WRITERS, ACADEMICS and other experts have criticised the national literary artist, Phaitoon Thanya, for a poem they say discriminated on the basis of gender against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, by mentioning Yingluck’s vagina through flipped words.
Phaitoon, whose real name is Thanya Sangkhaphanthanon, published the poem on his personal Facebook account last Friday, sparking a controversy on social media.
The poet was criticised for directly discriminating against Yingluck by attacking her gender. Almost 5,000 netizens signed up to a campaign calling for Thanya’s national artist title to be revoked.
His poem can be loosely translated into English as “This suspicious case is about ears, come and think bad ears is not good, using bad ears as an excuse to flee the country like your big brother, Khun Pi’s ears (once flipped, it means ‘Pu’s vagina’) are so evil.”
“Pu” is an affectionate nickname for Yingluck. The former premier fled the country last week before her scheduled Friday Supreme Court appearance to hear the judgment related to her former government’s controversial rice pledging case.
Literary expert Nattharavut Muangsuk wrote on his Facebook profile that many people had defended Thanya and his poem. It is a normal literary practice for poets to flip words to make erotic jokes and genital allusions.
Nattharavut pointed to “Sappaleehuan” as an example of a work of Southern literature that employs literary flipping. The flipped erotic words in Sappaleehuan did not insult anyone and the poet’s intention in using the flipped erotic words in the poem was to harmlessly entertain the readers, wrote Nattharavut.
In contrast, by specifically targeting Yingluck, Thanya crossed the line. The poem is a direct insult to the ex-PM’s gender, clearly intended to attack Yingluck’s femininity, wrote Nattharuvut.
A petition calling for revoking Thanya’s title as a national artist garnered almost 5,000 signatures. The petition asserted that he defamed the reputation and honour of the national artist title.
Democratic Party deputy head and former Culture Minister Niphit Intarasombat said that the issue of annulling a title of national artist had previously been discussed and a decision made to refuse any future calls for revocation.
“The revocation of national artist should not be possible, because if we want the national artists to act like others, they cannot create great art, and I think the Culture Ministry should remain firm on this decision,” Niphit said.