1. chris beale says:

    So what ? Prayut couldn’t give a damn about puffed-up, self-important academics. He’s a realist : “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”. The sword IS mightier than the pen.

  2. Ralph Kramden says:

    As I read it, and I wasn’t involved in it, the letter is meant to be a “international” letter. It also seems it is meant to be kind of “extra-Thai Studies” as there are only a few Thai Studies scholars on the list and little overlap with the one from participants at ICTS13.

  3. JohnW says:

    Is it really true that only two Thai academics signed it?

  4. Juan Manuel says:

    I strongly support the statement and humbly join my signature

    Juan Manuel López Nadal

  5. Dr Gavan Butler says:

    I support the effort of the organisers of the 13th ICTS in putting it together in today’s tense environment in Thailand and congratulate them on their success in bringing together a very large group of participants. The three-yearly conference is a tremendously important academic event. Participants must be able to present and discuss their work without fear and free of intimidation.

  6. I support academic freedom unconditionally. Knowledge is the foundation of any free society.

  7. Surely, ‘Theravada Buddhism is Asian in origin’? Who has the spiritual authority to determine what constitutes ‘real’ Buddhism is a matter of endless dispute (as in any religion) but we are well into the second śāsana now; Westerners’ practice is perfectly valid.

  8. Maurizio Peleggi, Citizen: Italian, National University of Singapore says:

    I’d like to have my name added to the list.

  9. Liam Gammon Liam Gammon says:


    My mistake; this should have been corrected while editing. The error has been fixed. Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed David’s piece.

    Liam, NM Editor

  10. Please add me in the list to sign the statement

  11. DHL says:

    Dear David,
    nice article about the women’s struggle in Timor Leste. However, if you give departed fighters for women’s rights their due, could you please spell them correctly: The lady was Rosa Luxemburg, NOT Luxemberg, and her name has been adopted by a German party foundation as the Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation. Maybe you think this is quibbling, on the other hand I think that to take pains to ascertain proper spelling of a name would show a certain amount of respect.

  12. Mark Woodward says:

    The use of performance of non-obligatory ritual as a marker for piety is to be applauded. However, the choice of attending prayers at a mosque and daily reading of the Qur’an leaves much to be desired. There are many very pious people who do not do either. Daily Qur’an reading as an indicator of Muslim piety is highly suspect because it would appear to be derivative of Protestant Christian pietism.

    A more revealing method would be to include a basket of practices reflecting the theological and ritual diversity of the Indonesian Muslim population. These would include frequency of zikr (the recitation of short prayers), ziyarah (pilgrimage to the tombs of saints), night prayer, attending pennajian (religious talks) participating in Yasinan (ritual recitation of Surah Yasin from the Qur’an) and others. High frequency of any is an indicator of piety. Ideally this basket should reconstructed on the basis of ethnographic research with diverse Muslim communities and organizations.

  13. Duong Thi Ha says:

    Please add me to the statement by ICTS13.Ms Duong Thi Ha from Viet Nam. Diplomatic Academy

  14. Please add my name to the statement by ICTS13 participants

    Title: Mr
    Name: Pham Van Dung
    Institution or workplace: Learning and Alliance (L&A)
    Nationality: Vietnamese

  15. Ralph Kramden says:

    Now that five Thai attendees at the ICTS, including convenor Prof Chayan, have been charged by the military government for events at the conference it is probably too late to contemplate the issues discussed on this post. It would seem, however, that the “big names” who attended speak loudly in support of those now being harassed.

    For details see

  16. John Grima says:

    Well, yes, under Obama we had an occasional comment by the ambassador in support of dissent and elections, not much, but little tokens that might make one feel just a little bit morally superior. Trump and Tillerson don’t command the subtlety to pull that off. They are one deal at a time guys without a lot of band width. It may just be U.S. policy is better revealed by these guys. Give ’em a few years, maybe they’ll learn to sing both songs. Unfortunately, they are in way over their heads in Asia and they will give away a lot of influence before they can even see their losses.

    A question for the historians: Has the U.S. ever played a timely role in a pull back from the military’s domination of Thai government? In the 70s, or 90s?

  17. […] in 2015. Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono recently reported that Jokowi has been quietly releasing dozens more(link is external) over the past year. In his first nearly three years in power, he has visited the two Papuan […]

  18. […] in 2015. Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono recently reported that Jokowi has been quietly releasing dozens more over the past year. In his first nearly three years in power, he has visited the two Papuan […]

  19. Tom Donahugh says:

    A whole lot of strange ideas in this post along with the usual laundry list of sins committed by the US during the cold war. Do you honestly believe the Bangkok middle class are stalwart supporters of democracy? American representatives right along with Australian representatives pose for smiling pictures with people who they would rather not deal with from many different countries. It’s called diplomacy and it goes down better in the long run if you are on speaking terms with the folks you wish to influence.
    Rez Tillerson was in Bangkok for one primary reason. Who is the second leading trade partner of North Korea after the PRC? Thailand of course. There has been some loosy goosey stuff going on in Bangkok with North Korean trading organizations and he was in Bangkok to see that the situation was addressed by the Thais. And he was looking for strong support from Bangkok for the latest round of sanctions imposed by the United Nations. You do not gain that support by calling them names or insulting the extremely tender Thai face at the moment. If Rex Tillerson had spoken out about democracy publicly they likely would have needed a military escort to the airport to prevent that “democracy loving Bangkok middle class ” from mobbing his car. Like all nations America certainly has every right to act in it’s own best interests. And America has the right to question why the US-Thai balance of trade continues to rise I think?
    To expect America to somehow gain greater democratic rights for the citizens of Thailand is a tall order I believe. Quietly, behind the scenes diplomacy can aid democracy’s development sometimes I think? But I am reminded of that line from Jesus Christ Superstar when JC was pressed by a crowd all wishing him to sooth their pains and deformities: “Heal Yourselves”. That is where it must begin and that is where the heavy lifting must be done. Don’t expect other nations to do what you must do yourself.

  20. Chris Beale says:

    A good article marred by horrific lapse into weird Fukuyama Hegelianism. Can the author please explain why “History, with its faux teleology proclaiming the inevitable progression toward liberal democracy —has reached its natural conclusion. A dead end.” Why does “History” have a naturally conclusive “dead end” ?