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  • 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.

  • OPINION

    Woeful Senate will worsen political woes

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 10/05/2019

    » Since it first took office in 1947, Thailand's Senate has mostly comprised appointees as mandated by more than a dozen constitutions over the past seven decades. Only in the 1997 and 2007 charters was the Senate elected and half elected, respectively. The 2017 constitution has reverted to a wholly appointed upper chamber but this time the 250-member Senate has been given wider authority, particularly the selection of the prime minister.

  • OPINION

    Myanmar needs new generation to lead it

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 10/08/2018

    » Southeast Asia suffers from a crisis of leadership whereby the old guard are unwilling to make way for new and younger leaders to emerge through compromise and accommodation to usher in change and reform while maintaining a measure of continuity.

  • OPINION

    What the rescue of the trapped boys means

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 13/07/2018

    » Global news cycles over the past two weeks have been saturated by Thailand's gripping story of 12 boys from a local youth football team and their 25-year-old coach trapped in a labyrinthine and partially submerged cave complex in the Chiang Rai hills in the north of the country. Even after their successful rescue, the story continues.

  • OPINION

    Uni rankings, wages need a bigger boost

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 08/06/2018

    » The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University rankings for 2018 are out, and the news is again not good for Thailand. Compared to the rest of the world, Thailand's top universities don't stand in good stead. Nor do they rank well compared to their peers in the region.

  • OPINION

    Thailand needs to arrive in 21st century

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 03/11/2017

    » Thai politics is fundamentally not about the colours of yellow versus red or of democratic rule against military dictatorship. At its core, modern Thailand is about the socio-political and developmental totality of the past seven decades from 1947 to 2017 during the 9th reign, divided into the first five and the last two, demarcated by the Cold War and the 21st century. For Thailand to arrive in the 21st century, it needs to reconcile the overlapping forces of these two eras that now harbour conflicting interests and preferences through compromise and mutual accommodation. This is now the existential task ahead after King Bhumibol Adulyadej's glorious reign.

  • OPINION

    Thais, their late King and the last goodbye

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 20/10/2017

    » Context will be hard to come by this coming week as Thais bid farewell to their late monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and his 70-year reign whose light gave out on Oct 13 last year. There is a mismatch of seeing Thailand today with all of its modernity and cosmopolitanism compared to how the country was shaped and formed in earlier decades. To understand the spectacle and outpouring of grief and respect this week leading to the cremation of King Bhumibol next Thursday, it is instructive to look back at the distance Thailand has travelled from where it began rather than its direction and destination, which are important but for another time.

  • OPINION

    Cambodia leads regional authoritarianism

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 22/09/2017

    » The warm hug on Sept 7 between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, said it all. Authoritarian rule is ascendant in Southeast Asia. It now poses an existential challenge to human rights and democratisation all over the region. And Cambodia is leading Southeast Asia's authoritarian ways, followed not far behind by neighbours, such as Thailand.

  • OPINION

    Thailand's challenges, lessons from '97 crisis

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 30/06/2017

    » It is hard to believe today but Thailand appeared on the verge of economic doom 20 years ago. The culmination of financial sector convulsions, compounded by a currency crisis and reinforced by corruption and cronyism, induced a forced devaluation of the baht on July 2, 1997. Back then, the Thai economy was in dire straits but politics looked promising. It is the opposite today, as macroeconomic conditions have become sound but the political system has reverted to a military dictatorship with doubtful prospects for popular rule.

  • OPINION

    Dire airport, culture hub belie 'Thailand 4.0'

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 17/02/2017

    » Thailand is prone to policy faddism. Several years ago, the AEC (Asean Economic Community) was all the rage until it officially came into being with a whimper at the end of 2015. Back then, hardly a day went by without some kind of a workshop or conference in Thailand about the AEC. But it all did not add up to much, as Asean today is hardly more economically integrated than it was more than a decade ago when the AEC was conceived. In fact, Asean is more internally divided and beset with more geopolitical tensions and troubles than we have seen in many years. Yet Thailand went head over heels for it until a new fad arrived.

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