Winyu “John” Wongsurawat, 25, is a host on Thailand’s leading internet TV channel, iHere TV. Here, he talks about his political background, his radio and TV career for GMM Grammy and his new show to encourage Thais to be more aware of society’s problems.
- By Monruedee Jansuttipan
- | Sep 22, 2011
I felt a lot of pressure to be clever as a kid, because my parents were both professors and my siblings were also smart. They always got scholarships while I was just an average student. Actually, no one was worried about it; it was just me.
It’s good for half-Thai kids, like me, to study in local Thai schools instead of at international schools. I learned what state Thai society is really in.
I dropped out of acting school at Srinakharinwirot University after three years. I thought I would like it, since I’d been working in the entertainment industry since grade nine, but I wasn’t. There were too many patterns and rules. I respect that the arts each have their own science, but studying shouldn’t be so regimented.
I thought my parents would disapprove of this decision, but they didn’t. I think my dad actually approved of my move to Ramkhamhaeng University because then I started studying political science, like him.
I think I absorbed political ideas from my parents, and it influenced my news show “Jor Kao Tuen” (“Shallow News in Depth”) on iHere TV. We can be a bit critical of society and government. It was good for me to have studied political fundamentals and understand the system.
I started doing internet TV with my sister, Rosie, and our friends because it’s full of freedom. We don’t need to beg anyone to have a show on TV, which takes a lot of money and sometimes you have to have connections. We can do any style we want, and people can watch it anytime. The internet is like a free universe!
I am proud that our channel has grown from just a few thousand views to millions. I am happy that people get the message that we’re trying to put out. I want to keep doing this as long as I can. I don’t enjoy anything more than this.
We recently had our TV show on TPBS channel called “Prakad Pawa Chookkid” (“Declare a State of Awareness”) which mostly concentrates on consumer issues. Sometimes people don’t realize that they are being taken advantage of. The main idea of the show is to make them ask questions about their rights.
I accept that even though we have freedom when doing internet TV, we still can’t go too far. It’s not self-censorship. It’s just that everything has limits and we know where our limit is.
Thailand’s educational reforms are always going downhill. Those who have better opportunities are the bright students whose parents are able to send them to tutor schools. Rural kids are still struggling and have to wait for companies to buy them lunch as charity.
I sometimes wonder if there is a conspiracy to deprive people of proper education so that they don’t rise up against the administration.
Our taxes should have benefitted the country way more than it has. I think we’ve gotten only B3-4 from every B10 we’ve paid!
We can’t wait for a white knight to pop up. We should realize that the people we get in government are the same kind of people we find in society, people who would rather pay money instead of getting a traffic ticket, who would rather pay bribes to get benefits.
Though I have worked on many TV shows, what still frustrates me is the hard sell advertising during the shows. I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to be like this forever. I can’t do anything because it’s their show, but people should ask if it should really be this way.
Bangkok is like a half-blood city. It absorbs various cultures—Chinese, Western or Indian— together and becomes a city with rich aspects. The coolest thing is everyone still thinks of themselves as Thai, even though we have different styles of living.
I wouldn’t install a fence surround Sanam Luang if I were Bangkok’s governor. It’s strange to have a fence around an area that has been an open space for hundreds of years. It’s too drastic, just to eliminate vendor problems. There are a lot of other ways to fix this.
I love watching DVDs at home. I used to go out seeing movies at least once a week but now I’m too busy. I spend most of my free time sleeping.
I used to just care about making money but now my job is more than that. I have so much fun working at our company. It’s like our baby and I want it to shine. It’s a good challenge to make people realize that it’s not only free TV.