Although I have lived in Australia since the 90’s I am still reminded of the class system that has existed in England for centuries and even though it may slowly be decreasing from what I understand and hear it is still very much in play in many parts of the country. Living in Thailand now for 4 months I have been reminded of this class system and am surprised at some striking similarities between Thailand’s class system and England’s.
Both countries have societies that place a lot of emphasis on your social standing and education
The common denominator in this that I can see is of course the monarchy. Although England’s constitution is older and so perhaps more developed and so has very strict limits on the available power of the British Monarchy it’s influence still wields much power within society as does Thailand’s. Both countries have societies that place a lot of emphasis on your social standing, your family name and rank and your place of education where all seem to attract more favor than character and personal merit.
How ironic then when on Australia Day 20111 Prince Charles lauded the classless society of one of Britain’s last remaining colonies Australia where your character has more currency than your class. This is certainly something I found refreshing when I first landed there back in the 90’s.
In Thailand where befriending someone who has social rank and the right connections is seen as a required business skill
So I have found it very interesting being in Bangkok and learning about the class system that exists here. How rank, family name and your educational background can virtually guarantee you an endless line of opening doors, and of course along with a few thousand Baht, the latter perhaps being the only major difference between the workings of the class system in England and Thailand…or is it? This can also be the hidden reason why so many people often find it difficult to break into certain business sectors in Thailand where befriending someone who has social rank and the right connections is seen as a required business skill if you want to succeed at a high level.
Thai people seem to have much more reverence for their Monarchy
When it comes to visible patriotism however it seems Thailand does take first place. Although England is a much older and established country with a Monarchy that has influenced many world events for centuries the Thai people seem to have much more reverence for their Monarchy. Maybe this is just the understated English way but Thailand’s Monarchial figures seem to have a much more central place in people’s hearts and lives than in England, public displays of respect when the King’s song is played and pictures of the Monarchy are everywhere.
Only in recent decades that we have witnessed Britain’s decline as a world power
So is this class system a good or bad thing? Well this is of course debatable but it has not done much harm for Britain who have been a self ruled country for centuries now and it is only in recent decades that we have witnessed Britain’s decline as a world power. Although it would seem that the longevity of it’s monarchy and the far reaching connections of family names still make it a world influencer.
The only country in South-East Asia not to have had any form of Colonial rule
So for Thailand who in contrast hold the interesting title of being the only country in South-East Asia not to have had any form of Colonial rule will the class system hold firm? Or will the governmental constitution which continues to feel the pressure of public opinion undergo the inevitable development and force a change in the status quo?
By: Dean Hopkins