The Royal Activities of King Rama V,King Chulalongkorn, Thailand

05Thai society underwent major reforms in the reign of King Chulalongkorn or King Rama V, who reigned from 1 October 1868 to 23 October 1910.
This was due to changes, both inside and outside the country. It was a time when Thailand
opened itself to trade with Westerners, which affected not only its economic system but
also its political policies, social conditions and social awareness. The King realized that
danger from Western Imperialists was irresistible if the country remained unchanged.
Therefore, his administration and guidelines in problem-solving were pursued with
the aim of saving the country from foreign intrusion.

Administrative reform had to be carried out for the security and survival of
the nation; however, at the same time, the King showed his concern for the
happiness and well-being of his subjects. This can be illustrated by his statement,
We have taken a vow to work to the best of our ability to maintain the
unity of Siam, which has enjoyed freedom and prosperity.
The most urgent matter to tackle was administrative management which was to
become the bedrock of the country’s administration and aimed to alleviate people’s
sufferings to ensure their happiness. Government officials were instilled with an awareness that they were responsible for protecting and serving the people. For provincial administration, the Monthon Administration was established. This resulted in the centralization of the national government and contributed to the termination of problems caused by racial discrimination. All of the people living in Thailand became of Thai nationality. The social reform brought comfort to their lives. Their standard of living was improved. Slavery was abolished sopeople did not have to live in bondage and could lead their lives as free citizens.
Upon his accession to the throne, King Chulalongkorn was still a minor. Fortunately,
before being crowned, he had been close to his father. This enabled him to learn administrative
principles from his father. He was able to apply what he had acquired by first hand experience
to different segments of his activities in his attempts to maintain the peace and security of his nation and for the well-being of his people. He is thus deemed to be one of the most
successful reformers and administrators in Thai history. His policies emphasized the appropriate adjustment in terms of place and time. His self-sacrifice and devotion were for the public good.This made his reign a major turning point in modern Thai society, focusing on public well-being and happiness

A New Form of Development: Happiness for All
In the reign of King Chulalongkorn, there were constant new kinds of development. His
far-sightedness and administrative calibre led the country into an Age of Reform, which was
widely acknowledged on the international level. His activities related to development were, for
example, his initiative in establishing a power plant to produce power for tram operations and
lights; his command to build a reservoir which was installed with equipment to enable the
Waterworks Authority to supply clean water for public consumption and use.
At royal behest, a survey was conducted so that a railway track between Bangkok
and Chiang Mai was constructed. The route was designed to pass places of importance in the
Central Region as well as to connect the large cities and towns which would serve as trading
centres. The King himself presided over the ceremony for laying the foundations of the railway.
At royal behest, a survey was conducted so that a railway track between Bangkok
and Chiang Mai was constructed. The route was designed to pass places of importance in the
Central Region as well as to connect the large cities and towns which would serve as trading
centres. The King himself presided over the ceremony for laying the foundations of the railway.
His royal activities extended to communications, resulting in the establishment of the
Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Later, it became a member of the Universal Postal Union
(UPU) and enjoyed rapid growth.

The Administrative Monarch
King Chulalongkorn considered the country’s administration a priority. He meticulously
went through official letters and documents before giving comments and suggestions on them.
He was determined to get all his work finished and never let any project run over time.
Punctuality was the key of his work habit. He took trouble in learning about the real living
conditions of his subjects and he kept abreast of international affairs. All this was used as
grounds for establishing policies and giving advice so that he did not simply rely on reports from his subordinates.
The Abolition of Slavery: Slavery had been part of Thai society since the olden days but
it was considered uncivilized by Western standards. The King considered that slavery deprived
his subjects of civil rights and freedom, reasoning, çAll Thais should be equalé. The process of abolishing slavery was taken step by step so that it did not create a negative impact on slave owners and slaves. Eventually, slavery was completely terminated and slaves were eternally grateful for the King’s kindness towards them.

Administrative Reform: Administrative reform was the King’s major achievement and it
laid a firm and permanent foundation for the country’s administration and management. In the
new form of administration, the Jatusadom or the Four Ministries System was replaced by an
administrative system that was divided into central and provincial segments. The central
administration consisted of ministries, bureaux and departments in the Western format. Each
ministry was headed by a minister. The provincial administration was organized in the Monthon
(Circle) system. Each Monthon was led by a governor appointed by the central administration.
For the new form of administration to be successful, there was a crucial need for knowledgeable
and competent government officials. The problem in finding eligible personnel for work became
the King’s concern. As the leader of the administrators, the King executed the country’s policies with care. He devoted his time and energy to his work, putting his heart and mind into solving problems. All this helped the new administration to be successful.
Later in his life, King Chulalongkorn suffered from kidney failure and passed away at the
age of 58 on October 23rd, 1910. The country then lost its benevolent monarch who had
abolished slavery and had modernized the country to western standards so that it had become
well-known to foreigners. His reign spanned forty-two years. His subjects from all walks of life loved and respected him highly and they agreed to name him çPhra Piya Maharajé, meaning
the great beloved king of the Thais.

 

 

 

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