In a move that would make the Ministry of Truth proud, Thomas Fuller of the NYT reports:
His legacy is inseparable from the past decade of political tumult in Thailand, but high school students will not find the name Thaksin Shinawatra in the history textbooks that the country’s military junta recently ordered schools to use.
Mr. Thaksin’s name was scrubbed from the book by the Ministry of Education, said the textbook’s author, Thanom Anarmwat.
“The officials at the ministry just deleted it, cut it,” he said.
The Education Ministry’s order last month that all public high schools use the new textbook is part of a broader effort to instill patriotism in Thai youth. The junta has ordered a new school curriculum that underlines what are seen to be the unifying themes of the monarchy and the glories of the ancient kingdoms of Siam, as Thailand was formerly known.
Winai Rodjay, who was appointed by the military government as chairman of a committee on the teaching of history and civic duty, said the omission of Mr. Thaksin was an aberration. But he could not explain how it had happened or why. “I think the editor may have cut it,” he said, adding that he would prefer that Mr. Thaksin’s name be inserted the next time the textbook was revised.
The Education Ministry has also introduced a “merit passport,” in which students must keep a record of their behavior and attitudes.
Before the coup, schools were allowed to choose from a variety of history textbooks.
The one that is now the standard had been commissioned by the previous military junta, which seized power from Mr. Thaksin in 2006. The previous edition mentioned Mr. Thaksin at least seven times.
The new text covers the political history of Thailand’s past two decades in five pages, citing the names of many previous prime ministers and other protagonists, including Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the general who overthrew Mr. Thaksin in 2006.
Although it does not name Mr. Thaksin or his political party, it describes “a government” that used “many policies designed to gain popularity from people through huge budgets.”
Without mentioning either sibling, the textbook does touch on the opposition to Mr. Thaksin’s rule. A subheading describes the protests that preceded his ouster as “the people’s movement against dictatorial power, corruption and embezzlement.”
Mr. Thanom, the textbook author, said that many people might dislike Mr. Thaksin but that he should not be deleted from history.
“History is fact,” he said. “Mistakes or lesson learned — we have to tell our young people. They must know about it. We shouldn’t just delete it.”
BP: Some quotes in the NYT article by Baker and Charnvit. Is Big Brother proud by this revisionism?
Meanwhile, in other news, Matichon reports that Thammasat University has cancelled this year’s October 6 event (see below) and instead arranged an event for both on October 15 instead. After news of this spread, the University instead decided to arrange a merit ceremony on October 6 in the morning, but has forbidden the use of the university auditorium or to hold any seminars.
BP: Wikipedia on October 14:
The popular uprising of 14 October 1973 (Thai: เหตุการณ์ 14 ตุลา, RTGS: Hetkan Sip-Si Tula, “October 14 Event”; or Thai: วันมหาวิปโยค, RTGS: Wan Maha Wippayok, “Day of Great Sorrow”) was a watershed event in Thailand’s history. The uprising resulted in the end of the ruling military dictatorship and altered the Thai political system.
Wikipedia on October 6:
The Thammasat University Massacre, or Massacre of 6 October 1976 (เหตุการณ์ 6 ตุลา), was an attack on students and protesters that occurred on the campus of Thammasat University and at Sanam Luang in Bangkok. Students from various universities were demonstrating against the return to Thailand of former military dictator Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn. By the official count, forty-six people died in the attack, during which protesters were shot, beaten and their bodies mutilated. According to Puey Ungpakorn: “sources at the Chinese Benevolent Foundation, which transported and cremated the dead … revealed that they had handled “over a hundred corpses.”
BP: An attempt to play down the massacre and to instead remember it on the day of the uprising…