Holland Prize Shortlist

2016

Professionals and Soldiers: Measuring Professionalism in the Thai Military

Punchada Sirivunnabood, Mahidol University, Nakhorn Phatom, Thailand

Jacob Isaac Ricks, Singapore Management University, Singapore

Keywords: Thailand, civil-military relations, coups, professionalism, Huntington

Abstract

Thailand’s military has recently reclaimed its role as the central pillar of Thai politics. This raises an enduring question in civil-military relations: why do people with guns choose to obey those without guns? One of the most prominent theories in both academic and policy circles is Samuel Huntington’s argument that professional militaries do not become involved in politics. We engage this premise in the Thai context. Utilizing data from a new and unique survey of 569 Thai military officers as well as results from focus groups and interviews with military officers, we evaluate the attitudes of Thai servicemen and develop a test of Huntington’s hypothesis. We demonstrate that increasing levels of professionalism are generally poor predictors as to whether or not a Thai military officer prefers an apolitical military. Indeed, our research suggests that higher levels of professionalism as described by Huntington may run counter to civilian control of the military. These findings provide a number of contributions. First, the survey allows us to operationalize and measure professionalism at the individual level. Second, using these measures we are able to empirically test Huntington’s hypothesis that more professional soldiers should prefer to remain apolitical. Finally, we provide an uncommon glimpse at the opinions of Thai military officers regarding military interventions, adding to the relatively sparse body of literature on factors internal to the Thai military which push officers toward politics.

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Chinese Translation of Abstract – 摘要

 


Why Are Gender Reforms Adopted in Singapore? Party Pragmatism and Electoral Incentives

Netina Tan, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada

Keywords: Gender reforms, party pragmatism, plurality party bloc vote, multi-member constituencies, ethnic quotas, PAP, Singapore

Abstract

In Singapore, the percentage of elected female politicians rose from 3.8 percent in 1984 to 22.5 percent after the 2015 general election. After years of exclusion, why were gender reforms adopted and how did they lead to more women in political office? Unlike South Korea and Taiwan, this paper shows that in Singapore party pragmatism rather than international diffusion of gender equality norms, feminist lobbying, or rival party pressures drove gender reforms. It is argued that the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) strategic and electoral calculations to maintain hegemonic rule drove its policy u-turn to nominate an average of about 17.6 percent female candidates in the last three elections. Similar to the PAP’s bid to capture women voters in the 1959 elections, it had to alter its patriarchal, conservative image to appeal to the younger, progressive electorate in the 2000s. Additionally, Singapore’s electoral system that includes multi-member constituencies based on plurality party bloc vote rule also makes it easier to include women and diversify the party slate. But despite the strategic and electoral incentives, a gender gap remains. Drawing from a range of public opinion data, this paper explains why traditional gender stereotypes, biased social norms, and unequal family responsibilities may hold women back from full political participation.

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Chinese Translation of Abstract – 摘要

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