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Think before dragging your institution into the fray

Political heat has risen at various organisations these days, not just on the streets, as some people have carried the name of their group or profession into the political fray.

During the Bangkok Shutdown, doctors, pharmacists and healthcare workers marched on the streets under the banner of their honoured occupations, alongside anti-government protesters. Medical workers who wish to support the government may well be grumbling.

Elsewhere on social-media pages where students, alumni and organisations' members read the news, several comments also reflect frustration as to why the names of their institutions and their professions have ended up in the political strife.

Hospitals, for example, have now become political hotspots as they fly banners reading "We are against the corrupt government" in support of the campaign launched by the Medical Workers' Network.

The ministry's permanent secretary, Dr Narong Sahametapat, is a key member of the network.

Government supporters have already tried to remove those banners from hospitals in various provinces including Tak and Ratchaburi. This month, the deputy permanent secretary for public health, Charnwit Tharathep, finally said that any political statement should be made under an institution's name only if all members of that body give approval.

"Without approvals from all members, the statement should be issued under the name of the person involved only," he said.

However, other people disagree and say that by being part of an institution they have every right to use its name.

"I think every member of Thammasat University should be able to use its name," Student Council president Perattaya Damsri said.

"We espouse freedom."

There were many groups active in politics for various causes within the university's campuses, she said.

Tanatorn Tanantong, a leader of candle vigils for peace at Thammasat Rangsit, insisted that it should be okay for everyone to use his organisation's name for a political movement. But the issue was quite sensitive as sometimes it threatened to spur social division.

Piyarat Chongthep from the 3k Love Democracy group, which is known as Look Phrachom Pokpong Prachathipatai (King Mongkut's students protect democracy), admitted that his group used to think about changing its name to avoid any impact on their alma mater.

3k here refers to the three King Mongkut's Institutes of Technology in North Bangkok, Lat Krabang and Thon Buri.

Now, on its Facebook page, the 3k love Democracy group states clearly that its members are just part of the three educational institutions.

With a clearly different political opinion, the Rum Jai Bhatiroop Prates group at the Lat Krabang location supports reform. It also says its members are just a part of the institute.

As political tension rises at various organisations, there is a serious need to pause and think if one needs to drag one's institution into the political fray.

Diverse political views are common. Very often, one's opinions also change over time. So, should people link one's institution with a view that could change?

No matter what your opinions are and what answers you have in mind, please promote a sense of mutual trust and respect.


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