Opinion: Tommayantee’s legacy deserves scrutiny

In today’s current political climate, Wimon “Tommayantee” Chiamcharoen is being remembered in two different ways.

The first is as one of Thailand’s most successful female writers, who was also behind the literary classic Khu Kam (คู่กรรม).

The second is as one of the co-leaders of the far-right “Housewives Club” (ชมรมแม่บ้าน), one of the organizations that fanned out the military’s propaganda which eventually led to the October 6 massacre.

The club’s main purpose was to protect the United States’ image by arranging demonstrations and making speeches to attack university students, who were protesting against the return of a tyrant, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn.

The university students were asking for democracy and they did not want a US military base in Thailand. The Housewives Club, however, use this argument to say that the university students were influenced by communism in neighboring countries and that they were looking to destroy the Thai-US relationship. 

Wimon’s voice and her group’s propaganda was also heard on Armored Division Radio or “Yan Kro” (ยานเกราะ), the same channel which urged right-wing paramilitary groups such as the Village Scouts, Krathing Daeng and Nawaphon to fight against the “communists” and “antimonarchists” at Thammasat University.

Some might say that Wimon’s involvement in spreading the propaganda that led to the massacre at the university was not as much as Utharn Sanitwong, one of the radio hosts on Yan Kro and Free Radio Club (ชมรมวิทยุเสรี), or General Sutsai Hatsadin, the leader of Krathing Daeng.

However, one could argue that her role is no less than that of Uthit Narksawat, a famous right-wing radio and television host at the time who constantly attacking the university students’ movement through his daily show “Pheu Pandin Tai” (เพื่อแผ่นดินไท).

No matter how you choose to remember Wimon, who was later picked by the military government that came into power after the massacre to be a member of the national legislative assembly at the time, there is a need to remember that the dead cannot defend themselves.

But, there is also a need to understand that given the current political climate, if a pro-democracy figure died, will the ultra-royalists feel sad?

I do not think so. The netizens’ comments about Wimon certainly painted a picture of a divided society where history could be repeating itself.

The process of dehumanization already has already begun with people from all fronts calling against one other: Salim (สลิ่ม), cockroaches, parasites and Sarm Geep (สามกีบ).

The military’s propaganda machine via information operation is currently working overtime as university students’ pro-democracy movement is back in full swing since last year.

Wimon’s death paved a way for the October 6 massacre to be remembered more than one time this year. Her family and the families of the massacred will thus remember her in remarkably different ways.

For me, the most important thing to remember is the history of it. We should never allow this dark chapter to be forgotten so that we can prevent such tragedies from happening again.

At least people are now condemning everyone that played a part in that massacre – no matter how big or small their role was – instead of just trying to sweep it under the carpet.

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