City name row stings ORST

City name row stings ORST

Official title 'hasn't changed that much'

The dictionaries of Royal Society (Photo: National Electronics and Computer Technology Center)
The dictionaries of Royal Society (Photo: National Electronics and Computer Technology Center)

The Office of the Royal Society (ORST) is taking flak from netizens over confusion about what Thailand's capital should be called between the widely recognised Bangkok and the official Krung Thep Maha Nakhon.

However, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon has been set as the capital's official name since 2001.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved in principle a PM's Office draft announcement on updated names of countries, territories, administrative zones and capitals, as proposed by the ORST. The update will not come into effect until it is vetted by a committee in charge of scrutinising legislative bills.

The announcement, approved by the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, said the ORST's committee on the dictionary of international geographic names, including experts from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, had updated the spelling of countries, territories, administrative zones and capitals to be in line with the current situation. The panel submitted the list to the PM's Office to issue the announcement.

The draft announcement also revokes the prime minister's announcement on names of countries, territories, administrative zones and capitals dated Nov 9, 2001, using the ORST's announcement on updated names of Sept 1, last year.

In the update, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon will remain the official name of Thailand's capital. However, the official name will be followed by the name "Bangkok" in parentheses. The ORST also updated the official spelling for other countries, including Rome and Roma for Italy's capital, the change of Myanmar's capital from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw and the change of the Kingdom of Nepal to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

However, deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said nothing had been changed in the capital's name but for punctuations marks. "Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; Bangkok" with a semicolon between them which has been used since 2001, will now be changed to "Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok)", she said.

The Thai name Krung Thep Maha Nakhon will remain as the official name. The name Bangkok will still be recognised in parenthesis, she explained.

On its Facebook page, the ORST also said both names could be used, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon and Bangkok, after its announcement on the name change drew public criticism. According to an explanation by King Rama IV, Bangkok was the old name of Thon Buri, the former capital of the kingdom, because it was located along the Bangkok Noi and Bangkok Yai canals. Historically, it has been in common use for a long time.

Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang on Wednesday said that actually the official name of the capital -- Krung Thep Maha Nakhon -- remains unchanged in the latest update by the ORST because it has been in use since 2001. However, most foreigners refer to the capital as Bangkok, he said.

Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome on Wednesday said he agreed with the official name Krung Thep Maha Nakhon as the name reflects the glory of the capital. He said the word Bangkok mostly can be found only in movies and PR works.

In a Facebook post, Somkiat Osotsapa, a former economics lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, said that foreigners call Thailand's capital Bangkok. "Bangkok, abbreviated as BKK, is the brand of the country. It took several decades before the name Bangkok was recognised by other countries. Just mention the long version to foreigners and give them the spelling and see how they'll react," he said.

Prompong Yamarat, a former deputy leader of the Kla Party, said that Bangkok and Krung Thep Maha Nakhon can be used interchangeably.

Nang Mwe Phaung, a 22-year-old Myanmar student at a Thai university, said it is easier for tourists to say Bangkok than "Krung Thep Maha Nakhon", adding the two names may complicate communication between Thais and foreigners.

Chyuo Tan, 27, an online teacher from Singapore, said Bangkok should be for international use as most foreigners cannot pronounce the long version of the name.

Artiya Wan, a 25-year-old Malaysian student in Thailand, said the word Bangkok is concise and easy to say and remember for foreigners.

Ashit Khatun, a company employee from Bangladesh, said while locals know it as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, it is usually referred to as Krung Thep for short.

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