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State and Media in Thailand During Political Transition : Proceedings of the Symposium organized by the French Embassy, the German Embassy, the National Press Council of Thailand and Irasec at the Thai Journalist Association Building on May 2007, 23rd

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ISBN: 9782956447016 DOI: 10.4000/books.irasec.354 Language: English
Publisher: Institut de recherche sur l’Asie du Sud-Est contemporaine
Subject: Political Science
Added to DOAB on : 2019-12-06 13:15:36
License: OpenEdition Licence for Books

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Abstract

The emergence of public opinion in Thailand through media was a sign of the development of modernity in the Kingdom. Growing influence of the public opinion raised a double question to local authorities: Media tended to spread western concepts, such as “democracy” or “freedom”; which could be integrated to the local traditions; they could also set the bases of a modern state. By law or ownership concentration authorities have regularly attempted to grip on independent media. Nowadays debates on press freedom in Thailand are a new development of this long lasting antagonism. On the initiative of the French and German Embassies in Thailand, Irasec with the National Press Council of Thailand organized on May 23rd, 2007 a seminar on the relationship between State and Media in Thailand at the Thai Journalist Association. This seminar occurred at a very specific time in Thai modern politics. Since the beginning of the political crisis late 2005 and especially after the Coup d'Etat on September 2006, Thailand has committed to a long process of reforms and political reconstruction which is supposed to be followed by the approval of a new constitution by referendum. This should be the 18th Constitution since the founding of the modern State in 1932. However interrogations and worries remain over the whole process. During this political transition the role of media is particularly sensitive. The current situation in Thailand emphasizes concerns for press freedom. State censorship, self-censorship, media ownerships and ethics are of highest interest and worriment, and widely discussed in the frame of the Constitution drafting. Despite a high degree of freedom, notably in print media - a more worrisome situation is looming regarding radios, TV and especially internet, uncertainty and retrograde reforms could further damage the reliability of Thai media.

Buddhism and Politics in Thailand

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ISBN: 9782355960468 DOI: 10.4000/books.irasec.2951 Language: English
Publisher: Institut de recherche sur l’Asie du Sud-Est contemporaine
Subject: Political Science
Added to DOAB on : 2019-12-06 13:15:36
License: OpenEdition Licence for Books

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Despite the often-repeated assertion that Buddhism and politics are, or at least must be, separate matters, Buddhism has been closely intertwined with politics one way or another since the Buddha’s time. In Thailand, Buddhism has been used since the end of the 19th century as a tool to legitimate state power. In the following decades, it has been progressively centralized under a national hierarchy, which is still existing today. This scheme was not altered after the change of the country’s political framework in 1932 and political tensions with the sangha came to the fore during the political troubles of the 1970s. The emergence of an increasing political divide in Thailand since the mid-2000s, around two broad groups which have been dubbed the Yellow Shirts and the Red Shirts, has engulfed the monastic community, leading to a growing activism by some Buddhist groups, some temples and some monks. Numerous monks mingled with Red Shirts demonstrators in April-May 2010, and some were on the front-line when the military gave the assault on the Red Shirts’ camp in downtown Bangkok. In the most recent years, these tensions have coalesced around the controversial Dhammakaya temple and have impacted the choice of the leader of the Thai monastic community. Although, tensions within the sangha are nothing new, they have weakened the ability of Buddhism – one of the national pillars of the Thai national ideology – to be a focal point as the country is going through a difficult transition with the end of seven-decades prestigious reign and political uncertainties clouding the horizon.

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