A special Valentine for the troubled far South

Plagued by violence for almost a decade, people in the southernmost provinces will hopefully be heartened by messages of love sent to them on Valentine's Day by people living in peaceful zones elsewhere in the kingdom.

  • Published: 14/02/2013 at 04:50 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Mathayom 4 (Grade 10) students at Chalermkwan Satri School in Muang district of Phitsanulok on Valentine’s Day decorated heart-shaped cards with messages expressing their moral support for the residents, officials and soldiers in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala who never know what will happen to them day in and day out.

The students decided that Thursday, Valentine's Day, was an appropriate day to send a message to the people in the far South, the most dangerous region in the country, that they have the support and love of people in other, safer, parts of the kingdom.

“We send our love to fathers, mothers and family members and friends. And we would like to give our love and best wishes to all Thais living on the southern border who do not live peaceful lives like we do, and to all soldiers and officials who work under such danger,” student Sirirat Maisomsa said.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau’s fourth division also launched a “Send Love, Share Happiness’’ campaign, urging police officers and people in Bangkok generally to send cards to colleagues working in the three troubled provinces.

The cards were priced at 20 baht each and all proceeds were marked to help police on duty in the southernmost region.

‘’Wishing all of you happiness and be safe,’’ declared the card sent by Pol Sen Sgt Maj Junko Thongsri of the Hua Mak police station to officers serving in Yala.

About 300 students at many schools in Rangae district in Narathiwat also took this special day to visit 45th Rangers base and present the soldiers with heart-shaped red stickers and roses to show their appreciation for their efforts to safeguard the students in their area.

One student hugged a soldier and told him, ‘”The rose I gave you reminded me of the one I gave to my dad before he was shot dead.”

Security forces guarding teachers and soldiers in units throughout the three southernmost provinces remain on full alert for possible retaliation after marines killed 16 insurgents when Islamists attacked their camp early Wednesday morning in Bacho district of Narathiwat.

The insurgency, which broke out in 2004, has claimed the lives of 154 teachers and forced state schools in the provinces to close from time to time.

Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana on Thursday gave school directors full authority to decide whether classes should be cancelled in the wake of the attack in Bacho. 

All provinces in Thailand held activities to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Thursday.

Rungtiva Tangkanopas, right, and Panlavee Chongtangsajjatham apply for marriage registration in Bang Rak district, but they are refused as the law does not allow same sex marriage. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

In Bangkok's Bang Rak district, a lesbian couple, Rungtiva Tangkanopas and Panlavee Chongtangsajjatham, shrugged off the refusal by officials to register their marriage because the law does not acknowledge marital bonding of the same sex.

They said not even the officials' intransigence could prevent them from living together in happiness.

Ms Rungtiva said she understood the situation, but wondered why she and her partner cannot register a marriage when there were news stories about two buffaloes being issued with a marriage certificate.

The couple was accompanied by a group supporting same-sex marriage and they planned to go to the parliament afterwards to demand the right to legally marry.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, 90-year-old Sathien Sharekrathok chose Valentine’s Day this year to marry Thong, who is also 90, after they had spent 23 years together in Chok Chai district and seen their six children by other marriages grow up and have their own families.

What's the secret of living together in old age?

“We live like friends, like brother and sister," the 90-year-old newly wed husband said. "We always talk to each other, with no emotional upsets, and it always ends up my doing everything she wants," he laughed.

Sathien and Thong Sharekrathok, both 90, use Valentine’s Day this year to tie the knot in Nakhon Ratchasima. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)

Police in Khon Kaen set up checkpoints in the city, but it was special this time as officers gave motorists who broke the road rules roses and motorcylists safety helmets, instead of tickets, to their great surprise.

They also warned them to drive safely and respect the law in future.

Pol Col Charoon Nuamthong, chief of Muang police station, said the officers used this occasion to send out a message of care while they were on the road.

Ekachai Chaicharn married his male bride, Chaichanares Pengchan, in a private ceremony in Damnoen Saduak district in Ratchaburi. They said they had been partners for four months and knew they were part of each other.

Chaichanares' sister Arom, who hosted the wedding ceremony at her home, said her younger brother decided Feb 14 was an appropriate time to tie the knot with his partner.

“I know that society might not accept this,’’ Mrs Arom said. “But I can live with that, and wish the couple a love together that lasts forever.”

Ekachai Chaicharn, right, marries his male bride, Chaichanares Pengchan, in Damnoen Saduak district, Ratchaburi, after being partners for four months. (Photo by Saichol Srinuan)

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