A Chip off the Old Blockhead

 Much has been made of the comments by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra about the selection of his younger sister, Yingluck, as the Pheu Thai candidate for prime minister in the forthcoming elections. Critics, including the Democrat Party, were quick to seize on his use of the word ‘clone’ to describe the relationship between himself and his sister.

This, it is claimed, is proof that the true leader of the party is Thaksin, who, besides having outstanding convictions against his name, is supposed to be banned from all political activity for a 5-year period which has not yet expired. He obviously plans to use Yingluck as some sort of robot that he can manipulate from a distance and so act in effect as Prime Minister without being elected (or even being in the country – at least until he wangles himself an amnesty).

However a careful examination of Thaksin’s words reveals that he in fact used the English word ‘cloning’, not ‘clone’, in the middle of his Thai (a verbal tic that he has never been able to give up, even when excoriating others for mixing English words into Thai sentences).

A rigorous translation of the relevant comments (with the English words in double quotations marks) would be:

‘I say that (she) is not a “nominee” but (you) can call (it) that (she) is a “cloning” of Thaksin. I (have been) “cloning” (my) administration (methods) for (her) since (she) newly finished studying,’

Now this could mean nothing more than the fact that Thaksin’s understanding of genetics is about as flaky as his grasp of English grammar. But it also allows the interpretation that Yingluck is not some sort of remote control puppet, but merely an able learner of the Thaksin model of public administration.

However, the affair has raised the issue of cloning in Thai politics, which threatens to eclipse the old issue of ‘nominees’. If Thaksin’s sister is a clone, is she the only example in Thai politics?

It should be noted that a true clone would be indistinguishable from the original, except that the clone would be younger. However, if a clone was taken from a very young specimen, then the original and the clone could resemble identical twins.

Some observers have noted that Prime Minister Abhisit’s stated views on numerous political issues, such as boycotting elections, the right to hold demonstrations, etc., seem to have undergone a complete reversal. What he said when he was leader of the opposition is often in direct contradiction to what he has said, and done, since he became prime minister.

Some believe that this can only be explained by the fact that Abhisit the leader of the opposition and Abhisit the prime minister are in fact two different people, one being a clone of the other. Proponents of this idea note that Abhisit’s father, Athasit, was a prominent member of the Thai medical establishment before his retirement and could easily have arranged to have his son cloned at a young age.

While this theory still has not received widespread support, it would, if true, raise the intriguing possibility that there are even more Abhisit clones being kept hidden somewhere, ready to be brought into play whenever a radical change in policy is required.

Political speculators are also having a field day, suggesting possible clones among the political classes, noting that plastic surgery could be used to reduce any resemblance of a clone to the original model.

The more arresting ideas include claims that former Army Chief Gen Anupong Paochinda is a clone of Homer Simpson and that Sanan Kachornprasart of the Chat Thai Pattana Party is cloned from a Smurf (given his penchant for day-glo fabrics, the betting is on Vanity Smurf).

A theory that Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was a clone of Kermit the Frog had to be abandoned when it was proved that Kermit was not an actual living organism, whereas Gen Chavalit probably was.

Commentators are also generally agreed that Newin Chidchob is the genuine article. As one noted, ‘Who would want to clone someone that good-looking?’


Election, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Yingluck Shinawatra