On Sep 15, a post on the Pantip webboards revealed that many CCTV camera casings around Bangkok had no cameras inside. The BMA has apologized, but is still forging ahead to install 20,000 cameras by 2012. Here is a chronological breakdown of a CCTV deal gone bad.

Freelancer Discovers CCTV Cameras are Empty

Wisan Medsai, 51, a freelance photographer, exposed the truth about the empty CCTV camera cases in his neighborhood by posting pictures on the Pantip webboard.

How did you notice they were missing in the first place?
I was curious to see what a CCTV looks like so I used my flashlight to look inside the case. But there were no cameras inside! I wanted someone to tell me what this was all about so I posted my pictures on Pantip with the hope that someone could tell me that the BMA had simply removed the cameras to fix them or were about to install them. Then it became a big topic.

Do you support CCTV?
It’s better to have it, just in case something happens. But the thing that annoys me is that they put so many cameras in one place. Some intersections have 16 cameras. We’ll also never know if they really installed 10,000 cameras. Plus, what is the management behind it. Is there really a room to monitor them all?

What’s crime like in your neighborhood?
I don’t hear much news about crime here but I did see a warning sign from the police saying “This area is dangerous. Please be warned.“ The funny thing is, there isn’t a single camera where that sign is!

Will CCTV help make your area safer?
A little bit. I still see on the news that people rob supermarkets although they have CCTV. But, footage from CCTV is good evidence to prosecute the criminal.

What do you think about the explanation from BMA?
It’s irksome. They just shrug off all the guilt. If there are 500 empty camera cases from the last administration, then why don’t they fill empty ones before installing new ones?

“We didn’t really mean to deceive people. We used them [the fake ones] to mark spots first…and just showed people there were
cameras there.”
Former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayothin

“I’m sorry for the people who asked police for footage and images from security cameras for evidence against suspects. The BMA told them that the cameras were broken when in fact they were dummy cameras.”
Suthon Anakul, Traffic and Transportation Department director-general

“CCTV leads to massive expense and minimum effectiveness. It creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security. A combination of overdependence on CCTV and ineffective use of the cameras means this money could have been much better spent on more police officers.”
MP David Davis, former shadow Home Secretary (UK)



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Actor and director Bin “Top” Banluerit, 49, is also a long-time volunteer with Ruamkatanyu. Most recently, he disarmed a woman who was holding a knife to her child’s throat, and the video went viral. Here, he speaks of heroism and why he’s still single.

My parents named me and my twin brother after a brand of detergent. Our names are “Top” and “Tide” on our birth certificates. At first, they planned to use Chettha and Anucha (older and younger brother in Thai-Sanskrit), but they changed their minds because we got really sick when we were little.

I never dreamed of being an actor, even though my brother and I were big fans of Thai movies. We always went to the cinema near our home. We’d pretend to be two heroes fighting bad guys and saving the world.

We came to Bangkok to continue our education. Then my brother, Tide, got a job at a famous modeling agency. He asked me to join him, but I didn’t get as much work as he did. My hair was too short for modeling because of my army reserve officer training.

My big chance came when a famous director, Kom Akkhadet, decided that I should train to do action movies for a year. My first movie, Khamakabpra, was released in 1983. And I got a leading role in Tabtimtone in 1984. I’ve been acting regularly since then.

I started directing movies because I found that I often had a different perspective from my directors about scenes. My first movie was Tamnan Grasue in 2002, then Chang Puen Gaew (2003), The Groan: Guan Guan Phee (2004) and Panya Renu (2011).

I spent nearly B20 million out of my own pocket to shoot and promote Panya Renu because none of the studios were interested in the project. I begged Sia Jiang of Sahamongkol Film to help me get this movie in the theaters. I was convinced that it was a great film.

It was very warmly received by audiences. Word of mouth spread, and ticket sales kept
getting higher and higher. It’s now the most successful Isaan movie of the year.

None of my movies feature superstars. They’re all fresh faces. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want famous actors; I just want to have the right actor for the right role. Many of the actors who started out with me are now famous, like the Panya Renu actors who have gone on to tour the country. I’ve just finished the sequel that will roll out early next year. I am also on the pre-production of my new movie that will shoot in India.

I became a rescue volunteer because I really admired them. These volunteer groups used to give away stuff to my family and poor people in my neighborhood. I made up my mind that I would join them one day.

My time came in 1987 when a theater collapsed and people were stuck inside. I rushed to the scene after I heard the news. They needed help operating some of the machines and saving people. Ruamkatanyu gave me an official jacket and I’ve been a volunteer since then. Now, I serve as president of the RuamKatanyu Special Events committee.

I swear, I don’t want to be a hero. Recently, I intervened in a situation where a mother was threatening her baby at knifepoint in front of CentralWorld. But all I want is to help people. I’ve been saving people for decades without the media paying any attention.

I see huge positive changes in the public’s attitude towards volunteer groups. It used to be that many people didn’t want to associate with us because we worked with dead bodies. People believed it was bad luck. But now, people are starting to acknowledge that we help society.

I would rather be a volunteer than a husband. All of my ex-girlfriends begged me to stop doing this job. I wouldn’t then and I never will because my heart wants to go out and help people. I still haven’t found the right girl who can love me for who I am.

I gave up on politics after I found how dirty it was—and still is. I ran to be an MP in 1995 and the head of a sub-district showed me 10,000 fake ID cards. What kind of fair
election could come of that?

Pheu Thai recently approached me to become a member. I turned the offer down. I need to be neutral if I’m going to work for social

I wish I could do a TV show about helping extremely poor people in our country. I wouldn’t want to ask the audience for money. I would just want them to help me find people in need.

Being a good person isn’t just a matter of duty. If none of us try to be a good person, then there won’t be any good people in the world.


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The latest winner of the reality show Academy Fantasia, Thanasit Jaturaputch, 21, aka Ton AF8, opens up about his success after two consecutive failures, his passion for soul music and the fact that he’s never been in love.

BK: What was your childhood like?
I used to be very bold and outgoing when I was in elementary school, but that all changed when I went to junior high. The turning point was when I applied for the AFS student exchange program in Ohio in the United States. I decided to apply because I was really bored with student life in Thailand. There are way too many rules—you can’t even have long hair. At some point, it just doesn’t seem like you’re really living.

BK: Was life in the US as you had expected?
Yes, but I did have to get rid of some of my Thai politeness. You have to be very direct and honest about what you think, otherwise Americans won’t listen to you. American teenagers also love to do fun, crazy things. Like on Halloween, we were driving around in my friend’s car playing a strip game. My female friend flashed her boobs to other drivers. That’s crazy!

BK: When did you start liking music?
I’ve loved music since I was young. My dad used to be a folk singer in university. But my skills improved a lot when I took a class on harmonizing in the US. It made me realize that singing is my destiny. I wanted to be a singer. I also fell in love with soul music there. It’s really powerful both emotionally and vocally. There are not many techniques or instruments, but it has its own groove. It’s like it comes from your flesh and bone. Sometimes I feel my blood pulsing as I sing it.

BK: Why did you come back for an AF audition again after failing twice before?
I guess it’s down to my determination. This opportunity is open for everyone, so I figured why not try it until I reach my goal. I planned to keep auditioning until I passed their maximum age regulation. Since I failed for two years and went on to win a season, I’ve realized that there’s no such thing as easy success. You’re allowed to be sad about failure, but just don’t waste too much time moping. You’ve got to move on.

BK: How do you think Thai singing competitions compare to their US equvialents?
There are good and bad differences. Our shows are better at training the competitors, while in the US they don’t do this. It’s because all the contestants are talented and they can design their own show, while we have to be challenged week by week with different kinds of songs. The American standard for singers is so high and there are lots of opportunities, while Thailand isn’t like that, even though we do have many talented singers.

BK: How is your love life?
Honestly, I’ve never been in love. I’ve had crushes on people before, but I’ve never asked anyone out.

BK: What do you plan to do next?
I already dropped my studies at Thammasat University’s Communication Arts Faculty to join this competition. I am a third-year student there. I’m not planning on rushing back to school, because I want to do my best and be open to whatever opportunities may come next.


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Winyu “John” Wongsurawat, 25, is a host on Thailand’s leading internet TV channel, iHere TV. Here, he talks about his political background, his radio and TV career for GMM Grammy and his new show to encourage Thais to be more aware of society’s problems.

I felt a lot of pressure to be clever as a kid, because my parents were both professors and my siblings were also smart. They always got scholarships while I was just an average student. Actually, no one was worried about it; it was just me.

It’s good for half-Thai kids, like me, to study in local Thai schools instead of at international schools. I learned what state Thai society is really in.

I dropped out of acting school at Srinakharinwirot University after three years. I thought I would like it, since I’d been working in the entertainment industry since grade nine, but I wasn’t. There were too many patterns and rules. I respect that the arts each have their own science, but studying shouldn’t be so regimented.

I thought my parents would disapprove of this decision, but they didn’t. I think my dad actually approved of my move to Ramkhamhaeng University because then I started studying political science, like him.

I think I absorbed political ideas from my parents, and it influenced my news show “Jor Kao Tuen” (“Shallow News in Depth”) on iHere TV. We can be a bit critical of society and government. It was good for me to have studied political fundamentals and understand the system.

I started doing internet TV with my sister, Rosie, and our friends because it’s full of freedom. We don’t need to beg anyone to have a show on TV, which takes a lot of money and sometimes you have to have connections. We can do any style we want, and people can watch it anytime. The internet is like a free universe!

I am proud that our channel has grown from just a few thousand views to millions. I am happy that people get the message that we’re trying to put out. I want to keep doing this as long as I can. I don’t enjoy anything more than this.

We recently had our TV show on TPBS channel called “Prakad Pawa Chookkid” (“Declare a State of Awareness”) which mostly concentrates on consumer issues. Sometimes people don’t realize that they are being taken advantage of. The main idea of the show is to make them ask questions about their rights.

I accept that even though we have freedom when doing internet TV, we still can’t go too far. It’s not self-censorship. It’s just that everything has limits and we know where our limit is.

Thailand’s educational reforms are always going downhill. Those who have better opportunities are the bright students whose parents are able to send them to tutor schools. Rural kids are still struggling and have to wait for companies to buy them lunch as charity.

I sometimes wonder if there is a conspiracy to deprive people of proper education so that they don’t rise up against the administration.

Our taxes should have benefitted the country way more than it has. I think we’ve gotten only B3-4 from every B10 we’ve paid!

We can’t wait for a white knight to pop up. We should realize that the people we get in government are the same kind of people we find in society, people who would rather pay money instead of getting a traffic ticket, who would rather pay bribes to get benefits.

Though I have worked on many TV shows, what still frustrates me is the hard sell advertising during the shows. I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to be like this forever. I can’t do anything because it’s their show, but people should ask if it should really be this way.

Bangkok is like a half-blood city. It absorbs various cultures—Chinese, Western or Indian— together and becomes a city with rich aspects. The coolest thing is everyone still thinks of themselves as Thai, even though we have different styles of living.

I wouldn’t install a fence surround Sanam Luang if I were Bangkok’s governor. It’s strange to have a fence around an area that has been an open space for hundreds of years. It’s too drastic, just to eliminate vendor problems. There are a lot of other ways to fix this.

I love watching DVDs at home. I used to go out seeing movies at least once a week but now I’m too busy. I spend most of my free time sleeping.

I used to just care about making money but now my job is more than that. I have so much fun working at our company. It’s like our baby and I want it to shine. It’s a good challenge to make people realize that it’s not only free TV.


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It all started as a joke that they wanted to have their own band despite their lack of actual musical talent. Now Warattha “Ple-noi” Phongthananikorn and Ontida “Pook” Komolpit, the main members of Tue’sday, are having the last laugh with their 6,000 Facebook fans.

BK: What is your background?
My early life was spent moving between countries. I studied in Thailand and Australia before doing a Masters degree in the UK. I went to Australia because my mom worked there, so I wasn’t like other study abroad students. I spoke Thai at home, saw Thai lakorn and read Thai newspapers. I now work at Central Marketing Group as a senior marketing manager for corporate direct marketing. I know Ple-noi from the company’s projects that we’ve done together.
Ple-noi: I grew up in Bangkok and studied communication arts before studying marketing in Australia. I came back to work with my uncle, Nonsee “Oui” Nimiboot, for a while before being a DJ at Fat Radio. Apart from being a DJ, I am also a partner of Stu-fe pub on Rama 4 Road and do freelance work for TV, radio and events. I am also teaching ballet dance at an international school. I’m now planning to open a product design collective.

BK: Why did you want to create Tue’sday?
We felt jealous of all the famous musical artists. They’re always performing at concerts or doing glamorous photoshoots. Their lifestyle is just so cool. So I talked about it to some famous artists like Boy-Tri Bhumirat or Singto Namchoke. Pook totally liked this idea so we chose the name and created a Facebook fan page in the same night even though we can’t play decent music. This was October last year.
Pook: I can play piano, but stopped studying after grade four. Now I’m bringing back my old skills!

BK: What happened after that?
We got a show at the Big Mountain concert. At first we just wanted to post on Facebook that we were going to play at Big Mountain. We were absolutely terrified once we realized that playing music wasn’t that easy. It was pure luck that we got so much help from our artist friends. We forced our friends to stay up until 3am to watch us practice. We only played for a minute and a half, but it felt like the last scene of Saving Private Ryan. Everything happened in slow motion. It was like I had tinnitus in my ear.
Ple-noi: Though our music wasn’t that good, it was an extraordinary experience! I can’t explain how great that was. We also went on stage at a theme park event and the Melody of Life concert. We now have our own reality show on Pop cable channel, too.

BK: How do you feel now that you have thousands of fans even though you can’t play music well?
I think they are all friends who don’t want cool music from us. It’s like having a friend who believes in you and is ready to push you to do whatever you want.
Ple-noi: I think they just have fun with our imperfections. We have the right to have a good time, even if we’re less than perfect. It’s like living in a fantasy world where we can do things we would never get to do in real life. We didn’t expect that the creation of the band one year ago would bring us great experiences like this.

BK: Any last words before we wrap up?
Don’t lose your craziness. Your life will be empty without it.


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As the minimum wage becomes a hot topic, we speak to Wilaiwan Saetia, 55, about the plight of workers without social security and her personal path to becoming vice-president of the Thai Labor Solidarity Commitee and leader of 14 worker unions in Nakhon Pathom.

I was born in Khon Kaen. I started working after fourth grade because my family, who are farmers, couldn’t afford to send me to school. I first helped my aunt sell khao gaeng [prepared food] in town, before moving to Bangkok to find work.

I was a construction worker at first, then became a factory worker. I haven’t changed jobs ever since. It has been 35 years now. I’ve never changed jobs because I figure that wherever I go, I’ll have to be an employee. I don’t have the education to do something else.

I started being a labor activist in 1981 because my friends, who were involved in the cause, asked me to join. I also wanted to do it because, back then, workers didn’t have any welfare benefits. They faced many hardships, from being fired or getting sick to being injured at work, with no compensation or pension from the employer. There were no laws giving us security in our lives.

Once, my friend’s sister’s legs were broken when she was hit by a car. The hospital didn’t accept her because she had no money. My friend had to run out to sell her gold necklace for money. That wouldn’t have happened if we had social welfare.

Living in poverty is really difficult. You can’t get medical treatment and your relatives get nothing if you die. You don’t get money when you’re sick and can’t go to work. So my friends and I have been working hard to push through a plan to create a social security system.

I participated in a hunger strike in front of parliament. Labor activists were there for three days until the government passed a law that granted the first social security rights for Thai

The prime obstacle in fighting for labor rights is persuading the other side to sacrifice their own benefits. The employers and the people in power, politicians, entrepreneurs and the government, are all on the same side. So it’s quite hard to make them accept our demands.

Social security is meant to provide security for workers when they can’t work. It’s social welfare for the poor. We work and save with the hope that we can spend it when we’re old.

But the Social Security Office spends too much money on PR and study trips abroad. Why did they spend B2.3 billion on computers for the Labor Ministry? Why use SSO funds for this?

The hardest time in my life was when I was listed as a troublemaker for joining the PAD protest. But, in the end, I wasn’t charged with anything.
I work from 8am to 5pm. If I have to go out for union-related duties, I inform my boss. I don’t get paid if I take leave, so I don’t need to worry that they’ll disapprove of what I do.

My wage right now is B257 per day. It’s a little above the minimum wage, which is now B215 in Bangkok and the suburbs. Most of my money goes towards my savings and to my family back home. I’m helping my sister send her kids to school.

I agree with the B300 minimum wage policy but the problem is making it real. We will demand that [the government] make good on their promise and will protest if they don’t.

Wages have always been chasing the cost of living. We’re never ahead. We’ve always had to endure this condition.

People always panic when wages are raised by even 2-5 baht. They think it’s going to raise the cost of living. They don’t focus on the fact that others have gotten richer. Workers never get a piece of that cake. Employers get more money and send their kids to study abroad, but workers spend their money paying their debts at the shops where they buy

Inflation is the government’s problem. They are the ones who have to handle it, no matter by how much minimum wages are raised.

Politicians must remember they work for the people. We hire them with our taxes. If they don’t fulfill their promises, the people will come after them.

I dream of going back home after I retire. I will raise animals and grow vegetables on my family’s land. Just a simple life.


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Klong Toei’s cart-pushers are an integral part of the bustling fresh market’s operations—and charm. Don, is a 31-year-old Laotian from Savannakhet province, who crossed the Mekhong River and headed to Bangkok in search of work. Despite landing in Klong Toei over ten years ago, he only just got his cart-pusher’s vest.

BK: Why did you decide to work here?
There is nothing to do at home. Mostly I work in our rice field. I was born in a poor farming family. I lived and worked in the village until I was 19. Then I decided to cross the border to work in Thailand, hoping there would be more jobs for me here.

BK: What was your first job in Thailand?
I started working at Klong Toei Market right away. I first worked at a mushroom shop for eight years but I finally got bored. Then I changed to work at a fish stall for three years before I became a cart pusher last month. Working at the fish stall was quite hard. I worked from 8pm till dawn, carrying these huge fish tanks and stacking them up on a truck. Then I’d sit and fillet the fish for vendors who came to buy it.

BK: When did you start working as a cart pusher?
I applied for this job with the company who runs the push cart business in the market last month. I have to rent the cart, basket and waistcoat with the number from them. It comes out to B2,300 per month. I get about 14-15 customers per day and I make B20-B30 baht from each of them. As I’ve just started doing this job, I don’t have many regular customers like the others.

BK: What is your daily routine?
I work from 6am to 5pm. The market is most crowded at 3-4am but I don’t come to work then because I don’t have customers. The market is busy at night, but mostly with professional buyers, and they mostly call on the pushers they know. It’s different during the day. Day shoppers call anyone near them. But I do get some regular customers who pick me, because they know me from where I used to work.

BK: What’s the hardest thing to carry?
I don’t like to carry fruits like bananas, or vegetables. It’s hard to control because these kinds of things are easy to bruise and get mushy. If I damage them, I get complaints from customers. Pushing dry stuff is much easier—like garlic or noodles.

BK: What’s your family situation?
I have a wife and a kid, who is just eight months old. I rent a room to live with my wife for B1,500 a month, not including the electricity and water bills which are about B300-B400. We had to send our kid to live with my wife’s mother in Savannakhet. My wife and I used to live in the same village, but we fell in love when we met here a few years ago. Now she works at a kanom jeen [cold rice noodles] stall. We go back home once a year during the holidays. No one else in my family has ever crossed the Mekong River to work in Thailand. My mom and sisters stay at the village while my brothers all work in Laos.

BK: Do you dream of doing something else?
If I can save up enough money, I want to go back home and open a grocery shop. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, because I have no money.


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When a song they wrote for a wedding ended up getting nearly two million views on TouTube, Whatcharawalee, comprised of Montchai “Pum” Sattayathep (vocals), Kathawut “New” Kongkaomuang (guitar), Sanchai “Milk” Kanchanarat (guitar) and Sarawut “Joop” Wutthikul (drum), decided to bite the bullet and become a real band.

How did you become Whatcharawalee?
A friend, Tum, who is an ex-member of the band, asked me to write a song for his bride to surprise her at the wedding. I’d known the couple for a long time, so he just gave me a picture of them on a memorable trip to the mountains. Based on that, I wrote a song about love and the stars. Then I called some friends to help me record the song.
Milk: We managed to record it in just one night, and used the bride’s name as the title, “Look Om.” Then Pum, who owns [music production company] Tinnamou, posted it on YouTube and it became popular. People kept asking who we are. So we decided to use the real name of the bride, Whatcharawalee, as our band name.

What about your second single “Jeep”?
It’s a very similar story. A friend, who I hadn’t seen in 15 years, asked me to write a song for his bride. Her name is Jeep.

So do people ask you for songs for their brides all the time?
Yes, but I have to turn them down. Sometimes they can’t afford my fee, because I am quite expensive. Writing songs about love really sucks up all my energy. For my friends, I can do it easily because I know them and I want them to be happy.

Do you guys have another music project?
We’re doing a single as a proper band. Two of the six members pulled out. Tum has to raise his kids and Art is busy teaching, so we now have just four members.
Pum: The music will be more varied, not just about happiness and love, but also broken hearts as well. Our new single is based on a heartbreak experienced by New.

What are your day jobs?
I’m running Tinnamou, a music production company that produces music for ads and films. Before this, I used to work at RS.
Milk: I’m a guitar teacher at Meefah Music School. I used to play in a back-up band at Workpoint too.
Joop: I’m a drum teacher at Kitti Gun Guitar school.
New: I am a sound engineer at Key To Success advertising agency which handles music and jingles for advertising.

Where is your most romantic place?
: I like the atmosphere and weather especially in Chiang Mai. It’s really an art town. I love Nimmanhemin Road. There are a lot of galleries there.
Joop: I think my home. It has everything. You can do everything without anyone disturbing you.
New: I love the beach. I really love to see girls walking along the sand with the wind blowing back their hair. It’s really sexy.
Milk: I like crowded places like pubs. I love to be in the middle of lots of people where I can meet someone to be romantic with.
Check out their first single below. The band can also be reached at their Facebook fan page.


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After the success of her hilarious language lessons on cable TV, Madame Mod, who prefers to keep her real name private, has also become a YouTube sensation. BK meets up with her to find out who she really is off camera.

How was your childhood?
I grew up with fun parents. They always made me laugh. I am the only child of parents who separated when I was only in grade two. I then lived with my mom, who is a banker, and my grandmother, who has now passed away.

Did you feel lonely as an only child?
Not really. We’ve always had pets, cats and dogs. I love to spend time with them and always talk to them. I feel like they are talking to me too. Those who have pets will understand what I’m saying.

What do you like about performing?
I am actually a very shy and not very confident person. But when I started performing I discovered that I was so happy. I also loved to see soap operas and Japanese cartoons as a kid, and that really helped me see what acting is. It’s a science that’s creative and charming. It opens my imagination.

Did you study acting then?
No, I didn’t. I was in Communication Arts at Chula and chose to study speech science. I had studied hard my whole life and I didn’t want that anymore. So during university, I did lots of acting activities at my faculty. That was the greatest experience.

How did you become Madam Mod?
I applied to the Play Channel (GMM’s cable TV) after my friend who is a creative producer there asked me to audition. They wanted to create a character for a language show and we finally agreed on Madam Mod. The show is called Pasa Plaza (Language Plaza). Madam Mod is totally different from who I am. Sometimes I think acting as Madam Mod is weird and ugly, but it is meant to be fun.

What were you doing before?
I used to work as a teacher, but I didn’t like it so I quit. I felt that it wasn’t who I am. Being a teacher requires sacrifice and patience, and I wanted to do something else, which is acting. Education is really valuable. Many can’t have it but some throw it away. I feel sorry for those who want it but can’t have it.

Have you always been very effeminate?
Since elementary school. Back then I didn’t feel any different from others, but when I grew up I realized that society confines us to a boy-girl binary. I was bullied sometimes, but I didn’t think it was that bad. It made me more patient and more understanding about the world. We’re all different but we can live together. If you have a problem, don’t blame others. You are the one who treats it as trouble. You have to advance yourself. Being a human is the most amazing thing on Earth!

What’s your next dream?
I don’t want to do anything else. This is what I love. But for life, I want to help people—helping people cope with their problems through dhamma is a good way to help.

The clip that started it all:

Love her? Go show your appreciation on Madame Mod's Facebook page right here.


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