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Law, Justice, and Politics in Thailand (individual papers)

Chair:
Claudio Sopranzetti
University of Oxford
claudio.sopranzetti@anthro.ox.ac.uk

List of Papers:

  • Seasons of Insurgency: The Promises and Curses of Violent Actions in Southern Thailand
  • Comparative Politics of Southeast Asia: The Politics of Thailand
  • Rule of Law and Constitutional Independent Organs in Thailand

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Paper 1: Seasons of Insurgency: The Promises and Curses of Violent Actions in Southern Thailand

Chayanit Poonyarat
Thammasat University
chayanitp@yahoo.com

“To everything there is a season.

And a time to every purpose, under Heaven”

This is how the 1960s international hit Turn!Turn!Turn! (To Everything There is a Season) by an American rock band the Byrds begins. The lyrics of the song, which are taken almost verbatim from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, could as well reflect how the insurgency-driven violence in Thailand’s Southern border provinces unfolds. After over a decade the violence has re-emerged in the region, where over five thousand people have been killed and almost ten thousand injured, this ongoing deadly conflict may recently have come to a crucial “change of seasons” where political means are explored as an alternative to the sole military approach. Such change, however, does not come easily. Many complex conditions are to be taken into account, a most challenging of which is how those involved come to pass with the atrocities committed and together envision their unison future.

This paper explores how the insurgents’ violent actions influence the shape of continuing deadly conflict. It argues that although the insurgents’ use of violence may in “a time of war” afford them the leverage to their authority enemy of the Thai state, it could no longer keep such promises when comes to “a time to heal” as “peace talks” between the two sides begin in February 2013. Rather, the violence used by the insurgents could backfire and restrain them from achieving their ultimate goals.

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Paper 2: Comparative Politics of Southeast Asia: The Politics of Thailand

Antonio Rappa
SIM University
rappa@unisim.edu.sg

Thai contemporary politics is segmented along class lines. There are three main classes: the power elite, the middle class and the working class. The widespread systemic corruption in the Kingdom is a result of (1) poor legal implementation; (2) corrupt behaviour among politicians and police officers; and (3) low wages. Additionally, three major challenges face the Kingdom: (1) succession issues in the Chakri Dynasty; (2) the prospects of the 20th military coup since 2006; and, (3) the widening wage differentials between the richest rich and poorest poor. The paper concludes with an analysis of this problematic in the absenceof human rights and the presence of Artciel 112, the lese majeste law that protects the monarchy from criticism.

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Paper 3: Rule of Law and Constitutional Independent Organs in Thailand

Ayako Toyama
Kyoto University
fwis2356@nifty.com

Severe political strife has been waged in Thailand over the amendment to the country’s constitution. One of the issues under debate is the abolishment of “independent organs,” which were introduced to crack down on the corruption and election fraud made permissible by the 1997 Constitution. The trigger for this dispute was Constitutional Court decisions. Beginning with the decision that ruled the April 2006 election invalid, the court ordered to dissolve the Thai Rak Thai party in 2007 after the coup and overthrew the two regimes of the People’s Power Party in 2008. Although independent organ advocates argue that politicians should follow the “Rule of Law,” critics state that independent organs inhibit democracy. What are the problems of independentorgans in Thailand? This paper validates the institutional particulars of independent organs incorporating the point of view as “packages” for the institutional design of independent organs. The independent organs package is structured by the Election Commission and Corruption Commission which are responsible for investigation and prosecution, and the Senate and theConstitutional Court which are responsible for a final decision. This package consists of a series of judicial proceedings. Members of the organs are selected by an appointment process similar to each other, resulting in the independent organs being of a relatively homogeneous group. Through the 2007 constitutional reform, the independent organs package is almost completely controlled by the judiciary. The independent body package has become the judiciary that can prosecute by themselves in Thailand.