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  • OPINION

    Thailand's global standing at a low point

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 04/05/2018

    » When the fourth anniversary of Thailand's coup comes to pass later this month, Thailand's foreign relations will be one of the many costs to be counted from the military government. While the Thai administration of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insists otherwise, Thailand's international standing has sunk to its lowest point. One of the immediate tasks facing the elected government after the poll will be to rectify and restore Thailand's international reputation.

  • OPINION

    Graft gobbling up our dream of democracy

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 20/04/2018

    » Corruption lurks everywhere where power intersects interest. No country is immune to it. At issue is what happens when corruption happens. News headlines against corruption in major Asian countries this week suggest that Thailand is lagging behind in the anti-corruption struggle. Countries can stay behind in all manner of well-being indicators from growth and education to infrastructure and healthcare, but being left behind by the scourge of corruption is ultimately the worst of all.

  • OPINION

    Can technology transform patronage politics?

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 30/03/2018

    » By the time it takes place after evident foot-dragging by relevant authorities, the next election in Thailand will be unlike its precursors. There will be new parties with new policy ideas, new vote-gathering technologies and first-time voters who came of age during Thailand's political tension and polarisation more or less over the past two decades. At issue during the next poll is whether and to what extent Thailand's entrenched and endemic patronage-driven and vote-buying political system has really changed. The evidence is mixed but it is plausible that a new kind of politics will emerge not directly in the next poll but in the 2020s.

  • OPINION

    Prime Minister Prayut is no President Xi

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 16/03/2018

    » That the Chinese Communist Party-controlled legislature has removed the term limits of the country's president and vice president has already sent shockwaves worldwide. It means that President Xi Jinping can continue to be China's head of state into a third term beyond 2023. Even though China's presidency is less powerful than the Chinese Communist Party's General Secretary and head of the Central Military Commission, the abolition of presidential term limits sends unmistakable signals that President Xi intends to hold complete and absolute power. He is now seen as more powerful than any contemporary Chinese leader, unrivalled since the time of founding father Mao Zedong.

  • 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

    'Watch scandal' now and amnesty bill then

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

    » The gnawing scandal over Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon's dubious and expensive watches has become tantamount to the amnesty bill that upended the previous elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, who is now on the run after being overthrown and subsequently convicted over the rice-pledging scheme. These two cases are ostensibly different but in fact they both spell the beginning of an inexorable end.

  • OPINION

    Is Thailand's civil society waking up again?

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 19/01/2018

    » It is hard to believe how the military-backed government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha that appeared so strong not so long ago now looks shaky enough to be untenable.

  • 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

    The tragedy of Thailand's Surin Pitsuwan

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 15/12/2017

    » Much has been and more will be said of Dr Surin Pitsuwan's sudden and unexpected passing due to heart failure on Nov 30, at age 68, just when he appeared to be going from strength to strength after his stint in 2008-12 as Asean secretary-general. Many will also say that among the 13 heads of Asean in its 50-year history, Surin was the most effective and formidable. Indeed, he managed to speak for and champion Asean's causes and roles in Asia and the wider world even long after he left the job. No secretary-general of Asean is likely to come anywhere near the level of his eloquence, charm and charisma, the presence and confidence that his tall frame and good looks yielded. But Asean was second best for Surin. He was better than what he ended up with, unable to find professional landings commensurate with what he could bring to the job.

  • OPINION

    Tensions will mount as regime holds on

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 01/12/2017

    » After the most recent cabinet reshuffle produced the fifth line-up of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's government, it is clear the military intends to stay in power for the long term in one form or another. The reshuffle provided a more civilian look but let there be no doubt that Thailand still has a military government, led by generals who seized power more than three and a half years ago. As the top brass perpetuates its rule and puts off the election as long as they can, political tensions will mount as civilian-led forces agitate for a share of power and a return to popular rule.

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