Duangphat Sitthipat is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.
It has been four days since the Thai people lost their beloved actor Thrisadee "Por" Sahawong to dengue fever. His passing has had the nation frozen in mourning. Considering the fact that we mostly got to know him through his roles in soap operas, the phenomenal scale of public reaction means the actor must have done something very right.
On Monday, an unmarried celebrity couple who we normally wouldn't care much about officially opened up to the press after it had been brought to light that they are having a baby. Holding each other tight in front of a squad of tabloid reporters who looked nothing but happy to be there to get a piece of them, the couple confirmed that they are blessed and ready to do whatever it takes to become good parents. However, something was amiss. The couple also happened to be apologising for having the baby.
Last week, there was a controversial Facebook post circulating about a tragedy that has been deliberately silenced. The post was dedicated to the campaigning relative of a female college student who died of abuse a few years ago whilst training at a military camp. It was merely written by a journalist, who had been conscripted, on his personal Facebook page. However, due to the struggle of the woman fighting for justice, coupled with the journalist's first-hand experience of unfair treatment in the army, the post racked up more than 100,000 Likes in a short period of time.
Today, a movie called Arbat, the Thai word for offences carried out by monks, with varying degrees of offensiveness and punishment, was set to be released. Although it deals with a subject matter that most of us in Thailand can relate to, it has been banned by the film censorship committee since it explicitly revolves around monks who break chastity vows and take drugs.
When I was born, my first name was just Phat (pronounced Pat). It's still shown on my hospital birth certificate. Not long after I began toddling, however, my mother rushed to the district registration office and asked the officer to add "Duang" to the front of the existing name. So, it became Duangphat -- just like that. Weird name, even for Thai people.
Today is not a regular, boring Wednesday. Not the most hopeless of all the weekdays with the spell that makes us workers feel so wretched for realising we're only halfway through the week. Out of about 16 public holidays Thailand gets in a year, today is one of them. But today is Aug 12, and not just some meaningless public holiday that the people of Bangkok like to take for granted with a good drive to Hua Hin or Pattaya.
Since January, Thailand has welcomed more than 19 million tourists, though numbers are expected to slow down as we enter the so-called low season. However, to prepare for the year-end high season when tourism is set to pick up again, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports invited diplomats to a meeting last month to ensure the safety of those travelling in Thailand.