Historian wants country called 'Siam'
A historian of Southeast Asian studies has launched a "Siam not Thailand" campaigning, urging constitution drafters to revert to the name used in the Kingdom's first constitution.
"People who have been part of our country have different ethnic, linguistic and cultural identities. Therefore, to reflect historical fact and the present reality, the name of the country should be Siam, not Thailand," historian Charnvit Kasetsiri wrote in an open letter issued yesterday.
The country's first constitution, promulgated in 1932, used Siam as the country's name, but in 1939 Prime Minister Field Marshal Phibul changed this to Thailand "for racist reasons", Charnvit said.
"The government deems it is appropriate following the new fashion to change the name of our country to fit the race and the liking of the people," said the government statement in 1939.
The name "Thailand" does not fit with historical or present facts as there are more than 40 ethnic groups in the country, including Chinese, Tai, Hmong, Akha, Karen, Laotians, Khmer and Mon, said Charnvit, a senior advisor and lecturer at Thammasat University's Southeast Asian Studies Programme.
Constitution drafters discussed the issue of renaming the Kingdom in 1949 and 1968.
"To reflect the reality about races, languages and cultural identities, the 2007 constitution should make Siam the official name of the country in order to promote reconciliation and acceptance of ethnic and cultural diversities, as well as for the benefit of the country and its people," Charnvit said.
The historian asked people who agreed with his proposal to write to the constitution drafters and concerned parties.