“Thailand’s Public Secret: Military Wealth and the State” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2019.1635632) is a new and important article authored by Ukrist Pathmanand of the Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand and Michael K. Connors of the Department of International Relations, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China.
The paper’s abstract states:
After the military coup of 2014, 143 serving and retired generals of the Royal Armed Thai Forces submitted asset declarations to the National Anti-Corruption Commission on being appointed to the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly. By analysing these declarations, this article demonstrates that a cohort of wealthy generals has emerged, which leads to the article’s central concern: how is it that despite the political reform project of the 1990s, military leaders were able to evade scrutiny and become wealthy? It is argued that behind the lack of scrutiny of the military’s wealth accumulation was a structure of fear that severely undermined the capacity to enforce regulations and which enabled the military to evade the constitutional forms of scrutiny elaborated in the 1997 Constitution. That structure of fear emerged in a context of an elusive political settlement when the apparatuses of the state were occupied by competing regime framers, leading to a re-assertion of military power.