Thai PM Bemoans Divisive Soap Operas, Offers to Write Better Ones

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday criticized television soap operas for promoting violence and division in society and said he wanted scripts to encourage reconciliation. He said he would write them himself if he had to.

Prayuth, who is also army chief, staged a coup on May 22, overthrowing an elected government after six months of at times violent anti-government protests.

“I have ordered that scripts be written, including plays on reconciliation, on tourism and on Thai culture,” Prayuth told reporters.

“They are writing plots at the moment and if they can’t finish it I will write it myself,” he said of a team of government-appointed writers.

The junta has ruled unchallenged since taking over and has cracked down on pro-democracy dissidents and supporters of the ousted government of Yingluck Shinawatra. It has even warned academics that debate that might “cause misunderstanding” would not be tolerated.

Yingluck, Thailand’s first woman prime minister, is the sister of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecoms tycoon who shook up politics by winning over poor voters with populist policies and challenging the royalist establishment.

Prayuth bemoaned hugely popular television soap operas which he said encouraged violence rather than peace. Some television dramas have also been criticized for trivializing rape and domestic violence.

“In our country, television dramas make people fight and they create divisions so we have much improvement to make in this area,” he said.

“I have ordered that scripts be written,” he said. “One plot will be two foreign families come to visit Thailand, they meet each other and come to love each other.”

It is not the first time Prayuth, known for his gruff exchanges with reporters, has shown an interest in the arts.

The straight-talking general also penned lyrics to a patriotic ballad – “Return Happiness to Thailand” – which is played by radio and television stations around the country.    

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