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Previous studies have found trust to be a crucial component in relationship building and the peace building processes. However, the reconciliation processes proposed and bought into practice by the Thai governments during past years ignored trust building—both in terms of trust in institutions and trust among the people. This article claims that such a gap has meant that the implementation of the reconciliation process in Thailand has never succeeded. In order to make this argument even clearer, this article tests the theory that trust is associated with variations in reconciliation, as in the hypothesis that those trusting in political institutions and other people are more likely than those filled with distrust to support elements important for the reconciliation process. This article shows findings that confirm this hypothesis and indicate that trust has the most powerful effect on the opinions about the key elements of the reconciliation process, comparing to socioeconomic background, political identification, and democratic-value factors.
The impact of violent conflict on a country’s society, economy and political governance, as has happened in Thailand during the past decade, is destructive and all encompassing. However, there has been no sign indicating that the decade-long political conflict in Thailand will be addressed in ways that reduce violence and increase justice in human relationships.
While many alternative models for reconciliation from various countries were investigated and introduced to Thailand, none of them were successful because trust building—both in terms of trust in national institutions and trust among the people—has been ignored. The neglect of the Thai governments to invest time and other resources in building trust has made the term reconciliation unpopular and created perceptions of the reconciliation process as being conducted as a means for the people holding state power to defeat the people of opposing groups rather that a means of resolving conflict problems and reconciling society.
The results derived from the public opinion survey and quantitative analysis employed by this article provide a clear and comprehensive picture of Thai citizens’ attitudes and perceptions about peace and reconciliation, and the key factors, in their opinion, for bringing about reconciliation across the nation. In particular, this article provides empirical evidence confirming previous research indicating the essential nature of trust in making the reconciliation process successful.
What can be done to facilitate the reconciliation process that could transform political conflict in Thai society into peace? This article thus recommends that the government as one of the most important political institutions for the facilitation of a reconciliation process must seek the ways to increase its trustworthiness in the eyes of the public, for example, by revealing information and providing clear reasons to the public so that they understand what is being done and how earnestly the government is committed to the reconciliation process. In order to build trust between the people, this article also suggests that interactive channels must be made available to the people to communicate together, to build understanding, and to exchange opinions; especially channels for broad-based discussions about the pathway to transform the conflicts and the future of this country.
Although this article focuses on a single country, the answers derived from the Thai case provide a clear understanding of the relationships between trust and reconciliation that could also be examined in relation to other post-conflict countries.
—Wichuda Satidporn and Stithorn Thananithichot
Stefan Litz, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp.33–47
Anju Mary Paul and Vicotira Paul, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp.1–18
Ahmed Badreldin, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.1–18
Spreeha Debchaudhury, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.41–51
Lynne Ciochetto, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.33–43
Sudata DebChaudhury, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.121–138
Jalil Safaei, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.219–238
Jackson Nyamuya Maogoto, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.247–254
Joanne Jung-wook Hong, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.143–154
Oliver Schwedes and Stephan Rammler, The Global Studies Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.159–168