Soaps and sensibility

I have never watched Plerng Phra Nang (A Lady's Flame), a prime-time soap opera on Thai television that depicts a bloody dynastic power struggle in a fictional kingdom. The series -- with elaborate period costumes and a lot of face-slapping and cat-fights among royal consorts -- has received bad press in Myanmar and Thailand alike.

Soe Win, the great grandson of King Thibaw, the last monarch of Burma, has publicly criticised Thailand for disrespecting the royal family. "It is quite insulting, as if we are wild," he said of the face-slapping scenes. He demanded the series be taken off the air, and pledged to seek help from the Thai Royal Family.

Reaction from the producer Kantana Group was predictably well scripted. It insists the story is purely fictional. Yet the facts say otherwise. The series is a remake of a famous soap opera made over three decades ago, which drew on two books: Pama Sia Muang (Defeat of Burma) by former premier and scholar MR Khukrit Pramoj and Tiew Muang Pama (Journey through Burma) by Prince Damrong.

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