As part of its valentine special for citizens, Thai government is handing out pills to prospective mothers in the hope of boosting the country’s falling birthrate.
The giveaway is part of a programme called “the campaign for red-cheeked Thai women to have children for the country using very magical vitamins”.
On Tuesday, government employees took to the streets of Bangkok to distribute 1 million baht’s worth (£22,800) of prenatal vitamins called “very magical vitamins” containing folic acid and iron to women between the ages of 20 and 34.
Thai couples are getting married less often and later in their lives, meaning fewer children each year. Thailand’s population grew only 0.4% in 2015, down from 2.7% in 1970.
Dr Wachira Pengjuntr, director of the health department said the Thai way of life is changing as women are receiving higher education and the newer generation are placing a higher value on being single.
According to Dr Wachira, if this trend continues, the annual Thai population growth will be down to 0% in a decade.
The campaign is also hosting wedding ceremonies as Thais consider Valentine’s Day to be an auspicious day to get married.
Worrawut Ploywong and Priyapat Ploywong were among the couples tying the knot Tuesday. Worrawut, a wing commander in the Thai air force said;
“As for having babies, I want to have them as soon as we can and as many as we can. We wish for many souls to be born.”
Meanwhile, Thai government says its military-led reconciliation talks, aimed at mending the country’s political divide ahead of elections next year, will start today, on Valentine’s day and last three months.
Lieutenant General Kongcheep Tantravanich, a defence ministry spokesman, said; “We aim to start reconciliation talks on Feb 14, the day of love. We want the reconciliation to happen before, during, and after elections.”
Last week, the government announced that the elections it had promised for this year would be postponed until 2018. It has billed the talks as proof that it is serious about a return to democracy.
Thailand’s military overthrew the last elected prime minister in 2014, saying it had intervened to end street protests and years of political turmoil. It has promised to restore democracy to the Southeast Asian country.
It set up a reconciliation panel of generals and experts to improve relations between political factions.
Thailand’s political divide is broadly between the traditionalist elite, centred on middle-class Bangkok, and the less prosperous parts of the country, which largely backed populist governments of former premiers Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck. Both were overthrown in 2006 and 2014 coups, respectively.
The Democrat Party, one of two main parties in Thailand, said it believes reconciliation can be achieved.
Critics have questioned how neutral the panel could be given decades of military involvement in politics. A Thai political analyst said reconciliation led by the army had more chance for success than by political parties.
In the meantime, Thailand’s new king, Maha Vajiralongkorn is putting an assertive stamp on his rule. From requiring constitutional changes to pushing for unity in the divided country and reshaping the royal household.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn has made it clear to the generals running the country that he will not just sit in the background as a constitutional figurehead since taking the throne in December from a father treated by Thais as semi-divine.