The monarchy of Thailand is run by the head of state, also referred as the King of Thailand or the King of Siam. Even though it may sound simple when said like this, it is far more than that.
There are a lot more things under the surface than one would say at the first glance. In order to clarify the situation in the country and to better understand the way the country works, it is very important, even crucial, to mention that Thai students are asked to recite Orwellian twelve core values that say:
- “To uphold the nation, the religions and the Monarchy, which is the key institution”;
- “To understand and learn the true essence of democratic ideals with His Majesty the King as the Head of State”;
- “To be conscious and mindful of one’s actions in line with His Majesty’s the King statements”;
- “To practice the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy of His Majesty the King.”
This can say a lot about the way that the regimen is treating the citizens. These must be taken seriously because anyone who offends His Majesty the King or any member of the royal family faces the risk of going to jail. The lèse majesté law has been used very freely and frequently. There are many individuals in jails, convicted under this particular law. The conditions people are being convicted under are very vague, unclear to many since the trials are closed to the public where even family members can’t be present.
His Majesty the King is assisted by the Private Secretary, the Privy Council of Thailand and the Prime Minister. National Assembly of Thailand is responsible for originating laws instead of King alone, but only with his consent can become law.
Thailand is now an oligarchy. It is led by families from the bureaucracy, aristocracy, military and wealthy families with enormous influence on all the important decisions made in the country. Democracy is tolerated to the same extent in certain occasions, but ultimately it is organized as an oligarchy.
Monarchy was started as a solution for ensuring the consent of up to 80% of rural majority. It is an ideology of submissive behavior, humility, deference, respect for hierarchy and authority, discipline and self-restraint. The cult around the King Bhumibol has been made with the idea that he is going to be a Buddha in the future. Children are taught from the earliest age that the monarchy must be respected and never brought to ques
tion. The lèse majesté law is there to ensure that no one argues it openly.
Land of Smiles
All these values that are constantly promoted like gentles, politeness, and tolerance have created the picture of Thailand as the land of smiles, polite, submissive people that now welcomes thousands of tourists who wish to come and enjoy this beautiful culture.
However, even though it looks very beautiful, underneath it is very heavily, sometimes even aggressively imposed as an imperative to all the citizens.
People are encouraged to live within their means giving this way the approval for such a great difference among people. It approves the inequality concerning economic terms in Thailand. It is the country with the biggest inequality in Asia. However, one must say that monarchy has lead Thailand to such a great development, even though there are many side-effects of it.
With worsening health of His Majesty the King, it is clear that his reign is about to end. It is a question how the political situation will develop in the future. Now, after all those years, the poor people are given a voice to express their political views. The elite layer of people in the country works towards overthrowing anti-monarchy sentiment and even republicanism as a rebellion against the submissive culture. The whole idea of respecting the monarchy is dangerously shaking now with the King’s close end of a reign and the Thailand establishment becomes very insecure about the ways they can continue imposing it.