Draft on protecting intangible cultural heritage: A new LM law by stealth?By Bangkok Pundit Oct 09, 2013 2:16PM UTC
There has been talk of protecting Thailand’s intangible cultural heritage for a while. In June, The Nation reported:
The department chief Chai Nakhonchai yesterday said that the Intangible Cultural Heritage draft legislation would soon be submitted for the Cabinet’s consideration in order to support Thailand’s participation in the Unesco Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Chai went on to say that the committee for national heritage registration had considered 102 items this year and would be able to announce at least 50 items as part of Thailand’s national heritage in seven areas including: performing arts; craftsmanship; literature; sports; social rituals and festivals; knowledge and practices about nature and the universe; and language.
Those that have already passed preliminary selection include the “Mahoree” Thai grand orchestra; “Lam Tat”, a style of singing; “Fawn Lep”, a northern traditional dance; and “Khon”, an ornamental dance headdress.
The Cabinet yesterday approved in principle draft legislation for the protection of intangible cultural heritage, deputy government spokeswoman Sunisa Lertpakawat said.
The draft will allow provinces to seek a subsidy from the Cultural Promotion Department for their intangible cultural heritage. The bill’s Article 40 also seeks to punish people whose words or actions using intangible heritage is found to offend the monarchy, religion, national security, as well as public order and morality. Violators could face up to two years in prison and/or Bt50,000 in fine.
BP: Voice TV also has a brief article mentioning criminal punishment in Section 40. BP has looked online to see if can find the latest draft. The Culture Ministry website is hard to navigate, but the only draft that can find is from earlier this year (PDF). It states:
มาตรา ๔๐ ห้ามมิให้ผู้ใดนำมรดกทางวัฒนธรรมที่จับต้องไม่ได้ที่ขึ้นทะเบียนแล้วไปเผยแพร่เพื่อวัตถุประสงค์อันมีลักษณะเป็นการหมิ่นสถาบันพระมหากษัตริย์กระทบกระเทือนต่อศาสนา กระทบต่อความมั่นคงของประเทศหรือเป็นไปในทางที่ขัดต่อความสงบเรียบร้อยและศีลธรรมอันดีของประชาชนหรือทำให้เกิดความเสื่อมเสียแก่มรดกทางวัฒนธรรมที่จับต้องไม่ได้
[BP's rough translation] Section 40: It is forbidden for a person to disseminate intangible cultural heritage that has been registered for the purpose of defaming the monarchy, affecting religion, and national security or that is contrary to public order and morality, or causes damage to cultural intangible heritage]
มาตรา ๕๕ ผู้ใดฝุาฝืนตามมาตรา ๔๐ ต้องระวางโทษจำคุกไม่เกินสองปีหรือปรับไม่เกินห้าหมื่นบาทหรือทั้งจำทั้งปรับ
[BP's translation] Section 55: A person who violates Section 40 shall be liable for imprisonment not more than 2 years, or fine of not more than 50,000 Baht, or both
BP: How do you offend the monarchy and affect national security when disseminating registered intangible cultural heritage? (this is an actual question as opposed to a hypothetical question as can’t even think of what registered intangible cultural heritage could be used). There are plenty of issues in the draft and what may be viewed as violating cultural heritage and how broadly it will be interpreted raise very serious concerns about the wording of the bill. If this is very broadly interpreted – the issue that the intangible cultural heritage needs to be registered although does limit its use – then the scope for abuse is there. Why not focus on providing people with the means to pass on their cultural heritage as to vague criminal provisions that are open to abuse.