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 Events Summary 2020

A Public Lecture On - On China: Growth Prospects, Domestic Politics and Geostrategy in the 21st Century at 09.30 a.m. – 11.30 a.m. Wednesday, 29th January 2020. 

This public forum features a keynote lecture by Professor Dwight H. Perkins who has studied China and its development for nearly 70 years, since 1954 as a Cornell undergraduate student, including trips to China and meetings with former Chinese leader Deng Xaioping in the 1970s. Professor Perkins has authored numerous books and articles on China, as his profile on google and wikipedia attests. He has also been consultant and advisor to many committees dealing with China and United States-China relations. I can personally assure you that this is a rare opportunity to listen to one of the world’s most authoritative voices on China. Unlike other forums, we will focus mainly on Professor Perkins’s speech, with just one discussant to tease out local and regional implications. 

A Public Forum On – Finding Balance and "Happiness": Individuals, States and the International System at 10.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m. Monday, 20th January 2020. 

Happiness is hard to come by and difficult to define. It derives from a complex and moving balance between work and living, between state and society, between faith and reason, encompassing much more than just what gross domestic product and national income stand for. While happiness can be subjective and tough to measure, it is generally considered to be associated with biological, behavioural, and public policy concerns. In a three-level framework of individuals, states, and the international system, this public forum shares experiences and expertise from the Nordic countries that have been ranked consistently among the top of all societies across the world for overall well-being and happiness.
We will start with a keynote talk by Mr Meik Wiking who is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute and New York Times Bestselling Author. He will address issues such as how happiness should be measured, how to convert wealth into well-being, explaining why the Nordic model always top global happiness rankings. In addition, we will also listen to local experts who have worked on and practiced health and wellness in Thailand. 

(February 7, 2020) The global politics of the coronavirus 

It is not surprising that the deadly coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in China's Hubei province has become a contentious issue in international politics. While the number of fatalities has reached 565 and more than 28,000 have been infected in China to date, the issue has become politicised and polarised because it emerged in an Asian superpower that is aggressive in its pursuit of global supremacy. 

(January 31, 2020) Thailand's prospects and risks in 2020s 

Notwithstanding recent worldwide celebrations to mark the arrival of 2020, Thailand should be seen as having entered not just a new year but a new decade. Since World War II, Thailand's journey over the ensuing decades meandered through ebbs and flows, overcoming critical bumps and barriers along the way. When 2030 arrives, this country of 70 million predominantly happy-go-lucky people will have faced a prolonged reckoning. While its near-term prospects are likely to worsen, Thailand's long-term future will be either better compared to the past two decades or bad for the long term. 

(January 24, 2020) Government's competence in question 

It's just about official. Despite having a government, Thailand is rudderless. Approaching six years under more or less junta rule and military influence, irrespective of an election last year, this once up-and-coming country has degenerated into an authoritarian-bureaucratic state that is unsuited and unfit to address public grievances and demands of the 21st century. Yet Thailand's biggest problem is that this government, a motley coalition propped up by a crooked constitution and led by former junta chief Prayut Chan-o-cha, intends to stay for the long haul despite its growing incompetence. Unless the Thai people's world-famous patience and tolerance are boundless, political tensions will likely mount in the foreseeable future. 

(February 18, 2020) Asean-EU ties: seeking a middle path 

Joseph Borrell, the new EU foreign minister, revealed down-to-earth pragmatism in a recent article, writing: "We Europeans must adjust our mental maps to deal with the world as it is, not as we hoped it would be." If this is the fresh path that the EU is following, Europe may become the most respected and powerful grouping of nations in the world. And it could all start right here in this region. 

(January 28, 2020) Is digging Kra Canal still a pipe dream? 

Whenever the Kra Canal emerges as a news headline, two standard reactions occur. First of all, there is a very strong but familiar exclamation of "again" or aw-eik-leu and a revitalised sense of disbelief that the time has actually come once more for another debate about the great isthmus. 

(January 21, 2020) RCEP finale: Double U-turn intrigue 

With the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) approaching its final stages, some Asean countries are revealing what can only be described as erratic behaviour. They have unexpectedly come up with a new position, one previously hidden under their smiles. In other words, they have made another U-turn from their previous position.