05/18/2006, 00.00
THAILAND
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No point in censoring 'The Da Vinci Code' in a Buddhist country, says censorship board

by Weena Kowitwanij
According to the grandson of Thailand's king, who is both a film producer and a member of the censorship board, almost no Thai knows the story of Jesus. Editing the film too much would make the plot incomprehensible.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Thailand's censorship board has refused to ban or edit the movie The Da Vinci Code despite a demand made by various associations representing the country's many Christian denominations, some of whose leaders have described the movie and book "as an offence to religious beliefs". Among the people who asked the Board to ban the movie there is Fr

Anthony Vorayuth Kitbamrung, head of the Bishops' Conference of Thailand's Catholic Social Communications department; Dr Saree Laukanpai, chairman of the (Protestant) Bible Society; Rev Tongchai Pradabchananurak, a Protestant preacher; and Nantakwang Leelasunthorn, a Catholic film critic. All four were however invited to take part in a talk show on Channel 3 television to clarify the matter.

Mom Chao (royal grandson) Chatri Chalearm Yukon, who is a film producer and a member of the Censorship Board, said that the board's "decision was based on the fact that Thailand is a Buddhist nation and few Buddhists will be able to understand the story of Jesus. If any part is edited out, the movie will become incomprehensible."
He added that "in any event, members of the group that petitioned the board can hand out leaflets in front of movie theatres to those who go and see the movie explaining their religion—they can also say before and after the movie screening that it is based on a work of fiction".

"The board's decision," said Father Kitbamrung, "reflects the nature of our society and we must respect that. On the bright side, we can hope that the movie might make people more curious about Christianity. And it will be our task to help the curious find the right answers to the questions they might have about the Bible."

According to film critic Leelasunthorn, "it is important to consider spectators' maturity so that by the end of the movie they do not reach the wrong conclusions. I am worried though because the theories in the Code might confound all those who are now becoming interested in Christianity."

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