New times, new constitution
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New times, new constitution book
Between May 1992 and the promulgation of Thailand’s sixteenth constitution in October 1997, a remarkable realignment of social forces occurred, enabling a liberal political agenda to emerge as a feasible project. In those years a broad and loose movement for political reform arose to address the impasse marked by the perennial politicking of the errant political party system and the crushing corruption and unaccountability of sections of the bureaucracy and many politicians. Motivating this project was the seesawing nature of parliamentary politics. In a report on ‘Stability, Efficiency and Accountability of Elected Governments between 1988-1997’, Amon Raksasat and Wirat Jianbun note that in the preceding decade there had been twelve changes in the coalition composition of government. Most significantly, and pointing to the lack of continuous leadership, they report that there were over 235 individuals who had served in Cabinet, sharing 445 separate appointments. In important ministries such as Finance, Foreign Affairs and the Interior there had been ten, eleven and nine ministers respectively.2 Given the imperative of implementing important legislative programmes to maintain the legal basis for a viable capitalism in the era of globalization, such instability worked against improving Thailand’s international standing.3 Reform was necessary. This chapter is an analysis of the movement for political reform. The following chapters take up an analysis of the ideological strands that lay behind the reform and democracy movements of the 1980s and 1990s, seeing these as new attempts to construct pliable subjects.