14 Aug: Coup, King, Crisis: Anxiety over the Royal Succession

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the seminars by A/P Pavin Chachavalpongpun, “Coup, King, Crisis” and “Diplomacy Under Siege”, have been postponed until further notice. Thank you for your understanding, and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.

The Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Initiative on Southeast Asia

14 Aug: Coup, King, Crisis: Anxiety over the Royal Succession

A Seminar by Assoc. Prof. Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Distinguished Fellow on Contemporary Southeast Asia, AY2015/2016

Chaired by Prof. Lionel Wee
Vice-Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Friday, 14 August 2015, 3PM
AS7 06-42, Research Division Seminar Room
The Shaw Foundation Building, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
National University of Singapore

The Thai military staged a coup on 22 May 2014, overthrowing 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. For decades, the traditional elites, of which the military is a part, have long dominated Thai politics. This changed with the arrival of the Shinawatras who set huge socio-economic changes in motion. They then took advantage to empower themselves politically, and in doing so, shook the old political structure. In today’s Thailand, the power struggle between elective and non-elective institutions is now reaching its peak because the era of King Bhumibol is closing. Haunted by anxiety over a future without the charismatic King, the traditional elites are vying to manage the royal succession and maintain their power position. The speaker argues that the military government led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha is seeking 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. Email nusstanfordsea@nus.edu.sg to RSVP.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is Associate Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. Earning his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, Pavin is the author of two books: “A Plastic Nation: The Curse of Thainess in Thai-Burmese Relations” and “Reinventing Thailand: Thaksin and His Foreign Policy”. Read more about Dr Chachavalpongpun here.

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