The Victory Monument

The Victory Monument stands in one of Bangkok's busiest traffic circles, yet most people, including Thais, aren't sure what "victory" the obelisk celebrates. The monument was erected in 1941 by the military government to celebrate a victory over French colonial forces that resulted in Thailand reclaiming territories seeded to France around the turn of the twentieth century. It wasn't much of a war; lasting only two months and with a settlement imposed by Japan. In fact, the battle provided much of the pretext for Japan to assume control of the French colonies, from where it launched it's takeover of Thailand and invasion of Malaya.

Victory Monument
Bangkok's Victory Monument

The monument is something of a political embarrassment, since at the end of World War II Thailand was forced to return the territories that it acquired in the skirmish. It also reminds Thais of the militaristic governments that ruled the country most of the time from the 1932 revolution overthrowing the absolute monarchy up to the 1980s.