Buddhist-led groups rap insensitive beer brand

Bangkok Post, Jan 29, 2008

Khon Kaen, Thailand -- Issue groups in 19 northeastern provinces on Tuesday lodged a protest against Boon Rawd Brewery - makers of Singha beer - for naming its newest brew "Isan Beer."

Isan, meaning the Northeast, is the country's largest region.

Representatives from the Isan Buddhism and Culture Promotion Network and several other groups in the Northeast called on the company to change the name of the beer to avoid tarnishing the reputation of northeastern people.

They said the name "Isan Beer" could lead to a misunderstanding that northeastern people of Thailand, fondly called Isan people, are obsessed with drinking alcohol.

Such a misunderstanding, they claimed, could be deep-rooted to become a negative value for the younger generation and detrimental to the society and culture of the region.

(Boonrawd's flagship Singha has been known for many years by its motto: Singha beer, Thai beer.)

They submitted an open letter to Khon Kaen governor and Boon Rawd Brewery executives to demand a change of the name. They also asked the company to stop advertising its product in the media as well as supporting cultural events in the province.

Should the company ignore their protest, they said, they would gather signatures of one million protestors to further submit their demand to the government.