On a Saturday night in mid-September 2013 I was sat at table in a deserted restaurant in an exclusive beachside resort in Phuket. My companions were graduate students and researchers from Chulalongkorn University and Japan’s prestigious Kyoto University.
Between 21-24 March 2017, Ratchaburi Provincial Court will hold witness hearings for and against the criminal case of Taweesak Kerdpoka, 25, a Prachatai journalist.
I took a taxi from Kuala Lumpur's bustling shopping centre at the Petronas Twin Towers in the heart of the city. It was taking me along one of the busy highways which cuts through the city to a tom yam restaurant. Thai food is very popular in Malaysia but what most people are unaware of is that most of the owners and workers of the thousands of tom yam restaurants across Malaysia are Patani Malays from across the border in Thailand's Patani region of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.
Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will visit Thailand from 5-6 March 2017. This will be their first visit in ten years, mainly to strengthen ties between the two countries and for Their Majesties to pay the last respect to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
I decided to write this letter for you, my little son, and for the many other children who may be confused when you hear the story of “Pai.” You may not understand the disappearance of the once-beautiful world. When you grow up a bit, you will come to be aware of more than your own life and comfort. Pai is a university student and activist.
Since the Thai political crisis that eventually led to a coup in 2006 overthrowing the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, it became evident that the Thai middle class and an army of civil society organisations were not performing as agents of change. Instead they became defenders of the old power to protect their political interests. In 2005, the Bangkok-based People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) launched protests Thaksin. Clad in yellow shirts, the protesters accused Thaksin of commtting corruption and disrespecting the much-revered monarchy—a sacred institution in Thailand.
When the Japanese scholar and translator, Hara Shintaro used the term 'Siamese imperialist' in a translation of a YouTube post by BRN, a Malay armed resistance organization believed by many to be the strongest and most active group in the Patani conflict, it was condemned not simply for being an incorrect translation but being “too harsh”. Of course, it is not only the Thai state which does not take kindly to being described as an imperialist.
Insults vs. Hate Crime, who will win this game of attention?
Under military rule, social order is attained at the expense of economic growth while elected governments usually lead to political turmoil.
The Military Junta should be careful how it reacts to the passing of King Bhumibol. Emotions are high right now in Thailand which the military will no doubt aim to exploit to consolidate its political power over the country.