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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2023

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Summary

Monarchy and military have sat at the centre of Thai politics for a long time—since a king first created the armed forces to protect the crown and national interests at the beginning of the country’s modern history. The Thai military claims that it helps the monarchy fight for the survival of the nation; many historians and other scholars think otherwise. They have in innumerable works explained that the military in fact acts mostly to ensure its own survival and maintain its power and leading role in domestic politics, since Thailand has rarely faced external threats or wars. Two military coups in the first two decades of the twenty-first century have confirmed the fact that Thai politics is manipulated by the union of monarchy and military. These two institutions manipulated politics to ensure their own security and maintain the status quo of a hierarchical regime during the transition period before the ascension of a new sovereign to the throne.

As King Vajiralongkorn’s succession has been achieved smoothly under the military’s guardianship, exploring how the nexus of the crown and the armed forces will operate to maintain the status and roles of the two institutions is important. The new monarch, who took the throne after his father, King Bhumibol, passed away in late 2016, took many steps to secure his reign and ensure his own safety. Like many other kings in the past, King Vajiralongkorn badly needs to win over the men under arms, who present what is potentially the greatest danger to the new reign. There is no reason to expect that armed men will obey an unarmed one, or that an unarmed monarch will remain safe and secure when his servants are fully armed.

In this book I look into the relationship between, and interplay of, monarchy and military during the first five years of King Vajiralongkorn’s reign, but I have been able to see only some parts of the picture since this nexus is opaque. Not many people are willing to open their doors to discuss the matter openly and candidly—for fear of legal consequences as Thailand has draconian laws and regulations to prohibit free expression on matters relating to the royal institution.

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

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