September 16, 2013 00:00
By The Nation
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's insatiable wanderlust - more than 40 countries in two years and counting - doesn't seem to be doing her knowledge of geography much good
Last week there was that extraordinary meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican, but then she smudged the triumph by referring to the sovereign Catholic enclave as Nakhon Rat Italy, which means “the City State of Italy”, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
As usual with her gaffes, the reaction was immense, and another wave of derogatory remarks about her intelligence or lack thereof flooded the Internet. “Repeatedly makes mistakes, so often that Thai people don’t know what to expect next,” Kanching Devahastin Na Ayudhaya commented on Facebook, while Twitter and Pantip.com also glowed red with either fury or embarrassment. Meanwhile the chronic list-makers started gathering up all of her past bloopers to create a handy reference guide that proved helpful in further castigation.
On the upside, a lot more Thais now know that the Vatican, despite being located in Rome, is not politically part of Italy but an independent state.
By Friday morning Yingluck’s team had posted an apology on her Facebook page and @Pouyingluck on Twitter – and took full responsibility. “The PM gave the correct information to her Bangkok staff, so this was a staff mistake.” Fans of the government liked that. “To apologise is the mark of a refined person,” Goffrose Samutprakran noted on the PM’s Facebook page. Her team will have to be more careful, @ton717 warned on Twitter, because the criticism targets the premier, not her staff.
Government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi, who accompanies Yingluck on her trips, acknowledged on Twitter that everyone’s learning as they go, and hoped citizens would appreciate the apologies for any errors made. Well, certainly, with their whirlwind pace of globetrotting, they’re bound to get mixed up sooner or later.
Got to be quick
Don’t be surprised if you can’t find the latest issue of Praew magazine that hit the stands last Tuesday. It’s the 35th-anniversary issue, a 600-page collector’s edition – and it has popular-as-ever TV news-talk host Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda on the cover, making his first appearance.
It’s probably also worth noting that Sorrayuth is displayed alongside 12 beautiful actresses. We’re guessing this was a dream come true for the TV host, who admits to being shy but also star-crazy.
No guesswork necessary about the magazine’s strategy: Having all those well-known faces is as much of a marketing coup as knowing that Sorrayuth would promote the hell out of the issue during his precious airtime, which he did for three consecutive days. “Please visit the newsstand and check it out and see if you can help save my face,” he told his viewers, in what amounted to direct orders to his legions of fans.
Obviously they obeyed. Every copy vanished from the newsstands. That’s a chunk of history that came and went.