A Coup for Democracy in Thailand? Thaksin's Ouster and What It Means

Thursday, November 9, 2006
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Philippines Conference Room

Can there be such a thing as a democratic coup? Critics of the September 2006 seizure of power in Thailand say "no." To them the overthrow of an elected government has set back democracy. Others, including many inside Thailand, support the ouster of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as having ended a corrupt and authoritarian regime. Thai democracy, in their view, has been corrected not capsized. Who is right, and what does it mean for democracy in Thailand and beyond? Prof. Ockey will set the stage by reviewing and assessing five different explanations for the September event. He will stress the diversity of motives and interests among the coup's supporters. Prof. Winichakul will then offer a particular interpretation. He will portray the coup as a move by the Thai monarchy and an army general close to the palace that bodes ill for the future of democracy. SEAF Director Don Emmerson will moderate the discussion.

About the panelists:

Jim Ockey is the author of Making Democracy: Leadership, Class, Gender and Political Participation in Thailand (2004) and many articles on Thai politics. Before 2006 he taught at Canterbury University in New Zealand. His Ph.D is from Cornell University.

Thongchai Winichakul's publications include the prize-winning book, Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation (1994). In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science. His Ph.D is from the University of Sydney