In 2003, Chuwit wiped off the soap bubbles and ran for the governorship of Bangkok on an anti-corruption ticket. Who knew more about corruption, he asked publicly, than a guy who paid the cops US $300,000 a month to keep them from busting his places of business? He flashed around a Rolodex thicker than Remembrance of Things Past, claiming that it contained the names of corrupt officials at all levels of government, officials whom he would expose once elected. He claimed further that only a copy of the Rolodex, hidden somewhere really crafty, kept him from being assassinated by the cops.
As it turned out, the cops left him alone but the voters assassinated him. Believing that he'd lost because people still thought of him as the Tycoon of Touch (understandable for a man who estimates that he's employed more than 20,000 women), he decided on a grand gesture to sever ties with his past. In 2005 he had a jacuzzi bathtub hauled onto the pavement in front of the National Assembly and smashed it to pieces with a sledge hammer. Allow me to note that this is a tactic unlikely to be employed by a politician in any other country in the world. Ever. Hard as it may be to believe, Chuwit lost again in 2008.
Now, boasting a more serious -- not to say frenzied -- image and a more frivolous political party name, "Love Thailand" (Chuwit is the only member), he's tilting at the Big Windmill again. And I for one am glad to see him back. He talks like Jerry Lewis on helium and he's probably the only candidate for a major political office in the last 20 years who decked a television reporter on-camera, a tactic I think would be more effective in the US than smashing a jacuzzi.
Welcome back, Chuwit. You're a breath of -- well, maybe not fresh air. But you know those scented cardboard pine trees some taxi drivers hang on their rear-view mirrors? A breath of that.
The other person I'm happy to see in the news is a small girl with a large name, Lapassarada Mung-Opas. Lapassarada, who is only four, won a contest to name the new baby koala at the Chiang Mai zoo. With literally thousands of entrants, Lapassarada won in a walk with -- no tittering in the balcony -- "Prong-dong," which means "Reconciliation."
And as sweet as the koala is, and as touching as its new name is, what I'm most taken with about this story is that when the Associated Press called Lapassarada at home to ask how it felt to have won the contest and where the name came from -- and all the other condescending drivel a reporter would ask a child in that situation -- Lapassarada said she didn't want to talk because she was watching cartoons, and she hung up the phone.
That's my Thailand.