Our making was part of a dire history. It came into existence after Netiwit, an undergrad student, was ousted from his position of the President of the Student Council of Chulalongkorn University in 2017. Just because of his action, by walking out from the university ceremony, questioning the authoritarian culture in the university. He felt hopeless to do activism in university, instead, he found an incredible alternative to renew enthusiasm for creating changes in the society by ways of writing and translating books.
And then came the press…
Samnak Nisit Sam Yan Student Publishing House (or short name: Sam Yan Press) was founded by Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal and his student colleagues at Chulalongkorn University for the purpose of providing spaces for students to present their thoughts and opinions, translate interesting and activism books from foreign languages.
The name reflects the recognition and value of the local community surrounding the university, ‘Sam Yan’ which nowadays are being destroyed and losing their identities. Netiwit and friends are advocates for the university to be inclusive and value the ways of community life. The name also reflects our sense of belonging while we, students, face the challenges in the world we have roots in.
Writing and Translating as Ways We Fight for Democracy
We have our own beliefs that fighting for democracy can be accomplished through many approaches. From publishing works, thinking critically and creatively, including writing, translating, editing, proofreading, drawing, and designing book covers, along with arranging contents, are all the ways we fight for democracy. Fighting means participation and collaboration from all of us. Planting the seed of democracy together is a necessarily long and arduous mission.
Since the beginning, the Press has been constructed on the foundation of international unity, cooperation of youth, the need of justice, nonviolence and democracy.
The first work published by the Press was ‘Time is on our side: A birthday book for Joshua Wong’. The book contained translated essays from Martin Luther King Jr. (Letter from Birmingham Jail) and Liu Xiaobo (Tiananmen Square: The hunger strike declaration, 2 June 1989), as well as a translated interview with Joshua Wong, Netiwit’s Hong Kong friend who was arrested by the order of the Government of China.
After that, we have begun publishing works written by notable thinkers such as ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’ by Isaiah Berlin (in which the Press is the first publisher to print his essays in the Thai language), ‘On Tyranny’ by Timothy Snyder, ‘Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship’ by Hannah Arendt, ‘Letter to Dr Huzak’ by Vaclav Havel, as well as an activism handbook from Gene Sharp, ‘From Dictatorship to Democracy’ and ‘Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution’.
What We Have Advocated
We have learnt and been challenged about the horror we treat animals in Thailand and in the world. In general, Thai people believe It is our responsibility to be kind to animals in order to make merit in certain religious conditions. However, our aim is to launch a campaign and raise awareness in our society on this particular issue, in secular terms of environmental, moral and ethical responsibility. To fulfil our goal, we have published a variety of books on Animal Rights, one of them is ‘Why Vegan?’ (2021) by Peter Singer. And we will continue to issue more really soon.
Milk Tea Alliance and Chinese Dissidents
We live in a world where totalitarianism is surging, and the great allure is China. The People’s Republic of China is gradually becoming stronger, gaining more reverence in the international community. Nevertheless, the Central Government treats minorities brutally and keeps the entire republic under surveillance and restrictions. Today’s China values power over the liberty of its people.
We reflect that Thai society is leaning towards totalitarianism, and being submerged in the Chinese government domination. In order to preserve our freedom and liberty as well as global solidarity, we should learn from people who have experienced it. We placed our mission in introducing renowned Chinese-language works of great Chinese dissidents and other ethnic intellectuals to Thai society, in the Thai language. We have translated the work of Liu Xiaobo and Ilham Tohti, Uyghur professors and received much positive feedback from Thai readers.
With our great determination, we value the collaboration with Milk Tea Alliance, so we have produced books for Thai to learn more about the resistance of Hong Kong and Taiwan, such as ‘Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink’ by Prof Jeffrey Wasserstrom, ‘Taiwan is Not Chinese’ by Hsueh Hua-yuan, Tai Pao-Tsun, and Chow Mei-li, and so much more waiting to be discovered.
Inspired by the work ‘This Life’ by Martin Hagglund and ‘After Buddhism’ by Stephen Batchelor. We think that the Buddhist culture in Thailand should be more open and vibrant for young people. The call for a revival of Buddhism in a new context is echoed. We don’t think that the culture has no value, but it should be renewed and reinterpreted and give meaning to people in this more uncertain world. So, we have published a series of Secular Buddhism such as, ‘Secular Buddhism’ by Stephen Batchelor, and will soon be published ‘After Buddhism’ by the same author, as well as ‘Revamp’ by Winton Higgins.
Questioning and demanding change against authoritarianism in schools and universities. Especially, promoting liberty — freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression — in schools and universities which students must acknowledge and not be controlled under authoritarian regimes.
We also have a remarkable branch, Feminist Sam Yan, to represent and support women’s voices in our society and the world. We have published ‘Men Explain Things to Me’ by Rebecca Solnit.
How We Work
We have not only students but also many professors, both in Chulalongkorn University and from other universities who take their time as editors of translated volumes and co-translated in the pursuit of free thoughts and with solidarity in the faith of democracy.
Doing for the Better World with Publishing
We hope what we are doing will bridge diverse knowledge and philosophical thoughts and their applications in order to promote a secure foundation for upholding human rights both in and out of Thailand. We also wish to continually strengthen communication between professors, students and the general public. Sam Yan Press is yet another pillar of support for democracy that was born from cooperation, perseverance, self-examination and most importantly, freedom of thinking and expression.
Our Press had worked under Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa Foundation (Sulak Sivaraksa as the Honorary President), which is the Thai foundation aiming to promote culture and literature. In 2021, The Press formed the social enterprise “Nisit Sam Yan Co., Ltd.”
Doing for the More Equal World with Workshops and Projects
Moreover, Sam Yan Press is working side by side with various progressive movement groups and student organisations, such as the Student Government of Chulalongkorn University, and the Political Science Student Union of Chulalongkorn University. As our vision is to protect and promote democracy, we have done further to connect people in many incredible projects, such as Chula Walk for exploring the pathways and infrastructures starting in the university and discovered they are not made for really all people – excluded those in wheelchairs; Write to Raise for the medium to collect and share the commoners’ stories and another perspective of the unheard – resulting in Loving Aunite: The Untold Stories of the Commoner; and more missions we are succeeding.
How Should You Help Us
To support the translation and other projects that we are doing, including such training as the translator, and group studying, please share and support us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) or contact us for sponsorship at firstname.lastname@example.org
Samnak Nisit Sam Yan Press offers to youngsters of Thai a lesson on how to confront authoritarian oppression under hard-line policy of the regime.
Samnak Nisit Sam Yan Press offers to readers of Thai a treasure some of the best works in today’s world on freedom, social justice, and democracy.