Harder repression

18 01 2021

While the big protests are on hold, guerrilla-style actions have continued. Over the past few days, it has become clear that the regime is taking advantage of virus restrictions to take a hard line against protesters.

The reporting on this include stories on an action at the Victory Monument “organised for protesters to write their opinions on a long fabric banner about Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s failures in handling crisis situations, as well as urging the abolition of lese majeste law, also known as Article 112, as symbolised by the 112-metre long banner.” The police surrounded protesters and quite violently arrested two leaders “of the pro-democracy group Guard Plod Aek … on Saturday afternoon…”.

Those arrested were “taken to Phya Thai Police Station and charged with violating the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations and the Communicable Disease Act, before being sent to Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters in Pathum Thani province.” Other participants were aggressively dispersed by the police.

Demonstrators also gathered near the Samyan Mitrtown complex on Saturday evening. There were reportedly “about 10 anti-establishment protesters were rallying on the ground floor of Sam Yan Mitrtown, opposite Chamchuri Square, to demand the release of their colleagues, being held at the Region 1 Border Patrol Police Bureau … for various offences related to [the earlier] protests…”. They were targeted by unknown assailants who lobbed an ping-pong bomb that injured two – a citizen and a reporter – or four people – “anti-riot police officers and a reporter were slightly injured” – depending on the report read. A later report seemed more definitive stating that those injured were “two policemen, a reporter for The Standard online news site, and another civilian…”.

Prachatai reports a third “flash mob” at the Ministry of Education, and states that at least eight people were arrested at the two sites, for demonstrating, not bombing. It also reports on the aggressive policing, stating that the small demonstration at Samyan was met by “several hundred crowd control police arrived at the scene and took control of Sam Yan intersection. The police also brought in many detention trucks.”

Police later stated that the explosive “device was similar to the type used on November 25th in front of The Avenue Ratchayothin, following a rally by the Ratsadon protesters…”. They reportedly found “nails, wire and black electrical tape at the scene of the explosion.” Prachatai claims that the police have “detained 4 suspects, 2 men and 2 women…”.  iLaw reported “that their phones were seized and they were not informed where they would be taken.” It is unclear who these people are.

Prachatai refers to a change in police tactics:

The overwhelming police reaction involving the deployment of large numbers of officers, aggressive engagement, and the speedy arrest and despatch of suspects to Pathum Thani for interrogation is a shift in their modus operandi against pro-democracy activities.

This response was seen at the shrimp-selling activity staged by the WeVo group on 31 December, 2020, where around 500 police aggressively dispersed and arrested people who were trying to help struggling shrimp farmers sell shrimps.

No law currently allows the police to transfer arrestees for interrogation to the facility of their choosing. The severe state of emergency, which did enable them to do so, was withdrawn in October 2020. The Criminal Procedure Code authorizes police to detain and interrogate people only at the police station responsible for the area where the alleged offence occurred.

The regime is lawless and operates with total impunity.

More monarchy indoctrination needed

26 12 2020

While the military’s regime continues to use “law” to repress anti-monarchism, The Nation reports the ultraroyalist Thai Pakdee group is demanding more royalist  indoctrination.

One might puzzle as to how “more” is even possible in a land simply flooded by palace propaganda. But, for the ultras, floods can be ever deeper, drowning out anti-royalism.

The mad monarchists, led by the man with the golden ear, Warong Dechgitvigrom, have “submitted a letter to Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan on Wednesday, asking him to launch five measures to promote protection of national institutions.” Here, they mean nation, religion and monarchy.

The group’s leader, Warong Dechgitvigrom, said the move aimed to prevent politicians and activist networks from using teachers and students as tools to encroach on the “three pillars” of nation, religion and the monarchy.

The proposals for the monarchy are based on their belief that unnamed “politicians” are behind the students, manipulating them. They usually mean Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and his colleagues, but deep yellow social media also mumbles about Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thai Pakdee wants to keep “politicians” and “activists” off campus, school staff to “support” the “institutions,” while not supporting the same “politicians” and “activists,” and for schools and their administrators to be held responsible for “any activities held under their jurisdiction that encroach on national institutions.”

You get the picture. This is royalist fascism, allowing royalists to determine who is not sufficiently royalist and repressing them. School administrators are threatened. To add to the general impression of enveloping, suffocating royalist fascism, the mad monarchists demand that the Education Ministry “improve the curriculum to promote pride in being Thai” and increase indoctrination of staff.

Book burning is probably the next step.

As might be expected, the Minister for Education gave the royalists his support.

Students rising

6 09 2020

There have been some very useful commentaries on students rising, including at New Mandala and in The Economist. The latter mentions that the students currently demonstrating are children of some who supported the royalist anti-democrats in 2013-14.

If the military and its royalist regime were hoping that arresting outspoken student and activists and waiting out the students would see rallies end, they were misguided.

The arrests and charges continue. The jailed activists Arnon Nampa and Panupong Jadnok have been a focus of rallies, with student protesters using white ribbons tied on the Bangkok Remand Prison gate and calling for their release. The rally was not just for them: “there are others who face injustice and there are many who are being charged just for speaking the truth.”

The students were joined by Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Pannika Wanich, formerly of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, “urging officials to release two pro-democracy activists…”.

Including those jailed, those arrested are expressing defiance. Dechatorn “Hockhacker” Bamrungmuang of Rap Against Dictatorship has restated his support for the student’s demands:

I agree with the original three demands; stop harassing the people, dissolve the parliament, and rewrite the constitution. And I also support the 10 demands [on the monarchy] of Thammasat (University) students to reform the monarchy. It must be reformed to fit with the times.

The largest rally in recent days has been the Bad Student demonstration at the Ministry of Education, when “[h]undreds of high school students demonstrated … on Saturday to demand reform of an education system…”.

Clipped from Bangkok Post

Pannika also showed up for the students at the Ministry: “She said she wanted to encourage students to express their opinions freely because they have the liberty to do so.” Others supporting the students were: Juthathip Sirikan, president of the Student Union of Thailand, singer Chaiamorn “Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan and democracy activist Nutta Mahattana.

The students made political statements, “sport[ing] white ribbons that have become a symbol of the broader youth-led protest movement…. They also blew whistles — mocking Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, a former co-leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee…”.

Meanwhile, others are pushing the protest envelope further, preparing for the next big rally, planned for 19 September. Parit Chiwarak vowed that protest speakers would “continue to discus reform of the monarchy at the rally…”.

Updated: School kids vs illegitimate power

18 08 2020

Geriatric rightists are up in arms about high school kids and their acts of defiance, that include three-fingered anti-junta salutes during the national anthem rightist ritual and answering questions in class with three-fingered arm raises.

Clipped from Khaosod

One reaction was from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s Nataphol Teepsuwan, who is now education minister. He declared that school kids expressing political thoughts should be charged: “If students do something illegal, I support administration in pursuing legal matters…”. He added:

If teachers can explain to students, that would be good. Paying respect to the flag is a commendable, beautiful thing that we want to keep. I don’t want demonstrations that cause division. Demonstrating is their right, but delicate matters like these can cause division.

He was supporting school administrators who had called police to clamp down on their students political actions:

The policemen arrived in the morning at Samsenwittayalai School and took photos of the pupils wearing white ribbons in solidarity with the anti-government movement across the country. The students will also hold up blank papers at 3pm to call for freedom of expression amid widespread attempts to silence the protests.

Another school in Nonthaburi province places a ban on political gathering inside its campus – joining a growing number of educational establishments who impose similar policies.

“The school does not have policies to support any activities aimed to create division against the system of Democracy with the King as the Head of State,” a statement released by the Bodindecha Sing Singhaseni Nonthaburi School says.

Some students faced violence from teachers, enraging them.

As a result, the Bad Student activist group plans to “march on the education ministry on Wednesday to protest its perceived reluctance to defend students’ rights to protest.” They are targeting “minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, who failed to condemn acts of violence and harassment against student protesters in recent days.”

Seemingly not understanding much at all, the minister asked: “why are they chasing me out? Is it because I don’t have any administrative skills? Is it because I don’t fix the education ministry’s problems?”

He conveniently forgets that he is a rightist supporter of the military coup, the junta and the illegitimate government. The junta rewarded its PDRC allies following the coup and continues to have several PDRC rightists as ministers and in other positions.

Update: The Bangkok Post reports that the ministry has “sent a letter to directors of education around the country asking them to let students engage in protest activities within the scope of the law.” This seems a regime strategy to defuse protest, emphasizing legalities and preventing “division.”

A uniformed hierarchy

13 01 2019

It was easy to miss or to dismiss: a private school decided to let its students wear whatever they wanted, one day a week, for six weeks or so. By this, they meant that, on the day, students were not required to wear a uniform.

Uniforming them early

It is common to see Thais in uniform. Royals have hundreds of them, even for pets.

This reflects a society that is rigidly hierarchical and that has been militarized. School students are regimented and uniformed at every level of education from kindergarten to university.

The school said the one-day exercise was so students could “wear casual clothes to express their individuality and creativity…”. Such notions are anathema to Thailand’s ruling elite and especially to military types.

Presumably they are also somewhat surprising for average Thais who have internalized militarized notions that uniforms make for an orderly society.

Training “good” royalist lads at Vajiravudh College

Roger Crutchley usually writes a Bangkok Post column that humorous reflection on an older Thailand. This week, however, he reflects on the uniform “revolution.” He observes:

Reports that Bangkok Christian College is allowing students to wear casual clothes once a week might seem a trivial tale, but it could cause a few ructions in Thailand. This is a country where even university students wear uniforms and any thoughts about breaking out from this conformity are frowned upon. After all, it might spark “self-expression” which will send shudders down the spine of the education establishment. The next thing they know, students even might start asking meaningful questions.

Orderly and uniformed

Morally unacceptable but still a uniform

The policing of school uniforms in Thailand has been more rigorous than teaching the basic subjects. Regimenting students – uniform, hair cuts, parroting fascist slogans and inculcating hierarchical values and subservience – is, for many in the ruling class, absolutely critical for the maintenance of their privilege. It is as if policing uniforms is necessary for maintaining a moral, upright and ordered nation.

Unacceptable uniforming causes moral panic.

But even unacceptable uniforms seem superior to no uniform at all. No uniforms seems to mean the collapse of the world as the ruling class knows it.

Prachatai reports that following the first day of the Bangkok Christian College experiment, the Ministry of Education have sprung into action and want to “halt the experiment and stop other schools from copying it even though the rules say it is OK.”

No rules broken, except for the rule of hierarchy that all Thais are forced to inculcate and follow. To maintain hierarchy,

Maintaining hierarchy

The Office of the Private Education Commission (OPEC) has sent an official letter to Bangkok Christian College, a famous private school, asking it to review its initiative. Mr. Chalam Attatham, Secretary-General of OPEC, said that OPEC is worried about discipline, orderliness, the expense for parents, teachers’ responsibility, the Thai social context and social problems that might arise.

Chalerm wanted the school to restore order and maintain the hierarchy. He opined:

Bangkok Christian College must consult its board and report back to the Ministry of Education, because what students can wear in private schools still comes under the 2008 MOE Uniform Rules. We understand that the school’s executive team and teachers have consulted each other and want to do research on student uniforms for 6 weeks, but we want them to look deeper than that into what effects it will have during the experiment. After all, the MOE, if anything happens, has to reconsider this. If other private schools want to do anything, they should think carefully about the consequences of their actions. A school board has to be strong about this….

The junta’s Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin immediately jumped into the fray. After all, he knows what uniforms are about as he wears them and serves men wearing them. He reinforced the hierarchy, saying:

The reason we must have uniforms is because wearing uniforms is a matter of tradition and culture since the time of Rama V, who said that apart from setting discipline, having student uniforms narrows the gap between the rich and the poor.

Discipline, tradition, hierarchy, maintaining the social, political and economic power of the ruling class. Of course, the military knows how to deal with recalcitrant students and has, several times, violently intervened to maintain those values of the ruling class.

Students in 1976 (a Lombard photo)

The current military junta has maintained strict control of universities and has changed the curriculum in schools to maintain its “values.” This has involved “training” students with military discipline.

Controlling students

In fact, one of the junta’s tasks in “returning happiness” to the people has been to reinstate “orderliness.” Erasing challenges to the monarchy – the institution at the top of the hierarchy – has been critical. The military knows that monarchists are more submissive to the hierarchy.

“Uneducate” them

19 12 2016

We at PPT are not education specialists. However, we did see something in a story on Thailand’s poor PISA results.

The story explains how Thailand languishes in the bottom quarter of the 70 countries that have their students tested every three years on science, math and reading. It then asks why Singapore and Vietnam have been successful.


Royalists show the poor what they think

Finally, the story gets to Thailand: what’s wrong? An academic from Chulalongkorn University’s Education Faculty observes that “the PISA results reflect serious disparities between students in well-known schools and students in rural areas.” In other words, a lack of equity.

New Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin “admitted he was also disappointed with the performance of Thai students.” He agreed that the results “reflected a huge gap in ability between students in elite schools and those in underprivileged schools.”

Teerakiat only just got his position. Until a couple of days ago, the Ministry was headed by a general with Teerakiat and another general as deputy ministers. Today, there’s one general as a deputy minister.

Inequality in schools and generals go together.

We say this because Thailand’s elite doesn’t really care about education except as a means for imparting propaganda and instilling notions of hierarchy and order.

The rich don’t send their kids to the average school. They go to expensive schools or get into the top-ranked public schools (which are essentially reserved for the elite). The rich, like the military, prefer average schools to beat hierarchy and order into the population. Most important, they expect the lower classes to be trained to respect and honor their “betters.”

PISA results reflect this desire to control Thailand so that the royalist elite can exploit, dominate and luxuriate.

Get ’em young

28 05 2016

Royalists like to get their propaganda started young. Many readers will have seen the Prachatai story on the kindergarten in Khon Kaen that instills “discipline” and, presumably, notions of hierarchy by making the children wear military-style uniforms once a week.

In fact, while this school is getting ’em young, one of the reasons the education system in Thailand is so awful is because schools are designed to promote loyalty, hierarchy and royalism as values far more significant for the elite than educating children more broadly and critically. That’s all one of the reasons that “reforming” education is so bitterly resisted by the elite who prefer servile and cheap labor rather than educated persons coming out of schools and universities.

Like others probably did, we thought of Nazism and children and notions of loyalty and nationalism.

The most revealing part of the report was this:

Arun Phosi, the kindergarten’s head teacher, told the media that the uniforms are part of the school’s ‘Little Soldiers of Princess Mother’ project, which aims to teach students discipline and educate them about the contribution of the late Princess Srinagarindra, King Bhumibol’s mother.

“Educate” is clearly the wrong word. Arun must mean “indoctrinate.”

Education hub?

4 08 2015

This is a reasonably old story, sent to us by a reader some time ago, but worth posting as an illustration of the delusional nature of the current regime.

The propaganda department reports that the Ministry of Education is in the process of “establishing a center to develop Thailand as the education hub of ASEAN.”

Our eyes widened when reading this. This is the Thailand where the manifold:

… weaknesses in Thailand’s education system are well documented, with O-Nets, Pisa, Timms and World Bank reports all highlighting Thailand’s lack of progress and the urgency with which reforms are needed. These reports have also emphasised the gross educational inequalities which disadvantage students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, rural areas and ethnic minorities.

This is the Thailand of the military dictatorship that has:

… created a list of “12 National Values,” and since last October has required that every student recite the values at the start of their school day. Critical thinking is conspicuously absent from the list. Instead, the values promote order, respect and honor of authority, discipline of body and mind, economic modesty, and selflessness.

This is the Thailand where the military dictatorship has made the Ministry of Education a North Korea-like Ministry of Propaganda. This Ministry of Propaganda is led by an admiral. That military dunce agreed with the North Korean Ambassador to Thailand that “the education systems of both countries are rather similar…”.

This is the Thailand that arrests student activists who demand democracy. It is the Thailand where real education reformers are intimidated and spied on.

Somehow, the military junta has convinced itself that this Thailand is somehow going to be taken sriously by Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and even Vietnam will take its military propaganda seriously. This delusional vision was explained by a military mouthpiece:

Deputy Government Spokesman Maj. Gen. Sansern Kaeokamnerd said the goal of the ministry’s development of Thailand as the ASEAN education hub was to internationalize education in the junior-high and high school levels. These schools must be prepared to provide education for both Thai and foreign students in ASEAN. The center would also act as a source of information and research on ASEAN and train people for competition in the regional level….

Apparently, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “agreed with the establishment of the center which was in line with the government’s national reform efforts and preparations for the AEC…”.

Men who have made their lives and careers through loyalty to hierarchy and by polishing the posteriors of their bosses and idols can’t imagine any other “education.”

They are delusional.

Dictating to the kids

16 07 2015

The Minister of Education is an Admiral. Most sensible people wouldn’t consider a career as a military bureaucrat and toady a qualification for this position. Yet the military dictatorship wants to get kids early and indoctrinate them, and the military believes its men are skilled in propaganda. Repression and propaganda are twinned by dictators.

The Bangkok Post reports that, at the prompting of The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Ministry has worked at lightening speed to produce a new curriculum to use the subjects “history, civic duty and moral education” to:

foster knowledge and understanding about history and civic duty, and promote loyalty to and respect for the three major pillars of Thai society — the nation, religion, and the monarchy.

The sufficiency economy “philosophy” will also be forced upon students at an early age.

We doubt the claim that “the ministry had conducted studies, collected data, and organised brainstorming sessions with various sectors to develop the curriculum…”. The Ministry did as it was instructed by the military dictators.

Hatters at work

28 11 2014

Some readers will be aware that fascist regimes have often exhibited an interest in science. More broadly, gaining the compliance and quiescence of the citizenry is the stuff of science, quackery and management studies. Nazis, the CIA and many more have tried to manipulate opponents and citizens alike.

Thailand’s military has long engaged in psyops, initially with the support of the U.S. (clicking downloads a very large PDF).

The current military dictatorship has spent some time trying to inculcate “right thoughts” in the populace and in “re-educating” those who do not get with the regime’s view of the world. Its propaganda has been heavy on royalism, hierarchy and following The Leader.

In a revealing account at Khaosod, a ‘top education official has claimed that psychological research is being conducted to persuade Thai students to live their lives in accordance with the teachings of the leader of Thailand’s military junta.”

This “top official” is Sutthasri Wongsaman, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education, is not likely to win any award for originality or for self awareness, stating that “the Ministry is working closely with the National Research Commission of Thailand (NRCT) to better promote … [the] adoption of [The Leader’s] ‘Twelve Values,’ a series of morals that Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, chairman of the military junta, says all Thais should adopt.”

The so-called fascist research is “aimed at students in schools and colleges across the country…”. Remarkably, this “research” seems to have told the dopes in government that “to alter the behaviour of humans, memorising text or singing isn’t enough…”.

The dopes must have been staggered! For almost 70 years they have been promoting royalism through cult of personality and similar didactic approaches and now they learn it doesn’t work!

They now find that Animal Farm Thailand “requires a practical adoption, so we can teach children and youths to know about their duty under the democratic principle [sic].” Good luck with that! No one takes The Leader’s pretensions seriously.

Staggeringly daft, brought up on the smell of mercury.