The Director of the Thai Film Foundation expressed disappointment with Thailand’s first ever rating system for films to be shown in cinemas, after the Cabinet approved a ministerial regulation on the ratings which will take effect from mid-August.
The approved ministerial regulation under the 2008 Films and Videos Act classifies movies into seven categories: 1) educational movies which the public should be encouraged to see; 2) movies appropriate for the general public; 3) movies appropriate for audiences aged 13 and older; 4) movies appropriate for audiences aged 15 and older; 5) movies appropriate for audiences aged 18 and older; 6) movies prohibited for audiences aged below 20; and 7) movies which are banned.
The banning will be applied to movies whose content: 1) affects the Monarchy or the democratic form of government with the King as Head of State; 2) insults or brings into disgrace religions, or disrespect venerable persons, sacred places or objects; 3) causes disunity among the people; 4) affects inter-state relationships; 5) concerns sexual intercourse; and 6) involve sexual activities in which sexual organs are shown.
Chalida Uabamrungjit, the Director of the Thai Film Foundation, said that to include banning in the rating system was like reintroducing Article 4 of the 1930 Films Act which was ambiguous in terms of standards. Although a rating system is in place, banning still remains. This means that after all the authorities still do not believe that the people can make judgments by themselves when reaching a certain age.
‘As to the claim that this is for the sake of keeping social peace and order, or upholding good morals, it has to be asked whose morals are these? This kind of mentality should have been a thing of the past at a time when we say we recognize diversity and differing views. For movies offensive to the Monarchy, Article 112 of the Criminal Code is already in place,’ Chalida said.
She also saw a problem of movie classification by age of audience, which would be a headache for those who decide the ratings.
Although the Film Censorship Board is moved from the National Police Office to the Ministry of Culture, the composition of the board is barely changed, Chalida said. The board will still include representatives from various agencies, and will still remain problematic in terms of its standards.
‘Now given various colours in society, if a particular movie appears in a different colour from that of the board, it could be banned,’ Chalida said.
Chalida said that it was time Thai society learned that people could have different views. There must be space for the differing views. So the 7 or 11 board members cannot decide what movies the other 60 million people should see or not.