Erased from history
Re: "Historic accuracy vital," (PostBag, Oct 4).
Akiko Iijima's paper 'The Invention of "Isan" History' (Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 106, 2018) records that Mom Amorawongwichit (Mom Ratchawong Pathom Kanechon), while serving in the Interior Ministry in Monthon Isan under the Royal High Commissioner in the reign of King Rama V, voluntarily compiled a local history which was submitted to the Ministry in Bangkok.
The typescript survives but with numerous handwritten changes. An amended version incorporating most of these changes appeared in the 4th volume of Prachum Phongsawadan (Collected Histories) published in 1925. The Collected Histories are widely regarded as important primary sources for Thai historical studies.
Comparing the original typescript with the final publication reveals some interesting changes.
For example, the original says (Iijima's translation): "The indigenous people of the region are Lao, Khmer, and Suai race, and there are people of other countries, such as Thai, Farang, Vietnamese, Burmese, Tongsu and Chinese, who have settled to engage with trade in large numbers."
This becomes, in the "authoritative" text, "The indigenous people are basically Thai. In addition to the Thai, there are Khmer, Suai, and Lawa, and people of other countries such as Farang, Vietnamese, Burmese, Tongsu, and Chinese have settled, but they are not many."
In fact, almost every time the original version says "Lao", it is either deleted or changed to "Thai". Thus were the Lao written out of Thai history.
Accurate history, anyone?