What is Secret Siam and why should I subscribe?

Thailand has been convulsed by an unprecedented uprising against the monarchy and military by a new generation demanding democracy, equal rights and freedom of speech. It’s a 21st century struggle being fought on social media as well as the streets of Bangkok, and it reverberates far beyond the country’s borders. The kingdom has become a key battleground on the front lines of global resistance against authoritarianism.

The escalating rebellion is a new chapter of an old conflict. In 1932, a bloodless revolution ended centuries of absolute monarchy in Siam. It was heralded as the dawn of democracy in the kingdom, but royalists never accepted defeat and have been fighting ever since to restore the primacy of the palace. It’s a struggle that has defined the destiny of modern Thailand, plunging the kingdom into a cycle of coups and confrontations it has never managed to escape. It’s still being fought today.

Most analysis of Thailand barely mentions this at all, because telling the truth about Thai politics and history is illegal. The country has the most draconian lèse majesté law in the world. Expressing anything less than unquestioning adulation for the monarchy can get you jailed for years. Most journalists and academics understandably prefer to steer clear of the subject as much as possible.

This means much of what is written about Thailand is misleading or inadequate, because to explain what’s going on you need to address the role of the monarchy in the kingdom’s turbulent history and politics. So that is what I will do in this newsletter. I hope to make Secret Siam the best resource for anyone who wants to get the full uncensored story of what is happening in Thailand. I will not be ignoring the elephant in the room. This newsletter is about the elephant in the room — the monarchy and its role in the long conflict that has destabilised the country for decades.

I’ll be covering all sides of the conflict — not just the antics of the palace, the military and politicians, but also the plans and strategies of the protesters. And although I will focus mostly on current events I will also be regularly writing about past chapters in Thai history, to show how old events are still influencing the political drama today.

The newsletter will be useful for analysts, journalists, investors, academics and diplomats, but above all it is aimed at everybody who cares about Thailand and wants to stay updated with the most comprehensive and accurate information available.

What’s included in the subscription?

Although I will be sharing content free from time to time, to receive most issues of the newsletter you will have to pay for a subscription. It’s $5 a month, or $50 per year. The reason I am charging is because a lot of work goes into my journalism on Thailand, and this is the only way I can make it financially sustainable.

Subscribers will receive at least two newsletters in your e-mail inbox each week. Every Monday, I will share a comprehensive roundup and analysis of the events of the previous week, with links to recommended articles published elsewhere as well as my own commentary. Every Friday I will publish a detailed original article focusing on interesting aspects of Thai politics, history or culture.

When there are major breaking developments, I’ll aim to publish updates and analysis in real time as events unfold.

Subscribers can also access the entire archive of past articles at the Secret Siam website, and you can post comments in the discussion area.

So if you think Secret Siam sounds interesting, please consider subscribing!

Who’s the author and does he know what he is talking about?

I’m a journalist and author, and a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, but more importantly I am a criminal in Thailand and that’s why my analysis is worth reading.

A decade ago I decided to start breaking the lèse majesté law whenever necessary so I could stop censoring my reporting on Thailand. That means I can’t go back there, at least until there is profound political reform, because I’d be arrested and jailed. But covering Thailand from abroad allows me to tell the full story of what’s going on.

I’ve written two acclaimed books on Thailand, and you can read some of the reviews here, but the best recommendation I can give for my work is that the Thai regime hates me. They banned my books, they detained my wife and son, they warned Thais to avoid any online contact with me, and earlier this year they sent people to surveil my house in Scotland and leave a threatening message on my doorstep. So this is probably a sign that I am doing something right.

I have an excellent network of contacts in Thailand and around the globe, and a strong track record of reporting exclusive information. In 2016 I was the first journalist in the world to break the news that King Bhumibol had died, hours ahead of the official announcement. More recent scoops include being the first person to report Princess Ubolratana’s attempt to become prime minister in 2019, and publishing details of King Vajiralongkorn’s harem last year. I regularly appear on international broadcasters like the BBC and ABC, and in the pages of publications like The Economist, as a commentator on Thai issues. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

The reason I focus my journalism on Thailand is because it’s a country I love, and I hope that by helping uncover the truth about Thai politics and history, I can make a contribution to the struggle for democracy. I really appreciate the support of everybody who subscribes to Secret Siam.