As if further proof were needed that time flies, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney has completed her four-year service in Thailand and is packing her bags ready to return home next month.
Evidently they’ve got a nice, cushy desk job lined up for her at the State Department in Washington.
Kenney has been one of the more outstanding foreign diplomats in recent memory, not least because she’s a minor star on the social media, gaining many admirers here and – all right – a few enemies too, though not due to anything personal, just that country she represents.
The ambassador announced her imminent departure in style – in Thai, in a video on her embassy’s Facebook page. She goes through the formalities of thanking us for our hospitality and friendship, but with such unquestionable sincerity that the video swiftly drew 1,500 likes and 240 shares.
It must be said, though, that one of those doing the sharing was American writer Michael Yon, who’s been among her harshest critics. He passed it on with the comment, “Thailand: Fantastic News! Ambassador Kristie Kenney is finally going home! Thank you for going home, Ambassador Kenney. Many people greatly appreciate this.” The graceless sarcasm attracted plenty of hostile reactions in turn.
Fortunately for US-Thai relations, most of the viewers were diplomats at heart, filling the page with nice farewell messages. Some applauded Kenney’s accessibility and said they’ll miss her morning greetings on Twitter and the pictures she liked to share of official events. Kristie wasn’t above surprising followers with birthday tweets and occasionally posted amusing videos of herself and the embassy staff celebrating Songkran or doing the “Harlem Shake” dance. In fact there were few popular topics that she didn’t comment on.
Yon and other critics of the US government can cheer Kenney’s departure, but what if her replacement turns out to be a truly “ugly American”, totally devoid of her colourful personality? They might send us John McCain or something.
Puttin’ on a show
It’s odd to see TV ratings juggernaut Channel 3 desperate for attention, but self-promotion is in the air while we slide from analogue to digital. You wouldn’t think the Big 3, ranking just slightly behind Channel 7, needs to advertise itself. But now that the station has been ordered to simulcast all of its content on Channel 3 HD as well as Channel 3 analog, a little public-relations tap dancing is in order.
It was veteran programme host Triphop Limprapat who came up with an idea of getting all the newscasters together as a “TV 3 news family” and entertaining the folks with a lovely tune. So golden boy Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda leads the gang – Kitti Singhapat, Thapanee Ietsrichai, Karuna Buakamsri and Pasit “Kai” Apinyawat – through what’s basically a music video.
Mind you, it wasn’t easy getting them all together, not that they dislike each other but because their schedules seldom converge. And they needed to be in the same room for two and a half hours to record the tune in segments, proffering the slogan “Channel 3: No more waiting” (“Chong Sam, Mai Tong Ror”).
Basically what we’re watching with varying degrees of amusement and annoyance is a giant musical plea to keep watching Channel 3 – any of its channels – please! In exchange for enduing Thailand’s first music video to feature so many newscasters and anchor people, we discover that their voices aren’t too bad, actually. (But don’t give up the day jobs, right?) The gang is first to admit they could benefit from more practice. Let’s hope they don’t and just forget this whole charade.