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.





Royalists and censorship

13 04 2021

One of the traits of royalism in Thailand is the way in which all manner of royalists, from officials to the mad  monarchists, seek to destroy those they see as opponents.

About a month ago we mentioned the “case” being mounted by academic royalists to censor the work of historian Nattaphol Chai­ching, a campaign that had been waged by yellow shirts since 2018. That royalist assault has been recently paired with a ridiculous (except in royalist Thailand) defamation case by minor royal, MR Priyanandana Rangsit, against Nattaphol and publisher Fah Diew Kan (Same Sky), seeking to protect the honor of a long dead relative.

We would have hoped that such a malicious set of actions by mad monarchists would have faded away. It hasn’t, with a report at University World News suggesting that the royalist stronghold at Chulalongkorn University is seriously pursuing the claims against Nattaphol.Nattapoll

The royalists clearly see Nattaphol’s book’s and their “popularity and influence as a threat…”. As a result, they”have targeted the author, calling for his PhD to be revoked.” The royalist witch hunt is led by yellow-shirted political “philosopher” Chaiyan Chaiyaporn at Chulalongkorn University.

The university, “who owns the copyright to the PhD thesis, set up an investigation committee in February ostensibly to review its academic integrity,” after earlier “effectively bann[ing] the thesis by barring public access to it, claiming at the time that it contained errors based on some pieces of evidence used.” As far as we can tell, the “errors” are one mis-attribution to a newspaper article.

With the “investigation” now proceeding, mostly in secret, the university could revoke Nattaphol’s degree or take “other disciplinary action under research misconduct rules.”

The report cites Ek Patarathanakul, assistant to the president for corporate communications at Chulalongkorn University, and an interview with BBC Thai on 26 March where Ek claimed “Chulalongkorn University would uphold the ‘academic perspective’ in examining the issue.” He added: “we have to use universal principles [of academic integrity] in reviewing this case…”.

As we know, in Thailand, “principles” and standards are easily manipulated, and the university’s political track record is royalist and shaky (for an example, see our series of articles Pathetic royalist “university” in 2017 that begins here).





Students, EC and censorship

30 03 2019

It has been widely reported that university students have begun a campaign to impeach the bungling, opaque and puppet Election Commission over its mishandling of the 24 March “election.” The universities involved were reportedly: Chulalongkorn, Thammasat (Rangsit campus), King Mongkut Institute of Technology (Thon Buri campus), Kasetsart (Bang Khen campus), Chiang Mai, Naresuan, Burapha, Prince of Songkla (Pattani campus) and Rajabhat Rachanakharin.

Channeling 1957, the Chulalongkorn University Student Council demanded “an explanation from the EC about widespread allegations of irregularities.” Meanwhile, the Thammasat University Student Union released a “statement saying that commission officials must be investigated because their sloppy procedures resulted in ambiguous election results…”.

Following up on the Army’s apparent support for the EC, the junta’s Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam, poured ice water on the student’s demands for impeachment, saying the “process would be long as the [junta’s handpicked] Senate is required by law to forward the case to the [junta’s puppet] National Anti-Corruption Commission.” And, even if malfeasance is found by the NACC, it is the senate that decides whether to remove the EC officials.

In other words, Wissanu thumbed his nose at the students, essentially saying, expend your energy, but fat chance that anything will happen.

And then the usual dirty tricks began, manifested as repression.

Students at Kasetsart “were barred by the university from campaigning and collecting signatures from other students,” and uniformed and plainclothes police and the university’s security guards photographed the students before forcing them to campaign off campus. In fact, they were forced to move twice.

Kasetsart’s rector Jongrak Watcharinrat either lied or is non compos mentis that “he did not know about the incident and insisted that students have the right to hold any campaign on the campus as long as it’s not against the law.” We know he is in one of these states because the “university issued an announcement prohibiting any unauthorized activities from taking place on university grounds, and university officials told the students that the university cannot get involved in politics.”

Not only did the university and police thugs make the students move, but they reportedly “stopped some students from signing the petition…”.

One might have “hoped” that this was a case of one deep yellow set of anti-democrat administrators acting to protect the junta. Sadly, though, it appears that this is a junta-directed campaign against the anti-EC students, with Prachatai stating:

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that Chiang Mai University has also prohibited students from campaigning, claiming that the students did not ask for permission to use the space, and at Khon Kaen University, students said that police officers came to observe the campaign and questioned them. There was also a report that university officials also came to tell the students that the Faculty of Law did not allow them to use the space.

The whole election process, always bogus and rigged, is now being “validated” as a fraud by the actions of the junta and its thugs. But did anyone expect anything else from this regime?





Limiting academic freedom II

9 09 2018

A couple of weeks ago, PPT posted on the lackadaisical discussion of academic freedom in Thailand from an Australian-based historian. That blasé account was purportedly about the charging of the principal organizer and several others involved with the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies held at Chiang Mai University in 2017.

Interestingly, as a reader informs us, the Association for Asian Studies has now announced in an email to members that its next AAS-in-Asia conference will be held in Bangkok on July 1-4, 2019. In part, the announcement says:

The AAS-in Asia conferences offer opportunities for Asia-based scholars to interact with each other and their international colleagues. AAS is partnering with a five-university coalition of organizers led by Thammasat University; the other members of the coalition are Chiang Mai, Chulalongkorn, Kasetsart, and Mahidol Universities. In terms of travel, tourism, and obtaining necessary visa documents, Bangkok is known as an easily accessible hub in Southeast Asia.

It then goes on to discuss controversy.

At its most recent AAS-in-Asia, held in Delhi, India, before the event began it became clear that there were major issues of academic freedom, with the President of the AAS writing to members stating that the:

Government of India, while granting political clearance to the conference (a requirement under Indian law), has refused to issue conference visas to citizens of Pakistan or even to persons of Pakistani origin. The officers of the AAS (that means, currently, Katherine Bowie, Past President; Laurel Kendall, Past Past President; Prasenjit Duara, Vice President; and me, President) and all the members of the AAS Board of Directors abhor the exclusion of Pakistani scholars from the conference.

Abhorred, but went ahead, stating: “we believe our course of action is the right one under the circumstances, despite the heated objections that it has generated.”

Remarkably, the AAS has now chosen Thailand, ruled by a military junta. This time it is explained that the AAS:

is encountering challenges in determining venues for international academic conferences, ranging from finding host institutions with faculty and staff willing to take on the significant workload involved in organizing a conference with some 1,000 attendees, to facing the risk of becoming ensnared in the politics of governments in the countries in which the host institutions are located. The U.S. government itself has issued new regulations regarding visa applications from citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Although Thais remain hopeful that their country will have elections (current news reports are suggesting the possibility of early 2019), Thailand currently is ruled by a military junta. Nonetheless, our host partners affirm that holding the AAS-in-Asia conference in Thailand provides support for free academic inquiry in their country. In this spirit, the AAS Board of Directors voted in October 2017 to hold the 2019 AAS-in-Asia conference in partnership with this coalition of Thai universities.

The partners are Chiang Mai, Chulalongkorn, Kasetsart, and Mahidol Universities, none of which have recently been at the forefront of the promotion of academic freedom. To take one example, Chulalongkorn has several times prevented students from protesting (here and here). Several academics, including from Thammasat and Chulalongkorn have had to flee Thailand for fear of arrest for their academic writings that caused lese majeste charges. Others have been threatened by university administrations, assaulted on campus and attacked by the military.

That there may be a rigged “election” will not immediately change the repressive atmosphere that regularly sees military personnel in uniform patrolling university campuses and “inviting” students and academics to military bases for “attitude adjustment” session. There’s also massive censorship of online media and the domestic news media is not free from interference.

In addition, under the military government, films, discussions, seminars and more, related to Thailand and other countries, have been suppressed.

Even if there is a change of government following the junta’s rigged “election,” there are major topics of interest to academics working on Thailand and probably Myanmar, Cambodia, China and Vietnam that will be frowned upon. There will also be an effort to censor and self-censor discussion of anything to do with the monarchy and the military that is not laudatory.

Thailand seems a rather poor choice. But, as the AAS makes clear, visas will be relatively easy to get. Well, at least for those who are not already blacklisted or who face arrest in Thailand.





Providing a platform for dictatorship

10 04 2018

Chulalongkorn University’s administration has a reputation as a royal university. This often means that it has, through its history, provided a platform for dictatorial regimes.

It has done it again. The Nation reports that the university has invited The Dictator to speak at the university’s main auditorium on something called “Chulalongkorn University and the Driving of Thailand During the Transition.”

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said “his 20-year national strategy … was[not] part of a ‘plot’ to let him stay on in power.’ We agree. Rather, it is a strategy to allow the military to dominate and maintain power in its hands for 20 years.

Protests against The Dictator at Chula were limited. Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal appeared “with a facemask and ear plugs,” saying this ‘was because he found the place “full of air and noise pollution’. He also wore a mourning band to protest the university management’s decision to invite ‘a person like this’ to give a speech.”

Gen Prayuth spent his time defending his junta. The junta is struggling to defend a poor record. Chula’s administrators are trying to help him.





Pathetic royalist “university” V

11 09 2017

Having panicked several times, the people administering Chulalongkorn University seem to be spooked again. The problem is that it is their own actions, and the reactions to them, that cause the panic and spooking.

Worried about the reaction to events over a lecturer putting a student in a headlock and the university’s royalist reaction – blaming students – the administration released a statement for the international media. The statement essentially told that media to butt out of an “internal” affair, accusing foreigners of failing to understand “Thai culture.”

According to a report in Khaosod, these same duffers administering the royalist kindergarten have decided to “revise” their statement, toning it down.

Saying the statement hadn’t been properly vetted, officials said stronger language about the “shameful” actions of Ruengwit Bunjongrat, a professor and administrator, was removed after it was originally published.

“We published it on the website without careful deliberation,” Supawan Pipitsombat, a university spokeswoman said by phone. “It was the fault of our team.”

Getting its story straight seems to be rather too challenging for the dullards “administering” the university.





Updated: Pathetic royalist “university” IV

6 09 2017

Chulalongkorn University seems to be panicked, having realized that its international reputation is being self-trashed by its administration’s reaction to kerfuffle over its concocted royalist initiation ceremony for first-year students that descended into chaos a royalist botany assistant professor assaulted a student who was walking out.

Blaming the head of the Student Council, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal and barely concealing its ’s desire to be rid of the student activist, the administration kicked him and his colleagues off the elected Student Council. It was an administration coup.

Perhaps the administration has noted that Chulalongkorn’s international ranking in a recent list has it languishing in the 600-800 level, which is probably being generous and where its been languishing for the past three years. Given that reputation matters, its recent royalist ritual suicide is not helping that ranking.

At its royalist website, hidden away under an “archive,” the administration has several announcements, all trying to repair “damage” but actually revealing how puerile it is.

We won’t reproduce it all, but highlight a couple of points. It begins:

This statement is written in response to many news reports, articles and commentaries that appeared in the international press in relation to the recent ruling at Chulalongkorn University on a group of students for their disciplinary misconduct associated with their disruptive behavior at a university’s function in early August.  While we appreciate that members of the international press see our internal matter as newsworthy, there are a few clarifications that may deserve your consideration.

The implication is that Thais don’t need a “response,” that there was “disruptive behavior” and that the foreign media should butt out of  an “internal matter.”

None of this is true. Thai university administrators should not have impunity when they do stupid and costly things, even if it is in the name of royalist exaltation, and the international media will report such events that illustrate Thailand’s descent into feudalism. Watching the video of the event, the only disruption seems to be by university staff like the botanist.

At least the administration admits that “university is obliged to get its story straight…”. It might help if that story wasn’t a concoction. It claims to not have revealed student names; it has done so from the beginning. (Not that the students seem concerned by this, releasing documents and suchlike themselves.)

The administrators then claim that its ruling against the students “followed all routine procedures of the university’s disciplinary protocols.” It claims “[i]ndependent facts-finding and deliberation” which hardly seems likely. A bit like the rest of Thailand’s “independent” agencies.

It then tries to argue that “paying obeisance (thawai bangkhom)” is different from prostration. Readers can decide if this is fudging the issue.

Most remarkably, the administrators then seek to manipulate the role of the thug-professor, saying,

… an investigation and disciplinary procedure are underway for the lecturer who lost his temper and restrained [they mean assaulted] one of the students during the incident on 3 August.  While what happened was a shameful episode for the university, it is an act of one person and bears no relevance to the university’s policy.  This lecturer resigned from his position as assistant to the president (student affairs) since 7 August 2017, a few days after the unfortunate incident.

Of course, the same leniency cannot be given to the students and the administration seeks to separate the then assistant to the president (student affairs) from the university.

They then grumble that (foreign) journalists have not been “accurate, unbiased, and fair to our situation.”  And they again claim that this is a “purely an internal affairs that should not be linked with divisive politics and suppression of dissent which seem to be the dominant discourse or news frame presented in western and local English-language media.”

The impression is that the administrators think that “divisive politics and suppression of dissent” is an invention of foreign reporters.

Remarkably, they then appeal to conservative and royalist notions of “Thainess,” a favorite claim by all of Thailand’s anti-democrats, fascists and ultra-nationalists, including The Dictator:

Our university has a long history and a royal lineage that are imbued in our tradition and beliefs that may be uncommon to western liberal values.  Much that we support liberalism and freedom of expression, we also have our cultural roots and harmony to balance.

Their “position,” they say, “represents difference and diversity that is much valued in the West,” except that no difference and diversity was permitted from the students involved.

Administered by dunces, it is little wonder that this royalist kindergarten rank so low among the universities of the world.

Update: For more discussion of the illiberal royalism of Chulalongkorn University, see Prachatai’s take on the university’s anti-democratic declaration.





Pathetic royalist “university” III

3 09 2017

Chulalongkorn University’s concocted royalist initiation ceremony for first-year students that descended into chaos into chaos sees the university’s royalist administrators going royalist beserk.

When a group of students staged a walk out from the ridiculous prostration ceremony, one of them was put in a headlock by botany assistant professor Ruengwit Bunjongrat. The thug “professor” hid in a hospital and the university administration defended him.

Blaming the head of the Student Council, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal for the kerfuffle and barely concealing the administration’s desire to be rid of the student activist, it is replacing him and his colleagues with, they hope, appropriately royalist puppet Student Council.

The administration’s royalism is defended. They proudly declare that the students are not just renegades but unThai. The latter being a dangerously vicious attack on opponents usually the stuff of military thugs:

Disrespect to Thai morality, failing to maintain the university’s prestige and performing practices against Thai culture are among accusations faced by former student council president Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal and other seven students for allegedly misbehaving during Chulalongkorn University’s (CU) oath-taking ceremony.

As a result of breaking these rules, Netiwit and his colleagues have had their behaviour points deducted by 25 points. Since Netiwit and four others had served in the CU student council, they were removed from those posts.

The royalist administrators list the transgressions based on their kindergarten’s 1984 regulations on student discipline:

Article 4: “Students must always strictly follow all laws, rules, regulations, announcements or orders of the University or their faculty”;

Article 5: “Students must follow Thai good moral, ethical and cultural principles on all occasions”;

Article 6: “Students must maintain unity, orderliness and the University’s image and prestige”

Article 7: “Students must behave themselves gently and not behave in ways that may damage themselves, their parents, their guardians, or the University” and

Article 12: “Students must not perform any tradition or practice deemed inappropriate to Thai culture.”

The students are guilty of causing the royalist world to tremble ever so slightly:

Instead of sitting on the ground and paying their respects like all other students, they chose to walk away from their positions spots, and stood and bowed before statues of the late King Rama V and VI.

That show of respect was insufficient, causing the royalist administrators’ berserk reactions. As well as assaulting one student, the students are now accused of “misconduct.”





Pathetic royalist “university” II

1 09 2017

Just over two weeks ago, PPT posted on Chulalongkorn University’s terrible publicity over its concocted royalist initiation ceremony for first-year students that descended into chaos.

As a group of students staged a walk out, one of them was put in a headlock by a royalist botany assistant professor Ruengwit Bunjongrat. The thug “professor” hid in a hospital and the university administration defended him while blaming the head of the Student Council, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal.

The university’s “leadership” wants to be rid of because he has taken positions contrary to the royalism promoted by the administration. That “leadership” said it was “investigating.” But, taking its lead from the military junta, “investigating” involves blaming victims and those it sees as “enemies.” That meant investigating Netiwit, who was accused of “violating two university regulations.”

At the time we stated: Make no mistake, like the lese majeste case against Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, this is an attempt to frame Netiwit.

And he has been now been framed and ousted.

Netiwit has been thrown out as president of the “university’s” Student Council having had his “behaviour points were cut following the showdown at the [concocted] oath-giving ceremony for King Rama V on Aug 3.”

Four of his fellow council members, all a part of Netiwit’s activist group, “also faced the cuts and were disqualified too…”. They are “Thornthep Maneecharoen and Thatthep Ruangprapaikitseree, also from the Political Science Faculty; Supalak Bamrungkij from the Economics Faculty; and Chinnawat Ngamlamai from the Education Faculty.”

The removal of “behavior points” – who knew such a system existed! – disqualified “him from sitting in the council, according to its [the ‘university’] regulations.”

So far, no action has been taken against thug-assistant professor Ruengwit, who has gone very quiet. That’s a royalist tactic, hoping that his impunity can be maintained.

Thailand’s double standards are everywhere. Under the military dictatorship, royalist dolts and thugs are empowered to repress and order society, in all of its institutions.





Pathetic royalist “university” I

12 08 2017

Chulalongkorn University got some terrible publicity just over a week ago when a royalist initiation ceremony for first-year students descended into chaos after a group of students staged a walk out and one of them was put in a headlock by a royalist botany assistant professor Ruengwit Bunjongrat.

The assistant professor went off to a hospital and the university administration defended him, which only seemed to make the whole sad story worse. Initially it decided to “blame” the head of the Student Council, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, who the “leadership” wants to be rid of because he has taken positions contrary to the royalism promoted by the administration.

Rather too late, the university’s “leadership” mumbled something about “investigating.” But taking its lead from the military junta, “investigating” involves blaming victims and those it sees as “enemies.”

According to Khaosod, the university’s “leadership” is now “investigating the student activist it earlier blamed for an altercation during freshman induction in which a professor put a student in a headlock.”

A week later, the administration is back to blaming and “investigating” Netiwit, accusing him of “violating two university regulations.”

Make no mistake, like the lese majeste case against Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, this is an attempt to frame Netiwit.

He’s accused of having “intentionally performed an inappropriate act …when Netiwit and his friends walked out of the ceremony…”. Netiwit is also accused of “hosting a meeting on government property without permission…”.

The university’s vice president of student affairs reckons that Netiwit is guilty of insubordination and failing to recognize the hierarchy that requires students to grovel under the authority of the university’s staff.

No doubt the military junta is pleased with its subordinates who “administer” Thailand’s most royalist of indoctrination centers.