Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ex-massage parlour king sends out angry message


THE most striking election posters on the streets of Bangkok are that of an angry politician clasping his aching head. A message in Thai states: “Bored with politics but have to vote. Let me be in opposition to fight corruption.”

Another poster shows the angry politician with his left eyebrow raised and his right index finger pointing accusingly.

Another poster shows him carrying a baby with the message: “Politicians are like diapers, the more you change them, the better.” There’s even one with him shaking hands with a bull terrier (which looks angrier than him).

Introducing Chuvit Kamolvisit, Thailand’s angriest politician.

The 50-year-old former massage parlour king is the leader of a one-man show political party Rak Thailand (Love Thailand). Rak Thailand’s core message is: Chuvit is against corruption.

And voters, disillusioned with politics-as-usual politicians, are expected to vote in the maverick Chuvit as one of the 500 MPs on July 3.

The millionaire with an MBA from the United States is a colourful character. He dared to campaign at where “angelic” politicians fear to tread. His campaign trail includes Soi Thaniya, a lane which houses nightspots exclusively for Japanese, in Bangkok’s famous Patpong. In Facebook, there are photographs of him being kissed by scantily-dressed women of pleasure.

Chuvit also did planking. He had to do “something strange” to get publicity in a race dominated by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and latest media darling Yingluck Shinawatra.

“You can talk all day and all night but nobody can hear you unless you are in the newspaper and television,” he explained.

In an interview at Chuvit Park (which is as controversial as the owner who allegedly forcibly evicted tenants to make way for the park) along the Thai capital’s congested Sukhumvit road, Chuvit said he looked angry in his campaign posters because he wanted to show Thais that their country’s problem was serious.

“I get a headache thinking that there is no way out (of Thailand’s violent political conflict). And then I get angry thinking about politicians who talk about reconciliation but are not honest about it.

“If they really wanted reconciliation they could have done it before the city was on fire,” he explained, referring to last year’s bloody conflict which saw 91 people killed and several buildings razed.

“Now that there is an election they are talking about reconciliation again.”

Is he an angry person in real life?

“I have to admit that I have a hot temper,” said the politician, whose punchline for the 2008 Bangkok governor elections was: “I’m crazy enough to hit a TV news host three days before the Bangkok governor election, so I hope you will be crazy enough to vote for me.”

Recalling the incident, Chuvit said: “That guy had no manners. He was not polite and he should not be in the media.”

The angry politician is running in this polls so that he could sit on the opposition bench.

“I want to show Thailand has a problem because politicians (from both ends of the political spectrum) refuse to compromise,” he said.

Chuvit believes voters will vote him in as they are bored with Thai politics.      

“They want someone who will speak the truth,” he explained. (In the Thai party list seats, he needs about 250,000 votes to make his way to Parliament.)

The Thai 2011 polls, observed Chuvit, was “just a little hole to release the air” in the country’s political pressure cooker.

“We are waiting for the next storm. After this election you will either see a Pheu Thai or a Democrat government. If it is Pheu Thai, then someone will say the party was a nominee of Thaksin Shinawatra and someone will launch the Yellow Shirts to kick it out of government.

“If it is a Democrat government, the Red Shirts will be in the street to protest,” explained the politician, who like many Bangkokian Chinese is a Teochew.

“The Yellow Shirts and Red Shirts are political machines that can be turned on and off anytime.”

What does Chuvit think of the two leading candidates for Thai Prime Minister?

Abhisit, he opined, is a good liar.

“All politicians are liars. But some are bad liars. If Abhisit spoke the truth, nobody will vote for him,” he said.

Yingluck was 100% a Thaksin nominee.

“You can see that Thaksin does not trust anyone except his family,” he said.

However, he concedes that Yingluck – other than being Thaksin’s youngest sister – is a “good politician”.

“Like a new diaper she is still fresh. You will only know after a couple of months or years whether you need to change her,” he said with a big grin.

What with the poster of him shaking hands with his bull terrier?

Dog, explained Chuvit, is a symbol of honesty as it served its master regardless whether he is rich or poor.

“Politicians should emulate the honesty of a dog,” he growled.

(Photograph courtesy of The Nation)