Imagine a scene befitting a high-stakes drama unfolding in the heart of Bangkok, with the storied Uthenthawai Campus of Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok (RMUTTO) taking center stage. This venerable institution, celebrating its monumental 90th anniversary, found itself wrapped in a cloak of heightened security, as crowd control police stood as sentinels against the potential surge of student unrest. Adorning its gates, a bold banner waved – a testament to the fervent opposition against its proposed relocation, stirring the emotions of all who passed.
On this significant day, not one, but two formidable companies of police, specially trained in the art of crowd control, were deployed like chess pieces on a board. Their mission? To ensure the anniversary celebrations remained a joyous affair, untainted by the shadow of student clashes that have historically marred the reputation of these halls of learning. The police, vigilant sentinels, patrolled not just the RMUTTO’s Uthenthawai Campus, but also the neighboring Pathumwan Institute of Technology (PIT) and their surrounding vicinities, determined to shield the community from the echoes of past violence.
Amid the urban landscape of Bangkok, where the pulse of the city beats the strongest – near the cultural heartbeat at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC), in the shadows of the National Stadium, and amidst the bustling corridors of shopping paradises like MBK, Siam Center, and Siam Paragon – the police stood guard. Their presence was a reminder of the tense undercurrents that can flow beneath the surface of academic camaraderie and celebration.
As dawn broke on this historical day, the Uthenthawai Campus was a hive of activity. Students past and present, their faces lit with reminiscence and pride, gathered to honor their alma mater from as early as 6.30 am. Security was tight – entry to the campus was a carefully guarded privilege, with visitors subjected to meticulous searches that left no stone unturned or bag unchecked, ensuring the safety of all within its walls.
Yet, amidst the revelry, a somber note was struck as two students found themselves in the grips of the law, their intentions questioned over the discovery of knives amongst their belongings. The swift hand of justice led them away to the Pathumwan police station, a stark reminder of the fine line between celebration and safety.
This heightened security response was not without reason. The annals of Uthenthawai Campus and PIT are marked by chapters of rivalry and confrontation, leading to tragic consequences. The specter of violence looms large, with memories of lost lives – a first-year student’s dreams extinguished by gunfire, and a PIT student’s journey ended by the blade, leaving a community in mourning and a call for peace unheeded.
The story of Uthenthawai Campus is as much about its location as its legacy. Nestled on a lease of land from Chulalongkorn University since the epoch of 1935, this academic haven has seen decades roll by. Yet, the sands of time have brought forth the challenge of relocation – a proposal met with resistance, a saga of negotiations stretching back to the halls of history, and a future shrouded in uncertainty.
In a twist of fate, a plot of land in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan, emerged as the beacon of hope for a new beginning, backed by the promise of government funding. However, the path to this promised land was far from smooth, with the voices of opposition ringing loud, halting progress in its tracks.
In recent developments, a clarion call was issued by none other than the Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation, urging for a resolution that might pave the way to peace and bring an end to the strife that has long cast a shadow over these institutions of learning. As this saga unfolds, the community watches with bated breath, hoping for a chapter that leads not just to a new location, but to a new era of harmony and progress.
And so, the tale of Uthenthawai Campus continues – a narrative interwoven with tradition, triumph, and trial – standing as a beacon of knowledge in the heart of Bangkok, its story an indelible part of the city’s rich tapestry.