Rising buffalo-like from the ashes
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should heave a big
sigh of relief. Dr Sem Pringpungkaew, the honoured citizen, has come to
his rescue. He calls Thaksin “The Knight of the Black Buffalo”, destined
to redeem this Golden Land from all its political, economic, social and
Even if Thaksin were to die, he should, like Charlton Heston in the classic
movie “El Sid”, be propped upright on the back of the black buffalo to
provide inspiration and lead the way out of the mire for Thai people.
By calling Thaksin “The Knight of the Black Buffalo”, Sem has alluded
to the prime minister’s unstable, dualimage psyche. Thaksin’s problem
lies in his predilection for everything farang, but which is unsuitable
for the Thai premiership right now. He considers himself a CEO prime minister.
He refers to Suvarnabhumi, or the Golden Land, as Thailand Inc. A biography
hails him as “The Knight of the Third Wave”, implying that the telecom
tycoon is forging Thailand ahead into the information age. And due to
his landslide general election victory in January this year, the Thai
people have come to look upon Thaksin as a “White Knight”, or a saviour.
All these terms are farang. This is not to mention Thaksin’s preferences
for English jargon and vocabulary to express his vision for Thailand Inc.
Recently, in an address to the Fortune Global Forum in Hong Kong, Thaksin
also delved into Western terminology to illustrate his view on the rebirth
of Asia – Asia must learns from its past mistakes, bank on its resources
and strengths and cooperate more among its members. To represent the reborn
Asia, he used the term “rising phoenix”.
The trouble is, the phoenix is a mythical bird of the ancient Egyptians.
The legend has it that the phoenix lived for five or six centuries in
the Arabian desert, being consumed by its own fire and rising in youthful
freshness from its own ashes. The phoenix is often regarded as an emblem
of immortality or resurrection.
Most Thai people, to be sure, don’t understand what the phoenix stands
for. If Thaksin bothered to study Thai myth, he would not have hesitated
to pick the garuda instead of the phoenix by way of metaphor.
In a way, Sem is inadvertently preparing Thaksin for a rebirth after
his showdown at the Constitution Court. The prime minister should thank
Sem for helping him in one fell swoop to localise his image. “We don’t
want to compare Thaksin to a white knight like in the West, but should
look at him as a Black Buffalo knight like in the East,” Sem explained.
“In the Bang Rachan war, buffaloes were used in battle.”
Thaksin should know by now that if he wants to continue to rule Thailand,
he has to come down to earth by nurturing his Thai image and polishing
his Thai spirit.
Yesterday, the prime minister was scheduled to attend a grand rite in
Khon Kaen to drive away evil spirits.
A topnotch group of 108 monks from Isaan presided over this ancient Thai
ceremony. More than 20,000 people witnessed this event, a mixture of superstition
and religion, to boost the morale of the prime minister. Thaksin can always
count on the Thai way.
So instead of portraying himself as a white knight in shining armour
riding on horseback in Europe’s chivalrous Middle Ages, Thaksin should
watch the war movie “Bang Rachan” in which Bin Bunluerit rode a black
buffalo into battle against the Burmese. That would be a more appropriate
During these modern times, the war against the Burmese has become cultural
and psychological. So who else is more suitable than the prime minister
to mount the back of the black buffalo to fight this symbolic war?