Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thai Teens: We Don't Need No Democratic Education

Poll says teens ill-informed on new charter

Majority will back it, but won't read it

Bangkok Post

Most Thai teenagers believe the draft constitution will lead to a better society, though nearly half say they have never read any constitution because it is unnecessary in their daily lives, an Abac poll has found. Almost 50% of 1,269 teens, aged 17-19, said they have never wanted to learn what the constitution says about their rights, while 47% say they have read parts of it, according to the recent survey.

The 1997 constitution, hailed as the people's charter, was abrogated in last year's coup. The military has appointed a committee to draft a new version, due to be put to a referendum later this year.

However, criticism of the drafting process by many observers seems to have attracted little public attention.

Lack of time, unsure where to get a charter to read and difficulty understanding the meaning were reasons given by teenagers for their disinterest in the constitution, the poll says.

Despite their lack of interest in the constitution, 57% of the teens said they trusted that a new version would bring prosperity to Thailand and a majority of 71% said they would vote for the new charter if the referendum was held today because they want the general election held soon to end ongoing political troubles. The other 29% said they want to know what is in the charter before making a decision.

The findings were similar to a survey of the general public, said Abac poll director Noppadon Kannika. He said lack of interest in the constitution could eventually enable politicians to again tear down the country's highest law to satisfy their own interests with little or no resistance from the public.

Bangkok University student Arunchat Kuruwanit, also chairman of the Bangkok youth council, said many youths felt they had no role in the new charter and called on the government to encourage teenagers to see its importance and make the process more accessible.

Thai teens may not need a democratic education, but I am sure they are being taught quite well on how to bow and scrape before their superiors.

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