Junta needs to provide more than promises
It's been a few rough weeks for the junta.
To recap, there's the abhorrent case of army cadet Pakapong Tanyakan, whose lifeless, beaten-up body was returned to his family with his vital organs shockingly missing. With his family and the entire country calling foul play, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan (who can't seem to refrain from making daft remarks) continued to add fuel to the fire by indirectly blaming the boy's poor health, not the violent military hazing system, for his death. The murky case is still ongoing, with horrid twists and turns, and as long as the regime is in place, it's doubtful we'll get any truth on his death.
Then there's the case of the 15 protesters in southern Thailand, beaten up and imprisoned for wanting to meet Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to submit a petition in regards to a coal power plant the junta wants to build in their district of Thepha, Songkhla. They've since been released on bail, but the arrests drew much criticism from NGOs and activist groups, including the UN Human Rights Office in Southeast Asia. And again, in defence of the system, Prawit said police were just using self-defence to arrest "hard-core" protesters.
Next, there's Prayut's flop of a visit in the Deep South. In classic Prayut fashion, instead of listening to the pleas of the local southerners, he couldn't help but launch a tirade against 34-year-old Pattani fisherman Paranyu Charoen, who simply brought up his concerns about new fishing regulations. Yelling into the microphone, he scolded the grown man to talk to him nicely and to not pressure him about his work (who knew being a prime minister would be so full of pressure?). Netizens had had enough, and voiced their negative opinions on what the premiere had done, which at least solicited an apology on his official Facebook page.
Digging their own graves deeper and deeper until scorching themselves in boiling hot lava, these past few weeks have been a PR nightmare for the regime.
So, like any entity that's unable to admit their own faults and wrongdoings, they've scrambled to project a positive image of their rule. And what have they come up with? Nong Kiew Koy -- a beaten-up, recycled police mascot reminiscent of Chucky's long-lost cousin -- to promote national reconciliation.
Designed by the Defence Ministry (yes, the ministry that Prawit runs), Nong Kiew Koy -- roughly translates to "Pinky-Promise Girl" -- launched last week. She will act as the ambassador for the national reconciliation of Thailand, be an example of what citizens should and shouldn't do, and, according to the junta, her radio appearances have been received well, so far. Nong Kiew Koy is a sad pun on the Thai gesture of mending friendships, and an even sadder reflection of how out-of-touch the junta is with reality.
Who thought this would be a good idea? The strangely unwashed-looking mascot of the smiling girl in red-and-white overalls extending her pinky finger promotes anything but national reconciliation. It's an insult to the intelligence of the citizens. Drawing a storm of criticism and parodies online, the mascot further illustrates how the junta sees and treats the citizens of Thailand: like we're clueless children. And perhaps they think that they're able to influence our thinking with their scolding, blaming and blatant lies. They think that a horribly designed costume would distract us from all their wrongdoings and simply just pinky-promise with us and everything will be OK.
But no. The people have spoken. We won't be distracted. We won't be disillusioned. The junta still has a lot to answer for, and, if a miracle happens, the answers will come soon.
Apipar Norapoompipat is a feature writer for the Life section of The Bangkok Post.
Apipar Norapoompipat is a features writer of the Life section of the Bangkok Post.