Crowe quizzes Bangkok candidates on floods, messy cables, tourism
Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe, who loves Thailand so much that he has been dubbed the country’s “tourism ambassador”, had three questions for Bangkok governor candidates ahead of the Sunday election.
The questions were posed in a Channel 7 show titled “22 May: Deciding Bangkok’s Fate”, which was aired on Thursday.
Crowe asked what the candidates would do about the rising level of the Chao Phraya and flooding, the city’s famous jungle of power cables and making the capital more accessible to foreigners.
Each candidate was given two minutes to answer the questions, and only three responded, namely Sita Dhivari, Witthaya Changkoppattana and Phongsa Chunam.
Sita said a drainage system with the capacity of removing 2,600 cubic metres of water per second had been set up to tackle the Chao Phraya overflow. He also vowed to ensure the nine dams that are leaking get properly repaired.
As for Bangkok’s mess of cables, he said residents have been complaining about this for more than 10 years now.
However, putting the powerlines underground will require a lot of money, but the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has a limited budget and more pressing issues that require fixing.
“The BMA will have to spend three times the amount it has been allocated to bury all the cables, so this issue needs to be tackled gradually,” he said. He also said that flooding may also affect the cables buried underground.
As for making Bangkok friendlier to tourists, he said, the only way to do that is to urge the residents to become more fluent in the English language.
He also said that many people have become digital nomads, so Bangkok should become a high-tech, modern and convenient city to attract this crowd, he added.
Meanwhile, Witthaya said little can be done to stop the Chao Phraya from breaking its banks because it is fed by water from three sources: runoffs from the North, rain and the Gulf of Thailand.
As for cables, he too said that putting them underground would require a lot of money, and the best and most thrifty way of tackling this issue will be to tidy up the powerlines.
To make Bangkok more accessible to foreigners, Witthaya said students should be trained to become tour guides and locals should learn English to communicate better with foreigners.
Phongsa, however, offered a high-tech solution to Bangkok flooding, saying a “super computer” will be put in place to predict when the Chao Phraya will flood, so steps can be taken in time.
As for the mess of cables, he said they were a symbol of Bangkok and should be left untouched. Instead, the city should be made greener.
When it comes to making the city more accessible to foreigners, Phongsa said travellers’ safety was the biggest priority. To deal with this, he said, more CCTV cameras will be installed and AI technology used to identify criminal activities.
The New Zealand-born actor was in Thailand from September 18 to October 26 last year to film his latest blockbuster, “The Greatest Beer Run Ever”.
He took to Twitter to post his impressions of Thailand and praised Bangkok for its food, people and culture, drawing appreciation from the public as well as the government.
After leaving Thailand, he tweeted via his personal account (@russellcrowe) saying he missed Bangkok, which is a “beautiful, interesting, exciting place. The people are warm and welcoming”.