Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason, and Lese-Majeste (Hardback)David Streckfuss (author)
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Since 2005, Thailand has been in crisis, with unprecedented political instability and the worst political violence seen in the country in decades. In the aftermath of a military coup in 2006, Thailand's press freedom ranking plunged, while arrests for lese-majeste have skyrocketed to levels unknown in the modern world. Truth on Trial in Thailand traces the 110-year trajectory of defamation-based laws in Thailand. The most prominent of these is lese-majeste, but defamation aspects also appear in laws on sedition and treason, the press and cinema, anti-communism, contempt of court, insulting of religion, as well as libel. This book makes the case that despite the appearance of growing democratization, authoritarian structures and urges still drive politics in Thailand; the long-term effects of defamation law adjudication has skewed the way that Thai society approaches and perceives "truth."
Employing the work of Habermas, Foucault, Agamben, and Schmitt to construct an alternative framework to understand Thai history, Streckfuss contends that Thai history has become "suspended" since 1958, and repeatedly declining to face the truth of history has set the stage for an endless state of crisis.
This book will be of interest to students and scholars of South East Asian politics, Asian history, and media and communication.
David Streckfuss is an independent scholar who has lived in Thailand for more than 20 years. His work primarily concerns human rights, and political and cultural history.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Number of pages: 494
Weight: 907 g
Dimensions: 235 x 159 x 18 mm
"This big, brave and important book argues that defamation laws are the cornerstone of Thailand's authoritarian political culture. They have strangled the media, wrecked public debate, undermined artistic and intellectual work, and ensured impunity for a long litany of state crimes. They underpin an authoritarian control of thought and expression that is extraordinary in a country that likes to think of itself as a democracy... This book is a brilliant essay on Thailand's legal history based on very detailed research into legislation and case law. In addition, it offers a complex, thoughtful and wide-ranging diagnosis of current discontents. Its rich historical and international perspective should make Thailand's democrats and Democrats pause to wonder where the country is heading." Chris Baker, Bangkok Post, November 2010
"David Streckfuss has done a great service to the study of lese-majeste law and of its role in protecting the political and economic interests of the Thai monarchy. [Truth on Trial in Thailand] is a fine, exhaustively referenced study of the history of lese-majeste law and of Thailand's defamation laws more generally. It will be an authoritative reference book for a public now very much focused on the problem that lese-majeste poses for Thai democracy." Patrick Jory, NM-TLC Reviewer
"The book's thirteen chapters are rich in detail and observation... Thematically organized, the chapters offer an incomparable history of lese-majeste, law and Thai-ness, public opinion, and the science of traitorology. Of especial relevance given the recent discussion of the judicialization of politics in Thailand is Streckfuss's remarkable account... of the institutionalization of the "state of exception" by Thai courts working in conjunction with the police and military. This monumental volume is destined to take a leading place in the field of critical studies of Asia." Michael K. Connors, Critical Asian Studies, 43:1 (2011), 139-149
"[T]he real strength of the book is its fascinating analysis of a vast quantity of primary source material, including the analysis of a number of court decisions and some wonderful interviews with government censors." David M. Engel, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, School of Law, State University of New York at Buffalo; South East Asia Research
'This book is an important one, and the author's research chops are formidable. The book serves as a critical history of Thai law, with a discussion of how lese-majeste encompasses the world of the monarchy, politics, law enforcement, and religion in Thailand.' - Geoff Alexander, WOwasis 2013.
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