Tongue-Thai’ed! Part XVII: The difference between lies and ‘lies’

Originally published at Siam Voices on August 26, 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.

Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong has been so far one of the deputy prime ministers in the government of Yingluck Shinawatra that has not stood out with the blow-hard attitudelofty ideas or brain farts demonstrated by some of his peers – that was until this week when Kittiratt had an ill-judged epiphany: to admit that he sometimes lies just to boost confidence in the financial market. Here’s the money quote:

The finance minister can lie about some things, such as export targets. But these are white lies,” he said yesterday. “If I said from the start that we couldn’t grow, what would be the impact on confidence?

Mr Kittiratt acknowledged that his pledge earlier this year that exports would grow 15% this year was a “white lie”. On Tuesday, the government officially cut its export target for 2012 to 9% growth.

Kittiratt: I tell ‘white lies’“, Bangkok Post, August 24, 2012

Like fellow blogger Bangkok Pundit noted in his post, we’re hardly shocked to catch a politician lying, let alone admitting it. Nevertheless, PR-wise, his comments would appear unwise – not only will every economic target projection be taken with a huge grain of salt (if they haven’t been already), Kittiratt has instantly put himself out there to be ridiculed (as usual, the opposition was quick to criticise) nationally, but also internationally since such a catchy headline á la “Thai Finance Minister Finds Nothing Wrong with Lying”. It was a welcome light news item for editors abroad (for example here in Germany).

In the end, it was an unwarranted gaffe by a Thai politician and minister who had acquitted himself well until now. All by admitting to the truth at a decisively wrong moment for seemingly a greater good – whether it pays off has yet to be seen. The more important issue will be whether or not Kittiratt will own up to his own lies later down the road.

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.