Understanding Thai Politics

Dr. Paul Chambers

Yesterday afternoon, at the Chiang Mai University (CMU), Dr. Paul Chambers delivered a lecture, in a lecture room of the Social Sciences Building.

It was entitled,”Understanding Thailand’s Political Stalemate: Causes, Prospects, and Meanings” and was followed by discussion with Q&A.

Dr. Chambers presented  the background, primary stakeholders, different factions, and fundamental issues surrounding the current political crisis in Thailand, including a discussion of the implications prolonged instability in Thailand could have for Burma and Thai-Burma relations.

Dr. Chambers is the author or co-author of several books, including,

1) Chambers, Paul, “Military ‘Shadows’ in Thailand since the 2006 coup,” Asian Affairs: An
American Review, (Routledge), Vol. 40, Issue 2, 2013.
2) Chambers, Paul, Napisa Waitoolkiat, Hanstaad, Eric, Arisa Ratanapinsiri, Srisompob Jitpiromsri,
Knights of the Realm: Thailand’s Military and Police, Then and Now (edited by Paul Chambers).
Bangkok: White Lotus Press, 2013.
3) Croissant, Aurel, Kuehn, David, Lorenz, Chambers, Paul W. Democratization and Civilian Control
in Asia. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave/Macmillan (Critical Studies of the Asia Pacific, 2013.

Since it became a Constitutional Monarchy 1932, Thailand has endured an astonishing 11 successful military coups, as well as seven attempted coups. It seems that this troubled nation has so many competing power groups.

I found the lecture very enlightening. Previously I had not fully understood the role and the power of Prem Tinsulanonda (aged 93) and the Privy Council. Now I understand how conflict arises between the Palace and politicians.

The subject of the lecture was too complicated to relate here. He illustrated the contending parallel states by the slide below.

Thaksin is not fading away. He has constructed his own informal parallel state which includes the Puea Thai party.

His conclusions were,

The findings of the National Anti-Corruption Commission(NACC) are due soon as is the decision of the Constitutional Court on the validity of the February 2 election. It is likely that Yingluck’s caretaker government will be forced to stand aside and the February election result will be annuled. Another election will take place. In the meantime another “neutral” caretaker government will take place on the resignation of Wingluck.

In short the aims of Sutep’s current protests will be achieved! Perhaps after the election the cycle will begin all over again!


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