‘Ja Sam’ to be memorialised at proposed cave art centre, also seen as a tourist attraction

national July 16, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

3,723 Viewed

A NEW ART exhibition centre is being considered for a site outside Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, along with a statue of the former Navy SEAL diver Saman Kunan who died during the mission to rescue the Wild Boars football team.

National Parks Department chief Thanya Netithammakul yesterday inspected a potential site at the cave along with National Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, who proposed the idea.

Thanya said the art centre, envisioned as occupying 2,000 square metres, could be located in the area where field medics set up camp to treat those injured in the operation. 

Out front would be a 2.4-metre-tall statue of Saman, who has been posthumously proted to lieutenant-commander status, with his face turned towards the cave. The 12 young footballers and their coach would be similarly depicted.

Certain to be one of the centre’s main exhibits would be “Borderless Friendship”, a 13-by-three-metre painting in which Chalermchai and Khua Silpa academy artists are illustrating the story of the cave rescue. It would be displayed alongside other artworks as well as artefacts from the rescue operation, he said.

The centre’s proponents say it would be a tourist attraction, a learning facility and a way of commemorating all those who devoted tremendous time and effort to a dangerous undertaking.

“The aim of establishing this centre is to make sure we never forget Ja Sam,” said Chalermchai, referring to Saman. “This is to commemorate the sacrifices made.” 

He plans to invest around Bt10 million in the project and expects that he and his fellow artists can have the centre completed within four months. Saman’s statue would take another two months, he said.

Thanya said his department was meanwhile working to improve safety at Tham Luang. Measures include requiring visitors to register on arrival and posting warning signs, he said, and new rules and regulations would be issued.