Asia has unique characteristics which set it a part from the rest of the world, particularly in terms of economy, people, government and tourism among others. This paper depicts a country in Asia – Thailand.
Thailand is located in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is more or less two hundred thousand (200,000) square miles with more or less sixty five (65) million population with a recorded annual population growth of 0.3%. Comparatively, its size is relatively the same as with France but smaller than that of Texas. The country is divided into four (4) regions, to wit: the northern mountainous region, northeast Thailand, Central Thailand and the southern region (http://www.globelink.uk.com/country-information/travelling-to-thailand/geographical-location-of-thailand.html, 2008). The capital city of Thailand is Bangkok.
The country is divided into seventy (76) provinces, further subdivided into 877 districts, and 74, 944 villages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand, 2008).
Thailand has been calculated to have existed for almost half a million years now, dating back to 400 BC. Thais have Chinese ancestry. Researchers conclude that some Chinese community have migrated to Thailand, as what some Chinese also did in some parts of Asia, and Thailand has been one of it, thus, Thais share few characteristics with that of the Chinese group in Asia.
People of Thailand are popularly known as Thai. Primary ethnic group in the country is Thai consisting of 89% and the rest consist of mixed ethnic groups. Basically most of the people comprising of 94% are Buddhist, 4% are Muslims and the rest are Christians, Hindus, Brahmin and others. More than eighty five (85%) of the Thai speak the Thai dialect. Such basic dialect is the medium of instruction in schools. Twelve (12%) of Thais are of Chinese Ancestry, thus, the structures of its buildings are characterized by Chinese characters.
Thailand is a rich source of natural resources being a major producer of tin, natural gas, rubber, tungsten, fish, and timber, among others. Likewise it is major producer of rise, soya beans and coconuts. Moreover Thailand is an active counterpart in the manufacture of garments, textile and jewelry among others.
Notably, the unemployment rate of Thailand is very low at 1.5% of the labor force. Among the members of the labor force, more or less forty (40%) are engaged in agriculture. In this regard, it can be said that standard of living of the population is considerably high considering that above majority of the people are employed or are engaged into their respective trade or business.
In terms of education, Thailand’s constitution makes it mandatory to offer free education for twelve (12) years. Hence, it is expected that Thai are more advanced in education and that literacy rate is high considering that the government provides subsidy in matters relating to basic education.
Government of Thailand is constitutional monarchy. It recently adopted a new constitution subsequent to the 2007 referendum amending the prior constitution. It is headed by a Prime Minister as the head of its government with three major branches of government, the executive, legislative and the judiciary. The executive branch is primarily represented by King as the country’s Chief of State. As head of state, the King however is given little direct control over the people. The same with other countries in Asia, its legislative department is basically bicameral, thus being divided into two houses of Congress for the enactment of laws of government – the House of Representatives and Senate. The members of the House of Representatives are fully elected by the populace whereas the Senate is partially elected. On the other hand, the judiciary is divided into the Constitutional Tribunal, Administrative Courts and Courts of Justice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand, 2008).
Thai dated back its existence since 400 BC and was then engaged in the manufacture of bronze and metallurgy. Thereafter, it became one of the centers of wet rice producers. This has led to developments in the country particularly on social and political aspects.
Thai government was first founded in the 13th century. The Kingdom of Thailand was then headed by chieftains. Important to mention is the contribution of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. The latter was the advocate of Theravada Buddhism which is now the current major religion of the country. Around 1700s the Ayutthaya was invaded by the armies of Burma, which led to its decline. During those days, Dhamashastra was the primary tool on which the law of Thailand was based. Prior to the decline of Ayutthaya however, Thailand had been open to international relations with the West. In fact, it was a signatory of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1800s with the United Kingdom. The United States then followed in having amity relations with Thailand.
Nineteen hundred and thirty two (1932) was the rise of constitutional monarchy. During this year, the first coup de etat took place which transformed the form of government from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarch. By its term, constitutional monarchy is one where the monarchy as a form of government is subject to the limitations imposed by the constitution, the latter being the supreme law. The first coup was followed by several others which led to changes in the government. Subsequent events led to the invasion by the Japanese troupes in Thailand; however Japan was defeated by the Thais during the second world war.
Thailand was never predominantly a monarchy. It had been an advocate of democracy during mid of 1970s. Beginning this year, the election of the head of state had been through direct election and appointment in the midst of coup attempts and successful coups overthrowing one government and installing a new one. Notably also, Thailand used to be controlled by military governments thereafter replaced by democratic form of government. During these early years of political struggle, the government was primarily headed by the ‘bureaucratic elite.’ It was in 1988 when Choonavan was the first elected Prime Minister in the democratic form of government. His term ended by the appointment of Panyarachun, a military appointee as the Prime minister. Kraprayoon, a military commander was subsequently appointed. The two consecutive military governments were met by violent reactions among the Thais which led to the decline of the military government in 1992. The May 1992 elections put into office Leekpai from the Democratic Party. The parliament during his administration was dissolved. His administration spearheaded economic changes and developments in the country, until it led to the formation of the 1997 Thailand Constitution. Shinawatra was elected in 2001 and was subsequently re-elected in 2005. His last term of office was however of short duration due to allegations of massive corruption in the administration. This led to the abolition of Shinawatra’s Parliament in 2007, during such year also, the new constitution was promulgated. Sundaravej took the office as Prime Minister in 2008.
From the foregoing, Thailand never had a peaceful transition of government. Bloodless coups have characterized almost every transition through the participative actions of the people, people power that is.
It has been opined that the enactment of new constitutions during the past years have shaped the development of democracy in Thailand where people are accommodated on matters involving social, economic and political concerns (Aphornsuvan, No Year).
Moreover, it can be gleaned that Thailand’s major mode of putting officers into office is by direct election. Thus, it is one of a participative government not to mention the bloodless coups staged by its citizens.
Major elections of the country have been dominated by the participation of several political parties. Its constitution allows multi-party system thus opening the gates for participation among various sectors of the community.
The Democratic Party is one of the major political parties in the country. It is established as the oldest political party in the country, and is said to be the oldest in Southeast Asia following the transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy. Among the basic ideologies and advocacies of the Democratic Party are as follows:
1. political transparency;
2. social accountability;
3. adherence and reverence to the Constitution;
4. advocate of freedom and liberty;
5. Social concern and security (http://www.democrat.or.th/democrat_english/democratic_agenda.htm, 2008).
The Democratic Party was organized as somewhat like the Democratic Party of the United States primarily participated by the poor and the working class. Majority of the great leaders of Thailand who served as Prime Ministers came from the Democratic Party (http://www.democrat.or.th/democrat_english/history_eng.htm, 2008).
Other political parties moreover include but not limited to ‘For Thais Party’, ‘Royal People Party’, ‘Great People Party,’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_Thailand, 2008).
Political growth and development in Thailand have been characterized by bloodless coup de etats, nevertheless, the same has been the instrument for what it is now – a strong government of Thailand.
Aphornsuvan, T (No Year). rspas.anu.edu.au/pah/human_rights/papers/2001/Thanet.pdf.
No Author. (2008). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_Thailand.
No Author. (2008). http://www.democrat.or.th/democrat_english/history_eng.htm.
No Author. (2008). http://www.democrat.or.th/democrat_english/democratic_agenda.htm.
No Author (2008). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand.