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Abused or confused?

August 13, 2010

Phor Phiang is Thai term for ‘sufficiency economy’. This is what we know. It is also a general knowledge that ‘phor phiang’ is associated with H.M.K. Bhumibol Adulyadej. It came into prominence especially after the coup of 2006, and in the following years it was promoted as a part of ‘national agenda’, as it is, among others, stated in the following excerpt:

“The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), in conjunction with Crown Property Bureau, Siam Commercial Bank PCL and Siam Cement Group, has published 80,000 copies of an easy-to-read book aimed at promoting the King’s Sufficiency Economy philosophy among primary and high school students. The book, Phor-Phor-809, will be distributed to academic institutions nationwide.

In the book’s title, phor-phor is an acronym for the Thai word: phor-phiang (sufficiency), and the number 809 refers to the King’s 80th birthday as the ninth sovereign of the Chakri dynasty. The volume is suitable for teaching and explains how to apply Sufficiency Economy in day-to-day living.”

For King’s birthday Thai bourse publishes Sufficiency Economy for youth l ข่าวทั่วไป PRESS RELEASE l LOCAL — Thu 6 Dec 2007 14:16:39

Now, let’s move on. There’s nothing unusual about anything we read above. We all know this is the way royal pronouncements are dealt with, we have learned to understand them, bow our heads and keep on eating our rice porridge.  Anyone who lives in Thailand and reads newspapers also knows Thanong Khanthong, “a vigorous and outspoken supporter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the 2006 military coup”*, who himself, back in early March, 2009, wrote in his Overdrive column ‘Lese Majeste allows criticism but not abuse’: “I would argue that there is nothing was wrong with lese majeste law.” **  Many of those who know Thanong are also aware that he is relatively actively using his twitter account to communicate with his followers, friends and adversaries.  His ‘phor phiang’ tweets should not surprise us. They are normally accepted with a slight bemusement, and are perceived as quirky, or even outrageous. Nothing can shock us, right? And yet today, on Friday the 13th of August, I was slightly shattered when reading:

“@ThanongK “I claim phr phiang model is mine cause I want the buck to stop here. In fact phor phiang is middle path principle belonging to Buddha.”

I couldn’t help myself but to reply: “ @igorc166 @ThanongK Phor Phiang yours? That’s LM statement, no?”

Needless to say, I am still waiting for his answer. I honestly feel confused. But should I feel abused?

*The Nation’s Thanong Khanthong on criticism of the monarchy;  Political Prisoners in Thailand, March 9, 2009. Political Prisoners in Thailand is one of numerous websites blocked by Thai ICT

** The Nation, OVERDRIVE, Lese Majeste allows criticism but not abuse’, By Thanong Khanthong, The Nation, published on March 6, 2009


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