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Feature: Often-used Thai words in today’s political jargon

By Thai Newsroom Reporters

MORE OFTEN THAN NOT are several Thai words and phrases used in the current political jargon for which metaphorical or figurative definitions of persons or their characteristics are provided and probably intertwined with sarcastic or disparaging innuendos. 

Those slangy expressions may not only become the latest catchphrases on social media describing the characteristics of relevant politicians or the height of a political situation during a given period of time but may be adopted overnight by men on the street as some sort of their household words.

Here are some of the often-used Thai words and phrases in today’s political jargon with literal definitions in parentheses:

– “Hon krasae” (hold onto a trend)  

Whilst some politicians may raise a social trend via mainstream or social media by weaving an initiative of their own toward anything pertaining to their legislative or executive duties for which they might probably secure admiration and popularity overnight, others are merely good at doing some “hon krasae” or holding onto it in superficial, opportunistic fashion. The latter may unreluctantly jump onto the bandwagon of those selling or buying popular trends. Celebrity host Kanchai “Noom” Kamnerdploy entitles his YouTube podcast programme “hon krasae” featuring a heated debate over a widely controversial topic between two or three persons seated next to one another with ultimately opposing views. 

– “Hew saeng” (hunger for spotlight)

Certain MPs have made unsolicited comments on nearly every topic which may have emerged on mainstream and social media simply because they desperately “hew saeng” hungering for the spotlight to shine them up as enthused representatives of the taxpayers. Little have they known about what they may have said in public but those things would not matter much to such politicians as far as they may have made themselves a topic for talk of the town, albeit in a not very constructive way.    

– “Ongkharak” (special servicemen)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has had several “ongkharak” who had ostensibly performed on the House floor as if they were sort of special servicemen in defence of the premier from all possible barrages launched by the opposition. Remarkably, the number of Prayut’s “ongkharak” has dwindled with once-outstanding worthies, namely Sira Jenjaka and Pareena Kraikupt both of Palang Pracharath Party, having been convicted of perpetrating wrongdoings and thus having been deprived by the Constitutional Court of their MP status. Besides, another one of Prayut’s “ongkharak”, namely Seksakol Atthawong, has been pressed to resign from political posts at Government House in the face of payoff scandals.

– “Kluay” (banana)

Over the last few years, some lawmakers at parliament have been metaphorically likened to monkeys who feed on “kluay” or bananas. Those politicians may accept bunches of “kluay” or a huge sum of kickback cash in exchange for a favour which they would do for the one who may have handed out the virtual fruit. For instance, “kluay”, virtually worth up to five million baht, was allegedly handed out to certain coalition MPs each in exchange for their vote of support for an embattled Prayut during last year’s censure/no-confidence motion. In the old days when the slangy term “kluay” had not yet been coined, the words “krasoon din dam” which literally mean bullets and ammunition for guns had been used to figuratively refer to hard cash to buy votes during electoral campaigns.  

– “Ngu hao” (cobra)

In a legend, a farmer is bitten to death by an ungrateful cobra which he has earlier saved from harm. In real politics, a number of Pheu Thai and Future Forward (now Move Forward) MPs have metaphorically turned out to be “ngu hao” or traitors who have obviously performed in breach of the resolutions of the parties which had sent them contesting the previous election. Some “ngu hao” MPs have already defected from the opposition bloc to the coalition side while others have planned to follow suit for the next race to parliament.

– “Fark Liang” (under care of a custodian)

Those rebellious MPs are figuratively likened to infants under care of some custodians until they are grown enough to return to their parents. Though they are today “fark liang” or getting under care of by Pheu Thai Party or Move Forward Party, they will almost certainly leave for Bhumjaithai Party or Palang Pracharath Party or some others upon the start of the next general election. Though those “ngu hao” politicians could practically be ousted as members of the parties to which they may have been formally attached, they are legally allowed to join another party within 30 days to keep their MP status intact. 

 – Group of “Sam Por” 

That refers to a trio of former army chiefs whose names begin with the initial ”Por” in the Thai alphabet – Prawit, Pok (nickname) and Prayut.  They all had graduated from the same army cadet school, been posted at the same eastern army barracks and involved themselves in the political arena one way or another. The trio, namely Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda and Prayut, would invariably regard one another as “beloved brothers” and would never lose trust in one another or betray one another under any circumstances since they gave themselves ministerial seats following the 2014 coup orchestrated by the army chief-turned-premier Prayut. Nevertheless, many people have begun to doubt the brotherly love between Prayut and Prawit will remain the same amidst hearsay of a possible replacement of the former with the latter as a caretaker head of government. 

– Group of “Sammit” (three friends)

That refers to the group of several coalition MPs led by Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit and Prime Minister’s Office Minister Anucha Nakhasai. The experienced cabinet members and lawmakers currently perform as a faction within the ruling Palang Pracharath Party.

– Group 16

That refers to a dozen MPs attached to pro-government splinter parties, most of which only have one MP each. Despite being currently attached to Palang Pracharath Party, MP Pichet Sathirachawan has become the group leader who has vowed to perform in “independent” fashion and in collaboration with a group of 18-strong MPs under leadership of former Palang Pracharath secretary-general/current Thai Economic secretary-general Thammanat Prompao.

– Group of “Si Gumarn” (four infants)

That refers to a group of three former cabinet members and a former deputy secretary-general to the Prime Minister who resigned under pressure from Palang Pracharath Party and then managed to set up a brand-new Sarng Anakot Thai Party. The “Si Gumarn” group, known to have been closely associated with former deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak, include former finance minister/former Palang Pracharath leader Uttama Savanayana, former energy minister/former Palang Pracharath secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong, former higher education, science, research and innovation minister Suvit Maesincee and former deputy secretary-general to the Prime Minister Kobsak Pootrakul.

– “Khon daen klai” (faraway man)

That refers to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who has remained in self-exile in a foreign country far away from Thailand alongside his younger sister/former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra following the  2006 and 2014 coups respectively. Living in his current residence in Dubai, “khon daen klai” aka Tony Woodsome is largely viewed by some people as spiritual leader of Pheu Thai Party and by others as owner of the largest opposition party, giving out guidance and advice via live podcasts to its rank and file. That Thaksin’s youngest daughter Paethongtarn Shinawatra has been named head of the “Pheu Thai Family” with the likelihood of her being finally named the party’s candidate for head of a post-election government obviously underlined the deposed premier’s decisive control over significant movements of the party which he himself founded, albeit under a different name, over two decades ago.

– “Thalu Fah”/ “Thalu Wang” / “Thalu Gas” (through the sky/through the palace/through the gas)

That refers to the names of political activist groups rising up against the Prayut regime, mostly being adolescents, who hurled fireworks, flares and other objects toward baton-wielding riot police who used high-pressure water from water cannons as well as tear gas and fired rubber bullets at the demonstrators, particularly in the neighbourhood of the First Infantry Regiment, within whose premises is located the premier’s home, on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. The word “Thalu” figuratively refers to the through-the-ceiling calls of those street protesters for an ultimate reform of the monarchy and abolition of the draconian lese majeste law, better known as the Criminal Code’s Section 112.   

– “Salim” (people in multicoloured shirts)

That refers to some type of the old generations who may decline to make their political, social and cultural attitudes compatible with those of the new generations. In most cases, “salim” refers to those who may look politically conservative and be ultimately afraid of change. The “salim” people may spontaneously claim to have never taken side with Yellow Shirt movement or Red Shirt movement while sharing sympathy with the military and those who may prefer peace and order to change and democratic movement.

– “Sam geep” (three-finger salute)

That refers to the young generations who look to promote change in political, social, economic and cultural aspects in line with their tech-savvy attitudes toward a borderless world community in which the three principles of humanity – liberty, equality and fraternity – are transformed into the three-finger salute. Many street protesters, mostly being students and adolescents, have turned out to be the “sam geep” people such as young members of Ratsadon Group, Free Youth Movement and the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration.


Top: Images of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and a cobra overlaid over a photo of a meeting of the House of Representatives. Photo: Matichon

First insert:  Sira Jenjaka. Photo: Matichon

Second insert: A bunch of bananas. Photo: Sanook.com

Third insert: “Sam Por” group, namely Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda. Photo: Matichon Weekly

Fourth insert: The “Si Gumarn” group is known to have been closely associated with former deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak,. Photo: Naewna

Fifth insert: Thaksin Shinawatra on TV. Photo: Sanook.com

Sixth insert: Clashes between protesters and police IN Din Daeng area last year. Photo: Matichon

Seventh insert: Protest at Ratchaprasong intersection giving the three-finger salute. Photo: Thai Rath

Home Page:A drawing of a cobra. Image: Pixabay

Also read: Prayut shrugs off hearsay over PM-changing conspiracy

Analysis: Conspiracy hatched to turn kingmaker into PM 

Analysis: Prayut will not dissolve House only to dodge no-confidence bid 

Analysis: Many more Palang Pracharath MPs bound to leave disintegrated party


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