Looking for Laksi

Things began to go missing in Bangkok at the start of the Tenth Reign. It started small, with a brass plaque bearing the text “Here on 24 June 1932 at dawn, the People’s Party proclaimed a constitution for the country’s advancement.” This plaque vanished from the Royal Plaza in April 2017, and was replaced by a new plaque of the same size, saying:  “To love and respect the Buddhist trinity, one’s own state, one’s own family, and to have a heart faithful to your monarch, will bring prosperity to the country”.

During 2018, the Nang Leong Racecourse, the Bangkok Zoo and the National Assembly building were closed and demolished in quick succession. All occupied prime pieces of land adjoining the Dusit and Chitralada Palaces, in the heart of old Bangkok. Fortunately, I was able to visit and photograph all three places before their closure, and published a photo essay about each of them.

I remember vividly that during one of my 2018 visits to Bangkok, I had a sudden urge to head to Bang Khen and photograph the Laksi Monument. Laksi was a monument erected in 1936, to commemorate the soldiers who died in the Boworadet Rebellion – a royalist uprising against the People’s Party. Also known as the Constitution Defence Monument, the Laksi Monument stood adjacent to Wat Phra Sri Mahathat, where the ashes of many leading figures of the People’s Party are interned. Sadly, I was caught up in other business that day, and never made it to Bang Khen. On 27 December 2018, the monument was secretly dismantled and removed – a fresh attempt to obliterate the history of the 1932 revolution.

I failed to publish a photo essay about Laksi in 2018. Luckily, I visited with my camera on 28 June 2012, four days after the eightieth anniversary of the end of the absolute monarchy. For me, the sky above the lost monument will always be swirling with the dramatic clouds I watched that day.

Duncan McCargo