Thailand: Two Bangkok malls offer space for solace corners

Bangkok Post, Dec 2, 2005

Bangkok, Thailand -- Two department stores have agreed to provide space for the Buddhist "solace corners" suggested by Culture Minister Uraiwan Thienthong. Siam Discovery Centre will donate space free, but Central Department Store's Pinklao branch quoted a monthly charge of about 300,000 baht (US$ 8,108).

<< Uraiwan: Pushing forward with idea

Mrs Uraiwan floated the idea last week, saying it would bring the Lord Buddha's teachings closer to youngsters and help them to learn about Buddhism.

Deputy permanent secretary Veera Rojphotjarat was told to find out if shopping malls would go along with a pilot project. Siam Discovery and Central Pinklao were willing.

Mr Veera said the ministry would negotiate for a lower rental with the Central management, which offered 300 square metres of space on the sixth floor at 800 baht a month per square metre - about 300,000 baht including utilities.

The space is rented by a karaoke centre whose lease ends in April.

Siam Discovery Centre offered free use of a multi-purpose area on its third floor on weekends and after normal working hours on weekdays.

"Siam Discovery is willing to allow occassional use of space to return profits to its customers. We will arrange lectures, not only by Buddhist monks but also by those whose lives follow dhamma principles," Mr Veera said.

"At Central, the culture minister wants to open a library and set up a multi-purpose corner and another corner where academics, monks and people who follow dhamma can be invited to give lectures."

Representatives of shopping malls, private firms, agencies, monks and laymen have been invited to a meeting on Dec 8 to discuss the solace corner project.

Malls outside Bangkok have also offered free space, including Diana Hat Yai, the Mall Korat and Central Chiang Mai.