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Bangkok Post Person of Year award goes to TDRI research program to replace street protests & fights by well-reasoned research & debate. 

Rice is unloaded in a government warehouse. The Thailand Development Research Institute reported the scheme is wasteful and could harm the country’s finances. The Bangkok Post has selected the TDRI as its Person of the Year. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

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Person of the Year

The TDRI has shown rational debate is the key to healing a fractured nation

31/12/2012
Soonruth Bunyamanee

Somkiat Tangkitvanich, TDRI President

Last year, the Bangkok Post nominated flood volunteers as our 'Person(s) of the Year', for the selfless acts which they performed in helping the many thousands of people hit by the big floods.

This year, the second time we have named anyone for their outstanding contributions to society, we again name not a single individual, but the collection of academics and thinkers who make up the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI). The think-tank shows we can still agree to disagree on the big issues confronting us, as it puts forward competing ideas for the public to debate.

Over the past six years, social divisions among Thais have widened, particularly when it comes to political and public policy issues.

People seem to have a tendency to act emotionally and base their actions on already formed prejudices when dealing with differences, rather than using rational debate, resulting in frequent street protests and even violence. And the situation seems to be getting worse.

But amid the widening social conflict, there is cause for hope. Over the past year, some important academic works on controversial issues were widely discussed and able to get the attention they deserved, thanks to the efforts of the institute.

The TDRI's studies on the government's rice pledging scheme and 3G auction are eminent works which gained wide attention from the public.

Whether the TDRI's conclusions are right or wrong is up to the reader, as all academic works can be challenged.

But the institute's working approach and its impact on our society encouraged an intense debate among members of the Bangkok Post's editorial committee before it voted the institute as the "Person of the Year" for 2012.

Established in 1984, the TDRI is an independent research institute focusing on economic and public policy research.

The organisation provides research, information and recommendations to the government, private sector, the public and international organisations.

The intellectual debates that took place between the leading academic Nidhi Eoseewong and fellow TDRI academics over the institute's study of the rice pledging scheme is a prime example of how our divided society should approach issues we disagree on.

The TDRI opposes the scheme, while Prof Nidhi supports it, but both offered well-researched reasons to back their arguments.

The study on the 3G auction which was held by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) this year is another good example of how to scrutinise controversial issues.

The study, which argues the NBTC deal benefits private operators more than the public at large, was widely used as a basis to engage in discussions about the auction by many people at various levels of society.

The TDRI's studies have not only gained attention from academics and policymakers, but also members of the public.

This is because the works, despite being academic papers, are presented in layman's terms which are easy to understand.

As a result, the studies have helped educate people about controversial subjects and enable them to debate complicated issues based on rational and academic grounds instead of emotional prejudice.

The TDRI's research gained limited recognition in the past but a shift in its approach to reach out to society by using various media this year enabled a larger number of people to gain access to its research works.

This change became more apparent after the institute appointed Somkiat Tangkitvanich, formerly its vice-president, as its new president on Oct 1

Dr Somkiat, a prominent researcher in the telecommunications field, announced that with the support of renowned economists and former TDRI presidents - such as Ammar Siamwalla, Chalongphob Sussangkarn and Nipon Puapongsakorn - the think-tank would offer more research written by strong academics while at the same time trying to attract the public's interest.

Responding to the Bangkok Post decision to choose the TDRI as its "Person of the Year", Dr Somkiat said the institute will focus on cooperation with the public, as well as with private groups and civic groups to conduct public policy research to push the country forward.

The institute will focus on four areas: economic reform, education development, anti-corruption policies and fiscal discipline....

(Source: Bangkok Post, Person of the Year, The TDRI has shown rational debate is the key to healing a fractured nation, 31/12/2012, Soonruth Bunyamanee, link


Research Institute Vocabulary

Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) - the most famous think tank in Thailand founded in 1984, focuses social and economic development issues: "he Institute has 6 major research programs: Human Resources and Social Development, International Economic Relations, Macroeconomic Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Science and Technology Development, and Sectoral Economics" (See Wikipedia & Website & Facebook)

think tank - an organization that does research for pay to help the government, companies or other organizations (See Wikipedia)
research institute - Same as "think tank"

debate - a discussion or formal argument on an issue between people with different views (See Wikipedia)

rational - based on logic and thinking, not emotions
rational debate

Nidhi Eoseewong - a leading Thai historian, writer and public intellectual นิธิ เอียวศรีวงศ์ (See Wikipedia)

intellectual  -
intelligent, using thought instead of emotion alone เกี่ยวกับปัญญา, เกี่ยวกับความคิดและการใช้เหตุผล
intellectual debates

leading academic - one the most important professors and researchers
the leading academic Nidhi Eoseewong

fellow - used for talking about people who are similar to you or are in the same situation เพื่อนร่วมชะตากรรม
fellow academics

fellow TDRI academics
fellow TDRI academics over the institute's study of the rice pledging scheme

prime - of the best quality ที่ดีที่สุด main or most important ที่สำคัญที่สุด
prime example - one of the best examples
a prime example of how our divided society should approach issues we disagree on

The intellectual debates that took place between the leading academic Nidhi Eoseewong and fellow TDRI academics over the institute's study of the rice pledging scheme is a prime example of how our divided society should approach issues we disagree on.

warehouse - a large building for storing things โกดังสินค้า, คลังสินค้า, โรงพัสดุ
scheme - a plan that is developed by a government or large organisation in order to provide a particular service for people แผนการ โครงการ
harm - damage ความเสียหาย

fracture - a break; a place where something is broken (example: a bone fracture) การแตก, การร้าว, รอยแตก, รอยร้าว (แตก, หัก, ร้าว, กระดูกหัก) 
healing a fracture -
repairing a broken thing (example: heal a fractured bone) 

a nation -
a country ประเทศ, ประเทศชาติ
a fractured nation - a broken country; a failed state

healing a fractured nation

the key to - the solution to (the important needed to solve a problem) 
the key to healing a fractured nation

the TDRI has shown rational debate is the key to healing a fractured nation

nominated - officially suggested for a job or position แต่งตั้ง
volunteers - people working without (for a good cause, helping people)
nominated flood volunteers as Persons of the Year

self -
yourself
selfless -
not for yourself
acts - actions การกระทำ
selfless acts - doing things for other people (not yourself)

Last year, the Bangkok Post nominated flood volunteers as our 'Person(s) of the Year', for the selfless acts which they performed in helping the many thousands of people hit by the big floods.

outstanding - clearly very much better than what is usual ยอดเยี่ยม, ดีเด่น
contributions - something that you do or give to help make something successful การช่วยเหลือ
outstanding contributions to society

single - only one
individual - a person (considered separately from their society or community) บุคคล
a single individual

academics - professors and lecturers at universities and colleges; researchers
collection of academics and thinkers

This year, the second time we have named anyone for their outstanding contributions to society, we again name not a single individual, but the collection of academics and thinkers who make up the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).

agree to disagree - meaning: we will have a polite discussion and stick to the issues (not attack each other personally)

issues - an important subect that people are discussing and debating about ประเด็น
the big issues confronting us

we can still agree to disagree on the big issues confronting us

competing ideas - different ideas that are both good (but have to choose the best one after looking at them closely)
it puts forward competing ideas for the public to debate

The think-tank shows we can still agree to disagree on the big issues confronting us, as it puts forward competing ideas for the public to debate.

division -
separation or breaking of into pieces การแบ่ง, การแบ่งสันปันส่วน, การหาร,  ความแตกต่าง,  การแตกแยก, ความไม่ลงรอยกัน
social divisions - when different groups in society separate or break apart (not having relations anymore)
social divisions have widened

policy - a plan of action to guide decisions and achieve outcomes นโยบาย (See Wikipedia)

public policy -
government decisions and policies in constitutions, laws, court decisions and regulations (See Wikipedia)
public policy issues

Over the past six years, social divisions among Thais have widened, particularly when it comes to political and public policy issues.

tendency - usually or often doing something in a certain way แนวโน้ม
have a tendency to

emotion (noun) - อารมณ์, ความรู้สึก,
emotionally (adverb) - โดยเกี่ยวกับอารมณ์

act emotionally - do things with great emotion
have a tendency to act emotionally

prejudice -
something that a person does not like without a good reason; bias, unfairness, impartiality ความรู้สึกไม่ชอบโดยไม่มีเหตุผล, อคติ
already formed prejudices
base actions on already formed prejudices - do something only guided by hatreds and what you do not like (rather than reason and logic)

dealing with differences - when people are different and want different things (reaching an agreement)

protests - meetings, sometimes forceful or violent, or public statements by people who strongly disagree with something ชุมนุมประท้วง
street protests

frequent - happening often เกิดขึ้นบ่อย
frequent street protests

violence
- physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people ความรุนแรง

People seem to have a tendency to act emotionally and base their actions on already formed prejudices when dealing with differences, rather than using rational debate, resulting in frequent street protests and even violence.

the situation is getting worse - situation not improving 
and the situation seems to be getting worse

conflict - an angry disagreement between people or groups ความขัดแย้ง ความไม่ลงรอยกัน
social conflict - an angry disagreement between different groups in society
widening social conflict - a social conflict that is getting bigger and bigger

there is cause for hope
But amid the widening social conflict, there is cause for hope.

academic - someone who teaches at a college, or who studies as part of their job นักวิชาการ
academic works

controversial - a topic that peeople disagree and argue about ความขัดแย้ง  ความไม่ลงรอยกัน ซึ่งก่อให้เกิดการโต้แย้ง
controversial issues

deserved - describes something that you earn or are given because of your behavior or qualities สมควรได้รับ
get the attention they deserve

efforts - people trying to accomplish something, achieve a goal ความพยายาม
efforts - the work done towards achieving some goal
thanks to the efforts of the institute

Over the past year, some important academic works on controversial issues were widely discussed and able to get the attention they deserved, thanks to the efforts of the institute.

auction - selling things by competitive bids, selling to the person who offers that best price การขายโดยการประมูล, การขายทอดตลาด (See Wikipedia)
3G auction

eminent - famous, respected or important มีชื่อเสียง
eminent works - famous books and articles

gained wide attention - many people were interested in it (and read it or watched it)
gained wide attention from the public

The TDRI's studies on the government's rice pledging scheme and 3G auction are eminent works which gained wide attention from the public.

conclusion - what a paper, book or study says, decides or reports in the end, summary at end, summing up ส่วนสุดท้าย, ข้อสรุป, การสรุปตามข้อเท็จจริง

it is up to you
- you have to decide, it is your decision
it is up to the reader -
- the read has to decide for her or himself, it is their decision

whether the conclusions are right or wrong is up to the reader

challenged - when you say that some statement (or hypthothesis) might be wrong and provide evidence to support this
all academic works can be challenged

Whether the TDRI's conclusions are right or wrong is up to the reader, as all academic works can be challenged.

approach - a particular way of doing something or thinking about something การจัดการกับปัญหา วิธีการทำให้ถึงจุดหมาย
working approach - a way to do work (work to achieve some goals)

impact - an effect or influence ผลกระทบ
its impact on our society

intense
- done with a lot of effort, energy, attention, etc. เข้มข้น
intense debate 

editorial
- an article in a newspaper that gives the opinion of the author or newspaper
editorial committee
the Bangkok Post's editorial committee

encouraged - having more confidence or hope about something มีกำลังใจ
encouraged an intense debate among members of the Bangkok Post's editorial committee

But the institute's working approach and its impact on our society encouraged an intense debate among members of the Bangkok Post's editorial committee before it voted the institute as the "Person of the Year" for 2012.

independent - separate, not connected, free from outside influence เป็นอิสระ not taking help or money from other people พึ่งตนเอง
independent research institute

Established in 1984, the TDRI is an independent research institute focusing on economic and public policy research.

recommendation
- การแนะนำ
recommendations to the government

sector - a part of the economy ภาคเศรษฐกิจของประเทศ (public sector = government, private sector = all businesses, household sector = families and consumers, banking sector,...) (See Wikipedia)
private sector - all the businesses in an economy

international - ระหว่างประเทศ between countries
international organisations

The organisation provides research, information and recommendations to the government, private sector, the public and international organisations.

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