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 Events Summary 2019

ISIS Co-organized Public Forum on "China on Responsible Global Superpower?" - 27 March 2019 at 09.00-12.00 

Venue is Room 209, Faculty of Economic, Chulalongkorn University 

A Public Forum - Thailand's ASEAN Chair: Challenges Ahead 

As is widely known, Thailand is ASEAN’s rotational chair for 2019. Thailand’s foreign policy team has geared up for this task for many months and is poised to carry out its duties in view of ASEAN’s myriad challenges from the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and the South China Sea to the regional navigation of the United States-China trade conflict. Global geopolitical tensions are on the rise, and ASEAN is in the thick of it. This public forum is intended to examine and explore Thailand’s challenges and opportunities as ASEAN Chair with a forward-looking view as how to best perform for the benefit of both ASEAN and its co-founder and birthplace. 

A Public Forum - Thirty and Hungry for Change: Meet the New Faces of Thai Politics 

Thailand’s looming election on 24 March has been highly participated, as the last completed poll took place in July 2011. This election will see more than seven million first-time voters among the 51-million electorate. Voices of the young and the new generation will count significantly, perhaps more than in previous polls. This seminar will feature three new politicians who are “young and hungry” for change in Thai politics and who are associated with Oxford Thai Foundation and LSE in Thailand. 

A Public Forum - An Uneasy Peace: China Power in A Divided World 

Amidst the ongoing global unravel and power shifts, underpinned by geopolitical tensions and issues such as the “trade war” between the United States and China, the rules-based liberal international order as we know it is under severe stress. It appears that, unless the international order is fundamentally readjusted and reformed, geopolitical tensions and geo-economics contestation are likely to deteriorate to the detriment of all concerned. Central to mitigating, resolving and finding ways forward is the US-China relationship. As US views are well known from the international media and other sources, this public forum takes opportunity from a visit to Bangkok by prominent Chinese think-tank and academic experts to provide Chinese perspectives on geopolitics and geo-economics. The Chinese experts are led by Tsinghua University’s Dr Yan Xuetong, who has been convening China’s premier World Peace Forum. Dr Yan has recently published a widely circulated article on China’s global outlook in Foreign Affairs, which forms the basis of our forum’s title ( 

(May 21, 2019) Admit Timor Leste to bloc now or never - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

The Asean founding fathers' dream was to have all Southeast Asian countries under one roof. Timor Leste's (East Timor) dream was to join Asean as soon as possible. Both dreams have yet to be fulfilled. The reason is simple enough: Certain Asean members are not ready to have the world's youngest democracy stand among them. 

(May 17, 2019) Anti-regime? Join the opposition ranks - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Five years after it seized power in May 2014, Thailand's military junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has achieved what it envisaged. 

(May 14, 2019) From coups to crises: where next for Thailand? (Sydney) - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

After a coup, a new constitution and a controversial election, Thailand’s political future remains as uncertain as ever. 

(May 14, 2019) 20 years of mixing Asean old and new - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

When Asean doubled the number of its member nations to 10 in 1999, doomsayers at the time believed the grouping would not survive. This was because the expansion happened so quickly while new members were ill-prepared to join the capitalist economies. 

(May 10, 2019) Woeful Senate will worsen political woes - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Since it first took office in 1947, Thailand's Senate has mostly comprised appointees as mandated by more than a dozen constitutions over the past seven decades. Only in the 1997 and 2007 charters was the Senate elected and half elected, respectively. The 2017 constitution has reverted to a wholly appointed upper chamber but this time the 250-member Senate has been given wider authority, particularly the selection of the prime minister. 

(May 7, 2019) Asean in 2040: Bolder and stronger? - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

When Asean was set up in August 1967, the founding fathers did not bother to make sure their newly formed organisation would survive for 52 years, as it already has. All they wanted to do at the time was to make sure they got together, looked each other in the eye and pledged to meet again next time. They had to increase their level of comfort with one another as they were trying to avoid future conflicts and looking for more cooperation. No war, make progress. That was a sufficient vision then. 

(May 3, 2019) Rail deals must have accountability - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's recent participation in the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing was problematic on many levels. On what basis did Gen Prayut negotiate a rail deal between Thailand and China? What are the details and cost-benefit considerations of this deal? The lack of transparency and public accountability surrounding the Thailand and China rail plan is likely to pose future questions and problems for a huge infrastructure project Thailand can use, but according to whose terms its people must be the main beneficiary. 

(April 30, 2019) How Jakarta's rise will impact region - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

The re-election of Indonesian President Joko Widodo has positive implications for Indonesia and Asean as a whole. The president, popularly known as Jokowi, will have five exciting years to shape Indonesia's future and international profile to his liking. Obviously, with the second term limit, he will be bolder and more assertive, both at home and abroad. 

(April 26, 2019) Poll results point to clear way forward - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Despite the controversy and confusion over Thailand's March 24 election outcome, its immediate and far-reaching implications are indisputable. 

(April 23, 2019) Engaging with China on infrastructure - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Later this week, 37 heads of state and government, as well as 5,000 participants from over 150 countries, will converge on Beijing for the second Belt and Road Initiative Forum for International Cooperation. The mammoth gathering of dignitaries and policymakers is crucial for the five-year-old BRI to gain wider recognition and power to move onto the next cycle with new lessons learned and adjustments made. For President Xi Jinping, it will be a moment of truth for his leadership and China's dream.