Scene4 Magazine — International Magazine of Arts and Media

by Janine Yasovant

คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย
Scene4 Magazine-inSight

february/march 2009

Michael Wright, whose Thai name was Mek Meneewaja, was also known as the farang klang Siam. He had studied and written about Thai history and culture since he came to Thailand in 1961 at the age of 21. His first job was as a translator at Bangkok Bank before he started getting involved and making great contributions to Thai studies through his essays and articles written in the Thai language over some three decades.

Wright was adamantly interested in the history of Thailand. Because he loved to read, he usually came up with new information and interesting ideas about Thai history, society and culture. A1crOften, he described and connected historical evidence to express an insightful overview of Southeast Asia and wrote about it in Thai magazines. According to a consensus of readers, his writing was knowledgeable, concise and funny.

Wright himself received no formal training in Thai history. He said he had studied the subject through the works of notable Thai intellectuals and writers like Phraya Anuman Ratchadhon, MR Kukrit Pramoj and the book "Sarn Somdej" or "The Princes' Letters", a compilation of correspondence between Princes Narisara-nuvadiwongse and Damrongrajanupharp which gave valuable insights into Thai art, culture, history and archaeology.

Wright described the importance of "Inscription Two" at Wat Srichum temple which many Thai historians neglected and said that it was nonsense and hard to interpret. On the contrary, he stated that the history of Sri Lanka in this inscription was accurate and the language was beautiful. He also believed that the Inscription in Wat Srichum was older than the "Inscription One" which was written by the King Ramkamhaeng of Sukhothai Empire. It was not so surprising that he could read and understand language in the inscription, because he used to live in Sri Lanka for many years before he came to Thailand and he mastered many old Asian languages, such as Balinese and Sanskrit.

Wright's study of Wat Srichum was recognised both in Thailand and abroad, and he was later invited by the National Library and the Fine Arts Department to examine the inscriptions further.

In November 1979, the first issue of Thai Art & Culture magazine was published as well as the first article by Michael Wright, hilariously called: "Toilets in Sukhothai history". In the article, a feature about toilets during the Sukhothai era, Wright used his knowledge of Sri Lanka to point out that toilets in those days were not meant for ordinary people but for monks, explained Sujit Wongthet. Sujit, a Thai historian who founded the magazine, was one of the first few to encourage Wright to write in Thai.

According to Sujit, Wright did not have an education in the traditional sense but left home to seek his fortune in Sri Lanka and then in Thailand. Educated at St Michael's College in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, Wright left his home in Southampton to work in Sri Lanka for some years before setting foot in Siam, where lived until his last breath.

Michael Wright died on 8 January, 2009 in Bangkok, in his 'beloved country.'


Click Here for this article in Thai 
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

©2009 Janine Yasovant
©2009 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Scene4 Magazine: Janine Yasovant
Janine Yasovant is a writer in Chiang Mai, Thailand
and a writer for Scene4.

For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


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