Thailand rarely gets into the headlines unless there is a tsunami or bomb, but if you missed the news, they have a new Prime Minister.

Epicurious Blog Reports:

In Thailand a celebrity chef was just elected prime minister. Seriously. I’m not kidding! The guy even has a TV cooking show on the air.

And, indeed, the UKIndependent reports:

But Mr Samak’s premiership is unlikely to be a conventional one, and Thailand got a taster of it when – within minutes of his being elected – the TV star was seen at a high-class market buying groceries.

And yesterday he vowed that his television programme, called Tasting, Grumbling, would carry on while he was in office. “The constitution does not prohibit a prime minister from doing TV shows,” said Mr Samak, wondering round the market stalls. “We still have three months of our new cooking show on tape.”

Of course, there’s more to him than cooking.

In 2006, the military overthrew the government for too much corruption, but under international pressure, allowed elections, and the people promptly placed the ex Prime Minister’s party back into power. But he is under indictment, so Samak, who supports the PM, was elected Prime Minister by the Parliament.

There was a lot of worrying that the military would overthrow anyone elected who had such ties, but Al Jazeera reports that the coup leaders pledge to support Samak.

And the US, which had suspended 24 million dollars of military aid, says they will now restore the aid and resume joint training exercizes.

But the left wing UK Guardian calls Samak a “right winger” cautions he has a short fuse and could quickly get into hot water…

Samak, a right-winger in several army-backed governments that arrested and killed opponents, is himself is fighting a two-year jail sentence for defamation and is the subject of corruption allegations over the purchase of fire trucks while he was Bangkok governor.

His plain speaking endears him to many voters but his notoriously short fuse has got him in hot water more than once.

A two year sentence for “defamation”? Don’t laugh…the reason the generals gave for removing Mr. Thaksin, his predecessor, was that he had defamed the king.

Maybe he’d better keep that job cooking.

As for the charges of corruption: Firetrucks? He was governor and all they can find to accuse him is allegations of corruption over purchasing firetrucks?

In contrast, Mr. Thaksin, a telecom executive and billionaire, was accused of embezzling millions… the army has frozen two billion dollars of his assets…


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Phlippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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