chapter  6
26 Pages

Emerging social forces in Thailand: new political and economic roles

In May 1992 Bangkok witnessed its worst political violence since October 1976. Before most Thais had even seen the evidence of this example of military brutality - censorship was imposed - the rest of the world was told that this was a 'middle-class' revolt. The image was of the demonstrators in Bangkok as middle-class protesters, with the Volvo or Mercedes Benz parked nearby and mobile phone in hand, challenging armed troops. The implication of much of the reporting was that political chickens were coming home to roost; very rapid economic development and 'free markets' were seen to have given rise to an expanding and increasingly wealthy urban middle class which had decided that it wanted a political voice. The military's attempt to maintain control of the political agenda was viewed as an effort to prevent this quest for greater representation.