Royalist university censors students

29 08 2021

University World News reports that administrators at Thailand’s most royalist of universities, Chulalongkorn, have declared that they will “take disciplinary action” against student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, who is President of the Chulalongkorn University Student Union. The “disciplinary action” will extend to other leaders of the university’s student union “for organising an orientation for incoming students that featured outspoken critics of the Thai monarchy.”

Netiwit in 2017. Clipped from The Nation

That “disciplinary action” follows pressure from royalist “alumni groups” that were supposedly outraged by the 20 July orientation that “featured three well-known figures as speakers: Thammasat University student leaders Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak and Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul from the pro-democracy movement and Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an academic and critic of the monarchy, now in exile and teaching at Kyoto University…”. All three face lese majeste charges.

The university’s Office of Student Affairs states that “the content of the orientation was considered ‘radical’ and ‘rude’ and was not approved by the university.” Apparently, “student handbooks published by the student union, which included critiques on certain university traditions and interviews with liberal student activists, were ‘not appropriate’ for new students and their guardians to refer to.”

It is known that university leaderships have been made royalist over the past few decades and that, like the corrupt police and murderous military, prefer hierarchy and paternalism.

Netiwit “said he received a letter from the deputy dean at Chulalongkorn reprimanding him for inviting the activists as speakers, as well as for producing and distributing the student handbooks,” while a deputy dean has reportedly “submitted the case to a university committee for investigation and to decide on the punishment against the student organisers involved.”

The activist chastised the university’s royalist leadership:

Instead of being the last fortress to defend freedom, the university is assisting in the decline of freedom. If Chulalongkorn actually takes disciplinary action against us, not only are they refusing to defend freedom, but they also set a norm for other universities to follow, diminishing liberty in this society and affecting young people’s future….

Who pressured the university? According to the report, it was Chaiphat Chantarawilai, who claims to lead a conservative royalist alumni group, “Defending the Honour of Chula.” Defending the university is defined as “protecting” the monarch and monarchy. On 26 July, Chaiphat “submitted a letter to the university’s dean calling on administrators to take action against the student organisers of the orientation, including a demand to involve the police in a formal investigation.”

In other words, the royalists are hankering for lese majeste charges.

Chaiphat threatened the dean if no action was taken against the students.

After several clashes with university authorities in the past, Netiwit and his colleagues “won in landslide votes in April 2021” when standing for the student union.


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