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Jungle Book: Thailand's Politics, Moral Panic, and Plunder, 1996-2008 [Paperback]

Chang Noi

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Book Description

4 Mar 2009
The coup leader who believed he was the reincarnation of an eighteenth-century king. The godfather who was 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. Drawing on a long-range historical perspective and an ample supply of dry humor, the columns have sometimes provoked Thailand's richest and most powerful figures to threaten lawsuits. This collection is a rich and fascinating kaleidoscope of the political and social jungle that is Thailand. Chang Noi first padded onto "The Nation's" editorial pages in April 1996. The name is a thinly veiled pseudonym for Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker, authors of "Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand" and "Thailand's Boom and Bust".

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars insights into thailand 2 Aug 2009
By Brian J. Jungwiwattanaporn - Published on Amazon.com
Chang Noi (Little Elephant) is a columnist for one of Thailand's daily newspapers, and this book is a collection of his columns tracing some of Thailand's recent history. The sixty-four articles, of 3-4 pages in length, were an incredibly quick read and full of insights into Thai culture and political history. Chang Noi provides a scathing critique of some of the political blunderings and heavy handedness of past Thai governments. He covers local godfathers and corruption which provide an insight into Thai political parties. Most articles provide a behind the scenes look at Thai political life, and what amazes me most is the continuity of names during the past twenty plus or so years. Chavalit, Newin, Samak, Thaksin, Sondhi and a host of other political and military actors are traced along with their involvement in the building of the airport, censorship, bangkok politics, the drug war, and the war on NGOs. Chang Noi also covers the 2006 coup and challenges for democracy in Thailand. The only bias he displays is for the honest law abiding politician and both Thaksin and the PAD receive equal criticism. Another aspect of the book is how Thailand is changing and its adaptation to globalisation. The writer examines Thailand's changing mores and the government's attempts to define Thai culture. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in Thailand and Thai politics. I do think that familiarity with the names and major events of recent Thai history are a prerequisite to enjoying much of the book however. That said, since reading these collected articles, I have become an avid reader of Chang Noi's weekly column
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tiger does not sleep tonight 17 May 2009
By Dan Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jungle Book
This is a great collection of journalistic observations in Thailand over the last ten years or so. In the media we read and see about the red shirts and the yellow shirts fighting in the streets. This book gives you an indication of why they fight and what their frustrations. It boils down to an systemic system of corruption on all sides. This is the burden on the back of a remarkable kingdom with a remarkable history. One wonders if the real elephant in the room is not the monarchy and its self preservation laws itself. No one can get around that. One way or the other everyone can take cover in that conundrum. The book is interesting in its many facets of Thai life. The Tiger of Corruption prowls through this Jungle Book and leaves you with a sense of hopelessness for these kittens in the land of smiles.
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight in Thailands newest history. 15 Nov 2010
By Gert Bo Thorgersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's an excelent book concerning the newest history, especialy the political, in Thailand, but with a litle wrong information on the front side. Here it's written: "Thailand's Politics, Moral Panic, and Plunder, 1996-2008" but actualy some of the stories has information back longer, one as far as to 1947.

Back to this year, 1947, goes the telling about one of the many dictators in Thailand since the king in 1932 lost the power by having absolute monarchy. By 1947 Phin Choonhavan took part in the november coup, but later got all the power in his hand and then did many bad thing, and then by 1957 had to fled to Switzerland followed by many of his "knights". And lived there as a richt man the rest og his life. This story I had not found in the other of the 11 books about Thailand witch I now own.

And concerning the new airport the telling in the book allso goes bag to before 1996. On side 74, in the "Tales from the swamp", the place where the new airport now are, it goes back to 1968 when the problem concerning building one more airport for Bangkok startet.

In the book, of course, the are stories about corruption, of course, as Thailand ower many years again and again are stated as the most corrupt contry in the World.

After having read this book I now look after Chang Noi, the little elefant, by buying the newspaper "The Nation" when I am in town.
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