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PacNet #13 – Political crisis in Thailand not unique

Although the government shutdown in Bangkok presently commands center stage, Thailand has been plagued with two political crises over the past 80 years or more. One is the ongoing crisis in Bangkok over the legitimacy of the incumbent government and by extension that of the political system. The second is the crisis in southern Thailand rooted in contestations over state and nation-making projects that have periodically manifested themselves in militant struggles. Although each particular moment in these long-running crises may have its own causal logic, the underlying causation of both crises have their origins in the centralization of power in Bangkok and the contested formation of the Thai nation-state that began under Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) in the context of Western imperialism in Southeast Asia. Resolving them requires fundamental change in political mindset and frameworks.