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Painting temples gold can land you in jail, warns Fine Art Department

Oct 25. 2018
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By The Nation

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After a report of historical temples being painted gold triggered an uproar on social media, the Culture Ministry’s Fine Art Department on Wednesday warned people to stop unauthorised painting of national heritage monuments as it violates the law.

Social media users expressed shock and dismay that ancient Thai temples were being renovated in gold paint, damaging national heritage and violating laws aimed at protecting and preserving the nation’s birthright. 

In a Facebook posting, Keangjit Lertsiri, former Fine Art Department officer, wrote that “over 100 temples in Thailand were painted with gold paint of the TOA brand” and asked the Fine Art Department to take action against the illegal defacement.

Among the painted temples are Wat Photaram and Wat Lao Thong in Supan Buri and Wat Sri Samosorn in Chainat.

TOA promotes its new acrylic paint as containing high-quality shiny gold pigments. Its “TOA Gold” paint is sold under the motto “The Gold Colour of Faith: Preserve Temples for Community”.

Under the law, the Fine Art Department must give consent for any refurbishment work on historic monuments and sites in the country.

“Any renovation plans have to be approved by the Fine Art Department to be legal,” Anandha Chuchoti, the Department’s director general said.

Anandha has assigned chief archaeologists to check heritage buildings across the Kingdom and stop any unapproved conservation work.

TOA Paint on Thursday apologised for the controversial message it had posted on Facebook.

“The company has not ignored our mistake. We will coordinate with relevant agencies to solve this problems and explain our facts,” it said in a statement.

“However TOA Company will be pleased to listen to all advice. We will follow the proper process of conservation and more carefully consider our actions.”

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