By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
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Extra resources for A Coup for the Rich
Also, Ungpakorn, Ji Giles (1997) The struggle for democracy and social justice in Thailand. Arom Pongpangan Foundation, Bangkok. Giles Ji Ungpakorn 59 In summary, then, the Monarchy as an institution has traveled through a number of major transformations in the last 200 years, from a Sakdina institution, through a short phase as an Absolute Monarchy, ending up as the Constitutional Monarchy we see today. Today’s Monarchy is therefore neither ancient nor Sakdina. So what is its nature and function?
Giles Ji Ungpakorn 43 In the early part of his reign the Monarch was young and unprepared for the job. He only became King because of an accident which happened to his elder brother. More than that, the Thai government at the time was headed by Field Marshal Plaek PibulSongkram who was an anti-Royalist. Therefore the Monarchy faced many problems in performing its duties as Head of State. This helps perhaps to explain why the Monarchy supported the military dictatorship of Field Marshall Sarit. It is Sarit who was partly responsible for promoting and increasing respect for the Monarchy.
But the Monarchy has only acted after consultation with elder statesmen and representatives of the elites, much the same as any Monarchy would do in the West. In the era of military rule, the Monarchy supported the military dictatorship. When military coups took place against military governments in the 1980s, the Monarchy waited for an assessment of general ruling class opinion before coming out in favour of anyone. More importantly, when military regimes were confronted and defeated by mass popular uprisings, such as in 1973 and 1992, the Monarchy waited until the outcome was clear before appearing on television to re-establish order and stability.