For those not participating in songkran revelries, here is a chance for some serious discussion of Thailand’s battle between good and evil! Who is good? Who is evil? Go along and find out from one of Thailand’s Counter-Corruption Commissioners.

Corruption Issues and the Restoration of Democracy in Thailand
Professor Medhi Krongkaew
Venue: The Australian National University, Sparke Helmore Law Theatre 1
Date: Wednesday 16 April, 12:30-2.00

“Is it an inspirational fairytale of Good triumphing over Evil, or is it confirmation of the ultimate, bitterest truth that the two are always virtual collaborators? Democracy has supposedly returned, but has Corruption been put away for good? Who will be strengthened in the current scheme of things? Is Democracy gaining the upper hand, or is Corruption laughing his head off?” Tulasit Taptim, The Nation, 23 December 2007.

General elections on 23 December 2007 restored civilian government in Thailand- but did they restore democracy? In this seminar Professor Medhi Krongkaew will give his opinion. Professor Medhi Krongkaew has been a National Counter Corruption Commissioner for the past two years. He formerly taught at the National Institute of Development Administration and Thammasat University, and is one of Thailand’s most respected economists. He was also a Senior Fellow in the Division of Economics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, ANU, and has written dozens of articles on a wide range of Thai economic issues, with
a particular focus on poverty.

The National Thai Studies Centre extends a warm welcome to all.

Here is a brief extract from my report on Medhi’s presentation at the ANU in October last year:

The overall impression I gained was that Medhi, like many others, was attempting to draw a clear distinction between the independent, disinterested and trustworthy appointed public officials on the one hand and the disruptive, self-serving and dishonest elected politicians on the other. In his view it is clearly the appointed public officials who are the “guarantor of political peace in the country.”

In question time I asked Medhi if he saw any tension between the NCCC taking such a strong anti-corruption stance (which advocates respect for the rule of law) and the fact that the current NCCC members had been appointed by a group of people who had overthrown the supreme law (the constitution) by military force. His response was procedural. He argued that he had applied for NCCC membership prior to the coup and had already been subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Immediately prior to the coup he was one of 18 shortlisted candidates being considered by the Senate. Given that he had been through this process he was willing to accept the appointment by the coup makers.