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 Event Summary 2017

After Yingluck: What’s Next for Thai Politics? 

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's absence at her court verdict on 25th August 2017 has become a turning point in Thai politics. Questions abound as to what will now happen to Yingluck and her Pheu Thai party, which is also seen as answerable to her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra. Yingluck's departure from the political scene for the time being impinges on the political party scene and election dynamics more broadly. For the government, Yingluck's escape in view of her potential imprisonment under the rice-pledging court case may have brought near-term stability but prospects remain murky for the longer-term in view of the rescheduled announcement of her verdict on 27th September 2017. Will the government still allow elections to take place next year and what will be the military's role in politics down the road? What happens to Yingluck/Thaksin and Pheu Thai party after 27th September? This panel of prominent politicians and a well-known academic will address these and other questions.. 

Thailand’s First Year in the ASEAN Community: Challenges and Prospects 

As you are aware, the ASEAN Community has been in motion since the end of 2015 but its real results are yet to be determined. In fact, ASEAN already has launched “ASEAN Community Vision 2025” as a forward-look acknowledgement that the ASEAN Community is a work in progress. Its three pillars – ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) – all have much to be desired in view of geopolitical tensions in the region, glacial pace of economic integration, and divergent human rights practices in different member states. But despite its many challenges, the ASEAN Community is here to stay. It is a phenomenon to be reckoned with, not an end in itself but a major milestone and concrete ambition of Southeast Asia’s 10-member regional organisation to forge ahead together. On this occasion, we will look at Thailand’s role so far in the ASEAN Community and at ASEAN’s broader challenges and prospects. Apart from speakers who are expert on the subject, this public forum will feature a keynote address from former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. 

Thailand’s 2017 Constitution Update: Organic Laws and Roadmap Dynamics 

Three years after its latest coup and military government, Thailand’s new constitution has been drafted and was promulgated on 6th April 2017. Yet the road towards a return to popular rule remains unclear. Much will depend on the progress of relevant organic laws that will enable an election to take place, including those related to political parties, the national election commission, and senators as well as members of parliament. This forum is intended to provide an update on the progress of the organic laws as well as roadmap dynamics with an eye on the timeframe of the incumbent interim government and national polls for a democratic mandate. We are honoured to offer perspectives from a distinguished line-up of former elected representatives and a current constitution drafter as well as foreign experts who will discuss the issues and stakes involved. 

Mekong countries eye bold new future - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

When lead characters in a Chinese kung fu movie drink wine from the same cup, they are considered sworn brothers. They will fight and die together. Will all six riparian countries of the Lancang, or Mekong (Lan-Mei), share the same spirit of camaraderie as they all live on this magnificent river? There may be ominous signs during the Second Summit of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) on Jan 10-11 in Phnom Penh. 

Thailand's twin tests in the new yaer - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

It is a year of transitions - the Thais have a new king and pressure is growing for the military government to hold elections. But more than just polls are needed for Thai democracy to work well. 

A year of living dangerously in Thailand - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

They were supposed to be in power for the royal transition but they have stayed too long and now want to win an unavoidable election. 

Authoritarianism is accelerating in Southeast Asia - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

The China model is winning, at the expense of liberal values

The year 2018 will mark the start of a period in which outright authoritarianism and illiberal quasi-democracy are likely to be Southeast Asia's prevailing norms. With few exceptions, liberal values and fundamental freedoms and rights will be manipulated and curtailed, even where elections continue to take place. Where authoritarianism holds sway, rights and freedoms will be suppressed altogether. 

Lessons from Thai votes on Jerusalem - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Thailand made a historic decision on 21 Dec to join 127 other United Nations member states in rejecting the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In the past, when push came to shove in a major diplomatic decision, Bangkok would normally duck the issue by practising "fence-sitting" to protect its perceived national interests. 

N Korea: An enemy at Asean's gate? - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Southeast Asia is no longer immune from North Korean nuclear destructive force. As tensions heighten by the day, the US, Japan, South Korea and China, in their thoughtful ways, are bringing the looming nuclear threat to the eardrums of all Asean leaders. A frequently asked question: Are they serious? 

Thailand wise to act as EU-Asean conduit - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

The first paragraph of the Council of the European Union conclusion on Thailand, released last Monday after the EU foreign ministerial meeting, provided an insight into the state of EU-Thai relations. It says: 

The tragedy of Thailand's Surin Pitsuwan - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Much has been and more will be said of Dr Surin Pitsuwan's sudden and unexpected passing due to heart failure on Nov 30, at age 68, just when he appeared to be going from strength to strength after his stint in 2008-12 as Asean secretary-general. Many will also say that among the 13 heads of Asean in its 50-year history, Surin was the most effective and formidable. Indeed, he managed to speak for and champion Asean's causes and roles in Asia and the wider world even long after he left the job. No secretary-general of Asean is likely to come anywhere near the level of his eloquence, charm and charisma, the presence and confidence that his tall frame and good looks yielded. But Asean was second best for Surin. He was better than what he ended up with, unable to find professional landings commensurate with what he could bring to the job. 

Myanmar's media development has stalled - Kavi Chongkitavorn 

The atmosphere surrounding the development of liberal media in Myanmar, which began in earnest and has been carefully nurtured since 2012, is in a serious state of amnesia. This sentiment is widely felt and shared throughout the media community in the country. 

Surin was Asean’s de facto foreign minister - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

It was the spring of 2007. The application deadline was quickly approaching for a qualified Thai candidate to serve as the 12th Asean secretary-general. 

Tensions will mount as regime holds on - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

After the most recent cabinet reshuffle produced the fifth line-up of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's government, it is clear the military intends to stay in power for the long term in one form or another. The reshuffle provided a more civilian look but let there be no doubt that Thailand still has a military government, led by generals who seized power more than three and a half years ago. As the top brass perpetuates its rule and puts off the election as long as they can, political tensions will mount as civilian-led forces agitate for a share of power and a return to popular rule. 

Myanmar goes ringside at China-India bout - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

China will go all out to help Myanmar in time of crisis. India will also help Myanmar, but it does not go all out," was the light-hearted comment made by a seasoned Asean diplomat based in Yangon recently. 

Singapore's Asean chair: think new and big - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) took oiver chairmanship from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the 31st Asean Summit in Manila last week. 

Regional order in East Asia after summits - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Four Asean leaders assume the traditional cross-handed 'unity' photo op following the 31st Asean summit in Manila on Tuesday. From left, From left, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesia President Joko Widodo, Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. 

Duterte ends his colourful Asean lead role - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Rodrigo 'The Punisher' Duterte's term as Asean chairman effectively ends today, a year marked by tough talk but flexibility. 

Donald Trump must learn virtues of EAS - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

US President Donald Trump arrives in Beijing, China yesterday. Mr Trump's decision to attend the East Asia Summit could help firm up his ties with Asean. REUTERS 

Thailand needs to arrive in 21st century - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha takes part in the royal cremation ceremony for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct 26. The military-monarchy symbiotic relationship arose from Cold War conditions and circumstances. 
 Event Summary 2016

Migration, Terrorism and Democracy: Lessons and Challenges Across Asia and Africa 

Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) Public Forum
“Migration, Terrorism and Democracy: Lessons and Challenges Across Asia and Africa”
Tuesday, 31st January 2017 at 9.00 – 11.00a.m. 

President Donald J. Trump: Meanings and Consequences for Southeast Asia and Thailand 

A “Dream Thailand” Public Forum Series
“President Donald J. Trump: Meanings and Consequences for Southeast Asia and Thailand”
Friday, 3rd February 2017