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Wissanu rejects dumping Thai numbers

BANGKOK: Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has rejected replacing Thai numerals with Arabic numbers as used in Western countries in all official documents.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 31 May 2022, 09:17AM

Wissanu: ‘Need to stand our ground.’ Photo: Bangkok Post

Wissanu: ‘Need to stand our ground.’ Photo: Bangkok Post

He was responding to an online campaign launched on www.change.org that seemed to suggest that Thai numerals be dropped in favour of Arabic numerals for all official documents for the sake of standardisation and convenience.

However, Wissanu said he felt the campaign was not calling for an end to Thai numerals across the board, but to only use Arabic numbers for official documents that are digitally compiled, reports the Bangkok Post.

This is because Thai numerals are not always easy to read in an online format.

The deputy prime minister said essential papers such as official documents and school textbooks in hard-copy form must continue to use Thai numerals since Thai is the official language.

Wissanu said it may be permissible to adopt Arabic numerals for digital documents.

He maintained that for hard copy, the use of Thai numerals is non-negotiable even though it created complications in transferring the texts into PDF format.

Relevant agencies such as the Royal Society, the Education Ministry and the Culture Ministry had a duty to explain the matter to the public, Wissanu added.

He said he was also aware of calls to change Buddhist year dates in official documents to Christian ones.

Fastship Phuket

“We know the calls go that far. But we need to stand our ground,” he said, adding the debate surrounding the numeral issue was a non-story.

The campaign on the www.change.org website was launched by Keng Susumpow who said conversion to Arabic numerals for online official documents would result in formats being standardised and the easier compilation of digital data.

The use of Thai numerals in official documents stands in the way of progress on the digital platform, Mr Keng said on the website, adding the conversion of Thai to Arabic numerals was mandated during the government of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram (1938-1944).

However, it was scrapped by the Khuang Aphaiwong administration (1947-1948).

“This is nothing new. Don’t let the issue hold back digital connectivity and the country’s development,” he said.

Meanwhile, Patiyut Thongprajong, executive of the Thai Pakdee Party, said via Facebook the campaign was being waged to create further divisions in society.

He also believed it was part of a wider scheme to bring about a radical change to how the country is governed.

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Kurt | 01 June 2022 - 10:16:11

... You get 3 different explanations. In Thailand 'misunderstandings' are ofren not just lies, but in fact real. Thai often misinterpretate the saying of other Thai. Thai alphabet is not a alphabet but abugida. With 44 'letters', the use of 4-5 tones. Transliteration of Thai is a great problem, not at least for the Thai themselve.

Kurt | 01 June 2022 - 09:50:16

Wissanu: "Need to stand our ground". ( hold back to the past). "Don't let the issue hold back connectivity and development". ( that is actually what is happening on many fronts). In any international ranking is Thailand falling back. Thailand is home to 71 living languages, 52 of which are indigenous. Show 3 Thais a official document in Thai, ask them to explain, You get 3 ...

JohnC | 01 June 2022 - 09:20:17

The conspiracy theorists are latching on to this one. Look out, change our numbers and the whole government structure will instantly fall apart!! Seriously?


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