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Reactive blogger (~and more~)

Flags and the Monument: Reflection of Childhood History Lessons

Yesterday I was chatting with a TU friend regarding the University’s president and his roles to celebrated every passing famous figures in the university history. You know the  100th birthday and death day—this sort of stuffs. At one point on the way to Klong Sarn, my friend said, “He celebrated Constitutional day with fireworks. “Which Constitutional day?” “Tenth of December,” she replied. “What?”

This has been collective memory: tenth of December. This has been a popular picture (this version is from http://www.tv5.co.th/service/mod/heritage/nation/event2475/index1.htm, which also offer History of the “Revolution”)  

This picture had been imprinted in my collective mainstream memory, it had been in my primary and high school lessons. Coupling with Nithi Aiewsriwong’s article in 2006 at

http://www.prachatai.com/05web/th/home/page2.php?mod=mod_ptcms&ContentID=3771&SystemModuleKey=HilightNews&SystemLanguage=Thai>Prachatai</a>,

I am trying, here, to recount my collective memory about the first “revolution” and the recent coup. I will not forget the six principles but will refer back to what I have been “taught” before I made it to the university, where I also unlearn several History. According to the picture, I had learned that the constitution had been granted by the king, despite being drafted by the (elite) people. Thus, the unofficial first draft of the constitution in the 27 June 2475 quietly retreated to the vivid ceremony that most people remember. The picture above I saw in my textbooks.  

With this picture in mind, despite being re-educated, it is still in memory, the sentences I had read reached me long before re-education and un-learning process. The official mainstream History does not represent tension and conflicts. It is what the Ministry of Education has been thinking what I should know.             

What could be read and re-read in newly acquired histories, apart from Nithi’s reading of six principle for ten years of another version of histories and repressed stories. The stories were not repressed here. At least we were reminded by annual ceremony at another statue looking toward the river.                       

I will have to recount lessons again. Rote learning.      

The first revolution is a revolution— a successful coup d’etat.  It was also a bloodless transition of absolute monarchy to “democracy,” and constitutional monarchy. The movement was composed of civilian and military fractions.  Then the People’s Party draft the first constitution for the King’s review.  Another Constitution came, the calm and not threatening nature that had been reviewed and approved by the monarch. The sovereign power in textbooks were not “seized” but “sacrificed” and bestow the country with a constitution. Later before his abdication, the popular text appear in textbooks I read many time. “I am willing to surrender the powers I formerly exercised to the people as a whole, but I am not willing to turn them over to any individual or any group to use in an autocratic manner without heeding the voice of the people.” (I used the translation from Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prajadhipok.)

There is no identical coup or revolution, however, motifs can be read as legacy of the first coup to successive ones and this one. Reductionism in mainstream History gives me this quick reading.It is ok not to trust the power of people— middle class or working class.It is very likely that the History will legitimate military interventions in politic –one of repeated motif in Thai political History.It is comforting to believe in unconstitutional intervention is possible to break deadlock  and corruption. The Constitution had been granted from elite and the monarch, thus, another constitution could referred back to both institutions.Democracy was not won by the people, the real people.

The People’s Party has both civilians and military. The civilian fractions were rather “pale” and “powerless.”

This History will repeat itself, especially if collective memory and History are not unlearned.

On the way to the place that also celebrated 10th of December with firework, I saw yellow flags on the “fins” of the democracy momument. Symbol of revolution has a new decoration. As I walked pass   the Revoluntionist  I thought it was good that he did not have to see this.

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Filed under: Political Sciences

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