In the second part of our two part interview (read part one here), former player and new coach of Buriram F.C, Sasom Popprasert tells us why the TPL still has a long way to go, why he worries about foreign players and why people need to start looking at the game as a business.
I am the seventh of nine children. To support us, my father drove a taxi while my mom had a grocery shop. I grew up watching them work very hard.
My mom was the most influential person for me as a child. She loved reading and passed that on to me.
In university, I mostly spent my spare time on activities like volunteering for rural development camps.
I worked as a writer for a year and then quit. I hated living my life on deadline. I decided to get out before it ruined my love for writing.
I joined the AIDS Access Foundation because I had been interested in that issue since my college days—and also because administrators were downplaying the extent of the problem back then.
The organization was very democratic. No objection was ignored or denied just because it came from a junior. That really taught me to be who I am now.
After I’d been working there thirteen years, Jon Ungpakorn invited me to oversee the Prachatai news website. We felt that mainstream media was in the hands of those who have power or money.
Prachatai tries to be independent so we keep the group small, and have few sponsors, so that we are not limited by them.
Thai law and its enforcement is problematic. Thai laws are written ambiguously.
Most people just want to hear what they already believe, and they distrust the media. It’s time for the media to be watchdog for society.
The rights of the media are to be protected because the media needs to protect the rights of the people.
The media is self-censoring out of fear. And society stays silent.
The media should not be limited. Actually violence results from these limits. When people don’t know what’s going and can’t express what they want, there is increased tension. It is a basic psychological phenomenon that the government should acknowledge.
Being sued on the charges of being “Red Shirt media” is incomprehensible and unjustified. We did not cross any lines that insulted the royal family according to the law. But the problem is that when there are political conflicts, people try to interpret the law for their own benefits and use the law to discredit the opposition.
Winning the Courage in Journalism Prize is an encouragement. It provides me with more opportunities to talk to people and report on important issues.
It’s an encouragement for small people to stand up and speak.
I use my rights to fight for my rights. But que sera sera. If found guilty, I’ll live with it.
Our society doesn’t accept that political conflicts are normal. So we tend to overdramatize them. If we learned to live with conflict, then we could live in harmony. But now the conflicts are too big to be swept under the carpet.
I think the solution is going to take time. There is no shortcut. Thai people need to understand that “it matters” and bring themselves out of the “mai pen rai” mindset.
Bangkok is my home. Not so many people can actually say that. I never felt that until I lived in rural areas for three years. Even in places with better quality of life, I still yearn for Bangkok. My roots, my friends, my family are all here.
Bangkok is selfish. It takes advantages in terms of development from other provinces.
I love the public transport in Bangkok. I love to sit among other people and spend time with my thoughts. This can’t be done in other provinces.
I think a public space is needed, a place for everyone to hang out, not only for the middle class. Bangkokians need more good libraries like TK Park for everyone.
There are limitations on our freedom of expression but no one can take away the freedom to think. We should be able to think differently and see the world from a wider perspective. Not being able to write or speak does not stop us from thinking critically about the world.
Why do you want to be a singer?
I’ve dreamed of being a singer since I was like nine years old. I watched some music thingy at school and I saw people singing in it and I really wanted to start singing like them even though I am normally a shy person.
Who are your idols?
If you mean singing and dancing idols, it would be G-Dragon and Usher. G-Dragon has a special character and look. His dance moves are all different from other people. As for Usher, when he sings and dances, his emotions come out so clearly that we can feel it. But if you are talking about the hero in my heart, it would be the king of Thailand. He’s a genius. I want to help people, like him.
Tell us about your song
My song is called “Connect” and it’s Asian pop dance. Its lyrics are about social networking – like Facebook, Twitter, and so on which is the thing that I love to do in my everyday life.
Do you connect with your fans online directly?
Yes. I don’t like people to pretend that they’re me on my fanpage. Sometimes we play jokes on the site. Some people also bought gifts for me and some were pretty awkward like a toy poo.
How do you manage your time between your career and your education?
I don’t know [laughs]. I just work the hardest I can and then I usually study hard too. Learning comes first. When I get homework, I usually finish them at school or in the car. I get tired sometimes but it’s ok.
What do you do in your free time?
I read a lot of books. Some books are like scientific or knowledge books and some books are just cartoon books. I really enjoy reading Percy Jackson and Rick Riordan’s books. I like working on DIY too. I create my own toys like masks, swords, the magic wand from Harry Potter and stuff.
Was the music industry like what you expected?
Pretty much. But I didn’t expect the production in front of the camera will be complicated. I learn that when we don’t complete or when we fail a job, we do it all over again.
Have you ever dreamed of being anything else?
Actually, I dreamed of being a doctor. I like helping people and I think it’s pretty fun, helping people and curing them.
My family moved from Had Yai to Bangkok when I was three. They sell shark fins wholesale.
I was crazy for heavy-metal bands like ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Rush and Ozzy Osbourne but I stopped liking them because of the whole sex and drugs thing.
I studied classical guitar at Siam Kolkarn Music School because I loved The Beatles so much. I wanted to play music like that.
I thought teachers would let me start with pop songs but they gave me classical music to study instead, like Bach. That’s how I fell for classical music.
I wanted to be rich and famous at an international level, and I realized that being just a musician, like a classical guitarist, wouldn’t take me anywhere.
I love to be the leader. So I looked into being a conductor. Also, I knew this was one of the professions where Asians can be accepted at an international level. You’re judged on your talent. Classical music will always be classical music.
I decided to be famous before hitting 25. My inspiration came from seeing Zubin Mehta, the famous Indian conductor, who was on the TIME Magazine cover when he was only 31.
My peak also came when I was 31: I won the Maazel-Vilar International Conducting Competition which landed me on the New York Times and LA Times. It wasn’t TIME but I am really proud of it.
I figured I wouldn’t go back to Thailand. A lot of my work was in Europe. But when I became a family man and needed a place to settle down, I figured, there’s no place like home. It’s even easier to fly to Europe and Korea from here, so I get to spend a lot of time with my family.
I used to conduct as many as 60 performances a year but it’s exhausting. Now I conduct only about 30 times a year.
After working at an international level, I’ve realized that our country’s brand isn’t strong enough. People don’t believe that our small country can produce talented people.
If Thais don’t believe that we can beat others, we’re done for. We’re dead right at the beginning.
I want to contribute my knowledge to this country by pushing more Thais to be successful. I’ve started writing books to tell them how to be successful. It’s not that I think classical music can benefit Thais. Europeans listen to classical music because it’s their culture. They preserve it because it is their heritage. We have nothing connecting us to it. Maybe we should support our local music culture?
Classical music requires a certain familiarity to absorb it sentimentally. I can’t convince Thais to listen to it for pleasure. But maybe I can convince them that classical music has side benefits, like raising their kids’ IQ or improving their mood. Then Thais might want to study it more.
Michael Jackson is my favorite pop singer. His music is really cutting-edge. It’s full of detail and excitement.
Lady Gaga’s music is just plain pop songs. She’s just good at promoting herself.
The most difficult thing about being a conductor, which is all about leadership, is to understand the culture of the place where you’re working so you can win people’s hearts.
It’s really hard to climb the steps to being one of the world’s leading conductors, especially for Asian guys in the US where white is the privileged race. It’s quite hard to find Asians as leaders of big corporations or orchestras. But if you open a restaurant, people go crazy for it.
I always see the glass half full, even when faced with tough situations.
I want to change people’s lives. I know that I can’t change older generations but I can do that for the new generation. Our country will change in ten years. That’s why I advise the Korat Youth Orchestra, where children can study for free. They’re going to have a big show in Bangkok soon.
My favorite musical instrument is the guitar. It’s sound is beautiful.
My kids are studying music. My elder daughters are studying piano while their little sister loves singing. She’s always singing.
Don’t choose a profession that makes a lot of money. Choose to do things that you love. Then find the way to make money from it. That way, you will be successful.
Success isn’t just luck.
Bundit has recently conducted a song called Krongpandin, sang by 999 singers, to commemorate the birthday of His Majesty the King later this year.
I was born in Petchabun where my mom and dad were teachers. They would flirt while riding their bicycles. We moved to Bangkok when I was two.
I dreamed of becoming a bus ticket boy because, as a kid, it looked like a fun adventure to dangle from a bus.
I then wanted to be an architect. My parents wanted me to study medicine or engineering, but architecture sounded more creative and I managed to get into Chulalongkorn University.
I worked with Jaraspong Surasawadee aka Sumo Tu, who was staging plays at the faculty and got some TV work through that. Finally, after being an architect for two years, I got a job working at [production house] GMM.
Back then, I used to scout for cool teens by myself. Now, I just call an agency to send me talent. If you find someone good looking walking along the street, it’s almost certain that they already have an agent.
People are addicted to celebrity gossip. Celebrities want to be famous and publishers want money. It’s just capitalism.
Sometimes, the press just wants to show their power, as if to say “Lots of people read us, so you have to obey us.” It’s all about money.
We should really rethink how much money we need to survive. It’s possible to live simply and reasonably. There needs to be a growing consciousness in society about this.
We used to only need B10. Why do we now need B30, 40, 50? People won’t even give you change anymore if it’s 25 satang.
Don’t compare yourself with others or you’ll be controlled by desires. If you compare yourself to your friend who has a new car, you will need one, too.
Why don’t we look at Bhutan? They are humans like us. How do they manage to live well with such simplicity, while we can’t?
Some of my shirts are as old as a lifetime. I’ve never caught up with fashion. Some T-shirts in my cupboard are 20 years old but I’m still wearing them. Secondhand shirts are cheap and authentic.
I was asked to be a judge of Thailand’s Got Talent by Panya Nirankul [of Workpoint Entertainment] because he likes my critiques. I asked him “So is it because I have a bad mouth?” And he said, “Quite.”
My judgments depend on my feeling and also by the story behind that performance—how hard it was to put together and what the background of the performer is.
I feel so grateful to contestants for being kind enough to join our show. It’s hard for me to judge and say that they are not good enough for the next round. Some thank us profusely for allowing them to move on, but I want to say it’s because they are cool, not thanks to us.
It’s almost a bit unfair. I always compare this show to Thai politics because people vote for those they love, but it doesn’t mean that person will be a winner.
Many Thais don’t accept defeat or can’t be faulted. If their friend makes a mistake, it’s fine because they are on the same side. But if someone else makes the same mistake, they condemn it.
We don’t need politicians with doctorates, just ones who can follow the Five Precepts. Don’t lie, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t drink.
I would bring monks to preach to Bangkokians if I was Bangkok governor. If Bangkokians followed the Five Precepts, everything would be better. Bangkok has cheap food, booze, golf and girls which is good for tourists but not for Thais.
I haven’t seen a movie in a cinema for many years because I am afraid of catching germs from people. Now I only watch movies at home.
My day job is being a creative director at Live TV which does programming for satellite TV like POP or ManU Earth channel.
I don’t like reading newspapers or watching TV. I mostly surf the internet or follow only breaking news.
I’d hear about Reya and, then after I realized that she’s just a character in a soap opera, I thought people were being so dumb. The ministry should focus on bigger problems. The parents are being so ridiculous. Can’t you even explain to your kids that it’s just a soap?
I think ratings for Thai soap operas aren’t enough. They should screen the audience too. If someone can’t watch something like this they should go watch Tom & Jerry cartoons. Interview by Monruedee Jansuttipan, Kanyanun Sunglaw and Nuchanat Prathumsuwan.
Tell us about yourself.
Num: I was born in Bangkok but my grandfather is Japanese. I have always been a big fan of acting since I was a kid. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Drama and Theater Studies in London before working at Bangkok Garn Lakorn while taking my Masters. I then became a university professor teaching acting, directing and physical theater. Currently I am studying for my PhD on performance practice at the University of Exeter and will come back to teach at Chulalongkorn University this year as part of my PhD.
What made you start posting clips on YouTube?
Num: I was inspired by a parody clip of Kristen Wiig from Saturday Night Live. I did a parody on Wanida, because my friends asked me, but then it became very popular and went viral. It’s now my hobby. I decided to do Dok Som Si Thong after my friends suggested I try it.
How do you feel toward Reya?
Num: I love Reya and I think the screenwriter is really good. She is a proper rounded character unlike the bland villains or nang-ake, and the other characters in the story. The audience can identify with Reya; that’s probably why so many parents complain. But I think people are giving too much attention to this issue. Lakorn is just Lakorn, that’s it.
What’s your favorite soap opera?
Num: Oh, honestly I haven’t followed any soap for a long time. I remember when I was young, I was really afraid of ghosts because I watched a lot of ghost stories. But when I watched old clips, they are not scary at all! I also liked Banlangmek. I really love Pattarawadee Meechuthon.
Which character would you most want to play?
Num: Khun Luang Akarathemwarakorn from Tawiphob because his journey through time sounds like a fantasy to me. It’s also related to history, so there’s a lot of research you can do for this character.
Can you give us an acting tip?
Num: Acting in the clip is totally different from what I’ve learnt or what I’m teaching. I want to say that anyone can do this type of acting because it’s very clichéd and stereotypical. There’s no need to study, practice or interpret.
Anything for you fans?
Num: I want to thank them and ask them to keep following my channel. If you have anything that I might make a good fun of, just send it to me. Interview by Monruedee Jansuttipan
Catch Krisana on Facebook (Numi TV Parody Channel) or on YouTube.
I grew up in Yaowarat which had lots of illegal stuff going on at that time. I was a pretty wild kid who broke every rule, like going to casinos and smoking when I was only 11-12 years old. The casinos let us in because they knew our parents. And our parents were just too busy to take care of us.
I played hooky to go play snooker a lot. I just didn’t like high school. I got thrown out eventually.
I didn’t tell my parents and secretly studied at an informal education school. Then I entered Bangkok University as a communication and design major because I love drawing.
After graduating, a stylist friend of mine went to Image magazine to show them his portfolio. I had shot some of his stuff and they hired me too.
After working for a couple of years, I decided to go to Chicago with a friend. I just wanted to try something new. I worked at restaurants and studied English, then moved to New York.
I chose New York because I wanted to work in a big fashion city. Being in a fashion capital really polished my style.
While working as a bartender, I decided I should do something to advance myself instead of living day to day. So I collected money to study photography courses in New York. I didn’t have a lot of money so I only did a couple courses at FIT and NYU.
I got lots of jobs in New York. At one point, I didn’t want to come back to work in Thailand.
The turning point was the terrorist attack in 2001. My mom asked me to come home so I did. I felt a little heartbroken because I was leaving work
behind but I chose my family.
I put my savings towards buying camera gear and spent the rest of it on a vacation in Hawai’i for a week before coming home. When I landed in Bangkok, I was broke.
I was surprised by the number of international and local magazines that had popped up in Thailand. But I had to ride buses to go show my portfolio to the editors.
I think my work stood out from the photographers working in Bangkok at that time, so I got two jobs about the same time.
I am not an erotic photographer. I can take any kind of photo. This reputation probably comes from my first job, where I took photos of Lookkade-Methinee Kingpayom in a bikini.
I want to try another style of photography like documentary or underwater.
I love adventure travel, going somewhere hard to reach. I can forget about my work and focus on my problems. I used to go all over the world but now I love to travel in Thailand. It’s the most comfortable place.
I saw a ghost once in Croatia. The hotel was full so I decided to sleep on a cliff above the sea. I was about to sleep when I saw this man standing at my feet. He was bright and glowing. I really freaked out. I closed my eyes and prayed in Thai until he was gone. He might have been an angel.
I am both happy and sad when I’m praised as Thailand’s leading photographer. I am happy that I can make a living in this profession but I am kind of losing my identity because so many eyes are on me.
I don’t follow trends anymore. I used to be a person who bought brand name products, changing my phone every three months. Then I realized that a few years of spending like this is equal to what someone can earn in a lifetime. Now, I don’t even have a smartphone.
I cherish my personal time. I love to read. I don’t use Facebook or any social network anymore. I am at the age when I don’t want to force myself to be something others are expecting me to be. It’s unnecessary.
I love Bangkok. It’s a big city full of sin and belongs to strong spirited people. If you can get through it, it’s the best school of life.
If I was Bangkok governor I would close brothels. There are too many places of this kind. It makes us a top sex tourism destination.
If I feel tired, sometimes, I tell my friends that I won’t be here for a while then turn off my phone and disappear.
Other than a camera, what I need when I do photo shoots is the snacks. I love sweets.
I was offered jobs in the US but I decided to be here with my family. It’s true that you will earn more money and reputation there, but it’s far from home. My mom doesn’t want money. She wants me.
We don’t see that many Thai photographers going inter because it’s quite hard and Thais are always scared that foreigners are better than you. It’s not true. I want to tell the next generation of photographers that they shouldn’t be afraid.
You are judged by your work, not your race. Actually, I think people love to work with Thais. Interview by Monruedee Jansuttipan and Sritala Dhanasarnsombut
Based on the best-selling novel by Emily Giffin, Something Borrowed doesn’t need much to turn a highly enjoyable piece of chic-lit into an adorable rom-com. But the cast and clever adaption (by Jennie Snyder of 90210, Lipstick Jungle and Gilmore Girls) should also get their due.