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Thailand’s Culture Ministry Pushing More Censorship With Drafted “Master Plan” For New Government?

Still shot from banned-in-Thailand Thai movie "Insects in the Backyard"

Whenever the Culture Ministry in Thailand starts talking about “master plans for safe and constructive media” you have to worry. One of the biggest bodies in Thailand, that’s already highly involved in censorship, the Culture Ministry often seems to think pushing Thailand backwards is going to help the country to move forwards. Hard to understand that logic, isn’t it?

Permanent Secretary for Culture, Somchai Sianglai, said today  more and more Thais have begun using high-technology media in the past year – TV, the internet, mobile phones, and sites like Facebook, a website that already has 10 million Thai users. He said, because of this influx of foreign media, local media was fading away.

That’s why the Culture Ministry has come up with a new “master plan” for the new government. A plan that will be used to push “local media”.

Unfortunately, for the Culture Ministry in Thailand, pushing “local media” often means nothing more than blocking access to media the rest of the world takes for granted, with the odd idea that local media will take its place. It never does.

Thailand needs to be where the rest of the world is and Thais including themselves in the same websites, TV shows and other high-tech media, everyone else is watching and using. If that’s Facebook and Twitter. So be it.

Sure, it’s a nice goal to promote locally-produced websites, TV, high-technology media that’s legitimately Thai. But, not at the expense of what’s already out there and often better. It doesn’t help Thai children to learn and advance, and neither does it help the continued growth of Thailand’s economy or Thailand’s ability to be competitive.

Meanwhile, Mahidol University’s National Institute for Child and Family Development will study the master plan for safe and constructive media (the term alone sounds like Communist China) – with a goal of boosting “constructive media” by 10 percent.

But with what definition of “constructive media” and who decides? The Culture Ministry? Now there’s a scary thought.

The Culture Ministry has already banned Thai director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit’s “Insects in the Backyard” in Thailand this year. “Insects….” is a gay-themed movie that’s getting lots of positive press in the west, and it looks absolutely beautiful.

In Thailand, it’s banned, as the Culture Ministry feels it’s “immoral”.

The Culture Ministry also has a campaign ongoing to stop foreign tourists from getting religious tattoos in Thailand. Funny it never crossed their mind the tourists will just go elsewhere, taking their tourist dollars with them.

The Culture Ministry knows what’s best for Thais and Thailand? Well. That’s debatable.