Recent journal articles

16 09 2021

Every so often PPT searches through recent publications on Thailand in academic journals. Below we have a selection from journals published since the beginning of 2020. A few of these are free to download. If not, we suggest emailing authors as they will usually provide a copy.

We also urge readers to look at Library Genesis, where several recent books on Thailand’s politics are available.

Journal of Contemporary Asia

Thailand’s Public Secret: Military Wealth and the State by Ukrist Pathmanand & Michael K. Connors

Crazy Rich Thais: Thailand’s Capitalist Class, 1980–2019 by Kevin Hewison

Neo-Liberalism, the Rise of the Unelected and Policymaking in Thailand: The Case of the Medical Tourism Industry by Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit & Guanie Lim

The Unruly Past: History and Historiography of the 1932 Thai Revolution by Arjun Subrahmanyan

Is Irrigationalism a Dominant Ideology in Securing Hydrotopia in Mekong Nation States? by David J. H. Blake

Drivers of China’s Regional Infrastructure Diplomacy: The Case of the Sino-Thai Railway Project by Laurids S. Lauridsen

Lineages of the Authoritarian State in Thailand: Military Dictatorship, Lazy Capitalism and the Cold War Past as Post-Cold War Prologue by Jim Glassman

Black Site: The Cold War and the Shaping of Thailand’s Politics by Kevin Hewison

Royal Succession and the Politics of Religious Purification in Contemporary Thailand by Tomas Larsson

Sick Tiger: Social Conflict, State–Business Relations and Exclusive Growth in Thailand by Veerayooth Kanchoochat, Trin Aiyara & Bank Ngamarunchot

Critical Asian Studies

Disruptors’ dilemma? Thailand’s 2020 Gen Z protests by Duncan McCargo

Hashtag activism: social media and the #FreeYouth protests in Thailand by Aim Sinpeng

The white ribbon movement: high school students in the 2020 Thai youth protests by Kanokrat Lertchoosakul

Sticky rice in the blood: Isan people’s involvement in Thailand’s 2020 anti-government protests by Saowanee Alexander

The roots of conservative radicalism in southern Thailand’s Buddhist heartland by Patrick Jory & Jirawat Saengthong

TRaNS: Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia

Everyday Scandals: Regulating the Buddhist Monastic Body in Thai Media by Brooke Schedneck

The Hmong and the Communist Party of Thailand: A Transnational, Transcultural and Gender-Relations-Transforming Experience by Ian G. Baird

The Paradox of the Thai Middle Class in Democratisation by Kanokrat Lertchoosakul

Sojourn

Why Did They Rise Up? The Local Reality of the Farmers’ Movement in 1970s Thailand by Shinichi Shigetomi

Inequality, Sociocultures and Habitus in Thailand by Sirima Thongsawang, Boike Rehbein, Supang Chantavanich

Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

Birds of a feather: Anand Panyarachun, elite families and network monarchy in Thailand by Yoshinori Nishizaki

Nostalgia and nationalism: Facebook ‘archives’ and the constitution of Thai photographic histories by Clare Veal

Contemporary Southeast Asia

The Failure of Agricultural-based Economic Development in Thailand’s Far South and the Impact on the Insurgency by Ornanong Husna Benbourenane

Plural Partisans: Thailand’s People’s Democratic Reform Committee Protesters by Duncan McCargo & Naruemon Thabchumpon

Green in the Heart of Red: Understanding Phayao Province’s Switch to Palang Pracharat in Thailand’s 2019 General Election by Joel Sawat Selway

Asian Survey

Thailand in 2020: Politics, Protests, and a Pandemic by James Ockey

Thailand in 2019: An Election, A Coronation, and Two Summits by James Ockey





Constitutional Court and Thai-ness

15 09 2021

We wanted to draw reader attention to a short academic article at I·CONnect, the blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law. “Determining What is ‘Thai’: Thailand’s Constitutional Court and Identity Polarisation” is by law professors Rawin Leelapatana and Suprawee Asanasak.

As there is again talk of the Constitutional Court being mobilized once again in a political battle, we felt that the perspective provided by this article worthy of consideration for the attention it gives to authoritarian pasts and the rightist/royalist notion of “Thai-ness”:

Having experienced authoritarian pasts, the attempt to consolidate liberal constitutionalism, however, inevitably comes into conflict with the traditional notion of authority, i.e, Thai-ness, which emphasises the unity of Thai nation embodied in a righteous Buddhist monarchy, rather than a commitment to legality and individual rights…. As an integral part of the Thai nation, the holdover elites, the military, and royalist supporters therefore commonly assert that threats to the monarchy constitute sources of a political crisis. For them, liberal constitutionalism is a foreign – alien – product which seeks to replace the notions of strong leadership, national homogeneity, and social hierarchy underlying Thai-ness with those of legality, human rights, and equality, thus potentially threatening royal hegemony.

They conclude that:

Overall, the Thai experience has revealed how the mechanism anticipated as the guardian of liberal constitutionalism, the CC [Constitutional Court], might be manipulated and abused by conservative and nationalist actors whose values and ideology are rooted in their self-proclaimed national pride and moral superiority. The CC has embedded authoritative Thai-ness into the heart of Thailand’s liberal constitution. Nevertheless, as the CC’s judgments imply, even Thai-ness itself has to be constructed under the logic and language of liberal constitutionalism.

It is worth reading the whole article.





Police “truth”

14 09 2021

If there was ever a prize for “fake news,” the police would win, streets ahead of their many official rivals.

The most recent example of the police blatantly making stuff up involves a police van running down a pedestrian late on Sunday.

According to Thai PBS:

Bangkok’s Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) denied today (Monday) an accusation by anti-government protesters that a police truck had hit a “Talugas” protester and then fled the scene at Din Daeng intersection during a protest on Sunday night.

MPB Commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Pakapong Phongpetra told a news conference this morning that the alleged hit-and-run incident occurred at almost midnight on Sunday as a police van, used to hold suspects and driven by a police lance corporal was heading back to a police station.

He said that the sound of explosions was being heard periodically at the time and a group of about 7 protesters suddenly dashed onto the road, forcing the officer to brake aggressively, but the van hit one of the protesters.

According to the police officer’s statement, the victim managed to stand up and flee the scene, so he sped away in the truck, for fear that he might be attacked if he had stopped.

Pol Lt-Gen Pakapong insisted that [the] driver did not deliberately drive into the small group of protesters as alleged and, hence, his action did not constitute a hit-and-run incident.

He also said that the officer subsequently filed a complaint with Din Daeng police, accusing the protesters of attacking the police truck and attempting to assault him adding, however, that the accident victim can also file a complaint with the Din Daeng police.

The Nation reports this way:

An investigation has been launched into an incident on Sunday when a police vehicle hit a protester while allegedly trying to flee a group of attackers. The vehicle was seriously damaged, and police are collecting evidence to take action against the perpetrators….

[Police] said initial investigation shows that the vehicle belonged to the Plubpla Chai 1 Police Station and was being driven by Sergeant Noraset (last name withheld).

Sgt Noraset arrived at the intersection when a group of six or seven people ran towards his vehicle and began hitting it with sticks and other objects. They also shattered the windscreen on the driver’s side.

Sgt Noraset said he kept hearing “explosions”, so decided to speed away. However, he ended up hitting a protester who suddenly showed up in front of the car. The crash made a tyre burst and brought the vehicle to a standstill.

Clipped from The Nation

None of this appears to be entirely truthful.

Thai Examiner reports:

A police detention vehicle ran into a protester during protests at Din Daeng intersection, police confirmed Monday.

The moment at 11:55 pm Sunday was captured in footage published on Facebook Livestream by online news agency The Reporters.

It shows a police van accelerating through an intersection, before braking just as it hits a man running across the road, knocking him down. The van then stops some way down the road while passers-by help the man off the road, before the clip ends.

The footage remains at The Reporters Facebook page and does not appear to support the police version of events. Looks like more official fake news to us. Having said that, we also need to put this in the context of police (and other officials) habitually lying and making stuff up. It is a pattern born of impunity.





With 3 updates: Students vs. the rotten system

13 09 2021

In recent posts, here and here, PPT has mentioned the increasingly aggressive tactics adopted by the regime’s police in confronting mostly young protesters. The police now face determined protesters.

The South China Morning Post reports that police face thousands of protesters – “young, angry and desperate for radical change – [who] come out to oppose a state they have lost all faith in.” Some are as young as 12. These protests are now daily and have a degree of predictability:

Protesters, some armed with paint bombs – the more hardcore among them, sling-shots and glass bottles – retreated then returned, a daily dance on Bangkok’s streets which is now threatening to spill out of control.

Protests now almost inevitably end in tear gas, broken bottles and rubber bullets.

The protesters speak to power and call for change: “No one in power has heard us, no one listens to us, they only intimidate and suppress…. So we will keep coming back.”

Their targets are not just the regime, but the rotten system: “… deepening inequality in a country where a tight-knit establishment of tycoons, military and monarchy dominate the economy and politics.” The quoted protester – aged 16 – says: “Inequality comes from these structural issues, everything is tied up here by monopolies of business and power…”. Her observation is testament to the alienation felt by many in the young generation.

Academic Kanokrat Lertchoosakul observes that:

This generation are a totally different species of political, active citizens that we have never seen before in Thailand…. They are a generation with mass awareness of their political rights and have superior analytical skills to their elders.

Prachatai provides another example of youth activism, reporting on the Bad Student activist group that has “launched a strike campaign to protest against the continuous use of online classes during outbreaks of Covid-19, which has been detrimental to students’ mental health and deprived many of an education.”

They are “demanding that the government provide students, education professionals, and members of the public with high efficacy vaccines as soon as possible so that the education system and the economy can continue.” They also want the Ministry of Education to “reduce tuition fees or impose a tuition fee moratorium, and provide whatever welfare is needed by students and their parents to keep young people in school.”

The group encouraged students “to stop attending [online] classes between 6 – 10 September 2021…” and the brief boycott was quite successful.

Bad Students have also joined the ongoing demonstrations and were there almost from the very beginning, saying: “We don’t want this rotten education system. We don’t want this stinking Minister. But we want our future back, and even better, is an education system that truly improves us…”.

Meanwhile, Thai PBS reports on students and other protesters still held without bail, including “seven core leaders of the anti-government Ratsadon group, who have been held on remand for about a month.” These detainees include Parit Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok, and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa.

As the SCMP says, “Thailand is on a precipice … its politics once more a tinderbox of anger.”

Update 1: Sorry, we should have noted that the SCMP article was from August whereas the photos are more recent.

Update 2: Three stories at the Bangkok Post add to the analysis of the present moment in protest. In one story, police have said they will bring numerous criminal charges protesters. A second story says that police data is that 509 protesters have been arrested and a further 250 are being sought since the rallies began in July. That story also carries an important quote from Thalugas, welcoming the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration and the Thalufah group as rally “witnesses at the rally by young demonstrators in Din Daeng that evening.” Thalugas “said they should not be left to fight alone.” A third story is about a member of the older generation of protesters, Sombat Boonngamanong. He says: “We are at a crucial moment in democracy development…. This is a time when the ruling authoritarian establishment is trying to suppress the young, democratic generation.” His view is that “the nature of social movements has changed — because more people, especially younger generations, respect democratic values…. They do not tolerate authori­tarianism.”

Update 3: Prachatai reports on arrests in recent clashes. It has also produced a video on Bad Students:





Updated: Cracking down II

12 09 2021

As we have posted several times, the regime has adopted more aggressive repression, extending from protesters to the media. This is reflected in a Prachatai Facebook post on arrests and intimidation on Saturday, reproduced in full:

51 people have been arrested following a clash between protesters and crowd control police at Din Daeng.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that they have been notified at around 23.45 on Saturday night (11 September) that 51 people have been arrested, 6 of whom were minors and were taken to the Paholyothin Police Station. 23 of those arrested were adults and taken to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, while the remaining 22 people were taken to the Don Mueang Police Station.

Volunteer medics in the area have also been detained. According to iLaw, 25 volunteer medics were taken to the Din Daeng Police Station. The police took record of their information, but did not charge them.

From Prachatai’s Facebook page

During the clash, which began in the evening, crowd control police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters, who retaliated with firecrackers and other small explosives.

Crowd control police were also reported to fire tear gas and rubber bullets into nearby houses and apartment buildings. They also threatened to arrest residence who came to force the officers out of their community, claiming that they were out past curfew.

According to The Reporters’ live broadcast, crowd control police also ordered a group of journalists gathering near the Din Daeng District Office to sit down and end their live broadcasts while the officers check their IDs.

The Reporters posted on their Facebook page at around 22.40 that they have to end their live broadcast as the police ordered journalists to leave the area or they will be arrested for breaking curfew.

The Din Daeng Intersection and the surrounding area have been the site of daily clashes for the past month, as protesters gathered to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. TLHR said that at least 225 people were arrested during the Din Daeng protests in August alone, at least 15 of whom were under 15 years old and at least 62 were between 15 – 18 years old.

Update: Also at its Facebook page, Prachatai provides more information:

To express objection toward the police brutal arrest and protest crackdown last night, people rallied at Din Daeng Intersection and Ratchaprasong Intersection to protest.

As of 19.30, no clash has been taken place in either locations. Explosive sounds were heard and some small fire were seen set on the road of Din Daeng. The organizer at Ratchaprasong were brought to Pathum Wan police station.

On 19.45, rubber bullets were shot at the protester at Din Daeng.

On Saturday night, (11 September) 78 people have been arrested, 6 of whom were minors. Some of the arrested reportedly stated that they were either passerby, vendors, motorcycle taxi or people who went to the protest to find food giveaway.





Faking fake news

11 09 2021

The regime’s efforts to stifle dissent and anti-monarchism has long targeted online discussion. Because of the way that international apps and sites work, this now involves loyalist, royalist courts issuing orders under legislation that delineates so-called fake news. This resort to the courts has been a constant since the 2014 military coup, deepening since the rise of student-led protests.

Prachatai, using work by The Reporters, show that “between 16 – 22 August, the MDES [Ministry of Digital Economy and Society] reported that they have found 44 URLs which they claimed to be spreading fake news, and that they are in the process of requesting a court order to block at least 145 URLs.” Of course, this is in additon to hundreds and thousands already blocked.

In this latest bunch, most are Facebook pages. While it is no surprise, many of these pages are by political activists. What is something of a surprise is that well-established online news sites and those of journalists are also being targeted. This suggests a growing appetite to further censor the media. We would guess that the confidence to take such steps is to bolstering the regime’s more aggressive street-level tactics to repress demonstrators.

Among them is Prachatai’s own Thai language Facebook page and the Facebook profile of their reporter Sarayut Tungprasert. Other media included are “Voice TV’s Talking Thailand Facebook page and the Progressive Movement’s Facebook page.” Other pages listed are:

The Facebook pages for academic in exile Pavin Chachavalpongpun, photographer Karnt Thassanaphak, actor and pro-democracy protest supporter Inthira Charoenpura, and activist Parit Chiwarak are all included on the list, as well as the Facebook pages for activist groups Free Youth, United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), Dome Revolution, and Thalufah. The Facebook group [belong to Pavin] Royalist Marketplace is also listed.

17 Twitter accounts appear, including those of human rights lawyer and activist Anon Nampa, Thalufah and UFTD, as well as @ThePeopleSpaces, an account which often runs discussions relating to politics and the pro-democracy movement on Twitter’s Spaces platform.

Prachatai states that it “does not know which piece of news led to the Facebook page and Sarayut’s Facebook profile being included on the list.”

While the king has not been seen for several weeks – is he in Thailand or holidaying in Germany? – his minions are hard at work erasing anti-monarchism.





Reflecting the regime IV

10 09 2021

Beyond the headlines, what does Wednesday’s sacking of Deputy Minister for Agriculture Thammanat Prompao tell us about the regime’s rotten political system?

He was sacked as deputy minister, along with Deputy Labor Minister Narumon Pinyosinwat, via an announcement in the Royal Gazette on Thursday following a “royal command” issued on Wednesday, that “stated that the prime minister said it would be appropriate if some ministers were removed for the sake of government.”

When asked, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said “he had his own reasons for the changes.” Thammanat remains, for the moment, secretary-general of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, but that is unlikely to last long.

Thammanat released a “resignation” letter just before the official announcement that he’d been sacked.

Was he booted because of his shady background as a convicted heroin trafficker. Nor for his unusual wealth. Nor for lying about his education credentials. Nor for his underworld links via the lottery. Nor for links with a murder.

No, Thammanat was sacked for insufficient loyalty to Gen Prayuth:

Speculation is rife that the sackings have something to do with the alleged campaign to challenge the prime minister’s power. The campaign’s aim was said to replace Gen Prayut and rebuild a government that would result in a cabinet reshuffle, where certain key politicians in the PPRP, who are now deputy ministers, would be elevated to full ministers of A-grade ministries.

As one of those ministers, Thammanat “stands accused of manoeuvring the ouster campaign which allegedly involved a number of PPRP heavyweights and renegade members of micro-coalition partners and politicians in the main opposition Pheu Thai Party.” Thammanat wanted to be Minister of the Interior, which carries immense power and handsome rewards.

Clipped from Khaosod

It seems that Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan is another target as the two sacked ministers were close to Prawit. A party source said that Prawit’s position “hangs in balance following the dismissal of the pair who are his close aides.”

This is exactly the kind of party system that the military junta designed. This is how it works. Multi-party coalition governments mean there is always maneuvering for position and fortune. Allies fall out and become opponents. Money and power make the cement that holds coalitions together. Leaders must always watch their back, wondering whether friend or foe will stab them; usually the former.

Political instability in such a rotten system defaults power to the military chief and palace.

The system is corrupted and encourages criminals and other “dark influences” to seek power for the funds that inevitably flow from ministerial position.

This is the junta’s legacy for Thailand’s political system.





Declining royal

9 09 2021

Royal World Thailand – รอยัล เวิลด์ ประเทศไทย has recently posted on Princess Sirivannavari and her declining popularity. It is worth reproducing in full, in English, which has some issues. The Thai version is available at the Facebook page linked above. The basic point is that the self-promoting royal is unpopular and  efforts to promote her are doomed:

From Wikipedia

… Princess Sirivannavari of Thailand joined a virtual conversation with Thai designers a couple of weeks ago on Vogue Thailand Channel. The conversation was about fashion industry amid the serious COVID-19 pandemic situation which has caused obstacles to many.

“We all are having difficult time. I am also having a difficult time. But I very much believe that everyone has to get prosperity and be with it. Keep moving on and fill an energy to everyone. I believe that things are going to be better. We can be sad but not too long.” For the Princess’ ‘difficult time’ has become viral on the internet. Netizens use her quote for sarcastically expressing towards each other. She herself was also criticised by many about her own discourse.

Besides the King and Queen who are facing the decreasing popularity, Princess Sirivannavari is considered the least rated member in the royal family, due to her unforgettable incident during the new year trip a couple of years ago. Her security protocol caused chaotic atmosphere towards to public who were also having a trip, brought to huge criticism directly to the Princess. (Read: bit.do/fzZms)

Whatever she does, wherever she goes, Siri is always criticised and talked about at any time. A lot of people do not even see anything positive from her anymore. She is hence judged as ‘fake’ in the eyes of many. During the uncontrollable pandemic situation, her discourse of ‘having a difficult time’ was questioned by many: how difficult time she has got as a princess? How much does she understand the situation? And how much does she follow the situation and the people’s suffering?

In the previous year, the Princess was involved in public assistance by providing stuff to medical staff and frontline workers handling the virus, e.g. masks, alcohol hand sanitiser, and sodium hypochlorite for supporting the hospitals nationwide. She also attended the production process of the alcohol hand sanitizer by her own.

The Princess said to Vogue Thailand: “No one wants to have the disease. No one even expects how the thing came up. And it is not only in our country. The situation does not choose anyone by classes as well.” It is defined that whoever it is, rich or poor, everyone has his own difficult time, whether much or less in his own way in this kind of situation. No one should be judged by others’ norm.

For Princess Sirivannavari, who called herself as “Thanying”* may still be in a difficult place facing the decreasing popularity. She may spend quite much time to adapt or change herself to pass the tension. It would be good if she can rely or pay attention to some of both sides of comments to encourage more on her way of life…

*Thanying – is a colloquial term referring to minor princesses of the royal family who hold the style of “Serene Highness” (Thai: Mom Chao). Princess Sirivannavari who was born with Serene Highness, was once called as ‘Thanying’ in the royal court of which the term has been used as her own nickname ever since.





Repression enters a new phase

9 09 2021

Thai Enquirer presents the disturbing figures on arrests made by the regime as it seeks to repress anti-monarchism:

More than 1,100 people have been prosecuted for political protests between July 2020 and August 2021, where over 400 were charged in August alone, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported this week.

The human rights lawyer’s organization said they have known of at least 1,161 people (621 legal cases) who are being prosecuted for alleged crimes that were related to political gathering and expression since the latest pro-democracy movement began on July 18, 2020.

Of the total, 143 are minors, aged under 18.

The majority of them are being charged with:

The violation of the state of emergency decree (902)
The violation of Section 215 of the Criminal Code which bar a gathering of more than 10 people with intention to create an act of violence or disturb the peace (320)
The violation of Section 112 or lese-majeste (124)
The violation of Section 116 or sedition (107)
The violation of the Public Assembly Act (106)
The violation of the Computer Crimes Act (74)
(Numerous people are facing multiple charges, which means that the sum of the charges is greater than the number of people charged.)

Of the 621 cases, 89 have been settled because the accused have paid the fine, two have been dropped by the prosecutor and one has been dropped by the court.

These figures are not surprising as the state’s repressive apparatus of police, prosecutors, and courts have worked to dampen criticism.

We may expect these figures to further increase as the police move to an even more aggressive strategy of pre-emptive strikes against those who rally. Thai PBS reports that Pol Maj-Gen Piya Tavichai, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, has explained that the “Talugas” protesters “are troublemakers and a danger to the public…”.

In another Thai PBS report, the relatively new police tactic saw them “swoop … on a group of hardcore ‘Talugas’ protesters as they converged at Din Daeng intersection in Bangkok this evening (Tuesday), before starting their routine provocation of the police…”.

Police reportedly “leapt from the trucks and charged into the protesters, arresting about 10 of them and confiscating some motorcycles,” carrying off those detained.

Such actions are provocative and may be illegal, but that never bothers the regime or its puppet judicial system.





Authoritarians flock together

8 09 2021

What’s the collective noun for draconian authoritarians? Perhaps a Falange of authoritarians. Whatever the noun, it’s happening now in Southeast Asia. More to the point, the authoritarian, military-backed regime in Thailand is providing strong support for the murderous military junta in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s opposition, as a government in exile, known as the National Unity Government, formed mostly by elected lawmakers from the ousted National League for Democracy and their ethnic allies, has recently called for the uprising against the military junta to continue.

The response of the authoritarian twin in Thailand is telling and damning.

The Irrawaddy reports that “Thai police have been alerted to arrest anyone related to Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) found to be staying in Thailand.” The terrible twin in Myanmar must be very grateful that Thai authoritarians are doing their repression.

Intelligence sources in Thailand say an “alert was issued a few months ago” and that police and military have been “ordered to raid places suspected of sheltering NUG members—especially ministers and deputy ministers—who have been opposing Myanmar’s military regime.”

From Ugly Thailand

So far as we know, none of the leaders have been arrested. But, not long ago, “journalists and their associates from Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), a Myanmar online news site outlawed by the regime, were arrested for illegal entry by Thai authorities after they were found to be staying in … the country’s north. They were later deported to a third country.”

As usual, the threat is there and the fear created.

The Irrawaddy states that “Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is close to Myanmar coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and his government’s policies favor the junta.”

Rotten regimes Falange together.