THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-65

FAILED DEMOCRACY IN THAILAND

The post-1973 years in THAILAND could better be marked as a turbulent and sometimes bloody transition from military to civilian rule . The revolution of 1973 brought in THAILAND democracy but for sometime till 6th October 1976 . This was an unstable period of democracy in the country . It ended with massacre of 6th October 1976 . It was a sort of violent crackdown by the THAI police , lynching by the paramilitary forces and bystanders against the leftist Protesters who had occupied THAMMASAT UNIVERSITY of BANGKOK and the adjacent SANAM LUANG on 6th October 1976 . As per the government report 46 people were killed from both sides and as many as 167 were wounded . But as per the unofficial report more than 100 people were killed . Apart from various demands , their main demand was to prohibit the return of the former dictator THANOM KITTIKACHORN to THAILAND . In view of such turbulence the military rule was imposed in the country after the massacre of 1976 . The most of the period of 1980s were democratically ruled by PREM TINSULANONDA , who resorted to parliamentary politics strongly . Apart from a brief period of military rule due to the THAI Coup d’etat of 1991 for the next two years , THAILAND by and large remained a democratic country in all respects .

PM THAKSIN SHINAWATRA & THAILAND

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA , a THAI business man , a politician and a visiting professor , became the Prime Minister of THAILAND in 2001 . He was the leader of the populist party of THAILAND called THAI RAK THAI party which he formed in 1988 . He had served the THAI police from 1973 to 1987 . And he founded the mobile phone operator advanced information service called SHIN CORPORATION which ultimately made him one of the richest person in THAILAND . He was quite popular in the urban , suburban and rural poors due to his populist social programs . He declared a war on drugs in which more than 2500 people were killed . His government also launched programmes to reduce poverty , expand infrastructure , promote small and medium size interprises . He also introduced universal health care coverage for all . However , his rule came under attack from elite class of THAILAND . They saw danger of the parliamentary dictatorship during his government . So , in the mid-2005 , a well known media tycoon , SONDHI LIMTHONGKUL and his allies developed a mass protest under a newly formed party under the name of PEOPLE’S ALLIANCE FOR DEMOCRACY . After the dissolution of parliament on 19th September 2006 , TAKSIN became the head of the provisional government . And a peculiar incident happened when he was attending the meeting of the UNO in NEW YORK , THAI Army Commander- in- Chief LIEUTENANT GENERAL SONTHI BOONYARATGLIN in a Coup d’etre in September 2006 took over the command of the country . He abrogated the constitution , dissolved the parliament and the constitutional court was suspended . He was supported by the ANTI-TAKSIN elements and and the DEMOCRAT PARTY . However , the civilian government was restored by the General Election held on 23rd December 2007 under the leadership of SANAK SUNDARAVEJ of the PEOPLE’S POWER PARTY .

THAI POLITICAL CRISIS BETWEEN 2008-10

With five smaller parties of THAILAND , SAMAK SUNDARAVEJ of the PEOPLE’S POWER PARTY (PPP) formed the government on 29th January 2008 and remained in power till 9th September 2008 . Following numerous court rulings against him in a variety of scandals , SUNDARAVEJ was found guilty of conflict of interest by the Constitutional court of THAILAND caused end of his short term in office . He was replaced by SOMCHAI WONGSAWAT , a member of PPP . But on 2nd December 2008 the Constitutional Court of THAILAND declared the PPP guilty of electoral fraud in a controversial judgment which led to the dissolution of the party as per existing law of the land . For this the THAI media levelled it as judicial interference as this was called as ‘ Judicial Coup .’ As a result , on 17th December 2008 the leader of the DEMOCRATIC PARTY , ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA sworn in as the 27th Prime Minister of THAILAND . During this period two important moments came to the fore : 1. THE RED SHIRTS MOVEMENT ; and 2. THE YELLOW SHIRTS MOVEMENT . In April 2009 , the NATIONAL UNITED FRONT OF DEMOCRACY AGAINST DICTATORSHIP (UDD) or RED SHIRTS Protesters forced the government to cancel the FORTH ESTATE ASIAN SUMMIT going to be held in the ROYAL CLIFF HOTEL venue by smashing the glass doors of the venue to get entry into it . The blockade by the Protesters prevented the CHINESE Prime Minister WEN JIABAO from attending the Summit . But a very bloody action was seen a year later when the RED SHIRTS MOVEMENT resulted in 87 death and 1378 injured . And when the army tried to disperse Protesters on 10th April 2010 , the army was met with automatic gunfire , grenades , and fire bombs from the opposition faction of the army . It resulted in the retaliatory fire from the army with rubber bullets . During this period of the RED SHIRTS MOVEMENT against the government , there were numerous grenade and bomb attack on the government offices . On the other hand , the government supported YELLOW SHIRTS MOVEMENT/PROTESTERS were protesting against the RED SHIRTS . While the YELLOW SHIRTS protests were on , an unknown gunmen killed one pro-government protesters . The government termed it as the RED SHIRTS were firing against the civilians . However , YINGLUCK SHINAWATRA , the youngest sister of THAKSIN SHINAWATRA , won the General Election on 3rd July ,2011 with a landslide majority . The popular slogan during the General Election was ‘ THAKSIN THINKS , PHEU THAI ACTS .’ She was elected leader of the PHEU THAI PARTY and thus became the first Lady Prime Minister of THAILAND . Her oath ceremony was presided over by King BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ himself . And one should know that the PHEU THAI PARTY was nothing but continuation of THAKSIN’S THAI RAK THAI PARTY .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ……………………

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-64

THAILAND AFTER SECOND WORLD WAR

THAILAND adopted policy of neutrality during the period of second world war . But on 8th December 1941 , JAPAN , a dominant power of the region , and after a few hours of attack on PEARL HARBOR , demanded to move JAPANESE troops across THAILAND to the MALAYAN frontier . The then Prime Minister of THAILAND , PHIBUNSONGKHRAM , accepted JAPANESE demand after a brief resistance . In view of improvement in the relation with JAPAN , THAILAND signed a military alliance with the former in December 1941 . As a result , the JAPANESE armies used THAILAND as a base to their invasion of BURMA and MALYA . Now acting as a puppet of JAPAN , PHIBUNSONGKHRAM declared war against BRITAIN and the US . SOUTH AMERICA and NEW ZEALAND declared war on THAILAND on the same day which was followed by AUSTRALIA also . But the US considering THAILAND as puppet of JAPAN refused to declared war on THAILAND . And after the war , when the Allied forces were declared victorious , the US blocked the BRITISH efforts to impose a punitive peace on THAILAND as such . MAJOR GENERAL GEOFFREY CHARLES EVANS of the 7th INFANTRY DIVISION of INDIA with EDWINA MOUNTBATTEN landed on THAILAND in September 1945 . SENI PRAMOJ , a great grandson of King RAMA-II , a lawyer , a Professor in the US , a diplomat and a politician of the THAI DEMOCRATIC PARTY succeeded TAWEE BUNYAKET as the Prime Minister of THAILAND . It was the first time in over a decade that any civilian had taken over the command of the country . Following the signature by THAILAND on the WASHINGTON ACCORD of 1946 , the territories that had been annexed by THAILAND after the FRANCO-SIAMESE WAR were returned to the FRENCH colonies like CAMBODIA and LAOS . These areas included PHIBUNSONGKHRAM PROVINCE , NAKHON CHAMPASSAK PROVINCE , PHRA TABONG PROVINCE , KOH KONG PROVINCE , LAN CHANG PROVINCE as such . Before signing a peace treaty with THAILAND , BRITAIN , however , demanded war reparations in the form of rice shipment to MALAYA . Then the ANGLO-THAI PEACE TREATY was signed on 1st January 1946 . It was followed by the AUSTRALIAN-THAI PEACE TREATY which was signed on 3rd April 1946 . FRANCE refused to permit entry of THAILAND in the newly founded UNO until and unless the latter returned the territories occupied during the war be returned to FRANCE . Similarly , the SOVIET UNION vehemently insisted on the repeal of Anti-Communist legislation passed in the past by THAILAND as such .

DEMOCRATIC ELECTION & THAILAND

The national election was held in THAILAND in January 1946 . PRIDI’S PEOPLE’S PARTY and its allies won the majority . In March 1946 , PRIDI became THAILAND’S first democratically elected Prime Minister . For THAILAND’S admission in the UNO , PRIDI’S first step was that he agreed to hand over the INDO-CHINESE territories occupied in 1941 . This resulted in what is called all wartime claims against THAILAND were dropped . Now THAILAND had started receiving substantial aid from the US . But a sad incident followed PRIDI’S government . The Youngest King of THAILAND , ANANDA MAHIDOL ( RAMA-VIII ) , who had recently come back in his palace from Foreign , was shot dead in his bed in June 1946 just three months after PRIDI became the Prime Minister of the country . At first sight it appeared to be an accident , but the medical examiners declared it as a murder. And three royal pages were executed though in an irregular trial . And King RAMA-VIII was succeeded by BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ as a ninth monarch of the CHAKRI Dynasty and titled as RAMA- IX on 9th June 1946 . He was the world longest-reigning current head of the state until his death on 13th October 2016 . He had been a reigning monarch for nearly 70 years , third in the row of longest ruling monarchs of the world after King LUIS XIV and Queen ELIZABETH II who ruled for 70 years and 126 days . Under King RAMA-IX served 32 Prime Ministers beginning with PRIDI BANOMYONG and ending with PRAYUT CHAN-O-CHA . Amid suspicion that he had been in the regicide , the Prime Minister PRIDI was forced to resign in August 1946 itself . But without PRIDI democratically elected government could not survive for long . In April 1948 , the army brought PHIBUNSONGKHRAM back from exile and made him the Prime Minister . And PRIDI was forced to exile to CHINA .

The THAI TRIUMVIRATE included Field Marshal PLEAK PHIBUNSONGKHRAM , FIELD MARSHAL SARIT THANARAT and POLICE GENERAL PHAO SIYANON . When PHIBUNSONGKHRAM became the Prime Minister of THAILAND , he had to face two major developments at the International front : 1. Cold War ; 2. The Establishment of Communist Regime in North Vietnam . So far as internal scenario was concerned , once again political opponents were arrested and tried . Some of them executed also . All these executions were carried out by the THAI POLICE GENERAL PHAO SIYANON ( SRIYANOND ) . During his regime numerous counter Coups were carried out in 1948 , 1949 and 1951 by the PRIDI supporters . PHIBUNSONGKHRAM , all the times came out victorious . But in 1955 , after loosing his position in the THAI army , Field Marshal SARIT THANARAT staged a bloodless Coup in 1957 in which Prime Minister PHIBUNSONGKHRAM was replaced by SARIT THANARAT who remained there till his death on 8th December 1963 . During his period , the COMMUNIST PARTY OF THAILAND’S guerrilla forces operated inside the country with 12000 full-time fighters from early 1960s to 1987 . But never posed a serious threat to the state . Field Marshal THANOM KITTIKACHORN , a military dictator and a staunch Anti-Commmunist , came into power in self-coup and remained there from 1963 to 1973 . So , a military rule in THAILAND became rule of day during this period . He was appointed as the Prime Minister of THAILAND after SARIT’S death in 1963 . He established the UNITED THAI PEOPLE’S PARTY in 1968 . And he had reappointed himself as the Prime Minister in 1969 . He remained in power until public protest ( which exploded into violence ) forced him to step down in the so called 14th October 1973 uprising which led to three days violence followed by the sudden downfall of his government . THANOM flew to exile in the UNITED STATES . Some of his supporters flew to SINGAPORE . This was followed by the restoration of democracy in THAILAND .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ……………….

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-63

PHRAYA MANOPKORN NITITADA — THE FIRST PRIME MINISTER OF THAILAND

By now the constitutional monarchy was established in THAILAND . PHRAYA MANOPKORN NITITADA , a conservative lawyer , was appointed as the Prime Minister of SIAM/THAILAND on 10th December 1932 after the SIAMESE REVOLUTION of 1932 . The KHANA RATSADON (THE PEOPLE’S PARTY) had selected a non-party leader to be the Prime Minister of SIAM to avoid the suspicion that the Coup had only been carried out in order to come to the power itself . And an arrangement was made so that the revolting bureaucracy and the military could shared power in the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY . However , PHRAYA MANOPKORN NITITADA was ousted in 1933 by a Coup d’etat due to the conflicts between the members of the PEOPLE’S PARTY . The background of the Coup d’etat of 1933 was that PRIDI PANOMYONG , the then Minister of State in the MANOPKORN cabinet , presented his Draft Economic Plan (YELLOW COVER DOSSIER) to the then constitutional monarch RAMA-VII . The Plan had advocated about socialist solutions to many of the SIAMESE financial and economic problems . But King RAMA-VII branded the dossier as ‘Communist’ and attacked PRIDI PANOMYONG publicly about it . When PRIDI’S dossier was rejected by the King , it caused major disruption among the members of THE PEOPLE’S PARTY of SIAM . The Prime Minister MANOPKORN opposing PRIDI’S socialist economic plan dissolved his cabinet to oust PRIDI from the cabinet who had great support in the rank and file of THE PEOPLE’S PARTY of SIAM . The National Assembly was barred from any further meetings and judiciary was shut down . PRIDI was forced to flee to FRANCE . PM MANOPKORN then approved the Anti-Commmunist Act which empowered him to arrest those having Communist ideas and thoughts . And all the members of the central committee of the COMMUNIST PARTY of SIAM was arrested and imprisoned . This is called the ‘ Silent Coup ‘ or the ‘ April 1933 Coup ‘ in the SIAMESE history . On June 1933 , the SIAMESE COUP D’ETAT led by PHRAYA PAHOL and other military leaders immediately removed the Prime Minister MANOPKORN and the former declared himself as the second Prime Minister of the country . MANOPKORN was exiled to PENANG BRITISH MALAYA and lived there until his death in 1948 . And thus he became the first Prime Minister ousted by the Military Coup .

BOWORADET REBELLION AND SIAM

Now the age of rebellions have started in SIAM . The second Prime Minister PHRAYA PHAHON had started implementing some of the ideas of PRIDI PANOMYONG’S . The expansion of primary schools and Industrialization with state enterprises were gradually implemented . The expelled leader PRIDI PANOMYONG (BANOMYONG) was a socialist from the core of his heart . He founded the THAMMASAT UNIVERSITY in BANGKOK in1933 which remained a symbol of freedom and democracy . Being influenced by the totalitarian ideas of ITALY , JERMANY , JAPAN and , of course , KEMAL ATATURK , the nationalist group led by PHIBUNSONGKHRAM started strengthening the PEOPLE’S PARTY despite crown’s dissatisfaction with its functioning as such . It culminated into a reactionary BOWORADET REBELLION staged by a royalist faction led by King RAMA-VII’S Defence Minister Prince BOWORADET . He mobilized the forces from provincial garrison and captured the DON MUANG AERODROME and led SIAM towards a small scale civil war . After heavy fighting at the outskirts of BANGKOK , the forces of Prince BOWORADET were finally defeated and the Prince fled to the FRENCH INDO-CHINA . After that King RAMA-VII himself abdicated the throne and exiled to ENGLAND . He was then replaced by the King ANANDA MAHIDOL ( RAMA-VIII ) who was nine years old attending school in LAUSANNE , SWITZERLAND . He was the nephew of King RAMA-VII . During this period PRIDI PANOMYONG played a crucial role in modernisation of the THAI public administration . He created the local-self government system for the SIAMESE people . He also completed the legal code . Thus , PRIDI’S role in modernisation of SIAM was not less despite those years of turbulence as such .

PM PLAEK PHIBUNSONGKHRAM (PHIBUN) & SONGSURADET REBELLION

THAI Prime Minister PLAEK PHIBUNSONGKHRAM ( PHIBUN ) who came into power in 1938 after PHRAYA PHAHON , the military and civilian wings of the ruling party KHANA RATSADON became clearly divided and military wing in the party became more dominant . Thus , PHIBULSONGKHRAM’S government started moving towards militarism and totalitarianism . In view of FRENCH defeat in the Battle of FRANCE , the THAI leadership began an attack on FRENCH INDO-CHINA in 1940 resulted in FRENCO- THAI WAR in 1941 for consolidation of THAI population under SIAM .They suffered a severe defeat in the sea but dominated on land and in air . The EMPIRE OF JAPAN , a dominant power in the South-East ASIAN region , took over the role of mediator between SIAM and FRENCH INDO-CHINA and after a long negotiation the conflicts ended with THAI territorial gain in the FRENCH colonies of LAOS and CAMBODIA . In 1939 , PHIBUNSONGKHRAM changed the name of SIAM to THAILAND on the basis of consolidation of THAI race . As a result , the PAN-THAI NATIONALISM emerged in SIAM sole aim of which was to integrate the SHAN , the LAO and other TIE people residing in VIETNAM , BURMA and SOUTH CHINA ; so that the ‘ GREAT KINGDOM OF THAILAND ‘ could be established . Despite growing nationalism in THAILAND during the regime of Prime Minister PHIBUNSONGKHRAM , a sad moment also came into the fore . It was the SONGSURADET REBELLION , also known as the REBELLION OF 18 CROPSES . It was the claimed pretext for the political purge on 29th January 1939 by the government of PHIBUNSONGKHRAM against his political enemies and rivals , especially against PHRAYA SONGSURADET , an alleged leader of plot against the Prime Minister PHIBUNSONGKHRAM . PHRAYA SONGSURADET was the leader of the SIAMESE PEOPLE’S PARTY who participated in the SIAMESE REVOLUTION OF 1932 . But the root cause of the conflict began during the Coup d’etat of June 1933 when PHRAYA PHAHON PHONPHYAYUHASENA replaced PHRAYA MANOPKORN NITITADA as Prime Minister . And many of supporters of the later including SONGSURADET was permanently debarred from active politics by the new Prime Minister . So , SONGSURADET was exiled to SRI LANKA . During , before and after the Coup conflict between SONGSURADET and PHIBUNSONGKHRAM, who were both Ministers in the MANOPKORN government and members of the People’s Committee , increased many folds . And when the latter succeeded as Prime Minister of SIAM on 11th September 1938 , his Premiership was much resisted due to his dictatorial style and cronyism by SONGSURADET which even resulted in three assassination attempts on him — two by gunmen and one by poisoning . In 1938 , after his retirement from politics , but not from army , SONGSURADET was the Commander of the military school in CHIANG MAI . On 16th December , when he was commanding the military exercises of his students in RATCHABURI PROVINCE , he received an order from BANGKOK stripping him of the command of all units of army and forced him to retire from the army without pension . He was also expelled from the country who took resort to CAMBODIA . Further action against all the 51 suspects of the Rebellion were taken . They were ordered to be arrested and punished . And a special tribunal was created by the PHIBUNSONGKHRAM government to try those purportedly involved in the so called rebellion and assassination attempts on him . And SONGSURADET who escaped to CAMBODIA lived the rest of his life in abject poverty making his livelihood by selling confectionery on the street of PHNOM PENH .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ………………

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART- 62

KING RAMA-VII AND SIAM/THAILAND

PRAJADHIPOK was the seventh monarch of SIAM under CHAKRI Dynasty . He took over the reign of SIAM on 25 November , 1925 as King RAMA-VII and remained there till 2nd March 1932 . He was the only monarch of the CHAKRI Dynasty who abdicated the throne during the revolution of 1932 . He was born on 8th November , 1893 in BANGKOK , SIAM to King CHULALONGKORN ( RAMA-V ) and Queen SAOVABHA PHONGSRI . He was the youngest child of the couple out of nine children they gave birth to and second youngest child of the total seventy seven of King RAMA-V . So , realizing this fact that he would unlikely to be on the throne of SIAM , he chose to pursue a military career . He was sent abroad to study at ETON COLLEGE in 1906 and later he joined the WOOLWICH MILITARY ACADEMY from where he was graduated in 1913 . He got a commission in the BRITISH Army based in ALDERSHOT . When RAMA-VI became King in 1910 , PRAJADHIPOK ( LATER KING RAMA-VII ) was commissioned both in the BRITISH Army and the ROYAL SIAMESE Army . And when the first world war started in 1914 , in view of SIAMESE policy of neutrality in the war , PRAJADHIPOK was ordered to resign his BRITISH commission and returned to SIAM immediately by his brother King RAMA-VI despite the fact that the former wanted to fight with his men at the western front . After his return from BRITAIN , he got higher rank in the SIAMESE military . However , as per SIAMESE tradition he became BUDDHIST MONK following customs of the most of SIAMESE men of the BUDDHIST society in 1917 . He was married to his childhood friend and cousin RAMBHAI BARNI at the SUKHOTHAI PALACE and started living a quiet life with his wife there . The couple had no child . And his succession to the throne was necessitated because all his brothers incuding King RAMA-VI died within relatively in a short period of time . So , PRAJADHIPOK became an absolute monarch of SIAM when he was only thirty two years of age on 25th February , 1926 after the death of his brother King RAMA-VI .

THE SIAMESE REVOLUTION OF 1932

The SIAMESE REVOLUTION of 1931 was started by a group of soldiers and civil servants to overthrow the absolute monarchy and to bring about a constitutional government in SIAM . The bloodless revolution started on 24th June 1932 about six and half years after the coronation of King RAMA-VII to the throne of SIAM . KHANA RATSADON , the People’s Party , formed by a group of rebelling SIAMESE military and civil servants . The main causes of eruption of the revolution were as follows : 1. THE COUNTRY WAS FACING SERIOUS ECONOMIC CRISIS AND THREAT FROM ABROAD ; 2. THE SIAMESE SOCIETY WAS UNDERGOING THROUGH DRAMATIC CHANGES AS THE URBAN MIDDLE CLASS OF BANGKOK GREW CONSIDERABLY AND THEY STARTED DEMANDING FOR MORE FREEDOM AND MORE RIGHTS . In February 1927 , a group of seven SIAMESE students met at a hotel on the RUE DU SOMMERARD in PARIS and founded what is called KHANA RATSADON ( THE PEOPLE’S PARTY ) . The name of all the seven were as follows : 1. LIEUTENANT PRAYOON PAMORNMONTRI ; 2. LIEUTENANT PLAEK KHITTASANGKHA ( An Army office-cum-student at School of Applied Artillery , FRANCE ) ; 3. LIEUTENANT THATSANAI MITPHAKDI ( An Army office-cum-student FRENCH Cavalry Academy ) ; 4. TUA LOPHANUKROM ( A Scientist studying in SWITZERLAND ) ; 5. LUANG SIRIRATCHAMAITRI ( A Diplomat at the SIAMESE Embassy in PARIS ) ; 6. NAEP PHAHONYOTHIN ( A Law student studying in ENGLAND ) ; and 7. PRIDI BANOMYONG ( A Law student of the Institut de’Etudes Politiques de PARIS ) .

All the seven revolutionaries made PRIDI BANOMYONG as their president and termed themselves as ‘Promoters’ . The party determined six principles which were as follows : 1. To maintain Supreme power of the THAI people ; 2. To maintain national security ; 3. To maintain the economic welfare of the THAI people ; 4. To protect the equality of THAI people ; 5. To maintain the People’s rights and liberties ; and 6. To provide public education for all citizens . To achieve these goals , the People’s Party determined to overthrow the present government of the absolute monarchy and to establish rather a constitutional monarchy as such . As most of the members of the party were western educated , when they returned to SIAM , they started enlisting members of the party from among army , navy , civil servants and merchant classes of the SIAMESE society . When their membership reached to 102 , the party was separated into four main branches : 1. The civilians were led by PRIDI BANOMYONG ; 2. The Navy was led by LUANG SINTHUSONGKHRAMCHAI ; 3. The junior army officers were led by MAJOR PHIBULSONGGRAM ; and 4. The senior officers were led by COLONEL PHOT PHAHONYOTHIN . When King RAMA-VII was away at KLAI KANGWON PALACE in HUA HIN , the plotters took control of the ANANDA SAMAKHOM THRON HALL in BANGKOK and arrested the officers of the palace mainly princes and relatives of the King . Their demand was that King RAMA-VII should become a constitutional monarch and the THAI people should be granted a constitution so that constitutional government in SIAM could be established . When King RAMA-VII returned BANGKOK ON 26th June 1932 , he greeted the plotters by saying , ‘ I rise in honour of the KHANA RATSADON ……. ‘ The King accepted the People’s Party’s request and the first permanent constitution of SIAM was promulgated on 10th December 1932 . On 14th October , King RAMA-VII announced his intention to abdicate unless his requests were mate . The People’s Party rejected the ultimatum . And on 2nd March , 1935 King RAMA-VII abdicated the throne . He spent rest of his life with queen RAMBHAI BARNI in ENGLAND till his death on 30th May 1941 . He died from heart failure at the age of 47 and his cremation was held at the GOLDERS GREEN CREMATORIUM in North LONDON in presence of his wife Queen RAMBHAI BARNI and a few close relatives in a very simple way .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ……………….

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-61

KING VAJIRAVUDH (RAMA-VI) AS A WRITER

King VAJIRAVUDH ( RAMA-VI ) was one of the most highly renowned writers . He was equally a nice artist . He wrote many modern novels , short stories , poems , plays and journals . He translated many ENGLISH and FRENCH Literatures into THAI . He translated SHAKESPEARE’S plays like : THE MERCHANT OF VENICE ; 2. AS YOU LIKE IT ; and 3. ROMEO AND JULIET into THAI . He wrote many pieces promoting THAI nationalism and one of then is ‘ THE HONOUR OF TIGER SOLDIER ‘ based on an ancient FRENCH chivalric rhyme ‘Mon ame a Dieu , Ma vie au Roi …….’. Some scholars are of the opinion that it might be influenced by ALEXANDRE DUMAS’S ‘ THE THREE MUSKETEERS ‘. While still a crown Prince , he wrote non-fiction like ‘ THE WAR OF POLISH SECESSION ‘. So far as his interests in detective stories and mysteries ate concerned , it compelled him to translate AGATHA CHRISTIE’S novel HERCULE POIROT into THAI . He also created an imaginary character ‘ NAI THONG-IN ‘ as a SIAMESE consultative detective perhaps being influenced by SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE’S SHERLOCK HOLMES and EDGAR ALLAN POE’S DUPIN as a archetypes . Moreover , King RAMA-VI had also translated GOLDEN SCORPION written by SAX ROHMER . All these literary works by him shows that how committed he was to the causes of creative writings .

King RAMA-VI was well versed in the INDIAN Classical Literatures . He had already read two SANSKRIT EPICS like the RAMAYANA and the MAHABHARATA . He had translated many stories from these two EPICS into THAI . He also wrote many plays inspired by the HINDU Literatures . He was personally inspired by the character of RAMA , the hero of the RAMAYANA and the incarnation of LORD VISHNU . So , he promoted the use of the name RAMA as the reign names of all THAI kings of the RATTANAKOSIN ( BANGKOK ) era . As a playwright , RAMA-VI’S frictional play in THAI on TAO SEN-POM , the father of King RAMA-I and his great , great , great grandfather designed for performance with musical accomplishment became quite famous not only in THAILAND but even outside of it . It was well written and full of fun . The drama was centered around a tale of SIAMESE courtly romance . He presented a copy of this play to ARMSTRONG family in CRAGSIDE HOUSE , ROTHBURY . WILLIAM ARMSTRONG was an industrial magnet , scientist , philanthropist and inventor of hydraulic cranes and ARMSTRONG gun and used to live in GRAGSIDE HOUSE located near the town of ROTHBURY in NORTHUMBERLAND , ENGLAND . RAMA-VI also directed the performance of a play in the ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT while he was in ENGLAND . In 1914 , King RAMA-VI wrote an article titled as ‘ JEWS OF THE ORIENT ‘ in a THAI newspaper . It was written in the context of recent CHINESE merchants and workers which had paralyzed BANGKOK . He considered the CHINESE immigrants in SIAM AD JEWS having access to racial loyalty only and astutely inclined towards matters of finance as such . So, as per WALTER P. ZENNER , RAMA-VI wrote about CHINESE , ‘ Money is their God . Life itself is of little value compared with the leanest bank account . ‘

WAS KING RAMA-VI A HOMOSEXUAL ?

BENEDICT ANDERSON , an ANGLO-IRISH political scientist and historian who taught in the CORNELL UNIVERSITY , the UNITED STATES , in his famous book IMAGINED COMMUNITIES , published from NEW YORK & LONDON , VERSO BOOKS , (1991) , P-21 , has speculated that the King RAMA-VI was a homosexual and that this would prevent him from accession if the law of succession was not reformed . He was the first modern writer who emphasized on King RAMA-VI’S personal preferences as such . I personally think it is all based on only assumptions and on his marriage patterns . It was because of perhaps the fact that King RAMA-VI had remained without queen for about ten years . In 1920 , as a theaterist when he met Princess VARNVIMOL at his theater at PHAYATHAI PALACE , they were engaged and the Princess VARNVIMOL was elevated to HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS VALLABHADEVI . But this engagement remained for only four months and King RAMA-VI nullified the engagement in 1921 . Then he engaged with Princess LAKSHMILAVAN , marriage of which never held and both were separated . And Princess VALLABHADEVI was house-arrested from then onwards . Then there followed a series of marriages of King RAMA-VI . In 1921 , he married with PRUEANG SUCHARITAKUL . Then with her sister PRABAI SUCHARITAKUL with the title of LADY INDRANI who in 1922 was elevated to Queen INDRASAKDISACHI . But the Queen suffered two miscarriages . Then in 1924 , he married to KRUEAKAEW ABHAIWONGSE , later known as Queen SUVADHANA and Queen INDRASAKDISACHI was demoted to Princess consort in 1925 as such . As we all know that King RAMA-VI had only one issue , a daughter from his wife Queen SUVADHANA and she was known as Princess BEJARATANA RAJASUDA . Thus , BENEDICT ANDERSON’S view that King RAMA-VI was a homosexual couldn’t be substantiated as it was simply based on assumption without having any historical facts . From view point of history no substance could be fully accepted without having any historical evidence/record as such . However , it was the fact that King RAMA-VI preferred to stay more with males than females .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ………………..

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-60

KING RAMA-VI AND SIAMESE NATIONALISM

VAJIRAVUDH was the sixth monarch of SIAM under CHAKRI Dynasty named as RAMA-VI . He was born on 1st January 1881 in the Grand Palace , BANGKOK , SIAM from King CHULALONGKORN ( RAMA-V ) and Queen SAOVABHA PHONGSRI . He ruled over SIAM from 23rd October 1910 after the death of his father King RAMA-V and remained on the throne till his death in a very young age of 44 on 26th November 1925 . He had , at least , four spouses namly : SUCHARIT SUDA , LAKSHMILAVAN , INDRASAKDI , SUVADHANA . SUCHARIT SUDA was the high concubine of the King RAMA-VI . And was a cousin from his mother side . PRAJADHIPOK (RAMA-VII) was his brother and his successor born from his father RAMA-V and his mother SAOVABHA PHONGSRI . He was only monarch of the CHAKRI Dynasty who had abdicated the throne . It was because King RAMA-VI had a daughter only named as BEJARATANA from his wife princess SUVADHANA . King RAMA-VI was first educated in the royal palace in THAI and ENGLISH . In 1898 , he continued his education in BRITAIN at the ROYAL MILITARY COLLEGE , SANDHURST . After getting graduation from there , he was commissioned as a captain in the DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY where he served with three months of exercises in the south of ENGLAND . Moreover , he studied law and history at CHRIST CHURCH , OXFORD in 1899 . But his suffering from appendicitis barred him from graduating in 1901 . However , he visited other EUROPEAN countries while living in ENGLAND . He also attended the coronation ceremony of King EDWARD VII of ENGLAND on 9th August 1902 . And being a member of the royal family , he was also a member of the exclusive BULLINGDON CLUB , a private all-male dining club for OXFORD UNIVERSITY students founded in 1780 .

King RAMA-V died on 23rd October 1910 . VAJIRAVUDH (RAMA-VI) succeeded his father as the King of SIAM . He was best known for his efforts to create and promote SIAMESE nationalism . He had keen interest in SIAMESE history , archaeology and literature . He was the founder of SIAM’S first University known as CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY on 26th March 1917 . Even before his coronation , he initiated several reforms . He reformed SIAMESE army . He established various military academies . He created the rank of ‘ General ‘ for the first time in SIAM . He appointed his uncle Prince BHANURANGSI SAVANGWONGSE as the first SIAMESE Field Marshal . And on 11th November 1910 , he was formally coronated after the funeral rites of his father was completed . His first action after his accession to the throne of SIAM was to build the ROYAL PAGES COLLEGE which was later renamed as VAJIRAVUDH COLLEGE by his successor King PRAJADHIPOK to honour his brother . It was built on the line of ETON and HARROW of ENGLAND . Rather building royal monastery , he preferred to build educational institutions . He raised the Civil Servant School to ‘ CHULALONGKORN ACADEMY FOR CIVIL OFFICIALS ‘. He also built VAJIRA HOSPITAL in 1912 and CHULALONGKORN HOSPITAL in 1914 . He established the WILD TIGER CORPS in 1911 . It was a para-military corp of 4000 personnel outside of the established military hierarchy which became the source of deep dissatisfaction between the army and the King . BOY SCOUTS , a branch for the children was also established by King RAMA-VI .

RAMA-VI reformed his father’s MONTHON system . He created the ‘PAKS’ or ‘REGIONS’ over the administrative MONTHONS . Each of the PAK was governed by an UPARAJA ( VICEROY ) who used to be directly responsible to the King . The UPARAJA presided over the intendants of MONTHONS in the region . Thus , he concentrated the local administrative powers in his hands . It irritated the Prince DAMRONG due to such reforms as such . As we know the early years of King RAMA-VI’S administration was largely dominated by his two uncles : 1. PRINCE DAMRONG and 2. PRINCE DEVAWONGSE . His reforms were so effective that there emerged a Palace Revolt in 1912 . It was plotted by a young military officers to overthrow or replace the King . But it was suppressed by the King . Many of the conspirators were put behind the bars . When the first world war broke out in 1917 , SIAM’S token participation in the world War first secured for it a seat in the VERSAILLES PEACE CONFERENCE . And DEVAWONGSE , the Foreign Minister of SIAM used this opportunity to convinced the world communities about the unequal treatises made in the 19th century as such . He also prayed the world communities for restoration of full Sovereignty for SIAM . The UNITED STATES first recognized full Sovereignty of SIAM in 1921 followed by FRANCE and BRITAIN in 1925 , the year of RAMA-VI’S death .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ……………………

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART- 59

KING RAMA-V’S RELATIONS WITH THE COLONIAL POWERS – BRITAIN & FRANCE

King RAMA-V had to face expansion of the two colonial powers encircling SIAM . They were : 1. THE GREAT BRITAIN ; and 2. FRANCE . THE GREAT BRITAIN had conquered INDIA , BURMA and MALYA from the west on the one hand and SOUTH VIETNAM , VIETNAM on the name of protecting CAMBODIA by FRANCE on the other hand , created trouble for SIAM as it lost its extraterritorial rights in those areas to the Duo conquerors as such . Apart from that development works going on in those areas had been halted . It happened with KRA ISTHMUS CANAL also . The THAI CANAL or KRA ISTHMUS CANAL was meant for connecting the GULF OF THAILAND with the ANDAMAN sea in Southern THAILAND . In the early nineteenth century the BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY EMPIRES were interested in such canal but when BURMA became the colony of BRITAIN in 1863 and the construction of SUEZ CANAL had started in 1882 , the FRENCH engineer FERDINAND de LESSEPS visited the KRA ISTHMUS area , but the THAI King RAMA-V didn’t allow him to investigate it in detail . And in 1897 , THAILAND/SIAM and the GREAT BRITAIN agreed not to build a canal so that the regional dominance of the harbour of SINGAPORE could be maintained .

THE FRANCO-SIAMESE WAR OF 1893

The FRANCO-SIAMESE war of 1893 was a conflict between the FRENCH THIRD REPUBLIC and King RAMA-V of SIAM for furthering FRENCH interests in LAOS . Taking advantage of SIAMESE weakness in the region and periodic invasion by the VIETNAMESE rebels from TONKIN increased tension between PARIS and BANGKOK . The PAKNAM incident was a military engagement fought during the said FRANCO-SIAMESE war of 1893 . When three FRENCH ships violated SIAMESE territories and a SIAMESE fort while sailing off PAKNAM on CHAO PHRAYA RIVER of SIAM and a force of gunboats fired warning shots , the FRANCO-SIAMESE war virtually started . In this war FRANCE won and blockaded BANGKOK which ended the war . After this war King RAMA-V realized the actual threat of the western colonial powers . Realizing this he brought about all the reforms in the SIAMESE system of governance about which we have already studied in our earlier chapter (blog) . However , ENTENTE CORDIALE between the GREAT BRITAIN and FRANCE on 8th April 1904 ended their dispute over SIAM . A series of cordial agreements between the two countries followed . The BRITISH and the FRENCH zone of influence in SIAM was well outlined . The western territories adjacent to BURMESE TENASSERIM was declared as the BRITISH zone , while the eastern territories adjacent to FRENCH INDO-CHINA was called the FRENCH zone . Both the countries disclaimed the idea of annexing SIAMESE territories as such as , to them , it was not fruitful for them at that moment and they , at last , agreed upon that western zone of SIAM would be an areas of influence of BRITISH , while the eastern zone of SIAM would be as an area of influence of the FRANCE.

THE ANGLO-SIAMESE TREATY OF 1909

The ANGLO-SIAMESE treaty of 1909 was meant for deciding the boarder between SIAM and the BRITISH MALAYA . As per the treaty SIAM relinquished its claims over KELANTAN , TERENGGANU , KEDAH and PERLIS to the GREAT BRITAIN in exchange for SIAMESE legal rights and a loan to construct Railways in Southern SIAM . These were previously part of the semi independent MALAY Sultanate of PATTANI and KEDAH . Similarly , a series of treaties with FRANCE settled the SIAMESE eastern border with LAOS and CAMBODIA . But King RAMA-V was suffering from kidney disease . He had even gone to the GREAT BRITAIN in 1907 and consulted with many EUROPEAN doctors for the treatment . But in vain . He died ultimately on 23rd October 1910 due to his kidney disease at the AMPHORN SATHAN RESIDENCIAL HALL in the DUSIT PALACE . And he was succeeded by VAJIRAVUDH , later known as King RAMA-VI .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ………………..

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-58

KING RAMA-V AND MONTHON SYSTEM

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 .

ABOLITION OF CORVEE AND SLAVERY

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 .

ABOLITION OF PROSTRATION IN SIAM

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 .’

KING RAMA-V AND OTHER DEVELOPMENTAL WORKS

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 .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ………………..

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-57

KING RAMA-V AND MODERNISATION OF SIAM/THAILAND

CHULALONGKORN was the fifth king of the CHAKRI Dynasty who was crowned under title RAMA-V . But he was known to the SIAMESE as PHRA PHUTTHA CHAO LUANG meaning by the royal BUDDHA . He was born on 20th September 1853 to the King MONGKUT (RAMA-IV) and Queen DEBSIRINDRA . He was given by his father a broad education . His tutor ANNA LEONOWENS who was an ANGLO-INDIAN who published her memoir THE ENGLISH GOVERNESS AT THE SIAMESE COURT in 1870 . And she was such a great tutor that her own account was fictionalized by an AMERICAN writer called MARGARET LONDON whose bestseller novel ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM was published in 1944 and sold over a million copies and was translated into more than twenty languages. Anyway , in 1866 he became a novice Monk for six months at WAT BOWONNIWET as per royal traditions . On his return from the WAT he was designated with the title called KOMMAKHUN PHINIT PRACHANAT . In 1867, when the king MONGKUT ( RAMA-IV ) with his son prince CHULALONGKORN ( RAMA-V ) was on tour to the MALAYA PENINSULA to verify his calculations of the solar eclipse which took place on 18th August 1868 , he with his son fell ill of malaria in which king MONGKUT died on 1st October 1868 and his son CHULALONGKORN survived anyhow . But before his death king MONGKUT on his deathbed wrote , ‘ My brother , my son , my grandson , whoever you all the senior officials think will be able to save our country will succeed my throne , choose at your own will .’ SI SURIYAWONGSE , who served as the most powerful official in the royal Court , managed the succession of CHULALONGKORN to the throne whose first coronation took place on 11th November 1868 . SI SURIYAWONGSE was appointed as Regent of SIAM . CHULALONGKORN’S second coronation as his own right as RAMA-V took place on 16th November 1873 . SUNANDA KUMARIRATANA , well-known as ‘The Wrecked Queen’ , was his queen consort of SIAM . Apart from that SUKUMALMARSRI , and 32 consort and concubine , altogether 116 in number , were there in the Royal Court of RAMA-V and from them he had 33 sons and 44 daughters .

The reign of CHULALONGKORN (RAMA-V) was characterized by the modernisation of SIAM . Governmental and social reforms dominated his regime . On international front , territorial concessions were given to the BRITISH and the FRENCH as SIAM was surrounded by the EUROPEAN colonies . And it was due to his astute policies and acts that the independence of SIAM was ensured . It was due to this fact that he earned the epithet PHRA PIYA MAHARAT (the great beloved king) . As he was an enthusiastic reformer , he visited JAVA and SINGAPORE in 1870 and the BRITISH INDIA in 1872 only to study the administration of the BRITISH colonies . He aquired many ideas regarding administration by traveling to the INDIAN cities like CALCUTTA , DELHI and BOMBAY . Later it became the idea of modernization of the administration of the government of SIAM . CHULALONGKORN’S first major reform could be seen when he established the AUDITORY OFFICE on 4th June 1873 . It was solely responsible for tax collection and containing the influence of BUNNAG FAMILY who had been solely responsible for tax collection since early RATTANAKOSIN PERIOD . Since tax collectors were under the aegis of the Nobles , the latter had a big share in such tax collections and thus sources of wealth for them as such . So , this reform caused great dissatisfaction among the nobility of SIAM . But more affected was FRONT PALACE . Since the time of king MONGKUT , the FRONT PALACE had been equivalent to a second king . One third of the National revenues were allocated to it to maintain a strong battalion of western trained troops of more than 2000 in number plus palace consorts and concubines . So , the king CHULALONGKORN appointed CHATURONRASMI to be an executive officer of the newly formed office of the AUDITORY OFFICE to monitor the tax collection for the state as such .

MILITARY AND OTHER POLITICAL REFORMS

We shall study CHULALONGKORN’S diplomatic and other efforts so far as the relations with neboughering and western countries were concerned later . First , let us start with what is called efforts made by him in the field of military and other political reforms which could give country like SIAM a sort of estability . He established a ROYAL MILITARY ACADEMY in 1887 to train his military personnel on the line of the West . Such upgraded forces provided the king an enormous power to centralize the country as such . No political structure so far had changed since the 15th century . As we know that the central government was headed by the SAMUHA NAYOK (THE PRIME MINISTER), who controlled the northern part of SIAM while the southern part of SIAM was controlled by the SAMUHA KALAHOM ( GRAND COMMANDER ) who was in charge of both- civil and military affairs . Instead of such traditional system of governance , the king CHULALONGKORN instituted a government of ministries in 1888 . At the outset , the Ministers were from royal family . But in 1892 , Ministries were established with all the ministries having equal status . Even curtailing his own power , he dissolved the Council of State as it never took decisions independently without the approval of the King because it was of the opinion that the Monarch had only the absolute power as such . And their advisory duties were transferred to the cabinet in 1894 . With the help of his BELGIAN advisor , ROLIN- JAEQUEMYNS , he established the modern SIAMESE laws and its judicial system and thus he abolished the traditional NAKORN BALA method of torture in the judicial process which was seen as inhuman and barbaric specially in the eyes of the West .

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED …………………

THE WORLD CIVILIZATIONS AND INDIA , PART-56

A WANDERING MONK TURN MONARCH KING RAMA-IV AND SIAM/THAILAND

He was a BUDDHIST MONK turned MONARCH . MONGKUT was the fourth MONARCH of the CHAKRI Dynasty of SIAM titled as RAMA-IV . He was born on 18th October 1804 at THONBURY palace BANGKOK , SIAM . He was the second son of Prince ISARASUNDHORN ( RAMA-II ) and his first wife Princess BUNROT (SURIENDRA) . He ruled SIAM from 1851 to 1868 . His spouses were SOMANASS WADDHANAWATHY (1834-1852) , DEBSIRINDRA (1851-1861) , PANNARAI (1861-1868) . SOMANASS WADDHANAWATHY was the first consort of MONGKUT ( RAMA-IV ) , the King of SIAM . She was the queen consort but only for nine months as she died on 10th October , 1852 at the age of 17 only . Queen DEBSIRINDRA was the second consort of of king MONGKUT and she was the mother of prince CHULALONGKORN who later on became king of SIAM under the title of RAMA-V . As per SIAMESE tradition men aged 20 should become a Monk for a time . So , MONGKUT became a BUDDHIST Monk in 1824 as per the prevailing tradition and named as VAJIRAYAN . Though his father RAMA-II died in the same year , yet as against the tradition more experienced and more influential prince NANGKLAO , the son of a royal concubine rather than a queen , was crowned as the next King under title RAMA-III than MONGKUT . VAJIRAYAN became one of the members of the royal family who devoted his life to BUDDHISM as such . He traveled far and wide in the country as a Monk . He met many of the SIAMESE BUDDHIST Monks . But he observed among them relaxation of the rules of PALI CANONS which he considered inappropriate being a BUDDHIST as such . Then he met a BUDDHIST Monk called BUDDHAWANGSO at PHETCHABURI in 1829 . He became satisfied to know that the Monk strictly followed the Monastic Rules of the BUDDHIST Discipline called the VINAYA . So he admired BUDDHWANGSO for his strict obedience to the VINAYA . And he was inspired from him to bring about religious reforms so far as BUDDHISM in SIAM was concerned .

VAJIRAYAN started a reform movement in 1835 reinforcing the VINAYA laws in SIAMESE BUDDHISM . As a result evolved the DHAMMAYUTTIKA NIKAYA , a sect also called as THAMMAYUT sect strong theme of which depicted ‘ ….. true BUDDHISM was supposed to refrain from worldly matters and confine itself to spiritual and moral affairs .’ As I have mentioned above VAJIRAYAN moved far and wide in SIAM . In this course he arrived at WAT BOWONNIWETVIHARA and lived there as an abbot . It was a major BUDDHIST temple in PHRA NAKHON district , BANGKOK , THAILAND . The temple was established in 1824 by MAHASAKTI POL SEP , the viceroy during the reign of RAMA-III . It was a center of the THAMMAYUT NIKAYA order of the THAI THERAVADA BUDDHISM as such . It was a major temple of patronage for the CHAKRI Dynasty Rulers where many royal princes studied and served their Monk hood . During this time VAJIRAYAN persuaded a western education . He leant Latin , English, Astronomy with missionaries and sailors . During his period inter-religion dialogue started at WAT BOWONNIWET VIHAR . He invited VICAR PALLEGOIX of the ROMAN Catholic Archdiocese of BANGKOK to WAT BOWONNIWET VIHARA to preach CHRISTIAN sermons . He praised VICAR and admired CHRISTIAN morals and sermons after listening to him (VICAR) . But later when he became king of SIAM , as per a historian like ROBERT BRUCE , he said , ‘What you teach people to do is admirable , but what you teach them to believe is foolish’.* When he became the king of SIAM , he had an excellent command over the English language .

After twenty seven years of Monastic life King MONGKUT ascended to the throne of SIAM under title RAMA-IV at the age of 47 in 1851 . He took the name as PHRA CHOM KLAO but for the foreigner like the BRITISH , he was king MONGKUT . SIR JAMES BROOKE , a BRITISH deligate to his court , addressed him as ‘ our own king ‘ of SIAM. He was the first SIAMESE monarch who spoke English fluently . So , he was now to set about building of the biggest Royal Family of the CHAKRI Dynasty . In his palace there were more than three thousands women mostly servants , guards , officials and maids . And MONGKUT ( RAMA-IV ) himself acquired 32 wives by the time he died on 1st October , 1868 at the age of 64 despite the fact that he married first at the age of 47 with SOMANASS after ascending to the throne . He had altogether 82 children by now . As a king he started two revolutionary changes in the SIAMESE society : 1. He fought for the people to embrace modern geography apart from other western sciences ; and 2. He sought for reform in BUDDHISM . Smelling possibility of an outbreak of war with the EUROPEAN powers he took many innovative activities like he ordered the nobility to wear shirts while attending the court just to show that SIAM was a modern state from the view points of the west . Similarly , he crowned his brother prince ISARET as King PINKLAO as the second King knowing his abilities in foreign languages as such . He also raised his supporter DIS BUNNAK to the highest rank of nobility called SOMDET CHAO PHRAYA and made his agent kingdom-wide . DIS BUNNAK’S brother TAT BUNNAK was appointed as his Regent in BANGKOK . Thus , it would not be wrong if one says that during MONGKUT’S reign power of SIAM rested largely with DIS and TAT . BOWRING treaty of 1855 between king MONGKUT and the BRITISH Governor of HONG KONG , JOHN BOWRING abolished the royal foreign trade monopoly . Import duties were abolished . BRITAIN was declared as a most favoured foreign nation . Thus , the BOWRING treaty simply meant integration of the SIAMESE economy into the world economy . Similar treatises were concluded with all the western powers in the years to come . This resulted into conversion of SIAM as a sales market for the western industrial goods as such and SIAMESE export was limited to only three products : 1. RICE ; 2. PEWTER ; and 3. TEAKWOOD .

* BRUCE , ROBERT : ‘KING MONGKUT OF SIAM AND HIS TREATY WITH BRITAIN’ (1968) , an article published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic ( HONG KONG BRANCH )

NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .

TO BE CONTINUED ……………..

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