"During the past three years, my despair about my country has never reached the depth it did when I learned of the judgment in the case of Pai Dao Din," said Nidhi Eoseewong. Nidhi Eoseewong (file photo)
On May 22, 2014 the Thai military, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, staged a coup d’état to end several months of political and civil chaos in Thailand. At its very basic level, the chaos was caused by an on-going conflict between the so-called ‘red-shirts’, followers of the government of Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai party and comprising the rural voters forming a majority of the electorate, and the ‘yellow-shirts’, an alliance between the military, the Thai elite, and the middle-class Democrat party of Abhisit Vejjajiva with a strong following in Bangkok.
Tools of the state. Political opportunists. Foes of democracy. These are all rather harsh descriptions of NGOs. But for Pinkaew Laungaramsri from Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Social Science, they are truly the roles many NGOs have played in recent Thai political history.
The US State Department recently issued its 2017 edition of the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report). As might be expected, China, with over three million people living in modern slavery, has once again been downgraded to Tier 3 (countries whose governments do not fully comply with minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so), a ranking it held for a single year in 2013. However, one must ask why China was upgraded from Tier 3 in 2014, and why the downgrade now, for this is by no means clear from the reports for the two years.
The easiest Buddhist critical-thinking skill-set to recollect is found in the Visuddhimagga, a fifth-century treatise which borrows from the Abhidhamma. This expresses a coherent framework and structurally examines sila (moral regulations), samadhi (calming meditation) and panna (wisdom), through a fourfold-scheme to determine the characteristics, function, manifestation and proximate cause of the threefold-training.
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.