THE THAI KINGDOM 5
Theimportance of culture can never be underestimated as far as enhancingthe authenticity of any particular region is concerned.Unfortunately, globalization has effected a number of changes in thecontemporary human society, which have rendered some cultural traitsextremely extinct. Nevertheless, there has not been a completeoverhaul of the cultural features of particular regions as theirpeople still maintain some authentic cultures. This is the case forthe Thai Kingdom. Established in 1238 by two Thai governors, the ThaiKingdom has undergone quite a number of radical changes over time.Its first kingdom was Sukhothai formed after the two governors led arebellion against the Khmers thereby giving the region itsindependence. At this time, the Thai kingdom had established immenseconnections and friendly relationships with its neighbors. Thisensured that varied aspects of the different civilizations with whichthey came into contact were absorbed. Indeed, Thai maintained andenhanced its culture with China, as well as other countries such asIndia and Cambodia with which the kingdom carried out economicactivities and trade. Throughout the varied periods that the kingdomhas gone, varied changes have been made to both its structure andculture. Nevertheless, there still remains some elements that are anembodiment of the Thai culture.
Oneof the aspects of the Thai Kingdom that represents the Thai cultureis its mode of governance. Right from the time of its establishment,the Thai Kingdom has operated as a monarchy, where the government isrun by a king and queen(s). The king is responsible for more or lessthe same duties that presidents and prime ministers of othercountries undertake and is considered the commander in chief of thearmed forces (Peleggi,2007).As much as the politics of Thai Kingdom took a considerable change onthe 24thof June 1932 after a group of intellectuals who had undergone westerneducation and taken up the idea of western democracy staged a coupcalling for the abolishment of the monarchy. Of particular note isthe fact that, as much as there was some change in the governancestructures, it still remained as a monarchy although it changed froman absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. Scholars have notedthat in spite of a number of successive constitutional changes thathave been carried out within a span of slightly more than half acentury, the fundamental concepts pertaining to the constitutionalmonarchy and government established in the 1932 constitution havebeen the same (Peleggi,2007).This is a considerable embodiment of the Thai culture.
Inaddition, the Thai Kingdom is closely characterized by freedom andequality, which is a key feature of the Thai culture. Scholars havenoted that the term Thailand means “land and freedom”, which isseen as a fitting description as the country is the only one inSouthern Asia that has never been defeated (Peleggi,2007).On the same note, the word of the King is followed closely by everyother person and institution including the military to the extentthat leaders often relinquish their power to the citizens whenrequested to do so by the king. Of particular note is the fact thatThais see themselves as equal to their western counterparts as aresult of their traditions, in which case they expect to be accordedthe appropriate treatment. In essence, equality and freedom arefundamental parts of the Thai culture (Peleggi,2007).In relationships between subordinates and their superiors, thereexist some obligations on the two sides, with the even the formerexpecting to be accorded respect.
Inthe recent times, Thailand has been experiencing some politicalupheavals. Indeed, the country has undergone months of deadlock sinceNovember 2013 when royalist conservatives in the capital city Bangkokstarted their occupation of public squares calling for theelimination of the constitutionally elected government of PrimeMinister Yingluck Shinawatra. On 7thMay this year, Shinawatra and several cabinet ministers were oustedfrom office, a judicial coup that was followed by the NationalAnti-Corruption Commission’s decision to indict Shinawatra for thehandling of controversial rice-subsidy program. This bred questionspertaining to the impartiality and credibility of the country’sjudicial system in the opinion of a large proportion of the Thaipublic. Of particular note is the fact that the royalist governmentis responsible for the creation of the anti-graft commission andconstitutional court. The relentless scheme of the royalists to takeover power through undermining the constitution and rule of law isseen as a threat to democracy and increases the risk for degenerationto civil war. So far, over 20 people have lost their lives whilehundreds have been injured in the protests. The budding electoraldemocracy has become increasingly besieged with fears of the use ofcoercion, fear and force on the dissenting public by the potential orlikely royalist government being expressed. At the same time,pro-royalist military and the court have offered shelter and impunityto the protesters who continue to use intimidation and violence.Further, courts have ratified the powers given to hand-picked senateand increased its own powers beyond the constitutional limits.
Peleggi,M. (2007). Thailand:The worldly kingdom.London: Reaktion.