Thai cultural mandates

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Thai poster from the Cultural Mandate era demonstrating prohibited dress on the left and proper dress on the right.

The Cultural Mandates or State Decrees (Thai: รัฐนิยม; RTGS: ratthaniyom; literally 'State fashion' or 'State customs') were a series of 12 edicts issued between 1939 and 1942 by the government of Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram during his first period as Prime Minister and military dictator of Thailand. The mandates aimed to create a uniform and "civilized" Thai culture at the time when the country was on the side of the Axis powers. Many of the practices initiated in the mandates were a result of Thai entered World War II and remain in effect today.

Mandate 1[edit]

The first mandate, On the name of the country, people and nationality, issued 24 June 1939, cited 'public preference' for changing the name of the country. It consisted of two items:

  1. "In Thai: The country, people and nationality are to be called 'Thai'."
  2. "In English:
    1. "The country is to be called 'Thailand';
    2. "The people and nationality are to be called 'Thai'."[1]

One result of this mandate was that organizations with 'Siam' in the name were forced to change their names. Well-known examples include the Siam Society, which became the Thailand Research Society, Siam Commercial Bank, renamed to Thai Commercial Bank, and Siam Cement, which became Thai Cement. After Pibulsonggram was deposed the first time in 1944, Siam Society reverted both its Thai and English names, while the latter two reverted only the English version of their names.

Mandate 2[edit]

On preventing danger to the nation, issued 3 July 1939, consisted of five items:

  1. "Thai people must not engage in any business without considering the benefit and safety of the nation."
  2. "Thai people must never reveal anything to foreigners that might damage the nation. These actions are a betrayal of the nation."
  3. "Thai people must not act as agent or spokesman for foreigners without considering the benefit of the Thai nation, and must not express opinion or take the side of foreigners in international disputes. These actions are a betrayal of the nation."
  4. "Thai people must not secretly purchase land on behalf of foreigners in a way that endangers the nation. These actions are a betrayal of the nation."
  5. "When a person has betrayed the nation, it is the duty of Thai people to actively and quickly put a stop to it."[2]

Mandate 3[edit]

On referring to the Thai people, issued 2 August 1939, reinforced Mandate 1 by forcing the public to stop using group names like 'Northern Thais', 'Southern Thais' or 'Muslim Thais':

  1. "Cease referring to Thai people inconsistently with the name of the nationality, or according to the preference of the group."
  2. "Use the name 'Thai' to refer to all Thai people, without subdividing them."[3]

Mandate 4[edit]

On honoring the national flag, national anthem, and royal anthem, issued 8 September 1939, consists of five items:

  1. "When seeing the national flag raised or lowered according to government custom, or hearing the sound of the salute bugle or whistle, or when the signal is given to raise or lower the flag, honor the flag according to regulation or custom."
  2. "When seeing a military flag, naval ensign, Youth Corps flag, or Boy Scout flag in an official procession, or on location at a military, Youth Corps, or Boy Scout site, honor the flag according to regulation or custom."
  3. "When the national anthem is heard, whether played for official purposes or as part of any kind of ceremony, participants or attendees will honor the anthem according to regulation or custom."
  4. "When the royal anthem is heard, whether played for official purposes, at the theater or any gathering, participants or attendees will honor the royal anthem according to regulation or custom."
  5. "When observing any person not paying proper respect as outlined in items 1, 2, 3 and 4, admonish them so as to see the importance of honoring the national flag, national anthem, and royal anthem."[4]

Mandate 5[edit]

On using Thai products, issued 1 November 1939, consisted of five items:

  1. "Thai people should make an effort to consume only food made from Thai products."
  2. "Thai people should make an effort to wear only clothes made from Thai products."
  3. "Thai people should support the agricultural, commercial, industrial, and other vocational efforts of fellow Thais."
  4. "Thai people should use and support any public utility established by the government or by Thai people."
  5. "Thai people practicing agriculture, commerce, industry, or other vocation supported by this mandate must make an effort to maintain standards, improve quality, and run their business honestly."[5]
  • See also An invitation to the Thai people to cooperate and properly follow Mandate 5, issued on 2 February 1940.[6]

Mandate 6[edit]

On the music and lyrics of the national anthem, issued 10 December 1939, consisted of two items:

  1. "The music of the national anthem will be that written by Phra Chenduriyang, and on file at the Fine Arts Department."
  2. "The lyrics of the national anthem will be those submitted by the army."[7] (The national anthem is the same today.)

Mandate 7[edit]

Urging the Thai people help build the nation, issued on 21 March 1940,

  1. "Every Thai person must help build the nation. Every able bodied person must work at a stable career. Any person without a career is unhelpful to the nation and is not deserving of respect from the Thai people."[8]

Mandate 8[edit]

On the royal anthem, issued 26 April 1940, shortened the lyrics of the royal anthem, and replaced the word 'Siam' with the word 'Thai':[9]

ข้าวรพุทธเจ้า เอามโนและศิระกราน
Kha Wora Phutthachao Ao Mano Lae Sira Kran
นบพระภูมิบาล บรมกษัตริย์ไทย
Nop Phra Phummiban Borom Kasat Thai
ขอบรรดาล ธประสงค์ใด
Kho Bandan Tha Prasong Dai
จงสิทธิดั่ง หวังวรหฤทัย
Chong Sitthi Dang Wang Wora Haruethai
ดุจถวายชัย ชโย
Dutcha Thawai Chai Cha-yo

Mandate 9[edit]

On language and writing and the duty of good citizens, issued 24 June 1940, consisted of four items:

  1. "Thai people must extol, honor and respect the Thai language, and must feel honored to speak it."
  2. "Thai people must consider it the duty of a good citizen to study the national language, and must at least be able to read and write; Thai people must also consider it their important duty to assist and support citizens who do not speak Thai or cannot read Thai to learn it."
  3. "Thai people must not consider place of birth, residence, or regional accent as a marker of division. Everyone must hold it to be true that all born as Thai people have the same Thai blood and speak the same Thai language. Place of birth or accent makes no difference."
  4. "Thai people must consider it their duty to conduct themselves as good Thai citizens should, and to urge and instruct those who do not yet know and understand their duty as to the duties of a good citizen of the Thai nation."[10]

Mandate 10[edit]

The 1941-42 Thai cultural mandates, promulgated by Plaek Pibulsonggram, made sweeping changes in Thai culture. Modernization influence made that the traditional costumes of women such as the one shown were discouraged by the government, in favor of more 'modern' forms of dress
This 1900 portrait shows a Thai woman in a traditional costume that was deemed inappropriate after the laws on Thai dress were enacted in the early 1940s.

On Thai dress, issued 15 January 1941, consisted of two items:

  1. "Thai people should not appear at public gatherings, in public places, or in city limits without being appropriately dressed. Inappropriate dress includes wearing only underpants, wearing no shirt, or wearing a wraparound cloth."
  2. "Appropriate dress for Thai people consists of:
    1. "Uniforms, as position and opportunity permits;
    2. "Polite international-style attire;
    3. "Polite traditional attire."[11]

Mandate 11[edit]

On daily activities, issued 8 September 1941, consisted of five items:

  1. "Thai people should divide their time into three portions. One for work, one for personal activities, and one for rest and sleeping. This should be orderly and follow a schedule until it becomes habitual."
  2. "Thai people should carry out their normal personal activities as follows:
    1. "Eat meals at set times, no more than four daily;
    2. "Sleep approximately 6-8 hours."
  3. "Thai people should faithfully perform work duties without discouragement or shirking. The midday rest and lunch period should be no longer than one hour. At the end of the working day, exercise by playing sports for at least one hour, or other activities such as gardening, caring for pets, or planting trees. Then, after showering, eat dinner.
  4. "Thai people should use their free time at night to complete necessary work, converse with family and friends, seek knowledge by listening to radio news or reading, or other entertainment or arts, as opportunity permits."
  5. "Thai people should use days off to benefit their bodies and minds by participating in religious activities, listening to sermons, making merit, seeking knowledge, traveling, playing sports, or resting."[12]

Mandate 12[edit]

The final mandate, On protecting children, the elderly and the handicapped, issued 28 January 1942, consisted of two items:

  1. "In public places or roads, people should assist and protect children, the elderly, or the handicapped."
  2. "Whoever follows item 1 is considered a cultured person deserving of the respect of the Thai people."[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 56, Page 810. June 24, B.E. 2482 (C.E. 1939). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  2. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 56, Page 1010. July 10, B.E. 2482 (C.E. 1939). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  3. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 56, Page 1281. August 7, B.E. 2482 (C.E. 1939). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  4. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 56, Page 2653. September 9, B.E. 2482 (C.E. 1939). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  5. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 56, Page 2359. November 6, B.E. 2482 (C.E. 1939). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  6. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 56, Page 3434. February 19, B.E. 2482 (C.E. 1940). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  7. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 56, Page 2653. December 10, B.E. 2482 (C.E. 1939). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  8. ^ The Royal gazette, Vol. 56, Page 3641. March 25, B.E. 2482 (C.E. 1940). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  9. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 57, Page 78. April 30, B.E. 2483 (C.E. 1940). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  10. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 57, Page 151. June 24, B.E. 2483 (C.E. 1940). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  11. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 58, Page 113. January 21, B.E. 2484 (C.E. 1941). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  12. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 58, Page 1132. , B.E. 2484 (C.E. 1941). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.
  13. ^ The Royal Gazette, Vol. 59, Page 331. February 3, B.E. 2485 (C.E. 1942). Retrieved on June 4, 2010.