Elections won’t solve Thailand’s problems with the US alliance

Thai students display placards as they demonstrate in front of the military court in Bangkok on 16 March 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Phuong Nguyen, CSIS, Washington

Thailand’s General Prayuth Chan-ocha announced in February that Thailand will hold elections to restore democracy in early 2016. Despite their many efforts to make the case for the military takeover, Prayuth has realised that the military and its supporters will not get off easy with long-time ally the US. Read more…

Thailand’s simmering security crisis gathers steam

Thai Muslim villagers carry the body of a villager who was shot dead by suspected separatist militants in Thailand's restive southern province of Narathiwat on 2 January 2015. Violence in Thailand's Muslim-majority south has left thousands dead — the majority civilians. (Photo: AAP).

Author: John Blaxland, ANU

A quiet but increasingly deadly struggle is taking place in Thailand’s deep south.

But why has the security crisis in the three southernmost insurgency-affected provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat proved to be so intractable and drawn out? Read more…

Thailand’s Cambodian charm offensive

Prime Minister of Thailand Prayuth Chan-ocha walks upon arriving at the international airport in Naypyidaw to attend the ASEAN Summit on 11 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Chheang Vannarith, University of Leeds

The recent state visit by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to Cambodia represented part of the Thai military government’s uphill diplomatic battle to build and strengthen its legitimacy abroad. This visit occurred amid mounting diplomatic pressures from Europe and the US, calling for a rapid return to democracy. Read more…

Uncertainty at home brings calm to the Thai–Cambodian border

Thousands of anti-government protesters march in front of anti-riot policemen on a main road during a massive rally in central Bangkok, Thailand, 11 November 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Nicole Jenne, European University Institute

Domestic uncertainties in Thailand and Cambodia have hindered progress along the heavily militarised border and the Preah Vihear temple dispute.

Between 2008 and 2011 the border around the ancient Khmer temple of Preah Vihear (Phra Viharn in Thai) was the site of repeated clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops. Open conflict was put on hold when Cambodia submitted the dispute to the International Court of Justice in 2011. Read more…

Thai–Cambodia relations one year after the ICJ judgement

Cambodian Buddhist monks walk through the compound of Preah Vihear Temple near the Thai–Cambodian border and about 245 kilometres (152 miles) north of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, 12 November 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Greg Raymond, La Trobe University

The Thai–Cambodia dispute over the Preah Vihear temple (called Phra Viharn in Thailand) is one of the worst intra-ASEAN conflicts on record. At least 34 people were killed during intermittent hostilities over the three years. 11 November 2014 marks the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) reinterpretation of its judgement dispute. The ICJ’s decision on 18 July 2011 to reconsider its 1962 ruling ended a three year armed border conflict, from 2008 to 2011, over the area around the temple. Read more…

Infrastructure spending is the medicine Thailand’s insecure economy really needs

Thai military junta head and new Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha greets in the traditional Thai way as he leaves after a meeting of the instruction on the procedures of members of the national reform council at the Army Club in Bangkok, Thailand, 4 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Pisit Leeahtam, Chiang Mai University & Cynn Treesraptanagul, Chiang Mai

In May 2014, the Thai army, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) staged a coup d’état to prevent civil war breaking out after months of political deadlock and administrative paralysis. Since then, the interim constitution has been enacted, the new cabinet has received royal endorsement, and the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Council have been established. Read more…

The two faces of Thai authoritarianism

A Thai soldier is silhouetted against the sky as he guards GOvernment House during the first cabinet meeting of the military junta chief and newly-appointed Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak

Thai politics has completed a dramatic turn from electoral authoritarianism under deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra in 2001–2006 to a virtual military government under General Prayuth Chan-ocha. These two sides of the authoritarian coin, electoral and military, represent Thailand’s painful learning curve. The most daunting challenge for the country is not to choose one or the other but to create a hybrid that combines electoral sources of legitimacy for democratic rule and some measure of moral authority and integrity often lacked by elected officials. Read more…