Phongpaichit, Pasuk 1946-

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Phongpaichit, Pasuk 1946-


Born February 11, 1946, in Thailand. Education: Monash University, B.A., 1969, M.A., 1971; University of Cambridge, England, Ph.D., 1979.


Home—Thailand. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, economist, translator, lecturer, consultant, activist, and educator. Monash University, Australia, teaching fellow, faculty of economics, 1970-71; University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, teaching fellow, 1978-79; Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, lecturer, faculty of economics, 1971-73, senior lecturer and director of Economic Research Unit, 1979-1980, associate professor, 1985-1999, professor of economics, 1999—, Political Economy Center director, 1990-93; Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, Jackson Memorial Fellow, 2003; International Labour Office, Asian Regional Team for Employment, Bangkok, expert and developmental economist, 1980-84; Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, research fellow, 1988-89; Center of Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto, Japan, research fellow, 2004-05; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, School of Advanced International studies, visiting professor, 2001; University of Washington, Seattle, Walker Ames Visiting Professor, 2005; Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, visiting professor, 2006-07. Member of board of directors, Regional Centre for Social and Sustainable Development, Chaiang Mai University, 1998—.


Senior Research Scholar award, Thailand Research Fund, 1997, 2002; Best Book of the Year Award, National Research Council of Thailand, 1997, for Thailand: Economy and Politics (Thai language version); Distinguished National Researcher Award, National Research Council of Thailand, 1998; Thailand Research Fund award for most citations in international publications, 2000; Distinguished Alumni Award, Monash University, 2001.


(With Rapeepun Jaisaard) Employment, Income, and the Mobilisation of Local Resources in Three Thai Villages, Asian Employment Programme (Bangkok, Thailand), 1982.

From Peasant Girls to Bangkok Masseuses, International Labour Office (Geneva, Switzerland), 1982.

(Editor, with Busaba Kunasirin and Buddhagarn Rutchatorn) The Lion and the Mouse? Japan, Asia, and Thailand, Chulalongkorn University, Faculty of Economics (Bangkok, Thailand), 1986.

The New Wave of Japanese Investment in ASEAN: Determinants and Prospects, ASEAN Economic Research Unit (Singapore), 1990.

(With Sungsidh Piriyarangsan and Nualnoi Treerat) Corruption and Democracy in Thailand, Political Economy Centre (Bangkok, Thailand), 1994.

(With Chris Baker) Thailand: Economy and Politics, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1995, 2nd edition, 2002.

Challenging Social Exclusion: Rights and Livelihood in Thailand, International Labour Office (Geneva, Switzerland), 1996.

(With Chris Baker) Thailand's Boom!, Silkworm Books (Chiang Mai, Thailand), 1996, revised edition published as Thailand's Boom and Bust, 1998.

(With Sungsidh Piriyarangsan and Nualnoi Treerat) Guns, Girls, Gambling, Ganja: Thailand's Illegal Economy and Public Policy, Silkworm Books (Chiang Mai, Thailand), 1998.

(Translator and author of introduction, with Chris Baker) Chatthip Nartsupha, The Thai Village Economy in the Past, Silkworm Books (Chiang Mai, Thailand), 1999.

(With Chris Baker) Thailand's Crisis, Silkworm Books (Chiang Mai, Thailand), 2000.

(Translator and author of introduction, with Chris Baker) Pridi Banomyong, Pridi by Pridi, Silkworm Books (Chiang Mai, Thailand), 2000.

(With Chris Baker) Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand, Silkworm Books (Chiang Mai, Thailand), 2004.

(With Chris Baker) A History of Thailand, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Thai Capital after the 1997 Crisis, Silkworm Books (Chiang Mai, Thailand), 2008.

Contributor to books, including Women, Work, and Society, edited by K. Saradamoni, Indian Statistical Institute (Calcutta, India), 1985; Structures of Patriarchy: State, Community, and Household in Modernizing Asia, edited by Bina Agarwal, 1988; The May 1992 Crisis in Thailand: Background and Aftermath, edited by Peter A. Jackson, Australian National University (Canberra, Australia), 1993; Thailand beyond Crisis, edited by Peter Warr, Routledge (New York, NY), 2001; After the Storm: Crises, Recovery, and Sustaining Development in East Asia, Singapore, edited by K.S. Jomo, Singapore University Press, 2004; Populism and Reformism in Asia, edited by John Sidel and Eva-Lotta Hedman, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2005; and Thailand: Beyond the Crisis, edited by Peter Warr, Routledge (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Journal of Democracy, Asian Review, Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, Southeast Asian Affairs, Transnational Organized Crime, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, ASEAN Economic Bulletin, Southeast Asia Chronicles, Public Affairs, and the Cambridge Journal of Economics.


Writer, editor, translator, economist, and educator Pasuk Phongpaichit is a professor of economics at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand. Educated in Australia and the United Kingdom, Phongpaichit has been associated with Chulalongkorn University since 1971, when she started as a lecturer in the faculty of economics. As noted on her curriculum vitae on the Chulalongkorn University Web site, she conducts research in areas such as social movements in Thailand in the 1990s, development strategies and the political economy of Thailand and Southeast Asia; the structure and dynamics of capital in post-crisis Thailand; and corruption and the illegal economy in Thailand and elsewhere. Phongpaichit has served on many government committees and academic advisory boards, and has been a visiting professor in the United States, Japan, and Australia.

Phongpaichit is a prolific writer in both Thai and English, and many of her works in English have been in collaboration with Chris Baker. In Thailand's Boom and Bust, Phongpaichit and Baker chronicle the phenomenal growth of Thailand's economy, starting in the late 1980s, and the devastating financial crash that occurred some ten years later, in 1997-98, when the Bank of Thailand undertook expensive, and ultimately futile and destructive, measures to bolster the country's currency, the baht. The authors explore the boom times during the economic upswing; assess the problems and factors that led to the economic crisis; and describe the effects of the breakdown on the general Thai population. The book is "convincing in addressing the social and political underpinnings of the boom and its ramifications for Thais. It is written in an accessible and lively style that does not diminish its complexity," commented reviewer Kevin Hewison in the Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Beyond her reputation as an academic and an author, Phongpaichit is also known as an activist against corruption and illegal activity in the Thai government. "Beneath her soft-spoken academic demeanor, Pasuk Phongpaichit is a tigress. And she has seized on the corrupt among Thailand's political and business establishment, refusing to let go," observed a Business Week writer in a profile of Phongpaichit. In Guns, Girls, Gambling, Ganja: Thailand's Illegal Economyand Public Policy, written with Sangsit Piriyarangsan and Nualnoi Treerat, Phongpaichit and her coauthors have "documented with detailed research what Thais themselves had long suspected: that many of their police, politicians, and businesses are linked in an overwhelmingly corrupt web of self-interest," commented the Business Week contributor. These activities, Phongpaichit has discovered, amount to billions of dollars per year in the country's underground economy, amounting to as much as thirteen percent of the country's gross national product from 1993 to 1995, the Business Week contributor reported. Phongpaichit and her collaborators expected drugs to top the list of illegal and highly profitable activities, but instead discovered that Thailand's top illegal pursuit was gambling, followed by prostitution, drugs, arms dealing, smuggling of diesel oil, and human trafficking. Phongpaichit and her coauthors have been targeted for harassment, have received threats, and have been sued for libel by police and other institutions—all because of the revelations they made. Undaunted, she has continued to push for change, for involvement from higher levels of the Thai government, and for crackdowns on the illegal activities and corruption throughout her country's political and legal infrastructure. Guns, Girls, Gambling, Ganja "should be considered a baseline examination of the underground economy in Thailand and should promote further research into this economic sector," commented Ramdas Menon in Pacific Affairs.

Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand contains Phongpaichit and Baker's in-depth examination of the politics, policies, and influence of Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire who served as prime minister for five years, beginning in 2001, and was ousted from office by a military coup in 2006. As head of the Thai Rak Thai, or Thais Love Thais party, Thaksin implemented many policies that from all appearances were blessed with a large-scale popular mandate from the people. Determined and iron-willed, Thaksin demonstrated unshakeable intent to recast Thailand into the form he desired. He was the target of much sharp criticism from his opponents from both inside and outside of Thailand. "That his government has delivered rapid growth as well as political stability at home since he came to power seems to have blunted much of that criticism even though many of his critics are unwavering," observed Alex M. Mutebi, writing in Contemporary Southeast Asia. Phongpaichit and Baker "offer a very user-friendly and brilliant exegesis of the Thaksin phenomenon," commented Mutebi. The authors provide a detailed assessment of Thaksin's life, background, and political career and assess the benefits that have resulted from his policies and rules. They plot the course of his political good fortune from his reactions to the country's 1997 financial crisis, to his rejection of Thailand's formerly conservative and stifling politics, to the simple effects of good marketing by him and promises of advantageous change and prosperity to the Thai people. Jim Glassman, writing in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, called the book "essential reading for anyone wishing to understand contemporary Thai society," and a "timely, meticulous, and courageous piece of critical scholarship."

In Thailand's Crisis, Phongpaichit and Baker provide a more comprehensive examination of the 1997-98 economic crisis that had such a profound effect on the country and all strata of its population. The authors "write compellingly, summarizing important and sometimes complex topics in a readable fashion," remarked Jim Glassman in a review in the Canadian Geographer. They do not flinch from exploring the darker aspects of Thailand's growth and the factors that led to the financial devastation during the crisis. Glassman called the book "one the most useful books currently available in the English-language literature on Thailand and the crisis."

With Thailand: Economy and Politics, Phongpaichit and Baker "state that they have set out to write a book that is useful to students as well as challenging to specialists. On both counts they have succeeded admirably," observed reviewer Jim LoGerfo, writing in the Political Science Quarterly. In the book, the authors provide a detailed and comprehensive examination of political and economic history in Thailand. They consider the rise of agriculture and the lives of the Thai peasantry in villages throughout the country. They look at the importance of capital and its development in cities in Thailand, and how the economy came to be dominated by export-fueled industrialization and the rise of urban labor. They also assess the history of Thai politics through the country's monarchy, the rise of the Thai military in the years following 1932's revolution; the crisis of 1991-92, and the rise of civil society throughout the country. LoGerfo concluded, "This is a most compelling work, representing the most important study of Thai political and economic history to appear in many years."

A History of Thailand contains Phongpaichit and Baker's exploration of the history of the nation-state of Thailand, how it came to be, and how it has evolved. The authors demonstrate a "critical awareness of the constructed-ness of the nation-state that is its subject," noted Patrick Jory in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. The book's "focus is not on the elite but on the various ‘social forces’ which attempt to influence how the nation is defined, as well as to gain access to the machinery of state," Jory observed. They provide considerable attention to the contributions made by students, intellectuals, social activities, Chinese workers and merchants, farmers, factory workers, businessmen, and other nonroyal, nonelite members of Thailand's population who made direct, day-to-day contributions to the country's well-being and advancement. Jory called the book "a delight to read, with crisp and engaging prose."



Asian Affairs, July, 2007, Barney Smith, review of A History of Thailand, p. 271.

Business Week, June 14, 1999, "Unflappable Crusader," review of Guns, Girls, Gambling, Ganja: Thailand's Illegal Economy and Public Policy, p. 94.

Canadian Geographer, fall, 2002, Jim Glassman, review of Thailand's Crisis, p. 277.

Choice, May, 1997, review of Thailand: Economy and Politics, p. 1548; November, 2001, C. Kilby, review of Thailand's Crisis, p. 561; October, 2005, J.S. Uppal, review of Thaksin: The Business of Politics in Thailand, p. 364.

Contemporary Southeast Asia, December, 2004, Alex M. Mutebi, review of Thaksin, p. 564.

Far Eastern Economic Review, December, 2004, Joe Studwell, review of Thaksin, p. 62; January-February, 2006, Susan J. Cunningham, review of A History of Thailand, p. 74.

International Affairs, January, 2005, Luisa Dolza, review of Thaksin, p. 225.

Journal of Asian Studies, August, 1996, Clark D. Neher, review of Thailand, p. 787; August, 2001, review of The Thai Village Economy in the Past, p. 920; May, 2002, Robert B. Albritton, review of Thailand's Boom and Bust, p. 787; May, 2002, Robert B. Albritton, review of Thailand's Crisis, p. 789; August, 2006, "The Thaksinazation of Thailand," p. 658.

Journal of Contemporary Asia, August, 1999, Kevin Hewison, review of Thailand's Boom and Bust, p. 401; August, 2005, Jim Glassman, review of Thaksin, p. 404.

Journal of Economic History, March, 2003, R.E. Elson, review of The Thai Village Economy in the Past, p. 265.

Journal of Economic Literature, September, 1996, review of Thailand, p. 1488; September, 1997, review of Challenging Social Exclusion: Rights and Livelihood in Thailand, p. 1513; March, 2000, review of Thailand's Boom and Bust, p. 256; March, 2002, review of Thailand's Crisis, p. 298; September, 2005, review of Thaksin, p. 914.

Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, March, 1992, "The New Wave of Japanese Investment in ASEAN," p. 151; June, 2007, Patrick Jory, review of A History of Thailand, p. 404.

Pacific Affairs, summer, 2000, Ramdas Menon, review of Guns, Girls, Gambling, Ganja, p. 311; spring, 2006, review of Thaksin, p. 143.

Political Science Quarterly, fall, 1997, Jim LoGerfo, review of Thailand, p. 514.

Prairie Schooner, fall, 1997, review of Thailand, p. 514.

Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, October, 2003, Katherine Bowie, review of The Thai Village Economy in the Past, p. 330.

Times Literary Supplement, September 16, 2005, Ian Brown, review of A History of Thailand, p. 27.


Chulalongkorn University Web site, (March 27, 2008), curriculum vitae of Pasuk Phongpaichit.