Little finger letdown
Alongkorn ‘Dew’ Tonnuangkoo.
A singer and actor who regularly presses weights at the gym and shows off his physical prowess has been rejected for this year's conscription round.
Alongkorn "Dew" Tonnuangkoo, who sprang to fame in The Star TV talent show, failed his physical when he reported to a conscription centre in Chiang Mai last week.
The army selection panel, advised by its panel of doctors, put him in the category of youngsters in good enough shape to serve, but with a small imperfection.
Army examiners found the little finger of his left hand was smaller than ideal, and knocked him back as a potential conscript.
Dew, who revealed the result of his physical in hushed tones before reporters, said he was disappointed to be denied the opportunity to serve.
Ironically, he says he plays a soldier in a forthcoming television soap.
"They decided I wasn't fit enough," he said, declining to say why the army rejected him. Media reports later identified his left little finger as the culprit.
Unhappy netizens asked how Dew could possibly be turned down when he looked as fit and capable as many other men his age.
"Dew regularly posts pictures of himself at the gym pumping weights and showing off his six pack. What's going on?" one asked.
Army Reserve commander Lt Gen Wichit Sriprasert, stepping in to the row on Friday, said the decision to reject the actor was backed by a selection committee and medical panel.
"It doesn't mean he was reluctant to serve," he said.
The category in which Dew falls includes a wide range of imperfections and ailments, including squints, cataracts, facial tics and benign tumours.
When they reach 21, Thai men are required to report for conscription. Dew had sought deferrals for five years, and by the time he was called up again this year had run out of opportunities to postpone the deed any longer.
Accompanied by his younger brother, whose time to report had also arrived, and his mother, he turned up at his conscription centre on Wednesday, only to be rejected when he took his physical.
In Bang Na, meanwhile, Channel 3 actor Alex Randall is breathing a sigh of relief, after he chanced his hand in the conscription lottery but drew a black card, meaning he does not have to serve.
Alex said he was tired of seeking deferrals. While he was worried about the impact on his work if he drew a red card drafting him into service, he had discussed the matter with Channel 3 and decided to have a go.
"I was relieved when they told us there were more black cards than red for my district this year," he said.
"I felt as if it was the most important decision affecting my life this year. I had decided that if I was drafted, I would like to serve in the air force," he said.
In the end, fate intervened. Media images showed soldiers at Alex's conscription centre sharing his delight when he drew a black. Alex said he would now put all his attention back into his work.
Women of the third gender are providing a touch of colour to the conscription round, media reports say.
At one selection centre in Phitsanulok, which army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha visited on Thursday, large numbers of kathoey turned up to report for the draw.
Among them was Suthipong Thongkongnao, 20, who sought a deferral to next year.
Suthipong, a second-year accountancy student, said he was still in the process of changing himself into a woman, and was worried that if he underwent the draw this year, army selectors would accept him.
"I'd like to wait until next year, when my breasts should be larger. At the moment I still look like a man," he said.
The army routinely rejects kathoey at conscription.
While in the past it granted exemptions on the basis that kathoey were "mentally ill", a phrase that angered people of the third gender who say the exemption certificates harmed their employment prospects _ this year the army has softened the wording, saying they "look different from the way they were born".
Poisoned but forgiving
Veteran actor Sombat "Ad" Methanee says he bears no hard feelings towards an unhygienic massage service that left him with blood poisoning, threatening his life.
Sombat ‘Ad’ Methanee.
Sombat was admitted to hospital on March 27, complaining of a tightening in the chest and a swollen foot. Doctors diagnosed a skin infection and blood poisoning, which spread to his liver and his heart.
As family members gathered at his bedside, fearing the worst, the 75-year-old actor's wife, Kanchana, revealed she suspected an airport massage was to blame.
"Ad and three friends stopped for a foot massage at a provincial airport before heading back to Bangkok," she said.
"Hours after he arrived home, he complained of a fever, and his condition gradually worsened. When we called his friends, one said he also felt unwell after the massage."
Mrs Kanjana said she took her husband to Lat Phrao hospital the next day. Its director, Tannakrit Limrat, said last week that Sombat was now out of danger.
Dr Tannakrit said he suspects Sombat picked up an infection during the massage.
"The stick which the masseur used on his foot was too sharp, and cut into his foot. The water and towels at the premises were also dirty, which explains how an infection was able to enter the wound," he said.
Mrs Kanjana said she warned her husband at the airport that the massage service looked unclean.
"It was overflowing with customers, but don't blame the staff _ they earn a commission, so the more customers they massage, the more they stand to earn," she said.
Mrs Kanjana said the staff had since been in contact with her family to apologise.
"While we are not upset, I would like this episode to serve as a lesson to others in the industry about the need to ensure cleanliness, for the safety and confidence of customers," she said.
Out and proud
Grammy singer Pongsak "Aof" Rattanaphong says everyone knows he is gay, so he can see no point in keeping it a secret any more.
In a series of news reports in which few outlets could bring themselves to mention the "G" word, Aof effectively outed himself, saying most of his friends, family and fans know he prefers men.
Pongsak ‘Aof’ Rattanaphong.
"My life has not changed. I have not come out of the closet as such, as everyone knows," he said last week.
While previously Aof has declined to confirm or deny, he says he can now see little point in staying reticent.
"If someone asks, I tell them. If no one asks, I don't see why I should have to say anything. Of course, there are some who will understand, and others who won't. But since I am like this, I should admit it."
Aof said he is seeing someone, and showed off a ring that his admirer had given him. It was not an engagement ring, as some media outlets reported sarcastically.
He was pleased with reaction to his news.
"Some of it is almost too good. Friends call me elder sister, and remark on how pretty I look today. I dont think its necessary to go that far," he joked.
Aof said he had discussed coming out with singer Ben Chalatit, who outed himself when he published on the internet pictures of his long-term boyfriend in August, 2011.
"He's happy where he is, and I'm over here. Our limits are different," Aof said.
"I know that while one segment of society will always accept us, most won't," he said.
About the author
- Writer: Mae Moo