Conscripted Soldiers

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Questions and Answers for Life
By the Most Ven. Phrabhavanaviriyakhun
Edited from the Program “Luang Phaw answers the questions” broadcasted on DMC

Question:  Conscripts became soldiers later because of their bad retributions from their previous lifetimes, is it correct?
Answer:  Who tells you like this?  Luang Phaw thinks that you think in the wrong view.  The conscripted soldiers are the lucky people because they have a good chance to train the discipline.  Luang Phaw has something to tell you that when King Rama VI had sent his comment to Dr. Francis B. Sayre or Phrayakalayanamitree, American Ambassador in Thailand at that time.  King Rama VI wrote that there were only about 6 or 8 million Thais around the country in his reign; there were more foreigners than Thais.  If you read it roughly, you may be wondered that why?

The king explained that the residents from Pitsanulok to Chiang Mai provinces felt that they were Lanna people, Northern people, not Thai.  The residents from Nakhonratchasima to all provinces along the Khong Riverbank felt that they were Laos, not Thai.  The residents from Chumporn province down felt that they were Southern people, not Thai.  So, only Thai people who lived in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces felt that they were Thais. However, there were a lot of Chinese live in these surrounding provinces.  So, Thai people who felt that they were Thai were less than the other people who felt that they were not Thai.

Later, the king thought that if He had let it be without doing anything while the colonialism were spreading, the disaster would have happened in Thailand.  So, the king had four policies as follows.
1.    The conscription:  Those who were 20-year-old Thai men had to be soldiers.  They had to get training the discipline and serve the nation as soldiers.
2.    The National Song:  There was no national song for Thai people in any regions to sing and unite them as Thais all.  At the beginning, the soldiers sang it as a way to train their disciplines and unite them as one.  Many years later, these soldiers and public people could sing and felt that they were Thais.
3.    Forcing Thai people to study the Thai language:  If someone wanted to study their local languages, it was okay, but they had to study the Central Thai language.  This was to prevent Thai people who lived in Thailand but did not use the same language quarrel.  These were things which made King Rama VI frustrate.  It was not easy to make Thai people realize that they were Thais.  It had to do as hard as the mentioned above.  Moreover, the king still made another policy that was:
4.    Establishing the scouts:  This was to harmonize His officials and officers (like the boy scouts nowadays).
When King Rama VI had set these policies, what did He do with His officials or officers to make them understand?  Luang Phaw would like to use this word “He taught them by himself.”  Do you remember the books “Thesana Suapa” (means: Teaching the scouts) and “What did the Lord Buddha enlighten?”  Besides these two books, the king also wrote many books to unite people around the country that they were Thai.
Now the colonialism is less so we began to be careless and do not realize the value of being a good soldier.  Please consider and know that the biggest schools in Thailand which affects the national survival are the Recruit Training Centers.  You may not know and hardly believe that when the conscripted ones are being trained, some of them come from the country and lack of education, they don’t know how to turn left, how to turn right because they don’t know which hand is the left hand and which hand is the right hand.  The trainers have to use a ribbon tied at their left wrists as a mark of left hand, so when the trainers order them to turn left, they will able to do it correctly by using the ribbon.
They have to do like this because the training makes them realize that they are Thai.  If King Rama VI didn’t make the foundation, our country would not move forward like this.
Another worry of the king was the financial situation of the country.  In the reign of King Rama V, He developed the country and Thai people, so He spent a lot of money.  He could not stop developing because of the colonialism and many developed countries were looking at Thailand.
King Rama V had to build the infrastructure in a hurry for Thai people could connect one another across the land.  He built the railway, telephone, road, etc.  So, a lot of treasury money was spent, but the public people did not know.
When King Rama VI accessed to the throne, there was a little treasury money, but He had to continue developing the country for keeping Thailand.  Many people misunderstood that He wasted the treasury money and would make the country bankrupt.  He did not know how to explain, what he could do was writing in the diary and worked hard because the situations forced Him.  There was the inflation around the world at that time until the World War happened and it affected our country as well.
So, there were people want to overthrow at the ending of the reign of King Rama VI many times, but the king could support it thoroughly.  In the reign of King Rama VII, there was the political revolution in 1932.  The king was forced to give the constitution even though there was no preparation of giving knowledge to Thai people to understand.  The king did not response because He knew that people would know it later and He was correct.  Although we have changed the political administration for a long time, we cannot do many things as we know.
We are lucky that King Rama VI developed people before so Thailand would not be wiped out during the World War II.  There are not many people know about this, so you should go to be a conscripted soldier.  It is good luck, not bad luck.

Translated by Chadawee Chaipooripat


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