Children celebrate their day

Two girls pose with an IHLE Schottenring microcar from the 1950s on display at Government House. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Children nationwide joined activities held for them by both the public and private sectors on Saturday to celebrate Children’s Day.

His Majesty the King ordered an event held to celebrate the special day at the multipurpose stadium in a royal ground on Rajavithi Road in Dusit district. The event was for children of palace workers, as well as other young people.    

The highlights of Children’s Day this year were at the Royal Thai Air Force headquarters in Don Muang district and at Government House in Bangkok.

At the air force base, hundreds of children watched an air show by Grippen jets and other planes. 

At Government House, an 11-year-old girl from St Francis Xavier Convent School in Bangkok became the first to sit in the prime minister’s chair this year, part of a longstanding annual tradition. The lucky ones chosen are believed to possibly have the makings of future prime ministers.

Pavarisa Chaiwatmalakul, a student from Nonthaburi, tries out the Prime Minister's chair at Government House. (Royal Thai Government photo)

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha rode an electric bicycle to unveil a sign celebrating the special day in the morning. There were performances including khon masked dance, Thai traditional music and exhibitions and activities, as well as robot and dinosaur shows.

The military goes all-out to impress youngsters every Children’s Day, to the dismay of some academics who say children should be encouraged to take an interest in a greater variety of activities.

In the provinces, performances, contests, games and gifts were the highlights, with some governors also opening their offices to the young. (continued below)

A Flintstones parade in Kalasin province. (Photo by Yongyuth Phuphuangpet)

In Kalasin, dinosaurs were the theme as the northeastern province is a significant fossil excavation site. A parade featured people in Flintstones garb handing out sweets to thrilled children.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, the air force unit there staged an F16 air show and a rescue mission show by EC-725 helicopters. A health contest and K9 show were also held. Suranaree University of Technology also held technology exhibitions and a crawling contest for babies aged 8-10 months amid the cheers of parents and onlookers. (continued below) 

A determined young contestant in the crawling contest at Suranaree University of Technology in Nakhon Ratchasima. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)  

A boy checks out a display at Suranaree University of Technology in Nakhon Ratchasima. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)

Pattaya City organised several contests and activities, with lots of gifts and free food and drinks for young celebrants.

In Ratchaburi, police of Muang district set up checkpoints and stopped cars taking children to activities in the central province. Some of them cried when they saw the men in uniform but stopped immediately when the police pulled out dolls from a large bag with a big smile. (continued below) 

A policeman gives a doll to a boy at a checkpoint in Muang district, Ratchaburi province. (Photo by Saichol Srinuanchan)

In Buri Ram, Chang International Circuit held a motorsport-themed event for the fourth year. It showcased sports car prototypes and supercars.

As an Asian Le Mans Series 2018/19 race was being held in the province on the same day, foreign racers joined the children’s activities. The circuit also allowed free admission for parents and children who keenly took pictures with the Le Mans LMP2 and LMP3 classes of prototype race cars.

Le Mans racers pose with a boy during a Children's Day activity at the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram province. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

ALTERNATIVES TO ARMS

While tanks and guns have been a staple of Children’s Day activities for decades, some academics say children should get to know about other things in life.

Assoc Prof Gothom Arya, director of the Research Center for Peace Building at Mahidol University, told VoiceTV that children should be exposed to other areas of interest such as science, religion, music, arts or sports. Fascination with weapons lavishly showcased by the military should not dominate their career decisions, he said.

“Showing the potential of arms could evoke violence,” he warned, adding the children should be instructed about what weapons are used for, their benefits and dangers, while also being guided on how to solve problems peacefully.

Asst Prof Panadda Chamnarnsuk, an academic specialising in violence among young people, disagreed with traditional arms displays on Children’s Day.

“They not only do not benefit children but also instil in them the use of violence, especially among boys,” she said.

“If the armed forces want to show a positive image, they can show discipline through training, parades or the medical skills of their doctors, rather than guns."

Apart from gifts and the fun, some children are seeking more freedom of thought. A case in point is the trial period that allows students at Bangkok Christian College to drop uniforms once a week.

While several students at the school strongly support the idea, the school’s alumni and authorities strongly disagree, saying it will do more harm than good.

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