Monarchism and Foreign Affairs in Thailand

On His Majesty’s Service: Why is the Thai Foreign Ministry Royalist?” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336. 2022.2081930) is a new article by Pavin Chachavalpongpun of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University in Japan.

Update: This article is now available for free download. This offer expires in 3 months.

The abstract for the article states:

In the final decade of the King Bhumibol Adulyadej reign, various state agencies lined up to defend the monarchy against political opponents. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was one of those state agencies expressing its disdain for elected governments dominated by Thaksin Shinawatra whose popularity was perceived to threaten royal power and prerogative and, hence, the stability of the throne. Beginning in 2006, Thai diplomats, serving and retired, joined anti-Thaksin movements calling for his resignation, which culminated in the 2006 military coup. The research question for this study is: Why is the Thai Foreign Ministry royalist? It is argued that the Foreign Ministry’s contempt of Thaksin was, at one level, due to its obligation to reinforce royal hegemony. At another level, the Foreign Ministry sought to protect itself in the face of Thaksin’s drastic bureaucratic reforms. This study traces the source of royalism among Thai diplomats. It explores the impact of the bureaucratic modernisation in the late nineteenth century, which further deepened ties between the Foreign Ministry and the palace. It also examines the characteristics of Thai diplomats as a privileged political caste whose status is sustained by its dependence on the monarchy. In the final part, the study discusses Thaksin’s control of foreign affairs, inevitably instigating a clash with the Foreign Ministry.

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