life." Buddhadasa disagrees. Firstly, he sees the primary social problem in Thailand as exploitation -- communism is simply a response to the self-centred and greedy hoarding of wealth by capitalists. Secondly, he thinks that communism is only seen as a viable response to exploitation when the religious response is either misinterpreted or dismissed as irrelevant because of misinterpretation. Buddhadasa considers all forms of materialism to be threats to social well-being and to peace, and does not regard either capitalism or communism as being a better political form. And rather than attacking communism directly, Buddhadasa proposes that the truth of religions should first be more widely revealed and that a form of dhammic or religious socialism should be built upon that universal spiritual truth. By this approach Buddhadasa maintains that the materialism of both capitalism and communism are attacked simultaneously, in a spiritual and radical rather than merely symptomatic way.
Sex and Borders: Gender, National Identity, and Prostitution Policy in Thailand excellent
2002, Leslie Ann Jeffrey
This book is not so much about the anthropology of prostitution but, rather, the anthropology of state policies and social opinions on prostitution.
The discourse on prostitution in Thailand, as the author presents, has been largely influenced and pressured by the hegemonic Western discourse on prostitution. Within the national boundary of Thailand itself, prostitution has been an issue of contention by various groups of conflicting interests, each trying to gain hegemony to strengthen their socio-economic standing. Prostitute women themselves, however, have been largely pressured into silence in voicing their views and demands.
In this book, the author places the issue of prostitution in a larger socio-political context and provides an incisive perspective to the mechanism and dynamism of the prostitution debate.
1. Gender, Prostitution, and the Standards of Civilization
The importance of gender and sexuality in marking the difference between national self and other, and the power of particular gender constructs in establishing global authority, were made very clear during the imperial era. Their strictures, as defined by the West, shaped international relations into the twentieth century. The establishment of Western authority rested heavily on colonial discourses that marked the differences between Siamese and Westerners in sexualized and gendered terms. Thus, during the imperial era, Siam was represented by Westerners as feminine, or improperly masculine, and, therefore, as naturally subordinate to the "manly" Western states. The importance of proper gender and sexual behaviour to the "standards of civilization" were made very clear in the Western critique of polygamy and extended into the later international campaign against prostitution. Measuring up to Western standards of gender and sexual behaviour, therefore, became a central plank in Siamese/Thai policy as the country fought to maintain sovereign status and international respect; however, this also generated elite male resistance to the imposition of Western sexual standards. Thus, while polygamy was outlaws in 1935 and prostitution was eventually outlawed in 1960, elite men continued to resist these changes.
The accounts of British and American missionaries and diplomats in nineteenth-century Siam make it clear that their imperial status rested upon manipulating categories of gender and sexuality in order to establish Western states (associated with masculinity and sexual restraint) as legitimate and lasting and to establish the Siamese state (associated with femininity and sexual excess) as illegitimate and collapsing. In other words, Westerners pointed to Siamese gender and sexual practices as evidence of the "barbarity" of the Siamese. These characterizations and associations are particularly evident in the obsessive discussions of polygamy that are found in the journals of visiting diplomats and missionaries. It is the discussions of polygamy, rather than the discussions of prostitution (which did not gain momentum until the turn of the nineteenth century), that set the stage for future struggles over prostitution legislation.
2. Peasants, Prostitutes, and the Body Politic: Prostitution as Cultural Decline and Political Resistance in the 1960s and 1970s.
Prostitution is rarely read in terms of resistance. Even during the era of the student demonstrations and peasant uprisings of the 1960s and 1970s in Thailand, prostitution is rarely seen as part of the resistance of country (ban) to city (muang), rather, it is seen as part of Thailand's cultural and economic breakdown in the face of modernization and Westernization. However, the period in which the modern prostitution industry in Thailand was established was also a period of profound social upheaval, a period in which the mainly peasant-populated countryside registered its discontent with the government's security and development agenda (backed by American military interests in the region), and a newly active middle-class student body took the opportunity to demand the democratization of the military-authoritarian political system. During the 1960s through the 1970s, prostitution and prostitutes became symbolic of the systematic degradation of the countryside that occurred in tandem with (1) the drive for development and security and (2) the Westernization of Thailand through the arrival of American troops. Prostitutes were symbolic because they themselves were rarely, if ever, participants in the debates; rather, they were spoken for, or invoked by, various groups addressing causes of, and solutions to, economic and political problems. Prostitutes' voices, which could have reflected on the complex realities of their experiences, were silenced, and their lives were simplified: they were victims of larger social forces.
3. Elite Women, the Reconstruction of National Identity, and the Prostitution Problem
While the prostitute became a symbol of cultural decline in the discourse of the student movement, this symbolism only gained its power when it became part of the hegemonic political project of the post-1976 period. This new power structure combined both progressive and conservative elite forces in a national program of economic growth and political stability, which crystallized under the guiding hand of General Prem Tinsulanond. A key ideological plank of this program was the construction of a hegemonic Thai identity that worked to stitch the national psyche back together in the wake of the upheavals of the mid-1970s. This new identity drew upon the symbolic force of the peasantry as the "backbone of the Thai nation," erasing years of peasant struggle by carefully crafting an idealized image of the happy and contented Thai peasant who upheld the customs and traditions of Thai culture in the face of rapid modernization. This new discourse around the peasantry emphasized stability and continuity with an idealized past, making it easy to forget the violent struggles of recent years. This national reconstruction project opened opportunities for elite women to participate in the construction of the "good peasant woman." They would guide peasant women who had strayed from their proper roles - most particularly, prostitute women - by relining them to their (newly reconstituted) traditions and customs. By participating in this project elite women legitimized their own role in national affairs, particularly their fight for gender equity in marriage laws, as good Thai women protecting and promoting Thai culture. Thus, in the development programs that marked that period, the prostitute figured prominently as an object of reform and re-enculturation at the hands of the elite.
4. Women's Groups and the Prostitution Question: Prostitution Law under Premocracy
In the 1980s Thailand underwent rapid economic growth and social change. The Prem Tinsulanonda (1980 - 8) government carefully managed this expansion by allowing the expression of social interests but controlling their potentially disruptive influence. Labour was repressed, while labour organizations were infiltrated to prevent union unrest. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were allowed to form but were strictly monitored by the military and security apparatus. Premocracy, the period of "guided democracy" under Prem, worked to absorb and neutralize potentially radical elements, providing a stable atmosphere for rapid economic growth despite severe repression.
The prostitution-linked tourism industry was a central contributor to this rapid growth. While prostitute women made demands for better working conditions and pay, their campaigns failed to find much support among the weakened labour unions or the newly formed non-governmental community. For the middle-class women's groups that came together in the aftermath of the 1976 crackdown, because the government and the tourism industry used women's bodies to attract greater profit, it seemed more important to draw attention to the exploitation of women through prostitution than to focus on prostitute women's labour rights. Prostitute women were often painted as innocent victims of greater forces. In the popular imagination this quickly translated into their being the victims of evil foreigners. Such portrayals strengthened rather than challenged the elite image of prostitute women as rural girls who required re-enculturation. The focus on women's victimization also resulted in government responses that increased controls over prostitute and lower-class or rural women rather than empowering them.
5. The Politics of Prostitution and the "New Man": The 1996 Prostitution Law, International Image, and Middle-Class Masculinity
The debate over what to do about the prostitution problem was part of a much larger debate about the shape of Thai society and statehood. By linking the question of prostitution to the failure of the state - and of the men who ran it - to modernize, to become efficient, and to protect women and children, proponents of changes to prostitution legislation were able to garner considerable support. In particular, the growth of a middle class whose interest lay in having Thailand seen as a modernized, globalized nation lent support to the campaign to reform masculine behaviour. Prostitution became increasingly viewed as the result of old-style Thai politics that were frustrating to the aspirations of the middle class. The middle class demanded a new kind of state and a new kind of man to run it. Only this, it argued, would lead Thailand into a new era of prosperity and international respectability. The discourse of the new manhood, however, clearly functioned to establish middle-class authority - both against the old-style military politicians/local notables and male peasants/male poor, who were not considered capable of adopting this new form of rational, modern masculinity. And, while middle-class women stand to benefit from the new model of masculinity that insists upon monogamy for men, they find themselves continuing to be responsible for the maintenance of tradition and morality. As we shall see in the next chapter, for prostitute women this has meant continued pressure to conform to particular standards of traditional female behaviour.
6. The Middle Class and the Material Girl: The 1996 Prostitution Law and the Disciplining of Peasant Women
The achievement of the 1996 Prostitution Prohibition Law was widely celebrated by its champions as a sign of the Thai state's commitment to addressing the prostitution problem and to reforming social attitudes, particularly male attitudes, towards women and children. It quickly became clear, however, that the price of this new measure to discipline men into proper modern, masculine behaviour was increased control and discipline over the peasant population and prostitute women themselves. The disciplinary measures laid out by the new legislation would have their greatest impact on lower-class men and on prostitute women, who continued to be penalized for engaging in prostitution.
The contradictory impact of the new law was largely the result of the changing attitudes of the new middle class. While this class increasingly championed the values of modernity - including human rights, democracy, and increased gender equality - it also sought to ensure the continuation of traditional Thai identity. It was clear, however, that the middle class did not see its own role as one of maintaining traditional identity; rather, this task fell, once again, to the peasantry and to women. For the middle class, prostitution was the result of the failure of these groups to maintain this "true" identity. Peasants and women had adopted the values of consumerism in opposition to the ideals of Buddhism and bucolic village life. The search for "easy money" and "nice things" had led country girls and women into a life of prostitution. Prostitute women, therefore, still needed to be disciplined into "correct" behaviour.
While this concern about the role of rising consumerism in leading women into prostitution was widely shared by the media, government, and NGOs, some women's organizations pointed to the economic exploitation of women and the poverty of the rural areas as the underlying causes of prostitution. Over the course of the 1980s these women's groups had begun to recognize the importance of addressing the working conditions surrounding prostitution rather than seeking to abolish prostitution itself. The punishment of prostitute women, they argued, only led to further exploitation and abuse of women who, rather than being "bad girls," simply represented a "new form of wage-worker" struggling to survive within an impoverished economy. The media and middle classs, however, continued to present prostitute women as undeserving and greedy consumers rather than as women working to support their families. The legislation's penalization of prostitute women reflected this belief. This chapter explores how a nascent approach to prostitution as part of a politics of work was overridden by middle-class concerns over rising consumerism and the loss of traditional culture. These concerns justified the continued criminalization of prostitution.
7. The Politics of Prostitution: Gender, Class, and Nation
The prostitute is a symbol that powerfully evokes the limitations of acceptable female behaviour. It is an important tool, therefore, in disciplining female identity. Rather than assuming that there is "a" reality to prostitute women's lives, this study asks how prostitutes are constructed and understood within particular historical locations and how certain interpretations come to shape state policy on prostitution. It is these policies - criminalization, reform, re-education - that have posed the most immediate problem for prostitute women and have increased state power over women in prostitution rather than empowering them as political actors.
Therefore, instead of assuming that the prostitute is, by definition, a powerless actor, I examine how she is rendered powerless as a political actor by specific interpretations of prostitution. Analyses that assume that the prostitute is indeed powerless serve only to legitimize the operation of power: that is, they invoke protectionist and restrictive responses that further limit the lives of women in prostitution and, in many ways, simply echo the worldview of the powerful. By turning the usual assumption about prostitute women inside out, we expose the complex workings of discursive power and challenge its operation. In this study, we have seen how the discourses of gender and national identity intersect to construct the prostitute and to determine policy by rendering her as an object of re-enculturation rather than as a political actor. Women's bodies have become powerfully connected to the reproduction of the nation - both literally and symbolically - particularly since the colonial era. Western practice and discourse established that gender identity and sexual behaviour grounded a national identity. Particular forms of gender and sexuality grounded claims to "civilization" and "modernity" and, therefore, to national independence. In Thailand, women's identity and proper behaviour were in many ways linked to women's role in the maintenance of national identity and tradition. This link, however, was differently constructed in different periods and was subject to manipulation by political actors.
Politics and the Press in Thailand: Media Machinations excellent
2000, Duncan McCargo
The author engaged himself in the project "The politics of the media in Thailand and Pacific Asia" between 1994 and 1999, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council Research Fellowship. Between 1995 and 1996, he worked with reporters and editors of various newspapers in Thailand. This book is his major output from his research.
In the Introduction Chapter, the author puts forth a well-composed summary over 42 pages. In following chapters, he elaborates on details and specific case studies.
News: Collection of quotations by government officials and influential figures.
Column: Analysis of social issues. Columnists are senior figures in the newspaper hierarchy, and their analyses are largely their personal opinions.
Reporters: Mostly in their 20s with no training in journalism and with only a few years' experience. They are not given authority to determine which news to pursue. Many see the job as an adventure, something to do in the salad days of one's 20s, but later they want better-paying jobs.
Provincial Reporters: Mostly stringers who work for several different newspapers, as few newspapers can afford to station their own reporters in provinces. They have close ties with local government officials and influential figures, making it difficult to gather objective news. Every year, a number of provincial reporters are murdered as a result of business or other conflicts.
Editors: They direct reporters which news to pursue. They rarely go out in search of stories themselves. Their job is to modify and present news stories sent in by reporters to meet the newspaper's political stance.
Management: Only a handful of newspapers (Thai Rath, Daily News, Matichon, Khao Sot, The Nation, Krungthep Thurakit, Bangkok Post) make profits. Most others are essentially fronts for advancing the views and interests of their owners. The purpose of owning a newspaper has been to advance your views, to get your voice heard, to talk up the prices of shares in companies you own, to discredit your enemies, to promote the interests of a friendly politician.
Generally, successive prime ministers would conclude that it was in their interests to kowtow to Thai Rath. General Prem Tinsulanond (1980 - 88), for example, who was always anxious that the press should not scrutinise his private life, cultivated excellent relations with Thai Rath's owner, Kamphol Wacharapon. It is no coincidence that Prem was able to serve a remarkable eight years in office.
The Chuan government (1992 - 95) was brought down after a campaign by Thai Rath to expose abuses of a land distribution scheme in Phuket. Thitinan agreed that it was 'not the opposition's efforts, but unrelenting press inquisitions' which led to Chuan's downfall... Thai Rath's campaign against the Chuan government can be related to personal conflicts between the newspaper's owner and the prime minister.
Understanding Thai Rath is impossible without examining the personality of the founder and owner of the newspaper, the late Kamphol Wacharapon (1919-96)... The secret of his business success was to hit upon a newspaper format with enormous appeal to the man on the street such as himself, a daily newspaper full of crime, sex and sleaze, with a formidable network of local reporters, a rolling production schedule, excellent political contacts and a chameleon-like ability to accommodate itself to the prevailing order... Godfather or not, Kamphol's immense wealth and considerable political influence meant that he was appointed to the Senate in 1983.
Under Kamphol's leadership, Thai Rath's organizational structure was highly personalistic: formal structures (such as editorial meetings) counted for little, and power was wielded by those individuals with the best ties to the owner, rather than the formal holders of senior positions. The newspaper was extremely male-dominated (the only senior woman in 1995 was the economics editor), and had a distinctly macho culture. At daily news meetings, there was a jokey, bar-room atmosphere, and one political rewriter usually amused himself by playing with a loaded gun. Some senior staff drove expensive cars, bragged openly about their mia noi (minor wives), and lived hard-drinking, chain-smoking existences, roaming bars and massage parlours in search of the latest gossip. At the same time, some Thai Rath staffers, including several senior ones, were well-educated, respectable people of liberal political views, who had excellent contacts with academics and social activists. They saw a mass-market newspaper such as Thai Rath as an invaluable platform for presenting their views; for the newspaper, their presence on the staff helped legitimate Thai Rath's claims that it was a serious, socially engaged publication.
Kamphol's formidable personal power provided support and protection for his loyal subordinates. At a mundane level, this applied to questions such as schooling for Thai Rath staff. When school entrance examinations were held each April, Thai Rath lobbied schools to admit the staff of its employees. In 1995, for example, the education editor claimed to have managed to have twenty-five out of thirty staff children admitted to their parents' desired school, or an equivalent one, by promising to give the schools favorable coverage in the paper and 'help them out' if they would reciprocate. Although apparently trivial, Thai Rath's capacity to cajole school principals was an indicator of its influence: no other newspaper could do so on such a scale. When Kamphol died in February 1996, Thai Rath's influence declined significantly.
Matichon regards itself as Thailand's leading political daily. Although Matichon dates back only to January 1978, the newspaper has an intellectual lineage to Prachachat, a progressive newspaper of the 1973-6 period, founded by a group of writers and journalists including Suthichai Yoon, Pongsak Payakvichien, Khanchai Boonpan and Sujit Wongthes. When Prachachat was closed after the 6 October 1976 military coup, the staff of the newspaper dispersed, later regrouping to open Matichon following the demise of the Thanin government after 20 October 1977.
The old image of Matichon as a small organization, run like a family, was at odds with the reality of the newspaper, especially following its flotation on the stock market in 1989. The market flotation of Matichon had a considerable impact upon the working conditions of staff on the newspaper. All staff were presented with shares in the company, and in the hothouse conditions of the stock market boom then prevailing the price of these shares rose rapidly. More or less overnight, hard-up reporters became affluent middle-class consumers who could afford to buy cars and even houses. One explained that staff at Matichon were in a good position as a result of their shareholdings, since they enjoyed a good income and could take pride in their work, knowing that the company had helped them. He argued that this was a healthy situation, especially compared with other newspapers where staff were badly paid and sought to make money by forging mutually beneficial connections with corrupt politicians or businesspeople, or getting into the right inside clique (phuak) and 'cheering' the right people. Matichon staff were able to express their views freely and work more easily, without worries of this kind. However, this view was contested by others who were not shareholders. Shares had only been distributed to staff in the very first issue in 1989; additional shares had not been distributed in later issues, and so the only staff who held shares in the company were those who had been in post in 1989 and who had not since sold the shares they were given. The existence of two kinds of editorial staff, shareholders and non-shareholders, created an additional dimension of 'seniority' within the newspaper. The long-serving senior staff were also shareholders in the company, whereas newer and more junior staff were not. Whereas the original concept of Matichon was that of a group of friends (contrasting with the usual hierarchical structure of other Thai language newspapers), this had been undermined by the one-off share issues, which created a culture of shareholder "insiders" versus employees.
In a fascinating 1996 paper, Hong Lysa argued that Sinlapa Wattanatham, a magazine dealing with historical and cultural controversies, had abandoned its earlier revisionism in favour of 'commodifying' Thai art and culture. The magazine, founded in 1979 by well-known scholar Sujit Wongthes, was vigorous and combative in its early years as an independent publication. However, in 1988 the magazine was acquired by the Matichon group and began to take on a new preoccupation with consumerism and lifestyle. According to Lysa:
While the magazine continued to carry critical commentaries by well-established historians and others on the social and cultural practices in Thai society, it is the writings that do not outwardly purport to carry social messages, such as food or art reviews, that mark the change in direction. Articles now appeared which were vacuous, cliched 'mood pieces' which flattered the reader into believing that he/she was acquiring a taste and understanding for art and culture, emphathised with artists, and could pass off as being culturally sophisticated.
Lysa went on to argue that the politics of the magazine became increasingly reactionary, as it supported the 'incorporation of the Sino-Thai middle class by the Establishment', thereby strengthening rather than challenging the status quo. Much of what Lysa wrote about Sinlapa Wattanatham could be applied equally to Matichon itself; the newspaper's early critical edge gave way to an accommodation with and de facto support for the prevailing political order, especially after the newspaper group was floated on the stock market.
Radical Thought, Thai Mind: The Development of Revolutionary Ideas in Thailand excellent
1987, Yuangrat Wedel, Paul Wedel
In this book, the authors describe the historical development of radical thought in Thailand, which is characterized by the antipathy toward the sakdina system, longing for more egalitarian society and, in later years, the influence of Marxism. Radical thinkers in Thailand have emerged out of the specific socio-historical context in Thailand, and have developed rather unique ideologies and strategies. When, in late 1970s, they were forced to flee into the forest to seek refuge with the Communist Party of Thailand, they were to find out that the CPT was yet another dictatorial bureaucracy, inattentive to Thai social realities, and whose course of action was rigidly aligned with the Chinese Communist Party to such an extent that it was virtually a Maoist Party of Thailand.
|Introduces lives and works of historical "radical thinkers": eg, Sriprard (during King Narai), Phramahamontri (during King Rama III), Tim Sukayang (during King Rama V), Tienwan, Phraya Suriyanuwat, Gularp, Jit Pumisak, Asani Ponlajan, Seni Sawapong.
Innovators and Integraters
|Describes the development and formation of radical thoughts in the 20th-century Thailand.
Students and Insurgents
|Describes students' taking refuge with the CPT, their frustration and disillusionment. Rare resource of this kind in English.
It is interesting to speculate, however, how different Jit's approach would have been if he had been aware of Marx's writings on Asia. Those writings were deliberately suppressed after a decision at the 1931 Leningrad conference of Soviet ideologists that Marx's concept of the Asiatic society would be counter productive to the revolutionary effort in Asia. Scattered in a number of essays and newspaper articles, this body of work was not assembled until very late, much of it not published until the 1950s. From this writing it is clear that Marx believed that Asia had a different pattern of development from Europe and that it could not be fit into the standard progression of historical periods. Marx described an "Asiatic mode of production" which had the following characteristics:
1. No private ownership of land.
2. Because of lack of private land ownership, communities retain their essential cohesive force even though faced with aggression.
3. A close relationship among community members because agriculture and home industries were shared within the same villages.
4. Large irrigation systems requiring centralized political power for successful operation.
5. The state possesses the absolute power to gather all surplus value.
Marx referred specifically only to China and India, but the sakdina system in Thailand was quite similar. In "Grundisse" Marx wrote that societies dominated by this "Asiatic mode of production" were essentially stagnant, without the internal mechanisms for change. He explains this stability by noting that the power of the Asiatic despot was far more powerful than any European feudal king. The supreme me power of the oriental king came from his ultimate ownership of the means of production, the land. In Europe, of course, the king could only control land very indirectly and tenuously through the feudal lords. In Europe those lords were hereditary; in Thailand they were appointed by the king. This mechanism reduced class struggle, Marx wrote, because "under such circumstances there need exist no harder political or economic dependence than common to all, subjection to the state. The state is here the supreme landlord. Sovereignty here consists in the ownership of land concentrated on a national scale." But in another place Marx implies dynamism in the oriental mode by listing a series of stages for Asiatic society: Asiatic society, ancient feudalism and modern bourgeois society with, of course, socialism as the perennial next step.
Pridi and other radicals saw Buddhism as a revolutionary creed developed to overthrow the dominance of caste in ancient Hindu India. They saw a direct parallel with their own desire to overthrow the dominance of class and wealth in Thailand. To the radicals, Buddhism and Marxism aimed at the same ideal. "They related to each other and helped each other to reach the same goal--classless society or nirvana," Supot wrote. But the radicals were not oblivious to the differences. As Supot put it: "The difference is in the practical ways to reach their goals. The communist way begins from externals (environment), and proceeds to internals (mind) since scientific socialism holds that matter is the essence of all things. Therefore in creating a peaceful and happy society, matter or environment, which includes political, economic and societal institutions were of first concern. But the Buddhist method emphasizes the internal (mind) and then proceeds to the external (environment). According to Buddhism, meditation will create peace in the individual's mind and then society will be peaceful."
Supot argued that the two approaches were not mutually exclusive, but interdependent. He said that 'religion can solve social problems only when the well-being of the people is taken care of and the well-being can be created only by the economic means of communism."
This interdependence of Buddhism and Marxism necessarily ignored the many differences between the two systems of thought, but it was profoundly satisfying to most Thai Marxists. This acceptance of Buddhism as an essential part of the revolutionary struggle has served to give most Thai Marxists a common philosophical base while differentiating them from other Marxists outside of Thailand.
For the radicals much of the Thai tradition had to be abandoned or drastically changed because it was litle more than the remnants of the exploitive sakdina period. That made it all the more important for them to preserve the portion of their intellectual heritage that they could respect.
Almost every Thai radical spent time in prison, in exile or on the run from the police. This had a marked effect on each of the radical thinkers. Many of their ideas changed as they experienced increased government repression. Naturally there was anger and bitterness, that made them more radical than before, but the experience of prison had its own effect. This was particularly true when many radicals were imprisons together. When Sarit clamped down on the radicals in 1958 hundreds were arrested. By 1960 most of them had been transferred to a prison outside of Bangkok called Lardyao. Here the Marxists tried to put some of their ideas of communes and cooperatives into action. A Lardyao Commune was set up by Pluang Wannasri, Jit Pumisak and Isara Amantagul among others. One of the prisoners, Tongbai Tong Pao, later wrote that the commmune was set up to help poor prisoners. "It was not an imitation of the Chinese communes....they called it a commune because this name was popular among us, that's all." The Lardyao Commune was organized systematically. It had a committee which consisted of nine elected prisoners. The basic idea of the commune was to cooperate and share daily life activities. Everything was to be common property in the ideal communist sense. Membership increased from 29 to 118 in the first month. The committee divided work into four different divisions. They were:
1. Production: growing vegetables, and raising chickens, ducks and fishes.
2. Education: teaching English, French, Khmer, Lao, Chinese, journalism, poetry writing, economics, politics and law. The teachers were all well educated like Pluang and Jit and included one former judge.
3. Welfare: medication and nursing the sick were important because the prison's healthcare was inadequate.
4. Recreation: organized sports competitions and provided musical instruments.
The committee tried to divide labor according to ability. But this meant that the less well-educated prisoners ended up doing the harder work of food production while the better educated prisoners got the easier tasks of teaching. This caused dissatisfaction that increased as the initial idealism and enthusiasm for the commune began to wear off. Some prisoners violated the rules against private property and started their own separate fishponds. There were frequent squabbles over division of tasks and division of benefits. The organizers tried to adhere to their ideals of freedom for each individual, but they found that idealism was not enough to motivate everyone to work. Some worked diligently, while others did as little as possible. The commune finally broke up in 1962 after less than three years in a dispute over whether the political prisoners should draft a joint appeal to the court. The commune members felt that individualism had gotten out of control. They did not conclude that commune organization was impractical and that eliminating private property was impossible. Instead, as their writing from this period shows, they began to place increased importance on the role of the party as a central controlling device for socialist society. The balance between the patterns of freedom and authoritarianism was tipped by the prison experience. A number of the Marxist intellectuals who had gone into Lardyao as idealists came out with a grim practical concern for the means of forcible control in a socialist society. They also came out determined never to be caught by the government again.
Before Oct. 14, 1973 the Communist Party of Thailand had few links with the student movement. In line with their avowed Maoism the party leaders concentrated their efforts on organizing peasants in the countryside. It must have come as a stunning surprise when the lightly regarded students with the support of the urban masses were able to overthrow the ruling military government in less than a week of overt struggle. The CPT with its rural strategy, in comparison, had achieved almost nothing in 30 years of revolutionary warfare. The party was unable to react to the events in the capital and did not take much advantage of the confusion in the Thai government and armed forces.
For their part the students had just as little knowledge and understanding of the Thai Communist Party as the party had of them. Thai government suppression had kept the party from publicizing itself in the cities and the party's Maoism kept it from expending much effort on students they saw as bourgeois, urban intellectuals. But after the student success the party began making its approaches and as the right wing started to crack back the students became more receptive. Communist agents contacted, directly or indirectly, most of the top student and labour leaders. "We all knew who they were," seksan said later. "We did not have any prejudice against them, but we knew that they were not like us... We both knew there were some differences between us, but they knew me very little and I knew them very little too."
Most of the radicals had read CPT documents and propaganda, some of which was actually published by radical student groups. While from the Communist side such publications were clearly part of a plan to infiltrate and influence the radical movement, they do not mean that the student radicals, from their side, were convinced supporters of the communists. It was a time of radical intellectual explosion. All the writings forbidden for so long were being published and discussed with the eagerness of those long denied the opportunity. The explosion of radical literature was too sudden to penetrate very deeply. There was too much ferment and too little time. Although the Thai radicals read CPT literature and talked with members and agents of the party who came into town they did not really have a very good idea of what the ideology of the CPT actually was. It was first obscured by government suppression and distortion and then by the communists own distortions in their efforts to win support. Until 1973 the two had developed separately. "Before Oct. 14, 1973 radicals and the CPT did not have much contact with each other," Kamnoon Sittisamarn, a secretary of the student center of 1972 said. 'The students did not pay much attention to the CPT and the CPT did not see the importance of the radical students. When the Oct. 14 uprising broke out, led by students, the CPT turned with interest to the students. As the students encountered obstacles they were looking for new ideas and those of the CPT began sounding more realistic."
This group of radicals, Seksan, Therdphum, Pridi and five others became the first well-known student radicals to join the armed struggle. They did not hastily flee to the jungle. But at the same time, they said, their links to the CPT were not clear or trusting. Rather than try to go directly into the jungle, they decided to leave Thailand first. Seksan, Therdphum, Pridi, Jiranan Pitpreecha and several others went first to France where they contacted officials from China and North Vietnam. They said later they were not even sure which country to approach or which way would be the best to re-enter Thailand. Sino-Vietnamese rivalry was already quite strong under the surface and the radicals ended up going to both countries, first to China and then to Vietnam. Even then they were not trusted enough by the CPT to be sent straight into the forest. They were taken to a rear-area CPT base at Luang Nam Tha in Laos. There the radicals were kept under observation by the CPT. They were well-treated, but not immediately accepted. There they had long discussions with the party officials assigned to report on them. Finally, more than a year after leaving Thailand, they were assigned to CPT base areas inside the country as armed revolutionaries. But by that time, the radicals said, they were aware of the large theoretical and tactical differences between them and the CPT.
In two years they gained more and higher quality recruits than their most strenuous efforts had won them in the previous decade. What may have worried the CPT was that there were too many new recruits all at once. Careful procedures for judging the loyalty of new members had to be abandoned in the face of the influx. Still everywhere they entered the forest the radicals were warmly greeted by the Communists. The Communist help and sympathy had a tremendous effect on the radicals, many of whom would never have considered joining the CPT before Oct. 6. "I felt they shared a common feeling with us (about the violence and the rightist takeover)," a university lecturer said of her first impression of the Communists. "They showed the same anger and bitterness towards the government that we felt," she said. Many radicals said later they were impressed by the warmth and courtesy of their first reception. The party naturally assumed it would be able to dominate and transform the students into the type of revolutionaries the party desired. The radicals were totally dependent on the party. Responding to the party's aid they enthusiastically tried, at least at first, to conform to the ideals the party demanded. "They taught us about changing ourselves," one radical said. "We had to change ourselves into workers and peasants. We were supposed to learn to love physical labour. We had to try to eliminate capitalist thoughts from our heads." The radicals adapted quickly to the physical demands of living in the forest. It was the psychological demands that were most difficult to meet. The new recruits were taught to despise their origins in the middle class. They were ordered to eliminate the questioning attitudes developed in the face of the unconvincing explanations of the government. The Communists "tried to melt us down so we could be remolded in conformity with their ideas. They tried to get us to eliminate ourselves. They stressed sacrifice, unthinking labour, patience and unquestioning obedience," one radical said. During a brief "honeymoon" period many of the radicals tried their best to live up to the expectations of the communists. This was especially true of the younger recruits and those whose ideas were less fully formed than the leaders of the activist movement. Some, such as Seksan and Pridi, rebelled against the Communist efforts to re-educate them almost from the beginning. But the other radicals took some time to see, the longer they stayed in the jungle, that they were not treated as equal partners in the revolutionary struggle. The party seemed to see them only as underlings to be used as the situation demanded.
Very few of the radicals were allowed to become full CPT members. After a year in the jungle, many of the radicals felt, as Wichai Bamrungrit put it: "there was a different way of treatment between the new people and the old ones, between the leaders and the led. There was always a difference," he said. "We were on the lower level. In political affairs we had no right to get involved." This, of course, antagonized the radicals who had joined with the strong intention to become involved politically in the creation of a new political system for Thailand.
The CPT's treatment of the radicals was not done out of personal ill-will. Maoist doctrine decreed that the radicals' suspect class origins made them ineligible for positions of influence. Most of the Thai radicals who went to the forest were young students, lecturers, bureaucrats or members of the Socialist Party of Thailand. The CPT saw them as urbanized intellectuals--the very antithesis of the peasants who, Maoism decreed, should lead the revolution.
The class nature of the CPT's treatment of the urbanized intellectuals was confirmed by the way they treated the few radicals who had come from the working class. Labor leader Therdphum, for instance, was not called on to question his own values or "melt" himself into the working class. By virtue of his origins he was considered a proven quality. "I lived comfortably, far better than I expected," he said. Though Therdphum also began to question CPT wisdom, he carefully kept his doubts to himself through his first years in the forest. He was one of the few radicals with influence on the CPT leadership.
The radicals were kept busy producing reports and propaganda, but rarely would the CPT leadership allow the writing to be printed without major changes. Pridi said the leading group in each area "would read the draft before anything could be printed." Seksan wrote several books during his five years in the forest, but each time he sought permission to have his latest work printed, "they just gave me excuses why my books should not be published." When the radicals tried to propose ideas of their own "the leading group said we should deal only with local problems and should not think about major problem. We were supposed to do our own immediate task first." While at first the radicals told themselves the Communist leadership was experienced enough to know what was best, they became increasingly frustrated. They began to notice the arbitrary and illogical decisions of the leading sections. What aggravated their feelings even more was that they could not suggest alternatives or improvements without being accused of violating discipline. The new recruits began to criticize the leadership amongst themselves. Personal relations, surprisingly, remained rather good. The radicals respected the leading sections for their dedication and sacrifice. The CPT leaders, for their part, always treated the radicals with patience and courtesy. Often the leaders would listen to the ideas of the radicals, who would then hope for some change. But the changes never came. These personal ties of respects and courtesy kept the CPT and the radicals together despite early differences. International events, however, began putting additional pressure on the party, its policies and its relations with the radicals.
Another problem with the CPT's total ideological dependence on China and Mao Tse-tung was that Mao's death and the victory of Teng Hsiao Ping meant that the leaders of China were no longer as worshipful of Mao as the CPT. Mao, who had always been identified totally with the Chinese Communist revolution was coming under increasing criticism in China itself. Reluctantly and somewhat uncertainly the leaders of the CPT began once again to follow in the footsteps of the leaders in Peking. As Tienchai put it, "When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had a great cultural revolution, the CPT would have one too... When the CCP criticized Liu Shao Shi and Teng Hsiao Ping, the CPT did the same and when the CCP commented on Lin Biaou, the CPT made the same comments. And when the CCP turned around and praised Teng, the CPT also praised Teng and criticized the Gang of Four instead." The changes sweeping through China were causing great confusion within the CPT. To the radicals it seemed to confirm not only the extent of the CPT's subservience to China, but the dangers of such subservience. Because China was fearful of the Soviet Union, the CPT had to label the Soviet Union its great enemy too. Because China needed Gen. Kriangsak's support against Vietnam the CPT had to stop its criticism of Kriangsak. When China began seeking foreign investment to carry out its program of Four Modernizations, the CPT were left to figure out how to reverse their propaganda of a quarter century and find something good to say about foreign investment. Even the longstanding attacks on the United States had to be reworded and de-emphasized in the face of China's establishment of official relations with the United States.
Not only did the radicals disagree with the particular tactics of carrying out the armed struggle, but some of them came to doubt the whole idea of armed struggle itself. When the radicals had gone into the forest they were desperate for armed protection and keen to avenge their friends killed on Oct. 6. The radicals said that the success of the armed revolutions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia gave guerrilla wars of liberation an aura of inevitability and legitimacy. But the methods of the CPT, especially in the areas of the northeast close to the Cambodian border, underwent a change during the time the radicals were in the forest. Imitating the example of the Khmer Rouge who were giving them support and training, the CPT began using revolutionary terror against villagers as well as government officials. Large areas were declared war zones and villagers were told either to join the struggle by moving into CPT camps inside Cambodia or risk being killed. Several of the radicals said they became concerned.
Some of the radicals simply slipped away on their own and returned to their home towns. A few, like Therdphum, gathered like-minded comrads and fled into Laos, from which they eventually returned to Thailand and gave themselves up to the government. But most of the radicals were already under suspicion by the section leaders. They had to ask permission to leave the forest. In some cases the party leaders deliberated for many months before letting them go. The radicals said they thought they were allowed to go free because their continued presence in the CPT camps might end up in them infecting others with their doubts and differences. At the same time the radicals were too well known and there were too many of them to simply kill them. Such action certainly would have made it very difficult for the CPT to ever recruit people from the cities again. Most of the radicals were pledged not to reveal the whereabouts of CPT camps and after their release it appeared that few of them broke their pledge. For all the ideological and tactical disputes between the radicals and the CPT many of the radicals still felt gratitude to the CPT for the protection they were given in 1975 and 1976 when they feared for their lives. Many felt torn by the breaking of an emotional commitment to armed revolution they made when they joined the CPT. Few of them have given up their desires for radical change in Thailand, but all of them have given up their hopes that it could be achieved under the leadership of the Communist Party of Thailand.
Making Revolution: The Insurgency of the Communist Party of Thailand in Structural Perspective excellent
1994, Tom Marks
Contrary to what its subtitle suggests, this book isn't so much about the internal structure of the Communist Party of Thailand, but about the transitions of social structures (including international relations) which led to the rise and fall of the Communist Party of Thailand.
In this book, the author applies Skocpol's analytical framework in her 1979 work States and Social Revolutions, which posits that a social revolution spontaneously grows out of the structural contradictions and potentials inherent in old-regimes, and sheds light on the phenomenon of CPT insurgency in Thailand in broader perspective.
Some of the historically curious topics detailed in this book are:
- U.S. Congressional debates in late 1960s as to the legitimacy of the U.S. military involvement in Thailand
- Factionalism within the Thai Army between the professional group and political group, of which the former was compelled to take action upon the 1976 October 6th crisis to head off the latter
- CPT's propaganda against the monarchy
- Split in the Asian communist bloc in late 1970s, which lead to the demise of the CPT
Within the U.S. legislative branch the discussion was continued, during the latter part of 1969, in the hearings before the Subcommittee on U.S. Security Agreements and Commitments Abroad of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Jacob Javits asked the first question of U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Leonard Unger, setting the tone for the entire episode: "Mr. Ambassador, what do you consider to be the grounding of the Government of Thailand among the people of Thailand? Does it have any broad and deep acceptance?" Senator Fulbright added by asking if the form of the Thai government was "consistent with" the American form of government.
As Scholars, familiar with the struggle of the constitutive system to emerge from the shadow of the bureaucratic polity, we may view this as a legitimate query. That the legitimacy of "His Majesty's government" should be questioned by foreign legislators, though, was a shock to Bangkok. The Thai elite, military and civilian in its composition despite the military dominance of the political structure, had never doubted its right to govern since the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in 1932. Generally, however, American legislators appeared to lump the Thai administration with that of South Vietnam as concerned its "governmental character," with no clear understanding of the crucial differences between the two formed by history and social structure.
Thai-Lao Relations in Laotian Perspective good
2002, Khien Theeravit et al.
This book is divided into two parts as follows:
|An analysis of questionnaire polls (216 samples) and interviews (100 samples) carried out between October 1, 2000 and September 30, 2001. (96 pages)
Ban Romklao - Boten: Two Different Perspectives
(November 1987 - February 1988)
Armed clash in a disputed border area. (43 pages)
The Chong Mek - Wang Tao Incident: A Case of Rebellion or International Terrorism?
Anti-Lao Government operation launched from Thai territory. (32 pages)
The Case of Nicole: Who has Abused Whom?
(March 2000 - )
Alleged (but not proved) defamation of Laos by a popular Thai singer. (10 pages)
The statistical analysis in Part 1 isn't too much impressive, and its results can be sufficiently outlined in a few pages, but the case studies in Part 2 are breathtaking, examining in depth curious historical conflicts between Thailand and Laos, for which few other sources are available.
Local Control of Land and Forest: Cultural Dimensions of Resource Management in Northern Thailand
2000, Anan Ganjanapan
This book is basically a collection of theses previously published by the author. Although, as a volume, it lacks systematic discourse, each thesis takes up curious aspects of the struggle over forest resources by competing parties: local farmers, immigrant farmers, hill-tribes, capitalists and the government.
1. Cultural Dimensions of Development in Thailand (1993)
2. Land Clearing and Settlement in Forest Areas (1991)
3. Conflicts over the Control of Land and Labor in Commercial Agriculture (1989)
4. Titling and Local Control of Land Tenure (1994)
5. Conflicting Patterns of Land Tenure among Ethnic Groups in the Highlands (1987)
6. Local Control and Management of Community Forest (1992)
7. The Local Construction of Rights in Community Forest (1998)
The Arial Views of Seven Khmer Sanctuaries: Wonders of Northeastern Thailand
2002, Apiwan Adulyapichet, ed.
This 40-page booklet provides curious aerial photographs of seven Khmer ruin sites.
1. Khao Phra Viharn
2. Phanom Rung
3. Meuang Tam
5. Sa Kamphaeng Yai
6. Si Khoraphum
7. Ta Meuan
Ta Klang: The Elephant Valley of Mool River Basin
2002, Pittaya Homkrailas
This is a pictorial book about the Guay and their elephants in Ban Ta Klang. The author has been engaged in a number of elephant-conservation organizations.
Although his approach falls short of anthropological and historical professionalism, the book carries about 100 monochrome pictures which reveal curious aspects of the life in Ban Ta Klang.
Tracks of an Intruder good
1967, Gordon Young
The author was born in 1927 in Burma to a missionary family. He spent his early years amongst the wilderness of the forest and, particularly, a Lahu tribe who taught him how to hunt wild animals. He evacuated from Burma in 1942 at the onset of the Japanese invasion of Burma. After spending his youth in California, in 1953, he settled in Chiangmai with his wife and a small daughter. On his first hunting excursion to the forest, he encountered a Lahu tribe whose old member remembered him as a boy when they were both in Burma, thus resumed their friendship and a series of hunting excursions in deep mountains in north Thailand.
This book provides valuable descriptions of virgin forests in north Thailand during the 1950s when wild elephants and tigers still roamed around. It also provides observations of still untainted primitive hill-tribes who were only accessible by heavy trekking in the forest.
Dinner that evening was superb and I congratulated Stud Bull and his helper, Gems. The wild pork had been prepared in three different fashions, with two of the dishes fried in their own fat. Vegetables consisted of palm heart, banana flower, water ferns, and banyan sprouts. We ate like kings, topping the meal off with delicious wild figs. The only items we had brought from home had been rice, salt and onions. Wild ginger, pulled up ten yards from the campfire, had been used for seasoning. Even wild tea was available for the picking, and this the men brewed straight from the green leaves.
The old Akha custom required that girls had to first become properly eligible for marriage by going through a special ceremony in which they were devirginised by the chosen "male." This was believed to insure fertility and protect against the bad spirits which would harm health and prolificacy. The deflowering ceremony, as it is known to all non-Akha observers, probably began to die out from Akha customs as the formerly large village groups broke up into what are today relatively smaller ones and which are simply hamlets in many cases. In such situations as this, it became more commonplace for a young man to simply "steal" a young wife from some distant village or hamlet. The ceremony is certainly no longer widely practiced and witnessed by no one except the Akha themselves. In most cases, Akha men will never discuss this very private ritual with any outsider.
I think of gaur and elephant not as huge, ponderous animals, but as agile, incredibly powerful and alert creatures which have a fantastic ability to remain unseen despite their large body masses. I think of tiger and leopard not as voracious predators, but as superbly intelligent hunters that travel long distances and know the meaning of hunger as well as the comfort of a full stomach. Then there are the brutish-appearing wild pigs which to me are only deceivingly so, for beneath their facade of stupidity is tremendous speed, power, and quick deduction. And the bear, not in any way the last or the least of the "big six" which at times can take the best hunger away, might seem clumsy and slow, but hidden in his outward appearance are keen senses, clever judgement, and an admirable ability to use his strength when and where he must have it. There is a respect and admiration for the "dangerous" ones which comes only from having followed them on the hung. When a man challenges an animal he sees something of the intelligence and courage that is otherwise a mystery hidden deep in the forest.
象と生きるスワイ族： スリンの象村 good
1991, チューン シーサワット
・ スリン県 タートゥム郡 バーン・ガポー
・ ブリラム県 サトゥク郡 バーン・ブアチャウパー、バーン・クーカート
ラマ５世の時代 (1868) に、当地の領主が年貢を払えないクーイを奴隷として売り飛ばしたり、人年貢としてバンコクに送ったために、コン・スワイ（年貢人間）との蔑称が始まった。
2002, 瀬戸 正夫
Around Lan-Na: A Guide to Thailand's Northern Border Region from Chiang Mai to Nan excellent
1999, Christian Goodden
Three Pagodas: A Journey Down the Thai-Burmese Border excellent
1996, Christian Goodden
Borderlines: A Journey in Thailand and Burma
1988, Charles Nicholl
The author visits Thailand to stay at a Buddhist temple for meditation. His encounter with a dubious trader Harry and his Thai girlfriend Katai, however, drives his course away from the serenity of the temple.
The Chiang Mai Chronicle
1995, David K. Wyatt, ed
Wyatt first explains in the Introduction that there are considerably more than a hundred versions of the Chiang Mai Chronicle. This version Wyatt decided to translate was provided and recommended by Dr. Hans Penth.
The Balancing Act: A history of Modern Thailand awesome
1991, Joseph J. Wright Jr.
The Lost Heritage: The Reality of Artifact Smuggling in Southeast Asia
2002, Masayuki Nagashima
In this book, the author reports on the current situation of theft and smuggling of historic ruins and artifacts in Thailand and Cambodia. He takes up the Banteay Chhmar ruin in Cambodia as a case study, where even a garrison of fifty soldiers in patrol fails to prevent occasional large-scale thefts.
Thailand is criticized for its reluctance to sign the 1970 UNESCO convention on the means for prohibiting and preventing the illicit export and transfer of ownership of cultural property. The pact is aimed at preventing artifact smuggling. Because Thailand has yet to ratify the pact, Thai antique dealers can trade in stolen artifacts without any feeling of guilt. The convention demands that member countries strongly oppose illegal artifact trading and support the return of stolen artifacts to their original owners. After a long examination of the pact, the FAD [Fine Arts Department] reached the conclusion that the government should ratify the convention. One of the reasons why the Thai government had been reluctant to ratify it is that it was uncertain whether the treaty would be applied retroactively. Article 11 of the convention stipulates that the export and transfer of ownership of cultural property under compulsion arising directly or indirectly from the occupation of a country by a foreign power shall be regarded as illicit.
Thailand, in its long history, has been involved in numerous conflicts with neighboring countries such as Cambodia and Laos and occasionally occupied parts of their territories. Therefore, if the provision of Article 11 were applied retroactively, some cultural assets possessed by Thailand would have to be returned. The reason the FAD decided to support ratification of the convention was because an agreement was reached that the article would not be applied retroactively.
The Politician and Other Stories [fiction]
2000, Khamsing Srinawk
This is a collection of seventeen short stories by the author. While some of his early stories are of historical interest, depicting contemporary society and criticizing regimes, others are a bit difficult to comprehend the message.
The Gold-Legged Frog
|1962||Owners of Paradise
|1966||The Peasant and the White Man
|1970||Sales Reps for the Underworld
|1971||Happy Birthday, Grandpa
I Lost My Teeth
|1981||The Buffalo with the Red Horns
A Brief History of Lan Na: Civilizations of North Thailand
1994, Hans Penth
In this book, the author presents a history of Lan Na, from its prehistoric era to the early 20th century. While some topics are described in detail, other major events are entirely ignored, thus requiring the reader some background knowledge or supplementary reading to get the whole picture of the chronology.
750 - 1300: Mon Era
Foundation of Hariphunchai (modern Lamphun). Mon Princess Jam Thewi, daughter of the king of Lop Buri (part of the extended Mon kingdom of Dvaravati), invited to rule. Foundation of Lampang as a branch city. Wars with Lop Buri (now a Khmer vassal).
1050 - 1300: Arrival of the Yuan Tai
1239 Mangrai was born at Chiang Saen of a local ruler.
1259 Mangrai succeeded his father.
1262 Mangrai founded Chiang Rai.
1281 Mangrai attacked and took over Hariphunchai.
1287 Mangrai, Ngam Muang (Payao), Ramkhamhaeng swore a pact of eternal friendship.
1292 Mangrai established his residence in Chiang Mai.
1296 Construction of Chiang Mai started.
1300 - 1400: Building up of Lan Na
1327 Foundation of Chiang San.
1338 Phayao came under the house of Chiang Mai.
By around 1350, most of Lan Na was ruled by the Yuan and was directly or indirectly controlled or influenced by Chiang Mai. Within a relatively short time, the Yuan had replaced the Mon as the region's administrators.
1400 - 1525: Golden Age of Lan Na
1444 Phrae joined Lan Na.
1449 Nan joined Lan Na.
1477 The 8th Buddhist Council was held near Chiang Mai.
1500 Weakening of King's influence vis-a-vis local lords. Economic difficulty due to lavish spending on religious affairs.
1526 - 1558: Internal Conflict
1526 Death of Phaya Kao (King of Chiang Mai). Six rulers in succession mounted the throne of Chiang Mai, during which time the country was without a ruler for four years because no agreement in the choice of a new king could be reached. None of the six rulers ended his reign peacefully: they were either murdered, or deposed, or they abdicated.
1558 - 1775: Burmese Occupation, Fragmentation, Turmoil
1558 Chiang Mai was attacked by the Burmese. Reduced to a vassal state. Tripartite government of nominal local prince, Burmese governor and the Burmese military commander.
1662 King Narai occupied Chiang Mai, soon recaptured by the Burmese.
1628 Burma relocated the center of administration of Lan Na to Chiang Saen which made control easier.
17xx Thephasing staged rebellion, captured Chiang Mai. A month later, Ong Kham seized power.
1759 Ong Kham died.
1763 Burma recaptured Chiang Mai, relocated almost all the people of Chiang Mai to Muang Angwa.
1767 Sack of Ayuthaya by the Burmese. Rise of Taksin.
1771 Cha Ban (Chiang Mai) and Kawila (Lampang) waged a battle in Chiangmai against the Burmese, but defeated.
1774 Cha Ban and Kawila were ordered by the Burmese to lead Lan Na forces to resist an invading army of Taksin (lead by Chakri). They made a historical turning point in joining Taksin's force, and captured Chiang Mai and other main northern cities, expelling Burmese. Under Siamese dominion, Cha Ban ruled much deserted Chiangmai, while Kawila ruled Lampang. After Cha Ban died, Kawila became the de facto ruler of Lan Na.
1775 - 1932: Integration into Siam
1782 Taksin was deposed. Chakri ascended to the throne. Chakri appointed Kawila as ruler of Chiang Mai. Kawila set out his task of rebuilding Chiangmai by bringing people from Lampang and other areas to Chiangmai.
1796 Upon completion of re-establishing Chiangmai, Kawila moved in.
1804 Chiang San seized from the Burmese.
1844 Chiang Rai re-founded.
1873 Treaty of Chiang Mai was drafted. The ruler of Chiang Mai was required to obey the conditions of the treaty and observe the central administration's policy on foreign affairs.
1874 Siamese commissioner, supported by the army, was sent to Chiang Mai.
18xx Monthon Payap was created to administer Chiang Mai and surrounding provinces.
1896 Inthravichayanon died.
1899 A royal resident commissioner was sent by Bangkok to directly administer Monthon Payap. Local rulers held honorary title.
1933 Monthon Phayap was divided into eight provinces--Chiangmai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nan, Chiangrai, Phayao and Maehongson.
1939 Inkaeo died. No more "ruler" named by the Bangkok. Chiang Mai became another province of Thailand.
By around 1350, most of Lan Na was ruled by the Yuan and was directly or indirectly controlled or influenced by Chiang Mai. Within a relatively short time, the Yuan had replaced the Mon as the region's administrators on a state level and now controlled a wider area than the lamp Hun - Lampang Mon had done. Phrae and Nan, at first oriented more towards Sukhothai, were joined to Lan Na only in 1444 and 1449, respectively.
The Yuan began to use two scripts and two languages for two different purposes: secular and religious. They used their own traditional Thai script, once probably adapted from old Mon, for secular matters in their Yuan dialect; and the then modern Mon script called Tham Dhamma letters for religious purposes, for instance in Buddhist Pali texts. Later, they used the Tham letters also for secular purposes. Their traditional Thai alphabet, which was similar to the Thai alphabet used in central Thailand, fell into disuse in the decades after 1850 and was replaced by the modern central Thai alphabet. But the rounded Tham letters, because of their use in religious texts, continued to be widely read and written until two to three decades ago. Though nowadays no longer officially in use, they are still regarded as one of the characteristics of north Thailand; they are found on nearly all of the many surviving palm leaf manuscripts and they are taught for scholarly purposes at university level and in some monasteries to uphold the tradition.
Travel by boat and on 'roads' to Bangkok was exhausting and slow. At high water level and with a good crew, the 870-km boat journey down to Bangkok could be made within ten days; usually it took about three weeks. But the journey upriver took one and a half to two months because of the many rapids (now covered by the water of the Bhumibol Reservoir), and once, in 1867, the missionary Dr. McGilvary needed three months. Because of the slow connection, mail from Europe and even from North America was sent to Chiang Mai via Moulmein in Burma; the two towns had, since 1884, a regular mail service every two weeks. The Siamese Post began its service in 1883 and introduced a first set of stamps of five values; but for many more years private contractors transported the mail between Bangkok and the North.
Speed and quality of communication with Bangkok increased dramatically when the first telegraph line to Chiang Mai was opened in 1888; by 1905, one could even telephone (sometimes) from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.
The northern railway line reached Phitsanu Lok in 1907, Den Chai (Phrae's station) in 1909, Lampang in 1916 and Chiang Mai in 1919 (at present, 751 km). The Northern Line, as it was called, was officially opened to the public on 1 January 1922. Whereas in 1913 the railway plus road trip to Chiang Mai took eleven days, now the twice-weekly express took only thirteen and a half hours. Financially, the northern line then was no loss either; it produced 6-percent earnings on the invested capital, not counting interest on loans.
Private cars, motor buses and lorries began arriving in Chiang Mai probably around 1910 or 1915; by 1925, Chiang Mai was said to have about 170 motor vehicles, all brought up by train, sometimes as separate parts. The first car to be driven all the way from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, except across rivers, arrived here only in around 1930 or 1932. Thailand's road-building programme began only under Prime Minister Phibun Songkhram. The last stretch of the road from Bangkok to Chiang Mai received an all-weather surface in 1972.
Politics in Thailand
1962, David A. Wilson
In this book, the author reviews and analyzes political transitions in Thailand after the 1932 coup d'etat. Also, he provides vivid description of the Sarit regime.
The civil service as a whole is docile in conflicts for power. Organized on functional lines in the 60-odd departments and 12 ministries of the government, it lacks the unity and hierarchy of the military services which would be necessary for it to take a dynamic part in politics as a single organization.
Even in the language, as has been mentioned, differences of status and the respectful aspect of those differences are an integral part of the vocabulary. This aspect of language ranges from the elaborate special vocabulary used in addressing the king to the everyday forms of personal address. All pronouns or pronominal forms are status laden so that those Thai who would aspire to modern egalitarianism often borrow pronouns from Chinese or English.
Since the coronation of King Phumiphon in 1950, there have been indications of tensions between the king and the politicians. For example, when the constitution of 1932 was reinstated in 1951, the king's effort to influence the constitutional situation met with some slight success. In 1955, the king made a ceremonial progress to the northeast region of the country and was enthusiastically received by the people. It is said that the government was dismayed by the potential popularity of the king and refused to finance any more such trips. Again in 1957 at the time of the great public celebration of the twenty-five hundredth anniversary of Buddhism, the king declined to attend the elaborate government ceremonies in which he had been scheduled to take a major part. It was widely rumored, although officially denied on both sides, that the king's failure to attend was a result of his personal displeasure with the government. There is no question that by not attending this celebration the king contributed to the general decline of the prestige of the government and thereby to its ultimate overthrow. In September, 1957, when the government was overthrown, it was understood that the king was not displeased.
The fact that the throne is now occupied by an adult who can manipulate some of the great prestige of the institution would certainly indicate that the political problem of the position of the throne must be faced. Whether the political influence of the king will gradually increase or will suddenly be cut off as it was in 1935 depends largely upon the discretion of the monarch.
The leaders of the 1947 coup were only one group in the struggle for power. Their constituency was the army while competing groups were based in the navy and marines and in the national assembly. The coup leadership beat back two serious attempts to overthrow it by other military groups--one in 1949 and one in June, 1951. In 1948 an attempt to undermine their control of the army itself was scotched. The growing encroachment of parliamentary politicians was tolerated while these other military groups were a potential threat, but in late 1951, after the defeat of the naval attempt to seize power, the national assembly was dissolved. It was replaced by a revival of the system of tutelage used from 1932 to 1946, with half of the assembly appointed by the government. By means of this coup against the assembly, the leadership of the Coup d"Etat Group assumed overwhelming political power.
The Thai army is unusual in the non-Western world because it has a ready supply of fresh recruits. Universal conscription has been in effect since 1905. It produces more than adequate numbers of young men who serve for two-year terms on active service. The effect of conscription is to keep the main, subordinate body of troops politically indifferent and docile.
Recruits are by and large from the villages. They have at best only four years of elementary education. Their social horizon is not likely to extend far beyond the village environment, and national politics is of little concern to them. They are unlikely to have any attitude at all toward such sophisticated questions as that of the military's role in politics. In the army they receive no political education beyond loyalty and obedience to their superiors, to the army, and to the nation.
The strength of organization and certain tendencies of character--which serve the army leaders well in the game of bureaucratic politics--are not exclusively associated with the army, but related advantages give the army an edge over other agencies. These advantages fall under three heads: force or strength, leisure time, and effective rationale for political action.
The army leadership has therefore had a great deal of leisure time in which to consider its proper place in the nation, to contemplate its honor, and to plan its actions. In this the military has an advantage over all government organizations. While it has a substantial and effective organization which is for the most part idle, other organizations have continuing administrative obligations to keep them occupied. For example, the police, which shares the use of force with the military, is charged with such a variety of duties that there is no time or excess of manpower to undertake strong political action against the military.
By means of the activities which take place in this period, the incoming [coup] group legalizes and legitimates itself. It is at this time that it fulfills the requirements of a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals on the appeal of defendants convicted of attempting the overthrow of the government: "The overthrow of a previous government and establishment of a new government by the use of force are perhaps illegal in the beginning until the people are willing to accept and respect it."
Ａ 赤い野牛 (Kranting Daeng)
Ｂ ナワポン (Navapol)
「ナワポン」は知識人、高位僧侶、政府役人、商人、金持ち等から成る右翼組織であった。「ナワポン」の指導者ワタナ・キオウイモン (Watana Khiowimol) は滞米十年の経歴をもつ親米タイ人で、報道によると、彼の政治活動資金はＣＩＡから支給されていたといわれている。
Ｃ ビレッジ・スカウト (Luk Sua Chao Ban)
Thai Buddhism in the Buddhist World good
1984, Phra Dhammapitaka
In this book, the author reviews development and transition of Buddhism in various countries. This book serves as a handy introduction to the comparative study of political history of Buddhism.
Constant internal wars and disorder during the period of about one hundred years beginning with the rebellion of 1467 brought to an end most of the great families of the former periods and brought about the rise of some new powerful families and great social changes. Priests and monks were engaged in warfare and battle either to protect themselves or to gain power. There were also many conflicts between religious groups such as the followers of Nichiren, those of Shinran and the monk soldiers of Tendai. They even took sides with some feudal lords against the other. Therefore, when Portuguese Christian missionaries came to Japan in about 1557, Nobunaga, then the most powerful man in Japan, encouraged their activities. Nobunaga even attacked the monastic armies on Mount Hiei, burned about 3,000 monasteries and killed all of their inhabitants. Though he could not defeat the abbot Kennyo of Osaka and both parties had to accept an agreement, the political and military power of the monasteries declined and never recovered. The influence of Japanese Buddhism has never reached a high degree of strength since then.
The government support to Christianity, however, did not last long, for the quarrels between the Portuguese and the Spanish priests and between the Spanish and the Dutch priests, which broke out between 1593 and 1611 made the ruler conscious of the danger of Christian priests as a political machine. This led to the persecution of the Christians and, finally, to the adoption of the exclusion policy in 1624. In order to put an end to the influence of Christianity and to use the influence of Buddhism for its own benefit, the government turned to Buddhism, brought the Buddhist institutions under strict state control, and made them useful in maintaining its power. Moreover, Confucianism was greatly encouraged. Thus, Buddhist institutions weakened and their intellectual activities declined. While the people turned to worldly pleasures and sought material wealth, the temples encouraged these through the rites and beliefs which satisfied worldly ends, and the monks and priests themselves adopted lives of indolence and negligence. Thus, throughout the Tokugawa or Edo period (1603-1867), during which the capital was established at Edo or Tokyo, there was no significant development in Japanese Buddhism and it was during this period that there arose a movement to make Shinto the national religion of Japan.
The modernization of Japan started with the beginning of the Meiji period in 1868 when the power and administration was restored from the Shogun to the emperor, the policy of national seclusion came to an end, and Western culture was freely imported and imitated. Then, to affirm the supreme power of the emperor by his divinity and to strengthen nationalism, Shinto was separated from Buddhism and established as the national religion. Buddhist beliefs and worship were forbidden in the Imperial Household. There was even a movement called Haibutsu Kishaku to eradicate Buddhism in Japan. It was a time of crisis for Buddhism, though it was able to some degree to recover its strength and the government had to soften its anti-Buddhist policy.
Another important development after the Meiji Restoration was the practice of married priesthood. Under the disestablishment of Buddhism when support was lacking, monks were forced to struggle to earn their living and maintain their temples. They became lax in monastic discipline. Moreover, there was a decree issued by the Meiji government allowing the clergy of all sects to marry. Today, not only priests of the Shin and the Nichiren sects but nearly all Japanese priests live married lives. Except for young monks under training, there are very few celibate monks in Japan.
Ceylonese Buddhism has been in close connection with Ceylonese nationalism throughout Ceylonese history. This connection was even stronger during the British colonial period. Under British rule, the monasteries lacked official status and were unable to defend their land or rights. One report claimed that 800,000 acres of temple property were confiscated. The colonial government and the Christian missionaries took the entire school system out of the hands of the Buddhists. The Buddhists became second-class citizens, while the Christians and the English-educated rose to the best positions in the colonial administration. Only Christian Sundays and feast days and the British national holidays were celebrated in this Buddhist country. There were various anti-colonialist uprisings and prominent Buddhist monks were condemned to death.
After independence in 1948, the identification between Buddhism and nationalism continued and even led to the politicization of the Ceylonese Sangha. Several factors were accountable for this. Firstly, other religions, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, were imported to the island by occupying powers during various colonial periods. Secondly, the fact that, by the British constitution, the Queen of England is the head of the Anglican Church and Defender of the Faith, caused in the Buddhists opposition to Ceylon's constitution of 1946-47. They would ask, "How can the Queen of England be defender of both the Christian and the Buddhist religions?" Thirdly, religious conflicts during the British colonial period increased in the Ceylonese love of their native culture, stimulated at desire to turn back to a golden past when Ceylon was under Buddhist kings, and thus led to the demand for the reestablishment of Buddhism as the state religion and the planning of educational and cultural policies under the guidance of Buddhist principles. Moreover, the fact that in Ceylon temple lands and monasteries are the private property of the monks who have interests in them may also have some connection with the matter. As a result of the politicization of the Sangha, every politician tries to win the support of the monks and the winners are those who attract the greater number of monks to their cause. Today, monks may be seen actively campaigning for a political party candidate or politicians making speeches with monks at their sides.
Burma under British rule was not so much subject to religious suppression as Ceylon. Europeanization was not so great there as to affect much the cultural life of the Burmese, since the British administered Burma only as a part of India and the British colonial period there was much shorter than in Ceylon.
In contrast to Ceylon, Christian missionary work in Burma not directly supported by the colonial power made considerable progress among animistic tribal peoples, especially among the Karens. The conversion of these peoples even more alienated them from the Burmese majority. Postwar political events convinced the Burmese Buddhists that Christianity was a religion hostile to the Burmese state. They believed the religion brought with it foreign intervention and caused political and economic oppression. Marxism or Communism was also condemned as state capitalism, which was far worse than ordinary capitalism. This led the leaders of the Burmese revolution to advance a form of Burmese state socialism based on the principles of Buddhism.
In August 1964, a number of pongyis (monks) attacked and destroyed the printing press and the office of a Mandalay newspaper which published an article "A reminder to keep the Sasana pure." Then, the Ne Win government issued a statement, saying "... From now onwards the revolutionary government will have to defend itself against bogus sanghas who have merely adorned the yellow robe to oppose the government at every available opportunity."
In 1965, young pongyis in many parts of Burma condemned the revolutionary government as anti-religious and urged its overthrow. On April 27, 92 pongyis were arrested by the government. By showing public evidence of the corruption of the arrested monks, the government prevented popular opposition and won the approval of the monkhood. As the government action proved to be an effort to purify the Sangha, the political role of the pongyis was crushed. This was followed by many meritorious activities on the part of the government to show that it supported Buddhism only in a nonpolitical role.
A large number of refugees have fled Vietnamese-dominated Laos, draining the country of most of its elite. Laotian monk-refugees can be found taking shelter in Thailand and living with Laotian communities in the United States and some European countries. The last patriarch of Laos, a respectable very old senior monk, was hospitalized and passed away in Bangkok. Because of the lack of communication, Buddhism in Laos becomes hidden away as if behind a kind of curtain. Hearsays and rumors develop abroad, including the ones that no new monks have entered the monasteries as people are not allowed to ordain while the pre-existing monks are encouraged or indirectly forced to leave the monkhood and that the monks have been utilized by the current regime as political instruments for indoctrinating the people in the new ideology.
During the 1960s, monks were encouraged to participate in various nation-building programs. By involving monks in educational and community-welfare projects, it was hoped that the traditional leadership and teaching role of the monks would be strengthened... Prince Sihanouk was then active in expounding his social gospel of Buddhist Socialism. In the early years of the 1970s, however, political unrest developed in Cambodia, monks and monasteries as well as the people suffered from battles and warfare, and the Buddhist activities were put into obscurity.
In April 1981, a senior Cambodian monk, who is the spiritual leader of several Cambodian communities of refugees in the United States, gave an address in the City Hall of Boston, saying, "... As you know, more than one third of Cambodia's people were killed in the past ten years, including almost all of Cambodia's 80,000 Buddhist monks...."
Then came in 1963 the persecution of Buddhists and the Buddhist crisis, which turned the monks political and militant. The crisis began on the eve of the Visakha Puja Day, May 8, 1963, when the police, to follow an order of the President on the use of flags, tore down some of the Buddhist flags raised for the celebrations. Then followed protests by the Buddhists and violent responses from the government to the degree of destruction and bloodshed. The monks led the people in political demonstrations, hunger strikes and sacrificial suicides by burning themselves to death. It was Thich Quang Duc, a 73-year-old monk, who first performed self-immolation on June 11, 1963. He was followed by a number of monks, nuns and lay Buddhists. Among the five demands of the Buddhists were equality under the law for Buddhism and Catholics, and the free practice and propagation of the Buddhist faith. The event which started as a purely religious issue quickly turned into a test of political power. Madame Nhu, the President's sister-in-law, scorned the Buddhists and condemned them as Communists. She even said, "If another monk barbecues himself, I will clap my hands." On August 21, the Buddhists' headquarters and stronghold at Za Loi pagoda was crushed by Ngo Dinh Nhu and martial law was proclaimed. The American advice to conciliate with the Buddhists was not accepted.
At this point, the American government ordered a stop of support to Nhu and agreed to support the military men who planned to bring down the Ngo family. Then the way for a successful coup had been paved by the Buddhist opposition against the government and the Diem regime was finally overthrown on November 1, 1963, by a military coup d'etat. Ngo Dinh Diem and Ngo Dinh Nhu were both killed.
After the coup of 1963, the Buddhists became a major force in Vietnamese politics, the third power after the Army and the Viet cong. The military group who held power then wanted to win their support, so they approved the Vietnamese Buddhist Reunification Congress held in Saigon from December 21, 1963, to January 3, 1964. The major result of this meeting was the establishment of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Church, which united the Theravada followers with the Mahayana sects and which gave the Buddhists a new type of organization with an ecclesiastical hierarchy, parallel to the government structure.
The Communists took over China's mainland in 1949 and then Buddhist activities fell into obscurity. It is said that a Chinese Buddhist Association was founded in 1953 to bring the large Buddhist community under government control. Many monks fled to Hong Kong and Taiwan to continue their free activities. The Chinese government took measures to preserve famous and beautiful old temples, Buddhist sacred places and art works. Under the Great Cultural Revolution, however, an unrevealed number of Buddhist buildings and monuments were destroyed by the Red Guards.
Although the constitution of the People's Republic of China provides for religious freedom, religious practice is not encouraged. Under Mao, many restrictions were placed on traditional rituals and religious observances. After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and under Deng Xiaoping's modernization program, many restrictions were removed and the people became much freer to observe custom and tradition. However, even though many famous old temples have been restored, foreign visitors meet with very few Chinese monks. Buddhist activities of real significance have been unheard of. To many, Buddhism in Communist China has been a king of "Showcase Buddhism."
Korean Buddhism with its major sect of Chan ran the same course of development and decline as in China until the annexation by the Japanese in the year 1910. Then, under Japanese rule (1910 - 1945), Korean Buddhism underwent a great change.
The Japanese brought with them Japanese Buddhism together with the beliefs, practices and activities of the different sects. They set up their temples and introduced social and educational programs. Buddhism seemed to be restored to life. But, to the Korean Buddhists, the Japanese brought also the worst corrupting element, that is, the practice of married monkhood, which they encouraged by policy and which completely destroyed the Korean Buddhist tradition.
In the past, the monkhood was recruited from men of all classes of the society and from all parts of the country regardless of their status. As members of the monkhood, the monks formed an independent society exercising spiritual and intellectual influences on the secular society. Roughly speaking, they played the roles of the intellectuals. But in the modern times, since the monks were retired from educational responsibility on the adoption of the modern system of public education and since the traditional system of education was retained only in the monasteries, the monkhood has been recruited from the underprivileged, nearly entirely from the peasants' children. To distinguish them from those trained in the newly adopted modern system of education, the monks of modern times may be called the "traditional intellectuals." But, with an undeveloped educational system, they have lost the position of the intellectuals and fallen to the class of the common uninformed people or even the uneducated.
Buddhadasa was well known only to the intelligentsia, among whom his voice echoed strongly, while, at the popular level, he was little understood or listened to, and it is Bhikku Pannananda, a younger contemporary of his, that has come to fill the gap.
The Price of a Life [fiction]
1997, Sudassa Onkom
Ngop is a twelve-year old boy living in a slum, or "congested area" as he prefers to call it. He helps his family survive by selling flowers on the road. Though many boys in his neighborhood engage in criminal activities out of economic pressures and despondency about the future, Ngop steadfastly maintains his dignity and righteousness.
The Politics of Ruins and the Business of Nostalgia good
2002, Maurizio Peleggi
This is a curious research on the politics and commercialism of ancient ruins in Thailand. The author contends that successive regimes have exploited historical monuments to legitimize their rules and, when tourism began to prove a source of considerable profit, they were ready to make further "improvements" to attract tourists.
Introduction: From National Cultural Heritage to World Cultural Heritage
With the ancient cities of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991 (along with the forest sanctuary of Thung Yai-Huay Khakhaeng), and the archaeological site of Ban Chiang in 1992, Thailand has proven able to capitalize on UNESCO's authority to enhance domestic pride of its cultural patrimony, as well as widen its appeal as a tourist destination.
Inscription on the World Heritage List has indeed proven a potent vehicle for the tourist promotion of heritage sites, paradoxically heightening the dilemma between preservation and exploitation of the material past. For the purpose of this critique, the issues involved in heritage conservation and management are in any case secondary to heritage's significance as a source and marker of collective identity.
In the second half of the century, concurrently with the rise of nationalism, archaeology, born as a pursuit for adventurers, was transformed into an academic discipline. Nations, although a relatively recent creation, in most cases no more than two centuries old, tend to be imagined by its citizens as having deep historical roots. As evidence of a population's previous presence on a territory, archaeological sites and historic monuments are as important as the fundamental constituents of national identity, defined by Anthony Smith as: historic territory, common myths, historical memoirs, and mass culture.
In short, the rhetoric and practice of heritage conservation often appears to be deployed in support of the ruling elites' attempt to control and manipulate so powerful a symbolic resource as the past.
According to a scholar of classical civilization, the function of myth was "to make the past intelligible and meaningful by selection, by focusing on a few bits of the past which thereby acquired permanence, universal significance." ... Most importantly, political myth is never shared by a society as a whole, but is "always the myth of particular group."
A national mythology--that is, a collection of such political myths--thus represents the origins, history, and agency of the ruling class (or social bloc)--as those of the whole society.
Not surprisingly, re-enactments of historical events and past ways of life staged at historic sites and theme parks tend to present recreation-seeking audiences with an "improved version of the past," to quote Hewison. That is to say, a representation of history cleansed of suffering, violence, social injustice, and other nasty aspects of reality.
Part I: The Politics of Ruins
1. Institutionalizing Thailand's Cultural Heritage
The construction of monasteries and religious monuments in pre-modern Siam was deemed an activity accruing merit. Not so their restoration, since ruins were, in the elite's as well as in the populace's eyes, mere evidence of the Buddhist law of impermanence. This outlook accounts for the almost complete demolition during the first Bangkok reign (1782-1809) of the damaged edifices of Ayutthaya, sacked by the Burmese in 1767, in order to retrieve building materials for the new capital.
Rama V's speech to the Antiquarian Society was significant also for sketching a picture of ancient Siam as being constituted by several coeval polities (muang), not as one kingdom unified under a central authority. This vision of the Siamese past thus differed considerably from that which became dominant with the introduction of the school curriculum in the 1930s, centered on the historical sequence Sukhothai-Ayutthaya-Bangkok.
In the aftermath of the coup, when many in the progressive front fled to the jungle to escape repression and join the clandestine Communist Party, the government set in motion a pervasive ideological campaign centered on the notion of national identity.
The unprecedented emphasis placed by the Thai government on heritage conservation from 1977 onwards would appear related to this overall cultural policy, which was designed to reinforce state-endorsed definitions of identity and culture. Under the Fourth National Economic and Social Development Plan (1977-81), heritage conservation became a prominent concern. The ruined settlements of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya and the Khmer Monumental shrines at Muang Singh and Phanom Rung were selected as the first four sites to be developed into "historical parks". These projects were significantly launched in the midst of an economic downturn and when the domestic priority was to fight the clandestine Communist Party, at the zenith of its popularity in the late 1970s. In the case of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya in particular, the historical park projects represented also a way to attract international support for the government's overall cultural policy--support that resulted in their inscription on the World Heritage List.
The Rattanakosin bicentennial celebrations, organized by a committee chaired by then Prime Minister, General Prem Tinsulanond, were an imposing affair. Around one billion Baht was spent in improving the cityscape; 200 million Baht were destined exclusively for the renovation of the Grand Palace-Wat Phra Keo complex; and 90 million Baht were spent in renovating fifty-one royal barges, dry-docked since 1967. The barges were then paraded along the Chaophraya River in the revival of a pageant known for centuries as the grandest spectacle of Thailand's theater of power. The massive popular attendance highlighted the reconstitution of the national unity around the institution of the monarchy, which after the temporary tarnish of its image, following the October 1976 coup, was able to regain its primacy as national symbol and ultimate purveyor of legitimacy.
Starting with the Rattanakosin Bicentennial in 1982, imposing royal celebrations have been held at regular intervals--from King Bhumibol's sixtieth birthday (1987) and the Year of the longest Reign (1988) to the king's Golden Jubilee (1996), followed by his seventieth birthday (1997) and the beginning of his Sixth Cycle of reign (1998). Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn bears much of the credit for the successful makeover of the monarchy. Indeed, Princess Sirindhorn's popularity, moral authority, and media visibility are arguably second only to King Bhumibol's. Princess Sirindhorn is involved in many charities for the welfare and education of the rural population, but probably the most prominent of her public activities is that of "curator-in-chief" (so to speak) of Thailand's cultural and artistic patrimony. Princess Sirindhorn brings to this role not only her enormous personal charisma, but also the academic qualifications that come from her two Masters' degrees (in epigraphy and in the Pali and Sanskrit languages) and her Ph.D. (in developmental education). To boost further the identification between Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and heritage conservation, the government instituted the annual Thai Cultural Heritage Conservation Day on April 2, the date of the Princess' birthday.
2. The Political Economy of Moradok (historical heritage)
It is essential to realize that the Bangkok Charter [Regulations for Monument Conservation / 1985] was issued during the final stage of the realization of the Sukhothai Historical Park project, which a well-known archaeologist promptly stigmatized as "the 'legally authorized' process of destroying ancient and historical sites."
At the beginning of the 1980s, a generation of young historians originated the project of Local History in reaction to the dominant historiography of the noble, urban-based elite that had its roots in the court chronicles. The original aim of Local History, as espoused by one of its promoters, was to challenge the national historical narrative of the Sukhothai-Ayutthaya-Bangkok kingdoms by documenting the history of regional muangs that had, in some cases, retained their autonomy until the onset of the twentieth century. Local History's spatial decentering of the official historical narrative--from the center to the periphery--was compounded by a social decentering--from the court to the village.
By the early 1990s, however, there was a shift towards a more conventional historiography focusing on the rise and fall of local rulers, which has put Local history on a par with the National Culture Commission and its objective of showcasing Thailand's regional cultures once regionalism stopped to be perceived as a threat to national security. Devoid of its early ideological connotations and integrated within mainstream historical discourse, Local History has ended up being complementary, rather than disruptive, of hegemonic constructions of history, culture and identity: "It serves," one critic contends, "the government politically for security, economically for tourism, and ideologically to create a cultural-rich Thailand."
3. Physical Loci of the National Narrative
The inscription of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya on the World Heritage List in 1991 amounted to the ultimate authentication of their central place in the national historical narrative. The descriptions of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya by the World Heritage Committee read, respectively: "Capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; a number of notable monuments, which illustrate the beginnings of Thai architecture, can be seen in Sukhothai"; and "Founded in about 1350, Ayutthaya became the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. It was destroyed by the Burmese in the eighteenth century. Its remains, characterized by its prang or reliquary towers, and its gigantic monasteries give an idea of its past splendor."
The Sukhothai Historical Park was finally inaugurated on 14 November 1988, to coincide with King Bhumibol's attaining the longest reign in Thai history. In its first year of operation the park attracted some 434,000 visitors, henceforth establishing itself as a prime destination for both international and domestic visitors. This recent popularity needs be viewed against the scarce appeal the ruins of Sukhothai reportedly had for Thais prior to the development of the site into a historical park. Now, it is possible to visit to the ruins at an easy pace, moving around the paved roads by open tramcar, coach, private car, and even rented bicycle; the landscape and vegetation, especially luxuriant in the cool season, contribute to the pleasantness of the visit. At the same time, the erection of a brand-new, bronze statue of King Ramkhamhaeng on an imposing pedestal within the city's walled area testified to the nationalist appropriation of ruins.
Following the restoration of the main monuments and extensive landscaping, which included water pools evoking Ayutthaya's famous system of canals, two hundred households were relocated in the second half of the 1990s at a cost of 30 million Baht, paid for one third by the Housing Authority of Thailand and two-thirds by the Fine Arts Department.
Ban Chiang is little featured in the promotional material produced by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, especially in comparison to Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. This timidity in the promotion of Ban Chiang may depend on its somewhat uncertain place in the national narrative, which ascribes prime historical agency to the Thai race (hence the start of the narrative with the kingdom of Sukhothai). By contrast, Ban Chiang and the Northeast (or Isan) have a central place in the revisionist history of pre-historic Thailand pursued by Professor Srisakara. According to him, Isan (an ethnically Lao region) was the earliest center of civilization within Thailand's present national territory, and the driving force behind the establishment of Sukhothai's nucleus, before the arrival on the scene of the Thai people.
Part II: The Business of Nostalgia
4. Consuming Heritage
The highlight of the Loi Krathong festival is a light-and-sound show with performers garbed in historical costumes, staged at Wat Mahathat on the night of the full moon. Since its earliest staging in the early 1980s, this Broadway-like spectacle has been presented as a genuine Sukhothaian tradition. The attendance by Princess Sirindhorn in 1987, the year of the Sukhothai Historical Park's completion, lent considerable credibility to the event's supposed authenticity. In contrast, Srisakara Vallibothama, a fierce critic of the Sukhothai Historical Park, has deplored that "historical legends were written ... Which are entirely against history, e.g., the Loi Krathong festival at the ancient city of Sukhothai."
The River Kwai (Kwae) bridge, in the province of Kanchanaburi, is a different case, being a site popular mostly with Western tourists. Collective memory of the infamous "Death Railway," boosted by David Lean's movie (1957) and an extensive war-memoir literature, suffices to explain its appeal as a destination. But the marketing of the River Kwai Bridge into a tourist attraction has practically elided the horrendous past associated with the site and transformed it into a place for entertainment. Admittedly, heritage interpretation in the case of the River Kwai Bridge could hardly avoid controversy, involving issues such as the war atrocities committed by Japan (presently Thailand's prime foreign investor) as well as its iconography established by the Allies, overshadowing the fact that nine-tenths of the 106,000 victims caused by its construction were Asian prisoners of war (POWs).
5. National Narrative and Promotional Narratives
Siam in Mind
2002, David K. Wyatt
This book is more of a collection of essays on historical events than a study in history. As the author puts it in the preface, "Much of what I say is there as my opinion. I have been liberal in allowing my imagination to run freely, and I have stuck my neck out on a few points." Then he arouses curiosity of the reader by continuing, "Some things I have said might get me into trouble, and a few might even get me shot at. So be it. I certainly no longer have any illusions about my mortality," but, of course, the very fact that the book was published in Thailand precludes any possibility of touching upon sensitive historical issues which the author is well expected to be knowledgeable.
When the Japanese invaded Thailand on their way to Burma and Singapore on 8 December 1941, they soon were in a position where they were persuaded to offer Thailand various benefits to encourage their participation in the war as Japan's ally. The authorities in Thailand explained that, under wartime conditions, Thailand now was cut off from its supplies of opium from India, and the Japanese were led to see that the deficit might be made up by opium grown in northeastern Burma--the Shan States. This was not a trivial matter: before the war, the Government Opium Monopoly had contributed a substantial share of the total government revenues. By August 1943, the Japanese were prevailed upon to cede to Thailand the Shan States, as well as the northern portions of Malaya (now Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, and Trengganu).
The now-strengthened Thai army was sent up to occupy the Shan States, now renamed Thai Doem, with a capital at Keng Tung. They quickly got to know that their near neighbor, just across the border in the Yunnan province of China, was the 93rd Division of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang Army. Despite being formally enemies, the Thai were on good terms with their Chinese military opponents. Common gossip reports that whenever the Thai army learned that the Japanese were coming up to inspect the frontier, the Thai and Chinese would carry out a mock battle, often with blank ammunition. The Japanese were impressed. When the World War II (1945), and the civil war in China (1949), ended, the friendship between the Thai and Chinese military forces continued. Some of the 93rd Division forces were resettled in a village in Chiang Rai province, Mae Salong. It was from such positions in Thailand that air-drops to KMT forces in Burma continued for some years, and from which reconnaissance forays (on behalf of the United States) into the People's Republic of China were carried on.
It would strain credulity to imagine that certain Thai military (and police) did such things out of the goodness of their hearts or the strength of their anti-communist zeal. The Thai had their own shopping lists of things their forces needed or riches they coveted; and increasingly they had their own "business" to be carried on in organizing and transporting and marketing drugs from their former positions in the Shan States, and on behalf of their clients in Mae Salong.
Some of the Thai military who had been stationed in Keng Tung and the vicinity during the war, continued after the war, and were enriched by their "business." My theory--and it is nothing but a "theory"--is that, from the mid- to late-1940s until at least the beginning of the twenty-first century, there has always been what I might call a "bag-man" in the Thai military establishment. By this, I mean that the enterprise generated a lot of money, but also spent a lot of money; and someone was needed to distribute the money among those who needed to be "cut in" on the enterprise.
There are unconfirmed rumors that shipments of drugs from North Thailand for embarkation abroad from Bangkok were escorted by military and paramilitary forces, or even that they were transported in military trucks! More to the point are unconfirmed stories of major movements of cash to those in high military and political positions. It is even said that elections have been affected by such cash, and that warfare has been conducted in the interest of such enterprises.
Commodifying Marxism: The Formation of Modern Thai Radical Culture, 1927 - 1958 excellent
2001, Kasian Tejapira
This is a pretty comprehensive study of history of "communism" in Thailand up to late 1950s. By quoting numerous primary sources, the author reveals the formation and early stages of "communist movement" before it transformed into armed insurgency under the harsh state suppression in the 1960s.
Pro-communist Chinese newspapers, libraries, and book and newspaper clubs began to appear in Bangkok as early as 1922, the first publicly-known Chinese communist organization emerged out of a split in the local rightist-dominated Kuomintang branch in November 1924, and Chinese communist activities increased conspicuously after the breakdown of the first Kuomintang-CCP alliance in China in 1927.
Much to the dismay of their foreign supervisors and to the relief of Siamese police, the early Chinese communists in Siam usually carried out their tasks incautiously. Among the numerous ideological, political, organizational, disciplinary, and administrative mistakes committed by them and severely censured by the South Seas Communist Party around November 1929 were the following: arranging party meetings in tea houses and restaurants in contempt of police capability, resulting in the arrest of many members; being careless with organizational secrets; recruiting new members without a probation period; setting up a store to sell cheap bread to workers but ending up pursuing profit; and depositing funds in the bank to earn interest instead of spending them to expand operations among workers. It was probably this type of careless activity which invited the Siamese authority's first explicitly anti-communist measure, a secret deportation order by the Ministry of Interior in April 1929, as well as a series of big police catches of over one hundred communists from late 1929 through 1930.
The second characteristic of the initial development of communism in Siam resulting from her non-colonial situation was that anti-communism predated communism both in its introduction into the country and its articulation with Thai culture. Whereas communism began to emerge among the Sino-Vietnamese immigrant communities in Siam in the early 1920s, anti-communism had made its first appearance among the European-cultured ruling elite in the late nineteenth century. King Chulalongkorn reportedly sent a letter in 1881 to an American diplomat, expressing his hope that all rulers in the world would some day be saved by Providence from "…those based classes Socialist, Nihilist, Communists etc."
It is noteworthy that in the original blueprint of Bangkhwang Penitentiary drawn in the late 1920s, there was no area designated for "political prisoners," only one for "alien prisoners." But since most "alien prisoners" happened to be Chinese and Vietnamese communists, that area was turned perforce into one for "political prisoners," especially after the Bowaradej rebels were brought there.
The fact that many Bowaradej prisoners were once members of the royalty and nobility, even former colleagues, superiors, or personal friends of government ministers and prison governors themselves, certainly contributed much to this policy. At times, it led to such wild exploits as brief unauthorized "leaves of absence" from Bangkhwang to Bangkok for some Bowaradej prisoners for the purpose of savoring ice cream, seeing a Walt Disney animated cartoon, or shopping for a radio. One of them even ran into the Bangkhwang governor on such an occasion! Failing all else, there was the last resort of bribery, which worked like a charm to ease things with the jailors, provided one had enough money.
The Siamese communists regarded the People's Party as self-styled, that is, fake "people" and "revolutionaries," actually representing the bourgeoisie in alliance with some military leaders and disgruntled bureaucrats, who took power out of self-interest and conflict with the royalty rather than for the poor people who gained little benefit and no power from the whole revolutionary charade.
Whereas King Vajiravudh said that socialism, like the ancient Thai utopias of "Uttarakuru" and "Phra Sri Arya," was paradisiacal but impossible, King Prajadhipok argued that communism was possible but infernal (Aweji Sri Arya) and therefore un-Thai. The world-historical watershed that made heaven and hell change places in Thai royal anti-radical discourse was, of course, "the Great October Proletarian Socialist Revolution of 1917" in Russia.
The first Anti-Communist Act of Siam was veritably not anti-communist at all, but anti-socialist, or more specifically, anti-Pridi, anti-left wing of the People's Party, and anti-Economic Plan. As was the case with so many other foreign-derived entities in Thai politics, words were fitted to things other than they had been intended for in their homeland, thus changing both the meaning of words and the identity of things.
One should also consider the largely amicable relationship between Pridi and the Kuomintang. This dated back to 1929 when Pridi, then a junior official in the Ministry of Justice, was reported to have paid an enigmatic visit to Y.S. Cheng, an envoy of the Kuomintang government visiting Bangkok. In the decade after the 1932 Revolution, when he held various ministerial offices in successive governments of the People's Party, he never let the nationalism and radicalism of his policies and public statements go so far as to alienate the Kuomintang in the way Phibunsongkhram's version of fascist-modeled Thai nationalism did. Later, when he was denied an American visa during his escape from Thailand in 1947, he was offered welcome hospitality in China by none other than Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek.
Pridi's insistent instructions from China to his disciples in Thailand to re-attempt a similar fatal "koup-de-at" provoked the poignant criticism of Chinese officials that Pridi seemed to care less about the sufferings and lives of his disciples than his persistent bid to regain power.
Other points of contention stemmed from the group's dealings with communist China. Pridi alienated his hosts with his principled refusal to promise to grant privileged political and cultural autonomy, as a "national minority," to the Chinese and lookjin population in Thailand in exchange for Chinese aid. Pridi's refusal even to pay lip-service to this demand, and his indignant condemnation of the "pseudo-communist chauvinism" behind it and of covert inspection of the exiles' private mail stalled negotiations between the two sides from 1950 to 1954 and resulted in China's worsening treatment of its Thai guests. Pridi's intransigence and the consequent long delay led to the desperation and desertion of many of his disciples in China. However, when the Chinese later dropped their "chauvinistic" demands, initiated a rapprochement with Pridi, and broadcast his article attacking "the reactionary Phibunsongkhram Government and American Imperialism" on Radio Peking in July 1954, this in turn prompted many of his liberal disciples in Thailand, like Direk Jayanama, Wijit Lulitanond, and Thongyen Lilamian, to denounce him as a "thoughtless red."
The issue of leadership of the international communist movement also sparked angry debate. One such began in a study session between the "internationalist" Sanguan Tularak, who zealously supported the Moscow-Peking leadership of the movement, and the "isolationist" Nongphot Praphasathi and Police Captain Somsak Phuawes, who were distrustful of any form of foreign domination of their homeland. The debate ended with Somsak's threat to break Sanguan's head had they only been in Thailand.
Over time, disagreements arose over the historical significance of the People's Party's overthrow of the absolute monarchy in 1932 and the historical stature of Pridi himself. Swayed by the Thai and Chinese communists' standard belittling interpretation, Sanguan Tularak turned against Pridi's long-held views on the 1932 overthrow as "the unfinished and betrayed democratic revolution," the People's Party as "the party of revolution," and Pridi himself as "a revolutionary." To the resentment of Pridi, the turncoat now derided the 1932 undertaking as "a coup d'etat," the People's Party as "a group of power-grabbing aristocrats," and his own master as "a reformer" of lesser historical stature than even the revolutionary King Rama V.
Finally, Pridi's personal privileges in exile were divisive. In the early days of the group's exile in China, the communist authorities allowed Pridi alone the exclusive right to private correspondence with his family in Thailand. Later, the enviable happy reunion of Pridi with his wife and two daughters in Peking amidst the universal separation of his exiled disciples from their spouses and children, and hence their generally unfulfilled concupiscence, became an especially controversial issue. In view of the accumulated bitterness caused by these frictions and quarrels and the evident inexperience of the Pridi group in leading an organized collective life, it is little wonder that, by the end of the 1950s, the Pridi/Aksornsarn group had basically broken up.
During the 1950s, internal security, surveillance, and suppression of communists was the main responsibility of the Santibal Police. It was not until the 1960s under the Sarit and Thanom regime that the military became heavily involved in these matters, especially after the outbreak of the communist rural insurgency in 1965.
Time in a Bottle [fiction] good
1985, Praphatsorn Seiwikun
This is a story of Fatso, his family and his friends. Born to a middle-class family in Bangkok, he enjoys certain economic privileges, but suffers from constant family troubles. He ascribes it to his father having left his mother for another woman, and wishes that his father would come back soon.
Building Social Capital in Thailand: Fibers, Finance, and Infrastructure
1998, Danny Unger
The author attempts to analyze economic growth and social failures in Thailand, using the notion "social capital."
Mizuno contrasted the patterns he found in Thailand with Western individualism and Japanese collectivism. In Thailand, clientage ties were infused with personal warmth, not authority. Obligations emphasized the superior's need to exercise benevolence more than the inferior's need for loyalty (as was the case in Japan). Mizuno noted various proverbs suggesting low levels of trust: one should not "believe what others say, however nice it may sound"; should not "rely on water from villagers on the other side of the river"; should not look to siblings for help, for "ultimately one will not find anyone but oneself to rely on."
The Thai willingness to accept outsiders is striking and helps to account for the ready assimilation of the Chinese into Thai society (and the ease that most foreigners feel in Thailand). Indeed, much as in the United States, and with comparable qualifiers, becoming a Thai (in social terms) may require no more than behaving and speaking like a Thai. Typically, such an easygoing delineation of boundaries between us and them is associated with lower levels of trust. In contrast, strong solidarity and bonds of trust are found in communities that have high entry barriers, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, or Japanese.
By the 1990s it had become clear that Thailand's democracy was increasingly divided between the rural voters who brought coalitions to power and those in Bangkok who passed judgment on public policies and were able to force the fall of governing coalitions.
In the middle of this century, Skinner estimated that about half of Bangkok's population were ethnic Chinese. That percentage declined considerably as villagers poured into Bangkok (one Thai observed that Bangkok never was a Thai city: first it was Chinese, then Lao--a reference to the migration to Bangkok of large numbers of ethnic Lao from northeastern Thailand).
Compared to the Chinese elsewhere in Southeast Asia, those in Thailand were easily and fully assimilated. Cooperation between the two communities was crucial to Thailand's subsequent economic development and probably had to do with Thai tolerance as well as the fact that Thailand was never colonized. The absence of colonial control required of Chinese that they curry favor with local elites, rather than colonial ones, in their efforts to advance their interests.
Efforts by Thai politicians to organize a local labor movement in the 1950s to serve their own ends suffered when Chinese captured the movement and used it to support the Chinese communists on the mainland.
Many military leaders had rural roots and saw themselves as having close links to rural Thais. These men often believed they had legitimate roles serving as the people's advocates. Officers insisted they were responsible for protecting the people from unscrupulous "capitalists" and "dark influences" (reference to the new class of rural power-brokers).
The Chakri Dynasty
1983, Abha Bhamorabutr
This is a chronology of the Chakri Dynasty by a Thai author, revealing some curious customs and events during each reign.
Afterwards about eight years after their conflict, the second King (Boonma) suffered from serious illness, and he died on 3rd November 1803. Before he passed away, he told his sons (Prince Lamduan, Prince Inthapat), that all properties in the palace of second King (Wang Na), he got them when he was on duty for getting back the independence of the country, it should not belong to the descendants of the royal palace (he means the descendants of King Rama I), my sons, you should take these properties, it depended on your intelligence and ability.
After the second King (Boonma) died, the authority of the royal palace, investigated the case of rebellion, the rebels who resisted the King's regime were put to death penalty for their punishment. Prince lamduan, Prince Inthapat, Phraya Kalahom (Thong-In) and his party, Phraya Kasetthra Thibordi who prepared the cannon for resisting the royal palace party, Lady Nantha she was a wife of the second King (Boonma), she found guilty of adultery with Phraya Kalahom (Thong-In), who was the head of rebellion, these people were executed.
In the reign of King Rama I, there were two second Kings, the second King of the first priority was called "Wang-Na", the second King of the second priority was called "Wang-Lhung" Fortunately after the death of Wang-Na King and Wang-Lhung King died, it was paving a smooth passage to the throne for Prince Issarasunthorn, and being supported by the high ranking officials and the people, and Prince Issarasunthorn was proclaimed as heir apparent to the throne of Thailand (The position of Maha Uparaj).
The action of King Rama II which was necessary to give an authority to the persons mentioned above, because the King paid attention in a literature and concentrated upon fine arts.
In practice King Rama II gave power to his eldest son (Krommameun Jetdabordin) in the most important of his royal affairs, the King was thus able to spend more time on writing poetry and creating the artistic works.
King Rama III encouraged people to study the Doctrine of Lord Buddha on the line of Buddhism, the King provided the 11 a.m. meal to the monks who came to study Buddhism in the royal palace. Rewards were given to monks who passed the examination of Buddhism study, the monks who passed the examination, would be promoted to monastic ranks, and if their mother and father were slaves, they were set free from slaves and became free citizens. The King redeemed them by paying back some money. If the monk resigned from the monkhood and was accepted for his knowledge, he was probably appointed to work in the government organization as the government official. The King's action motivated a lot of people trying to study Buddhism in the city of Bangkok and in the rural areas.
At that time it was very difficult to find any patients admitted to the hospital, because the people thought that if they admitted to the hospital they would die or met a fearful treatment of surgery, the hospital authorities tried to take beggars in the streets with ugly skin disease to the hospital for curing, but the beggars did not agree to cure in the hospital because it would be an obstacle for their livelihood.
The King issued the law of Surname, that resulted Thai people having name, for first name, with surname or family name. That will be encouraged the people who have family name, he would behave himself as a good citizen that for the fame of his family name.
Central Thai Buddhism and Modernization
1992, Paul James Rutledge
In this book, the author introduces aspects of contemporary Buddhism in central Thailand.
Orthodox Theravada Buddhism teaches that the Buddha was not a god, but rather was the first to discover the way of enlightenment. Since the Buddha is not deified in the original teachings, practices such as prayers to the Buddha are not encouraged. Practically, however, central Thais hold to many belief practices which are not purely Buddhist in origin. For instance, in the popular Buddhism of central Thailand, people do pray to the Buddha and ask for assistance in their daily lives.
Since much of central Thai Buddhism involves variations from the original teachings, some have concluded that central Thais are not "real" Buddhists. This accusation has come not only from outside the country, but from within as well.
In some of the monasteries in the central provinces, young men who are in the process of ordination have requested and received permission to leave the monastery for "a few days off". These "recreational leaves" have been understood by the community as a time when the young man visits his girlfriend. A respite from the disciplines of the faith in order to fulfill one's sexual drive is a behavior far removed from the historical ideals of the Sangha, and the idea that it is perhaps sanctioned in order to keep the number of novices high is a ludicrous one to the Buddhist laity.
As a result of their world views, some of the younger monks do not feel compelled to adhere to the strict disciplines of the monastery. The prohibition against alcohol consumption and sexual relations are particularly disturbing to some who see themselves as temporary residents. The request for leaves in order to accommodate sexual desires is supported among the younger men and strongly opposed by some of the older ones. The younger men do not understand why this creates a problem, while the older men see this as a threat to an institution where the essence of ordination is individual devotion. The inability to understand one another is symptomatic of the greater problem: for the older men, Buddhism is a spiritual way of life; for the younger men, Buddhism is a temporary hurdle on the road to economic prosperity.
Rama III and the Siamese Expedition to Kedah in 1839: The Dispatches of Luang Udomsombat
1993, Justin Corfield, ed.
Originally compiled by Prince Damrong in 1906. This is a collection of dispatches of Luang Udomsombat who was put in charge of recording the development of the 1839 expedition to Kedah. His description of course of events is pretty detailed, reproducing meetings and conversations in a word-for-word manner. This book gives the reader a good picture as to how a war was conducted in those days, when even a correspondence between the front line and the headquarters in Bangkok took well over one week.
His Majesty asked if the ships had their sails rigged. The Treasurer replied that they had. His Majesty said: "If that is the case, they must be contemplating abandoning the town and going to stay on one of the islands. What do you think, Treasurer? Will they run away?" The treasurer replied: "I do not think so, Sire. I questioned the old lady [called] Nu. She said that all the monks in Songkhla had gone to see the Governor and volunteered to leave the monkhood to help fight the Malays. The Governor told them to wait and see how matters developed. The Bangkok army would soon arrive. If he thought that the situation was becoming serious, he would instruct them to leave the monkhood and rally around." His Majesty said: "That is the way. When the country's in danger they must give up the monkhood and help out. They must cease being monks and help us defeat the enemy."
His Majesty had ordered the officers of the Department of Ports and Harbours to have all ships calling in Bangkok that belonged to the tax farmers search for opium, irrespective of the size of the vessel. However, European or Indian ships were exempted from inspection because although it was desirable to find any opium that might be concealed on the vessels we would be put to considerable embarrassment if no opium were found on the European vessels and others from foreign countries. The officials should wait until they [the foreigners] attempted to deal in opium, whereupon they were to be arrested and their opium confiscated and burnt, according to the provisions of the treaty.
His Majesty then told the Treasurer: "Make sure that Chao Phaya Nakhon is aware of the fact that the Governor of Chaiya has no expertise in naval warfare. Wan Mali has some 95 vessels. To take someone with no experience is a waste of time and will only harm the interests of the Crown."
His Majesty exclaimed: "This is useless - I thought they would have been fighting the Malays instead of scattering their men all over the place - these tactics are idiotic, the damned fools! Do they think the Malays will not attack Songkhla? Is this why they have split the force up into small detachments? If the Malays attack them, dispersed as they are, how can they possibly come to each other's aid in time? Their force was already insufficient and here they are splitting it up even more!"
His Majesty said: "What nonsense! All he does is dither about! This will serve no purpose at all! He just believes everything the Malays tell him. He is used [his own] Malays but their advance was too rash and the rebels put them to fight. What does he think he's doing, setting up a defensive position in the town? He should have assembled his men, formed them into brigades to support each other and sent them out to defend the border. How many men do the rebels have? How could the Malays attack Songkhla with a force that size?"
His Majesty then said to Krommaluang Rakronaret: "How many men could the Kedah Malays have in this present campaign? - no more than five or six thousand, and these are split up into detachments of two thousand here, a thousand there, or even fewer. We had some 5,000 men in Nakhon and 5,000 in Songkhla - some 10,000 men in all - enough to deal with the situation - but they failed to do so and allowed things to deteriorate to the point where it was necessary for an army to be sent down from Bangkok to deal with the situation…"
His Majesty then asked: "What about supplies of food - have they been embarked yet?" Your Excellency replied: "I have arranged for supplies to be loaded aboard the ships belonging to Luang Phimukmontri, Khun Saliphithak, Phra Thanyaboriban and Luang Krayaboribun. However, there is not a great deal of rice in Bangkok and I have sent for more from Ayuthaya." His Majesty then asked: "How much rice are you taking this time?" Your Excellency replied: "If it pleases Your Majesty, I shall be taking 500 [coyan]." His Majesty asked: "500 coyan? Can these four ships carry 500 coyan? What's the capacity of each ship. How can they load all this rice?"
His Majesty said: "What does the messenger himself think about it - can they hold out or not?" Khun Phiphat questioned the messenger and reported that if the Malays did not obtain reinforcements, Songkhla could probably hold out. His Majesty observed to Your Excellency: "They are just scared, the whole lot of them - they've got no heart for fighting. From what I hear they're still in a panic."
His Majesty went on: "There is another important thing I would like you to pay attention to. When you are fighting the enemy, you must not wage war and carry off prisoners at the same time - it will put too much of a strain on the resources of our men. If the Malays rise up, those who are disaffected may join in against us and matters will get quite out of hand. You must attack, with Kedah as your first priority. If you have to appoint someone to administer Kedah, then do so. You can see to the business of carrying off their families later. Treat them leniently and let things calm down first. If you have to settle them in a particular district, then do so. If you think the Malays aren't trustworthy enough to be settled anywhere, then bring them all up here. You must not leave behind anyone who might prove a threat to us in the future. In fighting the campaign, you must see that the rumour is spread that all the Malays, right down as far as Kelantan, will be joining the Bangkok army to crush the Kedah Malays. Even if we get only a hundred or two to join us, it will add fuel to the rumours and cause the enemy to believe that we have levied hosts of people from the region to help us…"
Experiences of Hope: Reaching for the 21st Century
1992, Vitoon Panyakul, ed.
This is a collection of 22 articles by various authors on social issues; namely, hill-tribes, women, children, farmers, urban poor, workers, students, environment, tourism and human rights.
In the process of their 'integration' into Thai society, the self-reliant nature of hill tribe communities has been undermined. For example, the 'integration' process has been characterized by many hill tribe women becoming prostitutes.
During 1976-78, the distrust between the mountain people and the government officials widened. One of the major reasons was that 'the kamnan, the lieutenant and the district chief collected opium without paying for it. They said growing opium was permissible and they collected 10-20 packages of opium from each family even though some families had little in store. Many villagers felt bitter towards the officials. When the Communist Party of Thailand stepped up its political campaign, villagers were quick to support the insurgents. The battle between the government and the CPT to win over the people erupted with the mountain-people caught in the middle.
The agenda of the Thai women's movement underwent some changes again during the 'political dark age' under military rule in 1950s to 1960s. Alliance between middle-class women and women workers was weak. Improvements of women's status were made possible by the 'requests' of elite women, but not the 'struggle' of all women themselves. It was during this dark political age that the housewife ideology was introduced into Thailand, especially among the middle class women. Home affairs became a popular subject taught in schools and universities. Middle-class women, previously the 'spearhead' of the Thai women's movement were re-educated and trained to serve as good mothers and housewives.
As for the subsidy given to schools, it is found that between the schools in a district which gets the highest budget and another which gets the lowest budget, the difference per a head of student is 1:47. It is certain that the far districts must get lower budgets than the near ones. Likewise, as for the teachers, there are fewer teachers who apply to work in the provinces. This condition contrasts with the reality of Thai society in which more children are in the country and need high-quality teachers.
Kukrit Pramoj: His Wit and Wisdom
1983, Steve Van Beek, ed.
This is a collection of writings, speeches and interviews of Kukrit Pramoj. It's generally fit for easy-reading, contains curious notes on Thai history, and helps the reader perceive the general character of Kukrit. The book would have been of much greater interest had the editor not omitted Kukrit's antagonism against Pridi and Sulak.
Traditional and Changing Thai World View
1985, Amara Pongsapich, ed.
This is a collection of theses by seven authors who present various aspects of "Thai world view" or Thai psyche.
This Buddhist view is strikingly different from that of Hinduism. For the Buddhist, it does not matter who one is but what one does; whereas, for the Hindu, one does what one does because of who one is.
Occasionally, the criteria for status are in conflict. For example, a question arises in determining how a young rich noble should address a poor old farmer. The noble may use a term for inferiors/kee/ (you) since the farmer is lower in social position, but he may also use extended kin terms as such as /lung/ (parent's elder brother) to show friendly respect to age. In such a case of conflict, if the speaker does not feel free to categorize the addressee by status, he will avoid using pronouns altogether.
For Thai people, virginity is very important to women, while it is not of great importance to men. A woman would be /berisut/(innocent, virginal), I.e., never have had sexual contact. This term when applied to a man does not have anything to do with virginity. It means 'not guilty', I.e. without crime. The woman who loses her virginity is said to be /siatua/(literally, 'to lose one's body'); and if she has many illicit sexual relationships, she may even be considered as /siakhon/(literally, 'to lose a human being's status', which is generally used to mean 'to go to ruin'). These terms have different meanings when applied to men or to women. The verb /siatua/ applies to a female subject only. The verb /sikhon/ applies to an individual who leads a bad life, like being a gambler, an assassin or a drunkard. Either a man or a woman who behaves like this is generally regarded as /siakhon/, but this word may have another meaning for a female subject, I.e. to have too many sexual relationships. Even a woman who has only one sexual relationship is considered to have /raakhii/(blemish), and her parents must more or less "put here in a basket and wash her with water" so that nobody knows about her flaw. Otherwise, she cannot make a good marriage. In contrast, a man has sexual freedom and does not have to worry about his sexual contacts harming his reputation. Thus we can see that Thai people judge women's sexual behavior by rules different from those applied to men.
Thai peasants who have bad children think of it as the effect of harmful or bad action committed in their former life and following them in the present life. This means that being bad or good is not a direct result of child training. Thai peasants therefore do not pay much attention to disciplining their children. They are taught only a few manners and religious customs and traditions, for example, the customary wai to senior relatives and superior personalities such as monks and high ranking government officials, the bending forward a little while walking past senior relatives or superiors, etc.
Buddhism and Political Legitimacy good
1993, Somboon Suksamran
Here is another piece of work which investigates the relationship between politics and religion, or political exploitation of Buddhism. This book is rather unique in that, in expanding its scope to its neighboring countries--Laos and Cambodia--where the communist regimes have taken over, it offers the reader to grasp the comparative study of political exploitation of Buddhism, which, in turn, illustrates the Thai case with renewed interest.
Another aspect of the political exploitation of religion was manifested in the unification of Ayudhya and Sukhothai in the reign of King Trailok of Ayudhya (1448-88). Prior to his reign, though Ayudhya had ruled over Sukhothai, it had failed to absorb it. It has been suggested that King Trailok succeeded in integrating the kingdom because he understood the importance of the Buddhist religion and recognized that military dominance alone was fruitless. He sought to build a religio-political base in order to secure support from the Sangha, and to reach the peasants through the Sangha and religion. In order to win the hearts and minds of the people of Sukhothai, the king made great efforts to restore and build monasteries in the North. Among these activities, which afforded him the reputation of being a good Buddhist king and greatly impressed the Sukhothai population, was the restoration of Wat Buddha Jinarat. This was once the spiritual centre of the Kingdom, where the image of Buddha Jinnasi was housed. Following the example of King Lithai of Sukhothai, KingTrailok temporarily left the throne to enter the monkhood and stayed in the North. Politically, his ordination and his stay in the North must have pleased the Sukhothai folk, for the action followed the good example of the great Sukhothai king. On his ordination, the kings of Chiangmai, Pegu and Luang Prabang sent him gifts. Charnvit suggest that the King's ordination might have been planned so that the king could penetrate and take command of the Sukhothai Sangha. The idea was that his 2,348 men who were ordained with him would remain in Sukhothai and become the critical link between the political authority and the rural population of the North.
After independence in 1944, U Nu, the Prime Minister of Burma, asserted that Buddhism was compatible with and supportive of socialism, which was the main stream of the ideology of his political party. In hope of stabilizing his rule, U Nu sought legitimating for his government by proclaiming Buddhism the state religion in 1961.
The strategy which the RLG employed to win the support of the Lao Sangha in early 1950s was similar to that launched by the Thai government under the Phibul and Sarit regimes. The theme of combating the "communist danger" was that "if the communists come, the temples and the religion will be destroyed." Almost identical posters to those used in Thailand showed the brutal demons of communism with thorny clubs devastating the temples and stupas and beating the monks. These posters were distributed all over the country. The Lao monks were mobilized to campaign against the communist danger. In order to keep the monks in line and prevent them from allying with the Pl monks, the RLG issued Royal Ordinance No. 169 on May 25, 1959, which put the Lao Sangha under tight control structurally and administratively. The control extended to aspects of ecclesiastical affairs, including the appointment of abbots and monks of administrative ranks. This was similar to the Thai government's treatment of the Thai Sangha since 1962.
It was not only the RLG which institutionally mobilized the Sangha to assist its anti-communist political campaign. The PL also exploited Buddhism, the Sangha and the monarchy to legitimize their own political causes. The PL established front organizations representing various occupation groups. One of those was the Laotian Buddhist Association, set up in 1954. Its major function was then the propagation of the PL's ideology in a Buddhist context, focusing on "peace". It adopted the slogan: "Unity, Struggle, Neutrality, Peace". This organization was expanded to include other similar Buddhist organizations and merged into the National Association of Lao Buddhists in 1963. The activities of this front group involved the organization of representatives to propagate the PL stand, campaign against American intervention, instill in the minds of the people pride in Lao culture and national heritage, and call all the Lao people to unite, to preserve Dhamma and morality, and to protect Buddhism and the nation from destruction by imperialism.
Traditional belief in the Law of Kamma and the Buddhist legend of Boddhisattava (Phra Phothisat in Lao) were used to convince the Lao that capitalism is the act of bad kamma, or devil. Those who are capitalists or have associated with them will face severe punishment either in this life or in the next life. Communism and its programmes were praised as good deeds and those who associated with them would receive all the good things and need not wait till the next life. The leader of the Pl, Prince Souphanouvong, was raised up to the status of Boddhisattava, a holy figure who had accumulated enough good kamma and was in the last stage of becoming the Buddha. Well documented reports by foreign scholars also confirm that the PL even postulated that the Buddha himself was the greatest revolutionalist and could be considered the world's first communist.
Buddhism was now invoked to explain the downfall of Sihanouk in terms of his sinful deeds and thus he was no longer qualified as the ruler. The new ruling elite justified their dethronement of Sinahouk by accusing him not only of mismanagement of the country's economy and inability to maintain political stability but also of committing serious crimes against the national religion.
With the intention of alienating the people from the old conception of society and government and their bondage to capitalism and colonialism, the Khmer Rouge accused Buddhism of being like opium, which impaired the people's talent and power by physically and mentally. The teachings of the Buddha were said to make people see life negatively and accept suffering without making an effort to improve their own fate. Therefore poverty and exploitation were perpetuated. Differences in ways of living between the monks and laymen were exploited by the Khmer Rouge to undermine the prestige and importance of the monkhood. The monks were accused of being unproductive and thus parasites of society. Merit making activities such as contributing to the building of monasteries and religious places and the catering to the need of monks were considered as squandering the people's wealth in unproductive programmes which weakened national economic growth.
The brutality of the Khmer Rouge against Buddhism and the Sangha became legendary; known widely throughout the world. Within a period of four years of their rule, Buddhism almost disappeared. If there was any saffron robe left in Kanpuchea it was a deformed symbol of the religion, no longer genuine Khmer Buddhism.
On Both Sides of the Tenasserim Range: History of Siamese-Burmese Relations good
1995, Sunait Chutintaranond
The author claims that the widely-held idea that Thailand and Burma have been enemies for centuries is a rather modern creation, fabricated and propagated by the Thai ruling class for political reasons since the Thonburi/early Bangkok periods.
The image of the Burmese as an archenemy of the Thai gradually emerged in Thai historiography and literary works after the kingdom of Ayudhya fell to the Burmese armies in 1767. Prior to that tragic incident, Thai chroniclers were not anxious to record any historical event concerning the wars between Siam and Burma. The Luang Prasert Chronicle of Ayudhya (1680), for instance, does not specifically glorify the most famous victory of King Naresuan in the fight on elephant back with the Burmese crown prince, the Maha Uparacha, in 1592. By contrast, only the royal chronicles compiled and written in the early Bangkok period, almost two centuries after the event, extensively describe and particularly commemorate the 1592-93 campaign of this warlike king. Nidhi Aseusrivongse, in his Bangkok History in the Ayudhya Chronicles, suggests that the stories concerning the Siamese Burmese wars were additions to what was written in the Luang Prasert Chronicle of Ayudhya; that they were, in fact, composed in the early Bangkok Period.
In my opinion, the story of the Bang Rachan battle described in the Royal Autograph Chronicle (1912) is important in the sense that it introduces a new image of Siamese-Burmese warfare, different from wars conducted exclusively within the group of the ruling class and now including wars led by commoners. National historians and novel writers in the following period take this as a piece of evidence to support the idea that the Thai commoners, like their strong kings in the past, fought to the death against the Burmese in order to protect their beloved motherland and their freedom. The 'heroism' of the Bang Rachan villagers is also used by the nationalist government as a tool to arouse national consciousness and to create political unity within the nation.
1995, Suthichai Yoon
This is a collection of columns which appeared in the Nation as "Thai Talk" between 1969 and 1994. Each column gives a contemporary view on political and social issues during this period, if somewhat lacks in incisive analysis.
Little Angels good
2001, Phra Peter Pannapadipo
This is a collection of interviews on twelve novice monks. Most novices come from rural poor families, either to escape from economic hardship or to aspire for secondary education. Their stories bear curious witness to the harsh socio-economic conditions in rural Thailand. Also, the role of the Buddhist temple as a social security net becomes apparent.
In the far north, a couple of odd traditions have developed. In many monasteries there, it’s quite acceptable for monks and novices to eat in the evening. They don’t have to do it secretly, as some young novices do at my present monastery. Instead, lay people come to offer dinner and the monks and novices eat quite openly. Also, monks and novices are allowed to wear ordinary underwear beneath their robes, which they don’t in the lower north. Maybe that’s something to do with the weather being cooler in the far north. I've no idea how those traditions developed, but it was a bit of a shock to find I couldn't eat in the evening after I moved.
Thailand: Origins of Military Rule awesome
1978, David Elliott 1978
The author applies Marxism to elucidate the state of political economy in Thailand. He asserts that the Thai Establishment has collaborated with major imperialist nations to exploit the mass population by introducing and preserving the economic state of "underdevelopment" in the framework of world capitalism.
The author quotes curious historical sources, which other researchers probably wound’t dare, and leads to an alternative view on Thai history.
Thai Foreign Policy 1932 - 1946 excellent
1985, Charivat Santaputra
The author provides detailed account of Thailand's diplomatic relationship with other nations during the 1932- 1946 period. Whereas many history books tend to note only major political decisions and outcomes in the course of history, failing to mention intricate details and processes which lead to such events, this book looks into often-overlooked details and give a chance to the reader to re-evaluate history in his own views.
[Chapter Two: Siam and the West up to 1932]
During the reign of Rama V (1868-1910), relationships between the two countries were smooth. Siam never suffered violence or loss of Thai-speaking populations to the British which was in marked contrast to Franco-Siamese relationship. When Britain conquered Upper Burma in 1886, she handed over two Shan States, East Kencheng and Tangaw, to Siam, in the hope of avoiding a common frontier with French Indo-China, but Siam later had to cede these territories to France.
During the 1850s the relationship between France and Siam was still cordial. Napoleon III's envoy was splendidly received at Bangkok in 1856. French missionaries were given much freedom to build schools, seminaries and churches. As for trade, however, the French lost completely to the British competitor. During this period, the French were looked up to by the Siamese as a source to counterpoise British influence, the pattern which, of course, was reversed in the next decade when French imperialism took its toll.
[Chapter Three: After the Revolution]
The Western world seemed to view the June Revolution in Siam as "quite one of the world's most interesting (if hardly one of the most important) by-products of the world's economic crisis. The West, themselves, were badly hit by this economic depression and could hardly deal with their own difficulties, let alone intervening in the affairs of such trivial interest to them as that which occurred in distant Siam.
China had been attempting to set up a legation in Siam for a long time. But a Chinese Minister was not likely to be allowed, for such a representative would be a very powerful man. He would have the wealth of the nation behind him. The Chinese in Siam were under Siamese rule. Their passports read: 'Chinese race, Siamese Sovereignty'.
Mr Bailey, the British Consul in Bangkok, went as far as to comment that
The King is mistaken in thinking that many foreigners hope that the King will make war upon Bangkok. All the foreigners want is a stable regime and as little taxation and interference with trade as possible; they would not much mind how this were brought about if only they were not discommoded in the process.
In May 1933, Siamese domestic politics played into Japanese hands. Factionalisation occurred between Phya Pahol and Luang Pibul on the one hand, and the royalist government of Phya Mano backed by Phya Song on the other. The former could count neither on the French nor on the British to help ousting the latter, because these two European nations apparently preferred the status quo to keep their interests intact. Thus, Japan became the new power to turn to.
Late in May, some of the coup planners went to the Imperial Japanese Legation, requesting the Japanese to furnish them with military supplies to equip an armed force. Yatabe must have felt that the Japanese chance of increasing her status had arrived but he had to take a circumspect approach. He could not risk confronting the British at this juncture. His FO could not support such an action either. Therefore, sympathetically, he had to tell them that Japan was in no position to arm the rebels, but economic assistance and support could readily come after the coup.
On June 20, 1933, a coup d'etat was effected. Yatabe's presence at the coup headquarters was requested. He went secretly and one and a half hour secret meeting with Pahol and Pibul took place. Thus consolidation of Siam's prosperity now relied solely on Japan. In reply, Yatabe congratulated Pahol and went on to stake a claim for a bigger share in Siamese commerce. Once assured, he urged the economic development of Siam through Japanese technology and capital, insisting that commercially Japan should be treated as equal to Britain and that Japanese advisers be attached to the Siamese government. This became a historic, secret, verbal understanding, though without any secret alliance. The significance of this mutual understanding was that the Japanese now had much easier access to the real ruling group in Siam. However, it has to be said too that this came as a result of the Siamese leaders' fear of European wrath rather than an admiration of Japanese foreign policy goals, at least throughout 1933.
In September 1933, the Japanese Legation in Bangkok learnt with fear that a Japanese South Seas businessman, Iizuka Shigeru, was engaged in a Siamese political plot on the royalist side. Apparently, Iizuka acted as a contact man for prince Nakornsawan in his plot to overthrow Pahol's government. Iizuka professed that his objectives for Japan were the same as Yatabe's but his methods were not. He would try to draw Prince Nakornsawan into the Japanese camp. Yatabe, who was resting in Japan, was frightened, lest the Siamese public knew of Iizuka's connection with this plot. Yatabe and his staff in Bangkok tried to stop this foolhardy action. Before anything happened, Bovoradej's rebellion, which could be a result of Iizuka's go-between activity, broke out on October 12, 1933. Iizuka's role in this rebellion could not be established. Fortunately for Japan, his support for Prince Nakornsawan never became known. As soon as the government's army crushed the rebellion, Japan was the first to congratulate them. This pushed the Japanese even closer to the ruling circles of Siam as the French and the British gave political asylum to many of the rebels.
[Chapter Four: The Revision of the Treaties]
On several occasions, Luang Pibul, the Minister of Defence, and his clique produced calculated speeches and articles that hampered much of the diplomatic accord while negotiations were under way. One such instance was Pibul's speech on Siamese New Year's Even, March 31, 1937, in which he hypothesized Japan's attempt to seize Siamese territory on its way to attack Singapore. Both the Japanese and the British protested to Pridi who, probably, insisted that it was rather an attack on the Assembly so as to attain a larger slice of the budget for the Defence Ministry. A high-ranking officer believed that Pibul did so so that the treaty negotiations would not be smoothly carried out, because of his own jealousy of Pridi. In the end, Pridi was able to ride the storm by reassuring the foreigners of the true intention of Siamese foreign policy.
Economic well-being was one of the six principles set out after the 1932 coup. At that time, according to Carl Zimmerman's survey, 95 per cent of the country's businesses were in foreign hands. Public debt, albeit small and harmless, was held in Great Britain. Rice and fishing industries were in Chinese hands. Control of other exports, teak and tin, was shared by the Europeans and the Chinese.
The government steadfastly held the Chinese responsible for the indebtedness and poverty of peasants in Siam. In 1935, Dr James Andrews of Harvard University made the second rural economic survey of Siam in which he informed the government that the alleged profiteering role of the Chinese middlemen had been greatly exaggerated. There was only a negative response from the government and the Chinese remained the main scapegoat.
However, by 1938, economic nationalism was felt but was not vigorously implemented officially or otherwise. The drive in this form of nationalism did not take place until Pridi became the Minister of Finance in 1939.
[Chapter Five: Pibul's Domination of Thai Politics]
Being a favourite uncle of the young King Ananda and having visited ex-King Prajadhipok, Prince Rangsit was suspected by the government, notwithstanding his widely known interest in art and never giving the least sign that he was interested in politics. The two persons were linked in the only evidence the search of his house produced--correspondence about King Ananda's education. Some were from ex-King Prajadhipok. These became evidence used against Prince Rangsit, whatever their contents. On his sentence to life-imprisonment, the Princess Mother, on behalf of King Ananda, appealed from Switzerland that he be banished rather than kept as a criminal all his life, but this appeal was rejected. It has been claimed that King Ananda nearly abdicated for this.
Later on, ex-King Prajadhipok was accused of asserting his political influence upon Siamese students studying in England where he resided. Prince Varn, the adviser to the MFA, told Crosby in March 1939 about the government's concern. He volunteered that unless something was done to curb this or expel the ex-King, no Siamese would be allowed to study in England, especially the young king Ananda, in the near future. Assurances were given and the matter was left silent.
The Japanese agreed upon the mutual respect of territorial integrity but also asked for the exchange of information and to consult one another on any questions of common interests that might arise. This seemed to indicate a special friendship which Direk did not like but Pibul and the cabinet agreed to have. Then on May 10, the Japanese asked for and obtained the deletion of the clause which called for "mutual respect for one another's political regime". Apparently the Japanese thought this reflected on the status of the Emperor.
[Chapter Six: Thai-Indo-China Conflict]
Pibul told Lepissier in September 1940 that irredentist discontent, especially in the Army, is now flowing so strongly that he has much difficulty in controlling it. Pibul himself had told Crosby many times that if he did not follow the aspiration of this movement, his resignation from the premiership was ensured, which Crosby believed to be true.
On October 8, 1940, about 3,000 militant youths from Chulalongkorn University and its affiliates paraded to the ministry of Defence. The photograph of Pibul addressing the demonstrators from the balcony of the ministry building was widely publicized. These students went there to donate money and show unity in claiming back the ceded territories. On the same day, about 5,000 students from the University of Moral and political Sciences--generally known as Thammasat--proposed a demonstration to show their support to the government's policy.
Then, in a daring move on October 8, 1940, Pridi forbade the proposed demonstration in support of Thai demands on Indo-China by students of the University of Moral and political Sciences of which he was rector. He also told the financial adviser that the irredentist feeling had been allowed to run so high that it was out of control and that the government was in real danger from it. In forbidding this, Pridi was using his influential personality to cool down the irredentist fury, probably to give the government more diplomatic room and time to manoeuvre.
The Japanese planners had always recognized the key role that Thailand would play in their strategy given an Anglo-Japanese confrontation in southeast Asia. Since 1938, when the Emperor, reviewing the proposed hypothetical war plan, unprecedented gave a firm order not to violate Thai neutrality, the military planners had been keeping an eye on any possibility of Thai cooperation to bypass this order and keep their war strategy intact.
Meanwhile in Bangkok, on September 28, 1940, another of Pibul's private emissaries, Vanich Pananont, secretly approached Commander Torigoe, the Japanese Naval Attache, and informed him on behalf of Pibul that he had made the decision to rely on Japan. This signified his readiness to make a firm commitment in favour of Japan's "New Order in East Asia."
On October 1, Pibul confirmed this as being his intention by declaring bluntly that Nai Vanich's words "represent my true feelings." He gave Torigoe his oral commitment in this manner:
He would permit Japanese troops to cross Thai territory if necessary. He also said that he would consider providing the Japanese armies using his territory with necessary supplies. Finally he agreed to supply Japan with the raw materials it needed... All these commitments were made on the assumption that Japan would reciprocate and assist Thailand in its irredenta.
This was what the military planners in Tokyo had been looking for since the hypothetical attack plan was objected by the emperor in 1938. Although Pibul could not give a written confirmation, the Japanese could accept that it might leak, if written, because the Thai cabinet might know.
[Chapter Seven: Into the Second World War]
As early as February, 1941, Pibul told a cabinet meeting, with a strong reminiscence of Vichitr's memorandum, that Thailand could not remain neutral, and had to side with one or another belligerent. He himself favored the Japanese because Thailand got nothing from other countries but Japan. This had always been resisted successfully by the liberal faction. When the Japanese began to show their superiority-complex while in Thailand, the general Thai people began to despise them too. Pibul realized this and said in a cabinet meeting that ways had to be found to change this feeling in the people's minds. Again on December 3, Pibul said to his cabinet that the Japanese had told him that if Thailand joined Japan and won the war, old territories would be returned to Thailand. If it were a battlefield, Thailand would surely be destroyed unless it joined Japan. He expected the war to break out within two weeks. Thus, Pibul had spelled out his attitude quite clearly within the cabinet.
It was a moot point whether Pibul knew of the Japanese actual attack in advance, and if he did whether his action, by being absent from Bangkok at such a crucial time, had aided the Japanese takeover in any way. Those who believed Pibul had foreknowledge of the timing accused him of making scapegoats of the rest of the cabinet in deciding what to do when the Japanese advanced. Others believed that Pibul was panic-stricken and was not sure what course to follow. Pibul himself claimed in later days that he had not been forewarned of the timing.
In the cabinet, soon after the ceasefire was decided, Pibul said that he had been in touch with the Japanese for a long time. Negotiations had long been underway whether to join them, if not fight them, or to stay indifferent. Pibul had previously, more than once, tried to convince the cabinet to side Thailand with Japan. It was thus very plausible that Pibul knew roughly when the attack was to start. In fairness to Pibul, Crosby wrote after the event that he thought "unlikely that the Japanese would have been so imprudent as to reveal in advance, even to Luang Pibul, anything like an exact knowledge of their intentions, unless it were at the moment when they were on the very point of carrying them out and when it was so late that a breach of confidence on his part could not have imperiled their successful execution." Crosby also described the surprise of some officers of the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok, to support this. Given the benefit of the doubt, Pibul probably knew of the nature of the impending attack but not its exact timing.
[Chapter Eight: During the War]
The liberals within the government began to fade from the scene. The main casualty was Pridi. Having tried unsuccessfully to persuade Pibul and he cabinet to consider the full extent of the pros and cons of not resisting the Japanese, he kept this principles intact in the matter of his direct responsibility, finance. After passage was permitted, the Japanese began to ask for further loans for their troops in Thailand. Pridi firmly resisted, as this was not covered in the December 8 agreement. If Thailand agreed, she would have to print more money which would cause inflation and would so affect the Thai economy adversely. Pridi suggested that the Japanese print their own invasion notes so that they could easily be withdrawn after the War. Pibul angrily claimed that it would imply a partial loss of Thai sovereignty. Pridi returned the fire that it had already been lost with Japanese troops in Thailand. Pridi's reasoned resistance amounted to nothing as Pibul allowed the Japanese the desired loan.
A few days after December 8, Adul met with Pibul and Vanich at Pibul's residence. Vanich said that the Japanese disliked Pridi and Vilas as both were pro-British and made it inconvenient for the cabinet to cooperate with the Japanese. Thus both should be dropped from the cabinet. Pridi, the Japanese suggested, should join the Council of Regency. After consulting his friends, Pridi accepted the appointment.
During November 5-6, 1943, the Great East Asia Ministry organized an Assembly of Greater East Asiatic Nations in Tokyo. Representatives of all allegedly "independent allies" of Japan attended. They were Wang Ching-wei of china; Dr Bamaw, the Burmese Prime minister; President J. P. Laurel of the Philippines; PM Chang Ching-hui of Manchukuo; Prince Varn, Adviser to Thai PM Office and the FO; with Subhas Chandra Bose, the head of the provisional government of free India as an observer. It was merely a ceremonial conference and had no real political significance. Significant though, was the fact that Pibul was the only head of government in the circle who did not attend, which he later explained as proof of his insincerity to the whole idea of joining the Japanese. But some observers justifiably believed that Pibul was either afraid of a domestic coup in his absence or he was afraid he might not even be allowed to return home and either killed or kept as hostage in Tokyo. This proved to be the last important Thai external display of affection to the Japanese of any consequence to the New Order in East Asia.
As the Allies divided their theatres of war command according to operational as well as political convenience, this affected Thailand directly. By the end of 1942, one FO official told the Burma Office, among other things, that "Siam was in Chiang Kai-shek's strategic zone". This situation remained unchanged until the Cairo Meeting during November 22-26, 1943, when Britain showed its interest in transferring both Thailand and Indo-China to SEAC. Differences persisted among the Allies until July 23, 1945, when it was agreed that in Thailand and Indo-China the portion lying north of 16° north latitude would be in the China theatre, the area south of this in the SEAC. The prospect of Thailand being divided into two halves became apparent to the FSM. As China had always posed a threat to Thai security, Pridi tried to avoid any possibility of Chinese troops entering Thailand. Militarily, he tried to link the entire territory of Thailand to the SEAC theatre, but no proper division was set until the Japanese officially surrendered. Pridi immediately made a move. He asked an American military officer attached to the FSM Command to send an urgent telegram to the American government that there might be some unrest if Chinese troops entered the north of Thailand to disarm the Japanese. On September 2, President Truman issued General Order No. 1 in which Japanese forces in all of Thailand were called upon to surrender to the Supreme Allied Command, South-east Asia (SACSEA). Thus, in large part because of the moves by the FSM leaders, Thailand was not divided as in the case of Korea.
In Washington, Seni, the Thai minister, had made lip service to State Department on December 8, 1941, that he disagreed with Pibul's decision. Three days later, he publicly declared that he would work for the reestablishment of an independent Thailand. This became the starting point of the Free Thai Movement abroad, and Seni followed up by denouncing any alliance with Japan that Pibul made as it did not represent the free will of the Thai people. The effect was profound. The State Department immediately continued to recognise him as the Thai minister. The British, when consulted, were cautious because Seni was a Royalist by birth and only non-realists would believe that it would have no bearing on Thai internal politics. This attitude was proved correct when a Prince Chirasakti visited the FO on June 8, 1942, and enquired about the FTM and made his hope evidently clear that the British might be prepared to endorse his "claim" to the throne. So from the start, the British did not accept Seni's leadership without ay suspicion.
[Chapter Nine: The End of the War]
When the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, Japanese surrender followed in a matter of days. This overtook the cautiously slow British plan for Siam. The FO felt, on August 12, that they were "under a certain moral obligation towards the Siamese Regent who… was ready to come into the open on the side of the Allies but was dissuaded by us… It was suggested that an SOE representative in Bangkok should give as his personal advice to the Regent that he make an announcement disavowing his country's declaration of war and all measures flowing from it which were pre-judicial to the Allies' course of war. The declaration should repudiate the alliance and all other agreements with Japan and place Siam and its armed forces at the service of the Allies. The Regent should also declare his readiness to send a representative to Kandy to get in touch with the Allies. The Resistance Movement's proposal of overt action against the Japanese, which was dissuaded by the expressed advice of the Allies, should also be mentioned.
On September 27, the government submitted the War Criminal Bill to the Assembly. Some members argued that this law contained some retroactive provisions which were contrary to the Constitution, but the majority voted for it and it became an Act on October 8, 1945. This Act was necessary or else the Siamese could not try their own war criminals. Trial by the Allies would amount to Siam being seen, in the eyes of the world, as having finally capitulated to the Allies. In the eyes of the Siamese, the juridical autonomy gained eight years before would also be lost. To preserve Thai independence and sovereignty at this critical time its authority had to be shown symbolically and as well as in practice. Although some people were led to believe wrongly that the Act was merely a revenge taken on Pibul, the fact was that without this Act and consequent trial, Pibul and other Japan's collaborators would have been tried abroad, even in a Special War Crimes Tribunal, as embodied in various agreements.
[Chapter Ten: Conclusion]
The Thais seemed to have exacted their best possible terms in the Formal Agreement with the British but in reality the Thai liberals had unwittingly lost their own chance of planting the seeds of democracy. The opportunity arose when the British tried to put a control on and reorganise the Thai army so that a return of military dictatorship would be impossible. This appeared in one of the twenty-one demands which, with the US help, the Thais had successfully avoided. The demand was probably based on Crosby's realistic warning in 1943 that
If the failure of constitutional government in Siam has proved one thing, it is that a relatively powerful army must represent a standing menace to the liberties of the people of any country in which the traditional form of government has been weakened or destroyed without the creation of an effective public opinion to supplement or replace it. The political eclipse of the Siamese liberals will endure so long as the army and navy continue to possess the physical means of keeping them in subjection. Not until this impediment had been removed will there be a prospect for the application of democratic principles in Siam…"
As this British pragmatic and concrete proposal was attached to many other unattractive proposals, the Americans, whose experience about Thailand tended toward the humanitarian and idealistic ends, intervened and had them withdrawn, almost en bloc. The Thais gleefully praised the Americans for this. But this rejection had an adverse repercussions on the re-emerging democratic system in Thailand. Without any restraint, as early as the end of 1947, the Thai military were able to stage a coup. Since then, they have controlled the reins of Thai government except for a short interval between 1973 and 1976. Thus one of the most successful Thai foreign policy moves has turned out to be a suicidal one domestically.
Pridi Banomyong and the Making of Thailand's Modern History excellent
1983, Vichitvong Na Pombhejara
This book provides a curious account on the post-1932 political history of Thailand. The author quotes various primary sources and describes details of major political events concerning Pridi.
Especially curious is its Chapter 15, "The Darkest hours," which describes the aftermath of King Ananda's death.
In the statement he submitted to the civil court as plaintiff in a libel suit in 1978, Pridi said that at that time, some members of parliament were also preparing to nominate him as a regent replacing the late Chao Phya Yomaraj. He also pointed out that his nomination by Pibul was not carried out with the intention to save him from the Japanese mistreatment, but rather because the Japanese wanted it that way. To show that Field Marshal Pibul was not sincerely happy about his elevation to the regency council, Pridi referred to a few instances which took place after he had become a regent. The first instance took place early in March 1942. Pibul was then forming a new cabinet with Pridi's name included. Pridi was informed about Pibul's intention by General Adul while he was on his way back from Ayudhya by boat. Adul said that he had already raised an objection, but to make sure, Regent Pridi must hurriedly return to Bangkok and inform the prime minister of his unwilling to join the cabinet. Pridi did just that. Upon his return to Bangkok, he wrote an urgent letter to Pibul telling the latter that he had arrived back in Bangkok and requesting him not to include his name in the list of the new cabinet. Pridi also stated in his letter that if his name appeared on the list, objection would be raised by him in the regency council. The idea of including him in the cabinet, said Pridi, was an explicit desire of the field marshal to place him as a subordinate. Later on March 30, 1943, Pibul, in his capacity as supreme commander, issued an order making both Prince Athit and Dr Pridi, the two members of the regency council, attached to the supreme command, and requiring them to report on duty within twenty-four hours. While Prince Athit readily complied, presumably out of his apprehension of Pibul, Pridi flatly refused to do so. He argued on the grounds that he was then the king's representative who was, by constitution, chief of the armed forces, and as such he could not be subordinate to the supreme commander. Field Marshal Pibul Songgram later withdrew his order.
On June 1, 1946, King Ananda Mihodol officially opened the new session of Parliament and both chambers began their functions on June 3. On that day, Pridi Banomyong tendered his resignation as his work had been completed, and he had fulfilled his words that he would be in office for only a couple of months. With the new constitution in effect, there also should be a new government.
But on June 7, there was a call for an informal joint meeting of the two chambers to sound out the members' views on the next prime minister. The meeting unanimously agreed that Dr Pridi Banomyong was again the most appropriate choice for the chief executive post. Without consultation with him, the president of the Senate requested the king to appoint Pridi as prime minister, and the appointment was made on June 8.
Learning of the appointment, Pridi requested an audience with the king and informed Ananda Mahidol that he sincerely desired no executive power, and that he was already grateful for the title "senior statesman" which the king had graciously bestowed on him. However, since the appointment had already been made, he was obliged to serve in the capacity of prime minister only temporarily. Pridi humbly requested the young king to consider somebody else to replace him. Ananda Mahidol told Pridi that he would rather see the latter continue as prime minister for a while during the transition period.
Ananda Mahidol's appointment of Pridi Banomyong as prime minister on June 8, 1946, was to become the twenty-year-old king's last official duty. Less than twenty-four hours after his meeting with the prime minister, and before the new cabinet had been formed, one of the most tragic events in modern Thai history did occur.
Pridi spent that night of horror with some friends who lived on the other side of the river which was mostly orchards. The next day, he was picked up by a friendly naval unit sent for by Admiral Nava-Vichit to escort him to the headquarters of the navy. In the morning of November 10, he met with the ousted Prime Minister Thamrong, Admiral Sangvorn and others and on the following day, Admiral Sindhu-Songgramchai, the navy's commander, provided a naval unit to escort Pridi and his colleagues to the Satahip naval base.
In Bangkok, Field Marshal Pibul-Songgram was back in power as the military commander-in-chief of Thailand. The coup group had replaced the 1946 constitution with a provisional one under which Kwuang Abhaivong was asked to form a new government and to recommend a list of new senators. In the meanwhile, Pibul issued an order calling Pridi, Thamrong and Sangvorn to report at the ministry of defence, but none of them turned up. Later learning that Pridi was staying at the Satahip naval base, he asked Admiral Sindhu to turn him over to the coup group. Pibul's request was made known to the senior statesman who felt that as there was no opportunity to bring back the status quo at the time, his continued stay under the navy's hospitality would create a predicament to his friends in the navy. Pridi decided to leave Satahip for Bangkok on November 19 with the view to seek ways and means to flee the country.
On February 17, 1954, the day when three men were executed on complicity charges in connection with the assassination plot, General kaj-Songgram, one of the leading members of the coup group then appearing in court under a rebellion charge, rose up and requested the court for a three-0minute silence as a sign of respect for those executed. After that, kaj-Sionggram, one of the outspoken advocates of the assassination theory during the November 8, 1947 event, was asked by his associate in the same rebellion suit as to why he expressed sorrow over the execution. Kaj-Songgram is reported to have said that he never anticipated such an outcome, and further explained that the only reason his coup group had raised the issue against the "professor" (Pridi) at that time was to defeat him politically, as no other issued carried sufficient weight to annihilate Pridi's past achievement. Kaj-Songgram said that he was very sorry about what he did to Pridi, the consequence of which lay beyond his foresight.
After a short stay in Hong Kong Pridi moved further to Shanghai, at that time still under the nationalists. Deciding to go to Mexico, he, together with a Sa-nguan Tulalak, Thai ambassador to Nanking, went to see the Mexican ambassador and obtained a visa to visit that country without any difficulty. Pridi was planning to go to Mexico via San Francisco as he had earlier obtained an American visa. But just before his departure from Shanghai, while presenting his passport to the Chinese immigration, "a young American named Norman Hannah, vice-consul in Shanghai, having arrived suddenly, snatched my passport from the hands of the Chinese officer and crossed out the American visa which had been granted me by the US embassy in London," wrote Pridi. He was stunned as his journey plan to Mexico, as the result, had to be scrapped. "I understood then that the medal and the citations that had been conferred on me by the American government had absolutely no value," recalled Pridi bitterly. "But in fact, they considered me a criminal, an indictment of their former enemies during the war, in refusing me to stay in transit for a few hours on American territory." Sometimes later, over a luncheon, Pridi met the US consul-general who expressed his regrets for the incident and informed the former regent of Thailand that the US Secretary of State George Marshall had instructed that the US visa be reinstated in his passport.
In 1958, Pridi once prepared himself to return to Thailand to defend himself in the court of justice. His trip was, however, cancelled at the last moment when Marshal Sarit took power on October 20 of that year and ran the country with an interim constitution under which he himself as prime minister possessed unlimited power. During the Sarit regime, Pridi was, from time to time, falsely accused of building up forces in Yunnan for advancing into Thailand.
On one occasion during the last years of the Pibul government, the field marshal sent a representative to see Pridi at Canton to inform him that certain fresh evidence had been discovered concerning the death of King Ananda Mahidol. The field marshal was contemplating reviewing the case under proper legal procedure with the view to bringing out justice. However, Pibul never had the chance to prove his words. Soon afterwards, in 1958, his government was ousted by his own subordinate, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat. Like Pridi, Pibul fled the country and finally passed away peacefully in 1965 (sic) at the age of sixty-eight in Japan. It is learned that while in exile in Japan, Pibul wrote Pridi some letters in which he revealed certain accounts of historical interest. These letters are, however, not expected to be made public as long as Pridi is still alive.
General Anant said that he kept his curiosity to himself for a long time until one day during his father's exile in Japan when he decided to ask for an explanation. The question that the field marshal was asked by his own son was why he, as the prime minister, did not request an amnesty on behalf of those three men being sentenced to death in February 1954. "He answered my question instantly and positively that 'Three times I requested an amnesty. I did my best.'
At Chit Singhasenee's cremation on February 12, 1978, twenty-four years after his execution, his children published a book in memory of their father which contained the following account: "After father's death, the prime minister (Field Marshal Pibul-Songgram) instructed his secretary to offer his assistance to our family for the education of the children. We discussed it within the family and finally decided to accept the offer as a token of evidence that even the government then was convinced of father's innocence.
The point is that his sufferings have originated from the acts and the behaviour of some of his followers, the so-called "Pridi's disciples". If Song-Suradej and Manopakorn found Pridi unacceptable in 1932-33, it was not because they could not accept his ideas or had no faith in his sincerity and devotion to the country. They distrusted him because of their apprehension of his disciples' possible activities which nobody would be able to check. It also cannot be denied that the rift between Pibul and Pridi, which already showed signs before the war originated from the latter's "disciples". There was absolutely no reason for Pibul to distrust his old friend, and yet there were many reasons for the field marshal to be suspicious of Pride's "disciples" who were growing in number and influence at the time. It goes without saying that the breakaway of Kwuang and Seni from the Pridi camp during the early postwar years was also caused by the same factor. There is little doubt that the conservatives' campaign to eliminate Pridi Banomyong from the political scene by using the case of King Ananda Mahidol's death as a weapon was motivated, not by the belief or even the suspicion of Pridi's involvement in the tragic incident, but by the apprehension of his disciples' influence in Thai politics. Finally, it should not be wrong to say that the very reason why there remains strong resistance in some quarters to Pridi's return to Thailand despite his old age, is the fear of his disciples' reactions to it.
2001, 瀬戸 正夫
Bangkok Editor good
1949, Alexander MacDonald
The author is a founder of the Bangkok Post. In this memoir, he recalls pains and gains of setting up a newspaper in Thailand, while reporting major political events in the immediate post-war Thailand: namely, the death of King Ananda, the coup d'etat which expelled Pridi, and the regicide trial of three suspects.
Should the death indeed have been suicide about which Pridi, out of loyalty to kingdom and crown, had kept silence, it was too late now for him to announce it. I was sure that if he spoke such as truth, unsupported by a royal family statement, he only would be hunted down and killed for blasphemy against the Crown.
It was a terribly sobering thought; but more and more I was convinced of it: that, no matter how this trial turned out, the case of the death of King Ananda Mahidol had every prospect of being a mystery that would never be solved.
King Maha Mongkut of Siam
1972, John Blofeld
This is a biography of King Mongkut. Apart from his official activities as the abbot of Wat Bovorniveh and, later, as the King of Siam, the author reveals some curious anecdotes which illustrate the private life of King Mongkut.
On returning to lay life, he was given an establishment of his own and, during the next few years, took to himself several wives, among them the Lady Mahesavara who was destined to cause him a good deal of trouble with her foolish pranks. (many years later, when he set about acquiring a large number of royal consorts, this lady, who by then was long past the first flush of youth, grew very jealous of her new rivals, most of whom were lovely girls in their early teens. She irritated her spouse by tactless public reminders of the days when she had been his favourite, and, to avoid ridicule, he had now and then to confine her to her quarters.) By the time he reached the age of twenty, Prince Mongkut had already sired two children.
On the day that King Rama III passed away, his Chief Minister came to Wat Bovoranives to invite the Abbot Makuto to ascend the throne. According to some sources, the Council had chosen him in compliance with the lte King's earnest desire; but there is also a story that, on his death-bed, he changed his mind and urged members of the Council to select his own son as heir. On receiving the Council's invitation to mount the throne, the Abbot remained silent, which was the traditional manner of expressing assent. Told that, almost at the very last, the dying King had felt seriously concerned about the Dhammayutika adherents' insistence on wearing the yellow robe according to the fashion of the Mons, he gracefully gave way on this point, although the decision meant much to him; accordingly the Siamese manner of wearing it was restored.
As it happened, Prince Chudhamani [Second King--King's brother] was an excellent choice as he compensated for the King's own lack of experience with state affairs; in the previous reign, he had already distinguished himself in various civil and military posts, besides seeing something of active service as head of the navy during a war with Annam. Things were so arranged that the military aspect of his new position was strongly emphasized; the Wang-Na wore military garb and, during his inaugural procession, rode in a bejeweled howdah on the back of an elephant surrounded by five thousand soldiers. No one could have been better fitted for the post of Siam's military leader; to his considerable experience he added a keen interest in military affairs and a thoroughly scientific bent of mind. He was particularly knowledgeable about Western medicine and mechanical sciences. His English was not only much better than his brother's but good enough to be described uneuphemistically as excellent, and this naturally did a great deal to facilitate his studies.
For the first few years of King Mongkut's reign, the two brothers were the best of friends, but, later on, their intimacy waned. The Wang-Na, by reason of his fluency in English, his democratic manner, good looks, rather urbane and dashing character, and his considerable achievements as a scholar and scientist, made an excellent impression on Bangkok's foreign residents, so much so that some of them were indiscreet enough to suggest that he would make a much better king than his elder brother.
It became King Mongkut's custom to reduce the punishments he had decreed for wrongdoers and it is known that having to sign a death warrant upset him so much that, before doing so, he would pass a whole night considering whether or not it must be done in the interests of justice and interspersing this detailed consideration with the recitation of Buddhist scriptures.
In one book, the King is described as having been 'bashful with the palace ladies'. Whether this was really so seems doubtful. He was certainly no prude and undoubtedly took a healthy delight in the beauty of young girls. In one of his letters, he expressed undisguised envy of the Wang-Na, to whom princes and officials, encountered during his journeys up-country, used to offer their daughters in marriage. King Mongkut complained that potential fathers-in-law kept well away from him and wondered why people regarded him as too old to welcome frequent offers of marriage, especially as the dashing Wang-Na was not so very much younger than himself.
There is a story that Anna, having left the King's service rather abruptly and without his permission as he wanted time to find a successor for his children's tutor, demanded the sum of L400 as a kind of severance pay. This being curtly refused, she then wrote to him threatening to write books that would blacken his reputation in the eyes of his censorious Western friends, notably Queen Victoria whose goodwill he was eager to maintain. Finding that this letter remained scornfully unanswered, she set to work and presently published two books, The English Governess at the Siamese Court and The Romance of the Harem, of which the second is even more scandalous and false than the first.
Besides giving one of the American missionaries a room in his own monastery for preaching purposes, he once presented the Catholic fathers with three thousand war prisoners, instructing them to endeavour to make Christians of them all! Before his accession, he had once said to Bishop Pallegois: 'If you convert a certain number of people, tell me and I will give them a Christian governor. They shall not be annoyed by the Siamese authorities.'
On the whole, the King had a poor opinion of American missionaries; it occurred to him that they largely consisted of nonentities who could find no religious employment in their own country; and, judging from the quality of some of those active in this century, he was probably quite right in that assumption.
In 1857, the old Siamese tradition which dissuaded high-born people from going abroad fell into disuse. King Mongkut had at last decided to send an embassy to London, where the nobles who took part in it astonished the local populace by the splendour of their golden apparel. Some of these nobles had the greatest fun. Without Queen Victoria's knowledge, it is to be hoped, they visited Kate Hamilton's magnificently appointed brothel, where their scintillating garments proved a tremendous success with the girls. A London paper reported that one of the Siamese ambassadors had 'continued to dip liberally into the treasures of the two kingdoms until daybreak'.
Regarding the succession, he ordered the ministers to select one of his brothers or nephews, but only with the full consent of the ennobled princes and ministers of state in council. He required that their choice fall upon a prince notable for ability and wisdom and well qualified to preserve Siam's peace and welfare. He forbade them to choose Prince Chulalongkorn, although this astute and able young man was his eldest son by a full queen; he pointed out that the boy, not yet recovered from his illness, was only fifteen years old and therefore too young and inexperienced to tackle the immense task of saving Siam from annexation and carrying out the great programme of reform he had initiated. Furthermore, were the choice to fall on him, his life would be endangered as the more conservative princes and nobles would be bitterly disappointed.
On 30 September, the day before the King's death, Chaophraya Suriyawongsa pointed out that the Western powers took it for granted that the eldest son (by a queen) would succeed. Were someone else chosen, they might regard (or pretend to regard) him as a usurper and withhold recognition. Though the minister did not say so, the implication was that Britain or France might invade the country to 'restore the rightful heir' and, having done so, remain there, first as protector and later as suzerain. Reluctantly the King agreed and, in the evening, sent his son two gifts--a ring and a gold rosary which had once belonged to the founder of the dynasty--as symbols of his forthcoming elevation. Very wisely, the minister had the young prince's guard doubled.
Trial in Thailand excellent
1974, George K. Tanham 1974
The author is a specialist of counterinsurgency in the US State Department, and was stationed at the American Embassy in Bangkok from 1968 to 1970 as a Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency. In this book, he gives detailed descriptions of the history and contemporary situation of communist insurgency in Thailand, from the point of an American specialist, and comments on problems and future prospects of counterinsurgency.
1. Thailand Today
2. Communism in Thailand
3. The Insurgency
4. The Thai Response
5. An Assessment of the Thai Response
6. United States Government Apparatus
7. Special Assistant for Counter Insurgency
8. Some Reflections
It was inevitable that public attention to Thailand would be linked with that paid to Vietnam. The whole "domino" theory was in part based on an assessment of Thai intentions; Thailand, as the unsinkable aircraft carrier, played an increasingly important strategic role in our Vietnam strategy and now represents our last trump in dealing with Indochina; Thailand was where theories of revolution could be investigated without fear that it was too close to the eleventh hour. Thailand was also where men who had seen things gone awry in Vietnam could seek to get one corrective effort off to a good start.
Golden Triangle: Frontier and Wilderness good
1982, Bo Yang
The author is a journalist in Taiwan. He spent three weeks in the Golden Triangle in 1982 for interview and research. This book is a collection of his articles which appeared in China Times.
This book roughly divides into two parts. In part one, the author takes up the drug issue around the Golden Triangle. His concise account of the history of drug trade reveals how the trade has been economically, and later politically, exploited by the British in the 19th century, French in the first half of the 20th century, and by Americans during the Indo-China conflict. He also takes up contemporary topics such as Khun Sa, Shan United Revolutionary Army, and alleged involvement of high-ranking Thai officials.
In part two, the author gives account of the history and contemporary situation of the Kuomintang in north Thailand. His narration of the 1963 disarmament, 1968 battle of Batang, and 1982 battle of Khaoya is impressive.
Muang Metaphysics: A Study of Northern Thai Myth and Ritual
1984, Richard B. Davis
The author conducted an anthropological research in a rural village in Nan Province from late 1960s to early 1970s. In this book, he tries to recompose the ideological system of the Muang, which lies behind rapidly disappearing traditional customs.
Much of Northern Thai culture is dying, and there is urgent need for a permanent record of it. During the past half-century northern Thailand has become engulfed by Siamese influences, together with indirect Western influences. As a result, Northern Thai culture has already begun to lose its coherence and its relevance to the Northern Thai people in presenting ideal models for behaviour. What were once the ingredients of a unique and flourishing culture are now devolving into mere regional peculiarities within a Thai nation-state.
The Northern Thai call themselves Khon Muang. Khon means "people", and muang means "principality" or "territory". The Northern Thai are thus "The people of the principalities". In former times, they were called "Lao" by Siamese administrators and European travelers. The reason for this is obscure; it probably reflects the cultural similarity between the Northern Thai and Lao peoples. The Northern Thai do not call themselves Lao, nor do they like being called Lao by outsiders. They consider the Lao to be a group similar to themselves yet culturally distinct, and they prefer to be identified by the name they call themselves, Khon Muang. Their language is known as Kam Muang or Yuan.
Another important area of difference between Muang and Siamese concerns sex roles and sex behaviour. Muang women are more powerful in the domestic situation than are Siamese women. Courtship is more open and female virginity less prized. The general texture of personal relations in northern Thailand is more relaxed and less formalized, reflecting a relatively egalitarian ethic which is not characteristic of the more status-conscious Siamese.
Muang or Kam Muang, the Northern Thai language, is similar to Siamese; but it differs from Siamese in much of its vocabulary and in the tonal systems of its dialects. In its Indic borrowings, Muang borrows from Pali while Indic loan-words in Siamese are largely Sanskrit. Siamese visitors to Nan find the local Muang dialect almost entirely unintelligible, at least initially. The similarity between the two idioms is of the order of that between Portuguese and Spanish. This similarity is increasing as Northern Thai borrows more and more vocabulary and structure from Siamese, the language of the nation-state.
The ceremoniousness of Siamese kingship, which has persisted to this day, seems incongruous when contrasted with the informal and fatherly figures who reigned in Sukhothai and in Chiang Mai. Ram Gamhaeng of Sukhothai is famous for being accessible to any of his people who sought his arbitration and advice. According to local chronicles, Mengrai was not above disguising himself as a peasant and mingling with the common people in order to gauge public sentiment. In Sukhothai, as in Chiang Mai, corvee requirements were relatively light, and no tax was imposed on trade. It might not be far-fetched to relate the difference between the modern-day Siamese and Muang in the quality of their social interaction to their different inheritance of these two models of kingship. The subservience to superiors, the status-consciousness, and the obsequiousness and formality characteristic of Siamese behaviour may be considered an inheritance of the Ayudhyan model, while the relative egalitarianism and ease of social interaction characteristic of the Muang might be in closer conformity to a truly Tai model of social behaviour.
In 1788, Prince Atthavarapanno of Nan declared himself a vassal of the king of Siam, whose capital was shortly thereafter moved to Bangkok. Because of the depopulation of the area during the Burmese wars, the Siamese king encouraged Atthavarpanno and his successors to conduct raiding expeditions into Laos and the northern hinterland, in the Southeast Asian tradition of forcibly removing captured populations in order to people one's domain. These expeditions had important consequences for the linguistic complexion of modern-day Nan and neighboring provinces. Within five miles of Landing [name of the village where the research was conducted] lie nine Lao-speaking villages, two villages which speak Phuan, and one that claims to be of Tai Lue ancestry. Throughout northern Thailand it is common to find villages which appear to be Muang in every way, except that they speak some obscure language of southern China or northern Laos. These villages attest to the sparseness of the Muang population in the early nineteenth century and to the consequent forced migration of hinterland peoples.
Because of traditional patterns of inheritance and residence, women until recent times have had advantages over men in the control of property. Western observers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were consistently impressed by the dominance of women in domestic financial decision-making, especially in comparison with more subservient position of Siamese women. Female dominance in domestic affairs has been eroded over the past few decades by the introduction of Siamese law, which gives husbands legal authority over their wives, and by the gradual decline of matrilineal ties which are supported by the traditional residence pattern and the spirit cult.
In urban and commercially developed areas the importance of matriliny has significantly declined. There are no rites for matrilineal cults in Nan town. Wijeyewardene reports that the cults are attenuated in Mae Taeng district, Chiang Mai. One reason for this decline was the introduction of patronymic surnames by the Siamese government. Dating from a royal decree in 1913, every Thai citizen must have a surname, and surnames are inherited from the father. The decline of matriliny may also be seen as part of a general decline in tradition ritual observances, since Muang matriliny is buttressed only by periodic ritual performances and does not overlap into economic, political, or other domains of social activity.
In point of fact, most girls are not virgins when they marry, and fines for known sexual trespasses are only imposed if the girl is unwilling and protests.
The religious authority and superior status accorded to monks is a male monopoly. Women cannot be ordained in the Buddhist order. The so-called "nuns" of Thai Buddhism are rare in the north and are found only in the urban centres. These "nuns" are in fact lay devotees, as indicated by their white dress, and they are not permitted to wear the yellow robes of monkhood. There are a number of taboos against contact between monks and females or female-associated objects. During the religious services in the temples, women must sit to one side of the congregation, so that the eyes of the Buddha image do not fall upon them. Until fairly recently, women were not permitted to touch images of the Buddha, but this is now changing. Nowadays it is not uncommon to find women, especially urban women, wearing necklaces from which are suspended small Buddha images or copper amulets inscribed in Pali, the language of Theravada Buddhism; fifty years ago, this would not have been possible.
For a people to whom relative seniority is the single most important criterion in social discrimination, the birth of twins presents an embarrassing problem. Multiple birth throws the normal kin categories into confusion. The Muang handle this problem in three ways. First, twins are sometimes dehumanized: they are often referred to as "twin spirits" (phi faet) rather than "twin children" (luuk faet). Secondly, so important is discrimination between senior and junior that the Northern Thai courageously try to rationalize an age difference between twins by asserting that the second-born is the senior of the two, since the second-born was couched in a higher position in the mother's womb and thus must be superior. Finally, as if to deny that twins are really siblings at all, twins of opposite sex are commonly separated shortly after birth and raised in different villages until after they reach young adulthood, at which time they are encouraged to marry; this union is not considered incestuous, and no stigma is attached to its offspring.
A wiang is a town which in former times was enclosed by a wall or stockade. Even though these walls have now disappeared, a peasant going to town still says he is going to "enter the walls" (khao wiang), and people who live in these towns are still known today as "people within the wall" (khon nai wiang). These towns people enjoy more prestige than do country people. According to traditional legal texts, when a "person within the walls" and a person from outside the wiang crossed paths, the country person had to give way to the townsperson.
The rural Northern Thai use and elaborate pronominal system, as if in reference to a highly stratified society such as India, but lack the stratification that would justify such a system. In the Nan dialect, there are no less than eight monogenetic second-person pronouns, in addition to the several dozen kin, status, and occupational terms used as pronouns. The pronouns are: jao (to a priest, aristocrat, or person of very high status); taan, khun (to a superior); khing (to a male peer); siaw (to a male age-mate); mueng, suu, tua (to a peer or inferior).
This gesture, known as wai, is performed on ritual occasions and in greeting dignitaries. In the towns it is becoming a gesture of greeting between strangers of equal status, following the Siamese custom.
The floating of lights is not a traditional practice in Nan. In Landing, the custom is considered to be of Siamese origin and was only introduced in 1969, through the encouragement of the progressive headmaster of the local school. People in Landing refer to the custom by its Siamese name, luay kathong. The Muang term for the floating of lights is lauy phatiit. Lauy means to float, and phatiit (from the Sanskrit pradipa) means a lantern which is used for ritual purposes.
Throughout their known history, the Tai peoples have had a talent for building political hierarchies. It is partly to this talent that the Tai peoples south of China owe their success in assimilating the indigenous population of Laos, Thailand, and Upper Burma. The institution of territorial spirit cults has served to sacralize these political hierarchies and thereby lend them stability and permanence. In the recent history of the Northern Thai the cult of territorial spirits has been eroded by the collapse of the political structure on which it rests.
Thailand: The Lotus Kingdom
1989, Alistair Shearer
The author traveled throughout Thailand and, together with his research, put forth this book, describing the history, culture, geography and contemporary social issues. Today, this book can be read as a historical material, depicting various aspects of Thailand in 1980s.
The traffic just never lets up and a good (or rather, bad) proportion of any day seems to be spent in one jam or another, relieved only by the distractions of illegal vendors, the kids who patrol the queues selling flowers, food and cassettes or cleaning the windscreens for a baht.
In the fine arts the most influential figure was the Italian sculptor Corrado Feroci, who, invited to the court of Rama 6, created both the Democracy Monument (1939) and the Victory Monument (1941) in the style of Heroic Realism popular in Italy and Germany at the time.
Any resentment from the native population [towards the Chinese] was no doubt partly forestalled by the fact that Taksin, the first king of Bangkok, was half Chinese and one of the early queens of the Chakri dynasty was wholly Chinese. In Thailand, such royal associations would have done much to smooth the path of the whole community, and to be anti-Chinese would have been, however indirectly, anti-monarchy.
They [the Chinese] are also well established in all the professions, though many still follow the trades traditional to their linguistic group: Taichiew speakers (concentrated in Bangkok) are big wholesalers, Cantonese are mechanics and carpenters, Hainanese specialise in domestic service and the restaurant trade.
Entry [to Wat Phra Keo] is both expensive by Thai standards (100 baht) and selective; only farangs have to pay.
As we leave Bangkok [toward north], the opposite side of the smoothly tarmacked road is clogged with a queue of lorries stretching for a couple of miles. They are laden with rice, fruit, cement and gravel, and are forbidden entrance to the city until ten o'clock, in an attempt to alleviate the early morning traffic jams.
His [King's] birth on 5 December 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, raised no great interest, indeed it took the Bangkok Times ten days to report the happy event in a couple of terse sentences. At that time the young Bhumipol seemed to have very little chance of ever becoming king, as any children of the reigning monarch Rama 7, his own father Prince Mahidol, and his elder brother, Prince Ananda, all stood between him and the throne.
The area west of Tak, around the border town of Mae Sot, was a hotbed of Communist insurgence in the turbulent 1970s. In those days the road south of Mae Sot to Um Phang was known as 'Death Highway' not, as one might expect, from the way Thais drive, but because of the constant guerrilla activity... But it has not completely outgrown its wild past. There are not infrequent reports of violent clashes between the Thai Army Rangers, the crack border police, and 'illegal loggers' caught in the Park. The Rangers have been called in because of local police corruption; the going rate to turn a blind eye to teak smuggling is said to be 125,000 baht a truckload. The smugglers tend to move at night, not only to minimise the risk of detection, but because the lorries' tyres are so bald they would blow in the fierce daytime heat.
Although Si Satchenalai crept slowly onto the tourist map, it remained virtually unchanged from le May's time to the present, a magical wilderness of ruins, accessible until recently only by a ferry across the river Yom. Then, in 1987, as part of the Visit Thailand Tourist Promotion Year, the place began to be transformed. The Park's usual annual budget of 1 million baht was increased nineteen-fold, with the instruction that if this money was not all spent in six months, it must be repaid to the Government. Bulldozers moved in, levelling off the land and doing untold damage to whatever remains lay undiscovered beneath the surface. Si Satchenalai was to be tidied up, made into another Sukhothi, landscaped for tourism.
Mae Hong Son is only thirty-five minutes by air from the bustle of Chiang Mai, and since 1965 the two places have been connected by a tortuous but stunningly beautiful road [R 108] that winds for eight hours up through the hills.
Bangkok has been supported, not to say pressured, by Washington, to increase her efforts against the drug trade, though the Thais must be well aware of the irony that it was the United States' fostering of poppy cultivation twenty years ago that is partly responsible for the problem today... In some ways, Thailand has been made to carry the can for what is a domestic crisis in the American way of life. Washington has recently supplied the Burmese government with aircraft and equipment to spray the poppy fields with a chemical called 2,4-d, closely related to the defoliant 'agent orange' used in Vietnam. 2,4-d has the effect of killing all vegetation and is highly toxic to humans and animals. Despite US pressure, Thailand, to her credit, has refused to use it 'for humanitarian reasons'.
Up until 1959 they [hill-tribes] led a life unfettered by the attentions of central government, but in that year the National Committee for the Hill Tribes was formed, partly as a result of the growing threat of political destabilisation within the Golden Triangle... The general policy is to integrate the chaokhao into the mainstream of Thai national life, while allowing them freedom of religion and custom. How successful such a policy can be remains to be seen. One immediate effect it has had is that most of the men have abandoned their traditional dress in favour of the blue garb of the Thai farmer, but the women are still colourfully attired.
One thing that unites the sartorially varied tribes is their love of silver. Gold, so prized by most other Asian cultures, is used only to fill chaokhao teeth, and even if they could afford more of it, they would still find the weight, bulk and appearance of silver more alluring... No single individual exemplifies the declining fortunes of the hill-people more clearly than the silversmith. Once he ranked alongside the shaman as one of the linchpins of the village. He was certainly its wealthiest member, being the source of credit, the pawnbroker, and the financial adviser. His house was the centre for inter-tribal transactions and, being in contact with other tribes, he was also chief gossip-monger, arbiter of fashion and setter of styles. Each village had its own silversmith in the old days, now one smith trades with all the tribes over a wide area, and the art is dying, for many are unwilling to train young men as apprentices for fear of competition.
Students of child-rearing practices say that the sort of pampering the Thais lavish on their young tends to create a pleasant and easygoing character that lacks initiative or the desire for competition. Perhaps this is no bad thing in a society still governed by traditional roles, and one which will later expect unquestioning filial respect. 'Be subservient, be obedient, and your good deeds will protect you' runs an old village admonition to children. Yet on a Bangkok bus, adults give up their seats to children, the exact reverse of the situation in the West.
Relations between the court of Sukhothai and China were cordial, and the annals record that the Sukhothai monarch Ramkamhaeng paid two visits to the emperor, the first in 1294 while Kubilai Khan was still alive, the second in 1300. On the latter occasion he was said to have married a Chinese princess.
Most Thais are happy to show off their amulets and explain the particular properties of each, but they should never be touched by anyone except the owner.
One aspect of this sudden change [of I-saan] was a new agricultural policy, controlled from the centre and designed to turn I-saan into an economy supplying cash crops for the world market. The brightest star on this distant horizon was seen to be cassava, a plant which thrives in poor soil, the root of which provides tapioca. To make room for cassava, enormous areas of forest were cleared. The big trees, mainly slow-growing teak, were felled for cash and shipped out along the newly built roads; the smaller support trees were cleared for space. An intimate ecological balance that had taken hundreds of years to evolve was destroyed at one blow and gone was the peasant farmer's safeguard against crop failure. An irreversible change had taken place; given the length of time it would take for the forests to grow back, the balance could never be recaptured.
(of white elephants) The Thai adjective pheuk, usually translated 'white', is rendered more accurately 'tawny' -- a fair description of what are essentially albino animals.
The elephant catchers of I-saan are the Suay, a small, linguistically distinct tribe that lives along the deeply forested Thai/Cambodian border. The Suay are part of the animistic folklore of I-saan. On their hunts, armed only with buffalo-hide ropes and magic, they spoke a special language from which all personal names were omitted, in order to confuse malign spirits and protect themselves from insects and snakes.