New Mandala readers who keep up-to-date with ongoing campaigns to silence dissenting voices in Thailand have, I expect, probably already stumbled across the website of Political Prisoners in Thailand. It has newly updated information on Associate Professor Somkiart Tangnamo, Dean of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, who is confronting efforts to dismiss him from his position. His alleged indiscretion: signing Giles Ji Ungpakorn’s petition to abolish lèse majesté.
Surely the powers-that-be at Chiang Mai University will see how ludicrous this has become and will fight to protect free academic expression on their campus. Universities unprepared to defend the rights of their professors are sad places indeed.
Anyone who has done even a bit of University teaching will know that, at the end of the day, free enquiry is what gets students excited about intellectual work. Without that freedom to debate and disagree Universities become mere factories for propaganda and for producing graduates who know only how to toe the line.