Prayuth Slams Reporters’ Nicknames Satirizing Gov’t

PM Prayuth Chan-ocha cooks pad thai at an event showcasing Thai street food on Dec. 24, 2019.

BANGKOK — Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Monday night he was not amused by a list of nicknames mocking his government released by a media club.

Prayuth was giving a speech at a conference when he veered off script to express his discontent with the nicknames, which were compiled by a group of Government House correspondents per annual tradition. Though Prayuth stressed he “didn’t feel anything” about the list, he said it was inappropriate.

“Our work is not something to joke about,” Prayuth said at a conference about digital economy. “Otherwise, the officials wouldn’t have morale to work. Good people would give up and not work anymore. Why do their work when you give them nicknames like this?”

Prayuth was bestowed with the nickname “Angry Pot Calling the Kettle Black” by the reporters, while his Cabinet was collectively derided as “Siangkong State,” a reference to a neighborhood that sells cheap, second hand auto parts known for their unreliability.

In his speech, Prayuth challenged the correspondents to criticize him directly instead of relying on mockery.

“If [you believe] I’m not committed to my work, then scold me right away. Scold me right here, in front of me,” the general said before giving a frustrated sigh.

Reaction from other ministers featured by the nicknames was milder than their boss.

Read: Prayuth Unamused by Reporters’ Nicknames for Gov’t 

Thammanat Prompow, who was called “Thammanat the Grey” due to his shady past, laughed off the title. Speaking to reporters today, Thammanat said he might not have a “clean” record, but he is dedicated to working for the public.

Mananya Thaises, who earned the nickname “Madam Ban-Not-a-Ban” for her flip-flop on pesticide ban, teased the reporters, “How do you know I wouldn’t be able to [ban them]?”

Even pro-government Democrat MP Theptai Seanapong also said he agreed with the journalists’ assessment.

“The nicknames were very witty. They really reflect the personality and working styles of each minister,” Theptai wrote online.