By Shana Kongmun
Payap University offers a series of political and social
lectures under the umbrella of Payap Presents. Open to the public and
announced on their website, these lectures are invaluable to those who wish
to learn more about Thailand and its South East Asian neighbors.
Paul Chambers, Ph.D. (far right) is
seen here after his lecture on civil and military relationships in Thailand
at Payap University as part of their Payap Presents lecture series.
The most recent talk was given by Paul Wesley Chambers,
Ph. D, a senior research fellow at the University of Heidelberg, titled
“Thailand in crisis: Resurgent military, diminished democracy and future
possibilities?” the talk encompassed the traditional and historical roles
the military has played in the democratic process in Thailand. From the
abolishment of the absolute monarchy in 1932 following through on to the
demonstrations of the 70’s and the history of military coups through to the
current government, Dr. Chambers displayed his knowledge of Thai political
history as it involves the military and civilian players. His lecture was
quite broad in its discussion of the political and military scene.
He discussed the role of HM the King in appointing the
head of the armed forces and the role the Privy Council plays in past and
current governments. He went into more detail regarding the historical roles
the military has played in the government and mentioned the current
Constitution, voted in by referendum in 2007, that strengthened the
judiciary and the military by allowing a semi-appointed Senate comprised of
many retired military officers.
In talking about the cycle of coups that Thailand has
faced over the years, he stated, “Thailand’s democracy seems lost in
He went on to discuss the current crisis and the roles
played by various important players in the Army, with the upcoming
promotions being key, he felt. “It’s a difficult juggling act to ensure that
mid-level officers from different regions are adequately satisfied,” Dr.
He discussed the difficulties the differing sides in Thai
politics have been facing and noted that both sides have underestimated each
other. He added that there is a linkage between both sides with those who
opposed growing authoritarianism under Thaksin later opposing the same under
the current government.
He concluded the lecture stating “Reconciliation will
only occur when both sides are serious in putting aside partisan bickering
Payap Presents next speaker is Patrick Ziegenhain, Ph.D.,
a senior research fellow (“Akademischer Rat”) at the department of Political
Science at the University of Trier in Germany who will give a talk on
“Institutional changes and their impact on the quality of democracy in
Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines” September 23 from 5-6 p.m. at the
Mae Khao campus, Pentecost building, room 317. See http://ic.payap.ac.th/pp/
for more information.