Thai pop idol condemned for Nazi swastika T-shirt

Images of Hitler, swastikas and other Nazi regalia are fairly commonplace on T-shirts and memorabilia in Thailand, such as this motorcyclist who wears a look-a-like Nazi helmet bearing the infamous ‘SS’ logo and WWII-type goggles. (AFP)
Updated 27 January 2019

Thai pop idol condemned for Nazi swastika T-shirt

  • Images of Hitler, swastikas and other Nazi regalia are fairly commonplace on T-shirts and memorabilia in Thailand
  • The latest faux pas was committed by Pichayapa ‘Namsai’ Natha, one of the singers of BNK48

BANGKOK: A member of Thailand’s most popular all-girl band has apologized for wearing a shirt with a Nazi flag featuring a swastika, after her TV appearance Friday drew “shock and dismay” from the Israeli embassy.

Images of Hitler, swastikas and other Nazi regalia are fairly commonplace on T-shirts and memorabilia in Thailand, a phenomenon blamed on a lack of historical understanding rather than political leanings.

The latest faux pas was committed by Pichayapa “Namsai” Natha, one of the singers of BNK48, when she wore the red-and-black top complete with swastika during the group’s rehearsal.

The deputy chief of mission of the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok took to Twitter the following day to express “shock and dismay” at the outfit, given that Sunday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Presenting Nazi symbols by the band’s singer hurt the feelings of millions around the world,” said Smadar Shapira.

The 19-year-old singer will be meeting with the ambassador of Israel on Sunday afternoon, Shapira said.

On Saturday night, Namsai apologized tearfully onstage during a concert.

“I want this to be an example for everyone, please forgive me,” she said, bursting into tears.

She later claimed full responsibility for her ignorance in an apology posted on her official Facebook page.

“Please give me advice so that I can grow up to be a good adult in the future ... I cannot fix the mistake but I promise I will not let it happen again,” Namsai wrote in Thai.

Fans of BNK48, a domestic offshoot of Japanese girl group AKB48, came to Namsai’s defense.

“I’m over 40 and I don’t know anything about this topic. When I saw the shirt, I didn’t think it would be a problem,” said fan Prasit Rudeekriengkrai.

Others blamed Thailand’s education system, which does not focus much on world history.

“What do you expect? When we were in school, they teach only about Thailand and Myanmar wars,” Samruay Kraspra said.

Thailand has gotten in trouble in the past for its flippant use of Hitler and Nazi-related imagery.

In 2013, Bangkok’s prestigious Chulalongkorn University was forced to apologize after its students created a mural depicting Hitler during graduation celebrations. A Catholic school was also left red-faced in 2011 after students dressed up in Nazi uniform for a sports day parade.


Couple run Dubai balcony marathon to beat coronavirus blues

Updated 29 March 2020

Couple run Dubai balcony marathon to beat coronavirus blues

  • The couple covered 42.2km by running more than 2,100 laps
  • The whole distance took them 5 hours, 9 minutes and 39 seconds

DUBAI: A South African couple who ran a marathon on the balcony of their Dubai apartment, streaming it online, plan to take the project global to help people shake off the coronavirus blues.

Collin Allin, 41, and wife Hilda covered the 42.2-kilometer distance by running more than 2,100 laps of their 20-meter long balcony from dawn on Saturday.

A stopwatch provided by the couple shows they covered the distance in five hours, nine minutes and 39 seconds.

“We did it ... #balconymarathon,” Allin said on Instagram, congratulating his wife on her first ever marathon and thanking the virtual crowd that cheered them on.

“Thank you for all the love and support for doing something silly... was great to have you all along for the ride,” he said.
The couple’s 10-year-old daughter Geena acted as race director, putting up signs marking “start” and “turn around” and providing her parents with water and snacks as well as inspirational music.

Allin said he planned to organize a “bigger, global and more inclusive run next” where people who are under lockdown but keen to stretch their legs can join for a few kilometers or more.
“This is about giving people something else to think about,” Allin told AFP. “It’s about getting people to connect, as everyone is worried about the impact of coronavirus.”
The pandemic has wiped out international sporting schedules and triggered lockdowns that have limited options for outdoor exercise in many countries, but enterprising people have found ways to fit in a workout.
Elisha Nochomovitz, a 32-year-old who lives near the French city of Toulouse, ran a marathon on his balcony which measures just seven meters.
He reportedly managed the feat in six hours and 48 minutes, nearly double his best marathon finish time.