Challenging monarchism II

1 11 2020

A couple of days ago Thai PBS wrote that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha had “warned anti-monarchy students not to do anything deemed improper or that could offend … the King and Queen as they preside over the second day of the graduation ceremony at Thammasat University…”.

The Dictator was spooked by students promising a “big surprise.” He babbled on about “a long-standing tradition for the Monarch to present degrees to new graduates…”.

The Bangkok Post followed up with its usual pro-regime buffalo manure, using the headline “Army keeps eye on Thammasat University ceremony,” implying the Army is a benign force rather than a murderous outfit under the command of royalist dolts. And we guess that’s the point.

It states that The Dictator’s response was to bring in “[m]ilitary personnel … to provide security at Thammasat…”. They weren’t needed as the “big surprise” was that nothing happened except that the regime got spooked.

But, there was a boycott by students of the “long-standing tradition for the Monarch to present degrees to new graduates.” Only half of the graduating students signed up and less than half turned up for the rehearsal. A rehearsal is required so that all the ceremonial BS that goes with mechanical processes of receiving the certificate from the king goes off without a hitch.

The Post tries to play the boycott down, stating:

According to Thammasat, about 51% of the university’s graduates have registered to receive degrees from His Majesty the King — a similar proportion to most years.

During the rehearsal period, many graduates who boycotted were more interested in receiving their degrees from cutout figures of anti-royalists Pavin Chachavalpongpun and Somsak Jeamteerasakul.

Clipped from Khaosod

Khaosod adds better detail which corrects the Post’s pathetic reporting and editing.

Using the same Isra news agency report that the Post (mis)used, Khaosod quotes “Thammasat vice rector Chalie Charoenlarpnopparut [who] attributed the low attendance to the ongoing protests, along with other reasons.” He is reported to have stated:

“It may be related to the current political situation,” Chalie was quoted as saying. “There’s a campaign against the ceremony. Some people may find it inconvenient to take coronavirus tests prior to attending the ceremony, while others may not be available due to a short notice given by the university.”

Television news reporting confirmed low numbers attending and also showed the king and queen both being awarded honorary doctorates. Queen Suthida has now received dozens of honorary degrees over a few weeks..

As the report notes, there has been opposition to degree ceremonies in the past, but these have been isolated and without much publicity. Most recently, there was criticism of the high fees paid, which were reportedly handed over to the presiding royal.

Many graduates find the rigid codes that have been implemented for the royals to be farcical. Khaosod quotes one graduate as saying she “found the ceremony, in which attendees have to conform to a strict dress code from head to toe, to be oppressive.” She added: “I don’t want to attach my success to the university or the establishment. I want my graduation to be a chance where I celebrate with my friends and family rather than giving in to nonsense rules.”

Another complained: “I don’t want to sit there for half a day and follow the ridiculous dress code, in which shoes must have no laces and even a banknote is not allowed to be brought in.”

These events were invented as a way for the monarch to establish a “relationship” with graduates and the middle class that “administers” the country. That connection seems strained to breaking point.


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