The last-minute cancellation of a Thai television drama is a worrying sign about the country’s political maturity, according to a leading researcher.
The Thai television show Nua Mek – a fictional fantasy drama about a prime minister controlled by an evil sorcerer – was pulled from television by the producing network just hours before the finale of its second season.
It was cancelled because of fears it would break broadcasting laws on material that may destabilise the Southeast Asian nation.
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific expert and New Mandala co-editor Dr Nicholas Farrelly told ABC Australia Network News that it was disappointing to see real world politics influence television fiction.
“I’m sad to say that at this point in the nation’s history there are many people who are motivated to clamp down on anybody who they feel is presenting materials which are detrimental to their side of politics,” he said.
“It strikes me that, while Thai society can’t accept such fictionalised portrayals of various political activities, then there’s no way it’s going to be able to deal with the very real challenges that it faces here in the real world, not the world on tv.”
The cancellation of the show prompted a furious backlash on social media, with users speculating that it was pulled because it was seen to be parodying a perceived controlling relationship between former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister, the current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Farrelly said that the idea of the sorcerer having supernatural influence plays into many Thai people’s suspicions.
“Among Thailand’s political elite there continues to be a pretty significant strain of superstition,” he said.
“We’ve had all sorts of talk over the years that Thaksin, perhaps, has dabbled in the darker arts that are available to those with the appropriate training and insight.
“That’s usually been dismissed as yet another effort to diminish his status in the eyes of his supporters, but in fact the reality in these kinds of cases is that most Thais are quite accepting of the fact that there are powers that exist in our universe.”
You can listen to the interview and story on ABC Australia Network News here.