A Free Nation
By Pilipe D'Artagnan
In a recent submission (‘Understanding Amazing Thailand’ by The Lonely Professor, November 18, 2004) you could read the following sentence:
Thais pride themselves as a nation of people who have never been dominated by an outside power…and, they think this for a reason. They have their own way of staying ‘free’.
In almost every history book or travel guide about Thailand you can read that Thailand has never been colonized. This is utter nonsense. A colony is any country which is occupied or annexed by another country for the purpose of political, economical or cultural activity.
Let’s take a look at the history. Ayutthaya, the former capital of Siam, was founded around 1350 and in the following centuries it became one of the most magnificent cities in the world at that time. In 1767 the Burmese invaded Siam and Ayutthaya was razed to the ground after a longer siege. The inhabitants were either killed or sent as slaves to Burma. The gold the Burmese have taken from Ayutthaya was melted and you can find it now in Yangoon at the Shwedagon Paya. Fact is the Thais have been defeated by the Burmese. The Burmese as an outside power have dominated Siam, at least for a short period of time. If this is no domination then I don’t know what else it could be.
In the 19th century the European interest in the colonization of Southeast Asia intensified. Britain and France used Siam as a buffer state between their colonies. In 1893 France occupied the left bank of the Mekong River and forced Siam to recognize the new boundary. France has taken away a part of Siam and annexed it to their colonies. In 1909 Siam relinquished control over the Malay states Kelantan, Perlis, Terengganu and Kedah to Britain. Yeah sure, the Brits were such a lovely bunch and deserved a small present. Fact is a part of Siam has been taken away by another nation and turned into a colony.
Now let us have a look at Thailand’s role during the WW II. For your information: this is a subject better not discussed with any Thai because it is considered a dark spot in Thai history. Pure chauvinism. The history books are not unanimous in
their wording. According to different historians the Thais collaborated, complied or tolerated the Japanese. Anyway, they allowed the Japanese to use the gulf of Thailand and the southern provinces for their attack on Malaysia and Singapore. In
January 1942 under PM Phibun Thailand, along with Japan and Nazi Germany, declared war on the USA and Great Britain. Although the Thai ambassador in Washington, Seni Promoj, refused to deliver the war declaration. But this is not the point. The
question which has to be asked is, were they forced to declare war? If they were forced against their own will than they have been a Japanese colony because the Japs told them what they have to do. Call a spade a spade but at this time the Japanese
were the Masters in Asia. But what if they were not forced and it was in fact their own decision and their free will to join Japan and Nazi Germany in their wicked ways. Is Thailand inclined to accept this role in history? Do we have to rewrite
the history of Thailand? Was it clever diplomacy, the sensible judgement of stronger armed forces or plain cowardice not to fight against the Japanese? Make your own pick. Fact is the Japanese as a foreign nation dominated Thailand. It was a Japanese
colony. Do not distort history.
The Thais have their own way of staying ‘free’. Yes, even if this means bending, twisting, compromising or not holding your stance. How proud can you be of your nationality when your nation has no backbone?
And as a final point with the pride the Thais and many other nations in Southeast Asia take in their freedom and independence let us not forget to whom they owe this. It is owed exclusively to the Allied Forces of WW II. They took the heat. Without these brave white men most of Asia would still be under the yoke of the Japanese. Who else had the courage to fight against these yellow cock suckers?
The white guys saved the day again.