Respected political scientist and democracy advocate Likhit dies from cancer at 75
RENOWNED political science professor Likhit Dhiravegin passed away peacefully late on Sunday night at the age of 75.
Netizens took to social media to mourn his death, with people admiring the academic for being a genuine pro-democracy political scientist.
The professor had been receiving cancer treatment at Phramongkutklao Hospital since late last month. His funeral bathing ceremony was held yesterday at Wat That Thong in Bangkok.
Recognised as a great contemporary political scientist, Likhit was born on May 11, 1941. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at Thammasat University in 1966 and finished three master’s of arts degrees in international relations, law, and political science as well as earned a PhD in political science from renowned universities in the United States. The professor was popularly recognised as a fellow of the Royal Institute and as a political science lecturer at Thammasat University where he had served as a vice rector for Research and External Relations in 1988 and as dean of the university’s Political Science Faculty in 1983.
His works include the classic Thai political science book “Political Development in Thailand”, first published in 1976, among many other works. It is still studied by many political science students today.
Apart from academic roles, Likhit was also one of the most active technocrats from late 1980s to the early 2000s. The political scientist served in adviser roles to a prime minister, several ministers, and scores of government committees.
Years after his government service, Likhit made an entry into politics. He became a deputy minister of interior in 1997 under the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh’s administration and became a member of the House of Representative from 2001 to 2006 as a party-list member of the Thai Rak Thai Party.
After parliament was dissolved in February 2006, Likhit left Thai Rak Thai and with other politicians and founded the Palang Pandin Thai party, of which he was the leader. The veteran political scientist retired a year after that but was constantly invited to give lectures as a guest lecturer in many universities across the country.
During the final phase of his life, Likhit was recognised as a trenchant critic of the current coup-installed regime. He was invited to speak on many news programmes and at numerous public seminars and he often heavily criticised the National Council for Peace and Order and its government.
Scholars, politicians, and political activists, some of whom were his students at Thammasat University, took to social media to express their condolences and share their impressions of Likhit.
Satithorn Thananithichot, an expert on political institutions from King Prajadhipok’s Institute, wrote on his Facebook page that he had great respect for Likhit, labelling him a “genuine political scientist”.
He said Likhit’s remarks had always proved that political science was underpinned by principles that all political scientists should uphold.
Pheu Thai politician Pichai Naripthaphan wrote: “My deepest condolences at the loss of Ajarn Likhit Dhiravegin, a teacher and an academic who had truly sided with democracy.”
Pro-democracy journalist Atukkit Sawangsuk wrote on Facebook that Likhit had proved himself to be a sane political scientist amid all the insanity in society today.
Fugitive red-shirt activist Jaran Ditapichai wrote on Facebook that he mourned Likhit’s death. He said he had been on the same stage as Likhit in a seminar marking the fifth anniversary of the Constitutional Court.
Jaran said Likhit had been on the pro-democracy side during the political crisis of the past 10 years.
Netizens widely shared banners featuring Likhit’s remark that everything was ruined since the coup in 2006.
Virot Ali, a political scientist at Thammasat University, quoted Likhit as saying: “Everything is screwed up today because people my age have not upheld the principles. I hope people your age won’t do that to the country.”