Alicia Keys left voiceless at Thai mall launch

After realising what was happening Keys rolled with the punches and saluted the crowd as she waited a few minutes for the audio to be fixed.

“I was wondering why y’all weren’t responding to my questions!” she said to waves of laughter and cheering as the concert commenced.

Bangkok has seen exponential growth in its malls in recent years — fuelled by a small luxury-loving local elite and some 35 million annual tourists, a third from China, who flock to the country for sun, sand and shopping.

The malls have proved enormously profitable for the small coterie of politically connected family conglomerates that own them. But critics say they have also become a visible symbol of the huge inequality that pervades Thailand.

The kingdom is often ranked among some of the world’s most unequal countries when it comes to income disparity.

IconSiam — which boasts Thailand’s first Apple Store — towers over poor, riverside communities that surround it.

But Chadatip Chutrakul, CEO of Siam Piwat, the company behind the mall, said it would bring business to local communities.

“This is not just for business but to also benefit the surrounding communities and support businesses around the river,” she said.

Thailand is currently run by a military junta but elections are slated for next year.

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