With a new inheritance tax introduced last year and the Land and Building Tax Law coming into effect on January 1st, 2019, Thailand is taking steps towards addressing its reputation as the third worst country globally for wealth inequality. Still, the amount of additional income that is being raised is small, and the government’s position is that expanding the amount of state income obtained via more progressive taxation should be the task of the next parliament.
On 19 July, 2017, Dr. Atipong ‘Tao’ Pathanasethpong, Spokesperson of the Project for a Social Democracy (PSD), and John ‘Special Circumstances’ Draper, member of the PSD Working Group, visited Mr. Khornchanok ‘Pob’ Saenprasert, Director of the Legal Centre for Human Rights in Khon Kaen and a representative of the Commoners’ Party of Thailand, and Mr. Tong, Co-ordinator of the Neo-Isan Movement, at the Legal Centre for Human Rights. The dialogue focused on the political future of Thailand.
With a secret military court again denying bail last week to Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa, a law student from Khon Kaen University in Northeast Thailand, the regime is adopting show trials targeting university students, human rights activists, and academics. In effect, it is engaging in cyberwarfare against its own people, cementing a surveillance state. In addition, the military state mentality presents a clear and present threat to Thailand’s overseas image and economy.
Far from costing governments’ and companies’ money to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a major report by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC), an alliance of business leaders, economists, trade unionists and civil society actors, details how businesses and governments can actually benefit. Asian businesses stand to obtain five trillion dollars in business opportunities from countries meeting the new ‘Global Goals’.
In a televised address on 17 June 2017, General Prayut Chan-o-cha released ‘50 thoughts’. The junta leader took great pains to emphasize that the ‘thoughts’ were not questions, and made it clear, in fact, that he does not necessarily want answers — he apparently simply wants the people to hear and to approve the junta’s principles and logic.
The ongoing debate on the organic law on the new Thai National Human Rights Commission focuses on the selection process and level of authority of the NHRC, i.e., whether it can advise the Constitutional and Administrative Courts. The regime’s official position is that the NHRC should be more diverse and should meet the international human rights Paris Principles, a somewhat paradoxical position given it was under the regime that the NHRC was downgraded according to the Paris Principles. Civil society also emphasizes greater diversity and that there should be a stronger emphasis on the NHRC investigating human rights abuses.
The Fifth Wave of the Unicef Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) on women and children’s health was administered by the Thai National Statistical Office (NSO) in 2015-2016, with the main report being published earlier this year. The survey illustrates how children and young people living in remote and rural areas, children from poor households, and children whose parents have low levels of education are falling behind in health, education, and overall development.
Avoiding colonization by Europe simply meant that we colonized our own people. This internal colonialism, in which officials appointed from the metropolis rule and drain the countryside like conquered provinces, has led to obvious differences among the Thai. (Gen. Saiyut Koetphon, former head of Internal Security Operations Command, 1976.)
This column highlights the fact that Thais brought up as children under authoritarian regimes are more likely to reflect authoritarian values – the ‘Nazi effect’, which turns children into Right-Wing Authoritarians. The result is that Thailand is a ‘swing state’ between democracy and authoritarianism, making it a crucial battlefield for values in Southeast Asia.
The UK, once almost entirely reliant on coal-fired energy, had its first coal-free day since 1880 this month (Friday 21st April), meaning it is on schedule to be completely coal free by 2025. More coal-free days will depend on the availability of solar, especially in June and July. Approximately half the UK’s energy comes from gas, 30% from renewables and inter-country agreements, and the rest from nuclear.