Khon Kaen University Dean
Peerasit Kamnuansilpa is Dean, College of Local Administration Khon Kaen University.
After an almost seven-year suspension, Thailand held its first local elections for chief executive officers (CEO) and council members of provincial administrative organisations (PAO) on Dec 20, 2020, followed by the election of mayors and city council members on March 28 of this year.
In January, a mere seven months ago, I and two of faculty members at the College of Local Administration, Khon Kaen University, co-authored a paper titled, "Locally-Driven Action in Pandemic Control: A Case of Khon Kaen Province". This article presented the results of a study that examined the local action taken in Covid-19 control and prevention measures in Khon Kaen. At that time, Thailand was among the leading nations in the world in Covid control.
About two weeks ago, through a Facebook group, more than half a million Thais expressed a desire to leave Thailand to settle down in countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Australia and New Zealand, among others.
In 2013, the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) was formed, with members branding themselves as true patriots who maintained that the majority of those who were in the opposition came to power through vote-buying. They pushed for heavier legal punishments and removing the statute of limitations in cases involving corrupt politicians. They organised political rallies, obstructing many polling stations. The leaders were arrested and tried. The court saw this as a disruption of public services, which they saw as tantamount to terrorism and insurrection. On Feb 24, 2021 they were sentenced to imprisonment but released on bail.
Economic development in Thailand has not just been a responsibility of the central government, but its exclusive domain. Thus, the management inventiveness and fiscal autonomy of local governments for this function are often shackled by the rules, regulations and orders from the bureaucrats within the central government agencies or by those at the provincial level.
Thailand has had an interesting journey to its current ranking of sixth in the world, and first in Asia, in income inequality, as cited by the World Population Review. The country has historically been a patronage society, where the upper echelons of society are expected to look after those who are underprivileged.