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We have already studied about how reforms were brought about in the system of the governance at the top level during the period of RAM- V . Now we will study about how reforms were introduced at the structural level of the administration during his period . As we know that since the time of the TRAILOKANAT , the AYUTTHAYA King of SIAM from 1448 to 1488 and widely known as THE KING OF WHITE ELEPHANT , there prevailed a system of MANDALAS (1454) in which threre existed three levels : 1. INNER CITIES ; 2. OUTER CITIES ; and 3. TRIBUTARIES . Each city had a substantial degree of autonomy . At that time SIAM was not a state but a network of city-states as we used to see in the ancient GREECE and in the Republic of VAISHALI in the ancient INDIA . And with the rise of EUROPEAN colonialism , the concept of a full-fledged state emerged in SIAM . Anyway , RAMA-V’S visit to the BRITISH colonial cities of INDIA ( CALCUTTA , BOMBAY and DELHI ) about which we have studied in our earlier blog ( chapter ) gave him an expressive ideas as to how to bring about administrative reforms in his own country . So , he established the hierarchical system of MONTHONS ( ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISION OF SIAM/THAILAND ) in 1897 in SIAM comprised of following level of the units of administration : 1. PROVINCE ; 2. CITY ; 3. AMPHOE ( DISTRICT ) ; 3. TAMBON ( COMMUNES ) ; and 4. MUBA (VILLAGE) . It was a sort of an arrangement like MANDALAS existing during the AYUTTHAYA period . The MONTHONS were created as a part of the THESAPHIBAN (LOCAL GOVERNMENT) . This bureaucratic administrative system was introduced by the King RAMA- V with the help of Prince DAMRONG RAJANUBHAB , his half brother, an autodidact and a self-taught historian . Each MONTHON was looked after by an intendant of the Ministery of Interior . This had a major effect on the governance of SIAM as now the entire country was governed through the administration of intendants and the power of all the local Dynasties were virtually ended . However , the Local Rulers didn’t ceded power willingly . At least three rebellions erupted in SIAM in this connection : 1. THE NGEAW REBELLION IN PHRAE ; 2. THE HOLY MAN’S REBELLION IN ISAN ; and 3. THE REBELLION OF SEVEN SULTANS IN THE SOUTH . All these rebellions erupted between 1901 to 1902 . And all these rebellions were suppressed in 1902 with the city rulers stripped of their powers and imprisoned them . Moreover , SUKHAPHIBAN ( SANITARY DISTRICT ) on the line of EUROPEAN models were also established in SIAM/THAILAND in 1897 .


A system of Corvee ( a FRENCH word for unpaid labor) was established in 1518 by the AYUTTHAYA King RAMATHIBODI-II . As per this system all SIAMESE PHRAI (common men) were required to register with the government bureau , department , leading members of the royalty called KROM as a PHRAI LUANG and under a nobleman’s dominion as a PHRAI SOM . All such PHRAI had to owe their services to their respective Sovereigns/Masters for three months in a year . PHRAI SUAY were those who could make payments in kind (cattle) in lieu of service . Those PHRAI for whom military services were taken they were called PHRAI TAHAN . Whose parents were household slaves from generations to generation , on the other hand , were bound to be slaves as their redemption price was extremely high . In 1867 , as per an estimate one third of the SIAMESE population were household slaves . King RAMA-V was quite anxious to see the present status and condition of the common men . The AMERICAN Civil War which erupted on 12th April 1861 and lasted on 9th May 1865 , central cause of which was slavery , was in the mind of King RAMA-V . So to prevent such blood bath in SIAM in future , he went upon to abolish slavery from SIAM without too late . The first step in this respect was an enactment of law in 1874 by which King RAMA-V lowered the redemption price of household slaves born in 1867 and freed all of them when they would attained 21 years of their age so that newly freed slaves would have time to settle themselves as farmers , merchants or other such professionals . And at last , the Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1905 through which ended the SIAMESE slavery of all forms . Similarly , Corvee was abolished by the Employment Act of 1900 according to which all workers must be paid and not forced to work at all . Thus , the King RAMA-V abolished both — Corvee and Slavery from the SIAMESE society .


The practice of prostration in SIAM was severely oppressive in nature . According to this practice , the subordinates had been forced to prostrate in order to elevate the dignity of PHU YAI . And the subordinates found this practice of prostration a completely harsh physical practice because they had to go down on their knees for as long as their business with the PHU YAI ended . After their business , they were allowed to stand up and retreat . Virtually this kind of practice was a source of oppression . RAMA-V , considering this practice as inhuman , ordered for abolishing such practice prevailing in the SIAMESE officialdom . As a result , in 1873 the ROYAL SIAMESE GOVERNMENT GAZETTE published an announcement stating , ‘ From now on , SIAMESE are permitted to stand up before the dignitaries . To display an act of respect , the SIAMESE may take a bow instead . Taking a bow will be regarded as a new form of paying respect .’


As we know that the Ministery of Defence was established in 1867 in SIAM and with the abolition of Corvee system even in the military , there was a need of military conscription . As a result came into existence the CONSCRIPTION ACT of 1905 . This was followed in 1907 by the first act providing for invoking martial law . Similarly , to define ownership for land registration and for equitable taxation , the cadastral survey was done by the ROYAL THAI SURVEY DEPARTMENT ( A SPECIAL SERVICES GROUP OF THE ROYAL THAI ARMED FORCES ) . Moreover that , in 1901 , the first Railways was opened from BANGKOK to KORAT . KORAT was the third largest city of SIAM . In the same year the first power plant to produce electricity was also commissioned . In 1907 , King RAMA-V founded the Royal Varieties Competition for the TUNG LUANG and RANGSIT CANAL districts which was in the later years extended to the other areas of SIAM . Apart from such developmental works , King RAMA-V was so benevolent that he adopted a SEMANG ( AN ETHNIC-MINORITY GROUP OF THE MALAYA PENINSULA ) orphan boy named KHANUNG as such .



Published by ARBIND KUMAR



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