Thai Teaching Course Module 2: Thai-Style Governance

With the recent political crisis there in Thailand, it’s great to hear the history of where Thailand has come from to get to this point.

The first coup happened in 1932 and since then the Thai government has gone through a lot. Through out the history of Thailand the King has played a major roll. All though the King does not have real political power, he does have power of the people. Thais love their King and look to him for guidance.

The Thai monarchy has been in continuous existence since it was founded in 1238 (Wikipedia). As the country has transitioned from a monarch to a constitutional monarchy of governance, the King’s powers have been limited but he still plays a roll in matters of the people.

To quote the King:

“I will rule righteously and well for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people”

The modern King has been on the thrown since the 9th of June 1946 and has led the country to some rough times. Thailand is one of the only countries in the South-East of Asia that has never been ruled by an external force.

 The Economist ran a great article in December on Thailand, it’s King, and the crisis it faces moving forward.

“The army is a big part of the country’s predicament. Its generals believe they have a right to remove any government that incurs its, or the palace’s, displeasure—taking its cue from the monarchy that has approved so many of its coups. These two obstacles to Thailand’s democratic development are inextricably interlinked.”

Mr. Warawut Silpa-archa: Former Deputy Minister of Transport

Is Thailand ready for Democracy?

“You can’t compare democracy in Thailand to those in the US or the UK. Thailand is a democratic country, we have two houses….we have the whole system. People just have a different opinion on what democracy is.”

“Thailand….we are ready.”

Is the King held in a ‘god like’ status?

“The King is more like a father figure today.”

“The law is always the law.”

“Nobody is above the law, the court cases and investigations into what happened in November are still going on.”

Politically what do you see as Thailand’s biggest obstacle in the next 10 years?

“Education…when people are not educated they tend to look short term, they are not educated to make educated choices in the government.”

Does religion and politics mix in Thailand?

“Not really, everyone is pretty much on the same religious level.”

Corruption in Thailand?

“Thailand has had 5 Prime Minister in the past two years.”

“I’m sure it’s a problem everywhere not just in Thailand, the problem is they corrupt things so bad that everything goes down the drain.”

“Corruption in Thailand is a big problem right now, and so many people are afraid of it that nothing gets done.”

Barriers to solving the conflicts in the south of Thailand?

“We need to get back to the old system and put our eyes and ears into the villages and listen to their wants and needs. The problem at the moment is we don’t have eyes and ears there.”

Mr. Warawut Silpa-archa was an interesting guess speaker (Full Disclosure: His two kids go to ISB). According to him Thailand already is a democrocy as it has houses and a system in place that has checks and balances. Will they ever become a “true democracy”? I’m not sure. As the Economist article points out there are some underlying issues in Thailand that need to be sorted out. With the King and the military having extreme power does the govenment ever really stand a chance to find it’s feet? 5 Prime Ministers in the past two years leaves many to question whether Thailand can or will become a stable country. Mr. Silpa-archa belives this new govenment has a better chance
of surviving then the others….but has he stated….he is a politician. :)

2 Comments

  1. Interesting Jeff.

    As a new hire (and one who had to cancel an interview trip to ISB due to the most recent airport closure), I wonder how this instability has affected the lives of expats (like you and I), living and working in Thailand. Should I be concerned?

    • As an expat living in Thailand. We didn’t know anything was happening other than we couldn’t fly out. You had to look really hard to find the protest. There is absolutely nothing to worry about here in Thailand.

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