Chiang Mai University professor survives on just 118 baht per month amidst civil servant salary debate

Tatsanai Sethaseree next to his artwork. Photo courtesy of Khaosod

A Chiang Mai University professor revealed he struggled for a year on a monthly wage of just 118 baht, a situation that led to a difficult life, reports Khaosod.

He had to use an old motorcycle to commute to work, and there were times when he ran out of fuel midway. The issue of splitting civil servants’ salaries into two payments per month is currently a topic of widespread debate in society, with opinions divided.

Associate Professor Tatsanai Sethaseree, a teacher in the Department of Media Art and Design, Faculty of Fine Arts at Chiang Mai University, shared one aspect of a civil servant’s life. He stated that when he was first appointed as a regular teacher nearly 20 years ago, he received a salary of around 17,500 baht.

His parents used their retirement money to buy a plot of land and paid a portion of the house construction cost. Tatsanai borrowed the rest from the university welfare to complete the house without telling his parents. Every month, 70% of his salary was automatically deducted to repay the welfare debt, leaving only a few thousand baht to cover his expenses.

Eventually, a dispute arose with the university over further education, which involved receiving a scholarship and had to be settled at the administrative court. It took over five years for the case to conclude. Before the case ended at the administrative court, the university had already deducted the remaining few thousand baht from Tatsanai’s salary for exceeding the permitted study leave duration. All while his leave request was still not approved and he was teaching regularly.

The university eventually retroactively approved the leave and returned all the deducted salary over a year. The amount left in his account every month, after deducting welfare debt and the part deducted by the university, was just 118 baht. Tatsanai had a monthly salary of 118 baht for a year. All his credit and cash cards were maxed out, and he was continually rotating the cards to pay off each other’s debt.

Tatsanai’s story reflects one of the many problems faced by civil servants. His experience is that of a state employee who was not born with any privileges. He believes that many other civil servants and state employees in the country are not much better off than he was.

One good fortune was that during that time, no one thought about paying the salary in two instalments. Otherwise, he would receive 59 baht every two weeks.

In related news, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced a swift minimum wage increase to 400 baht that will assist workers grappling with increasing living costs. Read here to learn more!

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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