Bangkok, June 11, 2010: Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy is the title of the latest book by Thailand political commentator and dissident, associate professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn.
Consisting of 200 pages, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy will be of interest to academics, journalist,s and activists who have an interest in Thai politics, democratization and NGOs.
The book analyses the nature of the deep political divisions between the “red-shirts” and the royalist “yellow-shirts”, starting from the creation of the Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD), through the 2006 coup and up to the end of 2009.
It argues against the idea that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is anti-monarchy and that this was the root cause of the 2006 coup. In trying to understand the political crisis, it must be seen in its entirety, including elite divisions and disputes, but also the roles of civil society activists and the constantly developing social movements which are made up of ordinary people.
The first chapter argues that Thaksin’s pro-poor policies and repeated election victories threatened the entrenched interests of the conservative ruling elite, including the military, the civilian bureaucracy and the political establishment.
Although Thaksin was no socialist and had no plan to build his political party into an activist movement, his overthrow by the military in 2006 sparked the building of a self-organized red-shirt mass movement. To some extent this movement has moved beyond Thaksin’s control, with some sections becoming radical and republican.
The second chapter deals with the politics of the peoples’ movement and analyses how major sections of this movement, which includes NGOs, came to side with the royalist authoritarians against the majority of the poor and the democratic system as a whole.
It questions mainstream democratization theory and critiques previous views about NGOs in the light of Thai events. This chapter discusses the extreme right-wing PAD movement which closed the international airports in late 2008. There is also a discussion of the labour movement.
The third chapter discusses the difficult issue of the Thai Monarchy and the growing republican movement in Thailand today. The chapter also discusses the lèse majesté law which the elites use against their political opponents.
The fourth chapter provides a historical background to Thai politics from the pre-capitalist era, through the turmoil of the 1930s and 1970s, up to the present day. This historical understanding is important in locating the dynamics of the ruling class and the changing politics of revolt from the time of the Communist Party through to the creation of the NGOs.
The civil war in the Muslim Malay south is discussed in chapter 5. Mr. Ungpakorn shows that the fundamental issue is Thai State repression and until this is dealt with politically, there can be no long term peace. Yet mainstream policy in Thailand is still based on a military solution.
The final chapter deals with personal political experiences and memories of his father, Dr. Puey Ungpakorn. This chapter has the English version of the Red Siam Manifesto, which was issued immediately after leaving Thailand in February 2009. It also contains an appendix with the eight paragraphs from Mr. Ungpakorn’s previous book, A Coup for the Rich, which the Thai police deemed to be lèse majesté.
The analysis in Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy is unique and embraces topics not covered by mainstream books on Thai politics, or which cannot be written about by authors living in Thailand.
Mr. Ungpakorn currently lives in self-imposed exile in the Uk, after being forced to flee Thailand in 2009 when he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticizing the 2006 military coup.
How to get Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy by Giles Ji Ungpakorn
Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy, ISBN 978-0956514509, can be obtained:
Directly from Mr. Ungpakorn by emailing him at email@example.com, indicating your country of residence.
Amazon UK: Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy
Bookmarks UK: Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy
New Internationalist Bookshop, Melbourne, Australia (from August 2010 onwards) Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy