Mon, Oct 02, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Thai princess launches blog to promote English usage

AP , BANGKOK

In a country where the royal family rarely communicates directly with the public, Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn could be considered a trailblazer.

The 51-year-old princess on Saturday launched the country's first royal blog, which she says is aimed at persuading her fellow citizens to embrace English.

"We have witnessed in this past century that English has become a global language without much understanding of the process," she wrote. "Nor can we say that we really know the extent of its influence and status as the global language. But we can be sure of one thing: English can be used as a key to better understanding."

The blog appears on the British Council's Web site.

The only other royal in Asia known to have a Web log is Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk. His blog contains thousands of commentaries on anything from Hollywood stars to the rough-and-tumble of Cambodian politics, along with historical documents and exchanges with diplomats or Cambodian politicians.

The princess is admired in Thailand for her charity work and her common touch.

Royal watchers said the Thai princess's blog was not that surprising, given that she is known to be tech-savvy and routinely e-mails intellectuals in the region.

Her blog is a continuation of the British council's efforts to improve the teaching of English in Thailand. Earlier this week she presided over a two-day conference titled "Policy for Global Transition" jointly hosted by the council and the Thai Ministry of Education.

It wasn't clear if the princess would be updating her blog, and the council could not be reached for additional comment.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, said that by adding her voice to the campaign, the princess had greatly bolstered the council's efforts.

"Her patronage has given the project a lot more prestige. Her avid pursuit of the arts is a great inspiration," he said.

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