Pravit Rojanaphruk and Napaporn Jamtaptim have an interesting article in The Nation outlining the debate on student organization that has emerged with the December formation of a yellow-shirted Students Centre of Thailand (SCT).
The Students Federation of Thailand (SFT) is considered pro-red shirt, so a bunch of well-known yellow shirts have decided to form their own student organization. This is the SCT. A well-known SCT founder is Boworn Yasinthorn, “a leader of the multicoloured movement that became active … last year…”.
The article says that “most members of SCT are adults and former student activists” rather than current students. Interestingly, and not unexpectedly, the SCT has an “explicit goal of protecting the … monarchy…”. They also claim to support “democracy.”
The choice of the name SCT has caused considerable controversy “because its name in Thai is almost identical to a now-defunct left-leaning student body, which existed back in the 1970s.” That is the National Student Centre of Thailand.
The controversy, mainly online, has Thammasat University lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul ridiculing Boworn’s claim that the NSCT was “leftist, but was also royalist.”
The SCT’s “first public symposium to discuss what students and citizens could do to protect the monarchy and how democracy would work with His Majesty as head of state.” Is that an admission that it doesn’t work now? Of course, it doesn’t, but we find it unbelievable that the SCT would even need to discuss the issue. If they do, it indicates that the yellow shirts believe that students are not finding all the royalist propaganda attractive.
Boworn has been busy forming pro-monarchy groups, “to protect the monarchy,” seems to acknowledge this, claiming that “most students were too busy playing computer games and having fun” but identifying “the few engaged in serious activities face allegations of disseminating ‘anti-monarchist propaganda’. The former student activist, who fought back in the 1970s, has accused some left-leaning academics and anti-monarchist websites of feeding students ‘false information’.” False information is considered anything that isn’t promoting palace propaganda.
More disturbingly, Boworn is resurrecting other images of the 1970s by urging “rectification” that is an attack on alleged “leftists” in the academy. He shouts that “Many students who do not like such [leftist, anti-monarchist] academics don’t know what to do, but the SCT will help rectify that. Some academics are leftists who lost the battle in the 1970s and want to get even. We must change history and make it right…”.
Surprisingly, Boworn also claims that the “younger generations do not really know about His Majesty’s contribution to society and are exposed to distorted information.” We can only wonder how students don’t know of the claims of the king’s super-human efforts that gush out of every crevice of Thailand’s mainstream media, educational institutions and government offices.
PPT guesses that they are simply sick of hagiography.
Update: For a somewhat humorous take on lese majeste, with a serious intent, readers will be interested in this from FACT.