Handmaidens of the military junta

5 08 2014

At University World News, there’s a useful account of the salivating anti-democratic “leaders” of Thailand’s academic institutions who have thrown in their lot with the military dictatorship.

These handmaidens to the junta have been variously denigrated on social media as dogs having their stomachs rubbed, spineless royalists, academic jewelry for the junta, and as horrible examples for their students. Most of this is true, but hardly gets at their betrayal of what many consider to be the independent and critical role of academics. (Of course, there have been plenty of academics in many places who acquiesce to and support horrid regimes.)

Thai “academics” have a very long history of sucking up to and supporting military regimes. When General Prem Tinsulanonda was unelected prime minister, he surrounded himself with prominent professors keen to promote “semi-democracy,” military and monarchy. In more recent times, royalist academics have donned yellow shirts and supported all kinds of fascist ideas.

As PPT noted some time ago, the presidencies of universities have been a bit like the judiciary, targeted and taken over by royalists in a planned “coup” that gave them control of universities across the country. Under the military dictatorship, they have already been moving to shore up military fascism.

This most recent report notes:

Rectors from nine of Thailand’s top public universities have joined the junta-picked lawmaking assembly established three months after the military staged the country’s 13th coup d’état on 22 May….

The nine rectors are from some of the country’s top universities including Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Chiang Mai, Kasetsart, Ramkhamhaeng, the National Institute of Development Administration, Srinakharinwirot, Khon Kaen and Mahidol.

… Also appointed was Thammasat University council Chair Noranit Sretabutr.

Some of the universities’ websites carried congratulations posted by their administrations on the appointment of the rectors.

Naturally enough, with their administrations being so supportive of military fascism and with a repressive military regime in place, critics of these spineless “academics” have had to bite their tongues.

Former Thammasat University rector Charnvit Kasetsiri who wrote an open letter “calling on Noranit and Thammasat Rector Somkid Lertpaitoon to ‘refrain’ from associating with bodies created by the junta.” Too late, really, as these two have long been associated with anti-democratic positions.

More outspoken was Yukti Mukdavichit, “an anthropology lecturer at Thammasat University, published an online open letter to the university’s rector and faculty, saying the decision to join the assembly was a ‘disgrace’ for a university known in the past for resistance against authoritarian regimes.”

Thongchai Winichakul, a history U.S.-based history professor, president of the Association of Asian Studies, and a former Thammasat student leader, “criticised the rectors’ decision to join the assembly as ‘shameless’ and likely to affect the credibility of the institutions and the academic profession.”

He’s correct to observe that: “these rectors have … overtly played a leading anti-democracy role, against electoral democracy, and in creating a justification for the latest coup…”. He added:

As of now, it appears that the majority of Thai academics prefer serving the establishment because, after all, they are the privileged ones in Thailand’s hierarchical society. Most of them support their rectors in playing such a disgraceful role….

These handmaidens of the military dictatorship will be unaffected by such criticism. They signed up to military fascism and royalist anti-democracy a long time ago, and they owe their positions, wealth and esteem to support from the military, palace and associated anti-democrats, not to any notions associated with academic work.


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29 05 2016
Academic boycott | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] There is no academic freedom in Thailand. Calls have been made for academic freedom, but the military dictatorship brooks no interference in its reactionary work. The few activist students and academics are continually threatened by the junta and in the “suspect” areas of the country, the military actively police campuses. Several Thai academics have been forced to flee the country and yet their families are still harassed. The control of all universities in the country is effectively in the hands of royalist academics and administrators. […]

29 05 2016
Academic boycott | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] There is no academic freedom in Thailand. Calls have been made for academic freedom, but the military dictatorship brooks no interference in its reactionary work. The few activist students and academics are continually threatened by the junta and in the “suspect” areas of the country, the military actively police campuses. Several Thai academics have been forced to flee the country and yet their families are still harassed. The control of all universities in the country is effectively in the hands of royalist academics and administrators. […]

9 02 2017
“Reconciliation” by military committee II | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] is a notorious royalist and handmaiden to the military junta. We guess he’s already in on the military’s “agreement” that will be put […]

9 02 2017
“Reconciliation” by military committee II | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] is a notorious royalist and handmaiden to the military junta. We guess he’s already in on the military’s “agreement” that will be put […]

13 09 2020
Royalist handmaidens | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] is not surprising that the regime is asking the universities to do its dirty work. As we said some time ago, university administrations have been captured by royalists who are the handmaidens of rightist […]