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  • OPINION

    Asean test ground for democracy, dictators

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 04/08/2017

    » Much is being discussed in Southeast Asia this month as Asean, the region's premier organisation, reaches its golden jubilee. One salient issue is the domestic politics and governance within individual Asean states and across them. Asean comprises a mix of regimes that span the spectrum from absolute monarchy in Brunei to newly emergent democracy in Myanmar and socialist-community rule in Laos and Vietnam, with many shades in between. How Asean's regime types evolve and behave will be consequential and potentially decisive for the organisation's coherence and effectiveness in broader Asian regionalism.

  • OPINION

    Shifting Thai alliances in the 21st century

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 21/07/2017

    » In view of rising geopolitical tensions in Asia, Thailand's foreign policy strategy and posture has come into focus.

  • OPINION

    Migrant workers policy yet another flop

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 07/07/2017

    » Assessed from just about any angle, it is difficult not to see Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's recent policy announcements on migrant workers as a series of self-inflicted flops. While damage control is the government's immediate concern, Thailand's longer-term priorities require an overhaul of its manpower strategies and a broader change in the Thai mindset on migrant workers from neighbouring countries.

  • 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

    Is the Thai-Chinese railway a raw deal?

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 23/06/2017

    » Despite repeated assurances to the contrary from the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the planned Thai-Chinese high-speed rail continues to attract scepticism. The government's explanation does not add up. Instead, it exposes the weaknesses and ill-effects of using unchecked power under Section 44 of the coup-sanctioned interim constitution, which is somehow allowed under the 2017 charter. In the longer term, the Thai-Chinese railway may end up being a raw deal for Thailand, and many Thais may not look back favourably toward China for it.

  • OPINION

    Thai-US relations back on the move again?

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 09/06/2017

    » Soon after the Asean Summit in April, United States President Donald J Trump placed phone calls to three Southeast Asian leaders and invited them to the White House.

  • OPINION

    'Zbig': Renowned geopolitical maestro

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 30/05/2017

    » Last week's death of Zbigniew Brzezinski, the renowned thinker, writer and practitioner of geopolitics throughout the Cold War and onetime national security adviser to former US president Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s, has elicited generally positive global reviews and assessments of his achievements. He died on Friday at the age of 89.

  • OPINION

    Reality sets in three years after the coup

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 26/05/2017

    » Three years after it seized power in Thailand's 13th successful coup in 85 years, the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appears embattled. Growing popular grievances have focused on Thailand's economic doldrums, persistent corruption, intractable polarisation, and a problematic roadmap to return to democratic rule. In addition, a string of mysterious bomb blasts in Bangkok with murky implications has recently undermined the political stability and social calm that the National Council for Peace and Order was supposed to be good at achieving.

  • OPINION

    The submarine deal that won't go away

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 12/05/2017

    » Despite widespread public opposition, the Thai navy inked a 13.5-billion-baht contract last week for the first of what will be three Chinese submarines in an 11-year deal worth 36 billion baht. Myriad criticisms have been expressed in as many media platforms by both experts and observers alike. Yet there are four broader implications which argue against the submarine deal and warrant a mention on record.

  • OPINION

    Are Thais getting the dictators they deserve?

    News, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 28/04/2017

    » For a society that has overthrown two military dictatorships over the past two generations, what has been happening in Thailand is astonishing.

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