Assistant Professor Dr Prajak Kongkirati of the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, in Bangkok, gives his views, exclusively for FORSEA, on the much-anticipated Thai elections, due to be held in 2019, and the implications on the Thai political landscape. This interview was conducted at Kyoto UniveRsity, by Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Associate Professor, at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, January 17, 2019.
The Thai case is a very strange case from the regional perspective. Now it is the only formal military government in the region. Who would have thought that in the twenty-first century.
In order to have a stable democracy, you need a democratic force that fights for long-term consolidation of democracy. That has not yet to happen in Thailand.
The Thai model is somewhere between Malaysia and Cambodia, it is a dangerous model. At least in Cambodia, there is some sort of political order, in the Malaysian model you have democratisation. In Thailand we have the worst of both worlds; no democracy, no political order.
Prajak emphasises that the Thai political elites have been attempting over the years to consolidate their position, but by their most convenience way: staging a coup. They have disdained the game of electoral process, since they acknowledged that they had little control over it. The recent postponement of the elections, initially due February 24, 2019, reflected the mentality of the Thai leaders. Hence, the Thai political future continues to be shaped by the relentless effort on the part of the Thai elites to maintain the political status quo, rather than supporting democracy.
Dr Prajak Kongkirati is a Lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science, and Head of Southeast Asian Studies Center, East Asian Institute, Thammasat University. Prajak received his MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, and PhD from the Department of Political and Social Change, ANU in 2013.