Bangkok Post

ED­U­CA­TION, NOT RE-ED­U­CA­TION

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Re: “Re­forms need broad­en­ing of the agenda”, (Opin­ion, Sept 25).

It is quite strik­ing that Prof Thiti­nan Pong­sud­hi­rak feels the need to re­mind us that com­mu­nism is a bad idea. It has been in this re­gion, and ev­ery­where else. This does not seem to be taught at Tham­masat Univer­sity, ap­par­ently. How­ever, I think he is mis­taken when he as­serts that the Thai pop­u­la­tion has been suc­cess­fully brain­washed by state pro­pa­ganda.

Thai medi­ol­o­gists have shown that there is a strong el­e­ment of class con­tempt in this opin­ion: Thais, in gen­eral, as in other coun­tries with state pro­pa­ganda, are aware of this pro­pa­ganda and are skilled at try­ing to in­ter­pret or dis­card its mes­sages.

Where Prof Thiti­nan seems to veer com­pletely off course is when he states: “Re-ed­u­ca­tion about what con­sti­tutes Thai­ness and a re­think about the force-fed sym­bols of Thai iden­tity are tak­ing place but it will take more time than the young protest lead­ers seem will­ing to give.”

In short, he is a Gram­s­cian. A demo­crat would not talk about “re-ed­u­ca­tion” (pro­pa­ganda un­der an­other name; Mao’s China springs to mind), but of “ed­u­ca­tion”, so that cit­i­zens have the ca­pac­ity to dis­cern and opt among dif­fer­ent ver­sions of Thai­ness (in­clud­ing Thiti­nan’s) com­pet­ing in an open po­lit­i­cal arena.

Ed­u­ca­tion, yes! Re-ed­u­ca­tion, no!

At­ten­tive Reader

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