#WhatsHappeningInThailand – July 5, 2024

#WhatsHappeningInThailand – a weekly news roundup of the latest Thailand news. Hosted by independent journalist Matt Hunt.

Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt says Pet Markets Will Not Reopen

A portrait of Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt in a van while visiting a district in Bangkok in June 2024.
Governor Chadchart Sittipunt visits Huai Khwang district in Bangkok, Thailand, on June 29, 2024 – Matt Hunt / Getty Images

In a short conversation while visiting a local district, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt said confidently that the pet market at Chatuchak Market will not be reopened. This, after 1000+ animals perished in a fire there earlier this month, which brought forth longstanding public outcry about the existence of this and other pet and wildlife markets in Thailand.

LABUBU visits Thailand

LABUBU at the Airport in Bangkok
LABUBU at the Airport in Bangkok – Source: 01 07 2024 – X @thestandardth

LABUBU, a vinyl toy, made its first visit to Thailand. Upon arrival at the airport, adorned in traditional Thai attire, fans and some Government officials celebrated with it.

The character, created by Hong Kong artist Kasing Lung, is one of many popular vinyl toys in Thailand, but LABUBU has piqued specific hype. Fans say that LABUBU is charming and somewhat mischievous. The character’s superstar was born from collaborations with local brands and artists, including LISA Manobal of BLACKPINK, and with limited-edition releases and collectible figurines appealing enough to cultivate a dedicated fanbase in Thailand, contributing to its widespread recognition and success in the country’s vibrant toy and collectibles market.

Julian Assange stops in Bangkok

A private jet carrying WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange at Don Mueang International Airport.
A private jet carrying WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange at Don Mueang International Airport. Source: 25 06 2024 – X @dagensnyheter

In a bit of legal gymnastics, WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange‘s private jet stopped in Bangkok while he was on his way to plead guilty to espionage in US-controlled Saipan. Many observers believe the stopover in Bangkok was a strategic move to avoid the American mainland and leverage the city’s central location and relative safety amid his legal challenges.

Thailand Joins Cross-Border Payments Plan for Easier Global Payments

Bank of Thailand joining Project Nexus, a handout photo of some other cooperating countries.
Source: Source: Bank of Thailand, handout

Thailand and India have recently joined a regional initiative to establish instant retail cross-border payments across Southeast Asia.

The plan, spearheaded by the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network (AFIN) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), seeks to streamline and expedite retail transactions between regional countries. This move is expected to enhance financial inclusivity by reducing transaction costs and processing times, benefiting both businesses and consumers.

By participating in this initiative, a part of Project Nexus-Thailand and India would be joining into the partnership with Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, comprising a network of approximately 1.7 billion people.

LISA brings the hype to Bangkok’s Chinatown

LISA on the set of her 'ROCKSTAR' music video in Bangkok's Chinatown district.
LISA on the set of her ‘ROCKSTAR’ music video in Bangkok’s Chinatown district. Source: 03 07 2024 – X @jenniesrenes

Thai (K-pop) superstar LISA (Lisa Manobal) released her music video, ROCKSTAR, skyrocketing to instant fame with 5 million views in the first three hours. The video takes place in an unseen, vacant Chinatown, usually overflowing with people and cars at all hours.

Fans online went wild, many posting photos of themselves in the video’s backdrop. The media became curious about how it was kept secret for so long, leading to a barrage of behind-the-scenes knowledge and footage of the video’s making. Overall, it has turned Chinatown into a place of massive new interest, which the government’s marketing team has already noted.

Car Bomb explodes in Yala Province, Thailand

A burned car in front of where it exploded in front of a police housing unit in Yala province, Thailand.
A burned car in front of where it exploded in front of a police housing unit in Yala province, Thailand. Source: 01 07 2024 – X @bangkokpostnews

A car bomb exploded in front of a police housing unit in Yala, the most recent notable sign of escalation in the ongoing insurgency in Thailand’s deep south. The blast resulted in one death as well as several injuries and extensive damage to nearby buildings.

This incident emphasizes the persistent security challenges in the region, where separatist insurgents, although seeking peace agreements, have fought a longstanding battle against authorities, with one local academic saying that these such incidents hamper ongoing attempts at peace talks.

You can see my most recent update of the area here: https://writingbymatt.com/thailand-deep-south-2023-snapshot/

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