Taking risks


from Press News, posted 10/10/2011 - 15:26

Late last year, when were we about to publish Saying the Unsayable,  we knew there was a chance that this study of the Thai monarchy might be banned in Thailand (indeed, might fall foul of the country’s strict lèse-majesté laws). Certainly, we didn’t want our authors, distributor or ourselves to end up in prison like the Australian, Harry Nicolaides, did in 2009.

We worked hard to avoid that outcome, and succeeded. This was not surprising to Chris Baker, writing a review of the book last December in the Bangkok Post: ‘this is a careful book which has nothing personal or strident, no whiff of revolt.’

Michael K. Connors disagrees. In a 17-page review essay of the book appearing in the latest issue of the Journal of Contemporary Asia (vol. 41:4), he writes:

Radical pamphleteering it is not, but there is revolt in the fashioning of wide-ranging and well-grounded arguments that carefully mould the unsayable into the sayable. This approach has ensured the book remains on sale in Thailand, despite its challenge to monarchical myths. […]

But if we are to take anything from the massive increase in lèse-majesté cases and the draconian efforts of the state to close down discussion, it is that STV [the Standard view of the Thai Monarchy] and its liberal variants have been worn thin, and a new politics is struggling to burst through. Individuals and groups, not yet acting as a collective social force, are beginning to say the unsayable, even if at times in crude form. They are literally taking the wall down, piece by piece, making possible important books such as this. In speaking and relating to this mood, Saying the Unsayable is a pioneering scholarly work. It is likely to outlast the precarious times that have produced it.

Risks add a little frisson to the working day. Succeeding is even better!


 

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