BANGKOK — Another day, another political pissing match to launch a thousand memes.
This time, it’s the social media tit-for-tat between a leader in the ruling junta and a prime minister ousted in a prior coup. After Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan laid into Thaksin Shinawatra for causing a decade of strife, the former PM recalled a time the 73-year-old defense minister purred rather than growled at him.
After Prawit threw shade at Thaksin on Wednesday, blaming him for the nation’s ills on the 12th anniversary of the coup that drove him from Thailand, the exiled former PM responded by recalling a time he said Prawit supplicated himself for favors.
“Your actions and the tone of your voice are so stern and scary, unlike your delicate and sweet manner when you perched on my desk and asked to be army commander,” Thaksin tweeted.
His sassy clapback triggered a social media avalanche of memes and has been retweeted nearly 60,000 times since Wednesday.
Read: Junta No. 2 Says Thaksin Still to Blame, 12 Years After His Ouster
ท่าทีและน้ำเสียงขึงขังน่ากลัวจัง ไม่นุ่มนวลอ่อนหวานเหมือนตอนมาเกาะโต๊ะขอเป็น ผบ.ทบ. เลย https://t.co/7J0gtZkcS6
— Thaksin Shinawatra (@ThaksinLive) September 19, 2018
Satirical webcomic Kai Maew X was quick to weigh in. In a cartoon, Thaksin uses Doraemon’s Time Cloth, which can send an object through time, to revert Prawit from fearsome general to a meek supplicant.
A popular Thai Harry Potter fanpage compared the two politicians’ dynamic to that of Dumbledore and Voldemort.
“Your actions and the tone of your voice are so stern and scary, unlike your delicate and sweet manner when you perched on my desk and asked to be a teacher here,” Dumbledore says in the comic.
Some observers faulted both men for encapsulating politics as usual with the exchange, which began after Prawit suggested it was Thaksin and not the military government to blame for Thailand’s “chaos.”
Thai Post columnist Plew Seengun said the episode unintentionally exposed the color-neutral nepotism endemic in the country’s ruling class.
“If criminal Maew and Big Pom are gonna yell at each other, go ahead, because the country won’t improve either way. … Today we know that because Big Pom perched on his table, Thaksin let him be army commander,” he wrote. “Thaksin is a businessman-politician who looks out for his own needs rather than following the rules.”
Still, the internet fixated on the sparks and sparkle.
A film fanpage riffed on Anakin Skywalker’s risible “I hate you” moment at the end of “Revenge of the Sith.”
“Your actions and the tone of your voice are so stern and scary, unlike your delicate and sweet manner when you perched on my desk and asked to be a jedi,” Obi Wan Kenobi says.
“Pain suddenly shoots up,” the Basement Karaoke page captioned an image of Prawit as a character in a Chinese period film, feeling the savage burn.
Back where shots were fired, #TablePerch has been trending in the Thai twitterverse.
คนนึงชอบแซะพี่ อีกคนชอบแซะน้อง แต่ก็เคยเดินตามเค้าทั้งคู่ ผิดที่ไว้ใจสินะ555555555555555555 /// แค่กๆๆๆ ขอเป็นชาเขียวหวานน้อยแทนโอเลี้ยง #เกาะโต๊ะ pic.twitter.com/y2wo0KwdE4
— 💗คิมมีโซ💗 (@wannabeyour16) September 19, 2018
User @Wannabeyour16 posted photos of the then-PM Thaksin walking with Gen. Prawit and the then-PM Yingluck Shinawatra walking with Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha.
“One likes to throw shade at the elder brother, the other likes to throw shade at the younger sister. But you still had to walk behind the both of them,” she tweeted.