Thailand's Election and the New Government: A turning point?

Co-presented with the University of Sydney Australian Mekong Resource Centre, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney


Thai Election posters

Professor Pasuk Phongpaichit and Dr Chris Baker
30 September, 2011

The 2006 coup in Thailand inaugurated five years of intense conflict and fierce attacks on the principles and institutions of representative democracy in the country. The recent general election of 3 July 2011 installed a government with a strong majority. The army has promised to stay out of politics. The demonstrators are off the streets. Is this a turning point or just an illusion, a temporary respite? Two leading Thai scholars share their observations on the current situation.

Pasuk Phongpaichit was until recently Professor of Economics at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. Dr Pasuk graduated from Monash University and received her PhD at the University of Cambridge. She has written widely on the Thai economy, Japanese investment, the sex industry, corruption, and the illegal economy; including Corruption and Democracy in Thailand (1994), and Guns, Girls, Gambling, Ganja: Thailand's Illegal Economy and Public Policy (1998).

Chris Baker has a PhD from University of Cambridge and taught Asian history and politics at Cambridge in a previous life. He edited the pioneer issue of the Thailand Human Rights Journal (2003), and The Society of Siam: Selected Articles for the Siam Society's Centenary (2004), and co-edited Recalling Local Pasts: Autonomous History in Southeast Asia (2002), and Van Vliet's Siam (2005). He has also translated works by King Rama V, the Communist Party of Thailand, Nidhi Eoseewong, Seksan Prasertkul, and others.

Together, the pair has written A History of Thailand (2005); Thailand: Economy and Politics (1995; second edition 2002); Thailand's Boom and Bust (1998); and Thaksin - The Business of Politics in Thailand (2009), the first serious study of the Thaksin government available in English. They write regularly in the Bangkok press, and have written for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. They have recently completed a translation of the Thai epic, Khun Chang Khun Phaen.