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Thai Monarchy PDF Print E-mail


In pre-modern time, a Thai King might have influence over a large territory but exercised absolute power only in the vicinity of his city. The emergence of Absolute Monarchy (AM) was mainly in response to the colonial threat and the desire to join world capitalism. Its development began in the 19th century and coincided with the nation-state building process. The process needed the participation of aristocrats and able commoners. The competition between the two led the latter to choose the loyalty to the nation over the loyalty to the King. As a result of the 1932 revolution, the King graciously accepted to come under the constitution thus ushered the country into the era of Constitutional Monarchy (CM). At the beginning, CM was on shaky ground. It survives and blooms thanks to the dedication of a multi-talented Monarch who realized that only by winning the heart of the populace would he be able to ensure the continuity of the task he inherited. This background of Thailand allows us to understand the inherent weakness of absolutism and the difficulty to sustain the monarchy. In theory, monarchical and republican democracies have more or less the same values: the former may be weaker in ensuring moral autonomy of the people but stronger in ensuring their solidarity through the loving and loved Monarch. In a country where the pros and cons of having CM are being debated, it may be useful to look at the Thai and other country case studies so that the debate would not be positional but articulated. If CM is to be preserved, appropriate laws and institutions must be in place and the King be properly assisted. The importance of the King's own efforts to earn respect cannot be overlooked but more importantly is to know where the values of the monarchy lies and to create the will of the people to maintain them whose lack thereof would put the monarchy in great danger.


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