Gen Prayut was speaking during a visit to an event organised by the Ministry of Culture at Government House’s Santi Maitree building to promote Muay Thai Day, which falls on Feb 6, before attending the weekly Cabinet meeting, reports the Bangkok Post.
The dispute over the sport’s name erupted when Cambodia, the host of the upcoming Southeast Asian Games, changed the name of the event from Muay Thai to Kun Khmer, arguing the martial art originated from the Khmer culture even though the name Muay Thai may be better known around the world.
Prayut said, “Muay Thai has long been a part of Thai culture and we are proud of it. But it is not necessary for us to quarrel with anyone. Nobody can take away what belongs to us. No matter what other people may say, it should not develop into a conflict. Let us end the bickering.”
The prime minister said there had been arguments about the name on social media. “Doing that is pointless. We know what is what,” he said.
Prayut took part in the promotion, demonstrating his boxing skills with Muay Thai fighters, livening up the atmosphere and drawing occasional loud cheers.
A seminar was also held yesterday to talk about the importance of nominating Muay Thai as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation intangible cultural heritage item, organised by the Culture Ministry at Chao Sam Phraya National Museum in Ayutthaya.
Meanwhile, the National Olympic Committee insisted Thailand will not send athletes to compete in Kun Khmer at the SEA Games.
Committee vice-presidents Chaipak Siriwat, Charoen Wattanasin and Dr Varin Tansuphasiri, yesterday spoke out about the Muay Thai issue. Mr Chaipak said Cambodia, the SEA Games host in May, had planned a kickboxing event for 17 gold medals which was initially to be supervised by the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA).
But Cambodia formed its own Kun Khmer International Federation (KIF) to replace the IFMA and sent a brief memo to notify interested parties about the new name of the kickboxing competition from Muay Thai to Kun Khmer with the word Muay in parathesis. So, the committee will not send athletes to the games for that event as requested by the IFMA, Mr Chaipak said.
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