Every January, I like to write a ‘state of the blog’ post just to recap the previous year and outline some of my goals for the next. I usually write this very close – or on the date of – the new year, but I decided to take a short break from writing.
In 2018, I finished writing Thailand in Crisis, which is a history of Thailand’s political crisis since 2001. Together with The Story of Thai Democracy, these two series of articles are now one of the most easily accessible and complete overviews of Thailand’s democratic history. I’m very happy to have done this because I firmly believe that we do not spend nearly enough time studying the lessons of our past. I’m looking to make some edits to both, however, to ensure the content is as good as possible. This could entail making some supplementary posts (timelines or chronologies, short profiles of important public people, etc). I’ll write more about this once I’ve made some firm decisions.
I spent most of last year writing about Thai politics, and some longtime readers may have noticed that I have consistently taken a critical tone towards the military junta this year. I urged an investigation of the deputy prime minister Prawit Wongsuwan in January, called for new elections in February, did so again in May, and criticized the government’s 20 year national strategy in September.
I believe that it is worth explaining the critical tone. Firstly, it is true (and I am certainly on the record on this blog) that I was supportive of the military coup in 2014, with that support conditional on the government’s ability to launch meaningful reforms that would benefit Thailand’s democracy. It is clear now that was a naive belief; . Secondly, the prime minister has repeatedly his lack of suitability for the office. He has not demonstrated, in his five years of power, the aptitude required for running a modern nation in the 21st century. He is repeatedly hypocritical – he denounces ‘populist policies’ and launches them himself, he refuses to lift the ban on campaigning while going on a national tour and he criticizes corruption while presiding over a visibly corrupt government. He has also become increasingly embarrassing on the world stage. Third, the government has done a far from stellar job. Its foreign policy is imbalanced, its economic record decidedly mixed, and it has presided over a precipitous decline in freedom of speech. Time is up for this government, and if he truly wants to remain in power, Prayut needs a democratic mandate from the people.
And so I begin 2019 with the goal to keep going: to continue to analyze the government’s actions, and to cover the return of democracy in Thailand. I also intend to write more political science-y articles this year in order to more clearly delineate the nature of Thai democracy. But this, of course, will not distract from my ultimate goal of writing accessible articles that can promote political literacy. Do I intend to be more of an activist in my writing this year? I haven’t decided which party, if any, I will support in the upcoming general election, but if and when I do I will make the case for them.
On another note, it would be great to write more about politics worldwide, which I dropped the ball on last year. Brexit will be happening (or not) this year, and the 2020 presidential election will begin to heat up. I also want a bigger focus on Asian politics (but I say this every year, so who knows if it will happen)?
Thank you once again for continuing to read this blog; it would be nothing without its readers. Happy new year!