Imagine this: a hi-so khunying got annoyed by a group of political canvassers while she was shopping in a Bangkok market. The khunying began to use foul language with them, flaunting her exceptionally discourteous manner which was contrary to her high social status. A team member took photographs of the khunying as the drama was unfolding. The khunying demanded the female photographer delete the photos. Her demand was not met. The khunying then slapped the photographer accross her face. The drama ended at a police station. The khunying admitted the slapping incident. She paid a 500 baht fine and walked out of the police station.
It may sound like a typical bitchy Thai soap opera in which two women, competing for the same man, are involved in scratching, slapping, hair-pulling, and shirt-shredding. But the incident indeed took place on May 25, in the Bang Kho Laem district, in front of hundreds of on-lookers.
Khunying Puangthong Ketu-angkura, 62, reaffirms that the old Thai saying of “ตบหน้าเสียห้าร้อย” (paying a 500 baht fine for slapping) is still in fashion, and that it is worth every single baht just to humiliate one’s nemesis. As reported by the Bangkok Post, the South Bangkok District Court fined the khunying 500 baht for slapping the face of a woman who was helping a Peau Thai candidate campaign at a fresh market in Wat Phraya Krai area. Khunying Puangthong arrived in court after Ms Yanee Mohammad Isma-il, 24, filed a complaint with Wat Phraya Krai police. Yanee said that while she was helping Pongpisuth Jintasophon, a Peau Thai candidate in a constituency covering Yannawa and Bang Kho Laem districts, campaign at Kingchan market when she was slapped on the face by Khunying Puangthong who said she was annoyed because Yanee was making a loud noise.
Was this just a case of being annoyed by a loud noise? Khunying Puangthong happens to be the wife of General Thawat Ketu-angkura, former Permanent Secretary of the Defence Ministry. Being granted a series of royal decorations, Khunying Puangthong is also a former chairman of the Wives of Officials of Ministry of Defence Association of Thailand.
While Khunying Puangthong insisted that she hates loud noise, witnesses revealed that the hi-so khunying shouted at the Puea Thai campaigners, “กูไม่เลือกพวกมึง ไอ้พรรคขี้โกง” (I will not elect your cheating party). When asked by the police, Khunying Puangthong said, “ดิฉันไม่ได้เป็นพวกใครหรือชื่นชอบพรรคใดเป็นพิเศษ แต่ทนเสียงไม่ไหวเท่านั้น” (I take no side, neither favouring any particular political party. I just cannot bear loud noise.)
The market drama raises many questions. Does it signify a widening gap between two groups in society? Is this a case of the rich and powerful getting away with unsavoury behaviour? Or is it just about how a posh khunying, who all this time has pretended to live in a dignified world, has acted as one reporter said “ถ่อย” (vilely).
I hope that when her husband makes a noise at night he does not receive a slap.