Since Thailand’s coup of 22 May 2014 I have been knuckling down with my research work: in places far from the cut-and-thrust of Bangkok politics. Of course I have been watching closely, often in dismay, but still with an eye to the judgements that will be made many years from now.
Long-time New Mandala readers know that this website first vaulted to prominence in the turbulent days and weeks after the coup of 19 September 2006. Many things have changed since then. And still so many others have stayed the same. A long essay on “elite coup culture” published in 2013 remains a modest summary of my own thinking on the many questions raised by Thai military interventions.
Attentive readers will have recognised that over the past year Andrew Walker and I have been juggling many other commitments as we keep this website ticking along. Happily we have continued to receive large numbers of guest contributions, and now rejoice in the thriving communities of Indonesia and Malaysia analysis that find a home here. We also have more content and debate about Myanmar than ever before.
And yet, for obvious reasons, Thailand’s troubles have always loomed largest for us. It is in the furnace of the past decade’s debates about Thai politics that this website’s standing has been forged. Even when we are distracted by other responsibilities we try to keep a weather eye on what’s happening in Thailand and what it might mean. Our analytical interest is as great as ever, even when we don’t have time to be writing daily commentaries.
Watching the @newmandala Twitter stream today I was bowled over by all the activity. It was much harder in 2006 to keep up with what was happening on the streets. Protests against this most recent coup look like they’re starting to ramp up significantly. Reports of students and faculty taking to those familiar protest grounds at Thammasat University’s Tha Phra Chan campus sent a shiver down my spine. And pictures of Thai thinkers reading George Orwell on the streets of Bangkok are powerful reminders that battles are fought and won in surprising ways.
Over the weeks ahead I anticipate that we will be moving into a new phase of New Mandala work. If you have contributions to offer then please send them to the usual place. Many important stories need to be told. We look forward to sharing them with you.
There will be more, no doubt, including further and more thorough analytical treatments. And then there will be the public events that I’m sure cohorts of concerned scholars will begin to convene.