A story about the family of a young Muslim Malay man killed by a motorcycle bomb in Yala market by Soraya Jamjuree and Kamnoeng Chamnankit
“Democracy without dharma is a Gross Domestic Product catastrophe,” a well-known monk just recently posted on their Facebook page. Many people probably wonder, “What about dictatorship?” No matter which, a system of government that allows one individual or group to use absolute power without scrutiny or consultation from anyone would need dharma or a deterring tool much more than democracy.
If you asked me if the decision by a military prosecutor to drop the lèse majesté charge against renowned historian and social critic Sulak Sivaraksa is good news, I’d say, ‘yes it’s good that the old man does not have to spend time in jail’. But if you asked me if this is a good sign for the state of freedom of expression in Thailand, I’d say ‘no, it’s not.’
Since ISIS has made headlines in international media, many analysts have linked the insurgency of Thailand’s three southernmost provinces to the transnational jihadist groups. Hara Shintaro, an expert on the Deep South conflict, argued that the struggle was more distinguishably nationalistic since it was led by the local elites and was strongly influenced by the atmosphere of post-World War II decolonisation.
The political struggle in Thailand can be seen as the unfinished democratization project. Although we have already had the revolution for establishing the democratic regime since 1932 by a group of democrat bureaucrats and military, there were military-led 13 coup d'etat, and the constitution has been changed for 20 times during the "85 years of solitude" of Thailand politics.
"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.