According to the latest UN report on rising sea levels, Bangkok is one of the cities that will be experiencing yearly floods 30 years from now. If the military was really serious about protecting the country, they would be using their budget to move their more vulnerable installations to higher ground and buying equipment to combat floods instead of the attack helicopters, missiles and rockets that army commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong wants.
From what I have read, the US military long ago recognised global warming as a national security threat. As far as I can tell, the Thai military still does not even know what global warming is.
It is thoughtful of army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong to defend the 12-billion-baht deal for obviously needed military hardware, but has it been properly probed by the army's infallible GT200s, those unparalleled detectors of corruption in high places?
More than just malls
The director of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) Pawit Mahasarinand was fired by the new board for his outspokenness, criticising the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) for withholding the museum's funding (BP, Sept 25). Assuming the information reported is accurate, it makes no sense to fire a competent arts director whom last year was responsible for drawing 1.7 million visitors to the museum -- a record high.
When living in Australia, I enjoyed visiting museums and modern galleries, for instance the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, which once featured pop art icon Andy Warhol's works. This would draw tonnes of visitors -- families, tourists, and students to spend quality time on the weekends together. We would take a stroll through a park afterwards.
Every notable city has great public galleries that attract tourists and locals alike. Specifically, New York has a Museum of Modern Art that features the works of Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin, as well as its iconic New York Public Library, welcoming millions of tourists.
If the BMA wants Bangkok to be a world-class city of commerce and culture, filled with dynamism, we must have more than just high-end department stores. We have to have great parks (like Moscow's Gorky Park), libraries, and indeed galleries.
For those who speak of "soft power" -- the power of culture -- which we certainly have plenty. They are also indicative of quality of life for locals. But alas, political motives get in the way, as usual. We end up hiring incompetent individuals subservient to his/her patronage boss over an outspoken competent man such as Pawit -- who had worked in the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University for 25 years.
I therefore urge the BMA and the new board to reinstall Pawit to his position. A 40-million-baht budget for the gallery per year is a drop of water compared to the current government's spending spree. Let the local arts scene flourish. Sometimes the local artists might make political statements.
So be it. Let them have a space to express themselves creatively and freely through their works -- be they political arts or Buddhist arts. Do not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. There has got to be more in Bangkok than just malls, temples, and bars.
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