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Thailand Studies Programme


Latest Announcements


ISEAS’s Thailand Studies Programme will hold a “Thailand Forum” workshop on 27th and 28th July 2015

The overarching theme of the Forum will be “society in transition”. Transitions in society are processes of change from one state or condition to another, and are both unavoidable and unpredictable. The 2014 coup and its promise of elections are one sign of political transition. The changing socio-economic profile of the North and Northeast suggests a transition in power relations between core and periphery. And, of course, the approach of the end of the long reign of King Bhumibol makes another sort of transition inevitable.  Transitions are dynamic and by their very nature worrisome for the status quo and establishment, for they suggest not only a new order but also possible resistance to the change that they bring.

The focus of the Forum will be on developments in politics, society, culture and the economy. These developments will be assessed for their medium- and long-term implications.  Papers treating recent political developments will address those developments from an explicitly long-term perspective. Scholars will be invited to think about transitional processes in these areas and the different stakeholders involved, to describe the tension between the old and the new, and to consider the ways in which such transitions will unfold in the near future.

The aim of the Forum is to take stock of Thailand’s current problems and prospects and to alert stakeholders and interested parties to issues and areas likely to merit attention in the years ahead. This Forum will be of interest to students and academics, policymakers and business people. 

The Thailand Studies Programme will approach scholars and invite them to prepare papers on key areas of development, with drafts of their papers to be circulated some weeks before the workshop. Selected papers from this Forum will appear in an edited volume published by ISEAS and intended to offer a critical perspective on Thailand. 

Papers will be divided into three broad sessions: Politics, Economics, and Culture and Society. They will cover issues from the military coup, the military, monarchy, decentralisation, economic restructuring, the middle class, the media, and civil society.

More details on the Forum will be uploaded when available.



The ISEAS Perspective paper "Thailand: A New Polity in the Making?" by Porphant Ouyyanont, Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS, can be accessed at this link.

Introduction of the paper:

This paper analyses the current policies of the Thai military government, drawing attention to the high degree of military control and to the extent to which the policies affect all aspects of Thai society. Secondly, this paper undertakes an analysis of these policies and argue that they mark a departure in the type of Thai state that is being established.



The seminar notes on the seminar "Is Myanmar a Model for the Thai Political Order?", 28 October 2014, can now be found at this link.

This seminar explored the directions that Thai political order may take, comparing events in Thailand with Myanmar’s transition experience.



The ISEAS Perspective paper "Thailand Has Entered the Interregnum" by Patrick Jory, Senior Lecturer in Southeast Asian History at the University of Queensland, can be accessed at this link.

Introduction of the paper:

This article submits that on the contrary, the royalist forces that have long dominated Thai politics are acting from a position of weakness. This weakness is evidence partly by heavy media censorship and propaganda, and in particular by the use of the Lèse majesté law, which prevents discussion of the issue at the heart of the political conflict - the monarchy. The core reason for this weakness is that the reign of King Bhumibol is almost over.



The seminar notes on the seminar "The Return of the Bureaucratic Polity", 23 September 2014, by Dr Puangthong R Pawakapan, Dr Porphant Ouyyanont and Dr Tanet Charoenmuang, can now be found at this link.

The seminar brings together three Senior Visiting Fellows in the ISEAS Thailand Studies Programme - Dr Puangthong R Pawakapan, Dr Porphant Ouyyanont and Dr Tanet Charoenmuang - to discuss the historical trajectory and return of the bureaucratic polity to Thailand, as well as the economic, political and governance ramifications of such a recentralisation process.



Dr Tanet Charoenmuang, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Chiang Mai University, is spending six months at ISEAS, starting 11 August 2014.



Dr Porphant Ouyyanont, Associate Professor, School of Economics, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, is spending six months at ISEAS, starting 4 August 2014.



Dr Puangthong R. Pawakapan, Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, is spending six months at ISEAS on an ISEAS Thailand Programme fellowship, starting 16 July 2014.



ISEAS Publishing has just released “Good Coup” Gone Bad: Thailand's Political Development since Thaksin's Downfall, edited by Pavin Chachavalpongpun. 

Containing contributions from Federico Ferrara, James Ockey, Thongchai Winichkul, David Streckfuss, Michael Nelson, Nick Nostitz, Andrew Walker, Mark Askew and Pavin himself, this volume offers a timely and comprehensive survey of the actors, institutions and forces that shaped Thailand’s political environment during the years of tension and stalemate that followed military intervention in the country’s politics during 2006-2007. It provides indispensable background on the 22 May 2014 putsch in Bangkok and on the motivations of the junta that took power on that day.

“Good Coup” Gone Bad: Thailand's Political Development since Thaksin's Downfall is available through the ISEAS Publishing bookshop.


About the Thailand Studies Programme

The Thailand Studies Programme at ISEAS promotes analysis of and scholarship on contemporary Thailand. Its goal is to develop understanding of the country among the full range of parties concerned with its mid-term and long-term future: governments, the media, journalists, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and scholars.

The foci of the programme are three-fold — on political dynamics, social change, and cultural trends.  In its attention to politics, the concerns of the programme include party and electoral politics, Thailand’s place in regional politics and geopolitics, regionalism and decentralization, the state of Thai institutions, constitutionalism and royalism, and the impact of politics on economic competitiveness and the investment climate. Social issues that fall within the programme’s purview are migration and demographic change, religion, ethnicity, the Thai education system, the relationship between urban and rural Thailand, the middle classes, and sectorial industries like tourism. In the area of cultural trends, the arts and literature, the media and mass consumption patterns number among topics of interest.

The programme seeks to build institutional links to scholars, analysts and centres involved in the study of modern Thailand, not least those in Thailand itself. 


Programme Coordinators

The co-coordinators of the Thailand Studies Programme are Michael Montesano (michaelmontesano@iseas.edu.sg) and Terence Chong (terencechong@iseas.edu.sg). Please contact the co-coordinators for further information on the Thailand Studies Programme.


Past Affiliates

ISEAS has a long history of hosting scholars from Thailand.  Among those previously affiliated with the Institute are the following:

Aekapol Chongvilaivan    Pasuk Phongpaichit Sunya Sunyavivat
Anek Laothamatas Pavin Chachavalpongpun Surichai Wun'Gaeo
Chaiwat Satha-Anand Phiphat Tangsubkul Surin Maisrikrod
Charnvit Kasetsiri Pranee Chitkornkijsil Suthiphand Chiravithvat
Khien Theeravit Prudhisan Jumbala Thamsook Numnonda
Kusuma Snitwongse Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Thitinan Pongsudhirak
Medhi Krongkaew Suchit Bunbongkarn  
Narongchai Akrasanee Sukhumbhand Paribatra  


Thailand Forum, 2015

The Thailand Studies Programme will host a Thailand Forum conference in Singapore in mid-2015. This conference will convene a small number of scholars and other analysts from Thailand and elsewhere to present research on political dynamics, social change and cultural trends in Thailand.  It will result in the publication of an edited volume.  Please consult this site for further details on the planned Thailand Forum.



For upcoming seminars, please see the events page of the main ISEAS website.

Seminars over the past years:

  • Professor Suchit Bunbongkarn, “What Went Wrong with the Thai Democracy?,” 11 July 2014
  • Dr Puangthong R Pawakapan, "Thailand: The Return of Bureaucratic Polity," 23 September 2014 
  • Dr Porphant Ouyyanont, "Thai Politics – a State of Suspended Animation," 30 July 2013


ISEAS has published research and analysis on Thailand in wide range of formats. Each edition of the bimonthly ISEAS Monitor and the annual Southeast Asian Affairs  covers Thailand. Scholarship and research on Thailand regularly appears in the ISEAS journals Contemporary Southeast AsiaThe Journal of Southeast Asian Economies and SOJOURN: Social Issues in Southeast Asia.


ISEAS Perspective Issues

ISEAS Perspective titles on Thailand include the following:

Puangthong Pawakapan The Thai Junta's Interim Constitution: Towards an Anti-Electoral Democracy (12 August 2014)
Cassey Lee Whither Thailand's Juntanomics? (8 July 2014)
Su-Ann Oh Burmese Refugees in Thailand — Should they stay or should they go? (24 March 2014)
Pavin Chachavalpongpun Japan Pursues a ‘Thailand-Plus-One’ Strategy (13 March 2014)
Michael J. Montesano What is to come in Thailand? (10 February 2014)
Puangthong Pawakapan Can the ICJ ruling end the dispute between Thailandand Cambodia? (26 September 2013)
John Lee China’s Economic Influence in Thailand: Perception or Reality? (11 July 2013)
Michael J. Montesano The Struggle to Amend Thailand’s Constitution (1 July 2013)
Kornphanat Tungkeunkunt China’s Soft Power in Thailand (3 Jun 2013)
Su-Ann Oh Rohingya Boat Arrivals in Thailand: From the frying paninto the fire? (4 March 2013)


Trends in Southeast Asia

The Trends in Southeast Asia series on Thailand includes:

John Lee China’s Engagement with Southeast Asia: Thailand (2013)



ISEAS Publications has also published a wide range of influential monographs and edited volumes on Thailand. These include the following titles.