Assistant Professor Vinai Viriyavidhayavongs
Assistant Professor Vinai Viriyavidhayavongs

St Gabriel’s director steps down amid protests

national February 19, 2018 14:39

By The Nation

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Assistant Professor Vinai Viriyavidhayavongs, the director of Saint Gabriel’s College, announced that he would temporarily step down from his duties pending an investigation into his alleged wrongdoing.

“I will write to the St Gabriel’s Foundation asking for my suspension,” he said yesterday, bowing to protests at the school by students, alumni and parents. 

“I am not stubborn,” he added. “If St Gabriel’s doesn’t want me, I will leave.” 

He spoke before the crowd of protesters as loud boos continued. 

Established in 1920, St Gabriel’s is one of the country’s most prestigious boys-only schools. Its alumni include high-profile figures including Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon and Privy Councillor and former prime minister General Surayud Chulalont.

Admiral Pajun Tamprateep, a close aide to Privy Council President and statesman General Prem Tinsulanonda, joined protesters at the school on Monday. 

Earlier in the day, demonstrators, many wearing black, gathered at the school’s Martin De Tours Stadium at 8am, then moved to the front of Vinai’s office to urge him to resign and to suspend the work of his “special adviser”.

The school had never had a special adviser to the director until recently, they said, and they doubted the adviser’s qualifications, relationship to the director and need to be employed.

Leading protesters also read out a statement criticising various ways the school had allegedly mishandled its responsibilities.

The complaints included pupils’ lunches, which had become less nutritious, staff pay rises that did not adhere to regulations, the way the school had invested Bt70 million and other “questionable” ways it had distributed funds.