The Entrenchment of Political Systems Through Colonialism in Burma and Thailand

The Entrenchment of Political Systems Through Colonialism in Burma and Thailand

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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 regime, and how the leader is selected (Siaroff 61-63).
Before colonialism, the two countries were a similar size, both had long costal areas, had a similar population of an estimated 9 million who mainly followed Theravada Buddhism, with each establishing a monarchy within 100 years of the other. This shows that the two countries were very similar in key ways before their divergence during the colonial era.
European colonisers first began trade in Burma towards the end of the 18th century (Nibset 413) due to the close proximity to India and the death of King Mindôn lead to the violent annexation of land starting 1826 and the whole of Burma was under colonial rule by 1886 (Nibset 5-7). Due to the primary resistance of some Burmese, the British rule was also a rule of occupation with resentment for the British forces caused by the culture intolerance. The colonisation of Burma was thus achieved through violent means and was sustained in the same way. Similarly, the Japanese in invaded during the se...


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...es A. Robinson. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. London: Profile, 2012. Print.
Baker, Christopher J, and Phongpaichit Pasuk. A History of Thailand. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.
Handelman, Howard. "The Challenge of Third World Developemnt ." Trans. Array. 7th
Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2013. Chapter 8. Print.
Nisbet, John. Burma Under British Rule-and Before. Westminster: A. Constable, 1901. Print.
Siaroff, Alan. Comparing Political Regimes: A Thematic Introduction to Comparative Politic, Chaper 3. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009. Print.
Taylor, Robert H, and Robert H. Taylor. The State in Myanmar. London: C. Hurst, 2008. Print.
Zakaria, bin H. A, and Harold A. Crouch. Military-civilian Relations in South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1985. Print.

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