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King Vajiravudh advocated the adoption of many Western ways to promote Thai national progress and national pride. But, he pointed out, there were limits to what Siam could learn from the West. In the choice of Western cultural elements, discretion had to be rigorously and constantly exercised so that Thai culture would not be swamped and destroyed. On this point he once stated:

I don’t at all object to all Western knowledge, for I myself have obtained much knowledge from the West. So I don’t take exception to the point that Westerners have much to offer in the way of techniques and abilities. But I do question that if something is good for Westerners it must necessarily be good for everyone else.1

Western civilization, he noted in his diary, was like a medicine. It had to be used with great care. Put to good use it had good effects, but used indiscriminately it became a virulent poison with rapid and fatal results.2

177Vajiravudh was obviously aware that, because of his Western schooling and some Western preferences, he himself might be subject to a charge of being indiscriminately pro-Western. To counter such a charge he told a story of the gods who mask their inner divinity by taking on rude outer shapes. “As for me,” he said, “I am a rude man within, and wear a golden exterior…. Although I may use language and diction in the foreign style, when you examine me closely you will surely see that my dip in European educational waters has given me but a European gloss; the flesh inside is still very much Thai.”3 This view was seconded by one longtime British resident in Siam who commented that the King was “passionately attached to the traditions of his country, that his intention in pursuing western methods is only to adopt such foreign customs as may contribute to the happiness and material welfare of his people, and that the very last thing he desires is to see the nation divest itself of its own ideals in favour of that veneer of so-called civilisation which has upset the national equilibrium and subverted the morals of more than one Eastern race.”4

Whatever his personal predilections,5 Vajiravudh realized that the Thai nation to be Thai must stress its unique values. The Thai people must understand what being Thai meant, what being a nation meant. Promotion of nationalism depended on comprehension of nationality.

To aid in that comprehension he coined a word, heretofore lacking in Thai, for nation. The word was chat, from the Sanskrit jati. In fact, chat was not a new word; it had long been used in its old Indic meanings of origin or birth or, by extension, caste. Even more common in Buddhist Siam was the definition of chat as a life span in the circle of rebirths. The word chat had desirable connotations of common ancestry, common origin. It was easy to extend the meaning to “nation,” used in the sense of “race” in terms such as “Aryan race” or “French race.” In the King’s usage the word played an important role in fostering an idea by giving that idea a name. Siam was no longer just a country (prathet thai or mu̓ang thai) with a Thai population (chao thai or phonlamu̓ang thai), it was now also a nation (chat thai) with its own national identity.6

What was a nation? The King defined it often. He started with the ancient meaning of the term, family line or caste,7 and said that the term later came to mean a group of people who had originally been relatives or friends and lived together in one place. But the meaning of nation in the modern world had grown much larger. Nationality was an indispensable part of every individual. Who a 178man was depended on his nationality. And since nationality was so important to modern man, man must do his utmost to preserve his nation as his birthright. He wrote: “Any man who does not know how to preserve his nation cannot be a man.”8

King Vajiravudh often compared the relationship between a man and his nation to the relationship between a man and his family. The nation was a unity, like a family. Only by feeling the oneness with fellow members could a nation exist. The members of a nation must live in agreement and harmony with each other. All the faults that weakened families, such as jealousy, self-aggrandizement, dis­respect, and disobedience, inevitably also weakened nations.9 If any individual behaved badly toward the nation, by failing to give it respect or by shirking his obligations toward it, he was helping in the destruction of the nation. His behavior was a reason for sorrow, as it would be in a family, in which “if even one member behaves badly, all relatives are saddened.” A nation should be loved, as one loves one’s father and mother, and that love must be continually demon­strated.10 The true nationalist loved all fellow nationals as his brothers. He helped people of his nationality in times of distress; he refrained from harming his fellow nationals; he redirected fellow nationals who went astray; and he taught the young to love the nation.11

The Thai nation must know what constituted a nation; it must also know what constituted its “Thainess.” In the King’s words: “We must remember that we Thai have characteristics basically different from those of foreigners.”12 What set the Thai nation apart? A combination of things including Thai history, Thai art, Thai lan­guage, Thai literature, Thai Buddhism, Thai love of the royal leader, and an essential Thai spirit, a fierce devotion to thai in the sense of “free,” a warrior spirit that the King frequently called the Wild Tiger spirit. It was vital that all of these characteristics of the Thai be preserved. That, indeed, they be built upon and strengthened. The King’s views on the monarchy and militarism as essential foundations of the Thai nation have already been discussed; his views on history, art, language, literature, and religion will be examined in the next chapter.

One of the greatest dangers to the Thai nation was the failure of its own people to appreciate the strengths and the virtues of Thai culture. In a speech to a group of Thai students going to study in Europe the King advised:

Finally, I beg to remind all of you students that we are Thai. Don’t disparage your nation, for in doing so you are in effect disparaging 179yourselves. All peoples have both good and bad intermingled in their characters. There is no nation that is absolutely good or bad. There is much that is good in the Thai nation. We must nurture the merits and the good characteristics of our race and not let it be said that we are inferior and not the equals of others…. A nation without its own traditional culture is not regarded by outsiders as a nation at all. It is looked down upon by the world and is a subject of derision.13

The King spoke often of the Thai inclination to self-disparagement, the “slavish habit of self-abasement.”14 In one address, in which he exhorted the Wild Tigers to love their nation and give it respect for its own true worth, he said: “If our nation does decline so that others look down upon us, if our nation does fall, it will be our own fault! For we ourselves do not know how to cherish it, how to save it. We ourselves do not appreciate its value. We ourselves continually look down upon it.”15


The tendency of the Thai to deprecate their own nation, said Vaji­ravudh, grew out of an excessive admiration of the West. Bangkok Thai of the educated classes were particularly subject to this error. They placed Europeans “on pedestals” and treated their own “kith and kin as less than dust beneath the feet” of Westerners. Nothing was praiseworthy to them unless it bore a Western stamp. A “habit of mind” had developed, an assumption that “to have anything done at all well, it must be done by a Farang [Westerner].” The farang had been exalted “to undreamt of heights” and the Thai abased “to almost the lowest depth.”16

The extraordinary esteem given Westerners had brought into being in Siam the “cult of imitation,” which the King identified as “the biggest and worst clog” on the wheels of Siam’s progress.17 The unreasoning imitation of Westerners had been carried by some to the ridiculous extremes of choosing Western woolen trousers over Thai silk phanung, passing time in shooting “inoffensive” birds, drinking brandies and sodas, and indulging in other Western vices, thereby ruining “both their physiques and their brains.”18 These imitators were also inclined to engage in “smart” talk that was critical of the government, comparing Siam unfavorably with one Western state or another. But, the King asserted, bad-mouthing one’s own society did not earn foreign respect; in fact, just the opposite was true: “Those Thai who respect themselves and their nation the most are the most respected by foreigners.”19 Nothing could be further from the truth, said Vajiravudh, than the mistaken idea that the flattery 180of imitation would provide the imitators with “a passport to the esteem of Europeans.”20 Imitators might be tolerated, might even be liked, but they could not win real esteem:21 “It is human nature to look up to one’s superiors, look level at one’s equals, and look down upon one’s inferiors. And what is imitation but a patent confession of inferiority?”22 Imitators could hope for no more than a “patronizing pat on the back.”23 One image Vajiravudh was fond of and used more than once was a comparison of imitators to puppy dogs. Euro­peans, he said, reacted to the flattery of imitators by feeling

… rather kindly disposed toward the imitators, as one does towards a little puppy that knows how to sit up! The fact of his being able to sit up does not change the puppy into a human being, inspite of what the puppy itself may think about it. One likes the puppy better than the other dogs which do not know how to sit up and do not try to do so, not because one accepts the sitting puppy as a human being, but merely because it knows how to imitate one of our own postures, and one therefore pats it on the head and calls it an intelligent dog! Why will not Asiatics, who slavishly imitate European ways and customs, realize this truth?24

Thai imitators, further, were entirely too indiscriminate in their choice of Westerners to imitate. They usually associated with the worst farang elements in Bangkok, the managers of hotels, bars, and houses of prostitution, people who did not practice the virtues of their own culture. Unlike the better elements, the diplomats and merchants, who maintained their distance from the Thai, the vagabond elements were quite willing to associate with anyone who had money. From them the Thai imitators were picking up habits of indolence, boasting, criticizing, and carousing. Foreigners of the better classes did not behave this way. They did not, for example, criticize the monarchy or the Thai government officers. The King posed to the imitators the rhetorical question “Why do you wish to behave like the common farang drunken in the middle of the street?”25 On occasion he supplied his own answer to this question: the aper of Western ways merely sought a rationalization for doing as he pleased, claiming the Western right of freedom to excuse his lack of discipline or respect, his entire devotion to self, and his basic immorality. The assumption that Westerners were superior in all things, an assumption made by themselves and by their admirers, was entirely unwarranted, said the King.26 Not all Westerners were moral exemplars. If they were, there would be no need for jails in Western countries. But on the contrary, he pointed out, “there are plenty of jails everywhere 181and they are not empty either.”27 The war in Europe should be a further lesson to those who steadfastly regarded Europeans as “our preceptors in the ways of Progress and Civilisation,” for “all the good that Progress and Civilisation have been able to do for them has been utterly incapable of saving the great Powers from the most frightful war the world has ever seen!”28

The cult of imitation, wrote the King in an essay on this topic, was “a brake upon our National Progress,” for it stifled originality and imagination, made one perpetually dependent upon the actions of others, and wasted time. “We should realize,” he wrote, “that we may now venture to think and act for ourselves without waiting for the lead of our preceptors….”29

Vajiravudh, of course, was not unalterably opposed to all Western ideas “so long as one does not bind one’s self hand and foot to always follow some one else’s lead.” What was necessary was that the Thai feel “free to adopt or reject or originate as it best suits our national purpose.”30

A relatively new Western philosophy that had begun to make an impact on educated Thai during the Sixth Reign was socialism. The King reacted to this ideology and its spokesmen with the same degree of vehemence with which he reacted to revolutionary Western political concepts.31 Both social and political revolutionaries were, he said, afflicted with “unrest fever” or “new mania,” a “fairly contagious disease” spread by “arrant humbugs” among ignorant and gullible people who would “enthuse” over everything Western and everything new.32

The King wrote a witty essay entitled “Uttarakuru” exposing what seemed to him the foolishness of these imitators of Western fads. Uttarakuru was an Asian Utopia first described in Thai in a fourteenth-century work which was based on a much older Brahmanic text.33 In Uttarakuru the people all observed the moral precepts and never strayed from righteousness and so were blessed with beauty, longev­ity, and happiness. The best blessing of all, noted Vajiravudh, was contained in the sentence “Of all forms of wealth, no man knows which is his and which is of another, all being common (property) everywhere, and no man ever cultivates lands, or ploughs fields or engages in trade.” Here, said the King, is “pure, idealistic Socialism” with “no individual property, and no manner of work.”34 The King pointed out other aspects of Uttarakuruan society that he regarded as anticipating socialist thought. One was a “providing tree” that gave men clothing and jewelry at their wish; this, the King said, was a literary device that really implied communization or nationalization 182of all forms of property. Another was a short-term marriage system, which, he pointed out, was very much like the free marriage ideas of such socialists as George Bernard Shaw. A third was a child-raising system in which “children grow up by themselves”; presumably, said the King, this meant that children would belong to and be reared by the state.

The irony and sarcasm of the essay made its point clear. What need had the Thai for the foreign utopian thought of Westerners such as Shaw or Keir Hardie, or their Chinese variants such as K’ang Yu-wei and Sun Yat-sen, when Siam had its own depictions of the ideal? The King wrote, “As long as human nature remains as it is, so long shall we have new apostles of Social Reform, who prate of ‘New’ theories, which are as old as the hills! Shall we get any nearer to such an idealistic state? Will such theories ever become really practicable outside Dreamland or the Lunatic Asylum?”35

A continuous thread running through the King’s thought on the West was his awareness of Western racial prejudice. Although evidences of this prejudice had never been so obvious in Siam as in neighboring Western colonies in Burma, Indochina, or Malaya, they existed and occasionally surfaced. The most patent evidences were the unequal treaties that restricted Siamese fiscal and judicial auto­nomy, and, as has been pointed out earlier, considerable state energies were devoted to ridding Siam of these treaties. Other smaller evidences of Western feelings of superiority abounded. The English-language press, although usually very careful on this score, sometimes slipped into a note of condescension. Foreign travel accounts were more openly slighting or insulting, as, for example, this report:

Careless and heedless, pliable and open to influence, anxious and easily intimidated, and when left alone gay and full of life, easy to get on with, amiable, busy at fêtes, a witty chatterer, this is the Siamese who with his small well-built body and pretty face, forms a sympathetic nation, but in no way an imposing one.36

King Vajiravudh was well aware of Siam’s foreign press image and in a charitable mood once commented: “To most people Siam is a country full of White Elephants and nothing much besides.”37

Foreign residents in Siam by and large preserved their distance and their privileges. One British officer in the Siamese service, queried as to the “general attitude of Europeans to constables and Siamese officers,” replied: “It varies very much, but as a general rule it is not very polite.”38 Francis Sayre, early in his career as foreign affairs adviser, discovered that Western diplomats were not in the habit of 183acknowledging diplomatic faux pas to the Siamese and reported that, in one instance when he felt that an American apology to the Siamese was in order, it took “a long heart-to-heart talk” with the American minister before he “rose to the occasion.”39 Among the Westerners in Bangkok, the Germans had the best reputation for treating the Siamese as equals. While the Siamese appreciated the German attitude, the British did not. A British writer castigated the Germans for their willingness “to descend” to the Siamese level and praised his own people for not doing so; he added that, if they did, they would soon lose “that priceless possession their prestige, which the native, even if he is not regardful of his own, recognizes in the white man and respects.”40

The main means of contending with Western racism, whenever it obtruded, was to refuse to concede to it insofar as possible. The King usually avoided out-and-out denunciations of Western assump­tions of superiority; rather, he insisted that the Thai were equals and must act as equals. He even allowed that some Western expres­sions of superiority were natural, for “ordinarily people of different nationalities feel that their own nationality is first in the world and other people are less good.” That in itself was not harmful. Indeed, the Thai were not above such feelings; in casual speech a Thai was apt to refer to Westerners with the vulgar pronoun man (“it”) and to a foreign king with the undignified pronoun kae (“he,” but not suitable for royalty).41 It was to be expected that “every patriotic man would naturally have his own country’s interests at heart above the interests of all others”; one could hardly look for “foreigners to have the interests of Siam at heart as much as we ourselves.”42

Private feelings of Western superiority were one thing, but naked insults and demands for special privilege were quite another. Several incidents occurred during the reign that put to the test the King’s determination to be equal. He came out well.

The most highly publicized incident occurred in March 1915. Two Thai soldiers, returning from maneuvers, took shelter in the shade under the house of Mr. P. A. Lewin, a British engineer in the Siamese Railway Department. Lewin, annoyed, drove the soldiers out by kicking them. The Ministry of War, enraged at the “moral insult,” persuaded the Ministry of Communications to dismiss Lewin from government service and issued an official communique accusing certain foreigners of looking “down upon us as non-equals.” The communique closed with a veiled threat to foreigners that “… you cannot expect our soldiers to remember every foreigner’s face and distinguish those who treat us nicely from those who do not.”43 The 184Ministry of War’s blast, undoubtedly written by the mercurial Prince Chakrabongs, created a big stir. The Bangkok Times editorialized that Lewin should not have taken the law into his own hands, but ques­tioned the severity of the punishment and particularly objected to the general accusation at the communique’s end.44 Prince Chakrabongs immediately countered with a letter denouncing the editorial in strong language:

… the Siamese do feel as probably all Asiatics do, that the Europeans consider them (Siamese) as an inferior race. The ordinary Siamese feel it by instinct, while the educated ones can read about it in any foreign newspaper or book. You cannot deny the fact that men of the white race in general consider us to be inferior to themselves in every way. Well the ordinary Siamese do not like it and they, by their ignorance, return the compliment.45

The Lewin affair finally drew in the British minister, the Siamese Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the King. Lewin was allowed to submit a full apology, in return for which the King granted him clemency and reinstated him in his position.46 Some months after the Lewin affair, Vajiravudh, in a statement to Thai students in Europe, again referred to it:

Formerly it was not at all unusual for a Westerner to slap or kick a Thai and to do so with impunity. But if a Thai did anything to a Westerner, even the smallest thing, it became a big affair requiring us to beg their humble pardon. Nowadays this is all changed, and if a Westerner does bodily harm to a Thai, he must be punished no less than if a Thai injures a Westerner.47

A few minor episodes further illustrate the Thai disinclination to accept insults or discourtesies. In 1911, when three high-ranking Thai princes stopped off at Singapore on their way back to Siam, they paid a courtesy call on the British governor. The governor kept the princes waiting for some minutes. An objection to the governor’s discourtesy was communicated to the British Legation in Bangkok, and this soon brought a “fullest apology” from the governor.48 In 1915 Father Colombet, a French cleric, complained that Thai soldiers marching in column were deliberately insulting Westerners by failing to give way to them on the street. The King noted that in Europe soldiers in column had the right of way; he disallowed the French­man’s charge and advised that it be ignored.49 In 1916 the British consul in Siam, T. H. Lyle, objected to the use of the term nai, a Thai translation of “mister,” before his name. The King, who had in­185augurated the policy of using nai for “mister,” dismissed Lyle’s objection by saying that it presumably arose because he was “of the older generation of consuls and cannot overcome the habit of looking down on the Thai.”50 The minor quarrel over nai and “mister” continued to surface occasionally in the press. The Thai held that nai was but a simple translation, in no way demeaning; the Westerners objected that the Thai practice of entitling all officials tended to make a nai “a nobody.”51

One important affair involving racism and Westerners was the internment of German and Austrian prisoners of war by the Thai in 1917. The Thai obviously intended to keep the enemy prisoners in Siam; they immediately began to build a permanent camp for them at Nakhο̨n Pathom. The British minister strongly objected to this policy, citing as his principal reason the danger that the Germans might escape and cause trouble in India.52 The matter was laid before the King. He decided to accept a British offer to house the prisoners at a British encampment in India,53 and, after six months’ internment in Siam, the prisoners were transported to India on two Thai ships.

There were problems from the start about the internment of the Germans and Austrians. The internment policy itself was adopted largely to please the British. The Thai were acutely aware that Germans in England and Japan were not imprisoned whereas those in British colonies were. And the decision to move the prisoners to India was also made in response to British insistence. The Germans wanted to stay in Siam, and many Siamese preferred to hold them. Most vocifer­ous on this subject was Prince Chakrabongs, who as Army Chief of Staff had done much to see to the orderly arrest and the provision of respectable quarters for the enemy aliens. The Prince resented the presumed British belief that the Siamese might not be able to guard the prisoners adequately; he resented the “colonial” implications he saw in the British policy and the severity of the British demands on Siam as compared with those on Japan; he was deeply troubled by the seeming disregard of the British for Siamese amour propre.54 Vajiravudh, however, was inclined to make the best of things; he seemed to accept the logic of British arguments and also the political reality that Siam was not Japan.55 Siam, after all, had made a significant step forward in merely taking white men as prisoners:

I know that it is regarded by many people as a great compliment, not to say glory for Siam that she should not only be able to intern Europeans, but that these same Europeans are even anxious and willing to be kept interned by us rather than their fellow Europeans. Indeed, 186being a Siamese myself I cannot but help feeling elated that we have been able to intern Europeans which has undoubtedly increased our prestige a great deal, in the eyes not only of our own people but in those of the other Asiatic races residing in our country.56

There is no question that Vajiravudh believed significant progress had been made by Siam in achieving equality with the West. And equality was the goal, not racial enmity. He specifically warned his people not to hate foreigners, for “it is not necessary to show our love of nation by being insulting in word or manner or by hating other nations.”57

The signs that equality was being achieved were summarized by the King in a letter to Thai students abroad in 1916. At one time, he said, the Thai had been as afraid of Westerners as they were of great demon yakshas, and Westerners, sensing this fear, had been correspondingly demanding. But the Thai had got over their fear, and Westerners no longer acted the bully. Westerners had learned that the Thai could not be intimidated and were now determined to “walk in equality” with the Thai. Westerners who came to Siam to make a living “feel a lively respect for us Thai and know better than to make us angry.” At one time Westerners would not associate with the Thai; nowadays, “it is impossible to see one who doesn’t.”58

The example of new international respect that Vajiravudh was proudest of was his appointment as an honorary general in the British army, which he reciprocated by offering George V a general­ship in the Siamese army. King Vajiravudh referred often to this “mutual bestowal of military ranks.” He was exceedingly proud of it and saw in it “the meaning that the Siamese Nation has already shown to the world that they deserve equal treatment with other countries.” He took particular pleasure in the special favor shown Siam, for no other Asiatic sovereign, not even the Japanese emperor, had been similarly honored. He wished his people to know that this honor was for all of them. And the language Vajiravudh used, referring to King George as a “Brother and Friend” who “stretches his hand over the ocean in order to grasp mine,”59 is not merely the grand language of a formal speech, it represents a conviction that Siam had entered a new era of national and racial equality.

The Chinese Minority

King Vajiravudh’s views on the relationship between the Thai and all other Asians were somewhat ambiguous. On the one hand, the King recognized a certain similarity between Thai and other East Asian 187peoples; at least they shared a common lot with respect to their treatment by the West.60 He occasionally used the phrase “we Asiatics.” On the other hand, his main objective was to strike out for recognition—by the Thai and by outsiders—of the existence of the Thai as a separate people, not to be confused with any other people or to be judged by any other label but that of Thai. For example, in commenting on an article on Yuan Shih-k’ai by a British writer, who had accused the then President of China of being guilty of “opportunism of the Oriental type,” Vajiravudh expressed no objec­tion to Yuan’s being called an opportunist but took exception to “of the Oriental type” as a purely gratuituous and unjustified smear of Eastern peoples. “Opportunists,” he said, “are bad whatever their nation or language,” and opportunism “has nothing to do with a person’s country or skin.”61 The King took even more violent excep­tion to the term “yellow peril” that had gained currency in Europe early in the twentieth century. There was no “yellow” peril, he said. There might be a Chinese peril, but the Thai were also a “yellow” people, and they were a peril to no one.62

One problem for Vajiravudh in defining the Thai nation or “race” was the Chinese community in Siam. Chinese had long resided in Siam; the Chinese had come to occupy an important role in Siamese trade; and the Chinese were accepted. Many had intermarried with the Thai. Many members of the Siamese nobility and royalty were part Chinese in ancestry.63 Vajiravudh did not seek to deny any of these facts; however, he did wish to heighten awareness among the Thai of their identity by fostering the idea that the Chinese and the Thai were different peoples, that the ethnic Chinese were not Thai.

The insistence on Chinese separateness was part of the King’s policy of nationalism, but the idea of separateness was growing in any event. It was a product of the times, of the developing nationalism within China itself—a nationalism associated with Sun Yat-sen, the fall of the Manchus, and the soliciting of moral and financial aid from overseas Chinese communities for political changes in China. Proselytizers for the new China came periodically to Siam. Dr. Sun himself had paid a brief visit in 1908. Signs of Chinese national fervor had begun to appear in the last years of King Chulalongkorn’s reign: the first Chinese-language school was established in 1909; Chinese newspapers in Siam, which had been founded as early as 1905, became more and more politicized; and a major Chinese strike, lasting three days, posed a serious threat to Thai authority in June 1910.64 The strike constituted a Chinese protest against a new govern­ment policy of increasing head taxes on Chinese residents to the level 188paid by Thai. Although swift government action brought the strike quickly under control and showed Chinese residents the effectiveness of Thai power, the very fact that the Chinese had been able to organize, that Chinese secret societies had been able to marshal mass support, that the grievances aired had gone beyond the tax issue gave the Thai reason for apprehension.

The Chinese problem that had begun to emerge at the close of Chulalongkorn’s reign grew rapidly during the fifteen years of Vajira­vudh’s. Chinese immigration swelled, and for the first time included significant numbers of women. New Chinese schools opened; there were at least six by 1916, forty-eight in 1925. The overthrow of the Manchus and establishment of the Chinese Republic late in 1911 focused the attention of overseas Chinese more sharply than ever on events in China and heightened Chinese nationalistic inclinations and activities. During the summer of 1915, for example, local Chinese organized a boycott of Japanese goods to protest against Japanese political demands on China. In 1924 the Chinese of Siam sent delegates to the first National Congress of the Kuomintang Party. And there were constant rumors during the reign that a new strong government in China would demand the opening of diplomatic relations with Siam so that it could better protect the interests of its overseas citizens. Local Chinese on occasion urged the government in China to take such a step.

In terms of administrative policy, the government of the Sixth Reign undertook little that was new with respect to the Chinese minority. It watched; it worried; it acted only when laws were transgressed.

The government kept particularly on the alert for signs of another strike. Fears of a new strike, perhaps even a revolt, were most lively in the summer of 1911. Several letters from Prince Chakrabongs and Čhaophraya Yommarat to the King reported rumors that Chinese were collecting funds and arms and drawing up detailed plans to challenge the government.65 The Thai Ministry of War was ready; a seven-page secret plan detailed the steps that would be taken in the event that the Chinese acted.66 No Chinese action came, and only minor outbreaks between rival Chinese groups marred the tran­quillity of the reign.

The necessity of being on the ready absorbed considerable government attention. There were continual reports from the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of the Interior about the actions of individual Chinese suspected of being agitators, about activities of Chinese secret societies, about the Chinese press, about 189Chinese subscription drives, about Chinese schools, about Chinese manipulations in trade and finance, about virtually every aspect of organized Chinese activity. On occasion individuals were arrested and deported;67 on occasion newspapers were closed and circulars or handbills seized. Fund drives for political purposes were banned, although the effectiveness of the ban is doubtful.68 But harshly repressive measures were rigorously avoided. When danger threat­ened, the government was inclined to call in leaders of the Chinese community, explain the government’s point of view to them, and enlist their support. When the Chinese boycott of Japanese goods started in 1915, the Minister of Local Government held a meeting with leaders of various Chinese associations and editors of Chinese newspapers to point out the government’s view that such a boycott endangered Siam’s relations with Japan, a power friendly to Siam; the minister was pleased with the Chinese reception of his message.69 The policy of friendly persuasion seems also to have been the first choice in the provinces.70 Persuasion was reinforced from time to time by warnings, such as the King’s reflection in 1913 on the 1910 strike: “Just another ‘strike’ and I should be very loth to answer for the consequences.”71

Only two laws passed during the reign were aimed at “the Chinese problem.” Neither could be called repressive. And neither was legally anti-Chinese.

The first was a law of 1914 calling for the registration of associa­tions.72 The already existing criminal code barred secret societies and criminal associations; the new law provided a positive screening for clubs and associations. On registration an association became a juristic person, liable to legal penalty. Associations that could not show a constructive program and provide a list of acceptable officers could be denied a license to operate.73 The law was aimed particularly at preventing the formation of Chinese associations reflecting the new political enthusiasms generated by events in China.74 Such associations, which were not secret societies nor strictly speaking criminal organizations, were much easier to control under the new law than under the criminal code. After the passage of the law, several arrests were made of Chinese attending meetings of unregis­tered societies.75

The second law aimed particularly at the Chinese was the law on private schools of June 1918. The law required that all students in private schools be “(1) taught to read, write and understand the Siamese language with reasonable facility; (2) instructed in the duties of a good citizen, in the love of Siam, and in a knowledge of the country 190including at least its history and geography.”76 Other provisions called for the registration and inspection of schools and specified that headmasters must be proficient in the Thai language. Mission schools and most other private schools were already being conducted along the lines of the new law; Chinese schools were not. The law was meant to bring about an end to the indoctrination of young Chinese “in a purely Chinese atmosphere” and to give Chinese youths an education “in sympathy with the people of the country.”77 In fact, however, the law was so weakly enforced that it achieved no more than “a measure of purely nominal control” and Chinese schools continued to “flourish and increase” as before.78

What the private school law of 1918 was supposed to do was facilitate the assimilation of Chinese. Assimilation had long been the Thai way, be it largely an unconscious way, of solving or avoiding a “Chinese problem.” By the 1910s and 20s the swell of Chinese migra­tion, the influx of Chinese women, and the heightened political awareness of the migrants had slowed the pace of assimilation. But the policy of assimilation continued. The first Thai nationality act, promulgated in 1911, indeed seemed designed to facilitate assimila­tion, since it defined as a Thai national everyone born on Thai soil regardless of racial background or parentage.79

Assimilation of the Chinese in the past had been successful. This success, it would seem, had had less to do with government policy than with the basic receptivity of the Thai to strangers and the lack of “racial feelings,” as this term is generally understood in the West.80 Chinese had intermarried freely with the Thai at all levels of society; Chinese had been ennobled and appointed to high positions in government; Chinese had been granted all privileges of Thai citizens and, indeed, had possessed some freedoms, such as freedom from corvée requirements, that the Thai themselves did not have. And the contributions of the Chinese, as traders, laborers, and craftsmen, had been appreciated. Although the Thai and Chinese had held some uncomplimentary stereotypes about each other, the relations between the two peoples had been remarkably amicable and smooth.

Vajiravudh sought to continue the good relations. The King under­stood the value of the Chinese in Thai society. He undoubtedly agreed with an analysis of Chinese contributions made by Čhao­phraya Yommarat in a report in 1916.81 The report stated that the Chinese added people, industrious and productive people, to an underpopulated land. Siam, with a population of but eight million in 1910, was considered by both Thai and Westerners to be weak 191partly because it lacked people. Where Chinese had come into Siam, such as in the tin-mining provinces in the South, production had soared. Further, the wealth the Chinese produced was a taxable wealth, providing needed government revenues. The capital that the Chinese had invested and the specialized labor they supplied would be hard to replace. The report ended with the comment that if Chinese were discouraged from coming to Siam, there was a danger that their economic role might be filled by Indians, Japanese, or Europeans, none of whom were as desirable or as culturally assimilable as the Chinese. These economic arguments were undoubtedly persua­sive in convincing the government to live with the growing Chinese problem and not to impose any curbs on Chinese immigration. The fact that the Chinese did not involve themselves in Siamese politics, as the King himself noted, was also a point in their favor.82

The King showed his good feelings toward the Chinese in in­numerable ways during the reign. Starting with the cremation rites for King Chulalongkorn in December 1910, Vajiravudh received Chinese delegations at many important public functions and often addressed them. At the December 1910 rites, for example, the King said:

The Chinese people and our own people have long been of one heart; the Chinese have acted like people of the same race as our people from ancient times to the present day. I am resolved, therefore, always to assist and protect all the Chinese who come to live in this country.83

The attitude displayed in this comment is remarkably similar to that displayed by King Chulalongkorn, who in 1907 said: “I regard the Chinese not as if they were foreigners but as a part of our country and equally entitled to share in the fruits of the country’s prosper­ity.”84

At the coronation festivities in 1911 Vajiravudh made a special stop at the Chinese section of town to receive the congratulations of the Chinese community. On this occasion His Majesty promised that he would always treat the Chinese with justice and would make no impositions on them that he did not make on his own people.85 On provincial tours the King often received Chinese delegations; in one town he bought a large pig in the market as a present to the Chinese. Other evidences of favor included a royal donation to a Chinese hospital in 1912, emphasis on the Chinese descent of King Taksin during the royal kathin in 1916, the dedication of a Chinese school and a Chinese theater in 1917, and sponsorship by the Ministry of Education of athletic events at Chinese schools in 1918.

192One policy of showing favor that was probably new was the awarding of honorary noble titles to individual Chinese. The en­nobling of Chinese in government service was not new, but Vajiravudh seems to have been the first to give noble titles without any duties or salary as a means of strengthening the bonds between wealthy Chinese and the government. Conclusive figures are lacking, but one source indicates that some ninety-two Chinese were given such noble titles during the reign. There is no doubt that the awarding of noble titles was also used as a means of repayment for donations to the King’s projects.

The relations between one wealthy Chinese, Yi Ko-hong, and the government will illustrate the King’s methods of dealing with the Chinese. Yi was so wealthy and powerful that Prince Chakrabongs suggested in 1910 that his power be curbed by taxing much of his wealth away.86 This advice was not followed. Rather, Yi was ennobled as Phra Anuwat Ratchaniyom and in 1920 was awarded a special royal order. Yi in return gave bridges, various pieces of property, and a school to the government.87 Typical of the reciprocity between well-to-do Chinese and the government were two acts associated with a theater opened by Yi Ko-hong in 1917: on December 13 the King honored Yi by visiting the new theater; on December 22 Yi lent the theater to one of the “King’s Own” Wild Tiger units for a benefit performance.88 The King’s methods of winning over wealthy Chinese were effective; Chinese businessmen in general were partic­ularly generous donors to the King’s fund drives—the cruiser fund drive, the Siamese Expeditionary Force drive, the Wild Tiger rifles drive.89

The King often expressed his gratitude to the Chinese for their gifts, given, as he expressed it, in gratitude for the benefits extended them in Siam. In an article whose title would be translated into English as “Thanks to Our Chinese Friends,” written by Vajiravudh under the pseudonym Asvabahu, he praised the Chinese who had subscribed to the cruiser fund. He complimented them for realizing that a stronger Siam, free from danger, would be a better place for them to live and work. Chinese and Thai, he said, were after all “both Asians and ought not be enemies.” In the article the King also included some typical admonitions. The Thai and Chinese could remain friends to the mutual advantage of both peoples, but the Chinese must understand that in Siam the Thai were the masters and the Chinese the guests. The host planned no injury to the guests, but the guests must be good citizens and not listen to agitators or instigators of trouble who spoke against the Thai.90 The generosity 193of Chinese to fund drives was even used by the King to shame his own people. In the play Mahatama a Chinese peddler makes his small donation, saying “Even though I’m Chinese, I live in Thailand; I want the Thai to like me.” And a Thai servant says, “Everyone I see makes contributions to the cruiser fund. Even the Chinaman gives. If I don’t give I’ll feel shamefaced before the Chinese.”91

The “Chinese problem” in Siam during the Sixth Reign had two dimensions. The first dimension, how to deal with the Chinese community, brought forth, as we have seen, a government policy that was notably consistent with the easygoing policies of the past. The second dimension, how the Thai should view themselves with respect to the Chinese, brought forth something new. It was this second dimension that related directly to Thai policies of nationalism; it was this second dimension that aroused Vajiravudh’s greatest interest.

The Thai habit of ready acceptance of strangers, in the King’s view, bore the great danger that the Thai would lose their own iden­tity. An important part of the King’s nationalistic message thus became the sharp differentiation between Thai and Chinese. In this differ­entiation the Chinese came off poorly. Chinese faults were contrasted with Thai virtues. The message was distinctly anti-Chinese. But anti-Chinese statements were not made to arouse the Chinese, or even to arouse the Thai, to hatred or to any rupture of relations. They were made to help the Thai realize who they were and what values Thai culture had so that the Thai would bestir themselves to save themselves.

The best known of the King’s anti-Chinese writings was an essay published simultaneously in Thai and English in July 1914. The English title was “The Jews of the Orient.”92 The essay began with an analysis of the Jewish problem in Europe. The Jews in Europe, said Vajiravudh, differed from other Europeans not only because of their religion but also because of their racial exclusiveness. They always remained aliens, never became real citizens of the country they lived in. The Jews also held to a feeling of racial superiority, regarding themselves as the chosen people and Gentiles as inferior. And, most important, the Jews were thoroughly possessed by the moneymaking instinct. They had raised moneymaking to a cult for which they were willing to endure any hardship or privation, in­cluding obloquy and persecution.

After having provided this background of anti-Jewish stereo­types, Vajiravudh proceeded to point out parallels between the Jews and the Chinese. The Chinese also preserved their allegiance to their 194race, taking advantage of all the benefits of foreign citizenship but giving no loyalty in return. The Chinese also possessed the concept of racial superiority, regarding only Chinese as civilized and classi­fying all other peoples as barbarians. And, lastly, the Chinese shared the Jewish moneymaking instinct; they had indeed “discovered the Art of living on nothing.” In their devotion to money the Chinese were without morals or conscience or pity. They would cheat, rob, or murder for money. The wealth that Chinese produced was sent back to China; in effect the Chinese were “like so many vampires who steadily suck dry an unfortunate victim’s life-blood.” In this respect they were worse than the Jews, said Vajiravudh, for at least the Jews, who had no country, spent their wealth in the country in which they resided. (The King did begrudgingly allow one point in favor of the Chinese: that at least the Chinese, who, unlike the Jews, had a country of their own, did not get involved in local politics.)

“The Jews of the Orient” represents the King’s views at their most extreme. The essay was scathing in its denunciations. Needless to say, it borrowed heavily on anti-Semitic thoughts of the West, thoughts the King had certainly become familiar with during his long years in England. And it borrowed from a growing body of anti-Chinese Western literature. Indeed, the comparison of the Chinese to the Jews was not new with Vajiravudh; it had been used at least as early as 1898 by a Britisher in the employ of Siam who had written that the Chinese were “the Jews of Siam.”93 There is good reason to believe, in fact, that the essay was written with a European audience in mind: the Jewish comparison might be expected to appeal to Westerners, but it would be meaningless to the Thai, who were hardly aware of the existence of the Jewish people. After the essay appeared, the King noted with particular pleasure its good reception by Europeans.94

Far more typical of the King’s anti-Chinese writings were those that compared the Chinese with the Thai with the aim of enhancing Thai feelings of national pride. Vajiravudh wrote often of the “true Thai,” and by this he meant someone who spoke Thai and was loyal to king, religion, and country. Mere residence in Siam was not enough. Nor was citizenship enough. Citizenship by naturalization or even by virtue of birth in Siam did not necessarily produce “true Thai.”95

The Chinese were not true Thai because their basic identity was Chinese. Their loyalty was to China; most of them lived and worked in Siam only in order to accumulate wealth enough to return to 195China. If war with China should ever come, the Chinese in Siam who could afford to do so would certainly flee to China. Even in peacetime, whenever there was any trouble or even rumor of trouble in Siam, Chinese immediately readied themselves to take passage on boats leaving the country.96 In the areas of heaviest concentration of Chinese, notably in Bangkok’s Sampeng district, the Chinese lived in almost totally Chinese communities, spoke Chinese, were closely involved with Chinese secret societies, and were virtually divorced from Thai associations.

Many of the Chinese, the King wrote, were remarkably like chameleons. These Chinese called themselves Thai. On occasion they spoke Thai. They had Thai friends. They went to Thai temples. They were Thai when it was in their interest to be Thai. But on other occasions they spoke Chinese, associated with Chinese, took the Chinese side in disputes. Their apparent acceptance of Buddhism was a matter of convenience, and when it suited his purposes a Chinese could as readily become a Christian, a Muslim, or a Hindu.97 Vajira­vudh distrusted such people. They were not “true Thai,” for “one is either Thai or Chinese; he cannot be both.”98

The Thai tendency not to regard the Chinese as foreigners arose, said the King, out of Thai lack of understanding of Siam’s long-range interests. The Chinese were a convenience: they worked hard for little pay. The Thai were too ready to accept the easy way. As a result the Thai had become dependent on the Chinese. This dependence made many Thai reluctant to look at the problem that had arisen, to balk at saying anything critical about the Chinese. Such depen­dence, which led some Thai to say “If the Chinese go on strike again, we will all die,” was woeful.99 Other Thai asserted that, if the Chinese were not counted as Thai, there would be few Thai left to count at all.100 Not so, said Vajiravudh. The congestion of Chinese in Bangkok gave a false picture, for in the countryside the Chinese were not numerous and, further, were much less Chinese. The Thai must not feel so abjectly beholden to the Chinese. The Thai must have more self-reliance and self-pride. The King wrote:

I do not ask you to hate the Chinese; I ask only that you think more of yourselves. You who are Thai must do more for your own nationality than you do for the Chinese. Whenever you must choose between what is of benefit to the Chinese or to the Thai, there should be no question, you should choose the Thai. That is my only wish.101

Many of the concepts about the Chinese that the King attempted to foster were summed up in Chinese characters in his plays. A minor 196character in Mahatama represents the good Chinese who appreciates the life Siam offers him and is openly grateful. In Huačhai nakrop the most villainous character in the play, named Sunbeng, is often referred to by the derogatory Thai term for Chinese, ai čhek. Sunbeng is depicted as completely selfish, with no loyalties to anything other than his personal interests. Sunbeng obviously stands for the self-seeking, chameleonlike Chinese who cannot be relied upon. In the words of one character in the play, such people “readily switch nationalities. They join the Thai as Thai; they join the other side and become something else…. we can never be sure what they are.”102 In still another play, Wiwaha phra samut, a Chinese “boy” provides much of the comedy. He becomes the butt of jokes because of his pigtail and his mispronunciation of Thai. The humor is pointed, but it is not vicious. And a song, sung by the “boy” in broken Thai, provided Thai audiences with a clever encapsulation of royal views, a neat and memorable poetic stereotype, of the average career of Chinese immigrants to Siam:

Chinaman very smart; no look down on him.

He know how to make living in unfancy job.

He can be humble cook or boy;

He take hard work to make money.

Master trust him to buy things;

He diligent in getting good bargains.

He buy at cheap price in his way

And keep the change as he please;

He get old clothes of master to wear.

If the master scold, he can take it.

Little by little he save up money;

Before long he become rich

And leave the master to set up shop.

Soon the shop become full store;

Then he become a very smart big businessman.

The Secret Society choose him as third brother;

He can go about and throw his weight around,

He can do what he like and get away with it.

He watch out for police so they not bother him,

And then he be happy forever after.103

Other Asian Minorities

Second in size among the minority groups in Siam were the Malays. The Malays were a distant second; they comprised only about 2 percent of the total population. But the fact that the Malays were 197concentrated in southern Siam, where, indeed, in the southernmost provinces they comprised a population majority, did make the Malays a special problem in terms of Thai nationalism. Unlike the Chinese, the Malays had not migrated to Siam; they had become Siamese nationals by virtue of Thai political expansion southward over terri­tories populated by Malays. The Malays, therefore, had every right to consider the provinces they lived in as home. Their allegiance to the Siamese nation could not be assumed. The nationalistic symbols the King relied upon all heavily stressed the “Thainess” of the Thai. And the Malays of Siam were not ethnically Thai; they were Muslim and not Buddhist, and their language, customs, dress, and dietary habits were different from those of the Thai. Furthermore, their history was that of a conquered territory once in vassal status.

Vajiravudh was aware of the special Malay case insofar as nation­alism was concerned. He was anxious not to antagonize the Malays, for he keenly felt the vulnerability of the area that he frequently described as a rich jewel that Siam might well lose if it were not treasured. And so he gave the Malays more attention, accorded them more favors, than any other minority group.

The King’s favor was exhibited by official royal tours in the southern provinces. In 1915 the royal progress in the South lasted two months; in 1917 it lasted six weeks. In fact the South was the only region, outside of the Central Plain, to which the King paid extensive visits. He visited Khorat in the Northeast once, in 1921, but spent only a few days there, and, as King, he never visited the North. On the southern tours he extended courtesies to Malay Muslim groups on many occasions. At Nakhο̨n Sithammarat in 1917, for example, he granted an audience to the heads of the Muslim com­munities and to the imams and hajis of the various mosques in the area. At this audience he received a loyal address by the Governor of Saiburi on behalf of his coreligionists, thanking the King for his protection, and was presented with a “sacred sword.” Vajiravudh, in his return speech, pointed out that he regarded the protection of Islam as his duty. He said:

We intend always to give all the people under our government our protection and the opportunity to pursue their activities in the religious sphere to the full in freedom, without oppression or any pressure to change their faith or believe in a religion they do not favor. All of you who are adherents of the religion of Muhammad, we feel, are our subjects in no way different from those who hold other religions. And so we have declared our intention to protect all adherents of Islam who live in our country.104

198He also expressed the hope that, if the need arose, he could count on his Malay subjects to rally round the sacred sword they had presented to him, to participate in the defense of the nation. Although the King’s tours in 1915 and 1917 undoubtedly had several purposes, including the wish to end rumors that the South was a breeding ground for seditionists training to work against the British in India, the basic purpose seems clear: to strengthen the bonds between the government and its Muslim Malay subjects. The King apparently considered his person as a bonding instrument. Showing himself before large numbers of his people in the South would, he felt, convince them that Vajiravudh was their king and that he was a king who cared.

The King’s reception of Muslim Malays was by no means restricted to his visits to the South. There were Malay communities, which owed their origin to groups of prisoners of war taken in the early nineteenth century, sprinkled around the Bangkok area, and on local tours the King passed through such communities and accepted their “enthusiastic welcome.”105 Vajiravudh also received Muslim and Malay representatives at court on his birthday and on other occasions.

At his birthday celebration in 1916 the King took the unusual step of accepting a petition from Muslim representatives who asked him to extend his protection over Muslim communities in the Bangkok area. A Muslim representative read a loyal address in which the Malays expressed their “deep gratification” and promised to give “unalterable loyalty to the Throne” even to the extent of laying down their lives in the defense of the king and the kingdom. The King was thenceforward termed “the Protector of the Faith of the Prophet Muhammad.” The King’s reply continued the theme of the original address. Vajiravudh said that he was certain the Muslims in Siam would indeed come forth to offer themselves in the defense of the realm, “… for in so doing, they do but follow the precepts of their Prophet, namely, that to die in defence of one’s religion is a meritorious act, and indeed they would be serving the cause of Islam when they serve the country that gives it her protection.”106 In an audience with Muslim representatives on his birthday in 1917, Vajiravudh received pledges similar to those of 1916 and, in addition, the “Aden Staff of Islam,” which was described as “a holy emblem of Faith entitling the holder to the loyalty of all the Faithful.”107

With respect to law, the Malays in southern Siam seem to have continued to be given, through their religious leaders, the right to decide cases “of Islamic nature.”108 Under the Education Act of 1921, no bars were placed on instruction in Malay, although the teaching 199of Thai became compulsory. And a small concession made to Malay Boy Scouts is highly indicative of His Majesty’s attitude: the King himself gave Malay boys in the Boy Scout movement in Pattani per­mission to wear Malay-style caps in place of regulation caps, which the local boys considered “not suitable.”109 This concession was undoubtedly based on His Majesty’s overall delight with his southern compatriots because of their enthusiastic acceptance of the Wild Tiger Corps and the Boy Scouts.

Aside from the Chinese and Malays, there were various other minority groups, but their numbers and their position in Thai society were so insignificant that they did not require special consideration. On occasion, however, one or another of these small groups was accorded special attention: for example, the Vietnamese in Bangkok participated in the funerary rites for the Queen Mother in 1919110 and for Prince Chakrabongs in 1920;111 the small Japanese community was honored by the presence of the King at the cremation of the Japanese minister in 1921.112 One governmental action with respect to the Indians resident in Siam was of nationalistic significance: in 1917 an order was issued that the use of the designation khaek (literally “guest,” but also a somewhat deprecating term for “Indian”) in front of personal names of Indians in government records was to be abandoned. The use of the similar designation čhin in front of Chinese names had been abandoned some time earlier.113

It would have been possible to view the various Thai dialect groups in Siam as comprising ethnic elements different from the Thai of the country’s center. The Lao of the Northeast and the Thaiyai of the North could have been regarded as separate from the Thai of the Čhaophraya Plain on historical and, to some extent, on cultural grounds. The basic linguistic and cultural affinities of all Thai groups, however, are very close, and these groups have com­monly been seen as comprising one ethnic family. In any event and for obvious reasons the Siamese government, even before Vajira­vudh’s time, had decided on a policy of treating all these peoples as Thai and using the term “Thai” for all of them.

The practice of using the term Thai for the Thaiyai of the North and the Lao of the Northeast had apparently not extended below the top levels of government during Chulalongkorn’s reign. Its spread to all levels of government was vigorously promoted during the Sixth Reign. Consistent with the policy of seeing all Thai dialect groups as Thai was the decision to use only “standard Thai,” that is, the Bangkok dialect, in public schools; the Lao script was to be discouraged.114 In a report on the Northeast in 1915, Prince Chakra­200bongs stressed the necessity for a policy of national identification for the Lao, who, he said, “must be regarded as Thai.”115 And in a report on the northern provinces written after his trip there in 1916, Prince Chakrabongs went into considerable detail about the problem. He commented that high officials were careful not to use the term Lao and were following the government policy so that “all the people will feel themselves to be part of the Thai nation and abandon the idea that they are in a subservient territory.” Lower officials, how­ever, he reported, were not consistent in calling the local people Thai and tended to look down on them “as do Westerners with regard to all Asians.” Some officials used the terms thai nu̓a (“north­ern Thai”) and thai tai (“southern Thai”) to differentiate the dialect groups. This practice, said Prince Chakrabongs, should also be dis­couraged. If distinctions were needed, terms such as “inhabitant of Chiangmai” or “inhabitant of Bangkok” would suffice. The Prince further said that instructions to officials were not enough and suggested that sanctions be imposed on erring officials, such as denial of promotion or pay increases—or even dismissal.116

A logical extension of the broad application of the term Thai to all Thai dialect groups in Siam would have been an attempt to apply the term to such groups outside of Siam as well. This idea, and the political concept of a pan-Thai state that would go with it, was apparently never put on paper by any government official or any other Thai during the Sixth Reign. The one expression of the idea on record during the reign was made by a Westerner who suggested that the Thai race be preserved by creating for it a solid, substantial government “from Yunnan and Kwang-Si, in China, down to the southern limit of Thai speaking people, and reaching from the Mekong Pacific watershed on the East to the Salween river and Indian Ocean on the West.” In such a fashion there would come into being “a separate ethnological entity,” a structure for “the whole Thai race.” The idea was presented as a dream “that will alarm no one since it is not even dreamed by one of the Thai race…. And as in these days the young men of Siam are given to dreaming dreams this may give them food for thought that should be sobering in its possibilities.”117

Whether Vajiravudh and his contemporaries ever dreamed the pan-Thai dream, it is impossible to know. It can be assumed, though, that if they did they certainly considered it an impossible dream. And highly impolitic to ever mention or even hint at. The rumor that reached Siam in 1912 that the French were thinking of breaking up Laos and attaching pieces of it to other portions of French Indo­china evoked no Thai response. The press reported that Siam, both 201officially and unofficially, was “entirely uninterested in what is after all purely an internal administrative measure beyond her frontier.”118 Interested or not, the Thai were determined to be diplomatically correct. And, with respect to neighboring states, this meant keeping scrupulously out of their affairs. As has been mentioned in chapter 4, all efforts were made to allay French suspicions of Thai intentions. In the 1910s and 1920s Siam was still too close to its period of terri­torial losses, still too much in awe of its neighbors’ power, to dare dream of a larger sway at the expense of others. This dream would come when power relationships changed with the fall of France in World War II. But at the time of Vajiravudh’s death in 1925, the pan-Thai dream still lay fifteen years in the future.


1. “Sapsat,” Samutthasan 9 (September 1915): 122.

2. Čhotmaihetraiwan, p. 39. 308

3. “Sapsat,” p. 115.

4. Graham, vol. 1: 240.

5. In his personal taste the King ranged widely—from a Western fondness for a cocktail before dinner to a Thai royal predilection for constant massage.

6. A search for the earliest uses of the word chat to mean “nation” has uncovered only one possible reference in a poem of 1893; see Sangop Suriyin, Thianwan (Bangkok: Suriyin, 1967), p. 7/2. King Chulalongkorn seems never to have used the term chat thai.

7. Speech to the Wild Tigers, June 27, 1911, in Plukčhai su̓apa, p. 46.

8. Speech to the Wild Tigers, November 13, 1915, in Phrabο̨romrachowat su̓apa, p. 73.

9. Speech to the Wild Tigers, July 4, 1911, in Plukčhai su̓apa, pp. 58–71.

10. Speech to the Wild Tigers, November 13, 1915, in Phrabο̨romrachowat su̓apa, pp. 72–75.

11. “Sadaeng khunnanukhun,” pp. 25–27.

12. “Mu̓ang thai čhong tu̓n thoet,” p. 23.

13. Speech of June 30, 1925, in Phraratchadamrat lae phrabο̨romrachowat, p. 56.

14. Clogs on Our Wheels, p. 14.

15. Speech of November 13, 1915, in Phrabο̨romrachowat su̓apa, p. 74.

16. Clogs on Our Wheels, pp. 14–18.

17. Ibid., p. 6.

18. Ibid., pp. 18–19.

19. “Khο̨ tham,” pp. 277–282.

20. Clogs on Our Wheels, p. 8.

21. Ibid., p. 10; speech to the Wild Tigers, June 13, 1911, in Plukčhai su̓apa, p. 30.

22. Clogs on Our Wheels, p. 10.

23. Ibid., p. 11.

24. “The Cult of Imitation,” pp. 151–152.

25. Speech to the Wild Tigers, November 13, 1915, in Phrabο̨romrachowat su̓apa, p. 78. See also “Prayot haeng kan yu nai tham,” CMHSP 8, no. 11 (March 1915): 33.

26. Speech to court officials, April 1, 1915, in Phraratchadamrat nai phrabatsomdet, pp. 137–138; lecture on Wisakhabucha Day, May 30, 1915, in Phrabο̨romrachowat nai ngan wisakhabucha (Bangkok: Mahamakut, 1957), pp. 23–24.

27. Lak ratchakan, p. 21.

28. “The Cult of Imitation,” p. 161.

29. Ibid., pp. 154–161.

30. Ibid., pp. 160–161. 309

31. See chapter 4.

32. Uttarakuru (Bangkok: Mahamakut, 1965), pp. 2–3.

33. For other references to Uttarakuru, see E. Sarkisyanz, Buddhist Back­grounds of the Burmese Revolution (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1965), pp. 58, 83–89.

34. Uttarakuru, pp. 7–8.

35. Ibid., p. 20. A long discussion of socialism also appears in the King’s diary for April 1912 (Čhotmaihetraiwan, pp. 68–98).

36. H. Hackmann, A German Scholar in the East (London: Kegan Paul, 1914), p. 185.

37. Clogs on Our Wheels, p. 9.

38. BT, February 8, 1913.

39. Glad Adventure, p. 87.

40. NA 223, Peregrine, Siam and the Germans (London: Alabaster, Pass­more & Sons, November 12, 1917), 31 pp.; the quotation is from p. 26.

41. NA 20, advice to students in Europe, August 18, 1916.

42. Clogs on Our Wheels, p. 22.

43. BT, May 13, 1916.

44. Ibid., May 16, 1916.

45. Ibid., May 17, 1916.

46. Ibid., May 25, 1916; NA 117, Dering to Devawongse, May 15, 1916, and Devawongse to Dering, May 18, 1916.

47. NA 20, advice to students in Europe, August 18, 1916.

48. NA 117, Peel to Devawongse, March 20, 1911, and memorandum, HBM Legation, Bangkok, April 6, 1911.

49. NA 204, report of a special meeting of the Council of Ministers, May 31, 1915.

50. NA 204/15, abstract of Department of Foreign Affairs No. 238/59, undated, but presumably before December 1916.

51. BT, October 12, 15, and 20, 1920.

52. NA 223, Dering to Devawongse, July 28, 1917.

53. NA 223, Devawongse to Dering, July 29, 1917.

54. NA 223, Chakrabongs to Phraya Buri, July 29, 1917.

55. NA 223, King to Chakrabongs, no date.

56. NA 223, “Alien Enemies and Their Internment,” no date, no addressee.

57. NA 20, advice to students in Europe, August 18, 1916. See also Clogs on Our Wheels, p. 23.

58. NA 20, advice to students in Europe, August 18, 1916.

59. BT, November 13, 1915; Phraratchadamrat nai phrabatsomdet, pp. 140–142.

60. As a prince, Vajiravudh once commented on a controversy between 310the Russians and the British: “It is fortunate that this affair is between two white peoples, or else….” (“Bettalet,” in Thawipanya, no. 12 [March 1905], p. 509).

61. Footnote in his translation of “The Chinese Republic” in Phraratcha­niphon thi naru, pp. 435–436.

62. The Jews of the Orient (Bangkok: Siam Observer, 1914), pp. 31–32.

63. Vajiravudh himself had Chinese ancestors; indeed, he may have been over one-half Chinese in ancestry. See G. W. Skinner, Chinese Society in Thailand (Ithaca: Cornell, 1957), p. 26.

64. For further details, see Skinner, Chinese Society in Thailand, pp. 155–159.

65. A letter from Prince Chakrabongs of June 9 (NA 133), for example, cited one Chinese plan “to attack the electric company so that power lines could be cut to deprive Bangkok of electricity.”

66. NA 133, dated June 1911.

67. There were no massive deportations, however. In 1917–1918, for example, 219 Chinese were deported. See BT, September 3, 1920.

68. A fund-raising campaign to aid Chinese earthquake victims, for example, was allowed (see NA 133, Čhaophraya Yommarat to Prince Pravitra, October 14, 1918) whereas a drive to support Sun Yat-sen’s Kwangtung government was banned (see NA 133, Čhaophraya Yommarat to Prince Pravitra, November 16, 1917). The flow of funds to China, undoubtedly consisting mostly of individual gifts to relatives, was large. The total was estimated at 16.5 million baht in 1910 (NA 133/1, Phraya Intharathibο̨di to Čhaophraya Yommarat, December 14, 1910) and 30 million baht in 1916 (NA 163, Čhaophraya Yommarat, report of March 1, 1916).

69. NA 133, Prince Bhanurangsi to King, July 2, 1915.

70. Satčhaphirom, Lao hai luk fang, pp. 154–155. When secret society activity became troublesome, the policy was to arrest only the leaders. See, for example, the report on secret societies in Chumphο̨n Province (NA 163/4, Čhaophraya Aphairacha to Phraya Čhakrapani, March 3, 1920).

71. The Jews of the Orient, p. 60.

72. NA 146, Phraratchabanyat samakhom, p.s. 2457. Also in RKB 31, May 29, 1914, pp. 182–194.

73. BT, June 15, 23, and 25, 1914.

74. NA 133, report of the meeting of the Council of Ministers, June 24, 1912.

75. BT, November 21, 1914; September 9, 1915.

76. Ibid., June 10 and 11, 1918.

77. Ibid., June 11, 1918.

78. Graham, vol. 1: 256–257. One Chinese girls’ school seems to have 311adopted the expedient of appointing a Thai headmistress (BT, December 11, 1918).

79. RKB 28, May 18, 1911, pp. 96–100; Richard J. Coughlin, Double Identity: The Chinese in Modern Thailand (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1960), pp. 173–174.

80. See the provocative, if tentative, examination of the receptivity of the Thai as compared with the Javanese in G. W. Skinner, “Change and Persistence in Chinese Culture Overseas: A Comparison of Thailand and Java‚” Journal of the South Seas Society 16 (1960): 86–100.

81. NA 163, March 1, 1916.

82. The Jews of the Orient, p. 62.

83. BT, December 21, 1910.

84. King Chulalongkorn’s reply to the Chinese merchants, November 17, 1907, in Phraratchadamrat (Bangkok: Thai National Bank, 1967), p. 211.

85. Hο̨phrasamut, Čhotmaihet phraratchaphithi bο̨romrachaphisek, pp. 189–190.

86. NA 163, letter of July 24, 1910.

87. BT, January 9, 1919.

88. Ibid., December 12 and 24, 1917.

89. See, for example, Nangsu̓phim thai, November 14, 1914; BT, Decem­ber 30, 1919; BT, February 4, 1920.

90. “Khο̨pčhai phu̓an čhin,” Samutthasan 1 (January 1915): 93–95.

91. Mahatama, pp. 47, 74.

92. Originally published in four parts in the Siam Observer in July 1914.

93. H. Warington Smyth, Five Years in Siam (London: Murray, 1898), vol. 1: 285. See Skinner, Chinese Society in Thailand, pp. 160–161, for other references to anti-Chinese remarks by Westerners.

94. “Mu̓ang thai čhong tu̓n thoet,” p. 5.

95. “Khwam pen chat doi thae čhing,” p. 139.

96. “Mu̓ang thai čhong tu̓n thoet,” p. 14.

97. The Jews of the Orient, pp. 52–53.

98. “Mu̓ang thai čhong tu̓n thoet,” p. 10.

99. Ibid., p. 16.

100. “Khwam pen chat doi thae čhing,” pp. 139–140.

101. “Mu̓ang thai čhong tu̓n thoet,” p. 13.

102. P. 91.

103. Pp. 100–101.

104. Nangsu̓phim thai, May 24, 1917. See also BT, May 22, 1917.

105. BT, December 2, 1912. 312

106. Ibid., January 4, 1916, and Phraratchadamrat nai phrabatsomdet, pp. 175–176.

107. BT, January 2, 1917. See also King’s speech to the Muslims, December 31, 1916, in Phraratchadamrat nai phrabatsomdet, p. 187.

108. BT, May 22, 1917.

109. CMHSP 10, no. 12 (April 1916): 1181–1182.

110. BT, December 9, 1919.

111. Ibid., August 2, 1920.

112. Ibid., August 25, 1921. The minister was T. Masao, who had served as legal adviser to the Siamese government earlier in his career and was probably accorded special attention partly for this reason.

113. NA 204/15, February 15, 1917.

114. BT, July 9, 1913.

115. NA 232, Chakrabongs to King, October 15, 1915.

116. NA 232, Chakrabongs to King, January 3, 1916. For editorial comment on Thai attitudes toward the Lao, see BT, November 18, 1913.

117. BT, June 25, 1912. The quotations are from an editorial that discussed the suggestion, which had been received at the press shortly before.

118. Ibid.

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