(19 Jan 2021) More than a hundred scholars and academics have signed an open letter accusing the National University of Singapore (NUS) Press of bowing to political pressure after it last year withdrew abruptly from publication of a volume of essays touching on sensitive aspects of Thai politics.
The book, “Coup, King, Crisis: A Critical Interregnum in Thailand,” was edited by the scholar Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a long-time critic of the Thai ruling establishment who has been living in exile in Japan since shortly after the military coup of May 2014.
The essays in the book, which has since been published as part of Yale University’s Southeast Asia Studies Monograph series, cast a critical eye on the period between the coup and the flawed election of March 2019. In particularly, it examines the sensitive royal transition from King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in 2016 after 70 years on the throne, to his son Vajiralongkorn – an issue that can’t be openly discussed within Thailand due to the country’s harsh lese-majeste law.
Pavin, who composed the open letter, claims that he proposed the manuscript to NUS Press in October 2018 and went through what he describes as a “proper and vigorous peer review process.” But in March 2020, as the volume was being prepped for publication, he says that Peter Schoppert, director of the NUS Press, informed him in an email that the book would not be published.
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