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REPORT: Stand to attention: Prayut reminds officials about ceremonial etiquette

national July 11, 2018 18:46


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Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha poises to later this week inspect and train state officials at the Government House so they could accurately perform the hand salute.

 move was inspired by the July 9 incident incident when Prayut, while presiding over the Bangkok's Din Daeng flat re-opening ceremony, spotted a male official wearing a uniform hat the wrong way.

Prayut, as a former military man, said civil servants’ hats should be worn in such a way that the back is higher than the front, which would then be at same level as the wearers’ eyes and thus shield them from the sun. He urged officials to wear the hats correctly in order to create a perfect and graceful look. 

He also went on to explain the accurate way to perform the hand salute: men must stand up straight, without bending their back or legs, and raise their right hand sharply, with fingers and thumb extended straight and joined while looking straight ahead. The feet must be so placed that the soles of the shoes are close together, with the toes pointing out at about 45 degrees. Prayut said that female officials, meanwhile, should bend both legs, with the left leg directly behind the right and on tip-toes, in order to perform a proper curtsy.

The origin of the perfect hand salute is not clearly stated although one account claims it dates back to Medieval times, when knights would lift their swords in salute to indicate a friendly gesture. Another account claims the tradition goes all the way back to the Ancient Greeks, when it was used to show that a person came in peace and without any weapon. Hand salutes during the Roman times would see military officers stretch out one hand in front to greet their superiors during inspection. The British Navy after World War I modified their original gesture of an outward open-hand salute to have the palm facing the ground. In fact, that “palm-down” salute has remained popular until the present day with officials in uniforms and hats. 

According to a Thai military training handbook, a standard hand salute is performed like this: upon hearing the order to salute, soldiers must stand upright, look straight ahead, sharply raise their right hand with fingers and thumb extended straight and joined so that the tip of the index finger touches the rim of the hat/visor slightly to the right of the eye. 

That is not all: the palm should be slightly open by 30 degrees towards the little finger. The upper right arm (humerus) should be out?stretched to the side on the same level as the shoulder with the lower right arm (radius) titled slightly forwards.