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  • OPINION

    Asean militaries between US, China

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 06/09/2019

    » The inaugural Asean-United States Maritime Exercise (AUMX) this week has sent ripples far and wide to the shores of regional states from Beijing and Tokyo to New Delhi. Hosted by Thailand at its Sattahip naval base in Chon Buri province, the first AUMX comes nearly a year after Asean held a similar maritime drill with China off the coast of Guangdong province. At issue is the intensifying rivalry between the US and China on the one hand and Asean's centrality and geopolitical balance between the two superpowers on the other. Several implications are discernible.

  • OPINION

    Superpower rivalry to put region to test

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 30/08/2019

    » More than 18 months in, the trade war between the United States and China is not having its intended effects. Despite a flurry of US-led tariff hikes on Chinese products followed by China's retaliatory tax increases on American-made goods since January last year, the government of President Donald Trump is not perceived to be winning the trade conflict. China has proved more resilient and resourceful than many had anticipated. What this means is that the trade war is going to last much longer than many had expected. It is also likely to spread to other areas beyond trade and degenerate into a full-fledged non-military war.

  • OPINION

    Central bank autonomy must be upheld

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 16/08/2019

    » When elected governments make noises about economic growth in countries where macroeconomic management is sound and prudent, central bankers tend to quietly bristle and brush off such interference and infringement of monetary space at their own risk. In so doing, central bankers tend to enjoy the support of domestic and international market participants who value central bank independence more than politicians' vested interests, even if it sometimes undercuts their bottom lines. Accordingly, when central bankers go along with the preferences of elected politicians, the conduct of monetary policy comes into question.

  • OPINION

    Prime Minister Prayut's huge little gaffe

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 09/08/2019

    » While Thailand's flawed 2017 constitution was bound to run into a fundamental dispute at some point, the sudden and brewing charter crisis facing the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stems from an unlikely source. During the oath-taking ceremony presided over by Their Majesties on July 16, the Gen Prayut-led cabinet somehow omitted one-third of a statement which was mandated to be read aloud before officially taking office. What should have been a routine constitutional ritual has become a procedural gaffe that has captured national attention, putting government stability at risk and the prime minister's political longevity in doubt.

  • OPINION

    Is the Indo-Pacific eclipsing Asia-Pacific?

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 02/08/2019

    » Thailand and the smaller states in its neighbourhood will miss the Asia-Pacific era. It is not as if the Asia-Pacific has gone away or disappeared in any sense. But its role as a cradle of prosperity linking larger and small economies around the Pacific Rim may have passed its peak. In its place is the Indo-Pacific, which thus far lacks a trade-liberalisation and economic growth component so integral to the Asia-Pacific.

  • OPINION

    Give parliamentary politics a chance

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 26/07/2019

    » After a five-year hiatus, parliamentary politics returns this week with a constitutionally mandated policy statement by the coalition government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. With government and opposition back at work again, in contrast to the previous military-appointed rubber-stamp legislature under junta rule, Thailand has yet another small window of opportunity to regain and rebuild popular rule.

  • OPINION

    The cabinet's composition and direction

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 19/07/2019

    » With Thailand's new post-election cabinet members poised to to start work after being sworn in, it is instructive to look at how they have been assembled based on patron-client ties and vested interests. Because it contains unsavoury individuals with shady pasts, this cabinet is unlikely to last long but the political longevity of its leader, former junta chairman and still Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, may endure longer than many would expect from such a fragile, fractious coalition government.

  • OPINION

    New cabinet puts power grab on display

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 12/07/2019

    » As if to remind the Thai public of what the past five years of military-authoritarian rule has been all about, the first post-election cabinet under Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha now represents the full manifestation of what was no less than a power grab.

  • OPINION

    The evolving Thai political fault lines

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 05/07/2019

    » Over the past five years under military government, it is clear that Thailand's political polarisation has not been bridged. It has, in fact, expanded into new fault lines. Apart from the longstanding yellows versus reds revolving around supporters and critics of the established political order premised on military, monarchy and bureaucracy, we now have a clear demarcation between pro- and anti-junta and authoritarianism versus democratisation camps. Newer fault lines are generational and ideological in orientation. While some of these divisions are global in nature, bringing them in line towards a new consensus in Thailand will necessitate a kind of leadership and compromise without which the country will be unsettled for the long term.

  • OPINION

    Thailand's tale told via 'The Nation'

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 28/06/2019

    » Nearly five decades ago, The Nation newspaper started out as a pro-democracy, anti-military news organisation. It was fiercely independent and invariably hard-hitting vis-à-vis the powers-that-be. An English-language newspaper owned by Thais from the outset, it prided itself for having neither fear nor favour. Its lamentable expiry as a print newspaper today -- an online version will continue -- provides multiple parallels for Thailand's contemporary political history, ongoing polarisation and the changing nature of the business of journalism worldwide.

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