Coup d’Etat in Bangkok

20 September 2006
Never have I imagined that I would live to witness a coup d’etat in Bangkok for the second time in my life. It’s been 14 years since "Black May," a public uprising in Bangkok against the military dictatorship in 1992. Thailand has come too far to take a step backwards to this uncivilized state. Currently, as I am writing this blog article, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was still in New York at the UN General Assembly and declared a state of emergency earlier in the evening, while the opposition party – "Council of Political Reform" declared that the constitution was by now invalid and they gained full control of the country. I don’t know who is "actually" in control and what will happen next. All I know is that Thailand will be badly doomed, both politically and economically, because of this.

Let’s hope for peaceful resolution and economic recovery. The sooner, the better.

Remembering September 11th, World Trade Center and United 93

13 September 2006
Five years have passed since the terrorist attacks that shocked America, shook the world and changed the way of our lives on September 11, 2001. Hardly anyone could forget the picture of the two World Trade Center towers collapsing with frustrated and fearful screams as a background. I would like to express my deepest condolences to those who lost their lives and their loved ones in these tragic incidents. It seems to me that we would never see a peaceful world with harmony and understanding unless everyone stops thinking selfishly and starts understanding the diversity of people around us. Even though we all are different, we could enjoy living together if, at least, we care for everyone around us.

In remembrance of 9/11 tragedy, there are two notable Hollywood movies released this year. Each film is based on true story of an event related to the terrorist attacks. Each film has its own virtue and style. Last but not least, each film is faithful to the lives lost in the tragic incident with no offense. I highly recommend these two movies to everyone. They are worth every seconds of your time and every cents of your money.
"United 93" is a film directed and written by a veteran British director, Paul Greengrass. It tells a story of the forth and the only plane that was hijacked on September 11, 2001 and never hit the target. As a result, a thousand of lives had been saved. We all knew from the news that the United Airlines plane "Flight 93" crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. What we didn’t know is the true incident on board the aircraft. The director created a true-to-life story of what might happen on the plane based on data available. The movie is powerful and could capture the moment of fear and courage on the doomed flight. With an ensemble of unknown but skilled casts, the audiences could really feel that the reality of the event. The movie is well edited and the cinematography is realistic, especially the final scene which would certainly make you realized how valuable life is.

5 stars out of 5 – this is truly a tribute to those courageous passengers on board the United Airlines plane Flight 93. May they all rest in peace.
"World Trade Center" is directed by one of Hollywood household names, Oliver Stone. The movie is the little known true story of John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, two of the last survivors extracted alive from the rubble of Ground Zero of the twin World Trade Center towers. Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena star as the main characters, the courageous Port Authority police officers – John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, while Maria Bello and Magie Gyllenhaal take a supportive role of their wives. A well qualified performance from the ensemble of the cast with the best movie script from Andrea Berloff made the film truly emotional and  impressive. We could also see flawless special effects and set constructions at their best in providing the realistic point of view of the movie. You could laugh and cry and feel the pain with every characters in the film as if they are a member of your family. When the world saw terror on that day, we could also see that we should have a courage and never give up hope, as it’s our last stand against the evil around us.

5 stars out of 5 – The buildings might fall but true heroes would rise. Never lost your faith in goodness.

The Seed a.k.a. Duay Klao (ด้วยเกล้า)

6 September 2006
The movie was originally released back in 1987. It tells a story of a farmer from the North who came to Bangkok and acquired a small portions of the King’s rice grains which were distributed to the people for the first time in the Royal Ploughing Ceremony some decades ago. Once the farmer came back to his homeland, he cherished the royal seeds and planted them in his rice paddle with hope of a better life. After some 10 years, the farmer and his children still had to struggle with a hardship of a typical Thai farmer’s life which is full of debts and being taken advantages of by capitalism system. However, with his pure heart and his loyalty to His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the farmer still holds on to the virtue of goodness.

The movie is written and directed by Bhandit Rittakol, a veteran director who is most remembered by his series of romantic comedy movies "Boonchu" starring a wonderful on-screen couple Chintara "Mam" Sukapatana and Santitsuk "Num" Promsiri. "Duay Klao" proved that Bhandit could make a drama movie as good as or even better than comedies. The movie also starred his protege, Chintara Sukapatana and Santitsuk Promsiri. However, the late Charan Manopech, who starred in the leading role as a good farmer from the North, truly shone in this movie. It’s said that this is the best ever role of his lifetime. The story of struggling farmer in The North is touching. It becomes even more sentimental at the end of the movie. The movie won the Best Constructive Thai Movie award in 1987. Moreover, It’s the only movie that was granted the royal admission from His Majesty the King to use the total of 9 Royal Compositions, including the famous Saeng Tien (Candlelight Blues), Chata Cheewit (H.M. Blues) and Yam Yen (Love At Sundown), to feature in the movie.

This coming September the 9th, the remastered version of movie with a better sound and clearer image will be released again in selected theaters around Bangkok in order to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of His Majesty’s accession to the throne. This is a once-in-a-life-time experience for those who haven’t had a chance to watch the movie. After 19 years from the originally released date, the theme of the movie has never been out-of-date as the hard-working and dedication to the people of His Majesty the King has never ceased. This is the reason why every Thais love and respect His Majesty with all their hearts.

Long Live the King.

P.S. You could download the new trailer of this movie and the promotional video from the official website of Fivestar Production. (Click here.)

The Happiness of Kati a.k.a. Kwam Suk Kong Kati (ความสุขของกะทิ)

4 September 2006
The winner of this year S.E.A. (South East Asian) Write award, Thailand’s most prestigious literary honor, was announced on August the 31st, 2006. Selected from 64 submissions of novel works, the 10 finalists has been judged by the committee and it’s definitely a difficult task to finally present the award to "The Happiness of Kati," a short novel written by a veteran translator Ngarmphan "Jane" Vejjajiva, which also won an award from England and was selected by the Junior Library Guild (USA) to be added in their prestigious "reading list" to recommend to the states-wide librarians.

The Happiness of Kati tells a story of a nine-year-old girl named "Kati" who stays with her grandparents in a friendly neighborhood faraway from a hectic and busy city life. Kati is a clever and optimistic girl who contends with all aspects of her life except for one thing – she could hardly remember her mother who left her with her grandparents since she was only 4 years old. She always wonder why her mother left her and why haven’t she ever seen her father. Chapters by chapters, the story reveals itself like the peeling of an onion layers by layers as we follow Kati through her unforgettable journey from the old fashioned house by the canal to a bungalow by the sea and an apartment in the big city. The readers would smile, laugh and cry along with Kati as the truth about her family emerges.

In my opinion, this multi-award-winning short novel could be considered as a "gem" in modern Thai literature. The language and style used in the story is simple yet powerful with realistic descriptive narration. The multi-layered characters and a little mysterious story-telling with some plot-twists spice up the novel and make it unputdownable once start reading – at least in my case, I spent my easy Sunday afternoon reading this book straight from the first chapter till the last. I have to admit that I admired Kati’s courageous way of thought and her optimistic point of view. This is truly a happiness in life. The story about family and discovery of your individual self while keeping good relationships with everyone around you is a universal theme. It’s no wonder why "The Happiness of Kati" has been translated into 5 different languages and won several awards. However, the most important award the book received could be no other than the happiness it gave to the readers after finishing the book. All praises should go to the author.

As one of the beginning quotations of a chapter in the book stated, I couldn’t agree more that "the happiness of everyone around us is indeed our own happiness."
P.S. There has already been a sequel of "The Happiness of Kati" under the title "Finding the Moon" and the third installment of "Kati" series will be published soon.