Thailand, Society and PoliticsBook - 1981
In this comprehensive survey of modern Thai politics, John L. S. Girling examines the relationship between Thailand's governing bureaucracy and the society it rules. Led by a small elite of army officials, the military and civilian bureaucracy held sway for four decades, until its leaders were overthrown by a democratic revolution in 1973. The new coalition wrote a liberal constitution, and the king and his advisers appointed a National Assembly, including businessmen, professionals, and representatives from the provinces--groups previously exluded from the governmental process. Student movements, organized workers, and farmers' associations also emerged and were able to exert political pressure on the policy makers. Three years later, however, the right-wing bureaucracy--taking advantage of a perceived Communist threat from activists within Thailand and from developments in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos--was able to establish its control, with the implicit approval of the king, during the coup of 1976.
In this book, Girling takes a close look at the political, economic, and social factors that have shaped Thai history since the 1930s. He analyzes the bureaucracy's rise to power, including the social values and traditions behind the Thai acceptance, for so many years, of an elitist society. He examines the economic growth--attributable in large part to the influence of the West--that has brought about major transformations in the conditions and attitudes of the Thai people and in the power and performance of the state.