Nicknames resurface for government and ministers
It is an year-end tradition for the press corps at Government House to come up with nicknames for the government and the ministers in an expression of collective opinions towards those in power, based on what they have achieved in the course of the year.
However, it took a long pause for the past six years in the absence of an elected government until now.
For the first time in several years, nicknames have again been assigned to the administration and ministers.
Government’s nickname: Sieng Kong government
Sieng Kong is a well-known shopping district in Bangkok that sells second-hand automotive parts at cheap prices, therefore the nickname reflects the current status of the government coalition comprising old-timer politicians and state officials from previous governments who were stitched together to form a new team but unlikely to work well together.
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s nickname: The Drunken Boxer
In the eyes of the press, Prayut seems like a confused boxer especially when he condemned certain policies but ended up embracing them, such as the populist policy, attracting MPs from other parties, appointing ministers who were involved in past political rallies, and raising the minimum wages. Prayut also seems confused when facing questions from the opposition and on many occasions simply changed the subjects.
Deputy PM Gen Prawit Wongsuwan: Big Bro The Entertainer
As the oldest member of the 3P gang (Prawit, Prayut and Pok Anupong), Prawit is the big brother who needs to look after his little siblings as well as entertain members of government coalition when they run into problems, from international conflicts to chicken farm scandal.
Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak: Mr. Pracharat
Somkid initiated several state welfare or “Pracharat” projects over the past years but most of them were unsuccessful while new projects have failed to gain support, even among members of the government parties. He is now left holding his pet Pracharat projects.
Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam: Sri Thanonchai
The government’s legal guru was compared to Sri Thanonchai, a trickster and antihero in Thai folklore, famous for his skills in finding loopholes in rules and regulations to get himself out of hot water.
Deputy PM and Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit: Independent State
Jurin got this nickname from his working style that mainly compliments the policies of his Democrat Party while ignoring the opinions of its coalition partners, as if he is operating independently from the government.
Deputy PM and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul: Rat Poison
Anutin became famous for the ban of toxic agrochemicals which caused widespread criticism from several parties, coupled with the fact that his real nickname is “Noo” or rat in Thai.
Deputy Agriculture and Cooperative Minister Capt Thamanat Prompow: Mr Grey Area
Thammanat got his nickname from being involved in many scandals including the shady validity of his academic qualifications, having been convicted and jailed in Australia for drug offense, and making an under the table deal with an opposition party.
Deputy Agriculture and Cooperative Minister Mananya Thaiset: Madame Awkward
Mananya was in the spotlights when she joined Anutin in spearheading the ban of three toxic chemicals, only to face opposition from the public. The proposed ban of two of the chemicals were delayed while the useage of glyphosate, was allowed to continue.
Transport Minister Saksyam Chidchob: The Demolisher
Not only he is the owner of controversial ideas such as forcing all personal cars to install GPS, Saksyam is also famous for his penchant to dismante existing projects including the lowering of skytrain’s fee, driver's licence tests and construction of train-crossing gates.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Warawut Silpa-archa: The Undertaker
Ever since he took office, all we heard on the natural front were bad news: deaths of rare wild animals such as Mariam the dugong, Chuang Chuang the panda, wild elephants at Khao Yai’s Hell Abyss Waterfall. The press however applauded Warawut’s effort in cleaning up the mess and urging people to take better care of nature.
Quote of the year
“Don’t get sick of me just yet, for I will be here for quite a while”
Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said to the athletes and staff of the national team before thier departure to the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines, at Government House on November 13.