The field of the great: A Thai novel (THAI MODERN CLASSICS)

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Ayutthaya became a main destination for merchants from China and Japan. It was apparent that foreigners began taking part in the kingdom's politics. Ayutthaya's kings employed foreign mercenaries who sometimes joined the wars with the kingdom's enemies. However, after the purge of the French in lateth century, the major traders with Ayutthaya were the Chinese.

Ayutthaya's economy declined rapidly in the 18th century, until the Burmese invasion caused the total collapse of Ayutthaya's economy in In , immediately after having conquered Malacca , the Portuguese sent a diplomatic mission headed by Duarte Fernandes to the court of King Ramathibodi II of Ayutthaya. Having established amicable relations between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Kingdom of Siam, they returned with a Siamese envoy with gifts and letters to the King of Portugal. Five years after that initial contact, Ayutthaya and Portugal concluded a treaty granting the Portuguese permission to trade in the kingdom.

A similar treaty in gave the Dutch a privileged position in the rice trade. Foreigners were cordially welcomed at the court of Narai — , a ruler with a cosmopolitan outlook who was nonetheless wary of outside influence. Important commercial ties were forged with Japan. Dutch and English trading companies were allowed to establish factories, and Thai diplomatic missions were sent to Paris and The Hague. By maintaining all these ties, the Thai court skillfully played off the Dutch against the English and the French, avoiding the excessive influence of a single power.

In , however, the Dutch used force to exact a treaty granting them extraterritorial rights as well as freer access to trade. At the urging of his foreign minister, the Greek adventurer Constantine Phaulkon , Narai turned to France for assistance. French engineers constructed fortifications for the Thais and built a new palace at Lopburi for Narai.

In addition, French missionaries engaged in education and medicine and brought the first printing press into the country. Louis XIV's personal interest was aroused by reports from missionaries suggesting that Narai might be converted to Christianity. The French presence encouraged by Phaulkon, however, stirred the resentment and suspicions of the Thai nobles and Buddhist clergy. Some studies said that Ayutthaya began a period of alienation from Western traders, while welcoming more Chinese merchants.

But other recent studies argue that, due to wars and conflicts in Europe in the midth century, European merchants reduced their activities in the East. Constance Phaulkon is seen kowtowing in the lower left corner of the print. Between and , the Chinese Ming dynasty sponsored a series of seven naval expeditions. Emperor Yongle designed them to establish a Chinese presence, impose imperial control over trade, and impress foreign peoples in the Indian Ocean basin. He also might have wanted to extend the tributary system.

Meanwhile a Japanese colony was established in Ayutthaya. The colony was active in trade, particularly in the export of deer hides and saphan wood to Japan in exchange for Japanese silver and Japanese handicrafts swords, lacquered boxes, high-quality paper. From Ayutthaya, Japan was interested in purchasing Chinese silks , as well as deerskins and ray or shark skins used to make a sort of shagreen for Japanese sword handles and scabbards. The Japanese quarters of Ayutthaya were home to about 1, Japanese inhabitants some estimates run as high as 7, The community was called Ban Yipun in Thai, and was headed by a Japanese chief nominated by Thai authorities.

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A Japanese Red seal ship. Tokyo Naval Science Museum. See Wyatt, David K. Chronicle of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Some of these are available in Cushman, Richard D. The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya: A Synoptic Translation , edited by David K. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Ayutthaya's zone of influence and neighbours, c. Part of a series on the. Early history Peopling of Thailand. Constitutional history Military history Economic history. Monarchy of Thailand and List of monarchs of Thailand. Mandala Southeast Asian political model.

Thai royal and noble titles. History of the Thai armed forces before Thai language and List of loanwords in Thai. Khun Chang Khun Phaen. Architecture of Thailand and Thai temple art and architecture. History of Thai money. Constantine Phaulkon and Maria Guyomar de Pinha. Memorial plate in Lopburi showing King Narai with French ambassadors. Zheng He and Yamada Nagamasa. Early 17th-century Chinese woodblock print, thought to represent Zheng He's ships. The Japanese quarter in Ayutthaya is indicated at the bottom center "Japonois" of the map.

The villages which occupy the right hand of the river, opposite to the capital, pass under the general name of Bang-kok. Retrieved 28 May By integrating linguistic information and physical geographic features in a GIS environment, this paper maps the spatial variation of terms connected with wet-rice farming of Tai minority groups in southern China and shows that the primary candidate of origin for proto-Tai is in the region of Guangxi-Guizhou, not Yunnan or the middle Yangtze River region as others have proposed A Short History of Malaysia: Linking East and West.

Retrieved 5 July Journal of the Siam Society. There is an old city He then abandoned the city and turning to the East looked out for another place to establish the capital; but the epidemic did not abate. He then crossed the Suphan Tachin river to escape the ravages of the epidemic, and even at the present time near the Suphan river there is a place called "Tha Thao U Thong" 'i. The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved 25 July Office of the People's Government of Fujian Province, ed.

Zheng He's voyages down the western seas. Retrieved 2 August Retrieved 6 June Dutch Perceptions of the Thai Kingdom c. Retrieved 20 November Chez Francois Halma, Archived from the original on 10 April Retrieved 3 April Royal Gazette in Thai. South East Asia site.

Archived from the original on 31 May Retrieved 3 October Archived from the original on 5 March Retrieved 17 October Retrieved 4 October Archived from the original on 2 April Retrieved 2 April The traditional government system and social structure in Siam during this period was known as the Sakdina system.

All land was owned by the ruler who granted land to members of the royal family and the nobility according to their ranks in the traditional bureaucratic hierarchy. Thailand's Crisis and the Fight for Democracy. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. This was a system of direct control over humans, rather than the use of land ownership to control labour Archived from the original on 23 February Retrieved 1 November Southeast Asia in Global Context, c.

Archived from the original on 4 November Retrieved 8 November International Dictionary of Historic Places: Retrieved 10 December Retrieved 24 May Archived from the original on 25 August Retrieved 22 December The Kingdom of Siam ed. Journal of Siam Society. Retrieved 31 May Department of Provincial Administration. Archived from the original on 20 November Retrieved 30 January The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires.

London, The Hakluyt Society, , p. Retrieved 1 January Van Kley, "Asia in the making of Europe", pp. Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In also signified the end of the old traditional Siamese monarchy: When King Mongkut ascended the Siamese throne, he was severely threatened by the neighboring states. The colonial powers of Britain and France had already advanced into territories which originally belonged to the Siamese sphere of influence.

Mongkut and his successor Chulalongkorn Rama V recognized this situation and tried to strengthen the defense forces of Siam by modernization, to absorb Western scientific and technical achievements, thus avoiding colonization.

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The two monarchs, who ruled in this epoch, were the first with Western formation. King Mongkut had lived 26 years as a wandering monk and later as an abbot of Wat Bowonniwet Vihara. He was not only skilled in the traditional culture and Buddhist sciences of Siam, but he had also dealt extensively with modern western science, drawing on the knowledge of European missionaries and his correspondence with Western leaders and the Pope.

He was the first Siamese monarch to speak the English language. Under the influence of Britain's achievements in neighboring Burma, King Mongkut signed the so-called " Bowring Treaty ," which abolished the royal foreign trade monopoly, abolished import duties, and granted Britain a most favorable clause. The Bowring Treaty meant the integration of Siam into the world economy, but at the same time, the royal house lost its most important sources of income.

Similar treaties were concluded with all Western powers in the following years, such as with Prussia and with Austria-Hungary. From the Prussian emissary count Friedrich Albrecht zu Eulenburg comes a much-respected travel report about Siam. The survival diplomacy, which Siam had cultivated abroad for a long time, reached its climax in this epoch.

The integration into the global economy meant to Siam that it became a sales market for Western industrial goods and an investment for Western capital. The export of agricultural and mineral raw materials began. King Mongkut actively promoted the expansion of agricultural land by tax incentives, while the construction of traffic routes canals, roads and later also railways and the influx of Chinese immigrants allowed the agricultural development of new regions.

Mongkut's son, Chulalongkorn Rama V was ascended to the throne in He was the first Siamese king to have a full Western education, having been taught by a British governess, Anna Leonowens , whose place in Siamese history has been fictionalised as The King and I. At first Rama V's reign was dominated by the conservative regent, Somdet Chaophraya Sri Suriwongse , but when the king came of age in he soon took control. He created a Privy Council and a Council of State, a formal court system and budget office. He announced that slavery would be gradually abolished and debt-bondage restricted.

The two kings, Mongkut and Chulalongkorn, witnessed both France and Great Britain continue to expand their colonial territories in Southeast Asia and encircle Siam. From the west, the British conquered India , Burma and Malaya , and from the east, the French conquered South Vietnam , Vietnam and claimed to be "protecting" Cambodia , while Siam lost its extraterritorial rights in these areas to the new conquerors.

The construction of Kra Isthmus Canal , which a group of entrepreneurs pursued around the engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps , did not occur after British intervention. A major event was the Paknam incident , when, on July 13, , French cannon boats headed the Chao Phraya River toward Bangkok and were fired by the Siamese coastal fort, led to the Franco-Siamese War.

In the same year, Siam was compelled to conclude a treaty with France, in which the territory of Laos, located east of the Mekong , was annexed to French Indochina. The French forced Siam to refrain from any influence on his former vassal state. In , the Indo-Chinese Union was founded. In , British and French concluded a treaty which made a border between their colonies, Siam was defined as buffer state.

After the Franco-Siamese War , King Chulalongkorn realized the threat of the western colonial powers, and made an intention to accelerated the extensive reforms in the administration, the military, the economy and society. It thus ended the development of Siam from a traditional feudalist structure based on personal domination and dependencies, whose peripheral areas were only indirectly bound to the central power the King , to a centrally-governed national state with established borders and modern political institutions.

The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of defined the modern border between Siam and British Malaya , The treaty stated that Siam relinquished their claims over Kelantan , Terengganu , Kedah and Perlis to Great Britain , which were previously part of the semi-independent Malay sultanates of Pattani and Kedah.

A series of treaties with France fixed the country's current eastern border with Laos and Cambodia. In , and , there were new border corrections in favor of France and Great Britain.


When King Chulalongkorn died in , Siam had the borders of today's Thailand. In he was peacefully succeeded by his son Vajiravudh , who reigned as Rama VI. Indeed, one of Siam's problems was the widening gap between the Westernised royal family and upper aristocracy and the rest of the country.

It took another 20 years for Western education to extend to the rest of the bureaucracy and the army. He had studied law and history as the Siamese crown prince in Great Britain. After his ascension to the throne, he forgave important officials for his devoted friends, who were not part of the nobility, and even less qualified than their predecessors, an action which had hitherto been unprecedented in Siam.

In his reign many changes were made, which brought Siam closer to modern countries. For example, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, all the citizens of his country had to accept a Family names , women were encouraged to wear skirts and long hair fringements and a citizenship law, Principle of the " Ius sanguinis " was adopted. In the Chulalongkorn University was founded and school education was introduced for all 7 to year-olds. King Vajiravudh was a favor of literature, theater, he translated many foreign literatures into Thai.

He created the spiritual foundation for a kind of Thai nationalism , a phenomenon unknown in Siam. He was based on the unity of nation, Buddhism, and kingship, and demanded loyalty from his subjects to all these three institutions. King Vajiravudh also took refuge in an irrational and contradictory anti-Sinicism.

As a result of the mass immigration, in contrast to previous immigration waves from China, women and entire families had also come into the country, which meant that the Chinese were less assimilated and retained their cultural independence. In an article published by King Vajiravudh under a pseudonym, he described the Chinese minority as Jews of the East.

King Vajiravudh also created some new social associations, for example, the Wild Tiger Corps , a kind of Scout movement. In , a Palace revolt , plotted by young military officers, tried unsuccessfully to overthrow and replace the king. The members of the conspiracy consisted of military and the navy, the status of the monarchy, had become challenged.

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Siam's token participation in World War I secured it a seat at the Versailles Peace Conference , and Foreign Minister Devawongse used this opportunity to argue for the repeal of the 19th-century unequal treaties and the restoration of full Siamese sovereignty. The United States obliged in , while France and Britain delayed until This victory gained the king some popularity, but it was soon undercut by discontent over other issues, such as his extravagance, which became more noticeable when a sharp postwar recession hit Siam in There was also the fact that the king had no son.

He obviously preferred the company of men to women a matter which of itself did not much concern Siamese opinion, but which did undermine the stability of the monarchy due to the absence of heirs. Thus when Rama VI died suddenly in , aged only 44, the monarchy was already in a weakened state. He was succeeded by his younger brother Prajadhipok. By —, Siamese extraterritorial rights were restored a period of 5 years thereafter. A small circle from the rising bourgeoisie of former students all of whom had completed their studies in Europe - mostly Paris , supported by some military men, seized power from the absolute monarchy on June 24, in an almost nonviolent revolution.

This was also called the " Siamese Revolution ". The group, which called themselves Khana Ratsadon or sponsors , gathered officers, intellectuals and bureaucrats, who represented the idea of the refusal of the absolute monarchy. The Khana Ratsadon installed a constitutional monarchy with Prajadhipok as king at the top - a corresponding constitution was proclaimed on 10 December of the year.

On the same day, the experienced and rather conservative lawyer Phraya Manopakorn Nititada , was appointed as first Siamese Prime Minister. By selecting a non-party head of government, the Khana Ratsadon wanted to avoid the suspicion that the coup had only been carried out in order to come to power itself. However, the overthrow of the monarchy did not lead to free elections, political unions were forbidden. Bureaucracy and the military shared the power in the National Assembly. The constitution was annexed to the monarchist ideology "nation, religion, king" as a fourth pillar.

In the following period it became clear how heterogeneous the group of Khana Ratsadon was, and it fell into several rival wings, especially those of the high officers, the younger officers and the civilians. For the predecessor of the liberal and civilian wing, Pridi Phanomyong it was not done with the mere change of government form.

He sought a profound transformation of the country's social and economic system. To this end, he presented an economic plan in January , which became known as a "Yellow Cover Dossier" Thai: Among other things, he proposed the nationalization of farmland, Industrialization by Public Company , general health care and pension insurance. Fearing that Pridis's liberal wing, who had the majority in the National Assembly, would decide to take a decision, Phraya Manopakorn dissolved the parliament in April, imposed the emergency, and rescinded the constitutional part, which had not yet been a year old.

He imposed a law against Communist activities, which was directed not so much against the almost insignificant Communist Party of Thailand , but rather against the alleged Communist projects Pridis. In his reign, the younger officers of the Khana Ratsadon, chiefly their leader Phibunsongkhram , played a decisive role.

Pridi Phanomyong was expelled from the charge of communism, but his economic plan was largely ignored. Only a few of his ideas, such as the expansion of primary schools and industrialization with state enterprises, were gradually implemented. In , Pridis founded the Thammasat University in Bangkok, which with its liberal self-image has remained a symbol of freedom and democracy. At the same time, the nationalist group led by Phibunsongkhram strengthened in the People's Party, oriented to the totalitarian ideas of Italy, Germany, Japan, but also the "young Turks" Kemal Ataturk.

The many unsettled constitutional roles of the crown and the dissatisfaction with Khana Ratsadon's seizure of power culminated in October in a counter-coup, the Boworadet Rebellion staged by royalist factions.


The royalists were led by Prince Boworadet , a grandson of Mongkut and one-time minister of defence, led an armed revolt against the government. He mobilised various provincial garrisons and marched on Bangkok, capturing the Don Muang Aerodome along the way, this led Siam into small-scale civil War, The prince accused the government of disrespecting the king and promoting communism, and he demanded that the government leaders resign. He had hoped that some of the garrisons in the Bangkok area would join the revolt, but they remained loyal to the government. Meanwhile, the navy declared itself neutral and left for its bases in the south.

After heavy fighting in the northern outskirts of Bangkok, the royalists were finally defeated and Prince Boworadet left for exile in French Indochina. After the Boworadet rebellion, King Prajadhipok abdicated the throne and left Siam never to return, he exiled in England, He was replaced as king by his nine-year-old nephew Prince Ananda Mahidol King Rama VIII , who at that time was attending school in Lausanne , Switzerland , the Khana Ratsadon believing that he would be more pliable than Prajadhipok.

After the Boworadet Rebellion, Plaek Pibulsonggram influences over politics increased, to purge the country of his political enemies and rivals one of them just happened to be Phraya Songsuradet. Phraya Songsuradet was a supporter of Phraya Manopakorn and many of his companions were barred from politics for life by Phibun. When Phibulsonggram succeeded Phraya Phahon as Prime Minister of Thailand on the 11 September , there were many resistance to his premiership based on his dictatorial style and cronyism.

The military, now led by Major General Phibun as Defence Minister, and the civilian liberals led by Pridi as Foreign Minister, worked together harmoniously for several years, but when Phibun became prime minister in December this co-operation broke down, and military domination became more overt. In , Phibunsongkhram , an open supporter of Mussolini and Hitler, began moving the government towards the right.

By he had issued a series of cultural decrees' ' ratthaniyom ' or Thai cultural mandates, which reflected the desire for social modernization, but also an authoritarian and exaggerated nationalist spirit. This was directed against the ethnic diversity in the country Malay, Chinese, Lao, Shan, etc. Other decrees urged the citizens only to call themselves "Thai", urged the use of regional dialects and other languages, demanded respect for the flag, the national and royal anthem, and the purchase of Thai products.

Chinese names had to be changed into Thai ones, and candidates for the military academy had to prove that they were "pure-blooded" Thais. Finally, the use of Western clothing and customs including hats for men and women, gloves and high heels for women, the man should kiss the woman before he went to work was prescribed. The defeat of France in Battle of France was now the welcome date for the Thai leadership to begin an attack on the French colonies in Indochina.

This began with smaller conflicts in and resulted in a war in It had to accept a heavy defeat in the sea Battle of Ko Chang , but it dominated on land and in the air. The Empire of Japan , already the dominant power in the Southeast Asian region, took over the role of the mediator.

In celebration of the victory, Phibun called himself Than phu nam Thai: After the Franco-Thai war ended, the Thai government declared neutrality. When the Japanese invaded Thailand on 8 December , a few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor , Japan demanded the right to move troops across Thailand to the Malayan frontier. Phibun turned crisis into opportunity by ordering an armistice. Shortly thereafter Japan was granted free passage, and on 21 December , Thailand and Japan signed a military alliance.

Subsequently, Thailand undertook to "assist" Japan in its war against the Allies. Phibun was forced to order a general ceasefire after just one day of resistance and allow the Japanese armies to use the country as a base for their invasions of Burma and Malaya. South Africa and New Zealand declared war on Thailand on the same day.

Australia followed soon after. Pridi Phanomyong was appointed acting regent for the absent King Ananda Mahidol , while Direk Jayanama , the prominent foreign minister who had advocated continued resistance against the Japanese, was later sent to Tokyo as an ambassador. The United States considered Thailand to be a puppet of Japan and refused to declare war. When the allies were victorious, the United States blocked British efforts to impose a punitive peace.

The rest of Burma was to be under Japanese control. Three Thai infantry and one cavalry division, spearheaded by armoured reconnaissance groups and supported by the air force, engaged the retreating Chinese 93rd Division. Kengtung , the main objective, was captured on 27 May. Renewed offensives in June and November saw the Chinese retreat into Yunnan. They would be ceded back to Burma in Led from within Thailand from the office of the regent Pridi , it operated freely, often with support from members of the royal family such as Prince Chula Chakrabongse , and members of the government.

As Japan neared defeat and the underground anti-Japanese resistance Seri Thai steadily grew in strength, the National Assembly forced out Phibun. His six-year reign as the military commander-in-chief was at an end.

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His resignation was partly forced by his two grandiose plans gone awry. One was to relocate the capital from Bangkok to a remote site in the jungle near Phetchabun in north-central Thailand. The other was to build a "Buddhist city" near Saraburi. Announced at a time of severe economic difficulty, these ideas turned many government officers against him. At war's end, Phibun was put on trial at Allied insistence on charges of having committed war crimes , mainly that of collaborating with the Axis powers.

However, he was acquitted amid intense public pressure. Public opinion was still favourable to Phibun, as he was thought to have done his best to protect Thai interests, specifically using alliance with Japan to support the expansion of Thai territory in Malaya and Burma. After Japan's defeat in , British, Indian troops, and US observers landed in September, and during their brief occupation of parts of the country disarmed the Japanese troops.

After repatriating them, the British left in March US support for Thailand blunted Allied demands, although the British demanded reparations in the form of rice sent to Malaya, and the French the return of territories lost in the Franco-Thai War. In exchange for supporting Thailand's admission to the United Nations, the Soviet Union demanded the repeal of the anti-communist legislation. Later that month Seni Pramoj returned from Washington to succeed Tawee as prime minister.

It was the first time in over a decade that the government had been controlled by civilians. But the ensuing factional scramble for power in late created political divisions in the ranks of the civilian leaders that destroyed their potential for making a common stand against the resurgent political force of the military in the post-war years. Moreover, the post-war accommodations with the Allies weakened the civilian government. As a result of the contributions made to the Allied war effort by the Free Thai Movement, the United States, which unlike the other Allies had never officially been at war with Thailand, refrained from dealing with Thailand as an enemy country in post-war peace negotiations.

Before signing a peace treaty, however, Britain demanded war reparations in the form of rice shipments to Malaya. France refused to permit admission of Thailand to the United Nations until Indochinese territories annexed during the war were returned.

The Soviet Union insisted on the repeal of anti-communist legislation. Elections were held in January These were the first elections in which political parties were legal, and Pridi's People's Party and its allies won a majority. In March Pridi became Siam's first democratically elected prime minister. In , after he agreed to hand back the Indochinese territories occupied in as the price for admission to the United Nations , all wartime claims against Siam were dropped and substantial US aid was received.

In December , the young king Ananda Mahidol had returned to Siam from Europe, but in June he was found shot dead in his bed, under mysterious circumstances. Three palace servants were tried and executed for his murder, although there are significant doubts as to their guilt and the case remains both murky and a highly sensitive topic in Thailand today. The king was succeeded by his younger brother, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

In August Pridi was forced to resign amid suspicion that he had been involved in the regicide. Without his leadership, the civilian government foundered, and in November the army, its confidence restored after the debacle of , seized power. After an interim Khuang-headed government, in April the army brought Phibun back from exile and made him prime minister. Pridi, in turn, was driven into exile, eventually settling in Beijing as a guest of the PRC. Phibun's return to power coincided with the onset of the Cold War and the establishment of a communist regime in North Vietnam.

He soon won the support of the United Nations. Once again political opponents were arrested and tried, and some were executed. During this time, several of the key figures in the wartime Free Thai underground, including Thawin Udom, Thawi Thawethikul, Chan Bunnak, and Tiang Sirikhanth, were eliminated in extra-legal fashion by the Thai police, run by Phibun's ruthless associate Phao Sriyanond.

There were attempted counter-coups by Pridi supporters in , , and , the second leading to heavy fighting between the army and navy before Phibun emerged victorious. In the navy's attempt, popularly known as the Manhattan Coup , Phibun was nearly killed when the ship where he was held hostage was bombed by the pro-government air force. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy, Thailand was ruled by a series of military governments, most prominently led by Phibun, interspersed with brief periods of democracy.

Thailand took part in the Korean War. Communist Party of Thailand guerrilla forces operated inside the country from the earlys to They included 12, full-time fighters at the peak of movement, but never posed a serious threat to the state. By Phibun was losing his leading position in the army to younger rivals led by Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat and General Thanom Kittikachorn , the Sarit's army staged a bloodless coup on 17 September , ending Phibun's career for good.

The coup beginning a long tradition of US-backed military regimes in Thailand. Thanom became prime minister until , then yielded his place to Sarit, the real head of the regime. Sarit held power until his death in , when Thanom again took the lead. The regimes of Sarit and Thanom were strongly supported by the US. Thailand had formally become a US ally in with the formation of the SEATO While the war in Indochina was being fought between the Vietnamese and the French, Thailand disliking both equally stayed aloof, but once it became a war between the US and the Vietnamese communists, Thailand committed itself strongly to the US side, concluding a secret agreement with the US in , sending troops to Vietnam and Laos, and allowing the US to use airbases in the east of the country to conduct its bombing war against North Vietnam.

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The Vietnamese retaliated by supporting the Communist Party of Thailand 's insurgency in the north, northeast, and sometimes in the south, where guerrillas co-operated with local discontented Muslims. In the postwar period, Thailand had close relations with the US, which it saw as a protector from communist revolutions in neighboring countries. Agent Orange, a herbicide and defoliant chemical used by the U. Buried drums were uncovered and confirmed to be Agent Orange in US Vietnam-era veterans whose service involved duty on or near the perimeters of military bases in Thailand anytime between February 28, , and May 7, , may have been exposed to herbicides and may qualify for VA benefits.

A declassified US Department of Defense report written in suggests that there was a significant use of herbicides on the fenced-in perimeters of military bases in Thailand to remove foliage that provided cover for enemy forces. The Vietnam War hastened the modernisation and Westernisation of Thai society. The American presence and the exposure to Western culture that came with it had an effect on almost every aspect of Thai life.

Before the late s, full access to Western culture was limited to a highly educated elite in society, but the Vietnam War brought the outside world face to face with large segments of the Thai society as never before. With US dollars pumping up the economy, the service, transportation, and construction industries grew phenomenally as did drug abuse and prostitution. The traditional rural family unit was broken down as more and more rural Thais moved to the city to find new jobs. This led to a clash of cultures as Thais were exposed to Western ideas about fashion, music, values, and moral standards.

The population began to grow explosively as the standard of living rose, and a flood of people began to move from the villages to the cities, and above all to Bangkok. Thailand had 30 million people in , while by the end of the 20th century the population had doubled. Bangkok's population had grown tenfold since and had tripled since Educational opportunities and exposure to mass media increased during the Vietnam War years.

She has written a collection of over one hundred novels on love and complexities of family life. She has won both domestic and international awards. She was also awarded the National Artist status. Seni Saowaphong or Sakdichai Bamrungphong is the doyen of modern writers. His novels and short stories deal with class conflicts, exploitation, and urban society. Pisat, Evil Spirits, his most popular novel, is about the conflict between new and old generations.

He also won the National Artist status. The late Suwanee Sukhontha, a former painter, was a highly successful woman writer. Suwat Woradilok, a novelist under the pen name Rapeeporn, whose work under the title of Phandin Mai is well-known among novel readers. Kamsing Srinok, who is also known under the pen name of Lao Kam Hom, is a low-profile but powerful writer, whose short stories recreate northeastern village life. His most acclaimed short story, Fa Bo Kan is about the hardship the Northeasterners must face during a cruel drought. Other well-known contemporary female novelists whose names are worth mentioning here are: Angkarn Kalayanapong is a leading Thai contemporary poet whose language is most eloquent and impressive.

One of his distinguished works, Lamnam Phu Kradung draws great admiration as its literary work paints the beauty and vitality of nature and campaigns against environmental degradations. Another popular Thai contemporary poet, Naowarat Phongpaiboon, writes in a traditional style although his topics are current.

His odes to such emotions as love, despair, and hope are laced with a beautiful lyric. His most famous work, entitled Khian Phaendin, is the fruit of his journey to all corners of Thailand from where he recorded the beauty and admiration of local landscapes in words and wins utmost popularity among the Thais.