Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-sjtt6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-15T15:42:30.694Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Epilogue: Asymmetrical Relations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2023

Get access

Summary

The relationship between monarchy and military in Thailand has been asymmetrical since the beginning. When King Chulalongkorn’s reign gave birth to the modern Thai armed forces in the nineteenth century, their purpose was basically to serve the monarchy. That purpose was much more important than any role they had in national defence, given that fending off armed threats from the British and French empires was always going to be beyond the strength of Siamese forces. Also, the military was then under the command of the absolute monarchy. Thai soldiers took an oath not only to protect the monarchy but also to give loyalty to, to uplift, to glorify and to worship the monarchy as the pillar of the nation and the embodiment of the national spirit. Relations between the two institutions were essentially those of employer and servant, if not sometimes of master and slave. Sometimes in history, no doubt, servants want to have relations of equal partnership with their bosses.

Asymmetrical relations can, however, work to the advantage of both parties. With military protection, the monarchy survives and has the power to govern and to manipulate politics. The military in the meantime draws advantage from those relations in referring to the monarchy as its source of legitimacy as it too manoeuvres politically. This manoeuvring may benefit the military as an institution, one or more of its factions or cliques, or even individual officers. Further, those asymmetrical relations help ensure that the armed forces have no accountability to elected governments.

While the 1932 Revolution saw the monarchy being brought under the constitution, Thai charters—including the current one, sponsored by the military and promulgated in 2017—have positioned the king as the head of the armed forces. King Vajiralongkorn, who enacted the 2017 constitution, has made clear through his actions his intention to go beyond a merely ceremonial role to actually exercise the powers of that position and lead the Thai armed forces as their commander-in-chief.

To that end, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta under the leadership of General Prayut Chan-ocha introduced a number of legal instruments to authorize and justify the enhanced role of the monarchy in relation to the armed forces.

Type
Chapter
Information
A Soldier King
Monarchy and Military in the Thailand of Rama X
, pp. 156 - 161
Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×