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Supamas Isarabhakdi Intervenes in Uthenthawai-PIT Feud: A Bold Move Towards Peace and Relocation

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In the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, where the skyline is a blend of modern skyscrapers and historical temples, a saga unfolds that could easily rival the plot of the most captivating telenovelas. The protagonists? Two venerable institutions of higher education: Uthenthawai and the Pathumwan Institute of Technology (PIT). Their battleground? Not the figurative arenas of academic accolades or research breakthroughs, but the literal streets of Thailand’s capital.

At the heart of this drama is none other than the esteemed Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation Minister, Supamas Isarabhakdi. Imagine her, a figure of authority and resilience, stepping up to the plate on a Tuesday that felt more like the opening scene of a critical act in this ongoing educational drama. The cause of her decisive intervention? An escalating series of clashes between Uthenthawai and PIT students that had recently seen a tragedy, with a student falling victim to the violence that seems to shadow the steps of these academic rivals.

The tension reached a crescendo last Friday when two unsuspecting PIT students became the targets of an assault orchestrated by former students of Uthenthawai. The aftermath? A community in mourning and a swift response from Supamas, who announced the temporary closure of Uthenthawai’s Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, a testament to the grave nature of these confrontations.

In a bold move, Supamas decreed a halt to new enrollments for the 2024 academic year at Uthenthawai. Picture her, determined to dilute the intensity of this rivalry by controlling the number of combatants, all while setting the stage for the university’s relocation. This wasn’t just about managing student numbers; it was about crafting a strategic retreat to diffuse a feud that had turned fatal.

The narrative takes a historical turn as we are reminded of the Uthenthawai campus’s peculiar predicament, situated on land leased from Chulalongkorn University. A ticking clock narrative commenced in December 2022 when the Supreme Administrative Court ordered Uthenthawai to vacate within 60 days — a deadline defied by the university and its community, hope against hope.

Supamas, serving as both the arbiter of conflict and the voice of reason, urged the students to detach themselves from the land dispute, trying to shield them from the adult world of property battles. Yet, despite her calls for neutrality, the recent violent outburst swayed her sympathies more firmly towards Chulalongkorn, underscoring the urgent need for relocation to prevent further tragedies.

In discussions that echo through the hallowed halls of academia, Supamas met with Uthenthawai alumni, securing a reluctant agreement to follow the court’s relocation order, albeit with pleas for patience. However, unperturbed by the logistical challenges of moving a campus that she remarks “barely has 1,000 students,” Supamas remained steadfast in her vision.

As the saga unfolds, the minister has also enlisted the police to be vigilant during Uthenthawai’s upcoming anniversary celebrations, perhaps preempting the prologue to another tragic chapter in this academic rivalry.

The Uthenthawai campus, a modest 20 rai land plot, tells a story of historical entanglements, leased from Chulalongkorn University since 1935. The expiry of this lease in 2003 marked the beginning of a protracted tug-of-war, with Chulalongkorn’s decades-long quest for the return of its property facing resistance at every turn.

In a twist of fate, the government had offered a ray of hope in 2002, proposing a new chapter for Uthenthawai with a relocation to a 36 rai plot in the scenic folds of Samut Prakan’s Bang Phli district, complemented by a generous 200 million baht construction budget. Yet, this beacon of resolution flickered and dimmed, snuffed out by the vehement protests of students unwilling to sever their ties to their alma mater’s historic grounds.

This tale of two institutions, ensnared in a web of historical land disputes, societal expectations, and the raw emotions of youth, continues to unfold. As we await the next act, one cannot help but ponder the lessons to be learned from this saga — lessons about change, the enduring ties to place and past, and the sometimes-painstaking journey towards a harmonious future.


  1. WorldTraveler January 30, 2024

    This story spans more than just an educational dispute; it’s about the fight for identity, the resistance against change, and the ultimate realization that progress often requires sacrifice and bold decisions.

  2. BookwormBeth January 30, 2024

    Heartbreaking story.

  3. Marcus January 30, 2024

    A much-needed intervention.

  4. SunnyDays January 30, 2024

    This saga is deeply moving, highlighting the complexities of academic rivalries and the lengths some are willing to go for their institutions.

  5. LilSparrow January 30, 2024

    Way to go, Supamas!

  6. TechieTom January 30, 2024

    Future of education?

  7. AnnaBee January 30, 2024

    So sad about the student.

  8. HistoryBuff January 30, 2024

    This vivid account presents a sobering reminder of how deeply entrenched land and identity issues can become, threatening not only historical ties but also current student safety.

  9. Joey92 January 30, 2024

    Can’t they just get along?

  10. ScienceGeek January 30, 2024

    Fascinating dynamics at play within this academic conflict. Clearly, what’s needed is innovative thinking and leadership to navigate the challenges of traditions versus modern requirements.

  11. SamLee88 January 30, 2024

    This feels like a movie plot.

  12. CityMouse January 30, 2024

    Bangkok drama indeed!

  13. CuriousCat January 30, 2024

    What happens next?

  14. AlexGrey January 30, 2024

    What a twist!

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