Rama V, King Chulalongkorn, celebrated in both literature and drama, is remembered as the dynamic and multi- talented king who transformed ancient Siam and paved the way for the modern and dynamic Thailand of today. Every night Thais still flock to Rama V’s equestrian statue in the royal plaza in Bangkok to pay homage to their beloved long-deceased monarch.
Rama V ascended the throne in 1868 after his father Rama 1V’s demise and ruled for 42 years. The young Chulalongkorn was keen to introduce a number of reforms and initiatives to strengthen and develop his nation. He engaged with the colonial powers of the day through skilful diplomacy diplomacy, yielding some concessions without giving up sovereignty and encouraged the adoption of Western dress codes and Western style education.
The king continued on a dynamic path of reforms including the abolition of slavery, major financial and legal reforms and the introduction of a Privy Council and Council of State. King Chulalongkorn also implemented a more centralised administration and embarked on the modernisation of the country’s infrastructure in the construction of road, rail and water links. Agriculture was nurtured through a series of land reforms and development initiatives. The king championed education and the teaching of ethics in particular, and introduced a formal curriculum for the training of teachers and a new network of vocational and trade schools.
The direction, substance and comprehensiveness of Rama V’s reforms were startling. He not only preserved Siam’s independence and sovereignty but led the country forward into a new future of prosperity, growth and modernity.
Asia House, was established in 1997, but only recently moved to its home in New Cavendish Street in 2005. It aims to lead the way in promoting a deeper understanding of diverse Asian cultures and economies, hosting around 125 lively artistic and corporate annual events. This includes Asian visual and performing arts, literature, current affairs, education workshops and a glittering array of business events.
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