How Does The Past Inform The Present?

1238 words - 5 pages

In recent years, our television screens have been filled with images of public protests against governments. From the beginnings of the Arab Spring to more current protests in Ukraine and Venezuela, which has seen thousands of citizens on the streets attempting to oust their governments. Thailand, too, is currently experiencing its own version of organized citizenry attempting to overthrow current governments. If we were to examine the past, then the present political unrest in Thailand should come as no surprise. Since the Siamese Revolution in 1932 abolished absolute monarchy and set Thailand on a path to modernization to now, Thai political history has been afflicted by political turmoil, ...view middle of the document...

Phibun ruled a military-type government and attempted to modernize the country. Phibun copied the propaganda techniques used by Hitler and Mussolini to build up the cult of the leader. Popular government slogans were constantly aired on the radio and plastered on newspapers and billboards. Phibun’s picture was seen everywhere in society, while portraits of the ex-monarch King Prajadhipok, an outspoken critic of the autocratic regime, were banned. Although Phibun had done lots to modernize Thailand, his initiative of military junta was a start to bloodshed and a diminution of people’s voices.

One of the reasons why political instability is prevalent in Thailand is the constant change in constitution. Since the overthrow of absolute monarchy in 1932, there have been 17 different constitutions and charters. The great number of charters and constitutions since 1932 is indicative of a high degree of current political instability in Thailand. The majority of charters and constitutions were the direct or indirect result of military coups. Charters and constitutions for much of Thai history can be thought of not as instruments of the people to control the government but as instruments by which a government controls its people. After each successful coup, military regimes abrogated existing constitutions and promulgated new ones. All of Thai constitutions and charters have allowed a constitutional monarchy. However, the strength of the legislature, the percentage of legislators appointed versus elected, the power of the monarch, and the strength of the executive was widely varied in different constitutions. These different parameters have been influenced by the political and military strength of the regime and the degree of support from the King and the palace. Most of them stipulated parliamentary systems, but several of them also called for dictatorships, for example, the 1957 charter.

The volatility of the Thai government continued to cause uprisings and coups, which also drastically impacts Thailand until now. Notwithstanding the efforts of preceding kings, democratic style of the government was extraneous to the country. Thailand had inadequate amount of time to educate its population in preparation for western political, industrial, and economic changes. Field Marshal Thanom Krittikachon (stated, Thanom) became the prime minister of Thailand in 1963. Through his rule, he ended the parliament and imposed a one-man rule. Because of his notorious reputation and inability to handle economical difficulties, more revolts began to occur. The most significant demonstration during Thanom’s time occurred in 1973, famously known as the 1973 Student Uprising. These students organized a student group named National Student Center of Thailand, or known as NSCT, in demand for a new constitution and the resignation of the military junta. Student demonstrations started in October 1968...

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