23 May 2024

Chulalongkorn University’s Alumni Association announced today that the university will proceed with the procession, featuring the Phra Kieo coronet, at the annual football match against Thammasat University.

The alumni association’s decision is the latest move by those who oppose the Chulalongkorn University’s student union, which decided to cancel the procession claiming that it is a symbol of inequality and “old power”.

The alumni association said that the football match between the two famous universities dates back to 1934, with the objective to cement relationships and unity between their students and alumni.

The exact date of the match is yet to be fixed, after the Thammasat University Alumni Association recently asked to postpone the game until further notice, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Royal Society of Thailand Prof. Dr. Suraphol Viroonrak has defended the Phra Kieo coronet as a symbol of equality and freedom for Thai citizens, not a symbol of inequality, oppression or “old power”.

The student union’s controversial decision to cancel this year’s procession, announced on October 23rd, to coincide with Chulalongkorn Day, has drawn mixed reaction.

In a written statement, posted on a Facebook page of the Faculty of Architecture of Chulalongkorn University, Dr. Suraphol explained that the coronet is a symbol representing King Rama V, or King Chulalongkorn, which was bestowed by King Rama VI as an emblem on Chulalongkorn University, which used to be a school for aristocrats.

He said King Rama V was the person who introduced the slave liberation law in Thailand, ending the system of bonded servitude in Thailand, and introduced bureaucratic reforms by setting up ministries and departments, instead of just four core administrative bodies.

On foreign diplomacy, to save Thailand from British and French colonialists, Dr. Suraphol said, according to historical records, King Rama V undertook a long and dangerouห journey by boat to establish a relationship with Russia, to balance the power of the colonialists.

So, he explained, the featuring of the coronet in the traditional football match amounts to a recognition by the Thai people of their indebtedness to the late King.