Charles Keyes dying wish for democratic Thailand

With the death of Professor Charles F. Keyes earlier this month, Isaan lost one of its oldest and best friends. He had done his field research in Maha Sarakham in the early 1960s and wrote what was his first most major publication and which began the most influential English-language book on the region:

Should the Thai public be concerned about the decay of Buddhism?

For many Thais, Buddhism is seen as a unifying force in society. Yet news of monks involved in sexual abuse and fraud scandals have become commonplace. The Catholic Church finally admitted that it had turned a blind eye to sexual abuse of minors for generations and was successfuly pressured, at least in part, to address past wrongs. Guest contributor Mark S. Cogan asks whether Thai Buddhism can be restrengthened by closing legal loopholes and becoming more transparent.

Millions en masse in Isaan, by whom may they be defeated?

To gain more insights to the recent controversial Clubhouse session where participants jeered at Isaan people, award-winning writer Wittayakorn Sowat explores the Siam government’s history of internal colonialism which has exploited, suppressed, and belittled Isaan people, making them into obedient subjects. Although many of the Lao Isaan people presently have made great strides, social prejudice persists.

I’m Lao. So what? You’re so damn Thai!

Isaan people have long been discriminated against, not only by regular people but also by the religious world. Ubon Ratchathani University professor Tee Anmai recounts his experience as a novice from Isaan when he was called “Lao” and rejected by Bangkok temples.

Future flood mitigation in Thailand will require individual accountability

It’s the flooding season in Thailand once again. As flood plains are further encroached up, cities are inundated and rice fields submerged. Successive governments have failed to adequately address the problem. In his latest contribution, Mark S. Cogan points out that Thai society’s pervasive use of plastic clogs up water drainage and frustrates attempts to keep Thais high and dry. But it will take a change in society’s use of plastic to keep rising waters at bay.

Factoring in Bangkok into Thailand’s notable vaccination inequality

In July, the share of new Covid-19 cases in Thailand shifted decisively from Bangkok to the rest of the country. By early August, Bangkok comprised only a fourth of cases, but government vaccination efforts still centered on the capital. At a time when there’s a shortage of vaccines, why hasn’t the distribution of vaccines been more equitable regionally?

Letter to Bangkok: Thailand’s inequality puts millions at risk

It seemed that Thailand had avoided the brunt of te Covid-19 epidemic and was praised by international bodies. The government crowed its success and laid out schemes to bring tourists back to safe Thailand. Then the virus caught up with the country in April. The government chose a strategy that favored Bangkok and tourist destinations and deprived millions in the provinces from vaccination.

An Ubon community plans to mark the 121-year anniversary of Bangkok’s suppression of the Holy Man Rebellion

Isaan scholars and artists, in cooperation with The Isaan Record, are set to carry out a merit-making ceremony and other activities in April 2022 in Ban Saphue, Ubon Ratchathani Province. The event is to commemorate the 121st anniversary of the Siamese government’s crushing of the Phi Bun Rebellion in the area where as many as 400 rebels were killed or executed.

Folk ballads, prophecies, and ideologies: The arms of the Holy Man’s Rebellion in war with Bangkok

The Thai-language side of The Isaan Record has been publishing a series on the “Holy Man Rebellion” of 1901-02. We are sharing select pieces to our English-language readers. In this article, Weerawat Somnoek looks at the most powerful weapon used in the “Isaan Phi Bun Rebellion” against the dominance of Bangkok. It was not their swords or spears, but their ballads that helped spread and strengthen a certain ideology among the oppressed that inspired them to stand up against authority.

Book on Bangkok gives fresh insights on its troubled relation with Isaan

Philip Cornwel-Smith’s latest book, Very Bangkok, might have been just another of the umpteen guide books on Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. Why another book on this egotistical and egocentric subject? But Cornwel-Smith is no typical guide. The very breadth of Very Bangkok provides a comprehensive and fresh take on the capital and its role within the country. It also gives us new insights into Isaan and its troubling relationship to the capital.

Isaan academics sign petition condemning use of Section 112

Isaan academics join together to speak out violence and Section 112, Thailand’s lese majeste law.

“Molam” and gender diversity (7)

“I feel molam is very fitting for LGBT because it’s an open space for us.”–said LGBT person ฺ

Sisaket’s special charm: LGBTIQ+ activists lead the way to a more democratic Thailand (6)

Sisaket wouldn’t seem a likely place to find the anti-government protesters led largely by a team of LGBTIQ+ activists. It’s a good sign that even smaller provinces in the Northeast can come up with ways to help Thai society learn to deal with diversity.

KKC high schoolers: The power of Khon Kaen students (10)

“Now I think it’s time for change. Everyone’s awakened.” Kwankhao Tangprasert, leader of Khon Kaen KKC student movement