[Public Lecture] Historical Immaterialism: From Primitive Society to Transnational Wireless Global Community

SIU will co-host a public lecture Historical Immaterialism: From Primitive Society to Transnational Wireless Global Community on 1 November 2014.

immaterialism

SIU will co-host a public lecture Historical Immaterialism: From Primitive Society to Transnational Wireless Global Community (อวัตถุนิยมประวัติศาสตร์: จากสังคมบุพกาลสู่ชุมชนโลกไร้สาย) on 13:00 of 1 November 2014 at William Warren Library Henry B. Thompson Building, Soi Kasemsan2, Rama 1 Rd., Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand 10330.

The lecture, co-host with Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southeast Asia and Digital Culture Thailand will discuss about intellectual property, immaterial property and “commons” through the lens of history, biology and physics. Mr. Athip Jittarerk will be the lecturer. His slide is available here.

The event is free.

More details are on Facebook Event Page

Public Lecture: The Digital Ethic and the Spirit of Public Sphere

SIU will co-host a public lecture The Digital Ethic and the Spirit of Public Sphere by Dr. Kasem Phenpinant, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn Universit. 13 September 2014.

The Digital Ethic and the Spirit of Public Sphere
The Digital Ethic and the Spirit of Public Sphere

SIU will co-host a public lecture The Digital Ethic and the Spirit of Public Sphere จริยศาสตร์บนโลกดิจิทัล และจิตวิญญาณของพื้นที่สาธารณะ on 13th September 2014 at William Warren Library
Henry B. Thompson Building, Soi Kasemsan2, Rama 1 Rd., Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand 10330.

The event will be lectured by Dr. Kasem Phenpinant, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University.

Please see more info of the event at Facebook event page.

Thailand 2014 Coup: Expect for the Worst

SIU’s analysis on Thailand 2014 Coup Detat. As 22th May 2014, 21:00 local time (GMT+7)

Photo from @MyNameTai
The Coup announcement, captured from TV by @MyNameTai

The situation is still confusing. At 21:00 local time (GMT+7), we can summarize the situation as below:

What’s Happened

  • A coup by The Army Chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha.
  • Political leaders from both side are ‘in control/custody’ by the army. The list includes Suthep Thaugsuban (PDRC leader), Abhisit Vejjajiva (Ex-PM and opposition leader), key ministers in Pheu Thai government, 5 key red shirt leaders.
  • Some red shirt leaders throughout the country are in custody.
  • Acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan is missing. As we know currently, he is not in the army control.
  • 2007 Constitution is now defunct. The Cabinet is gone.
  • The junta keep the senate and the justice courts.
  • All TV stations are under controlled. Normal programs are replaced by military graphic.

What We Don’t Know Yet

  • Whereabout of Niwatthamrong, also Yingluck Shinawatra.
  • It seems that Shinawatra family members fled the kingdom. No confirmation yet.
  • Nothing from Thaksin yet.

Analysis

We already warned the ‘bad scenario’ in our previous analysis and now it happens.

It seems that from the conservatives’ viewpoint, the stake is too high so they can not lose this war at all cost. That’s why this coup happens. The martial law on 20th May is a testbed for today’s coup. We think the coup has been planned long before and the martial law is just a ‘lead signal’ for the eventual coup.

The big picture of this coup is ‘conservative forces consolidate their power’. The red shirts movement is too dangerous for the ‘sake of the Kingdom’ and needs to be gotten rid of. The ‘hard liner’ generals now run the show and we should expect the bad outcome.

What to Expect

This list is just our quick analysis from today’s information. We are very pessimistic right now for the situation.

  • We should see the new PM soon (within the next 3-4 days). The senate will act for the full parliament and nominate a new PM.
  • Possible PM candidates are General Prawit Wongsuwan, ex-Army chief and Palakorn Suwanrath, a Privy Councilor. Both are closed to the palace.
  • The new junta government will run the country for 1-2 years. Possibly longer than previous Surayud Chulanont government (2006-2007).
  • New Constitution will be drafted, we might call it 2015 Constitution. It will be more draconian than 2007 Constitution.
  • PDRC, Democrat Party, and all anti-Pheu Thai leaders will be released in the next few days. Pheu Thai and red leaders will be in custody longer.
  • The short term (1-3 months) outcome will be peaceful but it’s temporary peace.
  • The longer term (3-6 months and more) looks bad. Red Shirts will go underground. We might see some unrests.
  • The situation after that depends on the structure of the new Constitution and the call for ‘true democratic’ general election.
  • If the Constitution is undemocratic and the election is postponed indefinitely, the country (especially the junta government) will face the insurgency in North and Northeastern which is the red shirts’ bases.
  • The worst possible scenario is a chronic civil war. Same as Thailand’s ongoing Deep South Insurgency.

We will update our analysis frequently as the situation changes.

Thailand Under Martial Law: What’s Next?

SIU’s analysis on the declaration of martial law on 20th May 2014.

Prayuth Chan-oha

Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of PDRC, announced last weekend that this weekend will be the ‘final showdown’ of his 6-month protest. While Thais keep watching what the end will be, last night at 3pm the military made its move with the declaration of martial law.

What’s happened so far

The martial law prohibits any political gathering in the country and allow the military to ‘cease and investigate’ anything they consider important.

At 12pm of 20th May 2014, local time, Thai Royal Army led by Commander-in-Chief General Prayuth Chan-oha has announced several things:

  • Thailand is now under martial law, nationwide.
  • The foundation of Peace Keeping Command Center (PKCC), the new internal security command center under the martial law. Gen. Prayuth also hold the commander title of PKCC.
  • The dissolution of Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), the internal security command center of the Phue Thai government under the Internal Security Act. All the forces under CAPO will transfer to PKCC.
  • TV and radio stations need to live broadcast PKCC announcements on army request. They are also prohibited to spread ‘controversial news’.
  • Political satellite TV and radio stations from both political sides are suspended. 10 satellite TV stations are suspended.
  • Heads of government agencies and independent agencies need to report to the military command throughout the country.
  • Seize the government house from PCRC’s occupation.

At the moment, PDRC announced that they will stay in place (Ratchadamnoen Avenue in central Bangkok) to ‘wait and see’ what PKCC will do for today. The Red Shirt protesters will keep staying at Utthayan Avenue outside Bangkok as well.

Analysis

In theory, the declaration of martial law is lawful. The army insisted that it is not the coup detat and the current acting government still remains legally.

In practice, while it is not the ‘official coup’, it is clearly a ‘military intervention’. The acting Phue Thai government is still in force but their power on security matters is now transferred to the army. Some might say it is ‘phantom coup’ or ‘disguised coup’

The impact of martial law can be analyzed in short-middle-long term period:

  • Short term (this week): the martial law will suppress the movement from both protester sites. We should see a temporary peace in Bangkok (with soldiers everywhere) for a few days.
  • Middle term (this month and next month): the ‘vacuum of power’ problem remains. Thailand has no official government and the lower house since last December. We will have the acting Prime Minister (Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, Deputy PM) for normal day-to-day duty but he needs to ask Gen. Prayuth for anything related to politics and security.
  • Long term: the big problem remains. Thailand has been in a big transition toward modernity. The country needs to define the new political architecture in the next era.

We believe Gen. Prayuth himself act by his own, independently from PDRC (He seems to dislike PDRC as well) but his move is definitely what PDRC has long asked for six months (a ‘military intervention’). The army has been closely tied to the conservative forces for long time. Gen. Prayuth is considered as a hardliner and served in the ‘queen bodyguard’ infantry. He was also a high-level commander in 2006 coup against Thaksin government.

It is very likely for PDRC to cease its activities in the next few days and announce ‘the victory’. PDRC is very fatigued from the ongoing 6-month protest and the martial law is a good cause for the exit.

The martial law causes a big negative impact to the red shirts, which is against the army and any military intervention from the start. The clash between the red shirts and the army is possible but the possibility depends on PKCC’s movement in the next few days.

Possible Scenarios

As stated above, the martial law is just a short-term intervention. Thailand needs to find the solution for the political vacuum. Now the duty to decide belongs to only Gen. Prayuth himself.

Please note that the martial law is a 100-year old law this year (it became a royal act in 1914, just before the WWI, Thailand was an absolute monarchy state at that time). According the law, the army can declare the martial law but the only way to stop it is to the royal command from the king.

This means Prayuth need to find the way to solve Thailand’s political crisis and then submit a request to King Bhumibol to lift the martial law condition.

We believe there are two main possible scenarios:

The better one: Prayuth will consult the acting government, political leaders, the Senate, the Election Commission of Thailand (ETC) to set the new general election. Political protests will be prohibited at all. The Shinawatra family might skip the election to avoid further conflict and let other Phue Thai leaders compete instead. The opposing Democrat Party returns to the election. The new government (very likely for Phue Thai) will lead the reformation process and constitution amendment.

In this scenario, the red shirts will be ok if the election will happen. PDRC supporters might feel better if the election will happen under martial law. Prayuth will be considered as ‘an external judge’ to bring peace back to the country (though not in the full democratic way).

The worse one: Prayuth will let the Senate (only remaining political institution, also closed to PCRC) act as the full parliament. The Senate will choose the acting Prime Minister and cabinet, which might be unconstitutional. The new cabinet will face a big opposition from the red shirts. Since the martial law prohibits any political activities, the red shirts will go underground. Thailand might face the insurgency nationwide.

Thailand’s future in the next few decades is now under Prayuth’s hand. We should know soon what he will choose.

SIU on Reforming Democrat Party

Kan Yuenyong, SIU Director, joined the discussion on “Reforming Democrat Party” on Kom Chad Luek TV program.

9 October 2013 – Kan Yuenyong, SIU Director, joined the discussion on “Reforming Democrat Party” on Kom Chad Luek TV program.

The other panelists are:

  • Alongkorn Ponlaboot, Deputy Leader, Democrat Party
  • Jidtakorn Busaba, Political Analyst
  • Assoc.Prof.Yuttaporn Issarachai, Dean, Faculty of Political Science, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University

Book: Redefine Thailand

“Redefine Thailand” is the latest book from SIU. We will try to answer the question “What actually is Thailand?” from the cultural, historical and social viewpoint.

Redefine Thailand

Redefine Thailand” is the latest book from SIU. We will try to answer the question “What actually is Thailand?” from the cultural, historical and social viewpoint.

We believe that the chronic and ongoing conflict of Thailand will need a newer definition of Thailand, from the root of the society itself. This book is the complement to our big and challenging theme “Repositioning Thailand”, which we tried to answer it from economical viewpoint in our previous book “Transform Thailand“. Please see our beginning statement of the project (in Thai).

Redefine Thailand project had interviewed some key social thinkers and scholars on the same questions “What actually is Thailand?” and let these people express their opinion on our challenge. Here are the listed of people in this book (with a link to published interview article):

  • รศ.ดร.กฤตยา อาชวนิจกุล (Krittaya Atchawanitchakun) Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University
  • รศ.ดร.สุเนตร ชุตินธรานนท์ (Sunait Chutintaranond) Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University
  • พระไพศาล วิสาโล (Phra Paisal Visalo) Scholar Monk
  • นิธิ เอียวศรีวงศ์ (Nidhi Eoseewong) Independent Social Scholar
  • รศ.ดร.พิชาย รัตนดิลก ณ ภูเก็ต (Phichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket) School of Social and Environmental Development, National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA)
  • สุภาพ หริมเทพาธิป (Supap Rimthepathip) Editor of Bioscope Magazine
  • ประชา สุวีรานนท์ (Pracha Suveeranont) Independent Designer
  • กานต์ ยืนยง (Kan Yuenyong) SIU Director
  • ศิโรตม์ คล้ามไพบูลย์ (Sirote Klampaiboon) Independent Social Scholar

Book information:

  • Published Date: August 2013
  • ISBN: 978-616-91684-2-3
  • Pages: 224

Where to Buy

Article: Thailand on Track for 2 Trillion Baht Infrastructure Project

SIU publishes an article on Siam Voices / Asian Correspondent on Thailand’s 2 trillion Baht infrastructure project.

SIU publishes an article on Siam Voices / Asian Correspondent on Thailand’s 2 trillion Baht infrastructure project.

Thailand on track for 2 trillion baht infrastructure project

19 Sep 2013 – Today is the 7th anniversary of 2006 Coup d’etat in Thailand and also the day 2 trillion baht (US$64 billion) infrastructure development bill is submitted to Thai parliament.

While the act has a lot of critics (specifically on the ‘debt’ side), it is the most ambitious infrastructure investment in Thailand since the 1997 financial crisis.

The latest big infrastructure investments in Thailand occurred before the Asian financial crisis. After the crisis, Thai governments cut spending and even after the economy recovered there was little political will to launch major infrastructure projects. Thaksin Shinawatra’s government spent a lot of money on stimulating the economy, but there was little investment in infrastructure with the exception of Suvarnabhumi Airport, which opened in 2006 and is already struggling to handle passenger numbers.

This time, the Pheu Thai government is serious about infrastructure development. With the votes they have in parliament, the act should be passed without much trouble. Let’s look ahead at what we can expect over the next decade.

Thailand’s planned high speed rail routes. Pic: Thai-Japanese Association report (linked from image).

What is the plan?

The act will raise around 2 trillion baht to upgrade various  infrastructures.

  • 42.7% for highspeed trains
  • 24.9% for Bangkok metro/subway
  • 15% for road upgrades
  • 14.4% for train (non-highspeed) upgrades
  • 1.6% for sea ports
  • 1.5% for cargo stations and custom houses at borders

The Thai government has set a goal to reduce logistics costs per GDP by 2% (currently at 15.2%) and gradually shift the transport modal from road to rail.

The grand ambition of the highspeed train project is linking Southeast Asia to China – namely from Singapore to Kunming in China’s southwestern Yunnan province.

 

Pheu Thai officials talk with Japan Rails executives: Chadchart (far right) and Pansak (second right), and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (centre). Pic: Facebook.com.
Pheu Thai officials talk with Japan Rails executives: Chadchart (far right) and Pansak (second right), and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (centre). Pic: Facebook.com.

Who is behind the plan?

Some key Pheu Thai people are:

  • Pansak Vinyaratn – the chief policy adviser to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. He was the chief policy adviser to Prime Minister Thaksin before. He is the main strategist on the infrastructure and highspeed train plan.
  • Chadchart Sittipunt – the Minister of Transport, a rising star after his work on transportation policy and grassroots PR.
  • Prapat Chongsanguan – the current governor of State Railways of Thailand (SRT). He was the governor of Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRT). He is the guy Pheu Thai sent to fix the SRT’s chronic problems.

What to expect?

The two most obvious benefits of 2-trillion-baht project are the economic benefits of the investment itself and the logistics upgrade. The Thai government said it will create 500,000 jobs during the course of investment.

Thailand’s rail infrastructure is very old and fragile. The existing rail network was built more than a century ago and has not been upgraded much in a last few decades. Whether it’s highspeed rail or not, the SRT infrastructure and organizational bureaucracy will be improved a lot after the upgrade, which can only benefit the economy.

The next point to watch is the geopolitical shift after the new ASEAN connectivity loop. Mainland ASEAN will link itself closely to Southern China.

Domestically, we will see the geopolitical shift within Thailand as well. The current ‘everything comes to Bangkok’ situation will be gradually changed. The economic power will be distributed to large cities in different parts of Thailand. Five to 10 clusters of ‘new economic area’ will emerge around the highspeed train lines.

What are the concerns?

Debt will be the most discussed issue but, in practice, Thailand’s public debt level is still controllable.

If the political forecast is correct, the Pheu Thai government should win the election again in 2015 and the development plan will go ahead.

My chief concern  is human resources and know-how on the highspeed rail project – a completely new thing to Thai society. Very few people know about it and the inefficiency of SRT will make things worse – expect serious delays.

It will take times, maybe a decade or more, to create a good train network and operate it properly.

Research Series: NBTC Digital TV Licensing Process

4 research papers on NBTC Digital TV Licensing Process, including the auction, infrastructure and competitive landscape of Thai broadcasting industry.

SIU, by the support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), publish four research papers on “NBTC Digital TV Licensing Process”.

Here are the list of four papers (all in Thai):

These papers are also available for download on FES Thailand web site.

Solution Talk by Adam Kahane

SIU and 21 partners co-organized a special event “Solution Talk by Adam Kahane”. The organizers invited Adam Kahane, an expert on peace process who has dialogue experiences from more than 20 countries across the world, including South Africa after apartheid, to tell his lessons to Thai society.

Adam Kahane in Thailand
Adam Kahane talking at “Solution Talk” (Photos from Kapook)

6 September 2013 – SIU and 21 partners co-organized a special event “Solution Talk by Adam Kahane”. The organizers invited Adam Kahane, an expert on peace process who has dialogue experiences from more than 20 countries across the world, including South Africa after apartheid, to tell his lessons to Thai society.

The Scenario Thailand project, the main driver of this event, aims for more dialogues among Thailand’s political actors, leading the way to the sustainable peace and reconcilation process.

The event was joined by Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, Deputy Prime Minister and Mr. Apirak Kosayodhin, former Bangkok Governor. The participants number is around 140 people from various sectors.

More information for this event at Siam Intelligence site (in Thai).

SIU Comment on Egypt Situation

Kan Yuenyong, SIU Director, gave his opinion about Egypt political situation on the TV program Kom Chad Leuk. The program was aired on 19 August 2013 via Nation Channel.

Kan Yuenyong, SIU Director, gave his opinion about Egypt political situation on the TV program Kom Chad Leuk. The program was aired on 19 August 2013 via Nation Channel.

He was joined by Mr. Dolman Pongmaheung from Royal Thai Consulate in Cairo  and Prof. Jaran Maluleem from Faculty of Political Science, Thammasart University.