Pathetic royalist “university”

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.





Updated: Ultra-royalist professors attack students

4 08 2017

The desire of royalists to see everyone kowtowing to monarchy has become a crusade for many, egged on by the royalist regimes of recent years. The ballooning use of lese majeste is only one element of this. There’s also the multitude of “little” enforcements, many aimed at students, making them acknowledge hierarchy and status.

One might have thought that by the time students got to university, such childish royalism might have been more limited. But in Thailand’s infantile world of royalists who think they need to make the “children” kowtow to the seniors/teachers/royals, there’s uniforms, royalist ceremonies (many “invented” recently and said to be “traditional”) and royalist propaganda deluging universities (not to mention military thugs and other “authorities,” in uniform and plainclothes).

One of the saddest stories we have seen coming out of Thailand under the military dictatorship is from Chulalongkorn University, a bastion of ultra-royalists and political yellow shirts.

The Bangkok Post’s story is of the “freshmen initiation ceremony at Chulalongkorn University,” itself a ridiculous effort to enforce hierarchy and to instill royalism, said to have “descended into chaos and controversy when a group of students staged a walk out and one of them was put in a chokehold by a lecturer.”

Yes, you read that right, a university-level “lecturer” attacked a student. It is Khaosod that identifies the “lecturer” as “assistant professor Ruengwit Bunjongrat.” We clipped this picture from his page at the Botany Department, where he is listed as holding a Masters degree.

Khaosod also has some video of the event, where another unnamed professor tries to stop it being filmed, cursing the student filming as an “asshole.” It says the student who was assaulted by the royalist Ruengwit was Supalak Damrongjit, who is a fourth-year student at the Faculty of Economics and also vice president of student council.

This royalist assault took place at one of the invented traditions at Chula which had students dressed in white uniforms made to sit on the ground in a very light rain and “prostrating themselves to pay respect to the monument of the university’s founder, King Rama V, and take an oath before the monument.”

Student activist and president of Chulalongkorn University’s Student Council Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, who “has campaigned against sitting on the ground and prostrating during the ceremony,” claimed “a deputy university rector promised that the university would provide an area for students who did not want to sit on the ground.”

He says “the lecturers broke these promises as all students were ordered to sit on the ground to pay their respects…”.

Netiwit walked out. That was when the assistant professor grabbed another student in a headlock and abused him.

One of the university’s deputy rectors, Associate Professor Bancha Chalapirom, babbled that “the university did not force students to sit while it was raining. He said there was a slight drizzle and students agreed to carry with the ceremony and were given raincoats.” He says no one was forced to sit or prostrate.

That seems neither here nor there as the professors tried to stop students leaving the ceremony.

Bancha “described” the events leading “up to the professor restraining the student…”. He says:

“The freshmen paid respects three times, recited their oath and sang the song. But during the ceremony, Netiwit and his friends came out to pay respects in an awkward way as the student council. This made the officials overseeing the ceremony come out and pull them aside, and though it looks like an assault, it wasn’t…”.

Bancha said royalist Ruengwit is “hospitalized for stress after the incident went public.” We have no sympathy. But Bancha went further declaring the attacker as “a person who loves students and didn’t want anything to happen, so he went to pull out the students…”. Royalist love can be tough love. Ask those who have survived murderous royalist attacks in the past.

When all Thais should be ashamed, yellow shirt social media is fulsome in its praise of the royalist thug professors.

Update: Kong Rithdee at the Bangkok Post has an insightful op-ed on this shameful royalist assault

… you just can’t manhandle your students like that, no matter how many wrestling matches you’ve watched or how detestable you find youthful activism. Physically restraining a student who might or might not have shown disrespect, by a professor of all people, and in a public gathering being observed by reporters? What can we expect next? Baptism by fire? A crucifixion?…

Like everything in Thailand these days, the Chulalongkorn incident is symptomatic of a heavily polarised nation. Every dispute, every conflict, every argument reignites the debate between tradition and progress, between the reactionary and reformist, between the headlocker and headlocked. Even the most respected institute of higher learning, supposedly the nation’s cradle of intellectualism, has become a mud-filled, gladiatorial pit where underdog fighters face the wrath of their Roman rulers. They got the thumbs-down and look what happened….

Like everything in Thailand these days, the Chulalongkorn incident is symptomatic of a heavily polarised nation. Every dispute, every conflict, every argument reignites the debate between tradition and progress, between the reactionary and reformist, between the headlocker and headlocked. Even the most respected institute of higher learning, supposedly the nation’s cradle of intellectualism, has become a mud-filled, gladiatorial pit where underdog fighters face the wrath of their Roman rulers. They got the thumbs-down and look what happened.

And that’s fine. A university should be a battleground for ideological contests. What isn’t fine is anger manifesting itself through violence. Without being alarmist, sometimes it’s good to remember that Oct 6, 1976 didn’t happen in a vacuum. One thing lead to another, and another, and then to something that could never be undone.





Unleashing barbarism

9 05 2017

Prachatai reports that “[t]wo belligerent youths have entered Chulalongkorn University to look for Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a progressive student activist recently elected as the Student Council’s president of Chulalongkorn University.”

On 8 May 2017, two thugs “rode a motorcycle onto the university’s campus in Bangkok and visited the Political Science Faculty to look for Netiwit.” These thugs “reportedly used threatening language to ask for the whereabouts of the student activist.”

Netiwit filed a complaint with police, stating:

Please give me and the new generation opportunities to prove ourselves. If [you] think differently, it is alright, but we should talk if [you] really love Thai society. Do not let the world and other people see that our society is a barbaric one that favours violence. I am afraid of course, but I shall continue to fight….

This threat came after The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha publicly criticized and chastised Netiwit.

We have seen this unleashing of thugs before. In a post in 2012, we said

PPT doesn’t think it a coincidence that as the Army chief [General Prayuth Chan-0cha] returns to threatening behavior that the (relatively quiet) Nitirat group receives threats. At Prachatai it is reported that on 17 August, members of Nitirat “went to Chanasongkhram Police Station to file a complaint after mysterious men had been seen at their [Thammasat University] offices taking photographs of their schedules to meet students.”

Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut told Prachatai that “similar incidents had seemed to happen more frequently lately at the campus in Tha Phrachan.”

This followed an attack by two thugs on a motorcycle on Worachet, who was beaten up. Prayuth had led a coterie of right-wingers and royalists in criticizing and chastising Nitirat and Worachet for proposing changes to the lese majeste law.

In other words, as well as unleashing official thugs on a daily basis against political opponents, General Prayuth now has form for inciting vigilantes. That behavior is in line with political tactics used by Thailand’s military over several decades.

Thailand under military regimes is violent and barbaric.





Planking for dead monarchs

6 05 2017

Planking was a short-lived fad that had dopes worldwide posting photos of themselves and others prostrated and face down in various spots and situations.

Not in Thailand, where it is an enforced “display” of “loyalty” to dead and living feudal potentates.

Activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, recently elected to head the Chulalongkorn University Student Council, has said that he might campaign for students to be able to decide whether to abide by the royalist university’s demand that students prostrate themselves before the statue of King Chulalongkorn at an annual ceremony.

The idea of belly-flopping before a statue of a dead king who just happens to be the king who ruled that his subjects didn’t need to prostrate themselves, seeing the practice as feudal and uncivilized, is weird in itself. But, then, the administrators want to enforce hierarchy just like their allies in the junta.

Now Netiwit has been chastised by The Dictator, who is a big fan of the royal belly-flop.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha sent a message to Netiwit and to the Chulalongkorn administrators when he said the idea that students to be given the choice was a terrible idea. He warned: “This could tarnish the reputation of the institution…”. He referred to the royal planking as a “good tradition.” He said prostration was “charming.” Charming like torturing Army recruits, perhaps, as it maintains the appropriate social order and required hierarchy.

Good traditions, he said, need to be preserved, as they were “charms” of the country. He displayed his historical ignorance by declaring prostration a display that showed people “proud of our good history and it should be preserved.”

It would be useful if Prayuth could actually read and understand the history of King Chulalongkorn’s decision on prostration. We can help, quoting from Wikipedia:

In 1873, the Royal Siamese Government Gazette published an announcement on the abolition of prostration. In it, King Chulalongkorn declared, “The practice of prostration in Siam is severely oppressive. The subordinates have been forced to prostrate in order to elevate the dignity of the phu yai. I do not see how the practice of prostration will render any benefit to Siam. The subordinates find the performance of prostration a harsh physical practice. They have to go down on their knees for a long time until their business with the phu yai ends. They will then be allowed to stand up and retreat. This kind of practice is the source of oppression. Therefore, I want to abolish it.” The Gazette directed that, “From now on, Siamese are permitted to stand up before the dignitaries. To display an act of respect, the Siamese may take a bow instead. Taking a bow will be regarded as a new form of paying respect.”

In fact, Prayuth wants prostration for all the reasons the king abolished it.

We have no problem with Prayuth rubbing himself along the ground, but forcing others to do it is oppressive, harsh and does little to elevate his dignity.

But here’s what’s worse than this. Prayuth’s historically false claims were made “in a keynote speech at Mahidol University on the roles of Thai universities.”

That any university considers Prayuth worthy of addressing its academics and students is an insult. We are sure that does not occur to the royalist anti-democrats who control all of Thailand’s universities.

Netiwit responded: “Who is the nation’s embarrassment?” He went on to say that “in the eyes of young people like him, Prayut had tainted the country’s reputation for more than three years after staging the 2014 coup and restricting human rights.”

Netiwit added some home truths that will enrage The Dictator: “He should respect the rules of the country. If he has political ambitions, he should form a political party…. By staging the coup, he did not abide by the rules.”