TU Vice Rector Defends Threats Against Transgender Student Activist

Ms. Aum Neko during her protest against Thammasat Rector in the university's Rangsit Campus

(7 December) Vice Rector of Thammasat University said he does not regret posting threats against a prominent student activist who had staged a protest against the university rector.


Ms. Saran Chuichai – a transgender student who is also known as Ms. Aum Neko – led her fellow activists in the attempt last week to replace the Thai national flag with a black flag over a building in Rangsit Campus of Thammasat University. 
However, security guards in the area successfully prevented her group from raising the black flag.
Ms. Aum said the gesture was meant to serve as a rebuke to Thammasat Rector, Mr. Somkid Lertpaithoon, for his alleged cooperation with the so-called People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King as Head of State (PCAD) by closing down the university just few days after PCAD leader Suthep Thaugsuban called for a nationwide closure of universities to support his cause.
This activity has been criticised by many Thammasat students as unruly and insulting toward the university. 
But the most furious criticism of Ms. Aum so far has come from Thammasat Vice Rector, Mr. Somchai Chakhatrakan, who posted on his Facebook account yesterday that he was so angered by Ms. Aum′s action that he wishes to resign from his position and "trample" Ms. Aum with his feet.
The Facebook post, which was made on the Public setting, has since been deleted.
In other posts, Mr. Somchai also called on "members of the Thammasat community who love their university and their country" to "defend" Thammasat. "Don't let these snakes inside the university to poison the dignity of the university," Mr. Somchai wrote.
He added, "I feel sorry for [Ms. Aum′s] parents for having such an evil child".
The comment has been widely shared on the social network, drawing much criticism that Mr. Somchai has acted inappropriately as a high-ranking academic in the university.
But in an interview with Khaosod, Mr. Somchai defended his controversial comments by claiming that he could not remain silent and let Ms. Aum desecrated the Thai national flag at will. 
"If a child acted like that, what would happen to our country? The Thai heroic ancestors have sacrificed their lives for the country and our homes. The Thai flag is the symbol of Thainess," Mr. Somchai said, adding that the Thais should not let just one person "destroying our nationhood".
In a long tirade during the phone interview, Mr. Somchai also described Ms. Aum′s activity as a "defamation" against the nation, the religion, and the monarchy. "I feel pathetic. Why did they allow this kid to do such thing? It damages the dignity of Thainess," said Mr. Somchai.
"If you see this disgraceful blasphemy of the Thai national flag and tolerate it, please don?t call yourself Thai," Mr. Somchai fumed, "I will assault it [Ms. Aum]. I won't do it in the name of a teacher, but I will assault it in the name of Somchai Chakhatrakarn, as a Thai person".
Nevertheless, as of 7 December, Mr. Somchai has deactivated his Facebook account. 
Meanwhile, Ms. Aum said he is disappointed by the threatening manner of the Vice Rector. She told our correspondent she and her friends will submit a complaint to the administrative body of Thammasat about the matter.
"I had expected a lecturer who is teaching at Faculty of Science to possess critical thinking," Ms. Aum said, referring to Mr. Somchai, "But he ended up threatening violence as a solution. That is not the right thing to do."
She also insisted that she had no intention to desecrate the Thai national flag, explaining that her activity in the campus was merely a "symbolic action". 

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