Covid outbreak shuts many doors, but opens others
The Covid-19 outbreak has imposed physical limitations for people to connect, but it has not barred anyone from strengthening ties with friends in other countries, an academic says.
In fact, the “new normal” might have introduced alternative ways to learn more about people in different cultures, he said.
Opening up to innovative and creative ways to promote international relations with other countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited Thai cultural icons to share their ideas about how different cultures can be learned and enjoyed.
Academic and culture expert Tongthong Chandransu has often engaged in international relations promotions at museums and events. Before the spread of Covid-19, he had no qualms about flying to Singapore to appreciate a French exhibition that the Southeast Asian country was hosting.
Likewise, many exhibitions from and held in Thailand, such as the “Qin Shi Huang: The First Emperor Of China And Terracotta Warriors” which displayed more than 100 artefacts that reflect the grandeur of the Qin Dynasty and the “Great and Good Friends” curated collection of historic gifts exchanged between the Thai monarch, noblemen and US presidents, both shown two years ago, have attracted large crowds.
Besides small activities held at museums to draw more engagement, now virtual museums can be an alternative and provide the advantage of allowing visitors to see the artefacts from every angle without leaving the side next to the wall unseen as happens often at museums, he said.
“[King Prajadhipok Museum] is also creating a virtual museum version. We can do many things. Let [museums] be lively.
“I think there still are possibilities for these in our time,” the museum executive board’s chairman suggested.
“It is only through learning that we can we find out more about each other. Generally, the mission of the MFA has been about promoting Thailand to the world. Now, we have to help Thais experience other cultures,” he added.
At the MFA event, Yongyoot Thongkongtoon, director of film studio GDH 559, gave an example of strengthened cultural ties when he recently took part as a juror for a film contest in which a Malaysian film won a prize for depicting the ties forged between people from different Southeast Asian cultures after the Covid-19 pandemic saw borders close .
Vogue Thailand’s editor Kullawit Laosuksri, who has worked with designers such as Jimmy Choo and Diane von Furstenberg to promote Thai silk, said digital platforms promote a sense of community, while Zcongklod Bangyikhan, editor-in-chief of website The Cloud, which often features less known local stories from Thailand, added that this often led to enlightening online debate over the content and issues it raised.
Thai silk products which are the results of cooperation between Vogue Thailand and world-renowned designers. (Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)