New Releases on Thailand
Energy, Governance and Security in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma): A Critical Approach to Environmental Politics in the South Adam Simpson Adam
Thailand’s Hyper-royalism: Its Past Success and Present Predicament Thongchai Winichakul
Thailand’s political impasse in the past decade is partly attributable to the royalist dominance of the parliamentary system, a dominance developed and strengthened under the cultural condition of hyper-royalism. Hyper-royalism is the politico-cultural condition in which royalism is intensified and exaggerated in public and everyday life. It is sanctioned by legislation that controls expressions about the monarchy in the public sphere.
Hyper-royalism began in the mid-1970s as a measure to counteract perceived communist threats. Despite the fact that these threats had disappeared by the early 1980s, hyper-royalism persisted and was strengthened to support royalist democracy. Hyper-royalism generates the concept of the ideology of modern monarchy — a charismatic king who is sacred, righteous and cares for his people, and who is indispensable to Thailand — and the belief that royalist democracy is best for Thailand.
Hyper-royalism also generates the illusion that the monarchy is divine, thanks to visual performances and objects, especially through television and majestic pageantry. Accordingly, the ideal monarch is found in King Bhumibol. Given the mortality of Bhumibol, however, future prospects of hyper-royalism and royalist-guided democracy are grim. Thailand’s political future is highly uncertain.
The King and the Making of Modern Thailand Antonio L. Rappa
Rural Thailand: Change and Continuity Porphant Ouyyanont
Despite rapid industrialization in Thailand, the contribution of agriculture to GDP remains unusually high. The share of agricultural employment in total employment has also remained high, relative to the country’s income level, as has the share of the rural population relative to the total population. Agribusiness has grown significantly, and there has been a rise in the number of large and strongly financed commercial farms that are less labour intensive. Contract farming has also been developing.
The introduction of a rice premium by the government obstructed the modernization of the agricultural rice sector and caused the rice share in GDP to steadily decline, while that for upland crops such as cassava, maize, sugarcane, and oil palm increased. However, rice remains the most important crop. The high proportion of the population still living in rural areas and working in the agricultural sector attests to the resilience of that sector in the face of industrialization.