What was Abhisit thinking when he made his ‘stupid bitch’ remark?
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What was Abhisit thinking when he made his ‘stupid bitch’ remark?

It has been clear for a few months that Abhisit has given up any hope on becoming PM again. The speeches he has been making on the Stage of Truth campaign led by the Democrats (semi-regular events held by the Democrats throughout the country) are a complete turn-around for the refined Eton and Oxford graduate image when he was Prime Minister. With each speech he pushes the boundaries more. No longer do we have surrogates making insults, it is Abhisit himself. However, on Saturday, he went much further then has gone before.

Khao Sod provides some context:

He was criticising Ms. Yingluck′s frequent trips to various events, which, Mr. Abhisit said, amount to negligence of duty because she should have focused more time and energy in solving the nation′s problems.

“The Prime Minister kept avoiding these issues. I can′t see where Ms. Yingluck has been throughout the previous week. What has she been doing?” Mr. Abhisit told the crowd.

He then turned his attention to an event Ms. Yingluck visited recently: the launching of”Thailand Smart Lady” reality TV show. Although the event was billed as a way to promote women′s roles in Thai society, Mr. Abhisit ridiculed the event as another pointless gesture by the Prime Minister.

Below is the excerpt from the speech which BP has translated:

The PM has been avoiding these problems. I am unable to see that she has been in the country one week on what she has done. This morning [I] saw [her] briefly. There was news [about her] and the “Smart Lady” program. What does [that] mean? I don’t understand completely [about this program]. It is like some contest to find a “Smart Lady”, right? What does “Smart Lady” mean? I asked [M.L.] Apimongkol [Sonakul, a Democrat MP and fellow Oxford grad]. It means a ‘smart lady’. Ohh, I asked, if you do this program, why? Why the need to find a smart lady? Why must they have a contest to find a smart lady? Because (he said or I heard someone say)# if they have a contest to find a stupid ‘bitch’ then there is no one that can compete [with her]. 

นายกรัฐมนตรีก็หลบเลี่ยงปัญหาเหล่านี้ ผมก็ดูไม่ออกครับว่าที่อยู่ในประเทศมา 1 อาทิตย์ที่ผ่านมา ไปทำอะไรบ้าง เมื่อเช้าเห็นแว้บๆ มีข่าวไปทำอะไร โครงการอะไร Smart Lady แปลว่าอะไร ผมก็ไม่ค่อยเข้าใจทั้งหมดหรอกครับ เหมือนกับว่าจะประกวดใช่มั้ย หา Smart Lady แปลว่าอะไร Smart lady นี่ผมถามอภิมงคลแล้ว แปลว่าผู้หญิงฉลาด แต่นี่ผมก็ถามว่า อ้าว แล้วถ้าทำโครงการนี้เนี่ย ทำไมต้องทำ ทำไมต้องหาผู้หญิงฉลาด ทำไมต้องประกวดผู้หญิงฉลาด เพราะว่าเขาบอกว่า ถ้าแข่งขันหาอีโง่ ไม่มีใครไปแข่งได้

#Initially, corrected to add “he said”, but now “(he said or I heard someone say)”. After relistening to the video a few times, Abhisit appears to be using a rhetorical device of relaying what Apimongkol said or a third party is saying. It is a little unclear (Thai doesn’t have quote marks and pronouns are often left out) although it seems he is relaying the words of someone else.  On whether this lessens the impact, it does to some degree, but am not sure that if he says he was just relaying an insult as a rhetorical device it is going to help him as he still utters the words “stupid bitch” without any qualification.

And video:


BP: Now you may be thinking, is this transcript real? Well, it is a transcript from the Democrat Party Web site which you can find right on the front page.

First, there is an issue of how to translate “อีโง่” (or ee-ngo). โง่ is clearly stupid/dumb, but อี is more complicated to translate. It is a derogatory prefix used to insult girls. You can add อี in front of many Thai words and you get an insult. For example, in front of the word, skinny and you get ‘skinny bitch’  in front of the Thai word for ‘body’ and  it becomes ‘prostitute, whore’, in front of the word flower and well you have an extremely grave insult meaning a whore etc. It is a strong insult plain and simple. Simply translating it as “woman” doesn’t really convey the meaning because woman is not an insult. If it was stupid woman, it would be (ผู้)หญิงโง่. This is an insult the same as calling someone stupid is in English. It is not a strong insult. Hence, BP thinks the closest approximation is “bitch” (Khao Sod use the term “bitch” in their translation as well).* Having said that “bitch” is probably a bit stronger than “อี”. It is probably at around 75% of the insult level of the English word “bitch”.

(READ MORE: Democrat poster boy Abhisit loses his manners)

NOTE: Kaewmala’s guide to Thai language during political protests from 2010 also uses bitch; also see this post at ThaiVisa; and this one at Thai Language. Also, thanks to Kaewmala on Twitter…

Second, is Abhisit referring to Yingluck? He spends the paragraph talking about Yingluck and you can imply he means Yingluck although he doesn’t openly state it.

Yesterday, Kom Chad Leuk had an article where Abhisit states (as summarized by BP) that he was just saying as he saw on Google and didn’t refer to anyone. If someone has a guilty conscience then he doesn’t know what they are not satisfied about. That they say it is insulting to women and I must ask why. Because I said there is a smart lady contest. Smart lady means a smart lady. They don’t contest to be a “stupid bitch” and how is that an insult to girls? I am not sure which paper ran with this angle (ตนพูดตามที่เห็นในกูเกิ้ลไม่ได้พูดถึงใคร ส่วนใครจะร้อนตัวหรือไม่ไม่ทราบ และไม่รู้ว่ามีความไม่พอใจเรื่องอะไร ที่อ้างว่าเป็นการดูถูกผู้หญิงก็ต้องถามว่าทำไม เพราะตนบอกว่า มีการประกวดสมาร์ทเลดี้ แปลว่า ผู้หญิงฉลาดก็ถูกแล้ว เขาคงไม่ประกวด “อีโง่” แล้วเกี่ยวอะไรกับการดูถูกผู้หญิง ไม่ทราบสื่อฉบับไหนนำเสนออย่างนี้ึ).

BP: The context อีโง่ is a frequently used as a insult directed at Yingluck on social media. It is such a commonly used term by some government critics that if BP was to ever hear or read the sentence in Thai, ‘did you see what that stupid bitch said?’, that BP would not think it was referring to anyone else but Yingluck (just search the term อีโง่ and aside from this latest news, every single hit of the first 30 hits is a reference to Yingluck). It is such a common insult that Nat Bantadtan, Deputy Spokesperson of the Democrats, in May 2013 stated – just after Yingluck filed a lawsuit against the Thai Rath cartoonist – that the PM should get a team of lawyers to take action against google.com as when you type in the term “stupid bitch” then you get a large number images about Yingluck (นายกรัฐมนตรีควรตั้งทีมทนายความเพื่อดำเนินการกับเว็บไซต์ค้นหาข้อมูลชื่อดัง อย่าง www.google.com เนื่องจากเมื่อมีการพิมพ์ค้นหาคำว่า “อีโง่” ก็ทำให้พบกับภาพของ น.ส.ยิ่งลักษณ์ เป็นจำนวนมาก).

So by Abhisit stating he is only saying/repeating what he saw on google, isn’t he directly linking what he said in the speech with Yingluck? He is making an inside joke when speaking to the Democrat faithful.  It would be an amazing coincidence (and poor choice of words which he has left uncorrected if it was an innocent mistake) if he was not referring to Yingluck….

BP has been puzzled by the Democrats’ strategy for a few weeks now. What exactly are they doing?** We have had MPs grabbing police officers around the neck to throwing chairs in parliament.  Now, one is quite used to people like Malika saying similar things or even the Blue Sky (the Democrat Party TV channel) hosts insulting Yingluck, but for Abhisit, as a former PM and current party leader, to say what he said is still a little bewildering. What is their endgame?

* Of course, just after wrote this see The Nation finally has an article on this issue and they translate อีโง่  as “stupid woman”. อีโง่ is a much worse insult in Thai than “stupid woman”.  The Nation‘s article on the issue is an example of what is wrong with all of their reporting.  If they feel uncomfortable using the term “bitch” then, at least, explain that the Thai term is a very derogatory term when directed at a female. The article provides absolutely no context at all. BP doesn’t have the time to cover all issues, but at least try to cover an issue or one part of the issue fully. Abhisit makes a passionate speech talking about the government and directly refers to Yingluck in the sentence before. Then he throws in the line “stupid bitch” which is exactly the term that is frequently used – a point the deputy spokesperson of his party a few months made a joke that Yingluck should sue google because her picture appears high in the search results for “stupid bitch” – to insult Yingluck. His denial actually links Yingluck with what he said. Yet, you would not be aware of any of this as it is not in the article.

** Just refer to the below classic David Mitchell rant and well BP feels similar exasperation about the Democrats…


BP: Context is a gameshow where the other side has to guess whether other team is lying…