Thailand: History, Politics and the Rule of Law

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Veronica Baker

T: +61 3 9035 6655

Much has been written about the reasons for Thailand’s political instability and long cycle of military coups, but few have incorporated the kingdom’s history of law and politics in the context of the last few turbulent years. Thailand has struggled to settle its internal political disputes, and the promise of a more democratic future in the 1997 Constitution failed to stop the cycle of military takeovers.

In his new book Thailand: History, Politics and the Rule of Law (Marshall Cavendish, April 2019), James Wise offers contemporary and historical insights into Thai history, politics and law. The book explores some features of the Thai political landscape through lenses that are familiar to Thais: hierarchy, protection, patron-client relations, personal connections, identity and nationalism.

An appreciation of Thailand’s hierarchical political culture helps to explain why Thailand does not yet have independent agencies to mediate and arbitrate political disputes, while an exploration of Thais’ sense of identity and nationalism looks at the continuities between the pre-1932 and post-1932 periods and asks why history now inhibits open debates about politics and governance. Until the governance of Thailand is again recast — as it was in the 1890s, 1932 and 1997 — the country could remain vulnerable to political instability, the author concludes.

Copies will be available for sale and for signing on the night.

James Wise was Australia’s Ambassador to Thailand from 2010 to 2014, and an Australian diplomat for over thirty years. He lived full-time in Thailand from 1995 to 1998, when he was Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy. In addition, he served as High Commissioner to Malaysia from 2003 to 2007.  He had earlier postings to the Soviet Union (1987-91) and Papua New Guinea (1983-85). He has held several senior positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including as First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Management Division (2007-10), and First Assistant Secretary, Pacific, Middle East and Africa Division (2001-03). He now divides his time between Bangkok and Canberra. Researching and writing this book has been his major preoccupation since retiring in 2014.

For more information please visit, Australian Institute of International Affairs - Victoria.

This event is delivered by Australian Institute of International Affairs - Victoria and supported by Asialink.