Paul Chambers of the Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs, Faculty of Law, Chiang Mai University and Napisa Waitoolkiat of the College of ASEAN Community Studies, Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, have authored “The resilience of monarchised military in Thailand” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1161060).
This paper argues “that conventional notions of Thailand’s military must be re-examined because they misrepresent the military’s role in politics.”
Instead of examining its material interests, one must also scrutinise the power and legitimacy of Thailand’s armed forces in terms of its connection to monarchy over time. The relationship between monarchy and military represents a “parallel state”, whereas the ideology, rituals and processes within this relationship result in what can be termed a “monarchised military.” The purpose of this nexus is to sustain a palace-centred order from which the military obtains legitimacy. From 1991 until 2014, the monarchised military mostly operated behind a defective democracy, although it occasionally carried out coups to re-assert the palace’s authority. Its more recent political intrusions have enhanced the military’s power on Thailand’s political stage. Civilian prime ministers have unsuccessfully sought to reign in the military, but to no avail owing to the armed forces’ close association with monarchy.