Chinese newspapers in Thailand have a very long history. Initially, they were all operated by Chinese only and later passed on to Thai-born Chinese descendants. There were many popular Chinese newspapers at that time such as Guang Hua, Tong Nguan, Sin Sian Yer Bao Daily, and Universal Daily News. In 1957 the government of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat ordered the closing of two bestselling Chinese newspapers, Guang Hua and Tong Nguan, due to the fear of communist threats that were spreading to Thailand. However, other Chinese newspapers were allowed to continue the service, and there were also a number of new Chinese newspapers emerging during that time. The Chinese newspapers that were still in operation had to shift their focus from political issues to more general stories of the locals instead. That change had been received excellent feedback from Chinese in Thailand, considered the golden age of Chinese newspapers.
Until around 1974, when Thailand established diplomatic relation with China, the printing press of Tong Nguan became alive again after shutting down for 17 years. By coming back, a word ‘Sing’ was added to its Teochew dialect name to be ‘Sing Tong Nguan’ which can be read in Mandarin dialect as ‘Xin Zhong Yuan’, as used until today.
Xin Zhong Yuan puts its emphasis on international news, especially news about China and the movement of Chinese societies in Thailand. Generally, Chinese newspapers may not be found on a bookstall since their sells are mainly subscriptions.Although the newspaper business is currently wilting due to its declining popularity, it undoubtedly believes that, with its unique content that tell stories of Thai-Chinese community and news from their hometown in their native language, Chinese newspaper business will continue its popularity among Chinese people in Thailand.
The composition of this art piece is inspired by Chinese newspapers. If you look into the details, you will see the pictures of what is related to Chinese people’s daily life. In another meaning, they conform to the root of Chinese letters, logogram. Thus, I want to illustrate those two aspects into this work.
ARTIST : Namsai Supavong