Emblem parade causes a stir

Emblem parade causes a stir

A parade featuring Chulalongkorn University's emblem, the Phra Kieo coronet, on March 31 during the CU-TU Unity Football Match 2024 has triggered a bitter clash of public opinion.

The event, held for the first time last Sunday, was jointly initiated by the Thammasat University Student Union (TUSU) and the Student Government of Chulalongkorn University (SGCU) to tighten their relations.

The new event also mimicked the annually held Traditional Football Match between the two universities which has been going on since 1934.

The long-established match is usually held around January and February at the Suphachalasai National Stadium but was postponed this year due to a scheduling conflict.

Besides the football match, the seven-decade-long event has been well known for its parades and card stunts, mostly portraying the nation's current affairs and mocking politics.

The opening parade includes a procession of the Phra Kieo coronet on a palanquin carried by some 50 students.

Because coronets were worn by Thai princes and princesses in the past, they became the emblem of Chulalongkorn University when King Rama VI named the university after his father and the university's founder, King Chulalongkorn, Rama V.

During the CU-TU Unity Football Match, which was broadcast on Sunday on social media, the Phra Kieo coronet was carried on a golf cart. That led to the social media backlash about the allegedly disrespectful behaviour of students towards the highly respected symbol.

Many have expressed strong disapproval of such action.

Among them was Nantiwat Samart, former secretary-general to the foreign affairs minister. He posted that Phra Kieo is a royal object which must be placed on a palanquin. "This is not about politics or being liberal. Students should pay respect to the symbol and the pride of the university," he said.

The students' action was backed by Puangthong Pawakapan, a lecturer from Chulalongkorn's Faculty of Political Science.

She pointed out that the Phra Kieo was placed on an electric car, which also featured various items, each symbolising an academic field around the coronet.

This metaphorically implied that the university evolved to meet the changing times.

At the same time, it meant the university was to progress more sturdily according to its mission, she said.

Ms Puangthong also urged conservatives to be open to new ideas proposed by the younger generation.

The Phra Kieo coronet is carried on a golf cart during the inaugural CU-TU Unity Football Match on Sunday. Chula BAKA Facebook page

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