Confucius for modern times

Art June 25, 2012 00:00

By Chaiwat Yingjaroen
The Nation

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The Nation Channel presents a Chinese documentary as a refresher course in ethics

Still revered 1,500 years later as a champion of ethics, justice and morality, Confucius was never relegated to the history books. The Chinese philosopher continues to enlighten, as witnessed in a TV documentary series about his celebrated Golden Rules now being shown on the Nation Channel.

“The Story & Life Philosophy of Confucius”, an internationally acclaimed Chinese series, has a Thai soundtrack by Pantamit. Nation Broadcasting, the Dr Thiam Chokwattana Foundation and Pro Mediamart are presenting the series to commemorate 2,500 years of Confucianism and the 20th anniversary of the death of Thiam, the founder of the Saha Group who was widely recognised for his devotion to ethical corporate management.

Author Sooksant Wiwekmethakorn, an expert on Chinese culture, points out that Confucius built up a body of knowledge that remains utterly relevant today, just as the Lord Buddha did. His values entail morality, harmony, justice, loyalty and respect for elders.

“His truths never go out of date – they apply in any era,” says Dr Sooksant. “Lord Buddha and Confucius were two great sages of the world who were born into different social classes, one like the cloud in the sky and the other like dust on the ground. Yet both commanded respect in their own lands and had massive followings.”

Thiam’s son Boonchai Chokwattana is pleased that people often compare his father’s approach to life with that of Confucius. “Neither man was born rich or had proper educational opportunities,” he says. “Much of their knowledge was self-taught, and fortunately it developed into a set of teachings of their own.

“The documentary series will offer useful ideas to our society, which is riddled with corruption. Our children must be taught positive values.”

The series reflects NBC’s expansion into entertainment, says the corporation’s director, Adisak Limparungpatanakij. Viewing the documentary, he was reminded of Bao Zheng, better known here as Justice Bao, the embodiment of fairness and equity during the reign of Emperor Renzong a millennium ago. Bao Zheng’s story has been retold often, and episodes of his life fictionalised in Chinese opera and TV dramas, including the series “Bao Qing Tian”(“Bao Bun Chin”).

“Unlike the Korean TV series that are so popular with Thais, ‘Bao Qing Tian’ is the real thing,” says Adisak. “It contains a lot of useful values and concepts. That’s really why it’s enjoyed such sustained popularity over the years.”

Adisak notes that “The Story & Life Philosophy of Confucius” will not only familiarise Thai viewers with his beliefs and times, it offers a chance to hear Mandarin spoken. Financiers increasingly regard Mandarin as the future common language of economics, he says, and Thais would do well picking some up with the advent of the Asean Economic Community.

“The new series will teach you about sustainable communities,” Adisek says. “People should find time to watch and learn. The point is that knowledge without morality is not good enough. If everyone is able to bring morality to knowledge, the country as a whole benefits.”

Somsak Amarin of Pro Mediamart says the series marks a new beginning for a channel like NBC, which has until now been known primarily for its news orientation. “This is a major turning point for NBC now that it’s taken a documentary on board. This is a good thing, because people of all age groups can watch it.”


Tune in

“The Story & Life Philosophy of Confucius” airs every Saturday and Sunday at 6pm on the Nation Channel.

The series begins again from the start 9pm on July 7 on Mango TV.