Wednesday 4th March 2015, 2.00 - 4.00pm, Tower 2, Room 9.05
Speaker: Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun; Chair Dr Kirsten Schulze
On 22 May 2014, the Thai military overthrew the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Outwardly, the military justified its political intervention with the classic claim that corruption was the rot of Thai politics and the coup was needed to purify the political domain. At a deeper level however, the military intervened at a time when a critical transition in Thai politics is on the horizon: the imminent royal succession. The speaker argues that the military government led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha is seeking to accomplish three missions: to reconstruct the electoral system that will benefit the traditional elites; to eliminate political enemies though the legal system, particularly the lèse-majesté law and other non-legal means; and to reinforce the position of the palace to ensure that the monarchy will continue to be at the centre of power in the post-Bhumibol days. It is unlikely that these undertakings will stabilise Thai politics, and as voters become alienated in the political process à la Prayuth, large-scale violent protests may be seen as unavoidable in order to restore democracy.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun is Associate Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. He is the editor of “Good Coup” Gone Bad: Thailand’s Political Developments Since Thaksin’s Downfall.
Kirsten Schulze is Deputy Director of LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre and Associate Professor of International History at LSE.