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Tensions and sex appeal of Thai politics

Tensions and sex appeal of Thai politics as a foreigner is arrested and a Thai ‘pretty’ candidate

A young Thai woman confirmed last week as a candidate for election to Thailand’s lower house of parliament in the March 24th election has become the subject of a barrage of criticism from more traditional, conservative Thai voices online for her sexy Facebook photos in which shows off her extensive cleavage.

election campaign after online criticism of her suggestive Facebook photos from conservative voices online. Meanwhile, a Slovenian national who had his marriage proposals plans thwarted by his girlfriend’s enthusiasm for the election trail and canvassing for a local candidate for the Palang Pracharat Party in Kalasin province, embarked in a campaign of his own focusing on poster damage. The stakes are high in the middle of this election campaign as the opposition mounts a strong challenge and new voices are being heard from amongst the young. Thai women, as always, are never too far from the limelight even in this conservative, patriarchal society.

Slovenian man Zvonimir Nard apologised to local Palang Pracharat Party candidate Chalong Maralert in Thailand’s north eastern Kalasin province after he want on a rampage causing damage to election posters when his Thai girlfriend, to whom he planned to propose on Valentine’s Day, deserted him for the campaign trail as Thailand falls into the grips of election fever. Meanwhile, also in the Isan region but this time in Maha Sarakham province, a local candidate in the election, Ploypilin Rattanasatian, has become the subject of online criticism by more conservative Thai voices for her sexy photographs posted on Facebook in 2018.

The young women worked as a ‘pretty’ in Thailand’s extensive marketing industry. This week, a party spokesman for the Thai Local Power Party urged people not to judge the young Thai woman by her appearance. Ploypilin herself however has steadfastly continued campaigning and ignoring those who try to put her down.

only 60 managed put forward candidates to the Thai Election Commission for the forthcoming election. The powerful electoral body confirmed just over 2,800 candidates to run for a seat in Parliament on February 15th last out of a reported 6,500 submissions.
Ploypilin Rattanasatian was on the list of approved candidates. The young woman is vying for one of the 500 seats in the Thai lower house of Parliament for Maha Sarakham province. Maha Sarakham is in Thailand North eastern region of Isan, the poorest part of Thailand and home to many foreigners with Thai brides and girlfriends. It is also the region in Thailand that has been leading the direction of Thai politics since 2001 much to the dismay of Thailand’s traditional elite in Bangkok.

Some sexually derogatory comments on Thai election candidate’s photos from conservative voices
The photos of one time ‘pretty’ model Ploypilin Rattanasatian have drawn a lot of adverse criticism of the candidate online from traditional Thai voters. Some of the commentary, however, was quite derogatory using demeaning sexual terms. The photos were posted in Facebook, which is very popular in Thailand. They date from 2018 and show the active young candidate in what could be termed as sexually suggestive or provocative photos. In Thailand, for many traditional minded Thais, this is a step too far.

Current Thai PM wanted to make law to curb exposure of attractive Thai women at events
In March 2016, the current Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha famously requested that Thailand’s Culture Ministry draw up new laws to regulate the use of ‘pretties’ or attractive girls who are used extensively in Thailand at events ranging from concerts toy sales promotions. Often these young women engage in sales talks and are highly talented, confident as well as extremely good looking. They are most famously visible at automobile events such as the huge annual Bangkok Motor Show. In 2016, the Prime Minister envisaged a law to make such models and promotions less sexually suggestive. It has been revealed that this was the an area of work for Ploypilin Rattanasatian before she decided to become a politician.

Young Thai woman’s voice is not being heard above tabloid commentary of her looks
The controversy generated by Ploypilin’s photos has detracted from her efforts to get her political message across. ‘Is this an election or a motor show?’ asked one online Thai citizen in the last few days. Hugely popular Thai daily newspapers, such as the Daily News and Thai Rath who are known in Thailand for reporting the news in a hard headed, tabloid style that would make Rupert Murdoch blush, had a more direct commentary on the young women’s sultry photography. It was the same also on Naewna, a popular Thai news website. ‘Oh, what a pair of watermelon!’ asked the headline. Thailand has not exactly embraced the ‘Me Too’ era.

Ploypilin Rattanasatian carries on election campaigning in spite of the comments
The young woman however kept up the fight and gave a news interview to Sanook, another Thai language news outlet online. She promoted her Thai Local Power political party and its plans for Thailand set out in its policies. Her election posters promise Thai voters in Maha Sarakham free education, an anti drugs policy and the promotion of local goods. Many of these policies are similar to the former ruling Pheu Thai Party which is leading opinion polls in the region and nationally. It is the successor to Thailand’s original ‘power’ party, the now defunct Thai People’s Power Party which was the successor in turn to the also defunct Thai Rak Thai Party which swept Thaksin Shinawatra to power in 2001. Since then, parties associated with him won every election. Pheu Thai is the third party to incorporate his political movement but in the 2019 election, he has other parties also in the field such as the Thai Raksa Chart Party now facing the real prospect of dissolution for nominating a Thai princess as its Prime Ministerial candidate on February 8th last.

Thai politics, like everything in Thailand, is about face. Good looks and Show biz are all part of election campaigning. It’s an arena drawing more Thai women
In the eyes of many there is nothing wrong with Ploypilin’s appearance at all. In fact, it is part and parcel of Thailand and Thai politics. Indeed, the Thai Local Power Party itself, established by Thai tycoon and former senator from Bangkok, Chatchawal Kong-udom, is making a name for itself for its eye catching and razzmatazz approach to politics in what younger people regard as a staid environment after nearly 5 years of military rule.

Bangkok political veteran behind new Thai Local Power Party which is unique to Thailand
Chatchawal Kong-udom is a renowned local politician from the Tao Poon area of Thailand’s capital city. The party was launched at an LGBT themed party on Silom road in Bangkok and has since made waves in Thailand with election posters and imagery featuring its candidates as movie star heroes. Ploypilin herself sums up the mood of the new party and her candidacy for voters in Maha Sarakham. ‘In the eyes of the puu yai, I might be a kid, but believe me, a lot of kids these days have ideas and energy to do something good for society,’ she said putting paid to any doubts that this young women can express herself.

Thai ‘hotties’ part of Thailand’s political culture
Much of the discussion online was whether it was right or not for Thai women or ‘hotties’ to flaunt themselves on the election stage. The online debate has been heated. The former Pheu Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shiniwatra and victor of the last recognised election in Thailand was renowned both at home on the world stage for her beauty and good looks. It was even reported that, at one point in her premiership, US President Barack Obama was charmed by Yingluck on a visit to Thailand. In the midst of this campaign, the woman currently directing what is becoming a successful campaign for Pheu Thai and a leader candidate for Prime Minister, Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, is said to have a very beautiful daughter Yossuda ‘Jinnie’ Leelapanyalert who has become a fixation for many Thai men following the campaign. The young woman appears often with her mother on campaign stops and rallies.

Radical young hearthrob could be the big winner
Indeed, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the young and successful business man whose radical Future Forward Party looks set to be the big winner if his party is not stopped due to a criminal prosecution now pending, is reported to have become a heartthrob to many Thai women online. Many are rallying to an online call to save him from a reportedly imminent police prosecution. This is over a 2018 Facebook video which was highly critical of the Thai military junta. The campaign, so far, has seen Thai election candidates present themselves in character costumes and even legally change their names to win votes. Last month, it was reported that 15 candidates had changed their names to either Yingluck Shinawatra and Thaksin Shinawatra to reflect their love of Thailand’s past political leaders. The brother and sister are thought still to be very influential in Thailand.

New younger voices entering Thai politics
This election is witnessing an attempt by a younger voices to be heard in Thailand’s traditional, patriarchal society which to many Thais, even among younger age groups, is something to be cherished. However, the campaign is bringing out voices of change. The young tycoon, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leading his highly progressive and strident anti junta party in Bangkok is doing very well in the polls not just there but nationally.

Young political leader be may in peril
Thai police have this week proceeding with a prosecution against the young political leader due to a Facebook incident in June 2018. This could see the young man pay a hefty price for leaving a hostage to fortune at that time. The young, successful business tycoon is facing prosecution under Thailand’s Computer Crime Act for posting an inflammatory video online in 2018. He is emerging as the one of the greatest threat to the junta and the status quo as unlike the Pheu Thai Party, which is more nuanced and polite his approach and rhetoric, the Future Forward Party sets about openly to confront the junta. He has promised, for instance, to immediately begin a campaign to amend or even change the current Thai constitution which is sure to lead to stiff resistance from more conservative ranks.

Slovenian man’s romance life sparks damaging political outburst against local election candidate
The heat generated by the Thai general election has even drawn in foreigners living in Thailand. But the story is far from positive. On Valentines day, in Kalasin province, also in Isan, a Slovenian man began venting his anger and frustration out on posters for Thailand’s Palang Pracharat Party. This is the party that supports current Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha as Prime Minister. It was also reported that he attacked Pheu Thai and Ploypilin Rattanasatian’s Thai Local Power Party posters for good measure. The incident happened in the Chiang Kham area and lead to executives with Palanag Pracharat filing a police complaint relating to the matter. All parties in Thailand are working hard to keep the campaign and its natural tensions from spilling over. Causing criminal damage to election posters is not considered acceptable in Thailand. Respect for private property is a very strong belief in the kingdom. There have been reports from Ratchaburi, Chonburi, Kalasin and even Bangkok in relation to poster vandalism.

Thai police arrest Slovenian foreigner on criminal damage charges after being spurned
On Monday last 18th February, Thai police arrested 54 year old Zvonimir Nard, a Slovenian national for the offence. He was charged with damaging the property of others. He carried out the attack in the hours of Friday morning last, the 15th February after his Thai girlfriend was too busy on Valentines Day, the day before, to have dinner with him. He told Thai police hat he could not make contact with his girlfriend by phone and knew that she was busy assisting the campaign of a local candidate, Chalong Maralert, for Palang Pracharat. He was angry and took his rage out on the election posters.

Slovenian targeted local Palang Pracharat candidate Chalong Maralert for whom his Thai girlfriend was campaigning on Valentine’s Day
The Slovenian lived in Kalasin in the Muang District. He was found to have slashed eight election posters with a knife. Thai police retrieved evidence from CCTV near Soi Pimpanit Pattana and identified a motorbike involved in the crime. From the registration, they were able to locate the Slovenian man living in a rented one room apartment in the Muang area. The CCTV footage showed the Slovenian engaged in the act. The Kalasin Governor, Kraisorn Kongchalard, made the revelations at a press conference on Monday. Thai police had already confiscated the knife and clothes from the man after they arrested him, as evidence. The posters he had focused upon were those of local candidate, Chalong Maralert and also those of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha.

Foreigner got drunk and set off on his motorbike on his own campaign to target election posters after his Thai girlfriend failed to return
Media reports suggests that one poster had a hole implanted in forehead area of the incumbent Prime Minister to make it resemble a gunshot wound. The Slovenian man revealed that he was particularly angry that his girlfriend was out on canvass for Chalong’s campaign when it was his intention to give her a present and ask her to marry him on Valentines Day. He admitted that on Saturday, after still not hearing from his missing girlfriend, he had gotten drunk and set off on his motorbike to wreak damage on election posters in a campaign of his own.

Charges dropped and released with police warning
The Slovenian man has been lucky however. He could have been facing up to three years in Thai prison. However, the party has dropped charges of criminal damage against him and on this basis, Thai police have let him of with a stiff warning. He later presented the Palang Pracharat candidate Chalong Maralert with a garland as an apology and the candidate shook hands with the foreigner.