Three years after it staged a coup, Thailand’s junta is subjecting rural people to harassment and prosecution, but pleasing investors, according to local NGOs. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has been repeatedly criticised for its failure to solve economic problems and for the slide back to authoritarianism.
The “most political” Thai studies conference was held last week, with calls for academic freedom in Thai society. The junta, however, responded by summoning three scholars. Every three years, the International Conference on Thai Studies (ICTS) is held as a platform for scholars and researchers. This year, the 13th ICTS was hosted in Chiang Mai and 385 papers were presented between 15 and 18 July. But the 13th ICTS was also a symbolic protest against the ruling junta.
Social media has taken up arms the past week over repeated stories of flamboyant military spending, first on a shiny new set of fighter jets and then on a ski trip to Japan. Against the backdrop of a quickly declining economy, the Ministry of Defence has announced intentions to procure eight fighter jets from South Korea that will cost 8.8 billion baht. The fighter jet shopping spree comes only a month after the Ministry of Defence announced the purchasing of tanks worth 2.3 million baht from China.
After a relatively long absence, a pop music band has made a stunning comeback with a music video mocking the junta. The MV neatly sums up Thailand’s politics during the past week. For the sake of a peaceful life, artists in Thailand usually stay away from politics.
Under the current military regime, women suffer injustice and human rights violations significantly more than men due to a lack of legal protection and social discrimination, according to women’s rights reports to the UN. On 4 July 2017, representatives of Thai women’s rights NGOs read a statement on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) at UN headquarters in Geneva.
The 1932 Siamese Revolution was heralded in part by stories, novels and and writing groups. The ideals of the People’s Party were nothing new, compared to movements that had already taken place in the literary field.
Last Saturday marked the 85th anniversary of Thailand’s 1932 Democratic Revolution. Academics, politicians and activists enthusiastically commemorated the historical event. Meanwhile the authorities worked hard to clamp down on ‘sensitive issues’.
Despite relentless attempts by Thailand’s conservative elite to bury the memory of the People’s Party, which brought to an end the absolute monarchy, the legal legacy of the 1932 democratic revolution which gave birth to the first constitution of the nation and laid the foundation of the rule of law lives on.
How much room is there to learn about revolution in Thailand’s education system, a system facing mounting criticism for preaching obedience over creativity? Today, on the 85th anniversary of the 1932 Democratic Revolution, few students are likely to remember the arguable birth of democracy in Thailand.
Last week, liberal values prevailed in social media controversies, while the junta faced unprecedented resistance to its attempts to abolish universal healthcare and the fast-track construction of a Thai-Chinese high speed train. Thai people love a good drama, both on TV and in real life.