The Road to Modernity

The Court of King Chulalongkorn

 

It is the year 1874. Our king, Somdej Phra Chao Yu Hua Chulalongkorn, has just returned to secular life after serving a temporary stint as a monk. He is now ready to retake control of the divine Chakri throne from his regent, who hails from the Bunnag family, another noble family with its own power base. He inherits a kingdom in its gravest danger since the foundation of the Thai state in 1238. Internally, there has never been a more powerful non-royal family competing for power and influence with the throne. Externally, the European powers have set their sights on invading, dividing, and exploiting Southeast Asia. Towards the west, our traditional arch nemesis, Burma, is being gradually usurped into the British Empire. Towards the east, Vietnam has ceded over half of its territory to France, and Cambodia, which has been under Siamese sphere of influence for centuries, has become a French protectorate.

Fellow cabinet members of this great nation, the era of waging useless wars with Burma and Vietnam has forever ended. We must look beyond our horizons and ensure that Siam stands proud and respected among the nations of the world. You have gathered here because our great King has centralized power in the face of the great threat posed by the European imperialists. He wants to bring Siam into the industrial age, and reorganize the country along the lines of the modern nation-state, rather than an ancient, feudal one.

You have a mountainous task of reviving the great Siamese Empire amidst unprecedented adversity. Will you succeed in leading the holy Chakri dynasty into the modern world, or will you disappoint our ancestors and plunge Thai civilization into the dark ages?


Greg Justice

Chair

Greg is a third year from Southern California majoring in Biology and Biochem. He is very interested in Asian history and how the deep past of the region shaped the world we live in today. He has served as a staffer in Model UN at the University of Chicago since his first year on committees including India and China, and looks forward to exploring an often overlooked region and its interactions with the wider world in a unique historical context. In addition to research on how the world came to modernize or how various diseases spread, he enjoys participating (poorly) in IMs or watching professional League of Legends with a bottle of Mountain Dew. He can be reached at gjustice@uchicago.edu.

 

Kaiyan Chan

Crisis Director

Kaiyan is a second year from Singapore majoring in Economics. Prior to matriculating at college, he served for two years in the Singapore Army, where he learnt to shoot, use an X-ray machine, and survive in the jungle for five days. He is deeply passionate about his native Southeast Asia and is very pleased that this will be his second time serving on a ChoMUN committee from that region. Having made use of all his knowledge about his home country while staffing the Cabinet of Lee Kuan Yew committee last year, he is looking forward to charting the course of Thai history as a Crisis Director this year. If he is not reading up on the last royal dynasty of Korea or some random election somewhere in the world, Kaiyan will usually be binge-watching television dramas, and nothing excites him more than a good trivia quiz or game show. He can be reached at kaiyan@uchicago.edu.

Chin Ngamyingsanga

Crisis Director

Chin is a second year majoring in Economics and Political Science. Having been born and raised in Bangkok, he is more than ready to apply his Thai history nerdiness into this committee. This is his second year doing ChoMUN and his first as a committee executive. At ChoMUN XX, he staffed ‘the Hongs of Canton’, and competes with the travelling team. When not doing Model UN, Chin can be found either continuing his search for authentic Asian restaurants here in Chicago (so far ending with several disappointments) or leading Barcelona to glory in the Football Manager series. He is very sad about the lack of enthusiasm for soccer (said with a heavy sigh) in the US and is working to change that attitude person-by-person.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at chin2541@uchicago.edu.


USG: Srikanth Krishnan