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Thailand: “We're sick of Ministry of Culture”

“We're sick of Ministry of Culture in Thailand”

This Facebook fan page was created by netizens who are criticizing the methods and policies of Thailand’s Ministry of Culture. The Ministry has been strict in its promotion and monitoring of authentic Thai culture in old and new media sites. As of this writing, the page has 2,857 fans.

"We're sick of Ministry of Culture in Thailand"

The Facebook page was also a response to the exaggerated reaction of ministry officials to the discussion thread started by one of its staff workers on popular web portal Pantip. The intention of the staff was to solicit feedback from the people about the performance of the ministry. The web forum generated an interesting discussion, including constructive criticism about the work of the ministry. But ministry officials didn’t like the negative comments. It forced its own employee to reveal his identity and to issue a public apology.

Sampan Ruksa, the staff of the ministry who initiated the online thread, wrote an apology letter for his actions. He began by pointing out that he didn’t mean to cause disrespect to the ministry by starting a web discussion on Pantip since it is a popular and credible website

Pantip is a top tier, high quality Thai web board. The respondents on the web board are members of the site who must submit their national ID card number or show their IP address. Discussion on this web board is more polite than on other web boards.

Sampan apologized to his superiors and colleagues in the ministry

I, Mr. Samphan Ruksa, started discussion threads at the beginning of last month on the web boards of Pantip.com, Larn Dham Sewana, and MThai. I contacted the Larn Dham Sewana administrator at the beginning of last month to request the thread be deleted.

I believe that my actions have had no benefit to the Cultural Monitoring Office, and worse, have caused discouragement and unease to the staff members who work therein. I hereby accept that my actions were due to my ignorance, inexperience, foolishness, and an incomplete understanding of their work process. In addition, I acted without consulting my superiors, acted beyond my duties, without judgment, and inappropriately, by allowing the outside public to criticize the Office's work too intrusively, to the point of criticizing specific individuals.

Thus, I, as the one who caused the damage, hereby take responsibility, admitting that my actions were unwitting. I apologize to each staff member of the Cultural Monitoring Office. I realize that the policies and the work of each staff member benefit our society and nation. They are determined and diligent, enduring difficulties and fatigue, and are very dedicated to their work. I am sorely grieved.

Kong Rithdee, in his Bangkok Post blog, lambasted the reactions of the ministry officials

The more the conservative wing of the ministry — which is the dominant wing — continues to display their pathetic inability to understand what's going on outside their self-constructed cocoon of “morality” and “values”, the more they're feeding the bonfire of frustration and radicalism. The more rabidly they want to censor, the more they'll drive people to hatch underground vendetta — and the power of technology will be on their side.

Poor ministry. They still don't get it that the most important culture is the culture of constructive criticism and free expression.

Commenting on the Facebook page, Natnaree Uriyapongson gives this advice

The Ministry of Culture should do something about the many prostitutes swarming our country instead of turning a blind eye and using it to “help and promote” our economy!!

In Thailand, citizens can call a hotline to complain about images, shows, and events which do not represent Thai culture. Thai Film Journal reports:

Call 1765. In Thailand that's the number to dial if you see or hear anything that might be deemed inappropriate — beauty queens in non-Thai costume, nipple slips, offensive love songs or a film — anything you think hinders social development, the Nation and “fine Thai culture”.

Thailand’s “culture police force” is composed of 1.3 million volunteers from 4,825 networks across the country who monitor TV shows, websites, and media events that offend and harm Thai culture.

3 comments

  • I’m one of those who’re proud of Thailand for its unique culture. Therefore, I agree that conserving the culture and protecting if from the western influence—to a certain degree—is agreeable. I think that, without the culture, Thailand wouldn’t maintain any Thainess. And without the Thainess, Thailand is nothing fascinating. But the attempt to close the discussion just because it brings out in the open the dissatisfaction of Thai people toward the ministry and the act of the government is not civil. It’s a form of censorship. The government has to understand that in this age—the digital age—it is really difficult to prevent the tide of globalization and the transformation of Thai culture. It is inevitable. But, of course, Thai people need to be aware of this fact and act in a way that would promote the “good” aspect on other cultures in the Thai society so that it would move forward, while at the same time, preserve its unique culture. The government is obviously stepping over the line to “control” the mind of its people. That’s nothing but a propaganda. Please, the government, allow the information to flow freely and teach your people to think for themselves—to realize the importance of Thai culture and the need to preserve it by themselves. Don’t force them. Because when you force someone to do something, you only pushes that person to do the opposite.

  • […] for domain name infringement. Facebookers from Thailand created a page criticizing the country’s Ministry of Culture. A father from Vietnam asked netizens to help his missing […]

  • […] 東ティモールでは、警官の残虐行為を撮影した映像が、インターネット上にアップロードされた。フィリピン人の家政婦は、在香港フィリピン労働担当大使館員が助けを求めた労働者に対しどのような対応したかを録音した。インドネシアのソニーという名前のブロガーは、 商標権侵害をめぐりソニー社から告訴された。タイのフェイスブックユーザーは、自国の文化省を非難するページを作った。ベトナムのある父親は、行方不明になった自分の娘の救助をネット上で求めた。 […]

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