The Entrenchment of Political Systems Through Colonialism in Burma and Thailand

1800 Words 8 Pages
Between Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) military regimes have ruled for over 100 years. In this paper I shall investigate the role of colonialism in deepening and further entrenching the political system of military regimes in Burma. To show this, I will first look at the background before exploring the causal factors which help prove my thesis. I have chosen to compare Burma to Thailand because despite holding many pre-colonial similarities Thailand was never colonised, consequently many of the effects of colonialism we see in Burma, we would expect to not exist to the same extent in Thailand. To define political systems, I will use Siaroff's definition which is the mechanisms of political representation, patterns of repression used by a …show more content…
The British rule employed the ablest men from the Indian army to govern Burma, which unintentionally began the precedent of military rule and weakened any potential local civilian rule (Nibset 219-221). The nature of the colonialism established military rule as key, with a weaker civil society.
With the British colonial rule came taxation, contractual law, and trade. The tax system for rural areas were allowed local elites to keep whatever they earned in tax above what the British required, leading to an exploitation of the local populations through tax burdens (Nibset 146-7). The British also managed a monopolisation of trade and all duties charged, this encouraged a dependence on British markets and allowed increased economic control by the colonial regime (Nibset 29). The economics of the colonial regime consequently was highly extractive in removing wealth from the local population.
Unlike Burma, Thailand was never colonised, after contacted for trade at a similar time to Burma but with the French who had began to colonise Vietnam. Thailand was able to stay out of colonial control through the reigns of Mongkut 1804-1868 and Chulalongkorn 1853-1910 through a mix of shrewd policy and good fortune. After seeing the British in Burma and the tremendous power in the ability to draw the borders of countries in negotiation, the Thai king set out to map and define the Thai territory, along with citizenship rights in order to appear more ‘state-like’ (Baker 39-40, 58-9, 62).

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