UBON RATCHATHANI — An actor who fundraised more than 355 million baht for flood relief efforts Thursday said he won’t pool the funds with the government’s own fundraising efforts.
Actor Bin Banleurit said Thursday that his donation drive has amassed 355 million baht. In a live video posted to his Facebook Wednesday with more than 4.5 million views, he said he has already distributed 22 million baht to flood victims since he started collecting on Saturday.
In comparison, the government’s official donation fund has received 263 million via a telethon – a difference of almost 100 million baht.
Bin said that officials reached out and invited him to man a phone in a recent charity telethon, but the actor said the donations would be distributed separately.
“I would never let the government take the donations,” Bin said. “I will not combine this money with any other pile…I would not risk my reputation.”
Bin added that he doesn’t have any problem with the authorities, but just wants to fundraise “out of the goodness of my heart.”
“The amount of 300 million wasn’t easy to get,” Bin said in the video, visibly exhausted. “I’m confident I will manage this money with innocent intentions and in the most transparent way possible…Every baht and satang will go into villagers’ hands.”
On Wednesday, Bin’s crew distributed 5,000 baht each to 1,996 households in Warin Chamrap District, amounting to about 9,980,000 baht. Some donors opt to give to Bin rather than the government due to perceptions that Bin will be faster and more transparent in distributing the money, one of them being Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban, a Thai Kpop member from Blackpink who donated 100,000 baht.
Meanwhile officials have defended state efforts by saying regulations prevent the government from “giving out money” as freely and quickly as the private sector.
“We can’t just go around giving out money like the private sector,” Deputy PM Wissanu said Thursday. “Bin Banluerit’s aid is good, but he doesn’t have to follow any regulations. Money donated to the government’s disaster relief fund must strict rules and frameworks.”
“If we did the same, it could result in favoritism. For example, this village, this district gets 20,000 baht, but that village gets 2,000 baht. There was an administration that did this with its government fund, do you remember?” Wissanu said, without naming anyone.
He also said money donated to the government would be used in long-term relief programs, like repair works and buying cattle for farmers who lost them in the floods.
Government efforts included the “Thai Hearts Together to Help the Flood Disaster” telethon on Tuesday, which raised more than 263 million baht while it aired from 7:30pm to 10pm.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha himself took to social media to thank donors.
“Thank you to every department, organization, and citizen for donating to help our Ubon brothers and sisters,” Prayuth wrote on his Facebook Wednesday. “#ThaisDon’tAbandonEachOther.”
The navy has also been evacuating tourists stranded in and around Koh Chang in Trat province, especially those stuck in Koh Mak, according to Vice Adm. Banjob Potedaeng of the Navy Disaster Relief Support Division stationed in Chonburi on Wednesday.
At least 11 out of 25 Ubon Ratchathani districts remain flooded and more rain is expected nationwide until Sept. 23.
On Thursday Bin accepted a donation of 321 baht from Supatchara Kemnangrong, 11, which she collected in a piggy bank for him.
To donate to Bin’s fund, transfer money to Bin Banluerit’s Kasikornbank account, Account Number 706-1-03779-3.
Donors can also directly transfer money to the PM Office’s Fund to Assist Flood Victims, Government House Branch of Krung Thai Bank, Account Number 067-0-06895-0. Donated money is eligible for income tax deduction.