Paul Chambers serves as Lecturer and Special Advisor for International Affairs at the College of ASEAN Community Studies (CACS), Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, Thailand. He is also a Research Affiliate at the German Institute of Global Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg, Germany, the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His research interests focus on Southeast Asia in the areas of democracy, civil-military relations, international politics and the political economy of the Greater Mekong Sub-region. Chambers has written four books (three books on the security sector in Southeast Asia) as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters about the military, police democratization, and international politics of Southeast Asia. His articles have appeared in Asian Survey, Critical Asian Studies and the Journal of Contemporary Asia, among others. He has specifically concentrated his research on Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Laos.
Abstract of the speech
This study examines the decline of democracy in Thailand and Cambodia. In 2018, Thailand and Cambodia, previously defective democracies, have seen their democratic quality diminish to zero. The study argues that Thailand represents a case of institutionalized authoritarianism while Cambodia represents a case of personalist authoritarianism. In each case, elites used the charade of defective democracy to sustain their power and will likely in future revert to that charade once any threat to their control is reduced. Yet how did the two countries’ authoritarian paths away from democracy evolve until today? How were they different? What is the current state of democratic quality in each country? What might be the democratic future in each country? This study addresses these questions.