Based in Khon Kaen, the capital of Northeast Thailand, our team of Thai and American writers focuses on the social and political movements redefining the Northeast region, officially known as Isaan, and the country at large.
In the past 30 years, three seismic shifts have awakened the Isaan populace and empowered them to fight for meaningful change in their communities, cities, and the region at large. First, the rise of the NGO movement in the 1980s demonstrated the very real power that effective social mobilization can have in changing the life of the average villager. Second, decentralization reforms of the mid-1990s established the Tambon Administration Organization (TAO) as a local governmental unit comprised of popularly elected local representatives. By giving power directly to local constituents, the TAO invited rural villagers to take political initiative in their own communities. And most recently, in the early 2000s, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s populist platforms of rural debt relief and affordable health care gave the people of Isaan reason to believe that government in Bangkok can respond to the needs of Thailand’s rural constituents.
Today, the 21 million inhabitants of the poorest region of Thailand have political and social critiques of their own, but almost no voice in popular media. By reporting on the grassroots movements of the region, The Isaan Record offers more insight into the lives of those Northeasterners who are fighting for institutional change in Thailand. We deliver stories from Isaan in the earnest belief that a better-informed populace is the foundation of a healthy democracy.