On 22 May 2018, Thailand commemorated the 4th anniversary of the military coup that overthrew the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra. The coup took place during the critical period of the royal transition. King Bhumibol passes away in October 2016. Less than two months later, the heir apparent, Vajiralongkorn, ascended the throne. Meanwhile, the military government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, has continued to tightly rule Thai politics. The constitution was rewritten by the military-appointed committees, thus guaranteeing the entrenchment of power of the army in the post-election period. Yet, elections have not been fixed, postponing the prospect of Thailand returning to democracy. The political uncertainties reflect a reality in which the old political regime long dominated by the royal political network is increasingly losing its spell. But the kind of new political regime, possibly introduced by new political alternatives, has not yet been born. Thailand is entering its dangerous interregnum.
This roundtable discusses Thailand’s political developments since the 2014 coup, exploring issues pertaining to democracy, the role of the military and monarchy, as well as the state of Thai affairs, namely the judiciary, the Sangha and foreign policy.
Speaker and Moderator:
Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at the Center of Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. He is the author of the upcoming book, “Coup, King, Crisis: Time of a Dangerous Interregnum” (Stanford University Press). Pavin is also a chief editor of the online journal Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia.
Prof Charnvit Kasetsiri is a visiting senior fellow at CSEAS. He is a former rector of Thammasat University. He continues to teach at the History Department after retirement in 2001. Currently, he also holds the post of Secretary of the Social Sciences and Humanity Textbook Foundation, Thailand. Among his most well known book is “The Rise of Ayudhya: A History of Siam in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries”, published by Oxford University Press.
Edoardo Siani is an anthropologist specialising in culture and society of Thailand. Based in Bangkok since 2002, he completed his PhD in anthropology and sociology of Thailand at SOAS. Edoardo is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at CSEAS. His scholarships explores the intersection between Buddhism and power in contemporary Thailand.