Prayut Orders Officials to Revise Patriotic Lectures at Schools

A student speaks during a lecture at Benjamarachutit School on Oct. 1, 2020.
A student speaks during a lecture at Benjamarachutit School on Oct. 1, 2020.

BANGKOK — PM Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday said he has instructed security officials to find new ways to promote patriotism in schools after a defiant student stood up and interrupted one such lecture given by a soldier.

In a video that went viral on social media over the past week, the unidentified student at Benjamarachutit School in Nakhon Si Thammarat railed against the army officer’s version of history and gave his own speech to the class.  Although the soldier appeared to let the student talk, he was reportedly harassed by the school for his subversion.

“Not all of this lecture is correct,” the student said to the cheer of his peers. “Some of the contents aren’t facts. They’ve been distorted to honor someone or something. They said this is an extra-curricular activity, but I don’t think so.” 

He went on, “If I want to learn about something, I would do it by myself rather than having someone to deliver a sermon like this.”

Another student approached the boy who was speaking and told him to lower down his tone before the clip ended. The lecturer, an unnamed army officer, stood next to the boy throughout the video with his arms crossed.

The clip was posted on Facebook by a user who said to be the student in the clip. He said he was called to the deputy principal’s office after the lecture, who reportedly told him that what he did was disrespectful to a senior and threatened to dock his behavior score.

A portion of the lecture was said to be about the benevolence of the monarchy institution.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday at Government House, Gen. Prayut said the lecture was carried out by the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center, which is tasked with counter-insurgency operations in the Deep South. 

He said he has ordered the agency to suspend the program under the current political climate.

“A lecture like this can be carried out under normal circumstances, but there’s a lot of issues going on right now,” Prayut said. “What’s unnecessary should be paused at the moment. They should find other ways that will not cause further issues. Our goal is to promote patriotism and cultivate people’s awareness.”

The school could not be reached for comment as of press time.