School in the village[1]

The novel, Never Let Me Go, by the celebrated British author Kazuo Ishiguro, is about the life of the very special students who were “brought into this world for a purpose”.[2]

The novel is set at Hailsham, a co-educational boarding school of girls and boys, aged nine to sixteen. The school seems to be a place where students come to lead a life-style of bourgeois ordinariares. They round up their routines in games, drawing, music, literary and poetry discussion; mundane activities ostensibly associated with liberal education. Hailsham, however, is not what it seems to be. Ishiguro takes us on a journey of heartbreak, for about half way through his story we come to an understanding that these innocent youths, being groomed for the real world, are not human. They are clones that came into being by scientific success and live their life according to the utilitarian principle of “the greater good”[3]. They have no parents and no families. By the time their bodies are ready they will be given notice to start donating organs to the needy sick. Their lives will be “completed”[4] even before they reach middle-age.

The story is a flash back of the memory of Kathy H, a cloned protagonist who tried to make sense out of her and her friends’ pasts: how they naively misread events that interacted with the real world of human adults. One of the poignant incidents is symbolised in art. The cloned students blindly believed that their teachers had pressed hard for their creative ‘art works’ because they would be a totem of who they really are – the object to reveal their soul, according to Ishiguro’s biblical reference.[5] Reality is however brute: their headmistress corrected that the art lesson was a part of “the experiment”, to persuade “those in authorities” that students of Hailsham could lead a more humane life; one which paralleled the life of real humans. Towards the end of story, Kathy H, like her friends who went before her, conceded to destiny. She spends here remaining days waiting for “completion.” Never Let Me Go is anti-existentialism. It is a bleak history of those who do not have the freedom to choose. The clones, albeit taught to be cultured, were programmed to function according to their purpose. They must give “their parts”, and give themselves up eventually, in order to save what is perceived to be descending from a higher plane – human morality. Individuality, hopes, and dreams are irrelevant; they have no place in non-human history.

Hailsham, of course, is a fictionalised school in a village, seen “through a glass, darkly”, of dystopian England. It probably existed for some thirty years between the 1960s and 1990s.

Pin Malakul: Educator of the free

In Ishiguro’s fictionalised land, teachers, termed as guardians, were elusive. They did not figure much outside their mission- to rear the clone in the confinement of Hailsham. In the land of the free named Thailand, teachers often wear many hats. One stood out among the crowd. His name was M. L. Pin Malakul (1903-1995). An educator, writer, bureaucrat, politician, senator, and artist, Pin was an man of action who dedicated his life to the service of his nation. He was an industrious man, with a life worth thinking about.

Brief biography

Born into a noble family, Pin’s father, M. R. Pia Malakul (1857–1943) was a grandson of Somdej Chaofah Mahamala, a son of King Buddha Lertla Napalai (Rama II) and Chaofah Kuntontippayavadee. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn, Pia Malakul held various posts as special Ambassador to Europe. Between 1897-99 he was stationed in London where his work included looking after Siam’s future king, Crown Prince Wachirawut. He held the offices of Permanent Secretary and later Minister of Thammakarn Ministry (now Ministry of Education), retiring with the title of Chao Praya Prasaded Surendradibodi.[6] Pin’s mother, whom he admitted to have been closer to throughout his life, was Thanpuying Sangiam Malakul née Wasantasingh.

Pin began his elementary education at Wat Rachaburana (later Suan Kulab Witthayalai) and in 1916 transferred to the Royal Pages School, where he was one among the first batch of the boys to come into contact with their royal patron. He served as a page of King Wachirawut for six years, and was sent for overseas education on the quota of the Ministry of Education’s scholarships at eighteen. In 1922 he spent some time in Brighton to prepare his language skills before proceeding to the School of Oriental Studies (now University of London School of Oriental and African Studies) to study Eastern Languages. Two years later he went up to Brasenose College, University of Oxford, to read Oriental Studies, graduating with a B.A. on 28 June 1928, and in accordance to Oxford statutory twenty-one term (after a completed four-year) matriculation, was awarded an M.A. on 15 October 1931.[7] While waiting to claim his M.A., Pin enrolled at Oxford in a year course on education, probably for a certificate in teaching. It was reported that he practiced his teaching at Latymer School in north London. In his autobiography, Pin noted that he fell ill twice during this time, once in the winter of 1928, and again in the spring of 1929.[8] His plan to return to Siam was postponed until 23 October 1931.[9]

Pin married Dudsadeemala Krairihk, daughter of Chao Praya Mahithon and Thanpuying Kleep Mahithon née Bangyikhan in 1931. The couple did not have any children.


In 1993, UNESCO honoured Pin as one of the world’s outstanding leaders in the fields of education, culture, literature, and mass communication. He was awarded National Artist in Literature by Thailand’s National Culture Commission in 1987. Pin received eight honorary doctorates from seven Thai universities (and one American one). His other accolades, being selective here, are Fellow of the Royal Institute of Thailand (1945); ten Royal decorations; Golden Pra Khiao Award presented by Chulalongkorn University; and the Award of Exceptional Contributor to National Education by the Teachers Council of Thailand in 1992. Pin’s offices and involvements in education, inter alia, include, First Director of Triam Udom Sueksa School (1938-44); Director General of the Department of General Education (1942-46); Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education (1946-57); Founder of Chiangmai University (Thailand’s first university outside Bangkok, opened in 1964) Srinakkarinwirot University (first tertiary college of education, opened 1974); three times President of Silapakorn University (1965-71)[10]. His longest office was Minister of Education, the post he held consecutively for four terms, between 1957-69.

M. L. Pin was responsible drafting Thailand’s first National Educational Plan (1936) which led to an implementation of universal elementary education. He imported a western style of fixed class teaching, with a scheduled timetable for teaching subjects; a pedagogical technique still in use in schools. Teacher training is an area he paid special attention to. Pin’s plan of “educating” teachers began vigorously during the Second World War years. He established a department of Teacher Training at the Ministry of Education between 1942 and 1946, and subsequently initiated a programme of Teacher Training Schools in provinces outside the Thai capital. For higher education, he founded teaching demonstration schools at Pathumwan and Prasanmitr, known as the Education Colleges before merging to become the present Srinakarinwirot. His “radio education”- an effective medium of communication- went on air for the first time at Technical College, Tung Mahamek, on 1 January 1954. It was an innovation which soon rose to popularity. From the end of the 1950s, radio education, or witayu seuksa, became the means to increase an awareness and tighten the bond of Pin’s “learning community” – it was well received particularly among the provincial boy scouts, vocational students, red-cross officials, and psychical education teachers.

Aside education, Pin was well known for his love of language. He was a prolific writer, producing volumes that have been in print and reprint. Among them, 61 are classified as dramatic plays; 58 as works on education; 33 as prose; 8 as poetry; 8 as travel writing; 23 as short stories; and 52 as miscellaneous.[11] Here are examples taken from his corpus (all English translations of Pin’s texts are mine).

р╕лр╕Зр╕кр╣Мр╕Чр╕нр╕З Golden Swan

A Play by M. L. Pin Malakul. Published 24 October 1966

р╕Йр╕▓р╕Бр╕лр╕Щр╕╢р╣Ир╕З Scene I

р╕ер╕▓р╕Щр╕лр╕Щр╣Йр╕▓р╕зр╕▒р╕Зр╕Фр╕╕р╕кр╕┤р╕Хр╕нр╕╕р╕Чр╕вр╕▓р╕Щ р╕Фр╕╕р╕кр╕┤р╕Хр╕Шр╕▓р╕Щр╕╡ р╣Ар╕зр╕ер╕▓р╣Ар╕вр╣Зр╕Щ Foreground of Dusit Garden, Dusit- Thani, evening

(р╣Ар╕бр╕╖р╣Ир╕нр╣Ар╕Ыр╕┤р╕Фр╕бр╣Ир╕▓р╕Щ р╕бр╕╡р╕Юр╕ер╣Ар╕бр╕╖р╕нр╕Зр╕Кр╕▓р╕вр╕лр╕Нр╕┤р╕Зр╕вр╕╖р╕Щр╕нр╕вр╕╣р╣Ир╣Ар╕Ыр╣Зр╕Щр╕Ир╕│р╕Щр╕зр╕Щр╕бр╕▓р╕Б) (Curtain rises; numbers of male and female citizens standing)

р╕Ър╕Чр╕гр╣Йр╕нр╕З (р╣Вр╕вр╕Щр╕Фр╕▓р╕Ъ) Sing (lay down swords)

р╕Юр╕ер╣Ар╕бр╕╖р╕нр╕З Citizens

р╕Юр╕зр╕Бр╣Ар╕гр╕▓р╕Кр╕▓р╕зр╕гр╕▓р╕Кр╕Ър╕╕р╕гр╕╡р╕вр╕┤р╕Щр╕Фр╕╡р╣Ар╕лр╕ер╕╖р╕н Rejoice we Rachaburians

р╣Ар╕Ир╣Йр╕▓р╕Щр╕Др╕гр╣Ар╕нр╕╖р╣Йр╕нр╣Ар╕Яр╕╖р╣Йр╕нр╣Ар╕гр╕▓р╕бр╕▓р╕Бр╕бр╕▓р╕в to the mercy of our lord

р╣Ар╕Йр╕ер╕┤р╕бр╕Вр╕зр╕▒р╕Нр╕зр╕▒р╕Щр╕Ыр╕гр╕░р╕кр╕╣р╕Хр╕┤р╕Вр╕нр╕Зр╣Ар╕Ир╣Йр╕▓р╕Кр╕▓р╕в bless the birth of a prince

р╕Ир╕╢р╕Зр╕Хр╕▒р╣Йр╕Зр╕лр╕Щр╣Йр╕▓р╕бр╕▓р╕Цр╕зр╕▓р╕вр╕Юр╕гр╕░р╕Юр╕гр╕Кр╕▒р╕в we’re here to wish him well.

р╕лр╕▒р╕зр╕лр╕Щр╣Йр╕▓р╕Юр╕ер╣Ар╕бр╕╖р╕нр╕Зр╕Кр╕▓р╕в Leader of our men

р╕Чр╕гр╕Зр╕Ър╕гр╕гр╕ер╕╕р╕Щр╕┤р╕Хр╕┤р╕ар╕▓р╕зр╕░ meet his manhood

р╕Др╕Зр╣Др╕Фр╣Йр╣Ар╕Ыр╣Зр╕Щр╕гр╕▓р╕Кр╕░р╕Ьр╕╣р╣Йр╕вр╕┤р╣Ир╕Зр╣Гр╕лр╕Нр╣И may he be a great king.

р╕лр╕▒р╕зр╕лр╕Щр╣Йр╕▓р╕Юр╕ер╣Ар╕бр╕╖р╕нр╕Зр╕лр╕Нр╕┤р╕З Leader of our women

р╕Юр╕гр╕░р╣Вр╕Йр╕бр╕Зр╕▓р╕Щр╣Ар╕Йр╕┤р╕Фр╣Ар╕ер╕┤р╕ир╕зр╕┤р╣Др╕е may her beauty shine

р╕вр╕нр╕Фр╣Гр╕Щр╕Фр╕╕р╕кр╕┤р╕Хр╕Шр╕▓р╕Щр╕╡ in Dusit Thani.

“р╣Ар╕Ир╣Йр╕▓р╕лр╕Нр╕┤р╕Зр╕Бр╕▒р╕Ър╕Др╕Щр╕Хр╕▒р╕Фр╣Др╕бр╣Й” р╕Ир╕▓р╕Б р╕ер╕░р╕Др╕гр╕Юр╕╣р╕Фр╕кр╕│р╕лр╕гр╕▒р╕Ър╕Щр╕▒р╕Бр╣Ар╕гр╕╡р╕вр╕Щ A Princess and A Woodchopper

A Spoken Drama for Students, by M.L. Pin Malakul. First publication 1959

р╣Ар╕Щр╕╖р╣Йр╕нр╕лр╕▓р╕Ър╕▓р╕Зр╕кр╣Ир╕зр╕Щ р╕нр╕Зр╕Др╣Мр╕Чр╕╡р╣И р╣С Lines from Act I

р╣Ар╕бр╕╖р╣Ир╕нр╣Ар╕Ыр╕┤р╕Фр╕бр╣Ир╕▓р╕Щ р╕Др╕Щр╕Хр╕▒р╕Фр╣Др╕бр╣Йр╕Бр╕│р╕ер╕▒р╕Зр╕Цр╕╖р╕нр╕Вр╕зр╕▓р╕Щр╕Ьр╣Ир╕▓р╕Яр╕╖р╕Щр╕нр╕вр╕╣р╣И р╕гр╣Йр╕нр╕Зр╣Ар╕Юр╕ер╕Зр╕Юр╕ер╕▓р╕Зр╕Эр╣Ир╕▓р╕Яр╕╖р╕Щр╕Юр╕ер╕▓р╕З When curtain rises, a woodchopper is

р╕Чр╕╡р╣Ир╕лр╕Щр╣Йр╕▓р╕Бр╕гр╕░р╕Чр╣Ир╕нр╕бр╕Вр╕нр╕Зр╕Хр╕▒р╕з chopping and singing in front of his hut

р╣Ар╕Юр╕ер╕Зр╣Ар╕Чр╕Юр╕Чр╕нр╕З р╕Др╕Щр╕Хр╕▒р╕Фр╣Др╕бр╣Йр╕гр╣Йр╕нр╕З Song: Golden Deva. Woodchopper sings

р╣Ар╕гр╕▓р╣Ар╕Ыр╣Зр╕Щр╕Др╕Щр╕Хр╕▒р╕Фр╣Др╕бр╣Йр╕Чр╕╡р╣Ир╣Гр╕Щр╕Фр╕З р╕Цр╕▓р╕Зр╕Юр╕Зр╕Ьр╣Ир╕▓р╕Яр╕╖р╕Щр╣Ар╕нр╕▓р╣Др╕Ыр╕Вр╕▓р╕в I’m a man of the woods, chopping goods for sale

р╣Ар╕Ыр╣Зр╕Щр╕лр╕Щр╣Йр╕▓р╕Чр╕╡р╣Ир╕Вр╕нр╕Зр╣Ар╕гр╕▓р╕ер╕╣р╕Бр╕Ьр╕╣р╣Йр╕Кр╕▓р╕в р╕Бр╕│р╕ер╕▒р╕Зр╕Бр╕▓р╕вр╕бр╕╡р╣Др╕зр╣Йр╣Гр╕лр╣Йр╕Чр╕│ It’s a man’s duty, to exercise one’s strength

Real or Fiction: Clone or Free?

M. L. Pin Malakul was a teacher of generations of Thai teachers. For being The Teacher of teachers, his name is accustomed to eulogy, rather than scrutiny. Pin was a man of all seasons who lived through five reigns: the breadth and depth of his copious enterprises made this unexamined man one of the most influential figures in modern Thai history. His records and influences, in public office and in Thai cultural life, are no match to other Thai educators (move over Luang Wichitwatakarn!).

Ishiguro’s clones, being programmed to complete at a certain age, will not bother to depart from their familiar environment. The Hailsham kind won’t expect you to answer the question that can’t be answered. They won’t ask since there won’t be any future. In real life, the ability to think, create, and educate – need I say – is a small privilege of human kind. It distinguishes us from the clone. Don’t lose it. We are not clones … are we?

[1]. Title taken from a drama written by M. L. Pin Malakul, School in the Village, Bangkok: Chuanpim Publishing, date unknown.

[2]. Kazuo Ishiguro (2005), Never Let Me Go, London: Faber and Faber, p. 80.

[3]. For utilitarianism, as a philosophical idea and practice, see Mill, J. S. (2002 [1864]), 2nd ed., Utilitarianism, Sher, G. (ed.), Indiana: Hackett. And J. Bentham (1970 [1789]), An Introduction to the Principles of Moral and Legislation, Burns, J. H. and Hart, H. L. A. (eds.), London: Methuen.

[4]. In the context of the clone, to be ‘a complete’ woman and man means having a commitment to their assignment; four donations at maximum before they cease their function. See further Ishiguro (2005), p. 221-23.

[5]. Contrary to a norm, Hailsham School has an oddity of privileging arts over sports. The teachers at Hailsham view creativity as an indicator of the students’ ability to emulate the life of cultivated humans. The cold irony is that the students of Hailsham do not have necessary organs which will enable them to create life. See Ishiguro (2005), p. 81-83, p. 91-92, and p. 105-107.

[6]. M. R. Pia Malakul was the first principal of the Civil Service Training School (1899), later the Royal Pages School (1902). He is also remembered from a book written in 1902, Sombat Khong Pudee (Attributes of the Virtuous): an influential ‘ethical-code’ guidebook, read widely by generations of Thai. See summary of this book atр╕кр╕бр╕Ър╕▒р╕Хр╕┤р╕Ьр╕╣р╣Йр╕Фр╕╡

[7]. Times London, University News, Degrees Conferred at Oxford, 16 October 1931.

[8]. Pin Malakul (2006), Autobiography of M. L. Pin Malakul, Bangkok: Tepnimit Publishing, in Thai.

[9]. ibid.

[10]. Pin founded Silapakorn’s Sanamchan campus in 1968. There, he tried experimenting it with the Oxford collegiate system- a university with arms of independent colleges managing their own academic and financial affairs. But there was no social and governmental support, and the idea was consequently abandoned several years later.

[11]. Updated from “One hundred Years of Pin Malakul” (р╣Ср╣Рр╣Р р╕Ыр╕╡ р╕б.р╕е.р╕Ыр╕┤р╣Ир╕Щ р╕бр╕▓р╕ер╕▓р╕Бр╕╕р╕е р╕Ър╕╕р╕Др╕Др╕ер╕кр╕│р╕Др╕▒р╕Н р╕Ьр╕ер╕Зр╕▓р╕Щр╕Фр╕╡р╣Ар╕Фр╣Ир╕Щр╕гр╕░р╕Фр╕▒р╕Ър╣Вр╕ер╕Б), in Supapim’s column, Sakulthai, 28 October 2003. In Thai.