Abhisit shoots himself in the foot

Abhisit shoots himself in the foot

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva shot himself in the foot when he uttered an ill-considered remark a man of his stature is not supposed to make in public.

Specifically, during a rally held by the party at a Bangkok school on Saturday he made the remark "e ngoh", a term whichliterally and very derogatively means an idiot, with the "e" an impolite reference to a woman, like "ai" for men.

The following is what Mr Abhisit said, comments that brought upon him a load of criticism from both female Pheu Thai MPs and their male counterparts: "This morning I got a glimpse of what (she) was doing. What was the project? Smart Lady! What does it mean, I do not understand all of it. Like a contest to find a Smart Lady. What does Smart Lady mean? I asked Apimongkol (Democrat MP Apimongkol Sonakul). It means smart women. I wonder why there is a contest to find smart women? He explained that if there were a contest to find "e ngoh" (stupid women) then no one would enter the contest."

Since Mr Abhisit spoke in the context of the Smart Lady project, which was launched by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the Pheu Thai MPs were incensed by his remark, which they considered both insulting to women and a reference to their prime minister.

But Mr Abhisit was adamant that he was not referring to Ms Yingluck. He said he only raised the question, that no one would ever hold a contest to find stupid women. He also insisted he did not intend to insult women in general.

Whatever his denial, he clearly shot himself in the foot. He should be aware that the remark "e ngoh" is not supposed to be uttered in public by someone of his social and political standing.

As for whether the insult referred to Ms Yingluck or not, read his remarks and judge for yourself.

About 20 female Pheu Thai MPs led by list MP Sunee Luangvichit have demanded the Democrat leader make an apology for insulting women in general, if not Ms Yingluck. Ms Sunee accused Mr Abhisit of being ungentlemanly and cynical about women.

Panthongtae Shinawatra, the only son of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin, posted a long message on the social media in response to Mr Abhisit’s use of the term "e ngoh".

"If a winner taunts a loser as being stupid, he will be condemned by the public," part of Panthongtae’s message said.

Well, this sideshow  should at least serve as a good lesson for Mr Abhisit and other public figures -- they should be careful when speaking in public, as their very own words could bounce back to bite them.

Veera Prateepchaikul

Former Editor

Former Bangkok Post Editor, political commentator and a regular columnist at Post Publishing.

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