Modern Railway Development

3836 Words16 Pages
4.1 The dawn of the railway development in Thailand Territory, technology, and money To put it bluntly, the birth of the railway development in Siam walked hand in hand with the emergence of modernized Siam, which has consisted of two characteristics: territorialized nation-state and capitalist economy. Several studies, for example, Holm (1991), Chaiyan (1994), and Kakizaki (2005) which conclude that the newly-built railway system was concomitantly a tool of the Thai state in centralizing power and a catalyst for expansion of commercialized commodity productions. Politically, the monarchical elites in Bangkok, who completely controlled the state, used a railway, as one of the coercive apparatuses, to consolidate their political powers (Chaiyan,…show more content…
Because of the lateness in social, political, and economic development in the colonial-threatened Siam, other domestic actors, except royal-blooded elites, did not have an ability to influence policy formulation processes. As stated earlier by Chaiyan (1994), the state could be seen as an instrument that was exclusive to the Bangkok-based ruling class. Deriving from Chaiyan’s argument, the ruling elites employed a locomotive as one of the tools of domination, but the Western actors somewhat influenced the processes of the railway development. Whereas the Siamese state succeed in operating the railway system under the Reign of King Rama V during the final years of the nineteenth century, the Siamese elite had acknowledged the importance of the railway since the middle of this century, at least. In 1857, two years after the signing of the Bowring Treaty, King Rama IV had assigned 27 delegates to Great Britain to study Western technologies, including railways (Suehiro, 1996: 9). When the delegate reported to the Royal Siamese government, a report deepened the Rama IV government’s interest in the railway (Kakizaki, 2005:…show more content…
Based on the figures in the year 1906 that appeared in Suehiro (1989: 33), the steel products and machinery for railway construction and rice milling accounted for seven percent of total imports. In details, England secured half of the import while Singapore and Germany gained only seventeen and sixteen percent, respectively. Along with interest of the steel industry, the European managerial workers, especially engineer, shared the fruits from the Siamese government-led railway investment. One of the major groups of European capitalist, who advanced into Thailand after the Bowring Treaty, was the professional labors, who had been employed by the government to act as promoters or directors of new economic activities, including railways (Suehiro: 42). In short, the European non-financial capitalists could also receive benefit from Siam’s railway construction in forms of selling revenues (steel industry) and fees (professional

More about Modern Railway Development

Open Document