Title: Never-ending crisis: Vajiralongkorn’s long succession
Speaker: Prof. Kevin Hewison, Visiting Research Scholar,
Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
Editor-in-Chief, *Journal of Contemporary Asia*
Date and Time: 12:00-13:30, Friday 23 June 2017
Venue: Tonan-tei (Room No. 201) on the 2nd floor of Inamori Foundation Memorial Building, CSEAS, Kyoto University
Moderator: Prof. Junko KOIZUMI (CSEAS)
One of the dominant discourses of recent years has been that Thailand’s 21st century political rifts can only be understood, in part or in total, by the existence of a succession crisis. In this seminar, I seek to critically assess this view.
It will be suggested that the recent attention to the supposed succession crisis has caused some blindness regarding two other important processes, one dating back several decades and another more recent.
The first process is a long succession crisis that has gone on for decades. This never-ending succession crisis has revolved around rumors about Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. These rumors have involved tales of events and foibles of personality that have constantly raised doubts regarding the prince’s suitability for the throne. In short, there has been a long succession crisis that has impacted politics over several decades.
The second process is more recent and coincides with Thailand’s post-2005 political crisis. This is a process to succession whereby the king’s incapacity saw the prince take on roles that meant that the long succession crisis actually faded in significance. By the time Bhumibol died, Vajiralongkorn was in a better position to succeed than he had been in previous decades. The fact of a military dictatorship claiming loyalty to the throne helped ease the succession. That said, looking back on the long succession crisis would seem to offer some insights into a new reign that is also likely to beset with further crisis and considerable controversy.
About the Speaker:
Kevin Hewison is a Visiting Research Scholar at CSEAS. He is also Weldon E. Thornton Distinguished Emeritus Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Contemporary Asia. He is the author of more than 280 publications on various aspects of politics and political economy, with an emphasis on Southeast Asian and Thailand in particular.