Corruption undermines Thais’ trust in democracy

Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks to members of the media as she leaves after her trial on criminal charges stemming from her government's rice price subsidy, at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in Bangkok, Thailand, 31 August 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Boonwara Sumano, TDRI

Corruption has existed in Thai society for a long time. It has contributed to the failure of government projects. The Klong-Dan water treatment scandal in the late 1990s spent around 23 billion baht (US$ 638 million) of public funds needlessly. More recently, the rice-pledging scheme suffered losses of around 700 billion baht (US$ 14 billion) but resulted in little concrete improvement in poor farmers’ welfare. These instances provide some evidence of the increasing magnitude of damages caused by corruption. Read more…

Subplots in Thailand’s submarine setback

China Navy

Author: Greg Raymond, ANU

In June 2015, several announcements suggested that Thailand would acquire three Chinese submarines for 36 billion baht (US$1.03billion). But by mid-July, Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon stated that the proposal would be deferred and subject to further review. Read more…

The paradox of resurgent absolutism and the abolition of Thailand’s martial law

A Thai policeman stands guard as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks to members of the media at Government House in Bangkok one year after the 2014 military coup, 22 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

Thailand’s coup after the political stand-off last year is just over a year old. As predicted, the aftermath of the coup saw the growth rate of Southeast Asia’s second largest economy slashed by more than half with growth this year running at around 3 per cent, compared with its past and potential rate of growth around or above 6.5 per cent. Read more…

Thai election won’t solve political crisis

Thai well-wishers hold up photographs of King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they wait for his departure at the Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, 10 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Kyoto University

The Thai political crisis has deepened following the coup of 22 May 2014. The military claimed it was saving Thailand from slipping into a new round of political violence after months of anti-Yingluck Shinawatra protests. But, in reality, it sought to take control over politics in the twilight of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s almost 70-year reign. Read more…

Thailand haunted by the ghost of absolutism

A Royal Household Bureau handout photo shows Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 87, sitting as Buddhist monks chant during his coronation anniversary ceremony at the Amarin Winitchai Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, 5 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Patrick Jory, University of Queensland

In April Thailand’s military dictatorship lifted the martial law imposed on the country since the coup against the democratically-elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in May 2014. It was a characteristically contemptuous and deceitful move apparently designed to reassure investors and international tourists. Read more…

Thai junta goes from martial law to absolute power

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha talks to reporters on the anniversary of the military coup at Government house in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

Thailand’s military-led government has invoked Article 44 of the interim constitution to replace martial law. The controversial article vests complete power and authority with Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha in his capacity as head of the National Council for Peace and Order — Thailand’s junta that has governed through martial law for over 10 months so far. The replacement of martial law with Prayut’s absolute authority yields several immediate implications. Read more…

Thailand’s delicate dance with the major powers

Visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) stresses a point with Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (R) looking on during their joint news conference at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, 08 April 2015. (Photo: APP).

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

Thailand now stands on a tightrope among the major powers. Recently, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made a high-profile visit to Bangkok, hosted by the coup-appointed government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Medvedev’s visit suggests that Thailand is now strategically courting authoritarian major powers, namely Russia and China, in defiance of Western criticism of Bangkok’s coup and military regime.

Read more…