Defending the indefensible

24 08 2010

Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, Charas Suwanmala, while admitting that he has received his information from the lecturer involved, is reported by Prachatai to have defended  Weerasak Krueathep’ s decision to prevent students from demonstrating at an event meant to celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the Faculty with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as a guest. PPT’s earlier post is here. Of course, Abhisit attended an overseas university, not the royalist Chula.

According to a Matichon report cited by Prachtai, Charas said that “Weerasak did not overreact” when he ripped posters away from students, and also contended that this action was “reasonable, and not in violation of the rights of the students.”  In fact, he was doing his job as an organizer of the event and ensuring that it “went smoothly.” Weerasak seemed convinced that the naughty students would have signs that “would contain vulgar messages like those of the red shirts, so he seized them.” It seems pretty clear that Weerasak was simply worried that students carrying any kind of red shirt message would embarrass the premier, himself and the royalist university.

The Dean went further, insisting that Weerasak would not suppress students’ freedom of expression.  The point is that he did. Charas the adds that his Faculty “has been open for all colours.”  In fact, he says, “open, more than any other university…”. His claim that Weerasak would have let the students protest if he’d been made aware in advance of all the details seems lame.

Weerasak admits that the “PM’s security team alerted him to a group of students standing among students he had organized to greet the PM.  The group carried folded placards in their hands.  He approached them and asked to see the placards.  He had to repeat the demand, but the students tried to walk away. So he snatched the placards, but not by force.” [snatch: v. to make a sudden effort to seize something]

Dean Charas is dissembling. He has a well-known reputation as a staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow Chula academic Tul Sitthisomwong, in demonstrating against red shirts by dressing in royalist pink. Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn an oath before the statue of King Rama VI to protect the nation [from nasty red shirts]. Their crowd chanted royalist slogans, sang royalist songs and demanded that Abhisit not dissolve the House, which was the only red shirt demand at the time. Leaflets claiming Thaksin Shinawatra had defamed the king were also distributed.

Also in April, Charas joined with other royalist academics such as People’s Alliance for Democracy ideologue Chai-Anan Samudvanij, Pramual Wirutamasen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of the National Institute of Development Administration and royalist ideologue Pramote Nakhonthap in attacking red shirts. And as to his ideas about freedom and democracy, in July, Charas talked about democracy (see here). Charas makes it clear that democracy, while a noble goal, is potentially dangerous. Not least when vote-buying looms so large (at least in his mind).

In other words, given his track record, it is predictable that Charas would support a fellow yellow-shirted academic. If readers think us unfair, ask these questions: 1. What support did Charas provide for his colleague Ji Ungpakorn, harassed in his publishing and then chased into exile by royalist claims of lese majeste?; and 2. How vocal was Charas in supporting his colleague Suthachai Yimprasert when he was arrested on flimsy charges under the draconian emergency decree? It is clear that Charas has double standards.

Updated: Yellow academics

8 04 2010

Update: Available in Thai as “นักวิชาการเหลือง” from Liberal Thai.

The Bangkok Post (8 April 2010) reports on what might be called “dueling letters” as various academics call for or oppose a House dissolution. The latest is from the most yellow of yellow shirted academics. Others were reported here, here and here.

Now “303 academics at universities throughout the country on Thursday signed a statement opposing the use of violence and ‘unreasonable’ demands for a House dissolution, and calling on the the government to implement political and social reforms.  They said people can exercise their right to a political gathering under the constitution, but they should be condemned if they cause trouble for other people through intimidation and threats.  They called on the government to maintain the sanctity of the law and restore peace in society as soon as possible, before the country suffers more damage. In conducting political and social reforms, the government should be sincere and take the opinions of people of all sectors into consideration.”

The academics signing are led by Chai-Anan Samudvanij, the President of the Royal Institute, Pramual Wirutamasen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of the National Institute of Development Administration, Charas Suwanmala, dean of the Faculty of Political Science of Chulalongkorn University, and Pramote Nakhonthap, said to be “an independent academic.”

PPT sees all of these names individuals as People’s Alliance for Democracy stalwarts, and in some instances, simply academic stooges. They are operatives for PAD.

Chai-Anan is one of Sondhi Limthongkul’s allied academics, and PPT has posted on him previously, here and here where his use of the Finland Plot (along with Pramote Nakhonthap, who wrote the discredited 5-part article titled ‘Finland Strategy: Thailand’s Revolution Plan?’, that appeared in the Manager on 17, 19, 22, 23 and 24 May 2006, is also mentioned.

The Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University is the most yellow of faculties in the most yellow of universities. PPT had a relevant post here. Dean Pramual Wirutamasen was one of those who brought the complaint to the Election Commission that had the snap 2006 election annulled and earlier called on Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to resign.

A more staunch opponent of Thaksin Shinawatra, all of his related parties and the red shirts than Sombat Thamrongthanyawong would be harder to find. Yet he is still regularly cited in the media as if he is independent. He was one of the academics appointed by the military junta to the National Legislative Assembly in 2006. He earlier approved of another petition to get rid of Thaksin.

Charas Suwanmala has never hidden his yellow shirt, and was most recently seen changing it to pink, along with other royalists.

We mentioned Pramote Nakornthap above in respect of the Finland Plot. He was also one of those said to have helped arrange and been at the dinner at the Sukhumvit residence of Piya Malakul, chairman of Pacific Intercommunications company, in early May 2006, and attended by big shots including judges, businessmen, and Privy Councilor General Surayud Chulanont where there was allegedly discussion of how to get rid of Thaksin.

“Academics” doesn’t seem like the appropriate description of their work.

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