On the ‘Pimrypie’ Controversy

In Thailand, the concept of “doing good” — tum kwarm dee — has historically been a relatively uncontroversial idea.  Elders in Thai society consistently exhort others to be good people and to do good deeds. The maxim tum dee dai dee, tum chua dai chua (“do good things, and good things will happen to you; do evil things, and …

Can China’s Vaccine Diplomacy Win Hearts and Minds?

As 2020 neared its close, China’s state media began propagating new slogans in its review of the year.  In the wordy style typical of CCP-speak, it was proclaimed that “institutional advantage is the fundamental guarantee for the formation of great strength to overcome difficulties.” The fight against the coronavirus, an article in Xinhua argued, had …

Thai Politics in 2020: A Year in Review

In a country obsessed with oracles and fortune telling, few are more famous than one prophecy on Thailand’s political future. It has existed for years — some claim to have first read it in the 1980s — and continues to resurface periodically on the internet. Written as poetry, the prophecy predicted that as the ninth …

The US Showed the Importance of Institutional Resilience

During Thailand’s political crisis in 2013-14, US Secretary of State John Kerry was a frequent commentator. After violence occurred in February, Kerry declared: “Violence is not an acceptable means of resolving political differences. We are also concerned by the employment of other tactics that undermine Thailand’s democratic values and processes.”  In the wake of the …

Is the Thai Government Serious About Space?

The Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Anek Laothamatas is not a man who typically generates headlines. Yet he managed to raise more than a few eyebrows when he declared that in seven years, Thailand will send a spacecraft to orbit the moon.  By becoming the fifth nation in Asia to have this …

Four Takeaways From Thailand’s 2020 Local Elections

Thailand held its first local elections since the 2014 military coup on Sunday, amid the return of local coronavirus transmission and months of political protests. Across the nation, votes were cast for Provincial Administrative Organization (POA) candidates.  After a long suspension of local democracy, did these PAO elections mark a new chapter for Thai politics? …

Defending Communism Is a Counterproductive Conversation

My piece for Thai Enquirer: Something that the current democracy movement likes to pride itself on is the fact that “everyone is a protest leader” — a mass movement without a head. Or, at least, that was what the organizers of the Free Youth movement wanted to say when they launched the “RT Movement,” along …

Preventing a Second Coronavirus wave Is a Duty for All Thais

My piece for Thai Enquirer: “I’m going to lose my marbles,” a friend messaged me while quarantined in a hotel room. “…if I have to lockdown here. I came back to escape that!”  He had spent most of the year studying in Canada, hunkering down in Vancouver as cases began climbing throughout the fall. Finally, …

Thoughts on Free Youth’s New Logo

I wrote some quick thoughts on Free Youth’s new logo for Thai Enquirer, published here. In politics, simplicity is key. If a message isn’t intuitive — or indeed, if the intuitive message is the one you don’t intend to convey — then it’s probably a counterproductive message.  For months, defenders of the protest movement have …