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White Temple Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat to Build Colossal Statue of Navy Seal Who Died During the Tham Luang Rescue Mission

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CHIANG RAI – National artist Chalermchai Kositpipat who crated the famous Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) in Phan Chiang Rai has said he will use his own funds to build a colossal statue of the former Navy Seal who died during the Tham Luang rescue mission.

Mr Chalermchai, also the creator of Wat Rong Khun in Muang district of this northern province, said he planned to organise an activity in honour of Petty Officer 1st class Saman Kunan, and build the statue to be put in the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Mae Sai district, where the flooded Tham Luang cave is situated.

The artist said he would use his own money to fund the creation in remembrance of PO1 Saman’s sacrifice as only a few good people could risk his life like that. As a native of Chiang Rai, he wanted to show the former Seal’s good deeds to other people, said the national artist.

He shared Thais’ feelings when they saw all 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach rescued safely. He also saw it as a good opportunity to turn the crisis that happened in the province into an opportunity.

Aside from the planned creation of the late PO1 Saman, he would create a large painting, about three metres wide and 13 metres long, featuring the 13 members of the football team venturing into the cave and then trapped inside by floods, as well as the rescue efforts by divers and volunteers from many countries.

He already began working on a sketch of this artwork which would be finished in the next 1-2 days. Many fellow artists would join him in the painting it at the Art Bridge Chiang Rai centre in tambon Ban Doo, Muang district, he said.

The artwork, to be painted in sepia tones, would be kept at the Tham Luang cave, in which a large exhibition hall would be built. There would be other paintings and drawings inside the cave, which would be turned into a museum and new tourist attraction of the province, said the national artist.

“Don’t worry about the budget. I’m not a person who likes to show off good deeds. Over 300 fellow artists in Chiang Rai will join me in creating this work. We want to turn the Tham Luang cave into a new tourist venue worth a visit and study. The statue of ‘Ja Sam’ (nickname of Pretty Office 1st class Saman) will be twice life-size,’’ said Chalermchai.

He would seek permission from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation as the statue would be built in the national park.

By Theerawat Khamthita
The Bangkok Post