Last 25 September, Global Campus Asia Pacific Assistant Director Dr. Bencharat Sae Chua and Mr. Punnawit Tantirapan, a student of the Asia Pacific Master’s program batch 2019, participated in a panel discussion organized by the Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP) on the 2020 student protests and the prospects for democracy in Thailand. Thailand has recently seen an upsurge in student-led protests demanding for major democratic reforms. Some groups involved in the protests have also called for reforms in the monarchy.
Dr. Bencharat and Mr. Punnawit were joined by IHRP outgoing director Dr. Eakapant Pindavanija and Ms. Pau Supanuntaroek, a student of the IHRP. The protests and their views have demanded change to the constitution and military backed government. While Thailand has a history of political unrest, these protests are different. Dr. Bencharat noted that the current wave of demonstrations are “rooted in the principles of human rights and democracy and not just electoral politics.”
Students and youth are demanding for a more representative government. As panelist Mr. Punnawit noted, “I have hope in becoming a more democratic society.”
“(The protests are) widespread,” added Mr. Punnawit, as it is easier nowadays to get the message across, given the communication and digital technology available. The respect for freedom of expression is a fundamental principle in the education programs at the IHRP. So though the protests have touched upon some sensitive issues in Thailand, but there should be space to discuss them.
You can watch the whole panel discussion on Facebook.