Junta intimidates high school student opposing 12 Thai values

After a group of students launched a campaign against the coup makers’ controversial nationalistic 12 Thai Values, which have been imposed on the curriculum, the military has intimidated a Grade 11 student in a bid to stop her from challenging the regime. The Education Minister also thinks the students might be abnormal.

The junta reportedly called the director of the school to ask about the student activist in order to pressure the school, while the student activist insisted on carrying on with her activities for academic freedom

Education Minister Admiral Narong Pipatanasai said on Wednesday that the student group opposing the nationalistic 12 values might be abnormal.

“We have to ask if any of the 12 values is not good. Just try to recite it. The first is love the nation and religion. The second is honesty and sacrifice. From 1-12, these values are flawless. If the imposition of the 12 values is wrong, we have to see if those [opposing this] are abnormal,” said Narong.

On Wednesday, Nattanan Warintarawet, aka Nice, Secretary-General of the Education for Liberation of Siam (ELS), a student association comprised mostly of high school students who oppose the junta’s education reform based on morality stipulated by the so called 12 Thai values, revealed that the military had phoned the director of Triam Udom Suksa school in central Bangkok, where she is studying, to ask about her and ELS activists.

After the phone call, many of her teachers asked whether the ELS activities have defied the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s orders.

The school has not taken any action against her yet, Nattanan told Prachatai. 

Nantanan, the secretary general of Education for Liberation of Siam, (second from the right) reads the ELS's stance in front of the Ministry of Education on 14 October.

The so-called 12 traditional Thai values invented by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader, after the coup d’état in May are:

  1. Love for the nation, religions and monarchy
  2. Honesty, patience and good intentions for the public
  3. Gratitude to parents, guardians and teachers
  4. Perseverance in learning
  5. Conservation of Thai culture
  6. Morality and sharing with others
  7. Correct understanding of democracy with the monarch as head of the state
  8. Discipline and respect for the law and elders  
  9. Awareness in thinking and doing things, and following the guidance of His Majesty the King
  10. Living by the sufficiency economy philosophy guided by His Majesty the King
  11. Physical and mental strength against greed
  12. Concern about the public and national good more than self-interest.

Despite the intimidation from the military, Nattanan said that she and the ELS will continue to campaign against the 12 Thai values and urged the junta to understand that ELS activities are not politically aimed against them because the members of the group have various political orientations.

“Students in the ELS have different political orientations and ideologies. We do not have an agenda to topple the junta. We just see the 12 values differently,” said Nattanan.

On 14 October, Nattanan and other ELS members went to the Ministry of Education to symbolically protest against the 12 Thai values, where a representative of the group read an essay to state the ELS’s stance to oppose the junta’s plan to promote its definition of ‘good students’ via the implementation of 12 values.