Govt denies promoting farm tractors for international racing events

TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2024

Rumour of ‘soft power’ promotion of international tractor racing just fake news, govt spokeswoman says

The government has no plan to promote tractors made and modified by Thai farmers as tools of the country’s soft power, nor to enter agricultural vehicles in international racing events to attract foreign audiences, Radklao Inthawong Suwankiri, deputy government spokeswoman, said on Tuesday.

Radklao said a Facebook post that spread the rumour contained false information. The post showed photos of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin visiting a Formula One racetrack in Italy with a description that the PM was trying to persuade F1 executives to include Thai tractors in its racing programmes.

The poster also said Srettha wanted to include Thai tractors in the country’s soft power efforts, a product that the government has been promoting as an economic driver in the tourism and creative industries.

“Although there have been racing events of farm tractors in several provinces of Thailand, promoting such vehicles as [part of] the country’s soft power at the international level is not the government’s policy, nor the prime minister’s order,” Radklao said.

She added that the poster’s intention could have been satirical or making fun of the prime minister, and she urged people not to confuse such fake news with real government policy.

This month, Srettha used the opportunity of his official visit to Italy to visit the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola, near Bologna, and hold talks with the chief executive of the Formula One Group, the rights holder of the FIA Formula One World Championship, on the possibility of Thailand hosting an F1 race in 2027 or 2028.

After the meeting, Srettha posted on Facebook that he believes Thailand could host an F1 Grand Prix in Bangkok to attract both investors and tourists. He said a feasibility study is under way.

The government estimates that hosting an F1 event in Thailand could attract up to 300,000 visitors who are motorsport enthusiasts, generating more than 12 billion baht of income and creating 6,000 jobs, Radklao said.

During his trip to Italy, Srettha also met with executives of motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, which supplies electric bikes to the FIM MotoE World Cup, to discuss the possibility of hosting the event in Thailand, she added.