Culture Ministry Issues ‘How to Talk to Pooyai’ Guideline

“How to Talk to Pooyai” graphic posted by the Department of Cultural Promotion on Aug. 24, 2020.

BANGKOK — As student protests raging across the nation pit teens against teachers, the new generation against the old, Thailand’s cultural department helpfully issued an instruction on how youngsters should interact with adults.

A Facebook post made by Thailand’s Department of Cultural Promotion is going viral Tuesday for telling children to stoop slightly and “not cause annoyance” when interacting with older people. 

“Stand straight, hold hands below your waist, bow slightly. Do not stand too close or too far from pooyai,” the poster says. “If receiving orders, stand straight, with arms by your side. In other situations, stand politely and do not cause annoyance or get in others’ way.”

As expected, the poster was ridiculed for its seemingly tonedeaf attitude, with 4,000 likes, 2,000 comments, and 3,000 shares in a day. Many made fun of the gerontocratic ideals espoused – as well as the 2000s era graphics.


“The artwork and information really go together. Both are outdated,” commented user Jubjub Jubjub. 

User Tarn Jaiwan posted a viral gif of a grandma slapping a student back in December – “Shouldn’t you be teaching pooyai first?” 

Pooyai means adults, but it can also refer to influential people or individuals that demand respect from those inferior to their standing. 

Throughout the past week, students in many schools across the country held up three fingers on campus and tied white ribbons in solidarity with the ongoing protest against the government. 

Some teachers and administrators employed harsh responses to the stunts, such as calling the police to confiscate the white ribbons, tying white ribbons around students’ necks, and even slapping a student in the head

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“How to Talk to Pooyai” graphic posted by the Department of Cultural Promotion on Aug. 24, 2020.

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