The Laotian Times brings our readers a round-up of some of the most shared topics this past week, based on reach and engagement on Facebook.
Vendors Prohibited From Increasing Prices of Medical Products
A Ministry of Health notice declared that vendors are prohibited from taking advantage of the coronavirus situation and increasing the price of medical goods, especially face masks and hand sanitizers. All Food and Drug Departments and Divisions nationwide have been authorized to monitor, warn and, if necessary, penalize offenders that choose to violate the notice. Social media users expressed their confusion regarding the price range that was permissible, given that the high market demand for these products often exceeded the supply.
Woman Daringly Gives Free Hugs to End Racial Prejudice Against Chinese
There have been reports of tourists and locals sitting conspicuously far away from Chinese nationals in restaurants and other crowded establishments in many places in the world. Laos did not seem to be an exception. In an evocative and viral video, a Chinese woman nicknamed “Namfon” (meaning raindrop in Lao) has taken action to end what she believed to be unwarranted prejudice against people of Sinitic backgrounds.
Armed with a trilingual placard that read “I’m not a virus. I’m human. End the prejudice,” Namfon went to stand stoically at various locations in Laos to campaign against racism that Chinese had been subject to as a result of the coronavirus outbreak originating in Wuhan. The video shows several people of all races giving her a hug, while a few others looked on concerningly. Lao social media users were predominantly sympathetic to the Chinese people’s plight and argued that it wasn’t racism but just a matter of precaution. However, some Chinese observers were of the opinion that because this was an infectious disease, encouraging intimate hugs may not have been the best way to go about confronting prejudice.
What happened to all the Footpaths (sidewalks)?
With economic growth comes the enlargening of the middle class. A larger middle class inevitably seeks the acquisition of motor vehicles. But sadly, in Vientiane, more cars do not mean more footpaths for pedestrians. This picture imagines a tourist complaining about the lack of space to walk on once cars have illegally parked up on the footpath of main streets, forcing both locals and tourists to walk on the road. One social media user facetiously commented, “footpaths in Laos are meant for parking cars and people to set up ad hoc shops to sell things.” Another Lao netizen satirically remarked that many Lao had money to buy cars but could not afford the time to read traffic laws and regulations.
Vehicle Nearly Crashes Into Police Checkpoint
A commercial passenger vehicle nearly crashed into a police checkpoint in Paksé. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Murderous Soldier In Khorat Killing Spree
A city-wide manhunt came to a close when Thai security officers shot and killed Jakkrapant Thomma, a soldier, who had been on a killing rampage in Nakon Ratchasima, Thailand. Social media users were rightfully outraged at the terrible loss of life and expressed their sympathies to the victims’ families.
Many were enraged, with comments like:
“He didn’t deserve to have been born a human. May he never be reincarnated as a human in the next life.”
“Why didn’t you just kill yourself, you coward.”
Some Lao families visiting the area at the time were also stuck inside the mall during the intense shootout between security forces and the crazed gunman. According to social media posts, they have returned home safely.
Miracle Baby Delivers Message From Heaven
In Lao social media’s most viral phenomenon this year, it had been rumored that a talking newborn had instructed humanity to eat eggs in order to protect against the coronavirus. Rather than discredit the obviously false story, the social media crowd turned it into an incredible egg-eating movement. While many have questioned and attempted to expose this completely bogus story, a great number of people had fallen victim to it, even causing a huge surge in the demand for eggs. It has been reported that some vendors were selling eggs at an astounding price of 3,000 kip/egg.
Read this possible socio-cultural explanation for why certain groups of Lao people may have easily have believed this fantastical piece of superstition.
A group of American doctors kindly volunteered their expertise in treating people with spinal injuries or deformities at Mittaphab Hospital (Vientiane) from 3-7 February.