The government plans to promote Thai traditional boxing, or Muay Thai, as one of the country’s forms of soft power.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin discussed the idea on Friday with Muay Thai legend Sombat “Buakaw” Banchamek on Friday at Government House. They were joined by the PM’s adviser Pimol Srivikorn, and sports policy adviser Chalitrat Chandrubeksa.
The premier said that as traditional martial arts are considered a top priority for exported soft power, given their strong economic value, the government is looking forward to expanding the popularity of Muay Thai.
Mr Pimol, who is responsible for sports on the National Soft Power Strategy Committee, said the Department of Skill Development (DSD) has been approached to help export Muay Thai trainers to respond to increasing demand abroad.
The committee and the department are spearheading the development of a curriculum for trainers, who could use certification documents for visa and work permit applications, he said.
More projects related to sports promotion are now being planned, including overseas Muay Thai masterclasses.
Mr Pimol said these would be taught by the highest-calibre boxers, such as Buakaw, given their high demand in many countries.
Residence permits for expat boxing students and encouragement for the sport as a potential school subject are also being planned by the committee.
“There are many projects that the committee wanted to do, and we are certain that they might partially help with the sport’s popularity,” said Mr Pimol.
In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said local liquors could also be promoted as forms of soft power, but their suitability and related laws must be considered.
He made the comment prior to the first meeting of the National Alcohol Policy Committee, which he chaired.
Many business operators have urged the government to rethink its strict alcohol advertising ban, as liberalised rules could help individual alcohol makers with their branding, the minister said.
The promotion of community-based liquor products and microbreweries was a key election campaign of the Move Forward Party. The party has said that current laws support an entrenched liquor and beer oligopoly at the expense of small producers.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, centre, speaks to the media after inviting his adviser Pimol Srivikorn, sports policy adviser Chalitrat Chandrubeksa, and Muay Thai legend Sombat “Buakaw” Banchamek to Government House on Friday to discuss a plan to promote Thai traditional boxing, or Muay Thai as one of the country's forms of soft power. (Photo: Government)