Renowned historians of Thailand husband and wife team Pasuk Phongpaichit & Chris Baker provide the big picture behind Thailand's political conflict.
This month Drs. Pasuk and Baker gave the opening speech at a seminar on Thai social movements at Chulalongkorn University.
The speech provides a overview of Thailand's conflict and how it has developed over the years.
Zooming out from the details, the speech provides a fairly neutral big picture that both the yellow and red sides would probably agree with, at least as a starting point for debate.
The long article has been broken into pieces to be published in several installments. The whole article can be read here.
Click button to listen to Social Movements 1 and rightclick to download
The implications of coloured movements: Part I by Pasuk Phongpaichit & Chris Baker
One of the interpretations of the recent political conflict, which resulted in the red and yellow social movements, has been that this is a battle among the elite, essentially between former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his enemies, and that ordinary people are being used as paid pawns in the struggle.
This analysis argues that while this argument may not be totally wrong, it could be very misleading. The yellow and the red movements have turned out to be competitive mobilisations of supporters and ideological warfare. As such, they are completely different from the social movements of the 1990s, when groups or organisations of people got together to stage protests or sit-ins in order to air their grievances and bargain with government to advance their interests, mostly in cooperation with various NGOs. The results of these negotiations were not always successful, but one of the positive outcomes of these early social movements was the opening up of the political space for ordinary people within the framework of the parliamentary system.
The changed character of the present social movements, as exemplified by the red and yellow movements, reflects a major political shift which happened between 1997 and 2005, when the aggrieved began to seek redress through the electoral process rather than protest. So, in this talk we will focus on understanding why electoral politics became more important, and what implications the yellow and red social movements have for Thai politics. In so doing we have to look at the career of Thaksin, who broke the mould of Thai politics by making a direct deal with the voters.
(Source: Bangkok Post, The implications of coloured movements: Part I by Pasuk Phongpaichit & Chris Baker, link)
renowned - famous and admired for their achievements
big picture - looking at the whole situation (not focusing on the details too much)
conflict - an angry disagreement between people or groups ความขัดแย้ง, ความไม่ลงรอยกัน
social movement - "large informal groupings of individuals and/or organizations focused on specific political or social issues" (See Wikipedia)
neutral - not just supporting one side in an argument or disagreement
debate - a discussion or formal argument on an issue between people with different views (See Wikipedia)
installments - diving one big payment into several smaller payments
interpretation - one possible explanation of the meaning of something
elite - the richest, most powerful, best educated or most highly trained group in a society ยอดเยี่ยมที่สุด
essentially - for the most part ที่สำคัญที่สุด
pawns - the powerless and weak controlled like "pawns" in the game of chess
struggle - a difficult fight or an attempt to defeat someone การต่อสู้เพื่อความอยู่รอด
argument - a reason or reasons why you support or oppose an idea or suggestion เหตุผล
misleading - making a person believe something that is not true
competitive - involving competition มีการแข่งขัน
mobilize (verb) - bring a group of people together in order to achieve some goals (example: mobilize an army to fight a war)
mobilisation (noun) - the bringing together of many people for a project and goal
ideological - relating to beliefs and principles
stage - to organise and event ทำการเปลี่ยนแปลง ปฏิวัติ
protests - meetings, sometimes forceful or violent, or public statements by people who strongly disagree with something ชุมนุมประท้วง
sit-in - protest with people sitting down in a place to prevent normal operations of a business (organization, university, etc) until their demands are listened to (See Wikipedia)
air - to make known
grievances - complaints about being treated in an unfair way ความคับข้องใจ
advance their interests
cooperation - working together to achieve a result that will benefit all sides ความร่วมมือ, การทำงานร่วมกัน
NGO - Non-Governmental Organization, any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level, perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political participation through provision of information. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, environment or health (Source: ngo.org also see Wikipedia)
results - what is produced in the end by an activity or task
negotiations - formal discussion in which people or groups try to reach an agreement การเจรจาต่อรอง (See Wikipedia)
positive - good ที่ดี
framework - a system of rules, ideas or beliefs that is used to plan or decide something ขอบข่ายงาน, โครงร่าง
outcome - a result, what happens at the end of a process, activity, meeting, etc.
opening up of the political space for ordinary people - creating new opportunities for ordinary people to participate in the political system
framework - a set of ideas and principles used for making decisions and judgements
parliament - a group of people elected by the people of a country, who meet to discuss important issues and problems and deal with these problems by creating laws (See Wikipedia)
X exemplified by Y - Y shows what X is
shift - change
reflects - shows
aggrieved - angry because you feel you've been treated in an unfair way
seek redress - try to change or put right a bad thing that has happened to you
electoral (adjective) - having to do with "elections" in which people vote for people to represent them in government
process - a series of actions taken to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
protest - a strong complaint or disagreement ประท้วง
focus - think about one thing, concentrate time and attention on one thing
X implys Y (verb) - if X is true than Y is true also
implications of X for Y (noun) - what X says is true (or will be true in the future) about Y
career - the series of related jobs that you spend your work life doing (especially if the job is a profession) (See Wikipedia)
broke the mould - changed the way that things are normally done
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