PHRA POK-KLAW CHAOYUHUA

King Rama VII (1925-1934)

 

His Majesty "King Phra-Pok-Klao Chaoyuhua" (Rama VII), popularly known as Prajadhipok, was the 7th King of the Chakri Dynasty. He was born in Bangkok on November 8, 1893. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his elder brother, King Vajiravudh. He had not expected to become king-indeed until nine months before the death of King Vajiravudh the heir presumptive to the throne had been Prince Asdang Dejavudh, Prince of Nakron Rajasima, and with his death in February, 1925, Prince Prajadhipok became heir presumptive. He was quite a capable king and had made many personal sacrifices for the good of the country during his reign. For example, overcoming the economic depression after World War I; his consent to be King under a constitutional monarchy system after the 1932 Revolution; his abdication from the throne and his keen interest in promoting Thai art and culture.

King Rama VII was crowned on November 26,1925 and abdicated the throne in March 2,1934, reigning for a period of nine strictly observed all the ten monarchical principles which is required of all Thai kings. One of the most important decision he made and that proved very beneficial to the country was when, during the June 24,1932 revolution he agreed to remain King under the constitution despite the fact that he maintained a large armed forces still loyal to him and could certainly have fought the so-called "Kana Raj" revolutionists.

Later on, when the new government did not follow the pattern that would have eventually made Thailand a truly democratic country, King Rama VII gallantly and resolutely sacrificed himself by abdicating the throne. He did this to open the way for persons who might be more capable to run the country.

After World War I, the entire world was facing economic recession including Thailand even though she was on the winning side. The national income was lower than its expenses from 1920 up to the end of the reign of King Rama VII acceded the throne with an easy heart but he fought economic recession by cutting down government expenditure in every possible way.

This economic measure was a very audacious move, which certainly made him unpopular among the military and the bureaucracy and could easily have caused an upheaval within the country. King Rama VII himself was extremely upset and had commented thus to military officers on February 5, 1931, concerning the tight money situation, "I strongly feel that I was born only to chop things down. I have done that from the beginning and will have to do so again until I do not know what is going to happen next. It is unfortunate that I have to be doing all of these things often and I fully realize that people who are the victims of the reduction program will be in deeper trouble since it is difficult for them to find other means of livelihood. I, consequently, feel extremely heavyhearted and most sympathetic for those who have to leave. If I have other ways in which I could shoulder the burden, I would do every thing for them but as it is I have no other alternatives. I cannot do anything else but to cut down on expenses..."

King Rama VII also encouraged and promoted the cooperative system by promulgating a law governing cooperatives in the year 1928. He commented, "Farmers who have limited capital but wishing to pursue the same interest should form a cooperative so that they can mutually help one another in order to accumulate greater wealth as well as a better moral strength of the country."

King Rama VII had always endeavored to make the country more prosperous and promulgated many new laws accordingly such as the Land Expropriation Act, construction of new highways, railways and system 1928, control of trading activities that might have negative repercussion on the security of the country or the happiness of the people 1928, control of motion picture show 1930, amended the marriage law 1930, etc. All of these laws were thoroughly scrutinized and were strictly adhered to by the populace which had done the country a lot of good.

In the field of culture, King Rama VII laid a very firm foundation, namely the establishment of a Royal Institute to handle the Royal City Library's activities as well as to investigate literary works; to administer museum; to observe and preserve ancient sites and objects including maintaining the art of handicrafts.

In 1928, King Rama VII set up an award foundation out of his own purse for literary works especially on Buddhism which still survives till now. He once said, "The teaching of Buddhism to children in Siam has nor been satisfactory. Children must be taught to understand morals when they are very young. Religious texts for them should be written in a way that they can be easily understand. To think that one is a philosopher and so can write well is not always true." King Rama VII, therefore, staged a writing competition on Buddhism textbooks which would be published and distributed to children on every Visaka Bucha Day each year.

King Rama VII also preserved Thai classical music as did his esteemed ancestor King Rama II. With the coaching of the, then, renewed Thai musician Luang Pradits Pairau (Sorn Silapabarnleang), Rati Pradap Down (Stars Decorate the Night), Khmer La-or Ong (Beautiful Khmer) and Klen Kratop Fang (Waves Touching the Shore). These love songs have won the hearts of young lovers.

Concerning the Constitution, His Majesty King Prajadhipok commented, "It is a matter of choosing the right time, not too late or not too soon. This is very difficult. One will have to be very smart as well as lucky."

"His prediction was extremely precise, as if he knew what was going to happen on 1932 when the revolution took place. For him it was too late as well as unlucky. But, nevertheless, the Thai people understood and believed on what he said, "But if we do something with honest intentions and to the best of our ability, we should be regarded as having already tried our best."

 

 

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