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 Events Summary 2019

A "Dream Thailand" Public Forum - “Anand Panyarachun and the Making of Modern Thailand: Issues and Insights” – A Book Launch and Discussion” 

.” This is a book launch, followed by a discussion. Dominic Faulder’s authorized biography of Khun Anand is rich in detail and instructive in its portrayal of Thailand’s consummate diplomat and two-time prime minister whose tenure in diplomacy, private sector, and government coincided with Thailand’s nation-building decades from the 1950s to the 1990s. After Dominic Faulder’s brief comments, we will be joined by former Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya who will share his own experience from diplomacy and government in reaction to and reflection on the book. Khun Anand himself may offer comments during the discussion. The overall aim of this public forum is not just to talk about an earlier era of government and diplomacy but also to tease out key issues, insights, and lessons from the recent past for what Thailand has been encountering in its political life in the contemporary period. 

A Public Forum - “ASEAN and the New World Disorder: Thailand, seeking a new balance” 

Thailand's murky election on March 24 serves as a prelude to a broader power struggle among competing players and institutions that now must operate under a new reign.

A profound reckoning so far in the 21st century between Thailand's monarchy-centred hierarchy and a democratic order based on popular rule will require compromise and mutual accommodation among competing interests to remain peaceful and workable. While the Thai economy has held up on a subpar basis, lagging ASEAN peers such as Vietnam and Indonesia, modest growth prospects could head south unless Thailand can generate new momentum and move forward after 15 years of stop-start progress. 

ISIS Co-organized Public Forum on "China on Responsible Global Superpower?" 

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 ( 

(June 4, 2019) Can China-Japan-S Korea get closer? - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Thanks to President Donald Trump’s oft-repeated mantra “America First,” accompanied by his disdain for and hostility towards globalisation and multilateralism, the rest of the world is perplex. Some of them in various continents are getting together in like-minded groups that would be able to respond to the inward-looking US policy, East Asia is no exception. Very few country will be acting alone as the US holds formidable power in the world. 

(May 29, 2019) China’s superpower pragmatism in Southeast Asia - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Discerning visitors can see why the United States has locked horns with China over trade and technology. Standing in downtown Beijing or Shanghai and being dwarfed by their skyscrapers yields a sense of awe. In less than two generations, the Chinese have nearly caught up with the Americans, leapfrogging them in notable ways. Just as gleaming Manhattan in New York City once symbolized the U.S.’s economic prowess and confident cosmopolitanism, the newer, equally modern Beijing and Shanghai are giving China’s global rival a run for its money. Seen from this perspective, it is unsurprising that Washington is pushing back against China for taking advantage of the international economic system that the U.S. has built. 

(May 28, 2019) More 'substantive' deal on S China Sea - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Goodwill between Asean and China has reached an unprecedented level as both sides are working diligently to conclude the much anticipated code of conduct on the South China Sea. The process, which began in 2002, has now reached a crescendo, though there are still issues and differences that need to be ironed out. 

(May 24, 2019) 5 years backwards under military rule - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Now that five years have elapsed since Thailand's last military coup, it is an opportune juncture to take stock of where the country is heading. When it seized power in May 2014, the military junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, initially had legitimacy from royal ascent and broad approval from its restoration of stability and order after more than half a year of street protests in Bangkok by the People's Democratic Reform Committee that was intent on overthrowing the Pheu Thai government. 

(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.