At the age of 81, Grandma Hai Khanjanta from the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani received an honourary Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng University, thanks to her unending patience in fighting for her rights for her lost land.
Previously obtaining only primary education, Grandma Hai said it took her 32 years to earn her Master’s. Her long battle against a government irrigation project which intruded on her land finally came to an end last year when she won her case.
“I was fighting legally with my rights. If I have no rights, I wouldn’t have fought for it,” said Grandma Hai.
Back in 1977, Huai La Ha Dam was built during the Gen Prem Tinsulanonda administration, which did not seek the consent of local residents, causing the Grandma to lose over 60 rai (24 acres) of her cultivated farmland as part of the project, while after the construction ended, the land was immediately flooded.