Latest draft constitution unlikely to restore Thai democracy

Thailand's legislature, known as the National Reform Council discuss the new draft constitution in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sarah Bishop, ANU

On 29 January, the latest draft of what may become Thailand’s 20th constitution was released. The draft was not the first since security forces seized power in May 2014 — an earlier draft, by a different body, was rejected in September 2015 amid speculation that the junta had orchestrated the rejection in order to avert tensions and gain more time in power.

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Thailand looking shaky

A young boy smiles at a Thai soldier blocking a road to prevent protesters from rallying against the military coup in Bangkok on 30 May 2014. 18 months after the coup, the pro-coup coalition is now breaking down. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Editors, East Asia Forum

Thailand is struggling. The economy has stagnated and its political system is going backwards. This May marks two years since the coup — Thailand’s second in less than a decade — with the military government still in control. Thailand is also languishing in a middle income trap. Read more…

Is the Thai Junta’s support network starting to fray?

Thai Prime Minister and head of Thai military junta General Prayuth Chan-ocha waves after a handover ceremony for the new Army chief at the Thai army headquarters in Bangkok on 30 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

No country in Southeast Asia shoots itself in the foot more than Thailand. With so much going for it, the second-largest economy in the region still manages to underperform spectacularly. Its growth trajectory is in the 2–3 per cent range even though it has the potential to track twice that figure. Read more…

Economic imperatives warm Thai–Cambodian ties

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen signs a guest book as his Thai counterpart stands at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, 18 December 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Greg Raymond, ANU

The December 2015 meeting between Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen has boosted bilateral relations. Relations got off to a rocky start after the Thai coup of May 2014 when Thailand abruptly ordered the exit of up to 100,000 unregistered Cambodian workers. Read more…

Democracy delayed, democracy denied in Thailand

A pack of cyclists ride their bicycles past the Marble Temple during the Bike for Dad, mass bicycle ride campaign held to celebrate the 88th birthday of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Thailand, 11 December 2015. (Photo AAP).

Author: Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Kyoto University

2015 was a year of stillness in Thailand, at least in the political realm. The military staged a coup that ousted Yingluck Shinawatra’s elected government in May 2014. Read more…

What happens when the Thai king’s gone?

Thai royalist holds a portrait of King Bhumibol Adulyadej as she shouts 'Long Live the King' to celebrate his 87th birthday at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, 05 December 2014. (Photo: EPA)

Author: Nicholas Farrelly, ANU

Back in February 2005, Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai was re-elected with a bumper majority. But as Thaksin consolidated ever more power, his opponents became anxious. The Democrat Party worried that it would never again control the levers of government, as the outspoken telco billionaire effectively monopolised the political process. Read more…

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…