I have been asked at least 10 times from my foreign friends regarding the recent political issue in Thailand(2014). Some of the questions were “what would the king do?,” and “How would he react to the bad situations in Thailand?”
My answer was that regulation of political conflicts is not something that is on the King’s agenda. It never has been. The King’s agendas has always been ‘what could we do to improve Thailand and give opportunities to Thai people?’ He had developed numerous projects as well as creating grants and funding from his personal finances in order to give Thais more opportunity to embrace the modern world. Furthermore, his aim is to make sure that as Thailand is moving forward, so is every Thais living on this soil.
To fully understand about Thai people and political incidents in Thailand, one should not just take it from one source of media such as television. Many people looked through their own lenses of perspectives and experiences as well as images from movies and other medias that are interpreted from different cultural eyes. Thus, Thais’ perspective and others’ perspective are different in many ways. Please don’t make a decision between right and wrong from one perspective and one voice.
Firstly, Ask yourself would this kind of situations ever happened in your country?
- Politician could buy votes. There is no prison sentence for this condition yet.
- Many Thais are obsessed with lottery ticket. Some of them borrowed money in order to buy it and get their “big break” believing that the next big jackpot will be theirs. Numbers that were considered when purchasing a lottery ticket is derived from many sources –mostly superstition-such as dream, numbers on sacred trees, and sacred animals.
- Most Thai citizens are aware that many-if not all- of government projects have at least 30% commission fee for politician who is in power. Corruption in Thailand is so huge and common that some journalists named it as a ‘political business’. The ex-prime minister, Yingluck Shinnawat , was one of the best examples of corruption. The only project of ‘rice pledge’ policy has proven the absolute corrupted system that owed the unpaid money to farmers up to $4billionsj and summarized for lost at least $13billion.
Well all of above bullet points had happened in Thailand. Many Thai people are aware of this, but only some has tried to fix it.
Secondly, some facts about Thai politic and history.
- Earliest evidence of Thailand as a country was dated back to 1238 AD. Then, the king “Pho Khun Sri Indraditya” ruled Sukhothai kingdom( 113 years ). After that, the capital was relocated to Ayutthaya(417 years) , then Thonburi(15 years) , and the last relocation moved Rattanakosin kingdoms(232 years) to Bangkok. We lost our independence and become colonized by Myanmar twice; the final colonization ended after King Taksin Maharat won back and declared independence for Thai people. Thailand had remained independence ever since.
It’s been over 777 years since Thailand was established. We have had 49 kings –some of which rules for days, and some for years. But the king who has been in the throne for over 68 years -the longest in Thai’s history and in the world’s, is our present king “Phrabat Somdet Phra Paramintharamaha
Bhumibol Adulyadej” or king Bhumibol.
- Our present king is the king rama IX in Rattanakosin period.
- Democracy was just introduced to Thailand after The king Rama VII was forced to abdicate in 1935AD.
- After that, the king is no longer involved in politic. His duty is to sign the law that passed by house of parliament, which is the same system currently employs in England. From the statistic, it showed that he has never rejected any law passed by the house of parliament.
- From 1935 until 2014, Thailand have had 29 prime ministers , 18 constitution laws , 11 failure rebel , and 13 coup.
Lastly, my opinion about Thai people and politic.
After being ruled by kings for 697 years, it was a dramatic change in one day and most of Thai people did not understand that their votes could change anything in this country or that they can be part of the process to make it happen. People thought it was not their business at all. They were familiar with being told what to do and were under the power of government for a long time.
As a result, this power shifted from the king to civil government ended up with few people gets involved and stems the root of corruption. The group of politician knew that it would not be a big impact if they corrupt. In addition, many Thais lived their lives following the motto of “Forgive and forget” on everything which concluded to corruption being accepted as a norm. Another bad factor that spread out corruption is because it causes “connection”. Many Thais use connections in every ways possible such as getting their child accepted, to get a new job, and to win government-funded auctions. The norms for many are that “if you know the right people, then it is possible to get what we want.”
Only a few of prime ministers in Thai history were popular and respected for good governance. The rest had bad reputations of being greedy and corrupted. No matter which party they are from- civilian or military. Most of educated Thais got sick of it. That caused the political uprising to protest against corrupted government from November 2013 – May 2014, and the latest coup, which ended the protest in May 2014.
On the contrary The king Rama IX is our light of hope. Even he has no direct power to govern the country. But he had been working hard physically and mentally in all that he could for more than 50 years. Under his reign, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej declared that he would rule with righteousness “for the benefit of the Thai people”.
He had been to many remote areas since the very first day he was crowned; there was neither electricity nor road access in that area to see his project’s progress. In the 67 years since that auspicious declaration, His Majesty has worked tirelessly to make those benefits real in ways that truly unique among monarchs.
From hundreds of his projects, here are some of the popular projects that are well-known: Royal rain project , Moisture Retention Dam Project , Royal Hilltribe Projects , Use of Vetiver to Prevent Soil Erosion , etc. To see more of his projects
Thai people have seen these works for more than decades. It had proven that our king is not a performer who pretends to win over the crowd, but the actor who committed in his words and sees it through. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many of Thai politicians. It is common to see king picture appears in Thai citizens’ homes. He is in our heart no matter the poor or the rich. He is what united Thai people together.
If you were in Thailand on December ,5 ” The king birthday” or father day. You would be surprised and wondered by how many people rally on the street wearing the same yellow shirt; a color that represents ‘Monday’ which was the king’s birthday. Thus, it becomes representation of the King. That is how Thai people show love and respect to the present king.
We live peacefully no matter what religions for a long time. But the last 10 years , there was the biggest corruption in Thai politic history under prime minister “Taksin Shinnawat”. At that time we were lucky that the world economic was in the upturn. So everything seemed to be good. Our economy grew up but the problem was set up quietly waiting to explode.
The seemed to go well government tried to get more popularity to have an absolute power over this country. They launched many populism policy , for example , $1 for any medical treatment , village fund , Cheap house for the poor , returned tax for the first car and many more. Most of us knows all of these projects were corrupted.
Many people are addicted to this kind of helps projects from the government. They found their group as a red shirt group. The red shirt group leader were condemned that they was paid from the ex-prime minister to lead the group of protesters to burned down Bangkok in 2010.
Our beloved king knows about this bad situation. But he has no direct power to stop it. I am sure he tried to guide people to be on the right track. One of his popular statement was ” We could not change everyone to be a good people. But we have to support good people to be in charge of the power instead of bad people.
After the populism policy had launched for a while. The theory of “sufficiency economy” was widely introduced.
“Economic development must be done step by step. It should begin with the strengthening of our economic foundation, by assuring that the majority if our population has enough to live on…Once reasonable progress has been achieved, we should then embark on the next steps, by pursuing more advanced levels of economic development.”
“Being a tiger is not important. The important thing is for us to have a sufficient economy. A sufficient economy means to have enough to support ourselves…we have to take a careful step backward…each village or district must have relative self-sufficient.”
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
If only people applied this theory on a daily basis, they could support themselves and do not have to take loans from others and creating debts. Debt is one of the biggest problems for many villagers. When I was with some of hosts in Australia, I saw many of them grew vegetables in their own backyard. It could save some money, and it was the part of sufficiency economy that could be apply to any place in the world.
Thailand is so plentiful. We could grow many kind of plants easily. But our focus was leaded to the wrong path. The sufficiency economy theory was opposite with the government policy at that time. Of course, the government was not happy about it at all.
In Thailand , there was one of the criminal law section that is very different with most of other countries. The section 112 of criminal law states that “no one could make any comment on the king and royal family members”. That drew a lot of controversies. As a human I agree that everyone could do wrong no matter how good they are. Our king was agree with it , too.
From 1990-2005 , there were only 4-5 case against the law section 112 per year. But there were skyrocketed to 400 cases during 2006-2011.
I believe there are organizations that want to change our country system and eliminate the monarch. Some people believe the one behind this issue want to be a president. So he has to wipe out the king. That guy uses our huge tax money from his corruption to advertise bad images on Thailand and the king. He hired many lobbyists, lawyers , websites , and spend lot of money in the world medias. So you might hear and or see something different. If you have not been to Thailand, you might have a different image of our country. But if you have ever paid a visit here, you may have a different perspective.
As a Thai, I do understand that we still need this law to protect our generous king. He has never commented negatively on anything, even when some people tried to discredit him. But he never fights back. He loves Thai people and wants all of us to live together happily.
Without the law section 112 , Thai people might not be united together. There would be another big pending conflict in our society to come. Thailand would never be the same.