The second SEAC Cove Session of the year hosted Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun from Kyoto University's Center for Southeast Asian studies, to discuss the results and implications of the long-awaited Thai general elections. SEAC Director Prof. Tim Forsyth (Departmenf of International Development, LSE) was Chair.
Summary: Thailand will hold its first elections since the military seized power from the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014. The elections will take place on 24 March 2019. Despite the return of power to civilian rule through the electoral process, nothing guarantees the full return of democracy. Previously the military appointed its allies to draft the constitution as a vehicle designed to obstruct the pace of democratisation. The military has been criticised in its attempt to maintain a position of power for the traditional elites. Meanwhile, other political forces working in the wings, such as the Thaksin Shinawatra faction, have continued to shape the Thai political landscape. The emergence into the political spotlight of Princess Ubolratana and the dramas that followed must be examined. The rise of new political faces, including the leader of the Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Jungrungruangkit, will also be assessed. The key question is whether the elections will diminish the decade-long political crisis. The speaker offers his candid analytical views in regards to the March elections.
Bio: Pavin Chachavalpongpun is Associate Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan. He is currently a visiting professor at the School of Humanities, Tallinn University, Estonia. Earning his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, Pavin is the author of several books including "A Plastic Nation: The Curse of Thainess in Thai-Burmese Relations", and "Reinventing Thailand: Thaksin and His Foreign Policy". Pavin is the Chief Editor of the online journal "Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia", in which all articles are translated from English into Japanese, Thai, Bahasa, Filipino and Vietnamese". Following the coup of 2014 in Thailand, Pavin was summoned twice for his critical views of the army and the monarchy. He rejected the summons. As a result, the junta issued a warrant for his arrest and revoked his Thai passport, forcing him to apply for a refugee status with Japan.
This event relates to SEAC's #governance theme
The SEAC Cove Sessions are a series of informal sessions held under the Chatham House rule or off the record, with the purpose to engender substantive discussion around important issues relating to Southeast Asia. The Chatham House rule states that, "when a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed".