Inheritors of an ancient land and a complex culture, today’s Thais once again face difficult social and political challenges. Yet, despite the confrontation that has resulted from these tensions during much of late 2013 and early 2014, the country continues to grow and develop, with much of it unaffected by the turmoil that has been focused primarily on certain high-profile districts of Bangkok. Thailand’s 2007 constitution established a system of parliamentary democracy, with the prime minister as the head of the executive branch, who then appoints and leads the cabinet. An early general election held in February 2014 was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in late March 2014. At the time, the country was headed by a caretaker government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Over the past several years, the country has prepared for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), due to take effect from 2015. In 2013 it had already met 86% of the targeted AEC measures – higher than the ASEAN average of 80%.
This chapter contains a viewpoint from His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, and an interview with Le Luong Minh, Secretary General of ASEAN.