Recent academic publications on Thailand’s politics

13 08 2019

Every so often, PPT scans academic journals to see what has been published over the past 12-18 months. Here’s a list of politics-focused research that we located. Some of them are very much better than others. Unfortunately, most are behind paywalls but we have found that authors will often send a copy if requested:

‘Long Live Ratthathammanūn!’: Constitution worship in revolutionary Siam in Modern Asian Studies and by Puli Fuwongcharoen

New Wine in an Old Bottle: Female Politicians, Family Rule, and Democratization in Thailand in Modern Asian Studies and by Yoshinori Nishizaki

Ironic political reforms: elected senators, party-list MPs, and family rule in Thailand in Critical Asian Studies and by Yoshinori Nishizaki

Gold diggers and their housewives: the gendered political economy of Thai labor export to Saudi Arabia, 1975–1990 in Critical Asian Studies and by Katie Rainwater

Dictatorship, Monarchy, and Freedom of Expression in Thailand in Journal of Asian Studies and by Tyrell Haberkorn

Subjects of politics: Between democracy and dictatorship in Thailand in Anthropological Theory and by Eli Elinoff

Thailand: an old relationship renewed in The Pacific Review and by Kevin Hewison

Haunted Past, Uncertain Future: The Fragile Transition to Military-Guided Semi-Authoritarianism in Thailand in Southeast Asian Affairs 2018 and by Prajak Kongkirati

Crisis of Democracy in Thailand and the Network of Monarchy in Paradigma and by Aryanta Nugraha

Thailand’s Traditional Trinity and the Rule of Law: Can They Coexist? in Asian Studies Review and by Björn Dressel

Thailand 4.0 and the Internal Focus of Nation Branding in Asian Studies Review and by Petra Desatova

Uneven development, inequality and concentration of power: a critique of Thailand 4.0 in Third World Quarterly and by Prapimphan Chiengkul

The Iron Silk Road and the Iron Fist: Making Sense of the Military Coup D’État in Thailand in Austrian Journal of South East Asian Studies and by Wolfram Schaffar

Alternative Development Concepts and Their Political Embedding: The Case of Sufficiency Economy in Thailand in Forum for Development Studies and by Wolfram Schaffar

Agents, Principals, or Something in Between? Bureaucrats and Policy Control in Thailand in Journal of East Asian Studies and by Jacob I. Ricks

The never changing story: Eight decades of the government public relations department of Thailand in Public Relations Review and by NapawanTantivejakul

Proud to be Thai: The Puzzling Absence of Ethnicity-Based Political Cleavages in Northeastern Thailand in Pacific Affairs and by Jacob Ricks

Politics and the Price of Rice in Thailand: Public Choice, Institutional Change and Rural Subsidies in Journal of Contemporary Asia and by Jacob Ricks

Anti-Royalism in Thailand Since 2006: Ideological Shifts and Resistance in Journal of Contemporary Asia and by Anonymous

Coloured Judgements? The Work of the Thai Constitutional Court, 1998–2016 in Journal of Contemporary Asia and by Björn Dressel and Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang

Is Irrigationalism a Dominant Ideology in Securing Hydrotopia in Mekong Nation States? in Journal of Contemporary Asia and by David J. H. Blake

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

Thailand’s Public Secret: Military Wealth and the State in Journal of Contemporary Asia and by Ukrist Pathmanand and Michael K. Connors

The Unruly Past: History and Historiography of the 1932 Thai Revolution in Journal of Contemporary Asia and by Arjun Subrahmanyan

Worldly compromise in Thai Buddhist modernism in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies and by Arjun Subrahmanyan

Memories of collective victimhood and conflict in southern Thailand in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies and by Muhammad Arafat Bin Mohamad

The Prayuth Regime: Embedded Military and Hierarchical Capitalism in Thailand in TRaNS and by Prajak Kongkirati and Veerayooth Kanchoochat

Thailand Trapped: Catch-up Legacies and Contemporary Malaise in TRaNS and by Veerayooth Kanchoochat

Expansion of Women’s Political Participation through Social Movements: The Case of the Red and Yellow Shirts in Thailand in Journal of Asian and African Studies and by Duanghathai Buranajaroenkij and others

Constitution-Making in 21st-Century Thailand: The Continuing Search for a Perfect Constitutional Fit in The Chinese Journal of Comparative Law and by Andrew James Harding and Rawin Leelapatana

The political economy of state patronage of religion: Evidence from Thailand in International Political Science Review and by Tomas Larsson

The conundrum of a dominant party in Thailand in Asian Journal of Comparative Politics and by Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee

Generals in defense of allocation: Coups and military budgets in Thailand in Journal of Asian Economics and by Akihiko Kawaura





Replacing the king I

12 01 2016

Article 7 of the 1997 and 2007 constitutions has been controversial. This has been because it has been a rallying cry for every anti-democratic movement since the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

Article 7 of the 1997 charter was used by anti-Thaksin Shinawatra protesters in 2005 and 2006. PAD pushed the use of this article very strongly. As Michael Connors explained it in his well-known Journal of Contemporary Asia article, the call for royal intervention was persistent and became a plea for the king to sack Thaksin, supported by both PAD and the Democrat Party. He also notes that the Democrat Party was prepared to use Article 7 in other circumstances in 2006. They made another call for its use in 2012 and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee tried again in 2013-14.

As Connors explains it, Article 7 was introduced to the 1997 constitution by conservative royalists just before it was promulgated, and after public hearing were completed. He argues that “the effect of Article 7 was to limit the reach of all … new [democratic] claims by empowering a traditionalistic and royalist interpretation should one be so required” (pp. 150-1).

While the 2005 plea was rejected by the palace, it led to the king’s call on the judiciary to intervene following the abortive 2006 election, which eventually led to the 2006 military coup and the political struggles that have continued to this day as the royalists prefer the intervention of unelected and unrepresentative powers against elected and popular political regimes. Article 7 pits the elite against the people.

Today The Nation reports that the current Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) says that it has “removed the highly controversial Article 7 from the draft charter yesterday as the commission entered its final week of work.” According to the report, the CDC “expressed the opinion that it was inappropriate that the revered [sic.] Royal institution would make such a decision, so power was transferred to the Constitutional Court to make the final judgement in cases of deadlock.”

In effect, the power that has resided with the conservative monarchy is now to be transferred to an unelected body that it arguably the most conservative, royalist and politicized of all such institutions. It does this to insulate the royalist elite from both elected governments and from a doddery king and from any future king who may not be as predictable and trustworthy as the elite would want.





Palace coups

10 12 2014

PPT has just noticed a “birthday celebration” article on the king and politics in The Atlantic magazine. It makes some interesting points and shows how international commentators have become far more wary of simply reproducing palace propaganda than was the case even in the recent past.

For that change, we can credit the efforts of authors Paul Handley and Andrew MacGregor Marshall, and academics Serhat Unaldi, Patrick Jory, Michael Connors, Thongchai Winichakul, Kevin Hewison, Duncan McCargo and others. Activists like Ji Ungpakorn, Rose Amornpat, Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Junya Yimprasert and others have also changed the monarchy discourse. And, perhaps, PPT and blogs like New Mandala have also changed perceptions.

Yet the story also evidences some confusions.

Beginning by noting that the king was a no-show for his promised birthday speech. It makes nothing of this, which is odd. Given the fanfare about the aged, frail and largely incomprehensible king coming out of hospital to make a speech, that event would have been a “coup” for the military dictatorship. But the report wants to make another point:

With nearly seven decades in power, Bhumibol is the world’s longest-serving head of state—and he’s somehow achieved this milestone in a country that has seen more coups than most any other. By one count, there have been 10 since Bhumibol assumed the throne after his brother, the previous king, was found shot in the head in 1946. As elected leaders and military juntas have come and gone in Thailand with a frequency unrivaled in the world, King Bhumibol has held on at the very top, and he is frequently described as a “unifying force” in a country with deep political divisions. How has he done it?

Much in this is odd. First, it is odd that the question of who shot the king’s brother is not made. It is now a widely-held view, as it was at the time amongst diplomats, that the present king shot his brother, probably by accident. Second, the claim made seems to be that the king has been a coup survivor. That is a very odd claim. Indeed, for almost all the military putsches during his reign, the king and palace have been actively involved with the coup-makers and, in some cases, the palace has been involved in planning and making the military intervention. Surviving a partnership with the military is far easier and more profitable than opposing each illegal military coup.

The article says that the king “survived” these military interventions, not because he was a part of them, but because he is “genuinely popular.” Remarkably, in making this point, The Atlantic cites Paul Handley, who is quoted: “He’s shown himself as really a man of his people…”. The article continues:

Listed by Forbes as the world’s richest monarch, worth some $30 billion in 2011, Bhumibol has presented himself as a friend to Thailand’s poor, with well-publicized efforts to improve rural development, health care, and education. A combination of authentic dedication and professional image management, Handley told me, have helped build up a strong reputation for the king over a period of decades.

If these are accurate quotes, and we think they are taken out of context, then PPT reckons that there’s a confusing of ideology and reality.  As is later stated: “The law also makes the monarchy’s own role in Thailand’s coups—many of which, Handley wrote in his book, ‘took place in the throne’s name and with the palace’s quiet nod’—difficult to discuss publicly within the country.” Indeed, the palace has been more deeply involved than this suggests.

In any case, as the article says, “it’s not quite that simple, and it’s impossible to know exactly how popular, or how unpopular, the king really is. Thailand criminalizes speaking ill of the royal family…. The [lese majeste] law may help protect the king’s image and reinforce his popularity, but their enforcement also provides an imperfect window into the anti-monarch sentiment that exists in the kingdom.”

It quotes David Streckfuss, who states that the number of lese-majeste cases has “skyrocketed to never-imaginable heights…”. Readers of PPT will know that the number of cases has gone up even further since then, with the military dictatorship using the law more feverishly than any government since the law was established in the early 20th century. Noting just one of these cases, the article states:

The law is now being employed by Thailand’s ruling military junta, which took power in a coup in May, to suppress dissent and demonstrate the military’s allegiance to the popular monarch. Just this week, a former member of parliament was sentenced to two and a half years in jail for comments made in a May speech entitled “Stop Overthrowing Democracy.”

Indeed, that speech made the palace-military link clear in recent military interventions. Under the royalist military dictatorship, facts are replaced by myth, and the enforcement of myth is vigorous.





Anti-democrat promotes “reform”

15 10 2014

What do you get when anti-democrats shout about reform? Pretty much what would be expected. You get all kinds of proposals that limit democracy and deliver power to unelected elites.

At Khaosod it is reported that the verbose and arrogant royalist ideologue Chai-Anan Samudavanija has blabbed about the anti-democrat desires on “reform.” We concentrate on that report. Bangkok Pundit has also blogged on these comments as reported in The Nation.

Chai-Anan wants just 77 MPs. In the parliament that the illegal military junta threw out, there were 500.

Chai-Anan’s thinking, if that is what it is called, is “to limit the influence of political parties.” He claims: “If there are many MPs, there’s more chance of corruption…”.

Given that there would only be one MP for each province, with vast disparities in the “representation” this would provide, Chai-Anan’s claim that there would be more local oversight of the MP election process seems bizarre. The idea that it would “decrease the influence of political parties” is closer to the mark.

Harking back to the era of Prem Tinsulanonda’s unelected premiership, which Chai-Anan helped bring to an end, he suggested that parliament should not have the “power to elect a Prime Minister,” claiming that this would reduce “conflict of interests.” He didn’t specify “who would have the authority to name a Prime Minister,” but Chai-Anan’s preference would be for the great and good – a.k.a. the network monarchy – to select a “moral” person.

He says that “correct democratic governance needs to have quality people…. Therefore, the solution is to create quality people who are not easily fooled, who value rights more than money, who do not easily believe in rumours or blindly follow their leaders.”

Kahosod rightly points out:

Chai-anad is considered a prominent thinker in Thailand’s Yellowshirt faction, which consists mostly of urban conservatives who view rural pro-Thaksin voters as “uneducated” country folk whose votes have been purchased by politicians.

As has been the case for decades royalists like Chai-Anan, who once touted themselves as “liberals,” are now promoting ideas that are in line with 1950s conceptions of “Thai-style democracy.”

To understand the position of Chai-Anan in the development of ideas about “Thai governance,” some academics have produced accounts worth considering. On the failures of this “liberalism,” Michael Connors is useful. Also see his article in Journal of Contemporary Asia, available for free download. On Thai-style democracy and its genesis in royalist and military dictatorship, click this link for a PDF of a chapter by Kevin Hewison and Kengkij Kitirianglarp.

PPT reckons that Thai-style democracy is the model for an anti-liberal, anti-democratic politics that the military dictatorship wants its puppet National Reform Council to adopt.





Thai-style anti-democracy

16 08 2014

A few days ago, Pravit Rojanaphruk at The Nation had a story on The Leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, and his speech last Saturday where he twice mentioned that “the country needs is ‘Thai-style democracy’.” Pravit rightly asks: What is Thai-style democracy? He begins by observing:

While Prayuth did not elaborate on the differences between Thai-style democracy and the so-called Western democracies, the fact that he used the words “Thai-style democracy”, and even added at one point that Asean needed its own form of democracy, has led some to suspect that what he meant was a new form of limited democracy and Asian values.

Naturally, by the use of the term “Thai-style democracy,” it will necessarily “deviate from what we expect from Western democracies.” Pravit argues that this Thai version of “democracy” is “about making semi-dictatorship seem more natural and palatable to Thais and the world.” What seems to be “Thai” about it is limited to the fact that it is a military dictatorship that is using the term to describe the deviation.

Pravit notes that “[c]alling it ‘Thai’ makes Thai-style democracy sound more natural and suitable for us…”. He wonders if Thai-style democracy is just another term for “semi-dictatorship.” He might have asked if it is just “Thai-style dictatorship.”

Academically, there have been attempts to delineate what “Thai-style democracy” is and why it was “invented.” [Some of the following links open and download PDFs] There’s this study after the 2006 coup, which PPT finds less than convincing, and Andrew Walker’s response to it. Federico Ferrara had it on the way out. Michael Connors had a discussion of it linked to ideology. Kevin Hewison and Kengkij Kitirianglarp spent time analyzing the concept of Thai-Style Democracy and wrote of its use by royalists.

In the end, Thai-style democracy is revealed as no democracy at all.

We think all of these are worth a read as they say quite a lot about the military dictatorship’s political direction.





Updated: This is for the king II

31 01 2014

The idea that the palace isn’t showing favorites in this political struggle was again shown to be false when it agreed to a royal cremation for slain anti-democracy demonstrator Sutin Taratin. Of course, we haven’t seen any such events for the dead red shirts.

This is yet another signal that the palace is firmly supporting the demands made by Suthep Thaugsuban and his anti-democrats.

On the subject of the role of the palace, Shawn Crispin at Asia Times Online, who can always be relied on for a great story of intra-elite intrigue, backroom deals and unnamed sources, true or not, has some comments worth perusing.

He begins by reasserting a 2011 pre-election deal between Thaksin Shinawatra and “the royal palace and military top brass.” As far as PPT can determine, the source of this rumor is Crispin himself. Every other reference to this “deal” draws on Crispin’s article claiming this in 2011.

Crispin also sticks with his claim that the red shirt protest was “Thaksin mobilized and financed to topple the Democrat Party-led government in 2010 after a court seized over US$1 billion of his personal assets.” We think that when you deal only with the elite and the intrigue, you miss what’s really happening on the ground. This claim that Thaksin paid for it all is as silly as saying that all votes are bought or that the current demonstrators are all paid dupes of Suthep and his backers. Sure, there some funding of rallies – there has to be – but dismissing real grievances is dumb politics and blind journalism.

That “Thaksin’s rehabilitation and return from exile is still deemed as non-negotiable at the highest royalist levels” seems an unremarkable observation, deal or no deal.

We do think that Crispin’s description of the anti-democrats is probably accurate. He says it is:

Fronted by former Democrat party member Suthep Thaugsuban and tacitly backed by a royal establishment with power centers in the bureaucracy, courts, military and monarchy….

He’s also correct to note that the upcoming election “will almost inevitably be marred by violence and finally ruled null and void by establishment-aligned agencies and courts.” And, we have said this too:

Other cases, including a fast-tracked impeachment motion against Yingluck for her alleged role in overseeing a mismanaged and widely criticized rice price-support scheme and pending charges against over 250 Peua Thai politicians for trying to amend the constitution, threaten to create a political vacuum before the Election Commission, as widely expected, officially nullifies the poll result. [Premier] Yingluck [Shinawatra] could be indicted in the rice-price case as early as mid-February.

We agree, and we’d add that those backing the Suthep lot have to keep them on the streets until the judiciary can act against the government in a 2008-like judicial coup. Crispin says this is the royalist strategy:

top royalists have bid to leverage the two-sided squeeze of anti-Shinawatra street protests and legal impeachment pressure to force Yingluck’s resignation and Thaksin’s acquiescence to the formation of an appointed ruling council.

If this scenario comes about and there is no major pro-Yingluck backlash, we think Crispin is also right to say:

… Thailand is more likely headed towards a period of appointed rather than elected governance, a political shift that royalist institutions will justify with rule-by-law arguments and will be backed but not overtly orchestrated by military force.

While much of this is speculation based on past experience, Crispin is on shakier ground when he gets back to his plots and intrigues. He says:

the push and pull is a reflection of ongoing and unresolved behind-the-scenes negotiations between Thaksin and senior royalists comprised mainly of retired senior soldiers, according to diplomats, mediators and a well-placed military insider familiar in varying degrees with the situation. Those negotiations through intermediaries have to date failed to reach a new stabilizing accommodation.

From what we have seen, we doubt there are any real negotiations. The royalists and palace seem to have determined to be rid of a pro-Thaksin government one more time.

Crispin mentions these negotiators: former army commander and defense minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, 2006 coup makers Lieutenant-General Winai Phattiyakul and Prasong Soonsiri, and retired General Saiyud Kerdphol. If Thaksin were dealing with these guys, he’d be bonkers for they all hate him.

As Crispin notes, this lot are in line with the anti-democrats in wanting “a purge of Thaksin’s and his family’s political and business influence, and appointment of a people’s council’.” They also want Thaksin’s whole family in exile.

None of this requires much negotiation unless the royalists are frightened of a red shirt rebellion.

ConnorsCrispin then follows this with speculation regarding succession, none of which is new. We’d simply point out that the snip from Michael Connors said similar things more than a decade ago. One way or another, speculation on succession and royal death has been going on for a very long time!

Crispin then speculates on violence, with no evidence whatsoever. He notes attacks on protesters but says nothing of attacks on red shirts. Why does only one kind of violence matter at this point in his narrative? Simply because his is speculative thinking out loud, quoting others doing the same.

Some of his claims, though, deserve quotation just for the tortured logic that gets the reader back to some real facts:

One [unnamed] military insider claims that January 17 and 19 grenade attacks on the PDRC were perpetrated by mafia elements involved in illegal video-game gambling and with links to police in Pathum Thani province north of Bangkok.

Okay, this is pretty speculative, but then this:

The [unnamed] source believes rogue police may have hired proxies to exact revenge for PDRC assaults on its personnel and property, while avoiding direct confrontations with military members, including soldiers in plainclothes serving as PDRC guards at certain protest sites.

That seems interesting to us. Rouge police suggests that there is no orchestrated government violence, which Crispin spends considerable time discussing.

Military personnel acting as anti-democrat guards. Interesting indeed.

Finally, Crispin gets to some verifiable facts while admitting he really doesn’t know what is happening:

Police officials have suggested that the PDRC, or allied military-linked culprits, have staged the attacks to frame the government and regain momentum amid signs of flagging popular support for their protests. Police arrests of active Navy Seals near one protest site, and the capture of an apparent military-linked suspect transporting war weapons from the army base central town of Lopburi to an unknown recipient, feed that narrative. Whatever the case, both sides have hidden incentive to escalate the shadowy violence.

Finally Cripin speculates on red shirt reaction and dismisses it, saying “UDD pro-election rallies organized in Thaksin’s and Yingluck’s geographical strongholds failed to galvanize large numbers…”. We think he’s not been watching this. His speculation on Thaksin “launch[ing] a UDD-led rural insurgency aimed at partitioning the country,” is simply the wildest speculation PPT has heard for a very, very long time, even from Crispin, who publishes the most outlandish of this stuff.

Readers can make of this what they will. Fairy tale? A few facts and lots of story? Who do the “informants” want this stuff to be heard by?

What is clear is that this is yet another bit of royal interventionism.

Update: Above it was noted by Crispin that “military members, including soldiers in plainclothes [are] serving as PDRC guards at certain protest sites.” The Bangkok Post confirms this:

More security guards have been recruited to provide protection for the protest leaders, most notably for the PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban.

Mr Suthep is driven around in a vehicle surrounded by a convoy of motorcycles made up of plainclothes police and soldiers. The convoy includes four to six security vehicles.





Monarchy, economy, anti-democracy

12 01 2014

At The Globe and Mail there was a useful report a couple of days ago on the implications of the anti-democracy shutdown.

The basic point of the article was to point out that, for all Thailand’s political shenanigans since about 2005, economically, Thailand “appeared – until recently – an unstoppable powerhouse.” The anti-democracy lot will claim that the economic slowdown of late has been the doing of Yingluck Shinawatra and populist policies. Others will point out that the political shenanigans, throwing out elected governments, shooting down protesters and denouncing democracy may have something to do with economic performance.Wax king

In recent months, the demonstrators once again marshalling in the streets have sent money scurrying away. Tourist visits are down some 15 per cent. In November alone, foreign investors withdrew $3.7-billion from Thailand; in December, the country’s stock market marked a record 11 consecutive days of declines, a reminder that trouble in Thailand has much broader ramifications. At the same time, voices inside the country are warning that without some sort of change, Thailand is at risk of losing out to its economically ascendant neighbours.

But the article says that understanding the perennial political gridlock and “looking for fixes means diving into a mess decades in the making.” It points first to the monarchy:

One aspect is a Thai institution so sacred as to be beyond criticism. Thailand’s monarchy is among the vestiges of a place that prides itself on being the only south-east Asian country without a history of colonization. The current king has reigned since 1946. And while Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, the palace wields influence through what academics call a “network monarchy” whose sway has grown in the past half-century.

In fact, while the palace and its network do work very hard stifling criticism, the horse has bolted. Only draconian laws like lese majeste can manage a deluge of criticism, much of it well justified. Here’s some of it:

Street-level criticism: There is a veritable cottage industry in social media and even on the streets that is critical of the monarchy.The King Never Smiles

Journalistic criticism: the work of Zen Journalist says it all. Forbes is not particularly critical but reveals the monarchy’s previously hidden and massive wealth. The New York Times has also been critical.

Cultural criticism: Prachatai had a useful article on this a week or so ago.

Academic criticism: Duncan McCargo, Michael Connors, Paul Handley, Kevin Hewison, Thongchai Winichakul, and we could go on. It also includes Federico Ferrara, cited in the article, explaining the issue of the power of the monarchy to influence political events.

Federico Ferrara, in his book Thailand Unhinged, describes a “precipitous rise in royal power and prestige” that has “tilted the balance of power in favour of the palace” and its coterie of advisers, judges and military commanders.

Elected officials, as a result, have been unable to “place the military under civilian control, take charge of the machinery of government, and set national policy,” he wrote.King and junta

The claim that “Thailand’s king remains tremendously popular in a country festooned with his portraits,” is an untestable assertion, and the claim attributed to David Streckfuss, that the present king has “had at best a mixed record supporting democracy, and hasn’t allowed a fully democratic political system to emerge,” is deeply flawed. The king has never unequivocally supported “democracy,” except for a crippled version known as Thai-style democracy.





Back to 2005 royalism I

17 06 2013

With the royalists mounting yet another challenge to an elected government, the only thing that seems new for this lot is the use of the Guy Fawkes masks. Even these masks are a tired plagiarism of something done elsewhere.

Just to make everyone realize that absolutely nothing has changed for the royalists, the Thai Patriotic Front or Network has dredged up a ploy that was the strategy that marked the People’s Alliance for Democracy as a royalist instrument.

Yes, in a throwback move, the so-called Patriots have:

filed a petition seeking the Royal appointment of a new prime minister, citing what it described as failures by the current government on such issues as amnesty legislation, the rice-pledging policy and the Bt2-trillion infrastructure loans.

Chaiwat Sinsuwong and his small band anti-elected government ultra-royalists have submitted a “petition to the Royal Household Bureau seeking the Royal appointment of a new prime minister.”

We can only assume that this throwback action is a reference to Article 7 of the constitution. It states: “Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional convention in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”PAD_King

Readers may recall that Article 7 of the then 1997 charter was also used by anti-Thaksin Shinawatra protesters in 2005 and 2006. PAD pushed the use of this article very strongly. As Michael Connors explained it in his well-known Journal of Contemporary Asia article, the call for royal intervention was persistent and became a plea for the king to sack Thaksin [Shinawatra], supported by PAD and the Democrat Party. He also notes that the Democrat Party was prepared to use Article 7 in other circumstances in 2006 (p. 158). They made another call for its use in 2012.

Article 7 was introduced to the 1997 constitution by conservative royalists just before it was promulgated, and after public hearing were completed (p. 150). Connors argues that “the effect of Article 7 was to limit the reach of all … new [democratic] claims by empowering a traditionalistic and royalist interpretation should one be so required” (pp. 150-1).

While the 2005 plea was rejected by the palace, it led to the king’s call on the judiciary to intervene following the abortive 2006 election, which eventually led to the 2006 military coup and the political struggles that have continued to this day as the royalists prefer the intervention of unelected and unrepresentative powers against elected and popular political regimes. Article 7 pits the elite against the people.





Updated: Monarchy articles available

14 08 2012

A reader alerted us to the availability of two articles on the monarchy by Kevin Hewison. Both are from the 1990s and at Hewison’s page that includes scores of his papers over the years.

The most significant is K. Hewison  (1997) “The Monarchy and Democratisation,” in K. Hewison (ed.), Political Change in Thailand. Democracy and Participation, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 58-74. This is an important paper, with academic Michael Connors saying:

Handley’s explosive biography and its wall-crumbling (not yet tumbling) effect were not totally unprecedented. Kevin Hewison’s (1997) book chapter “The Monarchy and Democratization” critically expounded what he described as the “Standard Total View” of the Thai Monarchy (STVTM). Hewison’s ironic riff on Michael Vickery’s term “Standard Total View” announced both a very political critique of an institution that aspires to transcendence and the presence of a cult ideology which few had cared to name. His piece also touched on the Crown Property Bureau (Hewison,1997), the monarchy’s stance during the events of 1973 and 1976, and on the conservative nature of Bhumibol’s political outlook.

The second is much shorter – just two pages – and while from 1999, is still worth reading for its comments on palace politicization and succession. It is: K. Hewison (1999) “Thailand: Monarchical Politics,” Oxford Analytica Asia-Pacific Daily Brief, 6 August.

Update: PPT has just found that Connors’ article cited above is available for free download from the Journal of Contemporary Asia.





Updated: Publications of interest I

19 07 2012

A reader has reminded us of the site http://www.boell-southeastasia.org, which has some useful content on Thailand that might be of interest to other readers.

Under publications – http://www.boell-southeastasia.org/web/123.html – are sections “Media for Democracy in Thailand” and “Gender Democracy in Thailand” and “Energy and Climate Change in Thailand”. Some of the content is only in Thai.

Publications that might be of interest are for instance:

– รายงานประจำปีของเครือข่ายพลเมืองเน็ตในปี 2554, Thai Netizen Network Annual Report 2554 (Thai only, 176 pages)

– Situational Report on Control and Censorship of Online Media, through the Use of Laws and the Imposition of Thai State Policies. By the Research Team on “The Effect of the Computer Crime Act (2007)… English, 28 pages.As this is a Foundation in memory of German writer Heinrich Böll, these links are unlikely to be removed, even if there would be a request to do so from Thai authorities.

Update: While we are looking at worthy articles and reports on Thailand, a link supplied by a reader prompts PPT to link to a chapter “Citizen King. Embodying Thainess” by Michael Connors, from his book Democracy and National Identity in Thailand. The chapter is made available by NIAS Press, and our link to the PDF is at the Commentary pages.