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.
I've received the official invitation letter from the United States Embassy of Thailand 2 weeks ago. It was sent to the faculty of Chulalongkorn university. I learned from the letter that I'm invited to attend the 241 years of Independence Day celebration which will be held on 29th of June, at InterContinental hotel, Bangkok: As an ordinary student, of course, I’m genuinely delighted for such an opportunity. However, being invited to this event also made me question something. Why am I invited to this event? I'm not different from any other student.
Seminal historian Thongchai Winichakul argues that Thailand’s many constitutions have progressively torn power from the people to be placed back in the hands of the King — a process seen most clearly in the latest charter.
1. The months of May and June mark several key milestones in Thai history. There is June 1932 (the People’s Revolution) and June 1946 (the assassination of King Rama VIII), the two bloody crackdowns in May 1992 and 2010, and the coup in May 2014.
Note: On 29 April, a university professor was arrested as part of a sweep of six individuals accused of committing lèse majesté by posting to Facebook. He has been denied bail, as most are in these cases. Last week, Yukti Mukdawijitra, an anthropology professor at Thammasat University went to visit him. What follows are his reflections on their conversation, which was first published in Thai in his usual blog column for Prachatai.—trans.
Porntip ‘Kolf’ Mankhong, a former political prisoner, looks back at her more-than-a-decade of activism, arguing that the rise of ‘heroism’ among student activists is threatening solidarity and participation in Thailand’s democracy movement. Prontip gave this speech at the 2017 Asia Youth Leadership Forum For Democracy in Seoul. I’m lucky to have been an activist since the age of 16; it means I got to know myself early. I had time to try many things, to make mistakes and learn from them too.
Last month, a photo of Saudi Arabia’s Girl’s Council became viral because of one peculiarity: the total absence of women and girls in it. Thousands of Thais – including many LGBTIs – must have sniggered at the image.
Thailand’s military government hurriedly approved the budget to purchase three submarines from China, defending its decision as “strategically necessary” in the age of uncertain security situation in the region. However, the junta’s decision has been heavily criticised by the Thai public on the real need for the costly submarines at the time of the country’s economic downturn.
Note: Jit Phumisak (25 September 1930 – 5 May 1966) was one of the foremost Thai Marxism thinkers of the twentieth century. His most well-known work, The Real Face of Thai Feudalism, was published while he was still a student in the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University in 1957. The Real Face, which was later translated into English by Craig Reynolds, offered an analysis of feudalism and its remnants in Thai society, politics, and law. The volume was swiftly banned and he was arrested later that year and accused of being a communist.
When Ajarn Tum (Sudsanguan) Suthisorn was released from prison, Ajarn Charnvit Kasetsiri greeted her with a public message on Facebook that read, “Welcome back from the small prison to the large prison” (he did not use these exact words, but this was the gist). I gave my knee a loud slap when I read these lines. That is exactly right.