BANGKOK — Student activists launched a fresh effort today to discredit the rector of Thammasat University for his decision to accept a position in the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) earlier this month.
The school's rector, Somkid Lertpaitoon, was denounced in hundreds of flyers that were distributed around the social science lecture hall on Thammasat University's Rangsit Campus today.
The leaflets urged Mr. Somkid to choose between membership in the NLA and his position as the rector of the university. The NLA was appointed by the junta earlier this month and will act as the country's legislative body until a new general election is expected to be held at the end of 2015.
Another version of the flyers proclaimed, "The university that seeks to uphold the coup" — a mocking reference to a lyric from the University’s former official song, which says, "the university that seeks to uphold the nation with rule of governance for progress."
Today’s flyers mark the second time Mr. Somkid has been targeted by student activists over his membership in the NLA since classes began on Monday. Earlier this week, mysterious posters denouncing Mr. Somkid appeared in a lecture hall on the same campus.
Mr. Somkid has defended his decision to join the NLA, explaining that the coup has already happened and that he prefers not to "waste" the opportunity to push for change.
"I was picked by the NCPO as an NLA because of my position as the rector of a university," Mr. Somkid told Channel 3 News on the day he was inaugurated into the assembly. "People who criticise me, I want them to talk to me directly instead of gossiping about me on social media."
Although no group has claimed responsibility for today's leaflets, the Facebook page of the student activist group League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD) published photos of the moment the flyers were strewn across the lecture hall.
LTTD has been staging small demonstrations against the military junta since the 22 May coup.
Thammasat University has an extensive history of student activists campaigning against Thailand's military rulers. Students at the university famously rallied against Field Marshal Thanorm Kittikachorn in October 1973, which resulted in a popular uprising against the regime.