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Thailand: an overviewYuphaphann HoonchamlongUniversity of HawaiiJuly 10, 2003AsialPacificEd Institute
 The place The people Brief history Thai worldviews Buddhism Culture and social organization Social values Key eve...
Area: 514,000 sq kmPopulation: 60 millions (6-8in Bangkok!)Ethnic groups:Thai 75%,Chinese 14%, other 11%Religions:Buddhism...
Government: democratic constitutional monarchyExecutive branch:chief of state: H.R.H. King BhumibolAdulyadej (Rama IX of t...
Central: fertile basin of the Chao Phraya RiverNorth: mountainous, hill tribesindependent kingdoms in the past (ex: Sukhot...
The People settlement and cohabitation of diverse ethnicgroups in the Chao Phya basin (past, present):Dvaravati (Mon spea...
 Thai script devised by King Ramkhamhaeng in 1283 (based on"Grantha", an ancient Brahmi script of South India) first ap...
Brief History Sukhothai: first established Thai Kingdomin c. 13 (1253-1350) paternal monarchy in accordance with Buddhis...
Brief History (2) Ayuthaya (1350-1767) 417 years adopted Khmer administration modelinfluenced by Brahminism and Hinduism...
 Thonburi (1767-1782) Bangkok (1782- now) early period (1782- ~1800 (Rama IV)recover and reestablish the stable Kingdo...
 Modern period (1932- now) June 24, 1932, coup dtat overthrow of absolute monarchy (Rama VII) by juniormilitary officer...
 Constitution movements: Student(and intellects) Uprising in October,1973 : confrontation of peoples movementand governm...
Thai social system agrarian society village as basic community unit habits and customs based on agricultureand religion
Thai world views shaped by ("popular") Buddhism(Theravada/Hinayana)+ animistic +Brahminism/Hinduism the law of "karma" (...
 social values and social relations social hierarchy (rank and authority): patron-client, senior-junior, etc..hierarchy...
Social problems Migration to city prostitution/AIDS sex industry as result of unequal rural/urbaneconomic development (...
Thai Monarchy in late 1950, Sarit reemphasized the roleof monarchy as cornerstone of Thaiidentity and legitimacy of the g...
 role of present King perform rituals make contact with his subjects concerned in the welfare of the people initiated...
 Q: By revering the King, Thais maintaintraditional attitude towards authority, isthis incompatible with political attitu...
Buddhism in Thailand in the past, Thai monarchs use Buddhismas unifying principle of society andlegitimator of monarchic ...
 But, reform movement tooBuddhadasa: dharma is nature and dutyroles of monks: community development, socialactivism, so...
WEBSITES CIA Fact Book:http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/th.html Thai Government:http://www.thaigov.go.t...
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  1. 1. Thailand: an overviewYuphaphann HoonchamlongUniversity of HawaiiJuly 10, 2003AsialPacificEd Institute
  2. 2.  The place The people Brief history Thai worldviews Buddhism Culture and social organization Social values Key events and persons Challenges of modern Thailand
  3. 3. Area: 514,000 sq kmPopulation: 60 millions (6-8in Bangkok!)Ethnic groups:Thai 75%,Chinese 14%, other 11%Religions:Buddhism 95%,Muslim 3.8%, Christianity0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other0.6% (1991)Languages:Thai, English(secondary language of theelite), ethnic and regionaldialectsLiteracy:93.8%Prime Minister: Thaksin
  4. 4. Government: democratic constitutional monarchyExecutive branch:chief of state: H.R.H. King BhumibolAdulyadej (Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty)(since 9 June1946)note: there is also a Privy Councilhead of government: Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra(since 9 February 2001) (No. 31st)Legislative branch:bicameral National Assembly consists of1. the Senate (200 seats; members elected)2. the House of Representatives (500 seats; memberselected)Both serve four year terms.
  5. 5. Central: fertile basin of the Chao Phraya RiverNorth: mountainous, hill tribesindependent kingdoms in the past (ex: Sukhothai,Chiangmai)Northeast (Isan) :the Korat Plateau• arid region , harsh climatic conditions often result in thisregion being subjected to floods and droughts.• evidence of Vietnamese and Khmer influences (Khmertemples dating back to c. 12)• Recent excavations suggest flourishing Bronze Agecivilisation, some 5,000 years ago (ex: Ban Chiang inUdonthani)South: once a part of Srivijaya Empire
  6. 6. The People settlement and cohabitation of diverse ethnicgroups in the Chao Phya basin (past, present):Dvaravati (Mon speaking) c.6- c. 12Khmer c.11-c. 19Thai c. 13 on Thai: Tai speaking group ethnic, cultural, linguistic group spread fromsouthern China to northeastern India andmost of the peninsula.
  7. 7.  Thai script devised by King Ramkhamhaeng in 1283 (based on"Grantha", an ancient Brahmi script of South India) first appeared on stone inscription
  8. 8. Brief History Sukhothai: first established Thai Kingdomin c. 13 (1253-1350) paternal monarchy in accordance with Buddhistpolitical philosophy King as protector and promoter of Buddhism King Luthai compiled: Traiphumikatha (ThreeWorlds)- Buddhist cosmology in 1345
  9. 9. Brief History (2) Ayuthaya (1350-1767) 417 years adopted Khmer administration modelinfluenced by Brahminism and Hinduism King as "deva raja" (God King) "sakdina system": social stratification system,everyone assigned a numerical ranking international trade, contacts with westerntraders, establish relations with westernnations.King Narai (1656-1688) expansion of territory
  10. 10.  Thonburi (1767-1782) Bangkok (1782- now) early period (1782- ~1800 (Rama IV)recover and reestablish the stable KingdomChakri dynasty "Westernization" period: reaction to threatfrom western imperialismRama IV (King Monkut) 1851-1868Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) 1868-1910accept unequal treaties: 1855 Bowring Treaty:(with Britain), accept western terms of trade (lowlimit on import/export taxes, allow extraterritorialrights)ceded some territory to Britain and France
  11. 11.  Modern period (1932- now) June 24, 1932, coup dtat overthrow of absolute monarchy (Rama VII) by juniormilitary officer and civil servants (western educated) the struggle for "true" democracy, lack of strongbase for new democratic government, conflictsamong elite groups under military led governments1938-1944, 1948-1957: P. Pibunsongkram1957-1973: Sarit, ThanomCold War, anti-communist, Vietnam War, US aids,economic development"Despotic Paternalism"
  12. 12.  Constitution movements: Student(and intellects) Uprising in October,1973 : confrontation of peoples movementand government force May 1992 demonstration demand forparliamentary government 1997 constitution from 1932-1997: 56 govts. (15 civiliam PMsleading 29 govts, 17 years in office; 7 militaryPM leading 27 govts, 46 years in office
  13. 13. Thai social system agrarian society village as basic community unit habits and customs based on agricultureand religion
  14. 14. Thai world views shaped by ("popular") Buddhism(Theravada/Hinayana)+ animistic +Brahminism/Hinduism the law of "karma" (volitional acts)every action has consequencesstate of ones existence now is an outcome of ones"karma" (deed) in the previous life cycles of rebirths, reincarnations uncertainty and transiency of all things tolerance, accepting fate ( "plong") belief of supernatural powers
  15. 15.  social values and social relations social hierarchy (rank and authority): patron-client, senior-junior, etc..hierarchy is believed to result from accumulatedpast "karma":- the higher the merit, the higherones status reciprocity of favors and responsibilities,"gratefulness" (bunkhun) [social obligation] avoid conflict and confrontation avoid the loss of "face" (ones honor) forgiving nature "mai pen rai" fun loving ("sanuk")
  16. 16. Social problems Migration to city prostitution/AIDS sex industry as result of unequal rural/urbaneconomic development (rural women marginalized inThai society) sex tourism/women trafficking corruption (high level bureaucrats, politicians) "black" economy: gambling, sex industry, drugs,smuggling, arms dealing, illegal migrant workers:generate 15-18% of GNP (Gross National Product) Environment---------------
  17. 17. Thai Monarchy in late 1950, Sarit reemphasized the roleof monarchy as cornerstone of Thaiidentity and legitimacy of the government foster the tradition of " Lord father" (semi-deity) Also, Buddhist scripture: 10 duties ofKingship alms giving, morality, generosity, honesty,gentleness, self-restriction,non-anger, non-violence, forbearance, non- obstruction merit and righteousness
  18. 18.  role of present King perform rituals make contact with his subjects concerned in the welfare of the people initiated many royal sponsored developmentprojects a focus for national unity, thus createdpolitical "influence" a forum for mediation and compromisebetween political forces, "umpire" in thegame of politics
  19. 19.  Q: By revering the King, Thais maintaintraditional attitude towards authority, isthis incompatible with political attitudesnecessary for democracy of the society? pictures
  20. 20. Buddhism in Thailand in the past, Thai monarchs use Buddhismas unifying principle of society andlegitimator of monarchic power esp. intimes of transition. Buddhism has weakened over the pastcentury: now as rites and ceremonies only ? commercialism of Buddhism(using animisticbeliefs/magic, merit-making etc..)
  21. 21.  But, reform movement tooBuddhadasa: dharma is nature and dutyroles of monks: community development, socialactivism, social/community service (in addition tospiritual leader) For laypeople, Buddhist teachings can beantedote to consumerism (neo-colonialism) abandon greed, desire which are the root ofsufferings self-sufficiency middle path Ideology based on Buddhist thoughts can be atool to work through the crisis
  22. 22. WEBSITES CIA Fact Book:http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/th.html Thai Government:http://www.thaigov.go.th/ Golden Jubilee Network:http://www.kanchanapisek.or.th/

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