There is an interesting article about how the Thai government is trying to influence student activities at universities to protect natural security. (Of course, some people feel that national security is a new synonym for we don’t want to lose our grip on power just because of democratic elections or any other reason for that matter).
Thailand’s university rectors must keep watch over student plays that could contain “distorted political content and incite unrest and divisiveness in society”, according to the government’s Higher Education Commission (HEC) in a recent letter sent to all universities and circulated to faculty members last week.
Student plays being essentially theatre performances that students organize themselves.
Suda Rangkupan, a linguistics lecturer at Bangkok’s prestigious Chulalongkorn University said about the student plays: “They are just entertainment. I don’t see why (the authorities) needed to issue such a circular.”
According to several other sources mentioned in the article, there really was no need for this circular, because the student plays were not political. It is possible that the authorities have sent it out because three decades ago, it was a student play at Thammasat university that sparked unrest.
Although no particular play has been singled out for government attention, students suggested that a play at Thammasat University called ‘Dalit’ about low-caste people in India, may have been interpreted by nervy officials as mirroring class issues in Thai society.
Which of course would fit well into the red-shirt prai narrative.
Later, after a lot of criticism, Education Minister Chinavorn Boonyakiat said the state had no intention of controlling or censoring the content of plays. But he nonetheless requested universities to try not to “hold activities” which were not “reconciliatory”.
Remember though that Thailand is a country where reading between the lines is a much more common way of communicating.