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 Events on 2022

Facebook Live - Thailand’s “Independent” Institutions in the 2017 Constitution: Time for Reform? 

ISIS Thailand is pleased to invite you to join our next public forum in person on 28th June (online option is also available). This time, we will probe and analyse the roles of Thailand’s so-called “independent” institutions, including the Constitutional Court, Election Commission, National Anti-Corruption Commission, National Human Rights Commission, among others. These institutions are rooted in the political reform movement in the mid-1990s and culminated with the popular watershed 1997 charter. While these institutions were designed to promote a checks-and-balance environment with greater transparency and accountability of Thailand’s political system, they have become politicised over the past two decades, initially under the era of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and later under the rule of his adversaries who gained power after military coups in 2006 and 2014. The results of this politicisation included the systematic weakening of democratic institutions, such as political parties, several of which have been dissolved over this period. Repeated and one-way bans of elected representatives also have enfeebled the growth and strength of democratic institutionalisation. What to do, when and how to adjust and reform these institutions so that they serve the checks-and-balance and fair accountability-promoting roles and functions they were originally set out to perform are the issues and objectives of this public forum. I hope you will be able to join us. 

Facebook Live - Thai Politics from Local to National: Implications from Bangkok’s Governor Election 

Bangkok is not Thailand but it is an integral and crucial part of the country, representing more than 25% of the overall Thai economy. The capital is the most populous of Thailand’s 77 provinces, and is the nexus and vortex of what moves and shakes the entire country. The gubernatorial race has been exciting and dynamic, with much anticipation because Thai citizens who reside in Bangkok have not had a vote for their governor for more than nine years since March 2013, owing to the May 2014 military coup and subsequent junta termination of the elected governor. In the past, the capital has sometimes resembled a bellwether of national electoral trends. The Bangkok vote will be a gauge on how the capital’s residents perceive the candidates that represent the various parties in government and opposition. If a pro-government candidate wins big, it will have much to say about voter preferences. On the other hand, if an opposition candidate triumphs, it could be an omen for results to come when national elections take place by this time next year at the latest. We have a stellar line-up of researchers, academics, and seasoned analysts to tease out the key contours and dynamics from the Bangkok governor results. 

Facebook Live – The ASEAN-Related/G20/APEC Summits in November 2022: Issues, Challenges, Prospects 

It focuses on the crucial summit season in November this year (back to back) from the ASEAN-related summits in Phnom Penh to the G20 summit in Bali and APEC in Thailand. This one-week span will allow world leaders to shuttle around ASEAN to meet counterparts. Among the myriad issues to be discussed, the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine will be front and centre. Indonesia, for example, has invited both the Ukrainian and Russian leaders to the G20 meeting. As these summits held in ASEAN in November are being overshadowed by the Russia-Ukraine war, we will aim to tease out some of the key issues, challengers and prospects. To do so, we have invited well-placed and well-known speakers from Cambodia and Indonesia, as well as from here in Thailand 

Facebook Live - Russia’s War in Ukraine Two Weeks On: Consequences and Directions 

This public forum brings together comments and views from the ambassadors and heads of mission of the European Union, Poland, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, as well as a former Thai foreign minister. Issues and topics to be addressed include the Russian invasion in view of the United Nations Charter and International Law, Ukraine's predicament involving domestic determination against Russia’s military operations, and Russia's dilemma in case the war drags on. We will also examine the role of the United States, the European Union, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – whether this broad Western alliance can sustain sanctions and how they might handle the consequences from refugee and humanitarian crises against the backdrop of Russia’s advance and Ukraine’s vulnerabilities. ASEAN member states’ positions and postures, including Thailand’s, will also be discussed. 

Facebook Live – Biden and the U.S. Commitment Challenge in Southeast Asia 

This event is organized as a launch of Dr. Prashanth Parameswaran’s book, Elusive Balances: Shaping U.S.-Southeast Asia Strategy. As a seasoned analyst, researcher and writer on myriad Southeast Asia-related topics, Prashanth tries to explain in this timely book the patterns and dynamics in Washington’s commitments in its relations with Southeast Asia. In doing so, Prashanth discusses the challenge the United States faces in forging sustained, balanced commitment to match Southeast Asia’s growing importance over the past half-century. The book develops and applies an original “balance of commitment” model to analyze U.S. commitment to Southeast Asia over time and includes recommendations for moving forward under the Biden administration and beyond, amid intensifying U.S.-China competition and regional concerns about rising polarization and protectionism in Washington. The book illustrates that the U.S. commitment challenge in Southeast Asia is rooted not just in differences between administrations or divides between Washington and the region, but in the structural challenge of simultaneously calibrating adjustments between power, threats and resources – what the book refers to as the pursuit of “elusive balances.” After presentation of the book’s main themes and argument, we will be joined by Dr Van Jackson, also a well-known author and strategic thinker on American foreign policy in Asia who is based at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Wellington, New Zealand. He will tease out some of the key takeaways from the book in a robust fashion. 

Facebook Live – The Russia-Ukraine War and Prospects: Impact for World Order and Implications for Asia 


Facebook Live – Thai Politics Update: Polls, Players, Prospects 

While the coalition government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has shown signs of divisions and instability, it has managed to soon reach its fourth and last year in office, based on the last general election in March 2019. As the current four-year term of the House of Representatives will be completed just over a year from now, there is much debate and discussion about when the next nationwide poll will take place, which political parties will be contesting under what terms, and who the major players will be, including candidates for the premiership. In addition, the Bangkok gubernatorial poll is also at stake, expected to take place this year, possibly as early as May. When it comes to electoral politics, Bangkok is no Thailand but the capital’s gubernatorial outcome may be indicative of poll results elsewhere. Amidst polls and personalities, we will also assess the trend and direction of the youth-led protest movement that made much political splash in 2020-21. Has the student-led political movement lost ground, or does it still have traction and wherewithal to make its voices heard once again in future? How will these youths vote in the upcoming elections? These are some of the questions and issues the expert and experienced line-up of speakers will address in this public forum. 

Facebook Live – Myanmar’s Coup One Year On: Realities, Trends, Prospects 

This webinar focusing on the one-year anniversary of Myanmar’s military coup that took place on 1st February 2021. In view of the preceding decade of political liberalization, democratic reforms and civilian rule, it is hard to believe that Myanmar’s putsch and reversion to military dictatorship has come up to a full year. Unlike previous coups in the country in 1962 and 1988, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s armed forces) under the coup-appointed State Administration Council (SAC) this time has succeeded in taking power but not imposing control. By all accounts, Myanmar is locked in a civil war and at risk of a humanitarian catastrophe amid a nationwide uprising against the coup and military rule. International responses have been ineffective to broker a dialogue and return to democratic process. ASEAN’s attempts to mediate, highlighted by its “Five-Point Consensus” from April last year, also have gone nowhere. Under Cambodia’s current chairmanship, ASEAN is seen to be even weaker with less leverage in dealing with the SAC. Realities and trends on the ground are grim, and prospects are bleak. The situation is likely to worsen before any breakthrough can come about. 

(July 17, 2022) Thailand's bankrupt Myanmar policy 

Few signboards foretell the global issues of our time better than what is addressed at the annual meetings of the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore. After a pandemic-induced two-year hiatus, the most recent SLD covered the gamut on the main stage, from the United States-China geostrategic competition and military modernisation to security cooperation and climate change. The only anomalous single- and small-country focus in a special session was Myanmar. 

(July 8, 2022) Myanmar, Thai militaries in cahoots 

The recent incursion by a Myanmar MiG-29 fighter jet into Thai airspace is par for the course in the intimate ties between the militaries of both countries. Myanmar's military, also known as the Tatmadaw, in fact wants to be more like its Thai counterpart. The Royal Thai Armed Forces, on the other hand, may end up later having to be more like the Tatmadaw to maintain its role and rule in politics. These two militaries together pose a litmus test for states and societies everywhere. If the popular will and public interest can be systematically stolen and subverted in this corner of the globe, it can happen anywhere. 

(July 1, 2022) The politics of the Chadchart juggernaut 

In countries where integrity, competence and popular legitimacy in leadership are valued -- for example, in Scandinavia, Singapore or Taiwan -- Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt would be considered fairly average. He would merely be another good leader who exudes modesty, humility, capability and authenticity, always in touch with and answerable to his constituents. 

(July 19, 2022) Thai 3Rs secret to handling US, China 

Recent visits by the foreign ministers of China and the US created lots of buzz among the Thai public and diplomatic community regarding the direction of Thai foreign policy. Many questions were raised but no satisfactory answers were given. 

(July 12, 2022) Remembering Abe and Japan's rise 

It is not an overstatement to say that the late prime minister Shinzo Abe single-handedly promoted Japan's regional and international profile through unconventional economic and security policies. Abe linked his country's economic policies with security and strategic twists in its relations with the rest of the world, Asean in particular. 

(July 5, 2022) Time to strategise Thai-Philippine ties 

Newly elected Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr met with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai soon after being sworn in. It was his first meeting with a dignitary from Asean though he had earlier met with representatives from the US, China and Japan. Suddenly, the old flame of friendship between Thailand and the Philippines was being rekindled. 
 Articles - Ms.GWEN ROBINSON

(June 22, 2022) Hey soldier, mind your missus 

"If a soldier is going to defect, the first thing he does is consult his wife," says Su Thit, a young and determined-looking Burmese woman. "If she agrees, then it will happen." She should know, having urged her husband, an army captain, to leave his unit in northern Myanmar after the Feb. 1, 2021, military takeover. The two traveled across the country to safety last August. 

(May 9, 2022) Diplomatic snubs isolate Myanmar's military regime 

Myanmar's military regime has rejected Britain's ambassador to the country after a four-month standoff over London's decision to downgrade his title to charge d'affaires ad interim. The regime, known as the State Administration Council, formally notified Britain in late April that it would not accept its designated envoy, Pete Vowles, as charge, but would consider alternative candidates. 

(April 8, 2022) Shooting of Myanmar central banker shows new forex-rule backlash 

The shooting of one of Myanmar's top central bank officials in Yangon on Thursday highlighted growing public hostility toward financial regulators and institutions associated with the military regime amid the country's deepening financial crisis. 
 Articles - Ambassador Kasit Piromya

(June 1, 2022) Cambodia Needs Democracy, Not Another Electoral Charade 

When Cambodians vote in commune elections this weekend, the world should not be fooled by the appearance of political pluralism. 

(May 11, 2022) US must assist with climate finance 

As US President Joe Biden is due to meet with leaders from Southeast Asian countries this week at the US-Asean Summit in Washington from May 12-13, one issue on which Washington bears an enormous responsibility -- and from which Asean countries suffer enormous consequences -- will be high on the agenda: climate change.