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WHEN COMEDY MET TRAGEDY
Part 2: Send in the Clowns

One of the Bangkok governor campaign posters, yesterday.

Politics is a subject that Naked Farang usually steers well clear of for the simple reason that it is mostly boring and frequently depressing. However, as the current political situation in Thailand continues to serve up pure farce, the latest developments are, quite simply, too absurd to ignore. We have, therefore, chosen to follow up our previous editorial and continue the theme of ridiculing the ridiculous. If Thai politics is a circus, it’s time to send in the clowns… 

Thanks to the ongoing political shenanigans in Thailand, this “wet” season is taking on a positively Thatcherian connotation. In fact, it could just as well be re-named the silly season or even the pantomime season, such is the ludicrously slapstick nature of recent events. Let’s start with a little quiz:

Prime Minister Samak has been removed from office because he:

  1. amended the constitution for personal gains
  2. used his position to gain an unfair advantage in business dealings
  3. was accused of being a proxy for deposed former PM Thaksin
  4. was guilty of vote buying, election fraud and corruption
  5. gave in to the street demonstrations against him
  6. looked and acted like a clown
  7. appeared on two TV cooking shows

The answer is, of course, 7. While all the above options could have realistically led to his downfall, it was for appearing in two cooking shows on TV that finally brought the big man down. Samak is an avid cook and has regularly featured in TV cooking shows over the years. He had been appearing in these two particular shows (Translated as: Tasting and Grumbling and All Set at 6am) since before he took up his post. However, the laws of the land state that a Prime Minister can not engage in any form of gainful employment during his tenure and, although he denied receiving payment and promptly discontinued his participation after he became PM, the courts deemed it a heinous enough crime for him to lose his position.

Even though he was probably guilty of all the other options in the above quiz, his crime does seem slightly less serious than the massive asset concealment that earned nothing more than a slap on the wrist for a previous PM.

Nevertheless, here was a chance for national reconciliation. The demonstrating PAD had their wish, and Samak wasn’t seen to be losing face by giving in to them. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to heal a few wounds. Let’s take another quiz:

In a bid to bring about national reconciliation, and distance itself from the Thaksin Shinawatra era, the government proposed which of the following as Samak’s replacement:

  1. Thaksin Shinawatra
  2. Potjaman Shinawatra (Thaksin’s fugitive wife)
  3. Thaksin Shinawatra’s son
  4. Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister
  5. Thaksin Shinawatra’s maid
  6. Thaksin Shinawatra’s brother-in-law
  7. Samak

The answer once more is, of course, 7. Samak’s party, the PPP, grasped, nay embraced, this bizarre opportunity to settle the conflict that had been polarising the nation by nominating as Samak’s replacement…wait for it…SAMAK!!! Genius! The chance to heal national wounds and practice what is preached by putting the will of the people and the good of the nation first was blatantly disregarded for what could only have been reasons of personal benefit. Quite aside from this, what about the arrogant flouting of the law that had removed Samak just a few days earlier?

Fortunately, common sense prevailed and, under pressure from minor party coalition partners an alternative was chosen. Step forward Somchai Wongsawat, a timid-looking little man who wears expensive tailored suits that still manage to look two sizes too big for him. His bespectacled face is that of a constantly lost and frightened little boy – hardly the persona to inspire confidence and lead us out of our current malaise, but wait – the best is yet to come. Somchai Wongsawat, the new PM of Thailand, is none other than…wait for it…Thaksin Shinawatra’s brother-in-law, the (some say) hen-pecked husband of Thaksin’s younger sister. I kid you not. Samak was a strong and larger-than-life personality and even he was accused of being Thaksin’s puppet. Somebody check Somchai’s back and see if there is a hole large enough for a hand to fit inside. Comedy, allow me to introduce Tragedy. Oh, I see you’ve already met.

And what of the gubernatorial campaigning in Bangkok? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the clowns.

The candidates have presented their policies, which are high on rhetoric but low on viability. One by one the hopefuls have told us how they will tackle flooding, traffic congestion, pollution and the usual topics that are brought up every four years or so. Then along came our old friend, Chuwit. His policy? To childishly mock the other candidates and their hollow promises or, in the case of the previous governor, lack of achievement. Hey, that’s my job, Chuwit! If his aim is merely to raise public awareness, then I applaud him. If he has serious aspirations of becoming governor, I despair.

However, a prize clown Chuwit may be, but he has now been upstaged. Leena Jang is an old woman with a child’s mind. She is pure pantomime, looking and acting more like an old drag queen than any man ever could with streaks in her hair, heavy make up, pink outfits and spice girls boots. She has no chance of winning but, like Chuwit, could serve a purpose by highlighting minority or needy causes. Unfortunately, her penchant for immature publicity stunts has led to real tragedy.

A day after she was seen “accidentally” falling from a canal boat and clinging to it while camply begging for help, the drama queen went one step farther the following day, both literally and metaphorically. Her intentions may have been noble, but her lack of common sense was, at best, childish and, at worst, criminally negligent. To draw attention to a neighbourhood where the locals are forced to bathe in a canal, she and her team descended into the murky waters to “bathe” for the media. As Leena couldn’t swim, she clung to the steps, forcing her campaign manager to tread the dirty waters. When he developed cramp and began to wave his arms for help, reports indicate that, unbelievably, no-one jumped in to help him because they couldn’t swim. He tragically died, leaving behind his 7-month pregnant wife.  

The election is scheduled for October 5th. Let’s hope it will be the end of the silly season so that we can once more focus on comedy and leave tragedy behind.

Paul Snowdon – September 28, 2008

Related article – When Comedy Met Tragedy (Part 1)

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Have your say...

Mirtha
14 Sep 2015, 02:26
From what I have read, the Thai politicians apaepr to be as clueless as the White and Eurabia. Don't they get it. There will NEVER be peace until the 'stolen lands' are returned to the caliphate and sharia rules, i.e., the mullahs rule. You know you can ban Islam, just ban it, confiscate all mosques, all madrassahs, all muslim organization assets, tell the Muslims drop it, no Islam. Don't like it, leave. But that is not PC and can't even be considered.
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