Tongue-Thai’ed! Part XVI: Chalerm and the new Pentagon

Originally published at Siam Voices on August 1, 2012

“Tongue-Thai’ed!” encapsulates the most baffling, amusing, confusing, outrageous and appalling quotes from Thai politicians and other public figures – in short: everything we hear that makes us go “Huh?!”. Check out all past entries here.

Chalerm Yubamrung is a veteran politician known for his erratic behavior and boastful nature which naturally leads lots of verbosities that are bordering on ridiculous or simply head-scratching. He’s also currently Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister mainly in charge of security – so, in both regards to his position and his outspokenness he is the actual and spiritual successor to our favorite Tongue-Thai’ed! contributor Suthep Thuangsuban.

On a more serious note, the ongoing insurgency in Thailand’s deep southern border region has claimed more victims again when five soldiers were killed in a drive-by ambush last Sunday, which was caught on CCTV and leaked by the local police. It was that very gruesome depiction of this violent incident that has reminded the Thai public yet again about the violent conflict that has claimed by now almost 5,500 lives since 2004, with an end nowhere near in sight.

That incident has prompted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to appoint Chalerm to take care of the South. And since the Thai government has also granted some 391m Baht (US$12.3m) for this operation, he wants a new command center at the Royal Thai Police HQ in addition to the few government agencies already assigned with the troubling border region.

And since every Thai institution needs a nice sounding name – preferably long, convoluted and pretentious – Chalerm has already an idea for this command center. It is however not very original…

The new centre would operate to the same standards as that of the US Pentagon, and the centre should be called Pentagon II, he said.

Mr Chalerm said he believed Pentagon II would improve efficiency in the government’s fight against the southern insurgency just as the Pentagon worked successfully to hunt down Osama bin Laden.

Sukumpol wants aircraft for South“, Bangkok Post, August 1, 2012

I don’t know where to even start! Pentagon II?! We don’t know (yet) if he was joking with this proposal and couldn’t come up with a better name on the fly. But this is Chalerm we’re talking about: when he’s got an idea, he’ll pull it through (that is of course there’s one or two instances that prevents him from doing so!). And does he also know how long it took to get bin Laden?

Instead of that knock-off brand name, we (that is Siam Voices contributor Kaewmala) came up with original Thai names for that command center that embodies the Thai language and that is long-winded, and most of all, pretentious:

“ศูนย์ดับไฟใต้ด้วยปากเหลิม” – “Center for Putting Out the Fire with Chalerm’s Mouth” (“ปากเหลิม” [“bpaak lerm”] = drooling, mostly from being blabbering know-it-all, also refers to Chalerm)

“ศูนย์ปราบทักษิณัคคีภัย” – “Center for Suppressing the Southern Threat” (“ทักษิณ” [“Thaksin”] = from Pali/Sanskrit, South, also the name of a certain fugitive former Prime Minister)

Or just call it Center for Recon and the Advancement of Peace and be done with it! You can thank us later, Chalerm!

via @MartinPetty and h/t to @thai_talk for the alternative names

If you come across any verbosities that you think might fit in here send us a email at siamvoices [at] gmail.com or tweet us @siamvoices.

Saksith Saiyasombut is a Thai blogger and journalist currently based in Hamburg, Germany. He can be followed on Twitter @Saksith and on Facebook here.