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Toon’s latest run-for-charity raises 15 million baht in the first hour for north-east hospitals

The Thaiger

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Toon’s latest run-for-charity raises 15 million baht in the first hour for north-east hospitals | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Facebook.com/kaokonlakao

Such is the star-power and respect Thais have for rocker-turned-charity-warrior Artiwara “Toon” Kongmalai, that his latest fund-raising effort raised 15 million baht in the first hour of yesterday moorning’s run.

His latest project called Kao Kon La Kao-Kao Tor Pai Duay Palang Lek Lek Phak Isan (One step each by each person, move on with a small force in the Northeast) headed off early yesterday from Nong Khai in an effort to raise money for with Isaan public hospitals.

The popular ‘Bodyslam’ lead singer, along with his actress girlfriend Rachwin ‘Koi’ Wongviriya, actor Tanongsak Supakarn and other runners joined together for the first lap of the 10 kilometre run before handing off to actor Pakorn ‘Dome’ Lum to lead the next leg. Each of the laps were run by local and national celebrities, local dignitaries and officials, joining with Toon and the Kao Kon La Kao project.

Toon's latest run-for-charity raises 15 million baht in the first hour for north-east hospitals | News by The Thaiger

In 2017 he famously ran from from the southernmost to the northernmost tips of Thailand, raising money for some of the country’s poorer hospitals – from Betong in Yala province to Mae Sai in Chiang Rai in the north.

The “Kao Kon La Kao” run covered 2,215 kilometres. It was an epic and inspirational marathon raising more than a billion baht and turning the rock star into a national treasure and philanthropist.

Meanwhile, yesterday, in just the first hour of the run, donations rose to 15 million baht. The weekend’s runs have been travelling from Nong Khai to Khon Kaen.

You can see Toon and Bodyslam in action below…

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Protests

Some Thai students decide to boycott their graduation

The Thaiger

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Some Thai students decide to boycott their graduation | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand will attend Thammasat University’s graduation ceremonies tonight and tomorrow evening. But there’s been a growing contingent of graduates who are boycotting the ceremony as a personal protest in relation to current rallies around Thailand about government and constitutional reform.

The night, the biggest night of a student’s schooling, is a special event for many Thai students when a member of the Royal Family frequently attend the ceremonies to confer the degrees in a parade of passing students.

The protests, that started back in July by a core of university students, openly mentioning the reform of the Thai Monarchy for the first time, have now morphed into a common thread of discussion in social media. The role of the Thai Monarch, in the past a taboo topic for polite conversation in Thailand, is now being subjected to frequent media coverage and discussion.

Usually a night to remember for many students, it’s not completely uncommon for graduating students to miss the commencement ceremony. The highly choreographed graduation ceremonies are voluntary although the chance to accept their certificate from a member of the Royal Family, including the photo that would take pride of place in homes around Thailand, is usually not passed up.

Now a rump of students, not only at Thammasat, are taking the opportunity for a significant personal protest, and deciding to forgo the ceremonies and make their own symbolic statement about the current protest issues. In most cases the events involve an entire day of rehearsals, culminating in mere seconds as they receive their rolled-up certificate in a regimented, solemn and formal ceremony. There can also be quite a lot of costs involved with the hiring of graduation garments with strict dress codes surpassing the wardrobes of many of the young students.

One post itemised the costs including up to 500 baht for a new skirt, a 1,000 baht for hair and grooming, including a hair cut and dyeing their hair back to black if they’d decided to go ‘colour’ during their studies, and a pair of shoes for up to 1,000 baht. Then there’s make-up fees, a photographer (some graduation photos can be ‘event’ in themselves), both adding another 6,000-10,000 baht to the costs.

Some protesters earlier this month announced on social media posts that they were missing their graduation describing it as a “superfluous and onerous event”. Although plenty of graduates have missed the ceremonies in the past for various reasons, now they’re posting about their boycott, complete with explanations calling for reforms for the role of Thailand’s Head of State.

Some graduates have also taken to social media explaining why they will be attending the graduation ceremonies, in most cases saying they will attend for the benefit of their parents.

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Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Events

Thai PM orders investigation into Samut Prakan gas pipeline explosion, 3 dead

The Thaiger

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Thai PM orders investigation into Samut Prakan gas pipeline explosion, 3 dead | The Thaiger

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is ordering an investigation into yesterday’s explosion of a gas pipeline in Samut Prakan, just south east of central Bangkok. At least 3 people were killed. Among the dead, 2 elderly women were killed, plus at least 28 confirmed injuries when the PTT gas pipeline exploded in the coastal Bang Bo district.

The prime minister has also expressed his condolences to the families of the victims stating that authorities would “get to the bottom of the incident”. The explosion was near the Soi Preng Wisuthathibdee School. Children were evacuated from the area immediately. The gas pipeline exploded during a gas transfer from Laem Chabang district to an industrial estate in Samut Prakan province.

Samut Prakan-based emergency responders arrived quickly on the scene with firetrucks and extinguishing foam.

Thai PM orders investigation into Samut Prakan gas pipeline explosion, 3 dead | News by The ThaigerThai PM orders investigation into Samut Prakan gas pipeline explosion, 3 dead | News by The Thaiger

PTT, the Thai petrochemical company announced yesterday around 2.30 pm that the fire was under control and the situation contained.

“It is initially believed that the explosion was caused by the leakage and diffusion of NGV liquefied natural gas in the pipeline.”

Officials from the PTT Emergency Control Centre have been assisting the injured and said they will “resolve the situation as quickly as possible”.

Authorities speculate that built up pressure in the pipelines were responsible for the blast. Investigators are now on sire to inspect the scene. There hasn’t been any announcement about the full extent of the damage caused by the explosion. Video below from INN News.

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