A Potemkin village for The Dictator

7 09 2017

We have to say that the military dictatorship’s Thailand is pretty weird. Some might say surreal Orwellian. Yet a story by Ploenpote Atthakor at the Bangkok Post stretched that description even further. We read it in disbelief but eventually concluded that the bizarre has been normalized in a state where The Dictator is emperor-like.

To fully appreciate Thailand as a nightmarish Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the whole article must be read.

The Dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha was recently chauffeured to “a village in Khok Sung district, Sa Kaeo last week, part of his spectacular mobile cabinet meeting programme, which, at least initially, got off without a hitch.”

In smile mode, The Dictator “was met with open arms by the villagers, as he came bearing gifts, in this case, farmland documents.”

The village was neat and well-provided with amenities, or so it seemed:

The PM pressed a button and voila! Tap water was flowing. Gen Prayut even saw — and was made to believe — the village had electricity, with poles and wires lining the road he travelled.

But the high spirits (and lights) quickly dimmed. Gone with the prime minister and his luminaries were the running water and electricity.

The villagers “found themselves in a Thai version of a Potemkin village.”

When sprung, “local officials confessed that what Gen Prayut and his cabinet had seen was all for show. The electricity lasted long enough to stage a photo op. Even the utility poles were pulled up as soon as the prime minister pulled out.”

Of course, it was officials polishing the posteriors of the bosses. These are dangerous and threatening bosses, so the gloss must be bright and shiny, even when a lie. Keeping The Dictator happy protects jobs and avoids his temper. Of course, the polishers of higher up posteriors

… may expect a reward for such diligence…. They wanted to put on a big show to keep the regime happy, ensuring the higher-ups they had everything under control.


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