Tradition vs change: Social conflict still bubbling under surface

Tradition vs change: Social conflict still bubbling under surface

For three years Thailand has been peaceful & without protests, but still bubbling under the surface are deep differences in opinion about social change.


Tradition vs change: Social conflict still bubbling under the surface

Atiya Achakulwisut

In Thailand, the tussle between a state- imposed return to authoritarian conservatism and efforts, no matter how feeble, to embrace progressiveness, have been manifested in a new fault line that could trigger yet another round of turmoil.

Since the ideological split runs atop this palpable political conflict -- deep, fierce and still active despite having been suppressed for three years -- the results could be chaotic.


The uproar following the election of democracy activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal as Chulalongkorn University Student Council president on Thursday highlights the social rifts.

Known as a campaigner for democratic rights, thus against certain traditions based on social hierarchy, Mr Netiwit earlier refused to join his freshmen peers in prostrating in front of the statues of King Rama V and King Rama VI during a ceremony to pledge loyalty to the university's royal founders.

For many people, Mr Netiwit who also caused a stir when he invited a Hong Kong democracy activist to speak about his experiences last year, is an anti - establishment figure, a provocateur. When news broke that he was elected to head the university student council, arguably the most conservative and elitist college in the country, these people were aghast.


Mr Netiwit's priorities, among them a proposal that people who prefer not to crawl and prostrate to images should have the option of standing to pay their respects, only agitated traditionalists.

Not only has the "enemy" infiltrated into the heart of the traditionalist bastion but is implanting ideas that could disrupt "norms" that have held society in its hierarchical order for ages, the conservatives must have thought.


Negative reactions against Mr Netiwit's election range from those who believe the political science freshman has been manipulated by anti - military politicians, is calling attention to himself or being misled by extreme ideologies.


To illustrate how troublesome official recognition of the progressive -minded young man by the most conservative educational institution is, even Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appeared to allude to Mr Netiwit when he addressed a meeting on education and the government's Thailand 4.0 strategy on May 5.

The PM insisted the new generation must walk forward fully recognising the country's heritage.

"Not paying respect to teachers or the flag, that will be nonsense. I think it's a pity and I am concerned that the institutions's reputation may be damaged," Gen Prayut said during his speech at Mahidol University, Salaya campus.


As debate rages about what good or harm Mr Netiwit will do and how society should respond to his "sacrilegious" idea that people should not have to crawl and prostrate before statues of past kings, a collision between forces that prefer Thailand to return to its feudalistic past and those that see the country in modern terms seems to have come to the fore.


The same is true elsewhere. The press wants to be as free as possible as information flows fast and unstoppable while people seek more transparency and accountability. The military obviously prefers to impose much stricter control.

Information is power after all. If the establishment wants to keep power, they have no choice but to control information. But obviously, people at the top wanting to keep the status quo is going against a larger social trend, a movement being pushed forward literally by mass users of online and social media.

The fissure between information authoritarianism and egalitarianism has been evident for some time through fights about the computer crime, lese majeste or media control laws which are seen as too repressive or problematic.


As the regime tries to consolidate power in the name of "peace and order", the tussle between freedom and control will keep returning to test society's limits.

In a way, this tussle is being played out almost everywhere in various guises. City Hall's attempt to ban street food, seen as messy and lacking in hygiene, goes against what ordinary people in Bangkok or foreign tourists want. They would rather enjoy organically grown commerce than clean but boring restaurants.


Even gender presumptions by the traditional press are being tested by more progressive-minded consumers.

A tweet highlighting the political incorrectness of a newspaper headline about a policeman's same-sex marriage that used a low-brow description of the policeman and his sexuality has been resent more than 50,000 times and liked by more than 4,000 people.

But the traditional media or their associations seem to have no clue about what have they done wrong.

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  • accountability: a situation where people have the right to ask you about or criticise you for something that has happened - ความน่าเชื่อถือ
  • activist: someone who takes part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation - นักกิจกรรม
  • address: to speak publicly to a group of people - กล่าวปราศรัย
  • adj (noun): connected with soldiers or the armed forces - ในทางทหาร,เกี่ยวกับทหาร
  • aghast (adj): filled with a feeling of great shock, fear or disgust when you see or hear something . - ตกตะลึง,อกสั่นขวัญหนี
  • agitated (adj): anxious and nervous - ปั่นป่วน, กระวนกระวายใจ, ตื่นเต้น
  • allude to: to mention someone or something in an indirect way - พาดพิงถึง
  • anti (adjective): against - ตรงกันข้าม, ต้าน
  • appear: to seem - ดูเหมือนจะ, ดูเหมือนว่า
  • arguably: seems to be..., there are good reasons or evidence to show that it is .... -
  • association: an official group of people who have joined together for a particular purpose - สมาคม
  • atop: on top of, above - บนยอด
  • attention: the interest or thought that you give to something you are doing, listening to or watching - ความสนใจ, ความตั้งใจ
  • authoritarian: controlling everything and forcing people to obey strict rules and laws - เผด็จการ, เกี่ยวกับอำนาจเบ็ดเสร็จ
  • based on (verb): information or facts used to make a story, calculation, judgement or decision - ตั้งอยู่บน,ยึดเป็นหลัก
  • bastion; stronghold (noun): an area where there is a lot of support for a political party, a church or other organisation  - ฐานเสียง, ฐานที่มั่น, ขุมกำลัง
  • campaigner: a person who takes part in organized activities which are intended to change something in society - ผู้ต่อสู้,ผู้รณรงค์,ผู้โฆษณาเผยแพร่
  • campus (noun): the buildings of a university, college or business and the land around them - พื้นที่ที่เป็นที่ตั้งของมหาวิทยาลัย
  • ceremony (noun): a formal public event - งานพิธี
  • chaotic: happening in a confused way and without any order or organisation - ยุ่งเหยิง วุ่นวาย
  • collision: two or more objects hitting each other - การชนกัน
  • come to the fore: become more important or visible and easy to see -
  • concern: a worry - ความกังวล
  • conflict: an angry disagreement between people or groups - ความขัดแย้ง
  • conservatism: opposed to great or sudden social change; showing that you prefer traditional styles and values - ที่เป็นอนุรักษ์นิยม
  • conservative: opposed to great or sudden social change; showing that you prefer traditional styles and values - ที่เป็นอนุรักษ์นิยม
  • control: To exercise restraining or governing influence over; to check; to counteract; to restrain; to regulate; to govern; to overpower - จัดการ, ควบคุม
  • council: a group of people chosen to give advice, make rules, do research, provide money - สภา, คณะกรรมการ
  • crawl: to move along the ground on your hands and knees or with your body close to the ground - คลาน
  • damage (verb): to harm or spoil something/somebody - ทำความเสียหาย
  • debate: a discussion in which people or groups state different opinions about a subject - การอภิปราย, การโต้วาที, การถกเถียง
  • democracy (noun): a system of government in which all the people of a country can vote to elect their representatives - การปกครองแบบประชาธิปไตย
  • despite (prep): used to show that something happened or is true although something else might have happened to prevent it; used to show that somebody did not intend to do the thing mentioned - ถึงอย่างไรก็ตาม, ทั้ง ๆ ที่
  • disrupt: to interrupt something and prevent it from continuing by creating a problem - ได้รับการกระทบกระเทือน  ถูกทำให้หยุดชะงัก
  • effort: an attempt to do something - ความพยายาม
  • egalitarianism: the belief that people should be treated equally -
  • election (noun): the process of choosing a person or a group of person for a position, especially by voting - การเลือกตั้ง
  • elitist: of the richest, most powerful, best educated or most highly trained group in a society - คนที่มีอภิสิทธิ์ที่สุด
  • elsewhere: another place or other places - ที่อื่น
  • embrace: to accept something such as a belief, idea, or way of life - ยอมรับ น้อมนำมา
  • establishment: the process of starting or creating something - การสถาปนา, การก่อตั้ง, การจัดตั้ง
  • evident: clearly seen; obvious - เห็นได้ชัด
  • experience (verb): to have something happen to you or to live through some event - ประสบ
  • extreme: much more severe or serious than usual - ที่รุนแรงที่สุด
  • fault line: a fault (= break in the Earth's surface) - รอยเลื่อนของเปลือกโลก
  • feeble: very weak - อ่อนกำลัง, อ่อนแรง
  • feudalistic: of a society where powerful people owned the land and ordinary people worked for them and had few rights - ระบบศักดินา
  • fierce: very strong - รุนแรง, ดุเดือด
  • figure: someone who is important in some way - บุคคลสำคัญ
  • for ages: for a long time -
  • founder (noun): a person who establishes an institution, business, or organisation - ผู้ก่อตั้ง
  • gender: the fact of being either male or female. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female. - เพศ
  • generation: a group of people in society who are born and live around the same time - รุ่น (คนรุ่นต่างๆ)
  • harm: damage - ความเสียหาย
  • heritage: features belonging to the culture of a particular society, such as traditions, languages or buildings, which still exist from the past and which have a historical importance - มรดก
  • hierarchical: of a society or organisation in which differences in social position are very important - ตามลำดับขั้น
  • hierarchy: a system, especially in a society or an organization, in which people are organized into different levels of importance from highest to lowest - การจัดระบบตามลำดับขั้น
  • highlight: to make something more noticeable - เน้น,ทำให้เด่น
  • ideological: of a set of ideas that an economic or political system is based on; a set of beliefs, especially one held by a particular group, that influences the way people behave - เกี่ยวกับระบบความคิดอันเป็นรากฐานของสังคม เศรษฐกิจ การเมือง, เกี่ยวกับความนึกคิด
  • ideology: system of ideas and principles on which a political or economic theory is based - แนวคิดอันเป็นรากฐานของสังคม เศรษฐกิจและการเมือง
  • illustrate: to show what something is like, or to show that something is true - แสดงให้เห็น
  • image: a photograph, painting, or other work of art that represents a person or thing - รูปภาพ
  • implant: to put an idea or attitude into someone’s mind so that it influences their character or behaviour - ปลูกฝัง
  • impose: to force someone to accept something - กำหนด,บังคับ
  • impose: to introduce something and force people to accept it - กำหนด,บังคับใช้
  • infiltrate: to secretly become part of a group in order to get information or to influence the way that group thinks or behaves - แทรกซึม
  • insist: to keep saying very firmly that something is true - ยืนกราน ยืนยัน
  • institute (noun): an organization that has a particular purpose, especially one that is connected with education or a particular profession; the building used by this organisation - สถาบัน,องค์การ,วิทยาลัย,สถาบันหนึ่งของมหาวิทยาลัย
  • invite: to ask somebody formally to go somewhere or do something - เชิญ
  • known as (verb): has the name .... -
  • lese majeste: the crime of offending, threatening or showing disrespect for a member of the royal family - หมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ
  • literally: really true; exactly as what was said - อย่างแท้จริง, อย่างตามตัวอักษร
  • loyalty: support that you always give to someone or something because of your feelings of duty and love towards them - ความจงรักภักดี
  • manifest: to show -
  • manipulate: to control something or someone to your advantage, often unfairly or dishonestly - จัดการเพื่อหวังผลอย่างใดอย่างหนึ่ง
  • misled: made someone believe something that is incorrect or not true - ชักนำไปในทางที่ผิด
  • negative: bad - ที่เป็นด้านลบ
  • no matter (who, what, etc.): always true, whatever the situation is - ไม่ว่าในกรณีใด, มิไย
  • nonsense: ideas, behaviour, or statements that are not true or sensible - ไม่มีสาระ, ไร้สาระ
  • norm (noun): a situation or type of behavior that is expected and considered to be typical - มาตรฐาน, ปกติ, ภาวะปกติ
  • obviously: clearly - เห็นได้ชัด, อย่างชัดแจ้ง
  • official: done by people in authority or decided by the government; announced publicly - เป็นทางการ
  • option: choice - ตัวเลือก
  • order: a situation in which everything is well organized or arranged - ความเป็นระเบียบเรียบร้อย
  • palpable: easily noticed by the mind or the senses - ชัดเจน
  • pay their respects (verb): to show deep admiration for someone/something - แสดงความเคารพ, ถวายสักการะ
  • peers: people who are the same age or have the same social position or the same abilities as other people in a group - เพื่อน
  • pity: a strong feeling of sympathy that you have for someone because they are very unhappy or in a bad situation - ความสงสาร
  • pledge: to make a serious promise to do something - สัญญา
  • politician: a person whose job is concerned with politics, especially as an elected member of parliament, etc. - นักการเมือง
  • prefer: to like or want more than anyone or anything else - ชอบมากกว่า
  • presumption: the act of supposing that something is true, although it has not yet been proved or is not certain - การสันนิษฐาน, ข้อสันนิษฐาน
  • priority: something important that must be done first or which needs more attention than something else - การมาก่อน
  • progressive (adj): in favour of new ideas, modern methods and change - ที่ก้าวหน้าขึ้น, ที่พัฒนาขึ้น
  • progressiveness: in favour of new ideas, modern methods and change - ที่ก้าวหน้าขึ้น, ที่พัฒนาขึ้น
  • proposal: a plan or suggestion for a group to consider - ข้อเสนอ
  • prostrate (verb): the action of lying with your face downwards, especially in worship - นอนราบกับพื้น, หมอบ, นอนคว่ำ
  • provocateur: someone who causes reactions or stirs up anger or trouble -
  • range from: to include a variety of different things in addition to those mentioned - ขยายออก, แบ่งประเภท
  • reaction: the way something responds as a result of something that happens - ปฏิกิริยา การตอบสนอง, ปฏิกิริยาตอบโต้
  • recognise: to accept that something is true or important - ยอมรับ
  • recognition: public praise and reward for somebody's work or actions, the act of accepting that something exists, is true or is official - การยอมรับ
  • refuse (verb): to say or show that you will not do something; to say or show that you will not do something that someone has asked you to do - ปฏิเสธ
  • repressive: controlling what people do, especially by using force - การคุมอำนาจสูงสุดในการปกครองประเทศ  (ค่อนข้างเป็นเผด็จการ)
  • reputation: the opinion people have about how good or bad someone or something is - ชื่อเสียง
  • respond: to say or do something as a reaction to something that has been said or done - ตอบสนอง, ตอบรับ
  • results (noun): what you get in the end when activity is completed (test results, research results, etc) - ผล
  • rift: a serious disagreement between two people or groups - ความแตกร้าว
  • rights: the legal right to control the production and selling of a book, play, film, photograph, piece of music, performance, etc. - ลิขสิทธิ์
  • round: one of a series of events, activities, etc. - รอบ
  • sacrireligious: going against or challenging strongly or deeply held beliefs or religious beliefs -
  • sexuality: the feelings and activities connected with a person's sexual desires - เรื่องทางเพศ, ลักษณะทางเพศ
  • social (adjective): related to society, to people and the way they are connected to each other and interact with each other - เกี่ยวกับสังคม
  • social media: the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. - เครือข่ายสังคมออนไลน์
  • split (verb): to divide; break apart - แยกออก, แตกแยก
  • statues: human or animal images that are made of stone, wood, metal, etc. - รูปปั้น
  • status quo (noun): the situation as it is now, or as it was before a recent change - สถานภาพปัจจุบัน, สถานภาพที่เป็นอยู่, ฐานะที่เป็นอยู่
  • stir (verb): to make people feel strong emotions - ปลุก, ก่อ
  • strategy: a plan or method for achieving something, especially over a long period of time - ยุทธวิธี, แผนการ  
  • strict: very careful and exact - เข้มงวด
  • student council: the student government in a school -
  • suppress: to prevent something from growing, developing or continuing - อดกลั้น, ยับยั้ง, ระงับ
  • term: to use a particular name or word to describe somebody/something - ตั้งชื่อ, เรียกชื่อ
  • the press: the media - สื่อมวลชน
  • traditional (adj): of a custom, a way of life or a way of doing things that has not changed for a long time - เป็นประเพณี, ตามธรรมเนียม, ตามที่ปฏิบัติกันมา
  • traditionalist: a person who believes in and follows customs, a way of life or a way of doing things that has not changed for a long time เป็นประเพณี, ตามธรรมเนียม, ตามที่ปฏิบัติกันมา -
  • transparency: an honest way of doing things that allows other people to know exactly what you are doing - ความโปร่งใส
  • trend: a gradual change or development that produces a particular result   - ทิศทาง แนวโน้ม
  • trigger: to cause - ก่อให้เกิด กระตุ้น
  • troublesome (adj): causing problems or difficulties - น่ารำคาญ, เป็นปัญหา
  • turmoil: a state of uncontrolled activity - การจราจล ความไม่สงบ
  • tussle (verb): to fight or compete with somebody/something, especially in order to get something - ดิ้นรน, ต่อสู้, แย่งชิง
  • university (noun): a school where students study for BA, MA, MS and PhD degrees and where research is done - มหาวิทยาลัย
  • uproar: angry public criticism of something - ความเอะอะ, ความวุ่นวาย
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