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Kevin Hewison
Gender Male
Born 1954 05 15
Birthplace Collie, Western Australia
Ethnic Australian
Job Australian Political Scientist
  Australian Academic
Desc Kevin Hewison is an emeritus professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  In addition to his academic work, Professor Hewison has considerable experience working as a development consultant and adviser, in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Southern Africa. Kevin Hewison’s current research interests include: globalization and social change in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, democratization, and labour politics

Affiliation

Media Journal of Contemporary Asia [as coeditor]
Teaching University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  University of Papua New Guinea [1984]
  Australian National University [1985-86]
  Mahidol University [March-December 1990]
  Murdoch University [1991]
  University of Warwick [July-October 1999]
  University of New England [1994-2000]
  Xiamen University [2002-03]
  City University of Hong Kong [2000-2004]
  University of Macau
Org Asia Research Centre [January-June 1994]
  Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation
  National Thai Studies Centre [board member]
  International Advisory Board of the Asia Research Centre [Since 2002]
  International Advisory Committee of the Southeast Asia Research Centre [Since 2005]
  Asian Studies Association of Australia [Since 1975]
  Australian Political Studies Association [Since 1991]
Founding Asian Political and International Studies Association

Relationship

Father Wesley Hewison
Mother Valerie Hewison

Education

University Curtin University [1975, BA, Social Science]
  Curtin University [1976, Graduate Diploma in Education]
  Murdoch University [1979, BA, Southeast Asian Studies]
  Murdoch University [1984, PhD, Political Science]

Publication

Essay Southeast Asia in the 1980s: The Politics of Economic Crisis [1987]
  Bankers and Bureaucrats: Capital and State in Thailand [1989]
Book Thai Village Life: Culture and Transition in the Northeast [1990]
  Southeast Asia in the 1990s: Authoritarianism, Democracy and Capitalism [1993]
  The Political Economy of South-East Asia: An Introduction [1997]
  Political Change in Thailand: Democracy and Participation [1997]
  The Political Economy of South-East Asia: Conflicts, Crises, and Change [2001]
  Village Life: Culture and Transition in Thailand’s Northeast [2001]
  Transnational Migration and Work in Asia [2006]
  Neoliberalism and Conflict In Asia After 9/11 [2006]

Notes

Expert Thai Politics xzzxxzx
Research The political economy of Southeast Asia, especially Thailand; democratization; violence and politics; and labour issues
The Political Economy of South-East Asia: An Introduction Southeast Asia has undergone a remarkable industrial and economic transformation in the last two decades. This book examines the political economy of contemporary development in the region, discussing the changing political alignments and patterns of social organization. Chapters covering labor in Southeast Asia, regional economic institution-building, and the emergence of sub-regional economic growth zones complement six country studies, including Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Readable and provocative, the book identifies the central theoretical issues at stake in the debate over economic development
Email khewison@unc.edu

2014 07 01 Retrieve

[After the group was jailed, political analysts predicted that a prisoner swap between the two nations - especially one involving Veera Somkwamkid - was likely imminent] This is a win-win type of deal for both sides. They’ll both be seen as doing good by their constituents without having to lose anything

2014 10 01 Retrieve

[The timing of Hong Kong protests during Golden Week means the Chinese government’s response is particularly significant as plenty of mainland Chinese will visit Hong Kong and see the protests first hand] What they’re seeing is eye opening for them, and if people are taking back this kind of information to other cities in China. Some people might react against it … but even so there’s this notion that you can try to defy the Chinese government.

The Chinese government worries about everyone on it’s edge … They worry this could get out of control. They’ve looked at the Arab spring, what’s happening in other places and it’s worried them

2015 01 23 Retrieve

[The five-year ban on Yingluck’s political activities] represents a show of confidence by the junta, which feels that it has broken the back of the Pheu Thai Party [and their supporters, the Red Shirt movement] With Yingluck Shinawatra banned and Thaksin Shinawatra in exile, the military junta and its appointed bodies will feel more confident in gradually preparing the way for an election, probably in 2016. They will be more confident that they can be heavy-handed in changing the political rules to prevent any pro-Thaksin party having any chance to do well electorally

2015 01 27 Retrieve

[Yingluck impeachment is an execution of Thai democracy] No-one should be surprised that Thailand’s former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has been impeached by the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly. This was one more act in a political tragedy in which elected politicians have been repeatedly defeated by the military and judiciary.

Despite rumours of a behind-the-scenes ‘deal’ being done, when the assembly voted it was almost unanimous in impeaching Yingluck and banning her from politics for five years last week. These events were scripted, directed and produced by the military junta. Perhaps the only surprise was that Yingluck defended herself, her government and electoral democracy.

The impeachment was a show trial. An unelected assembly, packed with generals and Yingluck Shinawatra’s political opponents, threw out an elected politician who had already been sacked by the Constitutional Court before the May 2014 coup. That putsch - itself illegal - ejected the elected government, scrapped the 2007 constitution and set its own rules to retroactively impeach Yingluck from a position she no longer held.

The allegations against Yingluck were vague. They asserted dereliction of duty in overseeing a rice subsidy scheme, causing 500 billion baht in damages to the economy, mismanagement and corruption. Little convincing evidence was presented

The rice subsidy scheme was part of her Pheu Thai Party’s election platform when it won a landslide election victory in 2011. Thai governments have long intervened in the rice trade. The scheme Pheu Thai promoted was a variant of a policy begun more than 30 years ago. The policy was changed substantially in 2001 by Thaksin, Yingluck’s brother, after he was elected. Yingluck’s scheme was meant to move state funds to farmers to reduce poverty and stimulate consumption. Yingluck’s scheme was expensive but also politically popular. But none of this matters much in a political landscape of division that sometimes resulted in violence. The failures of the scheme were simply an excuse for another political execution

Not unlike her brother’s situation when he was ousted by a coup in 2006, it was Yingluck Shinawatra’s electoral popularity that brought her downfall. Thailand’s political elite is suspicious of elected politicians and fears that ‘populist’ policies threaten its social, economic and political control.

Having regained total control in May 2014 and ruling with an iron fist, the obvious question is why the military feels it must punish Yingluck. There are several reasons:

First, the junta is confident that it has broken the opposition associated with the Pheu Thai Party and the red shirt movement.

Second, the junta is reasserting its anti-Thaksin credentials with the royalist street movement that paved the way for the coup and which has representatives in the assembly and other appointed bodies

Third, and related, it wants no opposition as it crafts a new constitution that will alter the political rules to prevent any popular political party winning any national poll.

Finally, the military wants to continue to steer political developments. There’s a good chance that the coup leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, will stay on as prime minister after elections.

The punishment is not over for Yingluck. The attorney-general’s office has brought charges against her that could mean ten years in jail. Other courts are processing charges against several senior members of her party, including two former prime ministers. Such actions are meant to silence critics and neuter the Pheu Thai Party. Extensive purges in all government agencies have removed officials deemed sympathetic to Pheu Thai, replacing them with political allies, many from the military.

2015 12 13 Retrieve

[Asian scholar Benedict Anderson dies, aged 79] His scholarship and commitment to progressive political change meant that he was an icon for scholars in the region and for all those who have studied the region. His analysis of Thailand’s 1970s political turmoil remains unsurpassed and is as important today as it was when published

2018 09 10 Retrieve

[Thailand initially said the boys would go through a six-month psychological monitoring period, but the government has thrust them back into the spotlight just two months after their ordeal. Why the Thai soccer boys are crawling through fake caves instead of recovering ?] This is almost an opportunity that the military junta can’t resist. The junta has repeatedly delayed plans to hold an election, and the new king is not nearly as popular as his late father. It makes him look good, [and] it makes the junta look good. This is an opportunity to reinforce a good news story for the junta internationally, which then makes them appear more legitimate within Thailand

The junta is campaigning pretty hard on the election trail when no other party is allowed to campaign at the moment, so this is another way to campaign

The image that appeared in the Thai media was one of these kids - some of whom are still not Thai citizens - before a huge picture of the king, and the first thing that they’re doing is thanking the king for his efforts. This is an opportunity for the palace PR machine to get to work and try and build an international profile for him

2018 12 18 Publish: Another year of military dictatorship in Thailand

Two tasks defined the military junta’s political agenda upon seizing power in 2014. One was to undermine former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s political appeal and crush his electoral machine. A second was to eradicate the anti-monarchism that developed following the 2006 military coup. The junta now seems to be claiming victory on both tasks

In the past, the junta has repeatedly postponed promised elections, fearing that the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party would do well despite the junta’s election laws and rules that are expressly designed to disadvantage Pheu Thai. This year, the junta seemingly came to the conclusion that it had done enough to derail the pro-Thaksin electoral juggernaut and began preparations for an election on 24 February 2019

The belief that a ‘victory’ over Pheu Thai is finally possible speaks to the junta’s satisfaction with its efforts to repress red shirts. It also reflects a perception that former Thaksin finance minister Somkid Jatusripitak has successfully developed a pro-junta political party that has convinced former Thaksin politicians to defect to the junta.

Made a member of the junta after the coup, Somkid became Deputy Prime Minister in 2015 and revamped the junta’s failing economic programs by convincing its leadership to adopt Thaksin-esque populist economic policies. With a cabal of former senior pro-Thaksin politicians, Somkid also created the new Palang Pracharat Party that, if electorally successful, will propose that Prayuth continue as prime minister in the next government

Even if polls suggest otherwise, these developments appear to have given the regime confidence that its parties can triumph over pro-Thaksin parties. Still, the junta is taking no chances, and throughout 2018 it implemented rules and policies to benefit its supporters and hobble Pheu Thai. Commentators are now discounting Pheu Thai’s electoral challenge to the junta

The junta can also claim victory in its war on anti-monarchism. Following the 2014 coup there was a huge spike in lese majeste prosecutions involving perceived insults to the monarchy. The decline in prosecutions in 2017 and their elimination in 2018 suggests the junta feels that it has successfully controlled anti-monarchism. It may also reflect King Vajiralongkorn’s preference that such cases do not tarnish his reign, at least until his coronation is held

At the time of Vajiralongkorn’s accession in 2016, several commentators felt that the monarchy was in crisis and that its public profile would decline. Vajiralongkorn was thought unpopular, erratic and self-serving. But his profile was boosted this year by significant palace and junta efforts to promote an image of the king as a benign monarch. This has involved several public events such as traditionalist revivals, a river spectacular and a bike ride. The latter was led by the king, with participants donning free shirts designed by Vajiralongkorn himself

Related to this campaign, the junta and palace sanctioned the creation of an official royal support group, known as Volunteer Spirit, which reportedly has some four million members. The group claims to have been involved in the rescue of the young soccer players trapped in a cave that made international headlines, and the delivery of relief supplies following the collapse of a dam and subsequent flooding in Laos.

For some, the volunteer group evokes memories of royalist gangs involved in the 1976 massacre at Thammasat University. There is also concern over plans for a quadrupling of the size of the police force that ‘protects’ the monarch, with some seeing this expansion as a return to the monarchy-military relationship associated with multiple coups and political repression over the last several decades

For his part, the king tried and succeeded to gain more personal control over palace affairs this year. Most significantly, Vajiralongkorn demanded more changes to the legal status of the crown’s US$35-50 billion holdings, making it his personal property and allocating him remarkable powers to determine which assets belong to the crown. He also replaced the long-serving head of the Crown Property Bureau with a trusted military aide and made changes to the Privy Council.

Within Bangkok, the palace consolidated its property in the so-called royal precinct by closing popular sites to the public, substantially expanding the precinct and removing historical markers connected to the 1932 revolution that overthrew the absolute monarchy. All of this has considerably enhanced Vajiralongkorn’s power and influence

Looking ahead, 2019 may see both an election and a coronation. The junta’s hope is that an election will result in a government that ends military dictatorship but maintains the military’s domination and marks the end of the Thaksin era. If that happens, the junta will likely consider the coronation as a royal endorsement of the military’s political efforts since the 2014 coup

2019 04 02 Retrieve

[With the final election results not being certified until May 9, there’s a good chance the numbers - perhaps whittled down by disqualifications - will not give the anti-junta coalition a majority] If they go the nuclear option and get rid of one of the parties, entirely dissolve them, then I think you may see people getting really, really, really upset. My big fear is that there’s going to be another coup. They’ll say, ‘Look, this hasn’t worked, we’ll set them straight again’

2019 05 03 Retrieve

[Kevin Hewison talks about King Maha Vajiralongkorn] The military-backed government is highly responsive to the demands of the king. He’s a military man so he’s big on rules and regulations. He’s using legal mechanisms much more than his father. He seems to be legalistic in his approach to kingship

2019 05 27 Retrieve

[The 2006 coup that ousted elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra] That coup was probably Prem’s last major political intervention, and it was one where he misjudged. He expected elation and praise for his open role in getting rid of Thaksin. Instead, his intervention lit the fuse of a political polarization that continues to haunt Thailand’s elite

Prem disliked the cut-and-thrust of parliamentary politics, disdained elected politicians as the source of Thailand’s corruption, and he seldom appeared in parliament. As prime minister, Prem established a system of government that has been a model for the current military junta