Bangkok Post columnist
Thana Boonlert is a writer for the Life section and a Bangkok Post columnist.
Carrying a large rucksack, I bought a ticket and walked into a crowded bus terminal in Ekamai where thousands of passengers, wearing face masks, were counting down the clock to return home for the long holidays. The vast station was packed as New Year drew closer. When I got on the bus, a familiar luk thung song was being played, evoking memories.
Donning cumbersome headsets, I can jack into the new "digital oasis" where thousands of others will likely migrate. At my fingertips, I can do practically anything from work and play to hanging out and shopping when in fact I am alone in a room. This is the metaverse, or the virtual world that will be the next chapter of the internet.
Standing together in a space demarcated as a forbidden area, two actors began to spread red paint over their bodies and create flags out of ropes and twigs. When they ran wild and cried out "Long live the people!" the message could not be clearer. Performed by the Layyim Theatre group, the gig was a part of the rally held by the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD) to commemorate the first year of the movement. It was held in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre on Sunday.
Last week, coup-installed senators convened in the corridors of power. When one senator tabled a motion for the virtuous council, I felt like we had travelled back in time to the Second World War. In 1939, the government of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram issued cultural mandates to strengthen Siam in the context of the global war.
Clad in khaki uniform, a civil servant gave a three-finger salute even though he knew he could face a disciplinary probe. Nevertheless, he made a moral choice in defiance of the rules and norms that expect bureaucrats to remain politically impartial.
The World Health Organisation had hailed Thailand's handling of the novel coronavirus at its peak early last year, noting that cooperation and health measures are the keys to success. However, the third wave of the viral pandemic has thrown us into chaos. It has raised the number of infections to over 65,000 and deaths to more than 200, stretching the country's public health system to its limit. What can we learn from this?
A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Public Health launched a programme titled "Life Balance Smart Family" to pair singles and support soon-to-wed couples in childbearing. The policy came after Thailand was found to have the lowest total fertility rate in its history, dropping below 600,000 infant births for the first time last year. This has brought the birth rate down to 1.51, which is far below the World Health Organisation's recommendation of 2.1.