At a military facility outside Bangkok, a drill sergeant barks orders at a group of film students learning the hard way that creative license has its limits in Thailand. “You are here to learn discipline,” the officer shouted. “Do you understand? “Yes, sir!” shouted back the group of 53 aspiring artists — boys with shaggy hair, girls with tattoos and yoga pants. “Discipline means respecting the rules and regulations,” he told them. “If you misbehave, you must be punished.”
In military-ruled Thailand, this is how university hazing is handled. The offense: a video posted online that showed a half-dozen fully clothed freshman doing an erotic couples dance as upperclassmen cheered. Social media dubbed it a “love-making dance.” The punishment: three days of boot camp for a new type of disciplinary punishment known as “attitude adjustment.”
The military junta that seized power over a year ago pioneered the idea of “attitude adjustment” as a technique to silence critics. The junta summons politicians and others who voice dissent to military bases where they are typically incarcerated several days, interrogated and made to “confess” to their transgressions and sign a contract to not repeat them — a practice that has been widely criticized by human rights groups.