BANGKOK (AFP): Thailand has launched a worldwide campaign to discredit the Hollywood movie “Anna and the King”, which censors have banned as an insult to the monarchy and a distortion of history, weekend news reports said. The foreign ministry has issued guidelines to its embassies saying 20th Century Fox’s claim the film is based on historical events “was almost completely groundless,” The Nation daily said. The ministry said many of the film’s claims were “motivated by the jealousy of certain Western nations that cannot tolerate the success of an Oriental nation managing to preserve its independence and introduce far-reaching reforms.” It alleged the film credits the teachings of an English governess in the 19th century court of King Mongkut as a factor in preserving Thailand’s independence, abolishing slavery and introducing religious freedoms and judicial reform. “Therefore, they must attribute part of Thailand’s success to Anna Leonowens, whom they believe belongs to a superior race, while she was in fact an individual of doubtful origin and could have been half-Indian,” the ministry statement was quoted saying. Thailand’s censorship committee slapped a ban on the movie after its international release last month. The monarchy, especially reigning King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is greatly admired in Thailand and much care is taken not to offend him or the memory of his ancestors.
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