Government and Nationalism in Southeast Asia

By Rupert Emerson; Lennox A. Mills et al. | Go to book overview

VII. THAILAND

For the past century Siam, which became Thailand in 1939, has offered the unique example of a small Asiatic country maintaining her sovereign status while her neighbors have fallen under foreign rule. Her survival has been due less to the innately superior qualities of her people than to the strategy of her leaders, who have played off against each other two powerful and mutually jealous European rivals. By decorous and diplomatic statesmanship Thailand progressively cast off the shackles of a semi-colonial status and transformed an Asiatic feudality into a modern, and in many ways model, state -- with official friendship for all and little malice toward any but the Chinese within her frontiers. Only with the revolution of 1932 has there appeared a more aggressive, supernationalist policy.

The constitutional regime retained most of the policies and a few of the personnel of the absolute monarchy which it had violently displaced. The original manifesto promising the maintenance of independence and the improvement of social and economic conditions, as well as the temporary constitution of June 1932, were far more radical documents than the permanent constitution which was promulgated six months later.1 True, the king's powers had been reduced to those of a constitutional monarch, but he was no longer merely the figurehead originally envisaged. The intervening period had been marked by an increase in his personal influence, the definite curtailment of a communist impulse, the voluntary eclipse of the radical leader, Luang Pradit, by the first premier, Phya Mano, an official of the old regime, and the definite withdrawal from the political scene of the People's Party, in whose name the coup d'état had been engineered originally.2 Excepting for a few of the more liberal princes, the Thai royal family, under whose aegis Thailand had been transformed into a modern state, was prohibited from further participation in the government. Aside from a few strikes and many petitions, Thai public opinion

____________________
1
Aksorlukana L. P., La constitution siamoise de 1932 ( Paris, 1933).
2
Lingat R., "Installation du régime constitutionel", Chronique du Siam, 1932.

-211-

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Government and Nationalism in Southeast Asia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Institute of Pacific Relations iv
  • Title Page v
  • Foreward vii
  • Editorial Note xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • Part II - The Governments of Southeast Asia 37
  • Author's Note 38
  • 1. Introduction 39
  • Ii. the Philippines 53
  • Iii. Burma 70
  • Iv. British Malaya 78
  • V. Hongkong 92
  • Vi. the Netherlands Indies 97
  • Vii. French Indo-China 107
  • Viii. Taiwan 113
  • Ix. Thailand 118
  • Part III - Nationalism and Nationalist Movements in Southeast Asia 125
  • I. Introduction: Comparative Nationalisms 127
  • Ii. the Philippines 145
  • Iii. Burma 159
  • Iv. British Malaya 169
  • V. the Netherlands Indies 182
  • Vi. French Indo-China 198
  • Vii. Thailand 211
  • Index 223
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