The Thai Political Crisis of 2014: Necessary Cultural and Historical Background

Memo #303

By Jim Placzek – james.placzek [at] ubc.ca

Jim PlaczekThe key to understanding the current crisis in Thailand is Thai national identity. For decades a government office has been successfully promoting symbols of this identity. The central symbol of that identity is the monarchy. The elite of Thailand, including the military, have been called “the network monarchy”and… Continue reading

Thailand and Turkey: Challenges to Elite and Military Rule

Memo #180 – Thailand and Turkey have a lot in common. Both countries celebrate their avoidance of formal colonization by adopting Westernizing adjustments overseen by “modernizing” rulers in the 19th century. Both have followed similar state-led economic development trajectories in the 20th century, only to liberalize after the 1980s. Both are known for military interventions in the electoral process. Both are highly nationalistic and devoted to national myths of development centred around revered figures. Continue reading

Thailand Post-election Analysis: Crisis and Opportunity

Memo #97 – The highest voter turnout in history shows Thai voters still view elections as the most legitimate way to transfer power. 75 per cent of eligible voters participated in last week’s election. Pheu Thai took 40 per cent of the vote, gained 265 out of 500 seats, and together with five other parties will form a 300-seat coalition government – an impressive result for a party whose predecessors were ousted by a coup d’état in 2006, twice dissolved, and had their politicians banned from politics for five years. Continue reading

Thailand’s Red-Shirts: One Year Later

Memo #60 – March 12, 2011 will mark the first anniversary of Thailand’s red-shirt protesters’ massive street campaign in Bangkok that ended in some of the worst political violence in modern Thai history. 91 people were killed and over 1,800 were injured in a military crackdown that resembled more of a civil war than a restoration of order. This was mainly due to the appearance of mysterious black-clad men on the side of the protesters who engaged the Thai army with automatic rifles and grenade launchers. Continue reading

Nelson Rand, a Canadian journalist wounded in Bangkok analyzes the Thailand conflict

Memo #14 – Nelson Rand is a Canadian journalist based in Bangkok who has been covering insurgencies and political protests in Thailand for the past 6 years. He was wounded while covering the protests earlier in the summer. He is a graduate of the Master of Arts – Asia Pacific Policy Studies (MAPPS) program at UBC. Continue reading

Threads, Robes, and Alms-Rounds: Thai Buddhist Monks in the Recent Yellow Shirt vs. Red Shirt Conflict

Memo #5 – Reports disseminated by Buddhist news aggregators suggest instances when Buddhist monks act along political “lines” while claiming political neutrality. The recent conflict in Thailand is no exception. Continue reading