Thai Rocker Carabao Plays in Rangoon

By Zarni Mann 21 October 2013

RANGOON — Gearing up for his first performance in Rangoon, Thai rock star Carabao says he will donate 1 million baht (US$32,000) to help organize the Southeast Asian Games in Burma.

“We see great value in the SEA Games to build peace, create friendship and unite people, so we plan to contribute 1 million baht to help [Burma’s] SEA Games Committee,” Sarinya Sanmeema, a spokeswoman for the Carabao Foundation, told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

Carabao is set to give a free performance on Monday night at Junction Square, a popular shopping center north of downtown Rangoon. He and a team from his foundation were accompanied to Burma by more than 100 Thai journalists and media.

“I learned about Myanmar and its people a long time ago,” Carabao said at a press conference in Rangoon on the morning of the concert. “Having a chance to perform here is a great honor. Someone told me that the people of Myanmar know our band and like us, so I hope there will be many people enjoying our concert.”

The rock star is famous among the Burmese because he released an English-language song about democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in 2010, the year she was released from house arrest.

His Rangoon performance will include appearances by famous Burmese singers as well as Miss Myanmar International Nang Khin Zay Yar and other national winners of Miss International pageants in Singapore, Thailand, Mongolia, Estonia, Italy and New Zealand.

“I’m so glad to be accompanied by these beautiful Miss winners, and I’m honored to promote the upcoming SEA Games,” said the 2013 Miss Estonia International, Madli Vilsar. “I would like to welcome everyone from across the world to come visit this beautiful country, too.”

Burma is busy preparing for the SEA Games, a major regional sporting event, in December. It will be the first time the country has hosted the event in four decades. New stadiums have been built in major cities, but security concerns are rising after a string of bomb blasts last week in several places around the country.

On Friday, the chief of the Philippines’ sports commission, Richie Garcia, told AFP that he was concerned about the safety of his country’s athletes. The director of Burma’s Ministry of Sports, Kyaw San Oo, said security would be high for the Games. “Security is our priority concern,” he said. “The officials who are taking part in security are working hard.”

He said preparations for the Games were nearly complete.

“There are only 50 days to go,” he said. “The venues in Yangon [Rangoon], Naypyidaw and Ngwe Saung beach are almost finished, and our athletes are almost done training. We believe our athletes will win about 100 gold medals.”