These are the words of a student at Benjamarachutit School, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, in Thailand’s southern region.
The student also said:
“If we want to learn, we can learn on our own. There’s no need for someone to tell us how to set our minds. This is not the way to get people to love the country.”
“If someone deserves love, they don’t have to do anything, and they’ll still be loved.”
The cult of nation, religion, and king
In the clip, dated 1 October of this year, a soldier looks on uncomfortably and disapprovingly as the young schoolboy said those words.
The event is part of a nationwide indoctrination scheme called “The Project to Build the Principles of Loving Nation, Religion, and King.”
In the scheme, the military targets schools around the kingdom to indoctrinate students for love, reverence, and loyalty.
According to reports, following the military’s indoctrination lecture at Benjamarachutit School, three students stood up to voice their opinions. Following their action, the school has called in one of the students’ parents for a “talk.”
The incident sparked the hashtag #เบญคอน.
Addressing the incident, on 6 October, General Prayut Chan-o-cha said, “The purpose of the scheme is to build the principles of loving the country, to nurture the people’s mindset. We must find the appropriate way. I don’t want it to be a burden or to cause troubles.”
The great patriotic duty of all Thais
This video is from a different school.
It shows students watching an indoctrination documentary recounting King Naresuan the Great’s deeds, who freed the Ayutthaya Kingdom from Myanmar’s rule. Narrated in a dramatic voice, the indoctrination film expounds on the virtues of the Thai king and the gratitude and indebtedness the Thai people owe the monarchy.
This link shows an indoctrination syllabus for Baan Don Chang School in the northeastern region. The year-long indoctrination scheme states the following purpose:
“The country is the beginning and the end, the identity of the Thai nation that we must love and cherish. Religion is the pillar of the soul. The king is the center, the heart of all Thai people. All three makes for a united Thai people, oneness. Stay true to the goodness of the Buddhist principles for the unity of the people of Thailand.”
These are the goals outlined in the syllabus:
1. To understand the importance of nation, religion, and king.
2. To nurture the love for and pride in nation, religion, and king.
3. To appropriately display love for nation, religion, and king.