Thailand teacher who threw coffee mug at student to be charged for disfiguring her face

BANGKOK (AFP) - A Thai teacher who allegedly left a student disfigured after throwing a coffee mug at her head will be charged, the police said on Wednesday (Sept 14), after the case went viral.

The family of 17-year-old student Narudee Jodsanthia went public via the local media this week after negotiations with the school over medical costs broke down.

They allege that Narudee was left with facial nerve damage, causing a permanent droop on the left side of her face, after a physical education teacher threw a ceramic cup at her head in early August because she and some friends walked away from an area where they had been ordered to sit.

"The teacher said he will come to hear the charge of attacking her today but so far he has not shown up yet," Captain Karn Singchangchai, of Chokechai district police station in northeastern Nakhon Ratchasima province, told AFP.

The teacher has been transferred to another school while the local education authorities investigate, said Mr Chukiat Visetsena, the director of the education zone where the school is based.

Narudee posted photos of her injuries on Facebook. "The teacher thought that we were not obeying him so he threw a coffee mug at random and it hit me," she wrote.

It is the latest outburst of public anger over how authority figures treat underlings in a country where complex hierarchies are deeply entrenched.

A number of similar recent incidents have caused anger, with powerful figures routinely avoiding prosecution.

Earlier this month, video footage went viral of a student forced to grovel at her teacher's feet following a disagreement over whether she was allergic to egg-tofu soup.

The same week a Thai Air Asia stewardess was forced to prostrate on the floor before a disgruntled passenger, prompting an apology from airline boss Tony Fernandez.

Thailand has a hierarchical society in which teachers are afforded huge respect.

But many education reform advocates argue such extreme deference discourages critical thinking, pointing out that education standards in the comparatively wealthy nation have been slipping for years.

Since seizing power in a 2014 coup, junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha has ordered all school children to recite his "twelve values" daily, which include respecting parents, teachers, elders and "maintaining discipline".