Top: Thai Raksa Chart Party representatives nominate Princess Ubolratana as their Prime Minister candidate on Feb. 8, 2019.
Our readers closed out the 2010s by following along with natural disasters, political disasters, and PR disasters – in other words, storms, the election, and that time a member of a girl group flaunted a Nazi flag.
Also popular were monarchy-related news (which seems to be a favorite topic of our audience), a fatal tourist accident, and the heartwarming story of a scrappy, life-saving dog named Ping Pong.
The top-read news of the entire year was a New Year’s Day warning that the tropical storm Thirtysix, later named Pabuk, would directly hit the Southern provinces and eventually kill 4, force 700,000 into evacuation, and leave billions of baht in damage before we even got a week into 2019.
Koisuru Nazi Drama! When BNK48 member Pichayapa “Namsai” Natha was spotted wearing a Nazi flag Tshirt at dance rehearsal on live broadcast, it was met with a storm of criticism from fans, non-fans, and the Israeli embassy about Thais’ general lack of knowledge about World War II and the Holocaust.
It isn’t the first – and probably not the last – inapprpraite use of Nazi imagery by Thai youths. But the story also seems to have a positive ending: the 19-year-old ended up campaigning for Holocaust awareness to her social media followers.
In a team effort, we had reporters on the ground zipping from constituency to constituency to cover the long-awaited election day from morning till night – when the polls closed, and the day ended with more questions than it started with.
Of course, it was all rigged from the start, and Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha won his second term as PM to little surprise from anyone. As the votes were counted in a months-long process that caused yet more controversies, pro-democracy activists reflected on what they saw as a major defeat.
Completely overturning the chess board of the election – at least for a short while – was the announcement that Princess Ubolratana herself would run for PM as the head of Thai Rak Chart Party, a faction loyal to former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
But could a princess run for office, albeit one who had relinquished her titles? The King said no – she was still a royal family member. The princess was disqualified, and Thai Raksa Chart disbanded shortly after.
Everyone loves visual tools and avoiding traffic – and that culminated in a huge number of reads for our interactive maps showing which roads would be closed during the coronation of His Majesty the King back in May.
Thailand found itself at the center of the world’s attention when 18-year-old Rahaf Alqunun was held at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport while transferring to Australia, in an attempt to flee her native Saudi Arabian family for alleged abuse against her apostasy.
Just three days before King Rama X’s coronation in May, the palace announced that he had married Gen. Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya and therefore elevated her to a Queen. The Queen’s portraits would soon become ubiquitous around the kingdom.
Three-legged Ping Pong dug up and prevented a case of infanticide. Good boy, Ping Pong!
A Songkran vacation in the north turned deadly when a 180kg Canadian died falling from a zipline. Police charged the operator with fatal negligence for allowing someone of his weight to ride. For many, the story is a grim reminder of lax safety regulations in Thailand’s tourism industry.
No comment for this one.