Free black mourning shirts for 8m low-income people

Free black mourning shirts for 8m low-income people

Officials from Office of the Non-formal and Informal Education demonstrate how to dye clothes black at the Education Ministry on Monday. The service is free. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Officials from Office of the Non-formal and Informal Education demonstrate how to dye clothes black at the Education Ministry on Monday. The service is free. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

State-run banks will distribute free black shirts to about 8 million people who have registered as low income earners so they can wear black throughout the year of mourning for the late King, finance permanent secretary Somchai Sujjapongse said on Monday.

Mr Somchai said the T-shirts would cost about 50 baht each to make, and about 400 million baht was being allocated by the banks for the project. This was in line with the government's policy to help low-income people.

"Although the government has said it is not necessary for all people to wear black, the Finance Ministry is of the opinion that it would be good if the low-income people can wear black to mourn for the late King," Mr Somchai added.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said he had asked manufacturers and retailers of black clothing and fabrics to increase production.

He was speaking after a meeting with senior officials of the Commerce Ministry and representatives of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association (TGMA), the Thai Weaving Industry Association (TWIA) and modern traditional retail stores on meeting the public demand for black clothes.

Mr Somkid admitted that black clothes went out of stocks during the weekend.  "From this week, there will be sufficient black clothes for sale," he added.

"In the short run, manufacturers and retailers have been asked to speed up releasing their stocks.  They confirmed that the number of black shirts in stock is five times greater than they would normally hold and they are ready to distribute them this week. The prices will remain unchanged," he said.

Mr Somkid said the government would also sell low-cost black shirts at department stores and retail stores throughout the country between Oct 21 and 23.

Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said more black ribbons would also be produced and distributed free to people.

Mrs Apiradi said department and retail stores should reduce or maintain the prices of black clothing and refrain from profiteering, otherwise they could be charged and liable to a maximum seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to 140,000 baht.

Thaworn Kanokwaleewong, president of the TGMA, said the association would cooperate fully with the government.

Supplies of blck clothing ran out at some some stores during the weekend because demand was five to 10 times above normal.

Mr Thaworn said that from today the starting price of a black, grey or white T-shirt would be 89 baht and a polo shirt 179 baht each.

The Ministry of Education plans to produce and distribute 20 million black ribbons for distribution to the public, especially low-income people. 

The ministry invited bureaucrats, students and the general public to help make the ribbons, permanent secretary Chaiyapruek Serirak said on Monday.

The ministry would also expand its service centres where clothes can be dyed black for free to handle increased demand in the provinces and Bangkok, where the centres are currently located at Sanam Luang and the ministry headquarters on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue.

Mourners can learn how to produce black ribbons and dye their garments black at the centres, and at other venues set up by various agencies attached to the ministry. A video tutorial will be posted on YouTube so people can learn to do it at home, Mr Chaiyapruek said.

In the southern province of Songkhla, people flocked to Samakkhi Sports, a clothing shop on Niyomrat Road in Hat Yai Municipality, on Monday upon on learning the owner, Sudarat Jongsrisawat, was handing out free T-shirts.

Ms Sudarat said since her black shirts had sold out, and other shops were  selling them at excessively high prices, she had about 3,000 white and dark-blue T-shirts she would hand out for free as a tribute to His Majesty.

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