Tongue-Thai'ed!

Tongue-Thai’ed – A woman's (supposed) worth in a military man's world

Originally published at Asian Correspondent on February 1, 2016 This is part XXXII of “Tongue-Thai’ed!”, an ongoing series where we collect the most baffling, ridiculous, confusing, outrageous and appalling quotes from Thai politicians and other public figures. Check out all past entries here.

AS we're entering the second full year of the Thai military government and with things likely to stay the same for the foreseeable future, one thing is for certain: we're still have to endure another year of the junta's authoritarian rule. But it also means that we will have another guaranteed year of the generals putting their foot in their mouths, be it out of temper, not enough understanding of a certain matter, or just hypocrisy. For the even more ridiculous and outrageous ones we fortunately have our long-running "Tongue-Thai'ed!"-section, a standing record of astonishing verbosities of Thai public figures.

And no other Thai public figure has been delivering it like Thai junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. For several years already, back when he was 'just' army chief, Il Generalissimo has regularly contributed to this section here and it has only increased when he assumed the highest ranking political office in this country. Be it his constant aggressively sardonic remarks against reporters, his lengthy rants during his weekly TV addresses, or other seemingly off-script moments, his compulsive loquaciousness always causes a raised eyebrow or two. And the first Tongue-Thai'ed! of 2016 is par for the course.

A man of his (thousand) word(s)

Prayuth spoke on Friday at an event originally promoting vocational education, but the junta leader decided to temporarily talk about something entirely different.

"Everybody's saying that we should create equality, women and men should have the same rights, should be able to do the same good and bad things - if that's the case, if that's how you think, Thai society will deteriorate!"

Erm, yes... Gen. Prayuth and his government ministers have stated several times in past what they think is going to lead to Thailand's downfall - such things like "extreme human rights", people voting for the wrong partylimiting military power and just generally "too much democracy". For the generals, these things have brought Thailand to the brink of collapse and made the 2014 coup necessary.

Prayuth continues:

"Women are the gender of motherhood, the gender of giving birth. When you return home... who is it? Who has a wife? Isn't the wife looking after the home? At home she's the big boss, isn't she? Outside I'm the boss - at work, everywhere I have lots of authority. When I return home, I have to be quiet because she's looking after the home, the kids, everything in the house. I haven't done anything at home since we married, she's doing everything."

It seems that Gen. Prayuth is mixing up women's rights with women's (supposed) roles in the family and at home - and still gets it wrong for the most part or at least it sounds awfully antiquated. But okay, he's from a different generation with very distinct gender roles and at least also admits one area in his life he has absolutely no control over.

He then concludes:

"That's why I have my head free to think about everything [else], not worrying about anything, not picking up the kids, not doing anything at all, because I work far away from home. That's the small difference! But all the bad things I have done to her, have benefitted others. That's what I think."

Wait, "all the bad things I have done to her" ("แต่สิ่งที่ผมทำไม่ดีกับเขา")? Did he just admit something he shouldn't have said? And who's benefitting from that? Let's assume for a moment that Gen. Prayuth, in his usual off-script manner, meant with that "the things I haven't done for her" - which still shows that he's absolutely unwilling to do anything in the family household!

All in all the whole quote is astonishing and reveals Gen. Prayuth's thoughts about women: stay at home, do what you're told, look after the kids and don't make any demands!

What doesn't seem to be clear to him is the fact that he is prime minister over a country with a female population of 50.7 per cent and they comprise roughly 45 per cent of the country's workforce, which makes it among the highest rates in Asia. Thailand has also an above-average number of women in senior management positions. However, despite countless policies and campaigns by previous administrations, a lot more women are still facing at least some discrimination at work.

Other women's issues in Thailand are still in need of improvement as well, such as abortion still being illegal (with very extreme exceptions), sexual assaults still ineffectively dealt withfemale Buddhist monks still not recognizedsexual hypocrisy still prevails with a stark bias against women. In fact, the country is currently ranked 93rd out of 188 in the most recent Gender Inequality Index by the United Nations Development Programme (PDF, page 225).

Women's representation in politics has been rather low in recent years and even lower since the military junta took over, with now a meager 5 percent of women in the junta's fully-appointed legislative assembly (from previously 15 per cent). Thailand's only female prime minister so far, Yingluck Shinawatra, was never supported by Thai women's groups, solely for political reasons, until the 2014 coup.

Which brings us back to Gen. Prayuth - the same man who suggested after the murder of two British backpackers in 2014 that tourists wearing bikinis wouldn't be safe "unless they're not beautiful" (for which he later apologized). His views about family values and clearly defined gender roles reflect the old Thai saying that "the husband is the fore leg of the elephant, the wife is the hind leg" ("สามีเป็นช้างเท้าหน้า ภรรยาเป็นช้างเท้าหลัง") - and for him, that should stay the same. But what if the front leg has been limping for a while?

P.S.: Ironically, the Royal Thai Air Force announced last week that they're looking to hire female pilots for the first time amidst a shortage of male pilots.

Tongue-Thai’ed! - Special Edition: Top 10 things the junta said in 2014

Originally published at Siam Voices on December 31, 2014 This is part XXVIII of “Tongue-Thai’ed!”, an ongoing series where we collect the most baffling, ridiculous, confusing, outrageous and appalling quotes from Thai politicians and other public figures. Check out all past entries here.

An image of the military junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha is displayed on a giant screen during the army-organised concert at Siam Paragon shopping mall on June 26, 2014. (Pic: Khaosod/Facebook)

As you may have noticed, we here at Siam Voices have used our light-hearted Tongue-Thai'ed!-section not as much in 2014 as we would have liked to, since the coup and the ongoing authoritarian rule by the military junta were mostly no laughing matter. However, the generals now in charge of nearly every aspect of life in Thailand are not shy when it comes to sharing their ideas to the population - with varying results.

Former army-chief, now Prime Minister and junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has always been an outspoken man (as seen pre-coup here, here, here, here and here) and had a lot to say since the takeover of power over seven months ago. And while many things that the junta said have serious and dire implications for the foreseeable future, one can't help laugh at the generals' (delusions of) grand(eur) visions. You simply can't make this stuff up - hm, which would explain why the satirical Not the Nation hasn't written anything new in a while...

So without further ado, here's the definitively incomplete look at the top 10 things the Thai military junta said this past year, ranked in reverse order of ridiculousness/outlandishness:

10. General Prayuth Chan-ocha - As an example that he seems to know pretty much everything, he offered to improve the popular, but infamous Thai TV soap operas and he knows exactly where the problems are:

"I have ordered that scripts be written, including plays on reconciliation, on tourism and on Thai culture," Prayuth told reporters. "They are writing plots at the moment and if they can't finish it I will write it myself," he said of a team of government-appointed writers.

"Thai PM bemoans divisive soap operas, offers to write better ones", Reuters, September 26, 2014

9. Lt.-Gen. Suchart Pongput - The secretary-general of the junta’s media watchdog has his very own definition of press freedom:

“Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister and NCPO leader, has never censored the media. We are open, but please stay within the limits. [We] don’t want any colour. [You media] must report news positively. Sometimes, headlines lead to discomfort. Please don’t make them too harsh, although I understand that [headlines] are the highlights, but please soften them. I’d like to ask for the cooperation of columnists too. You editors please remind them for me,” the Daily News quoted Suchai as saying.

"Thai junta: we don’t limit media freedom but freedom must be within limits", Prachatai English, November 14, 2014

8. Admiral Narong Pipatanasai - The former navy chief and now Education Minister overseeing the junta's education "reform" found an unlikely kindred spirit when he met the North Korean Ambassador to Thailand:

According to the Office of the Minister Newsline, Admiral Narong Pipatanasai, the Thai Education Minister, (...) met with Mun Song Mo, the Ambassador of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea on Friday at Government House. The two agreed that the educational systems of both countries are similar. The similar elements include free 12-year basic education. Moreover, a few students from North Korea come to Thailand to study.

"Thai Education Minister: Thai education resembles North Korea", Prachatai English, November 17, 2014

7. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, again - As persistent criticism of the military government remains, the junta has moved against universities and detained academics for holding political forums. Amidst that, General Prayuth gave his reasoning why there shouldn't be any critical discussion now:

"Please understand that I don't come from an election. I'm well aware of that. So please put on hold all political criticism and forums on politics," said the prime minister, who came to administrative power through a military coup on May 22.

"'Unelected' Prayut warns against political forums", Bangkok Post, September 19, 2014

6. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul - After the murder of two British tourists in September and following messy police investigation that resulted in the rather suspicious arrest of two Burmese men (the trial started on December 26), the Tourism Minister's had some novel ideas on how to ensure tourist safety:

Under the new plan, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said hotels would hand out wristbands to tourists on check-in that would show a “serial number that matches their I.D. and shows the contact details of the resort they are staying in”. It was not immediately clear whether tourists would be obliged to wear the wristbands. (…)

Minister Kobkarn added Tuesday: “The next step would be some sort of electronic tracking device but this has not yet been discussed in detail.”

Thailand considers ID wristbands for tourists“, Asian Correspondent, September 30, 2014

5. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, once more - After the murder of the aforementioned two British tourists, it was critical that the Thai military government reacted to this murder case with the appropriate sensitivity in order to show the world how serious his administration was taking this bloody crime. Unfortunately though, it didn’t turn out that way:

“There are always problems with tourist safety. They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is also the army chief, told government officials. But “can they be safe in bikinis… unless they are not beautiful?” he said, addressing the issue of tourist safety in a speech broadcast live on television.

Thai PM questions if ‘tourists in bikinis’ safe after murders“, AFP, September 17, 2014

He would later apologise for his flippant remark.

4. Maj.-Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd - In his quest for regaining international recognition, General Prayuth took his first major trip to the West to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan. However, there were protesters telling him that he's not welcome. The junta spokesman sees this differently - that is, if he has seen anything at all:

"There have been claims on social media and a number of websites, especially on a website called Thai E News, about images that attempt to depict a protest against Gen. Prayuth and his delegates," said Maj.Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd. "Let me stress that these claims are false."

"Govt Insists Images of Milan Anti-Prayuth Protest Are Fake", Khaosod English, October 17, 2014

Quite a few would disagree with him later.

3. General Thanasak Patimaprakorn - The junta's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister has recently summed up his work to regain said international recognition - and he was quite proud of it:

"คนทั่วโลกมี 6 พันกว่าล้านคน เราได้แล้วประมาณ 4700 ล้านคนที่เป็นฝ่ายเรา 100 เปอร์เซนต์ (...)" พล.อ.ธนศักดิ์ กล่าว

"Of the 6 billion people on this world, 4.7 billion already support us 100 per cent (...)," Gen. Thanasak said.

"รมต.ต่างประเทศ เชื่อคนมากกว่าครึ่งโลกเห็นด้วยกับรัฐบาล ยันต่างชาติเชื่อมั่นไทย", Matichon, December 25, 2014

2. General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, again -  A couple days later, he backed up the previous diplomatic claim with some more breath-taking math:

พลเอกธนะศักดิ์ ปฏิมาประกร (...) กล่าวถึงการทำงานของรัฐบาล ช่วงที่ผ่านมา ว่า ได้ได้เดินหน้าตามแผนโรดแมปที่วางเอาไว้ ทำให้ประเทศต่างๆทั่วโลก ร้อยละ 85 เชื่อมั่น

General Thanasak Patimaprakorn (...) referring to the government's recent performance, said that it has progressed according to the roadmap [and] of the all the countries worldwide, 85 per cent are confident [with us]

"“พล.อ.ธนะศักดิ์” ระบุ 85% ประเทศทั่วโลกเชื่อมั่นรัฐบาลไทย", Spring News, December 30, 2014

And the number 1 is from... you guessed it...Prime Minister Prayuth!

He was referring to the media's suggestions for him to try to improve his personality. "I would like to thank [the media] for warning and suggestions. I won't change my personality because I am a person with multiple personalities," Prayut said.

"Prayut admits he has 'multiple personalities'", The Nation, November 3, 2014

Honorable mention: While not necessarily a quote but there were two incidents that shows General Prayuth's rather sardonic relationship with the press:

Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the head of the Thai junta, was caught on camera by Thairath throwing a banana peel at a cameraman’s head in front of the media and several others during a public event on Wednesday.

The mocking action from the junta head and now Thai Prime Minister seemed to draw laughter from the crowd at the event, who had probably witnessed his unique mocking style before.

In late November, he was also recorded on camera pulling the ears and ruffling the hair of a reporter while the reporter was reaching out with his microphone and kneeling down so that he would not be in the camera frame.

Earlier in late September, he mocked a journalist during a press conference at Government House with his now iconic sentence “I’ll smack you with the podium” after he was asked whether he intended to be PM from a coup d’état only, but not from an election.

"Thai junta leader throws banana peel at cameraman’s head", Prachatai English, December 24, 2014

Tongue-Thai’ed! Part VII: Kasit’s last rant

Originally published at Siam Voices on August 2, 2011 “Tongue-Thai’ed!” encapsulates the most baffling, amusing, confusing, outrageous and appalling quotes from Thai politicians and other public figures – in short: everything we hear that makes us go “Huh?!”. Check out all past entries here.

Outgoing Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has been one of the most vocal, if not the most colorful representative of this now past government, and given his position, also the whole of Thailand. During his tenure, Kasit has surprised the public and the international community for his erratic outspokenness and apparent fixation to hunt down Thaksin. One of the most infamous flare-ups was last year, when he lashed out against half of the world and suspected a world-wide, pro-Thaksin and anti-Thailand conspiracy.

Since this is this his last day, let's look at the most likely last public comment by Kasit - unless he threw a last-minute tantrum we haven't heard about yet.

The government is demanding answers after Germany reportedly re-granted a visa to deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday said the German government should explain to the international community the reasons for its decision, after revoking Thaksin's visa in 2008. (...)

"Kasit slams German decision", Bangkok Post, July 30 2011

Hold on, hold on - who's talking about a visa here? As previously reported here (and before anybody else did), the German government has revoked the entry ban for Thaksin a few weeks ago, not a word about a visa. That is something entirely different than, say, a country inviting somebody and granting him a visa in order to be able to enter the country!

But that didn't stop him from railing on:

Mr Kasit said the Germans were pursuing a double standard.

The German government had called on the Thai government to respect its law and justice system, after the German court seized a Thai Boeing 737 owned by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn at Munich airport.

"But in Thaksin's criminal case, the German government cites the changing political climate here as the basis for re-granting a visa to him," said Mr Kasit. (...)

"Kasit slams German decision", Bangkok Post, July 30 2011

Again, it's not a visa! Kasit is referring to a statement by the German Embassy in Bangkok made last week in connection to the Walter Bau saga that has become the impounded plane saga. It is one thing when government or its embassy comments on a certain issue or case, it is another thing though if a government refuses to follow a verdict by an international tribunal and also not fully explain the pending appeal at a New York court (more details at Bangkok Pundit).

For the double standard accusation, even Thai officials disagree with him:

Attorney-General Julasing Wasantasing said it was Germany's right to decide whether to allow Thaksin to enter the country. The Thai government could not interfere, he said.

"Thaksin no longer banned from Germany, says Noppadon", The Nation, July 30 2011

Kasit concludes his rant:

"The German government was pressured by one of its coalition parties from the southern part of [Germany]," he said. Someone wanted to give Thaksin the right to re-enter the country. "I requested a meeting with members of that [German] party, but they refused to meet me."

"Kasit slams German decision", Bangkok Post, July 30 2011

He is right about the intense lobbying by conservative, Bavarian MPs which is undoubtedly very, very fishy and doesn't make those MPs look good. On the other hand, given Kasit's reputation (not only during his tenure as ambassador to Germany), it is hardly surprising why that German party had refused to him.

And now for the punchline:

Germany is obliged to answer why it appears sensitive to 15 million votes cast for a party to take power but ignores opposing votes, he said.

"Thaksin no longer banned from Germany, says Noppadon", The Nation, July 30 2011

Oh farewell, Foreign Minister Kasit - your tirades will be missed...!

Just because we will have a new government, it doesn't mean they all suddenly stop saying stupid things. If you come across any verbosities that you think might fit in here send us an email at siamvoices [at] gmail.com or tweet us @siamvoices.

Saksith Saiyasombut is a Thai blogger and journalist currently based in Bangkok, Thailand. He can be followed on Twitter @Saksith and now also on his public Facebook page here.