In Colin Cotterill's Killed at the Whim of a Hat, protagonist Jimm Juree makes this tongue-in-cheek assessment of Thailand's political climate:
"Politics used to be a lot more complicated before the recent introduction of the English Premiership system of colored shirts, which helped no end to know who was who. The yellows, headed by a media magnate, and backed discreetly by the military, were locked in battle with the red shirts, mostly from the north, backed by an ex-football club owner, ex-prime-minister, ex-telecommunications czar, ex-policeman currently in exile. It was a matter of time before we got the black and white stripe and the pink polka dot factions."
In the last three hundred plus years, Thailand - a breathtakingly beautiful country - has enjoyed what might be politely characterized as a colorful political climate. Naturally, any country that can boast no fewer than seventeen military coups between 1932 (the year Thailand introduced a constitutional monarchy) and 1991, plus another in 2006, leaves little doubt as to its proclivity for political unrest. Throughout history, Thailand's foreign relations bobbled, with wartime alliances ranging from Great Britain during World War I to Japan in World War II, followed by friendly post-war relations with the United States and, later, with China.
Governmental tensions in Thailand escalated exponentially in the 20th Century, ramping up to a near-chaotic 21st Century. In 1995, as the BBC reports, the Thai government briefly collapsed; political parties were banned, then reconstituted; Martial Law was declared in 2004 (the year of the devastating tsunami); and among the number of elections, overthrown elections, and Court-ordered changes in the Prime Minister's office, there was a brief period of political vacuum in 2006 when the PM's office was vacant. Finally in 2010 and 2011 there were the aforementioned red and yellow shirted revolts. This even though Thailand has never been colonized by another nation. Only time will tell if Jimm's flippant prediction is prescient.
The Thai political ethos has proved either interesting or confounding enough that several news organizations, including the BBC, felt compelled to chronicle the sequence of events. Read about it here.
This article was originally published in September 2011, and has been updated for the
May 2012 paperback release.
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