BANGKOK — The state media regulator on Thursday announced that it will summon producers of a ghost TV show for a reprimand after they allegedly slandered a heroine widely revered in Korat.
In the latest case of outrage over perceived disrespect toward Thao Suranari, called fondly by the people of Korat as Ya Mo, the National Broadcasting and Television Commissioner Perapong Manakit said the show “distorted history” by suggesting that Ya Mo’s adopted daughter was a mistress to the Korat governor at the time.
“We have issued a summons to the producers to testify before a subcommittee on TV programming and content on July 16,” Perapong said. “They presented history in a bizarre way.”
The show, “The Real Ghosts,” aired on Channel 8 back in February, though it only caught attention recently due to a separate allegation on donation embezzlement. The segment in question features show host Suraprapa Khamkajorn discussing Ya Mo’s adopted child, Ya Boon Luer, at Wat Sala Loi in Korat where Ya Mo’s ashes are interred.
Suraprapa, who claimed to possess supernatural power, said the spirits told her Ya Boon Luer was a mistress of the Korat governor at the time.
“If I say this, will it change history?” Suraprapa said in the episode. “[Then-Korat governor] told me that Ya Boon Luer is his mistress, while Ya Mo is his wife. She’s not an adopted child.”
According to the official history, Thao Suranari lived from 1771-1852 and she was a wife of the Korat governor at the time. She is honored by the authorities for reportedly leading troops to fight Laotian raiders in the province, though little is known about Boon Luer except from her role in the fight.
The show sparked outrage among locals, who soon demanded the crew apologize. Ya Mo Shrine caretaker Maen Duangklang said everyone involved in the show must grovel before her statue in person.
“Saying sorry and suspending the show from the program is not enough,” Maen said. “The battle was real. We built this shrine to dedicate to the sacrifices of Ya Mo and the fallen warriors.”
Nakhon Ratchasima governor Wichian Chanthranothai on Wednesday said he called a meeting to discuss ways to take legal action against the show.
“The show must be responsible for their actions. They shouldn’t claim that they got this information from the spirits, it’s not scientific,” Wichain said. “The brothers and sisters of Korat found this unacceptable. The show must be responsible for their feelings.”
Provincial police chief Sujin Nitpanit said no one has come forward to file a complaint against the show so far.
Maj. Gen. Sujin suggested the show might have violated the Computer Crime Act for disseminating false information, but the cultural ministry has to clarify the facts before any legal actions can proceed.
Perceived insults toward Ya Mo often landed in controversies and threats of legal action.
Earlier this year, Korat locals urged police to charge a woman for photoshopping her face onto Ya Mo statue, but no charges were eventually filed because there’s no law to prosecute her, police said.