The Newsletter 68 Summer 2014

Uncivil Society

Nicholas Tarling

Reviewed publication:
Puangthong R. Pawakapan. 2013. State and Uncivil Society in Thailand at the Temple of Preah Vihear, Singapore: ISEAS, ISBN:9789814459907

This short book discusses what Shakespeare’s Hamlet [Act 4, Scene 4] might have termed ‘an egg-shell’, something small over which armies of ‘mass and charge’ might contend. But nationalism has made frontiers an even more sensitive matter than in the great playwright’s time, and the popularisation of politics can conduce to outright conflict. The tussle between Thailand and Cambodia over the temple of Preah Vihear – which led to some loss of life, notably in 2011 – is a case in point. As Dr Puangthong R. Pawakapan suggests, it raises other issues too, given, for example, the fact that the two countries are members of ASEAN and that the regional organization is aiming to make itself more people-centred.