Mapping National Anxieties Thailand's Southern Conflict

This latest book by award winning researcher Duncan McCargo one of the world's leading specialists on contemporary Thailand builds on previous projects to elucidate new aspects of the intractable Southern conflict that has claimedthan 4500 lives since 2004 'Mapping National Anxieties' locates the insurgency in the context of Thailand's wider political conflicts exploring the ambiguous relationships between the Thai state and organised religion along with the recent resurgence of Buddhist chauvinism and nationalism McCargo examines the way Islamic provincial councils have been drawn into the conflict and scrutinises the special challenges the conflict has created for Thailand's media Journalists have struggled to communicate a confusing story to an increasingly indifferent wider public The book then moves beyond the crisis itself to look at ways forward starting with the controversial National Reconciliation Commission that was established by the Thaksin Shinawatra government to propose peaceful options for reducing the violence Another chapter explores how far Malay Muslims in Thailand's southern border provinces think of themselves as 'Thai' arguing that there is an important distinction between legal citizenship and informal understandings of what citizenship means and entails Finally McCargo invites readers to 'think the unthinkable' by imagining the possibility of autonomy for Thailand's deep South and the implications for the country as a wholeThis latest book by award winning researcher Duncan McCargo one of the world's leading specialists on contemporary Thailand builds on previous projects to elucidate new aspects of the intractable Southern conflict that has claimedthan 4500 lives since 2004 'Mapping National Anxieties' locates the insurgency in the context of Thailand's wider political conflicts exploring the ambiguous relationships between the Thai state and organised religion along with the recent resurgence of Buddhist chauvinism and nationalism McCargo examines the way Islamic provincial councils have been drawn into the conflict and scrutinises the special challenges the conflict has created for Thailand's media Journalists have struggled to communicate a confusing story to an increasingly indifferent wider public The book then moves beyond the crisis itself to look at ways forward starting with the controversial National Reconciliation Commission that was established by the Thaksin Shinawatra government to propose peaceful options for reducing the violence Another chapter explores how far Malay Muslims in Thailand's southern border provinces think of themselves as 'Thai' arguing that there is an important distinction between legal citizenship and informal understandings of what citizenship means and entails Finally McCargo invites readers to 'think the unthinkable' by imagining the possibility of autonomy for Thailand's deep South and the implications for the country as a wholeThis latest book by award winning researcher Duncan McCargo one of the world's leading specialists on contemporary Thailand builds on previous projects to elucidate new aspects of the intractable Southern conflict that has claimedthan 4500 lives since 2004 'Mapping National Anxieties' locates the insurgency in the context of Thailand's wider political conflicts exploring the ambiguous relationships between the Thai state and organised religion along with the recent resurgence of Buddhist chauvinism and nationalism McCargo examines the way Islamic provincial councils have been drawn into the conflict and scrutinises the special challenges the conflict has created for Thailand's media Journalists have struggled to communicate a confusing story to an increasingly indifferent wider public The book then moves beyond the crisis itself to look at ways forward starting with the controversial National Reconciliation Commission that was established by the Thaksin Shinawatra government to propose peaceful options for reducing the violence Another chapter explores how far Malay Muslims in Thailand's southern border provinces think of themselves as 'Thai' arguing that there is an important distinction between legal citizenship and informal understandings of what citizenship means and entails Finally McCargo invites readers to 'think the unthinkable' by imagining the possibility of autonomy for Thailand's deep South and the implications for the country as a whole


2 thoughts on “Mapping National Anxieties Thailand's Southern Conflict

  1. says:

    As result of my daily in Thailand TVs watching that persons have been shut down or killed by roadside bombs or schools burned down in the 3 southern Thailand provinces up to Malaysia then after reading that Duncan McCargo is a specialist on contemporary Thailand I bought this book But after having finished the book I must admit that I got quite disturbed by in the book missing many political details concerning the problems between the farmers and the elite the red shirted and the yellow shirtedBut first to help a bit her follow the content as it’s written in bookContents Photographs viii Figures viii Preface ix Map xii1 Mapping Anxieties 12 Buddhist Fears 163 Managing Islam 474 National Reconciliation 675 Communicating Conflict 926 Contested Citizenship 1117 Autonomous Futures 1298 Twin Fires 153Appendix 1 Phrae Sirisakdamkoeng Perspectives of Thai Citizens in Virtual Communities on the Violence in the Southernmost Provinces 160Appendix 2 Duncan McCargo’s Publications on Thailand’s Southern Conflict 184Bibliography 187Index 203Historically I know which governments Thailand has had since the coup d’état back in 1932 ended the total monarchy but I think that for many persons it would be helpful if we in the book were having a list over the governments since 1932 or maybe only since 1980 Here writing 1980 as we during the years 1980 – 1988 then as Prime Minister were having the general Prem Tinsulanonda whose politic we in the book a couple of times go back to and besides this he still lives and actually is the most powerful person in Thailand But especially a list would help as the government from 2001 until the books ending in February 2011 many times changed between democratic and non democratic governments by changing between red shirted yellow shirted and Military yellow shirted King Bumibol Adulyades was born on a Monday so his color is yellow and therefore the political group for the Elite the Military and the King uses this colorIn the chapter 1 “Mapping Anxieties” we get the first bottom information concerning the crisis in the 3 southern provinces Narathiwat Pattani and Yala of which two shares border with Malaysia These provinces having around 80 % Malay Muslims were incorporated into Siam back in 1909 which the Muslims newer have accepted We read that the problem especially restarted in 2004 during the Thaksin Shinawatra government 2001 – 2006 and that until 2011 4621 people have been killed and 7505 injured and of whom 2728 killed Muslims opposed to 1765 Buddhists In the book it is not told that actually King Bumibol by intervention against the spirit of the Constitution in 2006 resulted in Thaksin making a parliament election the 4th April but after Thaksin won again – the yellow shirts did not go for voting as they knew they again would lose the King ruled it invalid So we in 5 April – 23 May 2006 as Prime Minister were having the Police General Chitchi Wannashit and thereafter Thaksin as Caretaker Prime Minister until the coup the 19th SeptemberWe then in the chapter jump to the problems which followed after the red shirted again won the parliamentary election in December 2007 the first election after the coup in 2006 and became the government This for the fourth time in a row by democratic voting and where in Thailand it never before Thaksin happened that a party won just two times in a row as result of the politicians newer before having done for the voters the farmers what was promised But then again as in 2005 and 2006 having a red shirted government not doing what was fitting the elite and therefore resulting in the yellow shirted fighting the government This time among other even by occupying the airports and during 192 days the government which the Constitution Court found nothing wrong in doing And the generals again denied helping the government by answering back “There might be wounded persons” So for Thaksin’s party during the year 2008 most of the governments working time was destroyed by the problems caused by the yellow shirted and no time left to the southern problem And while the yellow shirted was fighting the state the Supreme Court deposited the democratic government according to the Court ‘being a bad government’ by providing 111 of the red shirted MPs political quarantined for 5 years and the Elite paid politicians millions of Baths for changing party and as result we then got a non democratic yellow shirted government The new Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva who before this ‘coup’ had told that the south problem was caused by Thaksin and with a yellow shirted government the problem would be solved but after being Prime Minister he didn’t success in anything And actually instead the problem increased as the Malay Muslims after Abhisits talking’s before the coup believed that now the 3 provinces would be getting autonomy but instead nothing was changed Abhisit spoke the language of tolerance justice and fairness but his words didn’t fit into the Military interests And as we know from the TV news Abhisit was scared in leaving Bangkok for the north as the farmers were angry on him As the finishing conclusion in the chapter we read that Thailand’s southern violence is the microcosm of a potentially wide ranging civil conflict all over the country Where I will say that as number 1 we have the farmers the workers who by Thaksin was connected and thereby the parliament getting power than the ruling class the Elite the Military and the Kings family but which the ruling class won’t accept and as the number 2 Malay Muslims in the south who are seeking to resuscitate old separatist political demandIn the following chapter the “Buddhist Fears” we among other learn that it is an idealistic view to compare the religious freedom in USA with the way it actually is in Thailand and we in Thailand clearly have to remember the words ‘Nation Religion King’ So while freedom of religion does not exist in Thailand as the Buddhism is closely connected to the ruling class and thereby especially the important role played by the Queen who helps the military to in the south boosting Buddhist morale in the region As mentioned 4621 persons were killed but besides of these 2728 were Muslins opposed to 1765 Buddhists and thereby 39 % of the dead being Buddhists while they only constitutes around 20 % of the populations We read about the murdered cases and how at many places in the 3 provinces often the Buddhist are separated in villages away from the Muslins and secured by military And how the monks in many places can’t do their daily morning walking around for then getting food from the peoples or if doing so then at some areas being escorted by an armed soldier And we read about how there has been a drive to encourage soldiers as monks and that there have been claimed that they then now as monks are carrying guns in their shoulder bags In the chapter we don’t read that actually the government nearly lowered the tax to zero especially for still keeping the teachers living in this south part of Thailand because teachers especially are a target for the Muslims wanting to be separated from Thailand and thereby many teachers wants to leave the place A week ago in the international news a Malay Muslim leader told that they only kills the policemen and soldiers and the Thai state always will be the enemy but actually especially teachers are killed among other for thereby stop learning ThaiIn chapter 3 “Managing Islam” we again read about the military fighting the Muslims and about the cases concerning the Kru Ze mosque and the Tak Bai peaceful protest which also read about in the chapter 1 In the Kru Ze mosque the 28 April 2004 32 persons were then in a Mosque killed by the military and the Tak Bai case the 25 October the same year is remembered for the 78 peaceful protesters perished when being loaded five deep into military vehicles And we read about how the Islamic leader Haji Sulong who was an critic of the Thai government policy in the south and who along with his son disappeared in 1952 after reporting to the police in Sulong and that his wife’s brother in 1980 had to exile in Malaysia when Taken up the case We read about how the Malays Muslims especially are separated in the ‘old school’ and the ‘new school’ and that especial the majority of the rural Malays belonging to the ‘old school’ and learn that the Muslims in the rest of Thailand are quite different and not being Malays We read that in the south they have around 600 imam divided into 3 groups concerning what politic the Islamic council should follow and how the military paid for getting the rights persons to be selected to the Islamic council And we also read that down there many of the Malays Muslims only are talking Malaysian and that opposite to this in Bangkok most of the politicians only want Thai to be allowedThe chapter 4 “National Reconciliation” starts stating that the unravelling of civil order in Thailand’s southern border provinces did enormous damage to Thaksin’s politic But in reality Thaksin nearly has nothing to do with the behavior of the military because since the coup d’état back in 1932 the Military the Elite just have done what they want to do As told in the excellent book Harding and people now talk about that maybe he by the ruling class then will be the next chief for the monksThis chapter especially is concentrating on the National Reconciliation Commission NRC which by Thaksin was established in March 2005 and which was charged with investigating the upsurge of violence in the southern border provinces and making political recommendations to the government for what to do It consisted of 50 members drawn from civil society from the area civil society outside the area political sector from civil service and community and with Anand Panayarachun who in 1991 1992 had been Prime Minister as its leader We read about the failure by the way NRC was constructed and worked when being compared to how commissions normally work as here for example there were too many members for getting good contact during meetings Further only seldom meetings as for all of the members it only was side works instead of having all of their working time being used on NRC And besides for not visiting the area much and there not going deeper in details concerning the violence cases from either the soldiers or the MuslimsThe report was published on 5 June 2006 where Anand then was hoping to present it to another Prime Minister than Thaksin In the report especially there was proposed to establish an unarmed army as a special unit to tense situations by non violent means opposite to previously politicians had been talking about education the Buddhist citizens in shooting and being armed But beside this to adopt Pattani Malay as a working language in the deep south creating a new agency the “Peaceful Operation Center” to oversee the administration of the area creating a regional development council and promoting dialogue with Militant groups And we then read about the reactions to the report of cause negative from many sides among other as the result of NRC report negatively been retold in the news but strangely positive in the Bangkok Post which is own by the Elite the yellow shirted Then follow the coup the 19 September 2006 against the Thaksin government while Thaksin then was talking in the UN in New York And as written the palace players and Privy Council President Gen Prem Tinsulanonda were supportive to the coup Actually the book is missing much information about Prem who as told back in 1980 1988 was Prime Minister and who now in 2015 at the age of 94 years still being Privy Council President By the Thai people he is called ‘The Kings King’ as actually he is the most powerful person in Thailand and who at least has been the chief behind the coups in 2006 and 2014 The most powerful military person even though he on the paper has retired but actually still is having a private office in the military But after the coup against Thaksin nothing changing to the better in the southern Thailand actually the military Muslims got active and many schools were closed And after voting to the Parliament the red shirts again won and Samak Sundaravej then became Prime Minister but only until the constitutional court deposed him because he in TV had showed food making As written in H formal citizens who suffer from the Thai deficiency syndrome and paper citizens who do not suffer from the Thai deficiency syndrome ‘Real’ Thai citizens are supposed being loyal to the three part shibboleth ‘Nation Religion King’ of which ‘King’ is the most important so during the celebrations of King Bhumibol’s 60 years on the throne in 2006 Thais all over the country where wearing yellow shirts except for Malay Muslims Actually as result of the coups in 2006 ‘2008’ and 2014 neither did people in northern Thailand during the December month 2014 the year for the last coup for the Kings birthday wear yellow even though this was ordered by the coup general The chapter finishes with the conclusion that historically Malay Muslims has been perceived and constructed as subjects rather than citizensIn Chapter 7 “Autonomous Futures” we in other countries searches after problems most parallel to the case in southern Thailand and if solved then how they were solved We read about the cases for East Timor and Aceh but to the government the cases in Northern Ireland and the Basque country looks equal And besides we read that in 2008 an academic group delivered a report with proposal to reorganizing governance arrangements in the southern border provincesBut besides the southern Malay Muslim problem we again look at the other Thailand problem concerning how Thais have been broadly divided into two camps after the election in 2001 at which Thaksin made an enormous winning record And we again read the first two names which his party had before the third one but in the book it newer is told that the reason to the changed party names is that the Court 2 times declared Thaksin’s party illegal ‘as being a bad party’ Opposite to the yellow shirted party which newer has been declared illegal even after for example occupying the airports and the parliament By declaring Thaksins party illegal the Elite the Military and the Kings family thereby hoping to confuse the voters so that Thaksin’s party not again would win by a following elections And we read that after the coup in 2006 then Thaksin was sentenced to jail term for corruption related offences and retreated to exile But it’s not told that the reason in reality actually was by any way getting Thaksin the most ‘dangerous’ opponent to the Elite out of Politic But as there actually wasn’t any proof showing that his government had been corrupt they instead used the case that he outside Thailand had sold his families firm Shin Corporation for 19 billion and thereby didn’t pay Tax so he was found guilty and had to pay 150000 and go to prison Politically Thaksin maid the failure not to pay Tax but he only did as it always were bone by the ruling class such as hundreds or thousands before had done but he was the first to be punished by doing so Opposite to this during the yellow shirted government lead by Abhisit and Suthep it showed up that corruption during the years 2009 – 2010 had resulted in hundreds of millions for rice sale hand disappeared and hundreds of millions for many houses which should be built for retired soldiers but where now only many fundaments are seen But Abhisit and Suthep newer were put into the court and in 2014 the papers by a water ‘accident’ was destroyed on the third floor in the building for criminal cases But in 2015 Yingluck Prime Minister 2011 – 2014 by the military government and the Court was found guilty by to the state earning higher price for the rice than the marked price This happened when the yellow shirted were blocking the banks which the Court found nothing wrong in doing so that farmers couldn’t get their payment from the state and the state could neither go to the banks after money to the farmers So as found guilty to the state earning money than normal when selling rice then Yingluck and some other of the red shirted MPs by the Court and the Military the yellow shirted parliament got 5 years suspension from politics And the Military want the Court to find that Yingluck shall deliver all what she own for earning too much money to the state when managing getting money to pay the farmers even though the Elite the Military and the Monarchial network blocked the banksWe then in the chapter return back to the problem concerning solving the Malay Muslims and read about top persons ideas about new forms of governance in solving the south problem of which the first one concentration on 7 point already had come back in 1947 and now nearly are repeated by the former royal doctor the social critic Dr Prawase Wasi The most important element was to create a new ministry to oversee the region But the biggest problem is the question on royal prestige as most Thai believe Thailand being a unitary state created by the King Chulalongkorn 1878 – 1910 And the ideas from Abhisit ideas about autonomy while he during the years 2008 – 2010 was prime minister for the yellows was turned down by the military the conservative bureaucrats and the monarchial network So like nothing was changed while the red shirted was in the government neither was it as either the Military or Abhisit were in the GovernmentIn the chapter 8 “Twin Fires” we again are comparing the two conflicts in Thailand the fighting between red shirts and yellow shirts which turns out in Bangkok and the Muslim problem in south Thailand and at both places resulting in the Military shooting civils Actually as written in many books the military after the coup in 1932 have killed civilians than foreign soldiers For the Malay Muslims one problem being that they again and again have been and still are told that the officials involved in cases with dead and wounded each time only are doing their duties as for example when the 78 protesters died as result of heat and missing oxygen during the transportation Concerning the fighting between the ‘Red’ and the ‘Yellow’ we read that it essential is a conflict between different elements of the Thai elite where on one side are the ruling Democratic Party the Military and the Monarchial network actually the yellow shirted and the other side Thaksin’s To me while during years on close hand having watched the situation it would be correct just straight out calling it the fighting between the ruling class and the people Especially by reading this excellent book Tyrell Haberkorn “Revolution Interrupted” 2011 we get at good and detailed historical recalling showing how the farmers and the students during the years 1972 76 were thinking that finally now after the dictator in 1972 was send in exile they were on the way into getting partial democracy But instead then for example during the year 1975 38 of the farmers political leaders were assassinated the most famous one Intha Sriwongwan by his shop home close to where I live The assassinations were done in pure daylight and nobody ever put in jail and only one person who was guilty arrested for 2 days As written in the same book “Assassinations done for cutting off the arms and legs of people before killing them completely” And this was done by murders paid by the ruling class or by soldiers And in September 1976 then the previous dictator general by the monarchial network was called back and few weeks later a new coup went on resulting in many killed farmers and students and 15 million political books being burned And not killed people with democratically ideas fled to the mountains for the following 7 – 8 years But no Thais recall this as it is ‘forgotten’ in the history books used in the schools So when looking at the political problem since 2001 we see that it is a historical repetition with the farmers the people after 25 year in 2001 then again being connected and again working for getting some kind of democracy But again with the ruling class not accepting to lose power and managing this by using the yellow shirted inside containing the 3 armed civil military groups which they started in 1932Concerning the demonstrations in Bangkok by the yellow shirted and red shirted we on the side 156 read “And while both sides have engaged in acts of violence” which to me looks like a historically misinformation This because during the years we again and again have heard the red shirted leaders declaring to their members not to carry weapons and as until now in TV not have seen them shooting or using bombs like the yellow shirted for example were doing when storming the Parliament in 2008 or when in 2014 blocking Bangkok for their “destroying the Government” And while the yellow shirted in 2014 were blocking Bangkok the Court the forbade the policemen as normal to carry their guns even though the yellow shirted were carrying rifles and where shooting bombs on the policemen actually policemen only have been killed or wounded by the yellow shirted The Court did not allow the police to arrest Suthep or other of the yellow shirted demonstration leaders and neither any of the 70 personsfirms for example in the ultraconservative Bangkok Post which the police new then daily were paying the yellow shirted fighting for destroying the government And at the same time in 2014 among other the Constitutional Court then stopped the Yinglucs government working on getting a fast train in Thailand by declaring that according to the Law it was not allowed to have a fast train in Thailand But then one month later one week after the coup when the coup generals came out with a ‘bright new’ idea about building a fast train railway and the Court then answered back “A brilliant ide” And in Marts 2014 when the police had discovered that 3 soldiers had been driving the car from which a yellow shirted civil person who with an automat riffle by an attempted murder wounded a chief for a red shirted radio channel while by his house sitting eating but the Military newer allowed the police to arrest the soldiers On the side 156 concerning the violence we read about “grenade and arson attacks on buildings in central parts of the city” Actually this is about a big supermarket complex building which inside in 2010 was totally destroyed by ‘men in black’ And of course especially the Bangkok Post told that the ‘men in black’ were red shirts but strangely none of them newer has been arrested and since then Thais believe that the ‘men in black’ were sold