In This Review

"Good Coup" Gone Bad: Thailand's Political Development Since Thaksin's Downfall
"Good Coup" Gone Bad: Thailand's Political Development Since Thaksin's Downfall
Edited by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2014, 322 pp

According to the contributors to this volume, the Thai monarchy is not a rock of stability, as royalist orthodoxy would have it, but rather the root of Thailand’s troubles. These include frequent coups (including one that occurred earlier this year), a slow-growing rural economy, violent political polarization, a prolonged insurgency in the south, and a manufactured border crisis with Cambodia. The book focuses on the “yellow,” or royalist, camp, which consists of a network of elite interests backed by key military factions. Yellow politicians use an emotional “hyper-royalism” grounded in ancient Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, along with a draconian lese majesty law, to resist the challenge to their interests from the “red” movement, supported by politically aware peasants, the urban middle class, and urban workers. The authors give less attention to the corruption and human rights violations committed by politicians in this populist camp.