Jul 16, 2014

AIS PhD Student wrote about Thailand political crisis and its historical root in The Diplomat

One AIS PhD Student wrote in The Diplomat about the historical root of the latest coup in Thailand.

He argued:

Either unwilling or unable to abolish the monarchy altogether, they moved instead to neuter it by placing it under a constitution. However, the aristocrats steadfastly refused to share power with the new "commoner" elites and much bickering ensued. Despite the coup promoters ceding some ground, the conflict eventually culminated in the Boworadet Rebellion of 1933, led by the fiery Prince Boworadet. The elite uprising was put down after heavy fighting in the capital, leaving the royalists considerably weakened. In 1934, unable to accept his new conditions King Prajadhipok left Siam, never to return. He abdicated the following year.

From the era of Sarit Thanarat onwards this changed, as the military and the monarchy formed a close alliance that has lasted until today, allowing the palace and aristocrats to expand their influence. The two institutions leaned on each other considerably through the next few decades of Red Scare, student uprisings, deadly crackdowns, public lynchings and the "politicide" of the Thai Communist Party.

Thailand cannot move forward until it has dealt with its past. As in 1932, the advance towards a meaningful democracy once again faces resistance from entrenched royalist elites. Today, however, the struggle is not only between aristocratic and "commoner" elites but has been nationalized to include all levels of a deeply divided society. Like the coup of 2006, the recent military takeover has deepened Thailand's crisis instead of resolving it. This is unsurprising because neither were genuine attempts to break the impasse but were instead measures for the royalists to regain the upper hand.


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