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  • OPINION

    Elections, corruption and Thai democracy

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 16/02/2018

    » People at home and abroad are calling for elections in Thailand on the premise of returning democracy to a country that has been under nearly four years of military government. But elections cannot bring genuine democracy if blatant corruption rears its head in open daylight with utter impunity. No doubt elections will be needed to get rid of the current set of military rulers but democracy in Thailand requires the strengthening of its democratic institutions that are so shoddy and woeful.

  • OPINION

    A year of living dangerously in Thailand

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 05/01/2018

    » They were supposed to be in power for the royal transition but they have stayed too long and now want to win an unavoidable election.

  • OPINION

    Royal transition explains military's grip

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 13/10/2017

    » Hindsight will look back at Thailand's prolonged political interregnum after the military coup on 22 May 2014 with perplexity and astonishment. It will be remembered as a time of junta rule in a country that had overthrown military dictatorships repeatedly in 1973 and 1992. This time, the self-styled strongman from the barracks was Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, who would end up in office for longer than most elected leaders before him. There will be many questions and criticisms of Gen Prayut's tenure and rule but undergirding them will be his unrivalled role a year ago today, on 13 Oct 2016, with the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The consequent royal transition is likely to be viewed in posterity as the principal reason why the Thai people have had to put up with Gen Prayut.

  • OPINION

    The time and need for civilians in cabinet

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 16/12/2016

    » In view of the royal transition that has transpired, Thailand's interim period since its military coup in May 2014 has now entered a new phase. When the military seized power back then, the Thai public largely put up with what became a military dictatorship, spearheaded by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister and leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). This rough bargain, whereby the military stepped in to be the midwife of the royal transition, has passed. It is time to recalibrate and prepare for a return to popular rule by placing more civilian technocrats in government in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle.

  • OPINION

    NE Asia summit shows SE Asia weaknesses

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 13/11/2015

    » Although it papered over differences, the recent resumption of a summit meeting among China, Japan and South Korea has cooled bilateral tensions in Northeast Asia with longer-term implications for Southeast Asia.

  • OPINION

    Tales of development in Southeast Asia

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 11/04/2014

    » A popular development story in Asia features Myanmar, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand. Back in 1960, their economic bases were roughly on par, their development prospects uncertain. Mixed fortunes awaited them as they scaled contrasting trajectories owing to a combination of leadership, economic planning, external challenges and varying luck. More than five decades on, they have ended up in different destinations that are instructive for struggling democracies in the region and elsewhere.

  • OPINION

    Street rallies yield to parliamentary process

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 09/08/2013

    » It felt like deja vu for a while. As parliament reconvened, anti-government columns lined up, ready to rumble and depose the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, this time under a new rubric called the People's Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism (Pefot).

  • OPINION

    Don't just keep relying on luck

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 17/02/2012

    » Faraway tensions from the precarious brinkmanship in the Middle East have reached Thai soil with the apparent terrorist bungle in central Bangkok. The government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra continues to deny international terrorist presence in Thailand, but the weight of evidence increasingly points to the contrary. Thailand is a soft target among third-country theatres of operation. Unless the Thai authorities beef up their security measures and conduct deft diplomacy in the near term, the risk of this easygoing country degenerating from a transit point for illicit crimes to an outright staging ground of international terrorist violence will grow.

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