The Student Union of Chulalongkorn University has controversially ditched its tradition of holding a royal parade ahead of its annual football match with Thammasat University. The decision to scrap the Phra Kiew parade, which students say promotes authoritarianism and inequality, has sparked fierce debate between Thailand’s progressive thinkers and its traditional conservatives. The Chulalongkorn student body has issued a statement to confirm the move, which all 29 members voted for unanimously.
“The procession of Phra Kiew supports and reflects authoritarian regimes and a belief that people are not equal. This form of procession also represents feudalism by lifting one group higher than others.”
According to a Coconuts report, the Phra Kiew parade is a long-held tradition which honours Chulalongkorn’s royal roots. Some have criticised the timing of the announcement, coming as it did on Chulalongkorn Day, which commemorates the death of King Rama V, founder of the university.
The parade dates back some 6 decades and involves 50 students carrying a male and female participant on a royal transportation platform known as a palanquin. It takes place before the annual football match between Chulalongkorn and Thammasat universities, usually held in January.
In the wake of the decision to ditch the parade, opinion has been fiercely divided, with a former university student taking to Facebook to praise the decision.
“You did something that I never even thought of. Thank you for your courage to stand up and fight for this. Even though the university is linked to a royal name, we no longer need to carry on this feudal tradition.”
However, the famous Thai novelist and former ambassador to Argentina, Narisroj Fuangrabil, disagrees.
“Kids (these days) think like Artificial Intelligence. No sense of gratitude or respect for their elders. Discourteous like a robot. They think that everything must be equal. They cannot understand complex, multidimensional concepts like that ‘humans’ are flesh and blood with parents and siblings.”