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Some Thai students decide to boycott their graduation




PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand will attend Thammasat University’s graduation ceremonies tonight and tomorrow evening. But there’s been a growing contingent of graduates who are boycotting the ceremony as a personal protest in relation to current rallies around Thailand about government and constitutional reform.

The night, the biggest night of a student’s schooling, is a special event for many Thai students when a member of the Royal Family frequently attend the ceremonies to confer the degrees in a parade of passing students.

The protests, that started back in July by a core of university students, openly mentioning the reform of the Thai Monarchy for the first time, have now morphed into a common thread of discussion in social media. The role of the Thai Monarch, in the past a taboo topic for polite conversation in Thailand, is now being subjected to frequent media coverage and discussion.

Usually a night to remember for many students, it’s not completely uncommon for graduating students to miss the commencement ceremony. The highly choreographed graduation ceremonies are voluntary although the chance to accept their certificate from a member of the Royal Family, including the photo that would take pride of place in homes around Thailand, is usually not passed up.

Now a rump of students, not only at Thammasat, are taking the opportunity for a significant personal protest, and deciding to forgo the ceremonies and make their own symbolic statement about the current protest issues. In most cases the events involve an entire day of rehearsals, culminating in mere seconds as they receive their rolled-up certificate in a regimented, solemn and formal ceremony. There can also be quite a lot of costs involved with the hiring of graduation garments with strict dress codes surpassing the wardrobes of many of the young students.

One post itemised the costs including up to 500 baht for a new skirt, a 1,000 baht for hair and grooming, including a hair cut and dyeing their hair back to black if they’d decided to go ‘colour’ during their studies, and a pair of shoes for up to 1,000 baht. Then there’s make-up fees, a photographer (some graduation photos can be ‘event’ in themselves), both adding another 6,000-10,000 baht to the costs.

Some protesters earlier this month announced on social media posts that they were missing their graduation describing it as a “superfluous and onerous event”. Although plenty of graduates have missed the ceremonies in the past for various reasons, now they’re posting about their boycott, complete with explanations calling for reforms for the role of Thailand’s Head of State.

Some graduates have also taken to social media explaining why they will be attending the graduation ceremonies, in most cases saying they will attend for the benefit of their parents.


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  1. Avatar


    Friday, October 30, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Error. It’s once in a lifetime event and one that you realize is important with time. And not a suitable platform for politics.

    • Avatar


      Friday, October 30, 2020 at 10:01 pm

      If they consider that the most important event in their life at the present moment is more political than a sheet of paper attached to a photo, nobody has o criticizes that. This does not change the pure value of a person, but maybe can change their real future in the life that they see becoming worth and worth for so many reasons.

    • Avatar


      Friday, October 30, 2020 at 11:12 pm

      The event itself is entirely meaningless. They have their degree – that’s what matters. It’s a good opportunity to make a political protest – one they may never get again.

      • Avatar


        Saturday, October 31, 2020 at 4:47 pm

        I agree, I remember when I left highschool same as University. I did not participated in borh final events as I found it a waste of time. Got my certificate in any case.

    • Avatar


      Saturday, October 31, 2020 at 1:32 pm

      So you’re saying it works as a form of protest then.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, October 30, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    Full credit to them.
    If they have to deal with persons they do not respect, they have a right to make it known and refuse.

  3. Avatar


    Saturday, October 31, 2020 at 12:42 am

    What a load of nonsense, it does not cost that much.

    My wife graduated and was given the degree by the last king and the photographs were taken by her university and cost just a few baht for the pictures.

    It is a chance of a lifetime and so the students who do not go are doing it out of protest.

  4. Avatar


    Saturday, October 31, 2020 at 1:10 am

    If they think that the most significant event in their lives at the moment is more political than a sheet of paper attached to a frame, no one criticises that. This does not change a person ‘s pure value, but for so many reasons, maybe it will change their actual future in the life they see being worthy and worthy.

  5. Avatar

    alain martinoli

    Sunday, November 1, 2020 at 12:13 am

    Very expensiv for the commun family
    The study just expensiv in Bangkok Room caution electricity wather public transportation buchs closes meals and after you finisb need to paye again for ceremony. In nany countrys its only simple ceremony and the students do on self sam festivity noting grandiode and expensiv.

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