Sport and satire at CU-TU match
Annual friendly football match features colourful displays highlighting inequality and the environment
The annual Chulalongkorn-Thammasat football match on Saturday was a colourful spectacle as usual, with student-made floats calling attention to inequality, the environment and political struggle under the theme “Make a Change”.
Chula beat Thammasat 2-1 in the 74th friendly football match, held at the National Stadium in Pathumwan district.
While scrutiny of posters and floats with political messages was not as intense as in the previous five years under military rule, police, both plainclothes and in uniform, thronged the stadium and vandalism was reported the previous day.
TV Channel 3 reported mysterious footprints on two posters that Thammasat students had left to dry after painting them at the university’s Rangsit campus at 8pm on Friday.
Among the themes of the parades and floats preceding the game were the political divide, cyberbullying, global warming, inequality and the environment.
Thammasat students showed off a series of four posters that read: “State power is clearly strong, sky-high. Guns, coups are decadent, obsolete. People resist, irritated by the immoral.”
The first words of each poster, highlighted in red, made up the sentence “Highest power belongs to the people”. The words appear in Section 1 on sovereignty in the first constitution promulgated three days after the 1932 Revolution that overthrew absolute monarchy.
Most of the symbols linked to the events of 1932 have vanished mysteriously in recent years, most notably a plaque commemorating the event at the Royal Plaza.
The CU parade started with an acronym that took netizens a while to crack while being widely shared online. The consensus they came up with was: [With] a stupid leader, we will all die,” or SLWAD. It was meant to mimic a viral comment by an adviser who posted it while Bangkok people were bracing for a deluge during the Great floods in 2011 during the term of the Yingluck Shinawatra government.
Another exhibit touched on social bullying, showing some of the toxic phrases used online, as well as fake news.
A TU float called the “guillotine of injustice” showed the head of a poor man being chopped off while a rich man next to him remained in one piece.
Another showed a man playing a flute to mesmerise a “cobra”, reflecting the flaws in the constitution which allow an MP to move to another party even though he or she ran under another party’s banner and ideology.
Another float showed rich, healthy people sucking up clean air from a tube leading from the lungs of poor people, representing social inequality and how the poor are always more affected by the deteriorating environment.
The current political and ideological divide was summed up by a float depicting Democracy Monument being pulled one way by men in green while a group of non-uniformed people tried to pull it the other way.
The theme of good vs evil was reflected in a float showing a man with a goat head’s being hanged and struck with a chair wielded by others, against a backdrop that read: “Bad guy”. In addition to showing the dangers of black-and-white thinking, the float showed that the painful memories of the Oct 6, 1976 Thammasat massacre were not lost on the young generation.
On the football pitch, Singkarn Pongsupa got TU on the scoresheet in the second minute. Teerathep Vinothai leveled for Chula in the 37th minute and Sorawit Panthong scored what proved to be the winner five minutes later.
Since 1934, the two universities have alternately hosted the annual friendly matches. Chula has won 18 times and Thammasat 24 times, with 32 draws.