Freedom of Speech of Thammasat University Tested by Students’ Political Rally

Under the rule of NCPO since 2014 and its continuing elected government in the name of Palung Pracharat Party, academic freedom has never been more difficult. However, Thammasat University has tried its best to provide a safe space for freedom of speech.

Academic freedom is one of the main principles of Thammasat University from the start:

“…A university is, figuratively, an oasis that quenches the thirst of those who are in pursuit of knowledge. The opportunity to acquire higher education rightly belongs to every citizen under the principle of freedom of education…Now that our country is governed by a democratic constitution, it is particularly essential to establish a university that will allow the people, and hence the public, to develop to their utmost capability. It will open up an opportunity for ordinary citizens to conveniently and freely acquire higher education for their own benefits and for the development of our country…”

Dr. Pridi Banomyomg

Therefore, academic freedom in education is at the heart of Thammasat University.

Moreover, Thammasat University also prioritizes academic freedom in a sense of freedom of speech. One important example in recent years was the rallies for political reform from July to August 2020, in which several rallies were organized almost daily at universities and schools including at Thammasat University both Tha Prachan and Rangsit campuses.

On August 10, 2020, a political rally of 4000 people organized at Thammasat University Rangsit campus demanded for royal reform. The royal reform was and still is a very sensitive issue in Thai politics. This was a real test for Thammasat University on Academic Freedom principle, which includes freedom of speech. As the news reported, “After an emergency meeting called by the Thammasat University council shortly after the 10 August rally, the university issued a statement affirming the constitutional monarchy system while supporting the rights of students to freedom of expression under law and the Constitution.”

The decision of the Thammasat University Council, the highest governing body of the university, reaffirms Thammasat University’s principle supporting academic freedom and freedom of speech.

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