BANGKOK — A leading opposition lawmaker on Monday chose to leave a parliamentary debate after he refused to withdraw his quotation of a popular insult adopted by pro-democracy protesters.
While addressing the Parliament earlier today, Seri Ruam Thai Party chairman Sereepisut Temiyavet mentioned that he’s heard many protesters using the term “I Hear Too” in recent weeks – a disparaging slang that references PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s nickname, Tuu.
“Whenever the students assemble, in bars, restaurants, schools, there’s a song saying I Hear Too,” Sereepisut said.
House Speaker Chuan Leekpai immediately interrupted him and told Sereepisut to withdraw the remark, since it’s considered an insult.
“It’s inappropriate. It references other individuals,” Chuan chided the lawmaker.
“My nickname is also Tuu!” Sereepisut offered a defense. “I didn’t curse at anyone at all … I only quoted the students.”
Chuan continued to insist on his instruction for Sereepisut to withdraw the term. In reply, the MP shut off his mic and stormed off.
Chuan then told a parliamentary clerk to describe the encounter in the official record as “use of a sarcastic word.”
“Ai Hia Tuu” is a derogatory term that can be heard in many recent anti-government protests, though the word is often written in a relatively innocent style as “I Hear Too.”
There’s also a version of the Thai pop song “1 2 3 4 5” played at the rallies. Instead of singing “I love you,” as mandated in the original lyrics, the demonstrators shouted “Ai Hia Tuu” at the top of their lungs.
The Parliament began a special session Monday, supposedly to address tensions as pro-democracy protests drew students and other demonstrators into the streets almost daily demanding PM Prayut’s resignation.
Only 450 of the total of 731 members of both lower and upper houses had signed in for the meeting. The non-voting session is expected to last two days.
Note: Portions of the article were amended per instruction from Khaosod management.