Thai Elections 2011

Tongue-Thai'ed! Part XX: Of protester 'garbage', ancient kings and deputy PMs

Originally published at Siam Voices on May 12, 2013 This is part XX of “Tongue-Thai’ed!”, in which we encapsulate 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.

Chiang Mai will host the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit this week. Leaders from 50 different countries and countless of other participants from academia, the public and private sector are expected to come to discuss anything related with water management from irrigation to security - and one Thai deputy prime minister has shot off his mouth again, but not the one you might be thinking about!

Thailand of course has had a lot of experiences in recent years with the liquid element, in particular with the 2011 flood crisis as unprecedented amounts of rain and the inadequate responses by the Kingdom's dams have caused widespread floods across the country, killing hundreds of people.

The national government relief efforts were hampered by constant squabbles with the local Bangkok Metropolitan Authority. However, it was then science minister and overseer of the flood relief efforts Plodprasop Suraswadi who cemented the government's image of a bumbling mess when he jumped the gun before anybody else and ordered on national TV a premature evacuation order for a local Bangkok district - only for it to be called off later by somebody else.

Since then, Plodprasob lost his place at the Science and Technology Ministry and has been appointed deputy prime minister (one of six) overseeing water management and also in charge of a THB 350bn (US $11.8bn) budget for flood prevention projects.

Now Plodprasob is heading this week's water conference and is hellbent to not only show Thailand's commitment to water management and flood protection, but also to show the city of Chiang Mai as a splendid conference venue. And everything seemed to go well, if it weren't for those pesky environmental and water preservation activists that have announced to protest at the Water Summit...

สำหรับกรณีที่อาจจะกลุ่มมวลชนที่ทำงานด้านทรัพยากรน้ำมาเคลื่อนไหวชุมนุมและแสดงความเห็นระหว่างการประชุมในครั้งนี้นั้น นายปลอดประสพ กล่าวว่า หากมีการชุมนุมประท้วงจะให้เจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจทำการจับกุมดำเนินคดีทั้งหมด เพราะสถานที่จัดการประชุมในครั้งนี้ไม่ใช่สถานที่จัดการประท้วง ซึ่งขอเตือนผู้ที่จะชุมนุมประท้วงว่าอย่ามาเด็ดขาด จะสั่งจับให้หมด [...] จะมีก็แต่จัดคุกไว้ให้เท่านั้น และจะไม่มีการพูดคุยเจรจาใดๆ ทั้งสิ้น จับอย่างเดียว [...]

Concerning the potential protests by water conservationists' groups against the summit, Plodprasob said that in that case that the police should arrest them all, because this summit this not meant for protests. He urges protesters not to come at all, since they are going to be arrested [...] and detained right away without any warning [...]

“มาก็จับ ทำผิดกฎหมายก็จับ มันไม่ใช่ที่ที่จะมาประท้วง ฝากบอกไปด้วย มาประชุม [...] ไม่มีที่ไหนใครเขาไปทำร้ายใคร บรูไนเขามาพูดเรื่องบรูไน อิหร่านเขาก็มาพูดเรื่องอิหร่าน เกาหลีเขาก็มาพูดเรื่องเกาหลี คุณจะมาประท้วงอะไร อย่ามานะ ทำผิดกฎหมาย สั่งจับเลย และคนเชียงใหม่ก็ไม่ควรปล่อยให้พวกขยะเหล่านี้มาเกะกะ คุณเขียนอย่างผมพูดเลย กล้าเขียนหรือไม่” รองนายกรัฐมนตรี กล่าว

"When they come, they'll get arrested. When they break the law, they'll get arrested. Let them [the protesters] know, [...] nobody [coming to the summit] is coming to harm us - the Bruneians are gonna talk Bruneian issues, the Iranians about Iranian issues, the Koreans about Korean issues - what are you protesting against?! Don't come here! Break the law and you'll be arrested right away! And all the people of Chiang Mai should not allow this garbage to obstruct [us]. You can write it down like this - I dare you to!" said the deputy prime minister.

"‘ปลอดประสพ’ตรวจสถานที่ถกผู้นำด้านน้ำเอเซีย-แปซิฟิก ว๊ากห้ามม็อบป่วนเด็ดขาด : ข่าวสดออนไลน์", Khao Sod, May 12, 2013 - translation by me


Furthermore, the Prime Minister's Office Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan was quoted urging protesters not to, um, protest for the sake of putting "national reputations first because this summit is an academic meeting of global importance," echoing many countless past examples (e.g. Prayuth) that put 'national image' above any substantial discussion of various issues.

And the deputy prime minister Plodprasob is further going to uphold Thailand's image and promote the Kingdom's values and history to international delegates by - and I'm not making this up - by taking part in a large-scale stage performance playing the 13th century Lanna King Mangrai - and the 'best' part: he's going to be in full costume...!

According to media reports the play will the tell the story of King Mangrai's role saving the the ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam from floods, whereas the historical King Mangrai simply moved the capital of the Lanna Kingdom to what nowadays is Chiang Mai. No word on if and how much money of the THB 350bn flood prevention budget has gone into this production.

Unsurprisingly, the (unflattering) sight of a government minister in charge of flood prevention playing an ancient king apparently known for his flood prevention efforts is just one single magnet for very obvious ridicule. Others criticize the potential historical misrepresentation and the role of the King being grossly miscast - to which the deputy minister also has a blunt answer...!

"ส่วนเอ็นจีโอกังวลการแสดงบิดเบือนข้อมูลนั้น คนที่พูดเรื่องนี้เป็นคนที่น่าเกลียดที่สุด ผมเล่นตามบทประพันธ์ ตามประวัติ ซึ่งทำเป็นลายลักษณ์อักษร จะไปบิดเบือนอะไร เขาไม่ได้นิสัยโกหกอย่างพวกคุณ [...] กรุณาอย่าถามผมเลย ผมรู้สึกรังเกียจที่จะรับฟังและตอบ" นายปลอดประสพ กล่าว

"To those NGOs that whine the play will twist historical facts, those are the most despicable! My role will be according to the play and based on history, what's there to twist?! They're not lying like those [the NGO activists]! [...] Please don't bother me with such questions, I feel annoyed to listen and answer to those," Plodprasob said.

"'ปลอด'ฉุน!อัดคนต้านเล่น'พญามังราย'", Khom Chad Luek, May 15, 2013

For somebody who is very concerned to put on a good show to the world, Plodprasob has certainly already made quite an impression before the summit week. In a normal world his antics would have led him to exit stage left - but since this is Thailand, it might take a few more chapters until the final curtain falls on him.

Tongue-Thai’ed! Part XVI: Chalerm and the new Pentagon

Originally published at Siam Voices on August 1, 2012 “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.

Chalerm Yubamrung is a veteran politician known for his erratic behavior and boastful nature which naturally leads lots of verbosities that are bordering on ridiculous or simply head-scratching. He's also currently Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister mainly in charge of security - so, in both regards to his position and his outspokenness he is the actual and spiritual successor to our favorite Tongue-Thai'ed! contributor Suthep Thuangsuban.

On a more serious note, the ongoing insurgency in Thailand's deep southern border region has claimed more victims again when five soldiers were killed in a drive-by ambush last Sunday, which was caught on CCTV and leaked by the local police. It was that very gruesome depiction of this violent incident that has reminded the Thai public yet again about the violent conflict that has claimed by now almost 5,500 lives since 2004, with an end nowhere near in sight.

That incident has prompted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to appoint Chalerm to take care of the South. And since the Thai government has also granted some 391m Baht (US$12.3m) for this operation, he wants a new command center at the Royal Thai Police HQ in addition to the few government agencies already assigned with the troubling border region.

And since every Thai institution needs a nice sounding name - preferably long, convoluted and pretentious - Chalerm has already an idea for this command center. It is however not very original...

The new centre would operate to the same standards as that of the US Pentagon, and the centre should be called Pentagon II, he said.

Mr Chalerm said he believed Pentagon II would improve efficiency in the government's fight against the southern insurgency just as the Pentagon worked successfully to hunt down Osama bin Laden.

"Sukumpol wants aircraft for South", Bangkok Post, August 1, 2012

I don't know where to even start! Pentagon II?! We don't know (yet) if he was joking with this proposal and couldn't come up with a better name on the fly. But this is Chalerm we're talking about: when he's got an idea, he'll pull it through (that is of course there's one or two instances that prevents him from doing so!). And does he also know how long it took to get bin Laden?

Instead of that knock-off brand name, we (that is Siam Voices contributor Kaewmala) came up with original Thai names for that command center that embodies the Thai language and that is long-winded, and most of all, pretentious:

- "ศูนย์ดับไฟใต้ด้วยปากเหลิม" - "Center for Putting Out the Fire with Chalerm's Mouth" ("ปากเหลิม" ["bpaak lerm"] = drooling, mostly from being blabbering know-it-all, also refers to Chalerm)

- "ศูนย์ปราบทักษิณัคคีภัย" - "Center for Suppressing the Southern Threat" ("ทักษิณ" ["Thaksin"] = from Pali/Sanskrit, South, also the name of a certain fugitive former Prime Minister)

Or just call it Center for Recon and the Advancement of Peace and be done with it! You can thank us later, Chalerm!

via @MartinPetty and h/t to @thai_talk for the alternative names

If you come across any verbosities that you think might fit in here send us a email at siamvoices [at] or tweet us @siamvoices.

Saksith Saiyasombut is a Thai blogger and journalist currently based in Hamburg, Germany. He can be followed on Twitter @Saksith and on Facebook here.

Tongue-Thai’ed! Part V: Shooting for sympathy

Originally published at Siam Voices on May 30, 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.

One of the most discussed issues ever since prime minister Abhisit called for elections was the fear of potential violence against MP candidates and other local politicians in the run-up to the polls on July 3. And right after the announcement earlier this May a Pheu Thai MP in Samut Prakan has been injured in a shooting, marking the first of a series of violent incidents in the following weeks targeting MPs and canvassers, with one of them killed. While many of these shootings have reportedly local reasons (e.g. local rivalry, personal quarrels), the timing is no doubt casting a shadow over the elections. Unsurprisingly, the number of MP candidates requesting police protection has risen to 123 as of Monday.

In a statement today, deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban has commented on the security situation in his usual fashion:

"ทั้งนี้ ในส่วนของพรรคประชาธิปัตย์ที่ต้องคุ้มกันมากเป็นพิเศษก็มีตนและนายกรัฐมนตรี แต่ก็ต้องระวัง เนื่องจากขณะนี้บางพรรคบางพวกกำลังสร้างสถานการณ์ให้คนเอาปืนไปยิงรถผู้สมัครของตัวเอง เอาระเบิดปิงปอง ประทัดยักษ์ไปโยน และโยนความผิดให้พรรคการเมืองอื่นหรือพรรคคู่แข่ง (...)"

"Of the Democrat Party me and the prime minister are those who need special protection. But we have to be careful, because some parties and some persons are deliberately creating a situation [or scenario] by shooting their own cars or throwing bombs and blaming other parties or their rivals (...)"

"สุเทพ แฉ มีพรรคการเมืองยิงผู้สมัครสส.ตัวเอง", M-Thai News, May 30, 2011

Of course, this comes from the same man who displayed his logic by saying that the red shirt protesters died by "running into the bullets".

h/t to a reader

A lot of stupid things will be said during the election campaign in the coming months. If you come across any verbosities that you think might fit in here send us a email at siamvoices [at] or tweet us @siamvoices.