Downtown creative space coming for Bangkok teens

The Harajuku district in Tokyo.

The Culture Ministry will arrange a space in downtown Bangkok so teenagers can express themselves creatively in a way that is similar to Tokyo's Harajuku area.

It is slated to commence next month.

Minister of Culture Weera Rotephotchanarat said the ministry had discussed the endeavour with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Pathumwan's shopping malls, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Children and Youth Council of Thailand.

Weera said it was hoped the Pathumwan space would promote constructive activities and lure teens away from computer games.

He said the space would possibly be located on Rama I Road, allowing convenient access, and the matter would be discussed further on Monday.

Weera made the comments during an inspection of Internet cafes and gaming shops in the Pin Klao area on Bangkok's Thon Buri side of the Chao Phraya River on Saturday.

It followed public complaints via the hotline 1765 about children using game shops as gathering places for vice.

Weera said the ministry would consult with relevant agencies about computer game ratings to make them clearer and more practical in a bid to ensure youths were playing appropriate games for their ages in order to promote their development.

He said he would instruct provincial culture offices to work with provincial governors to inspect gaming shops and report any problems to the ministry.

He said 905 Bangkok gaming shops had joined a strict regulation scheme called the White Game Shop.

Bangkok City had 6,602 registered game shops - about 4,000 of which would see their licence expired next year - while there were 14,274 registered shops in the remaining 76 provinces.

Gaming shop owner Watcharachai Piyawanich said his venue had cooperated with the Culture Ministry to prevent bad things happening there.

Watcharachai said that included checking IDs and installing CCTV cameras and a computer controlling programme that randomly checked young customers' internet browsing so that a warning could be issued if they had accessed inappropriate websites.