Jungle Book: Thailand’s Politics, Moral Panic, and Plunder, 1996–2008 Selected Columnsby Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker
The coup leader who believed he was the reincarnation of an eighteenth-century king. The godfather slashed to death by a machete on the orders of his son. The party boss who taught his followers how to negotiate corruption with hand signals. The general whose political career charts the destruction of Burmese forests.
Thai politics often seem wild. For a dozen years, Chang Noi (the pseudonym means Little Elephant) has been stomping around this jungle, kicking up leaves, overturning rotten wood, and trumpeting in distress. This selection from the widely read column in The Nation newspaper provides lively, readable commentary on twelve years of change in Thailand’s politics, society, culture, and environment.
The sixty-four articles delve into the crisis over naked nipples, fascination with rape in TV dramas, moral panic over teenage clothing, police involvement in casinos, wrangles over damned dams, varieties of corruption, fantasies of culture bureaucrats, and fifty years of scandal behind Bangkok’s new airport. This collection is a rich and fascinating kaleidoscope of the political and social jungle that is Thailand.
first padded onto the Nation’s editorial pages in April 1996 and has since produced close to four hundred articles. Chang Noi is known for insightful analysis of Thailand’s current affairs, often drawing on a long-range historical perspective and an ample supply of dry humor. Some columns have provoked Thailand’s richest and most powerful figures to threaten lawsuits. Chang Noi is a thinly veiled pseudonym for Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker, authors of Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand (2004), and Thailand’s Boom and Bust (1998).
What others are saying
- James Eckhardt, "Political jungle journeys with The Nation's Chang Noi" (The Nation, January 31, 2009)
- Kasian Tejapira, "The tangled vines of Thai politics" (Bangkok Post, March 30, 2009)
- Craig J. Reynolds, "Review of Chang Noi" (New Mandala, April 23, 2010)