Economic Guidance and Contestation: An Analysis of Thailand’s Evolving Trajectory of Development

Paul Chambers


This paper broadly examines the history of Thailand’s models of development from the fall of the absolute monarchy in 1932 to the present. It asks two questions: First, what have the models been? How do they interact? And how successful have they been? Second, to what extent has partisanship entered into Thailand’s development debate? The paper argues that Thailand’s current development strategy has enabled the country to achieve a relative degree of success in achieving economic growth. Nevertheless, Thailand continues to encounter economic problems – felt mostly amongst the lower classes. Moreover, there is today a clash in development models, which is based more on political ideology rather than economic efficiency. As such, development debates in Thailand have become part and parcel of the post-2006 political acrimony which continues to engulf the country.

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