Opinion

15 May 2013
In “Red Shirt Academic,” Yukti Mukdawijitra, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology at Thammasat University, tells his own story of growing involved in struggling for accountability, freedom and human rights in the years since the 19 September 2006 coup.  Simultaneously, he tracks the discomfort this has caused among his colleagues and others in Thai society who would prefer that he and others were less active. They call him a “red shirt academic,” a title he comes to embrace. 
10 May 2013
China and Thailand have forged even closer ties with the recent exchanges of visits of key policy makers. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his Bangkok trip early this month, extolled Thailand for playing a “significant” role in promoting relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
23 Apr 2013
What can we say about the situation in our country that hasn't already been said? What ideology do we possess that hasn't already made its way across the pages of our history books? There is a very popular video making its way around youtube and facebook speaking of our need to understand our history. (The video's laughable use of euphemisms over regicide, genocide, and executions is so vulgar it verges on pornography.) The video tells the story of the sacking of Ayudhya in an attempt to say that the divisions we have today are similar to the rifts that occurred back then, divisions which ultimately led to the early Kingdom's downfall.
17 Apr 2013
On 28 March 2013, Ekachai Hongkangwan was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for allegedly violating Article 112 by selling CDs which contained an ABC Australia documentary and copies of WikiLeaks documents. He requested bail while he appealed the case, but this request was denied and he is currently behind bars at the Bangkok Remand Prison.
16 Apr 2013
The dust has firmly settled and the dye is fully cast. It has been three years since the eventful months of April and May. The barricades, the speeches, the bloodshed and violence seems like distant memories to some, fresh and painful ones for others. But after three years the only perpetrators that are behind bars are red shirt activists and lèse majesté violators.
10 Apr 2013
The crisis on the Korean Peninsula is reaching its peak. North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, has threatened to wage an attack on the United States and South Korea using “smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear weapons”. Shuttle diplomacy is now being conducted between key players in an attempt to alleviate the tense situation.
9 Apr 2013
In his introduction to his wonderful Age of Reason Thomas Paine implores that the reader give his work the same accordance he has given “every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine.” It was undoubtedly important to Thomas Paine considering he was writing about religion in a time where apostasy was still considered a grave offense. While the writing was published at the tail end of the European Enlightenment and at the height of the French Revolution, he still felt the need to highlight the necessity of liberty and differences of opinion.
2 Apr 2013
On 12 October 2012, the Constitutional Court released a comment in response to petitions submitted by Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and Ekachai Hongkangwan about the constitutionality of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which mandates that "whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years. The comment addressed whether or not Article 112 was in contravention to Article 3 (2), Article 29, and Article 45 (1, 2) of the Constitution (The full comment can be read here). In response to concerns about each of these provisions, the Constitutional Court ruled that Article 112 did not stand in contravention and was therefore constitutional. Given an earlier commentary issued in response to a petition by Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, in which the Court noted that a closed trial is compatible with the exercise of the defendant’s rights and liberties, the sum total of the comment was not entirely surprising.
2 Apr 2013
The video shows smoke rising from a burning village. Men, women and children are shown escaping from the ordeal. The military are present but do nothing as the people are assaulted by a variety of projectiles. An on-looking woman eggs on the violence shouting, “Kill them, Kill them!” These are the images that are coming out of Myanmar as of the time of this writing. What was initially dismissed as a local and isolated conflict has slowly revealed itself as increasingly sectarian and religious in nature. Not that sectarian violence is anything new in the country formerly known as Burma. It was one of the underlying themes of George Orwell’s Burmese Days back in 1934.
24 Mar 2013
The media has recently reported that the sky is now clear over Dawei for the Italian-Thai Development Company (ITD), the developer of the Dawei deep seaport and industrial estate project. For the thousands of people for whom Dawei has been their home for generations, there are only dark clouds on the horizon. 
7 Mar 2013
The Bangkok gubernatorial election was held last weekend and ended with a great fanfare. The incumbent governor, Sukhumbhand Paribatra, from the opposition Democrat Party, managed to hold on for another term despite implementing a number of failed policies during the past four years under his leadership. 
23 Feb 2013
Claudio Sopranzetti, Red Journeys: Inside the Thai Red-Shirt Movement. Chiang Mai, Silkworm Books, 2012. xiv + 131pp. At the time he wrote this memoir, Claudio Sopranzetti was doing fieldwork in Thailand for his dissertation in anthropology. Based on his interactions with some of the 200,000 motorcycle taxi drivers operating semi-legally in Bangkok, his study focuses on mobility and politics. Many of the taxi drivers are from the northeast, a region populated by people of Lao descent and historically one of the most disadvantaged parts of the country. The Lao cultivators and petty traders, who migrate to the capital to work in services such as driving motorcycle taxis, have long suffered from the disparaging attitudes of wealthy, urban people who view them as country bumpkins and harbour an engrained fear of an empowered labour force.

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