Closed by Coronavirus Lockdown, FCCT Appeals for Donations

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit speaks at the FCCT on Dec. 2, 2019. Photo: FCCT Events / YouTube

BANGKOK — Southeast Asia’s oldest club for foreign journalists said it may soon go out of business due to financial losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, or FCCT, remains shuttered per the government’s order closing down venues with large public gatherings. Club management said it’s struggling to make ends meet and is appealing for an urgent donation to keep the establishment afloat.

“We are facing a growing struggle to meet overheads, including rent and staff costs, in the absence of normal revenues,” FCCT president Gwen Robinson wrote in a notice published on the club website. “In an unprecedented appeal, we are asking for donations, no matter how small or large, to the club fund.”

The club regularly held panel discussions related to current events and freedom of expression in Thailand until it was forced to shut down and scrap all programs earlier this month. Cancellations include, ironically, a discussion over effects of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.

“We deeply appreciate the response so far from some loyal supporters. We hope we can name you on a forthcoming list to express our gratitude, but let us know if you wish to remain anonymous,” Robinson wrote. “As always, whether you are in a position to donate or not, we remain extremely grateful for your support and interest.”

The club, along with its restaurant and bar, will remain closed through April, the website said.

The FCCT was founded in the mid-1950s, when the first bureau chief for the Associated Press arrived in Thailand with the US Office of War Information just after World War II.

In the decades following through the Vietnam War, Tom Yum Kung crisis, and beyond, it became a popular expatriate correspondents’ hub, having welcomed Thai prime ministers, politicians, journalists, and everyone in between as its speakers.

The FCCT’s board and member journalists work on a volunteer basis, its website said.

Donations can be made via bank transfer to Bangkok Bank account number 911-3-00144-1, account name Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. Transfer slip should be emailed to [email protected] or [email protected].

Correction: The original headline for this article, which stated that ‘FCCT on Brink of Bankruptcy,’ was amended after FCCT reached out to say the it is not on the verge of collapse.