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Oedipal Desire in Chua fa din salai and Rueang khong Chan Dara: the politics of deferral, the deferral of politics.

For almost a decade, Thailand has been embroiled in an intense political struggle between two sides: the Yellow and the Red. The Yellow side--or "Yellow Shirts"--consists mainly of members of the Bangkok middle class who first took to the streets in 2006, clad in royal yellow, to protest against the then prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Amid charges of corruption, abuse of power, and lese majeste, Thaksin dissolved the parliament and called for a general election, which his party won handily. The courts later annulled the election, but before a new one could take place the military staged a coup in September of that year that effectively ousted Thaksin from office. A fresh election was held in 2007, and the People Power Party (phak phalang prachachon), a successor to Thaksin's disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party, won by a convincing margin. Once again, the Yellow Shirts came out to protest, and once again the courts intervened, removing two prime ministers from the People Power Party and eventually disbanding the party altogether in late 2008. Earlier that year Thaksin had fled abroad to avoid jail for a corruption conviction and has not since returned to Thailand. (1)

After the disbandment of the People Power Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the opposition, became Thailand's premier in December 2008. His government was, however, also plagued by large-scale street protests, this time staged by the Red Shirts. While the Yellow Shirts consist mainly of members of the Bangkok middle class and enjoy both the ideological and financial support of the old elite of Thai society, the Red Shirts are mostly comprised of the rural poor who supported Thaksin and his policies. While Yellow Shirts are fiercely loyal to the throne and disenchanted with the democratic process and elections, Red Shirts openly criticize the monarchical network and demand that their voices be heard through the casting of their votes. After months of demonstrations and occupying of the streets, the Red Shirts suffered a violent military crackdown in May 2010. A new round of elections was held in 2011. Once again the party allied with Thaksin won in a landslide, and Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's younger sister, became the first female prime minister of Thailand.

After two years of relatively stable rule, Yingluck's government attempted to pass an amnesty bill that would not only have pardoned participants in the various street protests since the 2006 coup but would also have annulled Thaksin's conviction for corruption and allowed him to return to Thailand a free man. A group called the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), (2) which consisted partly of the former Yellow Shirts, came out to protest in large numbers. After months of demonstrations and the dissolution of the parliament, the annulment of a general election and intervention by the judiciary, the military finally answered the call of the protesters and staged another coup on 22 May 2014. The junta-appointed National Legislative assembly later named coup-leader and Army Commander-in-Chief Prayut Chan-ocha the twenty-ninth prime minister of Thailand. He promised to reform Thai politics before returning power to the people. For the time being, however, electoral democracy is once again deferred. (3)

Amid this almost-decade-long crisis, which has left the country deeply divided along lines of class and political ideology, two big-budget films were released in Thai theatres: Chua fa din salai (Eternity) (2010) and the two-part Chan Dara pathommabot (Chan Dara, the beginning) (2012) and Chan Dara patchimmabot (Chan Dara, the finale) (2013). The two films are both adaptations of Thai classic novels that are ostensibly about forbidden love affairs. Freudian psychoanalytic theory, as well as its critique by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, suggests, however, that the two novels are actually stories of Oedipal sons who dare to defy the authority of their fathers by refusing to defer the fulfillment of their desire. By adding references to the 1932 revolution that brought the end of Siam's absolute monarchy to his adaptations of these novels, M.L. Bhandevanov Devakula, (4) a prominent film director of royal blood, attempts to link this refusal to defer one's desire with the discourse of ching suk kon ham (premature action) that political conservatives often use to criticize revolutionaries for refusing to delay action in pursuit of their democratic aspirations.

By examining this connection between the two deferrals, this article argues that the director uses his films as a platform to reinforce some of the crucial narratives that conservative elites and supporters of the anti-Thaksin movement have revitalized during Thailand's long political crisis, thus making clear where his political allegiance lies. It thus demonstrates that psychoanalysis is a theoretical tool whose applicability extends beyond the personal realm of familial relationships to encompass the larger field of social and political dynamics. Although it has rarely been used to shed light on Thai politics in general or on the current political turmoil in particular, (5) psychoanalytic theory can offer invaluable insight into issues central to the ongoing political conflict. These include issues of desire and the social demand for its repression.

The Labyrinth of Oedipus: The Psychoanalytic Concept and Its Critiques

Deriving its name from a figure in Greek mythology and in the tragedies of Sophocles, the Oedipus complex describes the affection that little children feel towards opposite-sex parents and the hostility that they harbour towards same-sex parents. Sigmund Freud explains that, between the ages of three to six, a small boy will begin to develop a special affection for and an erotic tie to his mother. He will, at the same time, see his father as a rival for his sole possession of the mother and will therefore resent his father's presence. At the sight of the female genitals, however, the boy will deduce that women have been castrated, perhaps as a form of punishment for their crimes. He will then conclude that he too could become castrated for wishing ill on his father and desiring his mother and that the agent who carries out this punishment is none other than the father himself. This fear of castration prompts the boy to repress his desire for the mother and defer its gratification until he can safely transfer his affection to a more socially acceptable object in the future. In the meantime, the boy turns to the father as a model of manhood that he will spend the rest of his life emulating (Freud 1990, pp. 26-27).

The Oedipus complex similarly plays a significant role in the psychosexual development of young girls. Freud believes that a little girl is initially attached to the mother, who is her primary caretaker. When she reaches the age of three to six years old, however, the little girl will observe that her male counterpart possesses a penis, while she herself does not. This discovery will lead her to blame her mother for the loss of the penis that she believes she originally possessed and prompt her to shift her identification to her father. Once under the influence of the Oedipus complex, the little girl hopes that her father will, one day, grant her the coveted penis. Over time, however, she will substitute "[this] wish for a penis [with] one for a baby" (Freud 1953-74, p. 128) and turn to her mother as a model of womanhood. Thus, just as the little boy begins to emulate his father as he resolves his Oedipus complex, the little girl will also start to imitate her mother in the hope of one day attracting a man who will be able to give her the baby that she desires.

The Oedipus complex is not only a crucial step in the development of a sexually normal adult, but it also has a central place in the discipline of psychoanalysis itself. Juan-David Nasio claims, for instance, that the Oedipus complex is psychoanalysis,

[because] all of psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic corpus, all of its concepts without exception, repression, sublimation, drive, desire, all these words that are part of the territory of psychoanalysis revolve around this idea that a three-year-old child desires to have physical pleasure with its parents. (Nasio 2010, p. xiii)

Because of its centrality within the field of psychoanalysis, the concept of the Oedipus complex has often become the object of scrutiny and criticism on the part of scholars from different schools and disciplines. (6) Nowhere has it been more systematically attacked, however, than in Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, the ground-breaking work of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the French psychoanalyst Felix Guattari (Deleuze and Guattari 2000).

In their criticism of the Oedipus complex, Deleuze and Guattari argue that psychoanalysis makes several mistakes about the nature of human desire. The two French thinkers believe that desire is free-flowing, unbounded and connective. Psychoanalysis is, however, always "enclosing the unconscious within Oedipus, cutting off all vital flows, crushing desiring-production, conditioning the patient to respond daddy-mommy, and to always consume daddy-mommy" (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, p. 92). In other words, instead of acknowledging the fluid nature of human desire, psychoanalysis tries to convince us that our desire is fixated on the opposite-sex parent. It does so not by providing proof of this fixation but by pointing to the existing incest prohibition. Deleuze and Guattari write, "The law tells us: You will not marry your mother, and you will not kill your father. And we docile subjects say to ourselves: so that's what I wanted!" (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, p. 114). That is to say, by prohibiting desire for the opposite-sex parent, the incest prohibition persuades us that he or she is the very thing that we want. Thus, the law against incest actually gives rise to Oedipal desire rather than repressing it, as psychoanalysis would have us believe.

Once we accept the fiction that our desire is caught in the Oedipal structure, Deleuze and Guattari believe that there is no way out of it. "Oedipus says to us: either you will... 'resolve' Oedipus, or you will fall into the neurotic night of imaginary identifications" (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, p. 79). The Oedipus complex presents us, in other words, with only two possibilities: resolution or fixation. Deleuze and Guattari point out that the first outcome, resolution, involves the act of "internalizing [the complex] so as to better rediscover it on the outside, in social authority, where it will be made to proliferate and be passed onto the children" (ibid.). That is to say, the resolution of the Oedipus complex involves submission to the authority of the father and father figures as well as the induction of someone else, such as our children, into the Oedipal structure. If we refuse, however, to submit to the authority of the father (or to father-figures) by repressing the Oedipus complex, we risk remaining trapped in the nuclear family and developing a neurotic fixation on the mother or the father. Thus, Deleuze and Guattari maintain that "Oedipus is like the labyrinth" (ibid.). You get stuck in it or, if you find your way out of it, you only do so "by re-entering it--or by making someone else enter it" (ibid.).

Deleuze and Guattari further argue that the Oedipus complex is the instrument through which psychoanalysis contributes to the repressive nature of society. The two French thinkers believe that "desire, no matter how small, is capable of calling into question the established order of a society" (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, p. 116). It is, in this sense, "revolutionary in its essence", and "no society can tolerate a position of real desire without its structures of exploitation, servitude, and hierarchy being compromised" (ibid.). Thus, in the eyes of those in power, desire must be repressed or endlessly deferred not because it is an incestuous desire for the mother but because it is explosive and revolutionary in nature.

Deleuze and Guattari believe that the concept of the Oedipus complex enables psychoanalysis to become the agent of this repression or this deferral. They write, "social repression needs psychic repression precisely in order to form docile subjects and to ensure the reproduction of the social formation, including its repressive structures" (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, p. 129). In other words, psychoanalysis forces us to "submit, as good docile subjects, to prohibitive authority"--that is, to the father--and to "relinquish until later, as good ascetic subjects, [our] access to the [object] of desire"--that is, the mother (Holland 1999, p. 55). It thus moulds us into obedient subjects who readily submit to figures of authority and willingly defer the fulfillment of our revolutionary desires. Such subjects are precisely what society needs, if it is to ensure the perpetuation of a repressive regime.

The Tiger and the Cat: The Defiant Oedipal Son in Chua fa din salai

The psychoanalytic concept of the Oedipus complex provides an apt framework for interpreting Chua fa din salai (Eternity). The novel was written by Malai Chuphinit, born in 1906 in Kamphaeng Phet Province in Thailand's Lower North. Malai went to study in Bangkok at a young age and later taught students at the capital's Wat Saket School. Writing was, however, his true calling, and he left his teaching post after only two years to become a newspaper editor. Malai was one of the most prolific authors and columnists in Thai history. His fiction ranged from romance to jungle adventure, while his editorials and columns were mostly social and political commentary. He published these works in such newspapers as Suphapburut (Gentlemen), Thai mai (New thai), and Prachachat (The nation). Although he was not as actively involved in political movements as other newspapermen of his time, Malai nevertheless used his writings to champion the cause of democracy and to criticize Thai governments of the day, especially the dictatorial regime of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram (1938-44, 1948-57) (Suvimol 1983, pp. 80, 84). (7)

Chua fa din salai ranks among Malai's best known works. Written under the pseudonym "Riameng", it was serialized in Nikon chabap wan athit (Nikon magazine, Sunday edition) in 1943 before appearing in book form in 1951. The novel recounts the story of Phapo, an elite Burmese who runs a successful lumber business in Kamphaeng Phet Province. After his wife passes away, Phapo finds love again with a much younger woman named Yupphadi. Following a brief courtship, the two get married, and Yupphadi moves to Phapo's logging camp at Tha Kradan Hill. There the young woman meets Sangmong, Phapo's nephew and employee. The two are instantly drawn to each other, and their relationship quickly develops into a sexual affair. When they are found out by Phapo, Sangmong and Yupphadi receive the bizarre punishment of being permanently handcuffed together. The relationship of the young couple quickly deteriorates, finally leading to a tragic end in which Yupphadi commits suicide and Sangmong loses his mind.

The triangular relationship among the main characters in Chua fa din salai may not immediately remind one of an Oedipal structure since Phapo is Sangmong's uncle rather than his father and Yupphadi his aunt by marriage rather than his mother. Details of the story reveal, however, that the three protagonists are conceived of and represented as a nuclear family. Phapo may, for instance, be Sangmong's uncle, but Malai clearly portrays him as a father figure to the younger man. We learn that Sangmong "is given all the [work] responsibilities of his uncle in accordance with Phapo's intention that [the young man] should replace him in the future" (8) (Riameng 1999, p. 20). Business sense and interests may explain Phapo's decision, as the young man has recently received a degree in forestry. He is thus the most qualified among Phapo's employees to take over the business. At the same time, Phapo's plans for Sangmong are unmistakably reminiscent of a father's wish to have his son one day inherit the family business.

In addition to Phapo's ambitions for Sangmong, the comparison of the two men to different types of animals further emphasizes the father-son nature of their relationship. Phapo is often likened in the story to a suea, or tiger. He is referred to, for example, as a suea phu ying--a term literally meaning a tiger that preys on women and commonly used to describe a ladies' man. When telling the story of Phapo and Yupphadi, for example, the narrator remarks, "men who are suea phu ying... often end up being tamed by a woman" (Riameng 1999, p. 19). The comparison of Phapo to a tiger continues with the depiction of his temper. His right-hand man, Thip, describes how "[Phapo] is liked for his geniality as much as he is hated for his tiger-like ferocity" (Riameng 1999, p. 16). Thip witnesses an example of this ferocity when Phapo catches Yupphadi and Sangmong in the throes of passion. He recounts that "Phapo's hand on his [Thip's] shoulder squeezes so tight that he cowers, feeling as if he were caught in the claws of a blood-thirsty tiger" (Riameng 1999, p. 54).

Similarly, Chua fa din salai also compares Phapo's nephew Sangmong to an animal. While it likens the older man to a powerful and ferocious tiger, however, it equates Sangmong with a small and harmless cat. In his conversation with Thip, Phapo remarks on the positive changes that he has observed in his nephew: "I see how that cat has grown up a little ever since his aunt moved up here" (Riameng 1999, p. 33). The comparison of Sangmong to a feline may, in itself, be insignificant. When coupled with the fact that Phapo is repeatedly associated with a tiger, however, the comparison becomes a clear indicator of the paternal relationship between the two men. A tiger is, after all, a large and powerful cat, just as a father is a bigger and stronger version into which his son hopes, one day, to grow.

If Malai portrays Phapo as a father to Sangmong, his wife, Yupphadi, is consequently positioned as the young man's mother. Thus, we see how Sangmong feels as if he were a child in front of Yupphadi even though he is in reality three years older than she. The narrator describes, for example, the way in which Yupphadi chats casually with Sangmong on the first night that they meet, but notes that the young man is always "looking] down, trying to avoid eye contact with his own aunt like a little kid" (Riameng 1999, p. 25). Further, when Sangmong falls ill and Yupphadi has to nurse him back to health, he says to her, "I've troubled you for several days now. It's so embarrassing. I'm like a little kid who's always a nuisance to adults" (Riameng 1999, p. 36). If Sangmong feels like a child in the presence of Yupphadi, the young woman does, for her part, act like a mother to him. The narrator describes, for instance, how Yupphadi "reaches over to stroke [Sangmong's] forehead and hair as tenderly as a mother would her own child" (ibid.). When Yupphadi decides to commit suicide, the narrator also imagines how she "bends over to kiss and console him, her actions more like a mother's than a lover's" (Riameng 1999, p. 67).

Phapo may be Sangmong's uncle rather than father and Yupphadi his aunt by marriage rather than mother, but in its details Chua fa din salai actually represents the three characters as a nuclear family. It thus follows that Sangmong's affection for Yupphadi is figured in the narrative as an Oedipal desire for his own mother. Like an obedient psychoanalytic subject, Sangmong attempts, at first, to repress this forbidden desire. He proclaims to Yupphadi, for example, that "[he] has been fighting his own feelings ever since [he] first met [her]" (Riameng 1999, p. 44). The young man's resolve finally gives way, however, when the three protagonists take a trip deeper into the jungle. This trip represents a renunciation of social rules and regulations as evinced by the narrator's assertion that it brings joy to those "who seek solitude, for you will feel, with every paddle stroke that the labourers take, that you are leaving civilization further and further behind" (Riameng 1999, p. 34).

This renunciation of social laws allows Sangmong, for the first time, to give in to his Oedipal desire. The young man "dreams of [Yupphadi] but is startled awake when the climax approaches" (Riameng 1999, p. 37). The sexual nature of Sangmong's dream is unmistakable in the narrator's recounting that "the images from the dream are still clearly impressed upon his mind. They fill him with the kind of excitement and elation that he has never before experienced, but he cannot help but feel shameful at the same time" (ibid.). This sense of shame does not, however, stop Sangmong from acting upon his desire. The young man begins a torrid love affair with his mother figure that lasts for about a year before the two are, one day, caught red-handed by Phapo himself.

Seen with reference to the Oedipus complex, Sangmong's affair with Yupphadi is a blatant refusal to repress and defer a son's desire for the mother, thus constituting an act of defiance against the father. This subversion of paternal authority leads to the young protagonist's eventual madness. The narrator recounts that Yupphadi's suicide at the end of the novel "shatters Sangmong's mind", turning him into a lunatic who spends his days wandering around Phapo's camp and the surrounding jungle (Riameng 1999, p. 70). Sangmong's lunacy is arguably an example of the neurosis that results, as Deleuze and Guattari point out, from one's failure to resolve the Oedipus complex by repressing one's desire for the mother and submitting to the law of the father. Sangmong's madness is also figured in the story as a punishment for his defiance against Phapo. It follows, therefore, that the young man is not only turned into a lunatic but is also made to submit to the authority of his father figure. The narrator notes, for instance, that Sangmong "doesn't think about defending himself let alone avenging Phapo. Instead he kowtows to the man as if he were his lackey" (Riameng 1999, p. 71). The narrator emphasizes, once again, Sangmong's submission to the father when he says that Sangmong is "subservient to his uncle, Phapo, much like a dog is loyal to its master" (ibid.).

Chan, the Giant Slayer: The Defiant Oedipal Son in Rueang khong Chan Dara

Another piece of Thai literature that thematizes Oedipal desire is the novel Rueang khong Chan Dara (The story of Chan Dara). The classic work was written by Pramun Unhathup under the pseudonym Utsana Phloengtham. Pramun was born in Bangkok in 1920. He displayed an early penchant for writing and began submitting fictional work to various newspapers while he was still in school. Pramun later became a prolific writer, columnist and translator. One of the publications in which he regularly published his original work and translations was Sayam rat sapda wichan (Sayam Rat weekly), owned by the staunch royalist and political conservative Kukrit Pramoj. It routinely published reports on royal activities as well as obviously conservative-leaning political commentaries. Pramun himself refrained, however, from commenting directly on politics and instead focused his efforts on producing and translating erotic and humorous pieces. One of his best known erotic works is Rueang khong Chan Dara, first serialized in Sayam rat sapda wichan in 1964 and published in book form in the following year.

Rueang khong Chan Dara recounts the story of Chan from his childhood through to his adult years. After his mother died while giving birth to him, Chan is left in the care of his father Luang Witsanandecha, (9) often called "Khun Luang". We learn from Chan's first-person narration that Khun Luang is highly promiscuous and enjoys countless sexual partners after the passing of his wife. There are only two women, however, whom he respects enough to treat as common-law wives. The first is his deceased wife's cousin Wat, and the second his former lover named Bunlueang. The two women play significant roles in Chan's life as well. When she first arrives at Khun Luang's compound in Bangkok, Wat immediately takes Chan under her wing and raises him as her own son. When Khun Luang kicks Chan out of the house, she not only helps him get away but also gives him a clue to the puzzle that has haunted him his whole life--the mystery of his origins. From what Wat tells him and what he gathers from other sources, Chan is finally able to confirm his suspicion that Khun Luang is not his biological father and that he is the unwanted product of a gang rape that his mother suffered. Armed with this knowledge, Chan severs all ties with Khun Luang and only returns to his estate when Aunt Wat asks him to come back and save the family from public scandal. After his return, Chan systematically undermines Khun Luang's authority not only by resuming the love affair with Bunlueang that began shortly before his departure but also by taking over the ownership rights to the compound and replacing Khun Luang as the patriarch of the family.

Like Chua fa din salai, Rueang khong Chan Dara revolves around a set of relationships that clearly bear an Oedipal structure even though the characters involved are not necessarily biologically related. While not Chan's biological father, Khun Luang undeniably occupies the paternal position by virtue not only of having married Chan's now deceased mother but also of having provided, albeit begrudgingly, for Chan's welfare in the early part of his life. Wat is, likewise, not Chan's biological mother, but she clearly plays the maternal role in the protagonist's life. Chan says, "[Aunt Wat] is like a mother to me not only in terms of the kindness that she has shown me but also in terms of her status.... If Aunt Wat is commonly known as my father's wife, then she automatically becomes my mother" (Utsana 2012, p. 41). By the same logic, Khun Luang's other common-law wife, Bunlueang, is similarly assigned the maternal position in the triangular relationship. Chan acknowledges her status by proclaiming, "Aunt Wat is my second mother, but it is Khun Bunlueang who is solely responsible for conceiving and bringing me into this carnal world" (Utsana 2012, p. 167).

The maternal roles that both Wat and Bunlueang play in the protagonist's life mean that the desire that Chan expresses for the two women is clearly figured within the narrative as an Oedipal desire of a son for his mother. This desire is manifest in the scene in which Chan kisses Wat's breast. The protagonist recounts that, in that moment, "[he] clearly recognise[s] the deep-seated desire within [his] heart. [He] loses all power of self-control and can no longer stop [himself]" (Utsana 2012, p. 38). He repeatedly kisses Wat's bosom, all the while proclaiming, "I want to kiss my mother's breast" (ibid.). While one might try to explain the protagonist's action, as he himself initially does, as an innocent longing for the kind of intimacy with his mother that he has never experienced, it quickly becomes clear that this action is in fact laced with sexual yearning. Chan describes how he climaxes as he nuzzles Wat's breasts: "I develop a new attraction towards Aunt Wat. Well, it was not entirely new, more like a mixture of the old and the new. But it makes me feel more deeply for her than I've ever done before" (Utsana 2012, p. 40).

Chan never takes his obvious desire for the mother figure any further than in the scene described above, thus remaining an obedient Oedipal son who submits to the authority of the father. Wat does, however, introduce the young protagonist to the idea of challenging Khun Luang by referring to the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and telling him, "You'll have to sleep by yourself from now on. You're a man. You must not fear the dark. You can sleep by yourself so, when you grow up, you'll be as brave as Jack who climbed up the beanstalk to slay the giant" (Utsana 2012, p. 52). A number of scholars have interpreted the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk as an Oedipal story. Joan Berzoff writes, for example, that "Jack is a young boy left alone to care for his widowed mother. Already, this fact contains an oedipal boy's wish to have his mother exclusively" (Berzoff 2011, p. 38). Berzoff believes that the story offers a resolution of the Oedipus complex, as Jack represses "his forbidden sexual wishes toward his mother" and takes on "the manly attributes of the giant (or father)" (Berzoff 2011, p. 39).

Alternatively, one can interpret Jack and the Beanstalk as an expression--rather than resolution--of the boy's Oedipal desire to have the mother all to himself since he does, in the end, kill the giant/father. Thus, by comparing him to Jack, Wat sows the idea of challenging the authority of the father in the mind of the young Chan. The young man acts upon this idea when he decides to consummate the relationship with his second mother figure, Bunlueang. The affair between Chan and Bunlueang begins when the adolescent boy catches the older woman half-naked in the bathroom. This encounter leads to one of the most famous erotic scenes in Thai literature, in which Bunlueang asks Chan to run ice cubes down her bare back. This activity becomes an afternoon ritual for the two characters, but it quickly turns into something more when Chan finds himself unable to resist kissing Bunlueang's back and fondling her breasts. The torrid sexual affair that follows is only interrupted by Chan's involuntary departure from the compound. It is immediately resumed upon the protagonist's return, and it continues until the early onset of his impotence.

Chan's refusal to repress and delay his desire for the mother is a direct act of defiance against the father. The resulting loss of paternal authority is symbolized by Khun Luang's drastic transformation. Towards the end of the novel, Khun Luang stumbles one night upon a passionate love scene between his son and his common-law wife. He is subsequently discovered passed out in front of their room, and consultation with a doctor reveals that he is completely paralysed, with his breathing and roving eyes the only signs that he is still alive (Utsana 2012, p. 373). Khun Luang is thus transformed from a powerful authority figure into a passive invalid who has to rely on the care and the mercy of others. This transformation symbolizes the loss of paternal authority that Khun Luang suffers at the hands of his own son.

Chan's defiance of his father, in the form of a refusal to repress and defer his desire for the mother, is severely punished. Although he does not succumb to lunacy like Sangmong in Chua fa din salai, the fate that befalls Chan is no less tragic. He suffers from early-onset impotence, which symbolizes his loss of vitality towards the end of his life. We thus see Chan talk openly about his apathy about life and declare that he "is living just for the sake of staying alive" (Utsana 2012, p. 378). He is also left, at the end of the novel, with no friend and no life partner, only with a host of aberrant characters dependent on him for their livelihoods. Chan says he is living "with an old woman who is the carcass of his former paramour [and] with a corpse of his nemesis who refuses to stop breathing" (Utsana 2012, p. 378). Chan calls such a life simply "wretched" and implies that he often wishes to be put out of his misery (Utsana 2012, p. 378).

Allegorizing the Oedipal Tales: Film Adaptations of Chua fa din salai and Rueang khong Chan Dara

Although Chua fa din salai and Rueang khong Chan Dara were written by different authors and in different eras, they both recount stories of Oedipal sons who refuse to repress and postpone the desire for their mothers. These refusals constitute acts of defiance against the fathers and require in turn that the sons receive their just punishments. It is arguably because of this shared narrative structure that M.L. Bhandevanov Devakula, also known by his nickname of "Mom Noi", recently chose to adapt these two novels into films. In his adaptations, the prominent director remains mostly faithful to his literary sources, but in each case he makes one glaring departure by adding references to the 24 June 1932 revolution that changed the system of government in Siam from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. This addition allows Mom Noi to link the refusal to defer one's desire for the mother to the unwillingness to postpone one's democratic aspirations embodied in the conservative discourse of ching suk kon ham. (10) Although none of the films explicitly mentions this discourse, the fact that it is so firmly tied to the 1932 revolution in the minds of many Thais means that it is implicitly invoked in all of the three films. Thus, the two Oedipal tales are in the hands of the famed director transformed into allegories for the political struggles of the nation.

The 2010 adaptation of Chua fa din salai introduces a scene in which Phapo meets Yupphadi for the first time at a lavish party thrown by a member of the Bangkok elite. As the older man stares admiringly at the younger woman, the party is interrupted by a small group of soldiers who barge in uninvited. Accompanied by an ominous soundtrack that contrasts sharply with the sweet love song that was earlier sung at the party, the leader of this group addresses the prince who is hosting the gathering and tells him that he should report to the Khana ratsadon (the People's Party), which has successfully staged a revolution and formed a temporary government. He cautions that, if the prince were to resist or to indicate in any way that he was opposed to the new regime, he would have to resort to force to compel the prince to comply with his orders. Amidst the waves of anxiety and fear that ripple through the room, the prince declares, to a backdrop of overly dramatic music, that he is ready to be taken away. The scene ends with Phapo sharing drinks with Yupphadi. The two briefly discuss what has earlier transpired, but after Yupphadi expresses her weariness of politics, the conversation quickly shifts to other topics.

Mom Noi makes another reference to the 1932 revolution in his adaptation of Rueang khong Chan Dara. Unlike Chua fa din salai, to which the reference is added without any basis in the source text, however, Utsana Ploengtham's novel does actually make brief reference to the revolution. After arriving in the lower-northern province of Phichit, Chan is taken to meet his grandfather. He remarks how empty and quiet the neighbourhood is. The atmosphere reminds him of something that he has not been able to pinpoint until the time in which he is narrating his story to the reader. "I have it now," he proclaims. "It's like the atmosphere on 24 June 1932" (Utsana 2012, p. 172). Chan then goes on to describe how, on that day, "most citizens still couldn't make heads or tails of the situation, although an act known as a revolution had already been committed in their names" (Utsana 2012, p. 172).

Mom Noi expands on this brief mention of the 1932 revolution in his adaptation of the novel, which is divided into two parts: Chan Dara pathommabot (Chan Dara, the beginning) (2012) and Chan Dara patchimmabot (Chan Dara, the finale) (2013). The former begins with a shot of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, commissioned by King Rama V (King Chulalongkom, r. 1868-1910) and used by his successors as a reception hall. On 24 June 1932, Phraya Phahon Phonphayuhasena (11) and his troops gathered in front of the hall and declared to the congregated crowd that the People's Party had effectively seized power (Chamvit 2001, pp. 33-36). Used briefly as the headquarters of the People's Party, the hall served as the country's parliament house until 1974. Given its history, Mom Noi's decision to feature the Ananta Samakom Throne Hall at the very beginning of the film is indicative of his desire to bring to the fore the theme of Thai politics and more specifically of the 1932 revolution.

This desire is once again manifest in the depiction in Chan Dara pathommabot of the events that take place in front of the Ananta Samakom Throne Hall on the day of the revolution. In a scene that begins in black and white before shifting back into colour, a large crowd lines the street in front of the hall. A man's voice tells them through the public announcement system that the People's Party has already seized control of the country. We then see a line of military cars carrying captured members of the royal family drive by. Members of the crowd begin to protest, but after a soldier fires into the sky, they quickly scatter in panic. In the chaos that ensues, Chan notices an adolescent girl who has fallen down and helps get her to safety. As we will later learn, the girl's name is Hyacinth, and she is the only person in the narrative to win Chan's pure love.

Mom Noi's depiction of the scene in which the protagonist meets his one true love is a significant departure from the original novel. In Rueang khong Chan Dara, Chan meets Hyacinth in the most undramatic manner at the language school that he attends in the evening. The fact that Mom Noi changes the setting of their encounter to the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall on the day of the 1932 revolution not only adds drama to the scene but also, and more importantly, directly links the protagonist's life to the political event. This link is reinforced when Chan recounts, in a voice-over, that he left for Phichit on 10 December 1932, the day on which the country's first constitution was conferred upon the Thai people. After spending three years in the countryside, Chan decides to return to Bangkok at Aunt Wat's request. He does so on 7 March 1935, which was, as Chan himself points out in the voice-over, the day on which the Thai King abdicated the throne from his exile in the United Kingdom.

By interweaving developments relating to the 1932 revolution with the private lives of the main characters in both of his film adaptations, Mom Noi implicitly draws a connection between the political and the personal. The famed director says in an interview about the making of Chan Dara pathommabot and Chan Dara patchimmabot,

It's an account of a person's life ... with the country's history, [especially] the change in the system of government, serving as a backdrop. A comparison is [therefore] made between the politics of the country and the politics within the family. (Kapook 2012)

Since the family politics in both Chua fa din salai and Rueang khong Chan Dara is clearly Oedipal in structure, (12) Mom Noi is effectively drawing a comparison between the 1932 revolution and the Oedipal tales. This comparison hinges on the idea of deferring one's desire that is not only demanded by the Oedipus complex but is also invoked by the discourse of ching suk kon ham that political conservatives often apply to the revolution.

Even though the overthrow of absolute monarchy in June 1932 did not involve any actual fighting or loss of life, the transition to constitutional monarchy in Siam was not necessarily a smooth one. The period following the revolution was marked by intense political struggle, as the monarchy and its supporters sought to regain power. In his recent Kho fanfai nai fan an lueachuea (Dreaming the impossible dream), Nattapoll Chaiching investigates the discursive means through which the monarchy and its network attempted to discredit the People's Party and to re-establish their own authority. He argues that the writings of royalists that appeared after the revolution represented a concerted effort to construct a narrative that painted King Prajadhipok as a liberal monarch who intended, in due time, to grant his subjects a democratic constitution. (13) In this account, the People's Party ching suk kon ham--acted prematurely--by refusing to let things take their own course and by forcing democracy on the Thai people, who were not yet ready for it (Nattapoll 2013, pp. 54-62).

According to Nattapoll, the idea that the overthrow of absolute monarchy was an act of ching suk kon ham emerged as a distinct discourse in 1947 and gained more traction after the political dominance of former members of the People's Party such as Field Marshal Phibun came to an end in 1957 (Nattapoll 2013, p. 59). It has since then become a dominant discourse within Thai historiography and has influenced Thais' understanding not only of the 1932 revolution itself but also of the eighty-odd years of constitutional rule that have followed. The discourse has, for instance, often been invoked to explain why democracy has failed to blossom in Thailand and why coups d'etat have so often interrupted democratic rule. Nakkharin Mektrairat has called attention to this discourse, noting that for the politically conservative the process through which the Thai people attained their first democratic constitution "was unnatural, that is, it did not happen gradually" as should have been allowed (Nakkharin 2003, p. 91). Moreover, the fact that the People's Party illegally seized control of the country "serves as a bad model that would be repeated time and time again" (Nakkharin 2003, p. 91) and explains why "Thai politics has been caught in a vicious cycle of coups d'etat" (Nakkharin 2003, p. 92).

Implicit in the discourse of ching suk kon ham that dominates such understandings of the 1932 revolution and era of constitutional rule that followed is the demand that one should defer the fulfillment of one's desire. In both Chua fa din salai and Rueang khong Chan Dara, the male protagonists defy their fathers by refusing to postpone their desire for the mothers. By incorporating references to the 1932 revolution into his adaptation of the two novels, Mom Noi draws a comparison between these defiant sons and the rebellious members of the People's Party. He is suggesting, in other words, that those who staged the coup against King Prajadhipok represented disobedient sons who challenged the authority of the father-like figure of the monarch. (14) They did so by refusing to delay their desire for democratic rule and by prematurely forcing a change in the system of government. This comparison between Oedipal tales and political events also allows Mom Noi to draw further parallels between the tragic fates that befall the characters at the end of the two novels and the pitiful state of Thai democracy for the past eighty years.

Deferring One's Desire: Anti-Democratic Discourses in the Current Political Crisis

Although firmly linked to the 1932 revolution in the minds of Thais, the discourse of ching suk kon ham continues to have relevance for Thai politics. It is especially relevant in the context of the political crisis that has affected the country for the past decade. This relevance hinges on the idea that the Thai people were not, and are still not, ready for the democratic rule that the People's Party forced upon them in 1932. Mom Noi openly subscribes to this idea, as he makes clear in a recent interview about his new film, Phlae kao (The scar) (2014). The famed director says, "We have had democratic rule for many years, but it is still a problem. Why? Because our country was never suited to it" (Chonnathi 2014, p. 26). He then goes on to link this discourse of unsuitability with the long series of coups d'etat that Thailand has suffered: "Before democracy, our country was peaceful, wasn't it? We didn't have any problems, did we? [But] after the change in the system of government in 1932, we have had one coup after another" (Chonnathi 2014, p. 27). Mom Noi not only draws the all too familiar connection between the 1932 revolution and the country's vicious cycle of coups d'etat, but he also links this connection with the current political turmoil. He says, "[This vicious cycle] is so tiresome that the educated middle class are now up in arms. They just can't take it anymore" (ibid.).

The idea, implied by the discourse of ching suk kon ham, that the majority of the Thai people have been ill-prepared for democratic rule has a long history in Thai politics. It betrays itself most evidently in the form of widespread distrust in the democratic process of elections. Prajak Kongkirati argues in "Mayakhati lae kanmueang khong nithan sonchai wa duai khwamngochonchep khong phulueaktang chonnabot" [The tale of the poor, dumb, and downtrodden rural voters: its mythology and politics] that a certain narrative that supposedly explains why this particular form of government has not taken root in the country dominates discussions about democracy in Thailand. In this narrative, the "poor, dumb, and downtrodden" people of the rural areas allow their votes to be bought by dishonest politicians. Since they constitute the majority of the population, these rural voters ensure that Thai politics is plagued by corruption. The wealthy and educated people of the capital may be more politically savvy than their rural counterparts, but their votes always get lost in elections because they constitute such a small minority of the entire population. Thus, the good people of Bangkok have to find ways to circumvent democratic elections in order to make sure that the fate of the country lies in the hands of the virtuous and the capable (Prajak 2012, pp. 3-4).

The political turmoil that has plagued the country for the past decade threw this political narrative and the underlying conviction that the majority of the Thai people are still not ready for democracy into sharp relief. In 2006 a group known as the People's Alliance for Democracy (Panthamit prachachon phuea prachathippatai, PAD) organized massive street demonstrations in the capital and rallied for the resignation of democratically elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The PAD cited charges of corruption and lese majeste against Thaksin, whose populist policies had proved extremely popular with rural voters in the 2005 elections. As the demonstrations gathered steam and gained support from the urban middle class, Thaksin resorted to dissolving parliament and calling for a general election in April 2006. With the opposition parties boycotting the election, Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai Party not only won a parliamentary majority, but it also won significantly more votes than the number of "no vote" ballots, cast mostly by those who supported the cause of the PAD. (15) Thaksin's repeated victories at the polls confirmed the deep-seated conviction of the PAD and its supporters that the majority of Thais were not ready for democracy because they were willing to elect a blatantly corrupt politician who had "bought" their votes with populist policies. Thus, the PAD proposed a number of measures that would ensure that history would not repeat itself and the "poor, dumb, and downtrodden" people of rural Thailand would no longer be able to dictate who sat at the helm of the country. (16)

One of the measures that the PAD proposed was a royally appointed prime minister. After Thaksin dissolved the parliament in 2006, a group of senators as well as PAD leaders urged the monarch to invoke Article 7 of the Constitution (17) to appoint a prime minister and end the ongoing political crisis. Sondhi Limthongkul, one of the PAD's leaders, declared at a rally on 26 March 2006, for example, that "[they] have gathered ... to show [their] united wish to... seek a royally appointed prime minister according to Article 7 of the Constitution of Thailand" (Phongphipat 2013). After the election in April of the same year, Sondhi still insisted on the idea. He said in an interview on 7 April 2006,
   Thaksin repeatedly violated electoral laws.... If the EC [Election
   Commission] issues Thaksin a red card, everything will be over. The
   office of the prime minister will be vacant, which will allow [us
   to cite] Article 7 in our plea for a royally appointed prime
   minister, (ibid.) (18)

Another measure proposed by the PAD, one that betrayed the same wariness of the process of elections, was the idea of members of parliament selected by means of a process other than elections. In June 2008, PAD co-ordinator Suriyasai Katasila advanced the idea, under the banner of "new politics", that the proportion of directly elected members of parliament should be reduced to 30 per cent. The remaining 70 per cent should emerge from some undefined process of selection (Suriyasai 2008).

The deep-seated distrust in the electoral process that underlay the PAD's proposals continued to ferment during the years of political turmoil that followed. It finally erupted in 2013-14, when a group calling itself the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) took to the streets to protest against the government of Thaksin's sister and nominee, Yingluck Shinawatra. In the course of their attempt to oust Yingluck, the PDRC demanded a royally appointed prime minister. In a speech delivered on 4 December 2013, Suthep Thaugsuban, one of the leaders of the PDRC, referred to the royal appointment of Sanya Thammasak as the twelfth prime minister of Thailand in 1973. (19) Suthep claimed that the incident served as a precedent that could potentially allow the PDRC to seek a non-elected prime minister should Yingluck resign and the post become vacant (Journalism 108 2012). As the movement's campaign progressed, the PDRC and its supporters became even more open and straightforward about their deeply rooted suspicion of the democratic process of election. Seri Wongmontha, one of the movement's leaders, declared at a rally, for instance, that "300,000 votes in Bangkok are votes of quality and therefore better than 15 million votes in the provinces" (Steven Eleven 2013). Sondhi Limthongkul, who supported the cause of the PDRC, also spoke publicly about the dangers of adopting Western concepts and practices without adapting them to fit local needs. He then said that "it is the same way with democracy. It doesn't have to always mean one man, one vote" (Manager Online 2014).

One may trace this profound distrust in the electoral process and the related underlying conviction that a majority of the Thai people are still not ready for democracy all the way back to the discourse of ching suk kon ham that surrounds the 1932 revolution. It is no surprise, therefore, that this discourse has become a subject of discussion during the past decade of political crisis. In June 2006, the academic and political activist Giles Ungpakom published an article entitled "24 mithunayon 2475: niyai lae khwamching"' [24 June 1932: fiction and fact]. He not only lists four main "fictional tales" (niyai) that the Thai people tell themselves about the revolution but also links these tales with the ongoing political turmoil. The first tale that Giles mentions is, unsurprisingly, the discourse of ching suk kon ham. He writes that the idea that the People's Party acted prematurely "originated from the belief that the common people of Thailand were dumb and uneducated. And we often hear the same accusation from the modern-day elite that the poor are stupid to be voting for [Thaksin's] Thai Rak Thai [party]" (Giles 2009).

Another instance in which the discourse of ching suk kon ham became a point of discussion was Thai PBS's July 2012 broadcast of a television documentary about the 1932 revolution. By presenting interviews of figures from different backgrounds and political stances, the three-part documentary aims to offer a complex picture of this pivotal event in Thai history. In actuality, however, it merely reproduces conventional myths that have dominated people's understanding of the revolution. In the second episode, for example, the documentary presents clips of interviews in which various people question the notion that the Siamese king was intent upon granting his subjects a democratic constitution. Yet, at the end of the section, the narrator simplistically dismisses any attempt at complexity. She says, over shots of the Memorial Bridge commissioned by the king and completed shortly before that fateful day in June, "[it] not only connected the two sides of the river but also represented His Majesty's attempt to bridge the old and the new Siam with their different systems of government. But things did not go according to His plans" (Khwamching 2012).

In addition to the image of a liberal and democratic Siamese monarch, the documentary also reproduces the all-too-familiar discourse of ching suk kon ham. The historian Pinyapan Potjanalawan argues that the details with which the documentary depicts the genesis of the revolution, together with "the mood of the images, the bleak music, and the use of holograms that are reminiscent of horror films", serve to "reveal an obsession with its own assessment that the People's Party acted prematurely" (Pinyapan 2012). Rosana Tositrakul, at the time a senator for Bangkok, picks up on this underlying discourse of ching suk kon ham and links it with the ongoing political turmoil. She says in the second episode of the documentary,

the legacy that the People's Party has left behind is the people's participation in the operation of the political systems. But have we achieved that yet? Political power is still exercised by politicians on behalf of the people. And the people should ask if those politicians have used that power for the good of the society. (Khwamching 2012)

Immediately after the interview with Rosana, the documentary cuts to another shot of the Memorial Bridge with the question, "The people ... are they still being used?", superimposed on the screen (ibid.). By asking such a question, the makers of the documentary seem to echo the sentiments of Rosana and to imply that the 1932 revolution was an act of ching suk kon ham because the Thai people were not, and are still not, ready for democracy. The People's Party once used their interests as an excuse to seize control of the country, and corrupt politicians are still exploiting them in modern day politics.

The discourse of ching suk kon ham is inextricably connected with the idea that the Thai people are ill-prepared for democracy and cannot therefore be trusted to decide the fate of the country through the democratic process of elections. These ideas and discourses have long circulated quietly in Thai society, but they have erupted with an intensity never before seen during the present political turmoil. The atmosphere was therefore ripe for Mom Noi to use his films as a platform to make a political statement. Instead of making films that are explicitly political, however, the prominent director chose to adapt two classic pieces of Thai literature that recount the tales of defiant Oedipal sons. By transforming these Oedipal tales into allegories for the 1932 Siamese revolution, Mom Noi is able to take a firm political stand and use his films to convey his antidemocratic position.


The psychoanalytic concept of the Oedipus complex allows one to read Chua fa din salai and Rueang khong Chan Dara as quasicautionary tales of Oedipal sons who defy their fathers by refusing to postpone their desire for their mothers. In his adaptation of the two classic novels, M.L. Bhandevanov Devakula deliberately adds references to the 1932 revolution, which sought to replace Siam's absolute monarchy with a constitutional order. By so doing, the prominent director attempts to link the refusal to delay one's desire in the Oedipal tales with the discourse of ching suk kon ham that is often associated with this political event in Thai history. This connection allows him to reinforce the age-old idea that the Thai people are not yet ready for democratic rule. Since this idea has been widely propagated during the present political crisis, its invocation clearly reflects an attempt on the director's part to ally himself with the Bangkok middle class whose members have been pushing for a suspension of electoral democracy.

At the same time, however, the connection between the Oedipal tales and the 1932 revolution that Mom Noi draws in his two film adaptations illustrates the continuum between familial and social repression that Deleuze and Guattari identify in their polemic against psychoanalysis. It demonstrates, in other words, that the Thai people are forced, in both the personal and the political realms, to repress and defer their revolutionary desires. Although the concept of deferral seems to imply a promise that one's desire will be fulfilled at a future date, Deleuze and Guattari show that the Oedipus complex is a labyrinth with no way out and that one's Oedipal desire will never be satisfied. Thus, the connection between the psychoanalytic concept and the ongoing political crisis in Thailand leaves one to wonder whether the Thai people will ever be able to fulfill their democratic aspiration or whether they will instead be caught in an endless deferral of their desire.

DOI: 10.1355/sj30-3a


This paper is part of a research project funded by The Thailand Research Fund and Chulalongkorn University (TRG5680059). The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Thailand Research Fund or Chulalongkorn University.

Thosaeng Chaochuti is Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Phayathai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand; email:


(1.) For overviews of developments in Thai politics since 2005, see Pasuk and Baker (2013), Aulino et al. (2014), and Nostitz (2009, 2011).

(2.) The Thai name for the People's Democratic Reform Committee is Khamakammakan prachachon phuea kanplianplaeng prathet thai hai pen prachathippatai thi sombun an mi phramahakasat songpen pramuk [People's committee for transforming Thailand into a complete democracy with the king as head of state].

(3.) For details on General Prayut's three-stage road map to reform Thailand, see Siam Intelligence (2014). For analysis of the road map, see Thitinan (2014).

(4.) The title M.L., an abbreviation of "mow luang" indicates the director's noble lineage, which can be traced back to one of the sons of King Rama IV (King Mongkut, r. 1851-68).

(5.) For a rare example of the use of psychoanalysis to understand the ongoing Thai political crisis, see Verita (2014).

(6.) Bronislaw Malinowski noted from his observation of the people of the Trobriand Islands, for example, that little boys in a matriarchal society will develop Oedipal desire for their sisters rather than their mothers and will feel a sense of rivalry with their uncles instead of their fathers (Paul 2005, p. 481). Thus, while the anthropologist does not question the reality of the Oedipus complex even in "primitive" societies, he does raise questions about the uniformity of the Oedipal structure. Feminist psychoanalysts such as Karen Homey and Melanie Klein have also criticized the phallocentrism of the Freudian Oedipus complex. They question, for instance, the notion that women must envy their male counterparts for their possession of the penis. They suggest that men may also desire something with which only women are endowed, such as the ability to become pregnant and to give birth (Dimen and Goldner 2005, p. 96).

(7.) Field Marshal Phibun served as prime minister of Thailand twice. His first rule lasted from 16 December 1938 until 24 July 1944. He came back into power once again on 8 April 1948 after a group of soldiers who were still loyal to him staged a coup against the ruling government. This time he stayed in office until 16 September 1957.

(8.) Unless otherwise indicated, all translations from Thai are the author's.

(9.) Luang was one of several graduated bureaucratic titles used before the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

(10.) In a non-political context, Thais often use the phrase "ching suk kon ham" to describe the behaviour of teenagers who engage in the frowned-upon act of having sexual intercourse out of wedlock.

(11.) Born Phot Phahonyothin, Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena was the leader of the senior military faction of the Khana ratsadon, or the People's Party. He served as the second prime minister of Thailand during 1933-38.

(12.) Mom Noi himself acknowledges the Oedipal structure of Rueang khong Chan Dam in an interview entitled, "Mom Noi phukamkap Chan Dara pathommabot tiphae sokanatakam haeng kanchongwen" [Mom Noi, the director of Chan Darn, the beginning, lays bare the tragedy of a bitter grudge]. He says, "What distinguishes this novel from others is the characters, especially the protagonist like Chan Dara. [The author] relies on Freudian psychoanalysis ... especially on the Oedipus Complex" in his construction of the characters (Kapook 2012).

(13.) Some royalists even trace the roots of democracy in Siam back to the Sukhothai era of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. They refer to the Ramkhamhaeng Inscription as the first democratic constitution in Siam and claim that it is greater than the Magna Carta of England because it was granted willingly by the Siamese king (Nattapoll 2013, p. 61). Such rhetoric has endured even into recent times.

(14.) Siamese kings are often represented as benevolent fathers who rule compassionately and altruistically over their subjects/children. The current monarch is sometimes referred to as Pho luang (royal father), and his birthday is annually celebrated as the national Father's Day.

(15.) The election was later nullified by the constitutional court. A date was set for a repeat election, but a coup d'etat was staged before the election could take place.

(16.) For more on the activities and proposals of the PAD, see Nelson (2010).

(17.) Article 7 of Chapter 1 of the 2007 Thai constitution states that in cases where no provision of the constitution is applicable, the question at hand shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional practice of a democratic regime with the king as head of state (Asian LII).

(18.) A red card is issued by the EC when there is clear evidence that a candidate has violated electoral laws. That candidate will then be banned from further participation in the election.

(19.) Following the violent events on 14 October 1973, King Bhumibol pressured Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachon not only to vacate the office of prime minister but also to leave the country. The king later nominated Sanya Thammasak, a highly respected judge and a member of the privy council, as a new prime minister.


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Author:Chaochuti, Thosaeng
Publication:SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Nov 1, 2015
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