After Thailand’s Coup

In a new review, Editor-in-chief Kevin Hewison of the Department of Asian Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Centre for Macau Studies at the University of Macau, looks at a new collection published by Singapore’s ISEAS.

After the Coup. The National Council for Peace and Order Era and the Future of Thailand is edited by Michael Montesano, Terence Chong and Mark Heng Shu Xun. Hewison notes that the book’s 15 chapters cover much ground but that there are several stand-out chapters among others that are less memorable. He observes that 16 of the 20 authors involved in this project are Thai. The topics taken up “range across the politics of the middle class, regionalism, monarchy, media and contestation,” with “excursions into the southern violence, economic growth and demography…”.

While the class analysis involved in some of the chapters is not particularly strong, a couple of chapters on the monarchy are useful and interesting. Also of interest are chapters that reflect on the failure of the red shirt movement to oppose the 2014 coup. They reveal extensive and targeted political repression and “ ‘counter-decentralisation,’ ‘re-centralisation’ and ‘de-democratisation’ that halted local elections and enforced the domination of state ideology…”.

The reviewer concludes that this is “a useful collection of well-edited and readable contributions on the current state of Thailand’s politics is the military junta’s thoroughgoing effort to wind back Thailand’s political and social clock,” even if there are some important topics not covered (e.g. the working class, crises in Buddhism, the political economy of the capitalist class and the internal politics of the military).

 

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