National artist Suchart loses title over protest support

National artist Suchart loses title over protest support

Suchart: In bother for Facebook post
Suchart: In bother for Facebook post

The national culture committee has decided to strip veteran editor Suchart Sawasdsri of his national artist title due to his "inappropriate behaviour" in connection with support for protests over political reforms.

Suchart made a name for himself as a literary talent spotter under his pen name "Sing Sanamluang" and for founding the Cho Karagade award for best short literature. His career has involved various literary magazines as well as a journal of social and political commentary. His paintings were also displayed in exhibitions many times. His national artist title was awarded for literature in 2011.

However, the committee reached a unanimous decision on Thursday to strip him of his title. He must now decide whether to appeal.

Suchart is the first national artist to be stripped of the title after taking an outspoken stance in support of the protesters, whose demands include reform of the monarchy.

On Dec 17, Suchart wrote on Facebook: "I wonder if I also face the lese majeste law for requesting monarchy reform on Facebook. If you [the committee] want to withdraw my title, please hurry up."

According to regulations, national artists whose behaviour is deemed inappropriate are liable to imprisonment as punishment, depending on the severity of their misconduct. Suchart's punishment required a majority vote by the three-member committee. All title benefits are also withdrawn.

National artists receive 25,000 baht monthly for life or as long as they hold the title. They're also entitled to health insurance, emergency payments, funeral costs and a stipend of 150,000 baht for the production of a biography or autobiography.

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