Artiwara Kongmalai, aka Toon Bodyslam, the 38 year-old member of rock band Bodyslam, truly deserves to be named Thailand’s Person of the Year 2017. His arduous run across the country covered 2,215 kilometres in 55 days and raised an astonishing Bt1.1 billion for public hospitals.
Recent polls show that Toon is the most inspiring national figure in the eyes of the public. His popularity rating eclipses even that of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha – and by a large margin.
It seems obvious that one reason Toon is a hero among Thais is that he is politically neutral – both in his talk and his actions.
Toon is the perfect example of the spirit US President John F Kennedy invoked in his inauguration speech on January 20, 1961:
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”