‘It’s up to the Thai people’ / Noam Chomsky on Thailand’s hard road to freedom

Posted on: December 31, 2018 | Best of 2018

In this video interview, Professor Noam Chomsky, marking his first time speaking exclusively on the political situation in Thailand, delves into the issue of the monarchy in Thai politics, the persistent political intervention of the Thai army, the draconian lèse-majesté law and the role of Thai youths in changing the political environment

Pavin ChachavalPongpun (L) and Noam Chomsky (R)

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Drawing from his longtime observations on American politics, Chomsky detects similar problems facing Thailand and the US. Although a republic, the US media and voters tend to hold certain leaders sacred, just as Thai people venerate their kings, Chomsky says. But the excessive reverence of the royal institution in Thailand has generated myriad political problems. It has placed the monarchy at the apex of the political structure, which, as Chomsky sees it, demands forced veneration from the public – and thus political submission.

Looking into the future of Thailand, Chomsky hopes there will be efforts to confront the political regression to move to a more just and free political environment.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an associate professor at Kyoto University’s Centre for Southeast Asian Studies in Japan, conducted this interview after Chomsky moved from MIT to the University of Arizona on 1 December 2017. Pavin, a refugee, remains charged with lèse-majesté in the aftermath of the 2014 coup in Thailand.

The project was supported by the Free Future Foundation, a Paris-based non-profit that promotes democracy and human rights.