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Title Thailand: History, Politics and the Rule of Law  
ISBN 9789814841542
Imprint Marshall Cavendish Editions
James Wise
Specifications 227 x 152 mm / 320 pp / paperback
Publication Date Apr-2019
Target Audience General
Price (SGD) SGD 34.60
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About the Book

This introductory book on Thai politics and the rule of law explains why chronically unstable Thailand struggles to mediate and adjudicate its political disputes. It focuses on the continuities between the pre-1932 and post-1932 periods. Since the shift to constitutional monarchy in 1932, the power of the monarch and military has endured; the legislature, electorate and, until recently, judiciary have been comparatively powerless; and constitutions and laws have been comparatively unimportant. Historical continuities are also evident in the persistence of hierarchical thinking and ethno-nationalism, both of which have inhibited open debates about governance, and in the emergence of a distinctively Thai legal culture.

Thailand’s governance was re-cast ambitiously in the 1890s, 1932 and 1997. Since 1997, governing Thailand and developing Thailand’s economy have become harder. So political disputes have become more acute and the absence of a national consensus on dispute settlement mechanisms more obvious. Until governance is again re-cast, Thailand’s political instability and cycle of coups will continue.

This volume offers contemporary insights and historical context to the general reader, newcomers to Thailand, and students of Thai history, politics and law.

“A thoughtful account by a veteran diplomat and astute analyst. An essential
read for anyone interested in one of Asia’s mostintriguing conundrums:
Thailand’s continuing defiance of economic and political gravity. By showing
how history shaped contemporary Thai politics, this book sheds light on
Thailand’s most critical challenge: recasting political governance in a new era.”
—Gwen Robinson
Senior Fellow, Institute of Security and International Studies,
Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

“An up-to-date, sharply-lucid introduction to the politics and government
of Thailand—informed by the latest research, but designed for
the general reader. Highlighting the role of monarchy and the army—
and also Thai understandings of law, liberty and democracy—James Wise
employs historical and cultural insights to explain this economically successful
but often bewildering country.”
—Professor Anthony Milner
Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne;
Visiting Professor, University of Malaya;
and Basham Professor of Asian History, Australian National University, 1994–2013

“A sympathetic, balanced, and historically-informed guide to
Thailand’s current political predicament. Wise draws on the latest
scholarly literature and his own extensive diplomatic experience
to portray an ancient country straining under attempts to preserve
traditional legitimacy and growing demands for democratic accountability.”  
—Dr Patrick Jory
Senior Lecturer in Southeast Asian History, University of Queensland
and author of Thailand’s Theory of Monarchy: The Vessantara Jataka
and the Idea of the Perfect Man

“An insightful analysis of Thai political history which views the complexities
of modern Thailand from both a western and a Thai perspective. A significant contribution to Thai studies that is also very readable for both the student
of Thailand and those with little prior knowledge of Thai ways.”  
—Dr Robert Cooper
author of CultureShock! Thailand

About the Author

James Wise was Australia’s Ambassador to Thailand from 2010 to 2014. He also worked in Thailand from 1995 to 1998, when he was Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy. He is now an independent consultant providing assessments and presentations on trends in the political economy of Thailand.

James was an Australian diplomat for over 30 years. In addition to two postings to Thailand, he was High Commissioner to Malaysia (2003–2007) and had earlier postings to the Soviet Union (1987–1991) and Papua New Guinea (1983–1985).

James graduated from the University of Tasmania with a First Class Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in History.
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