11 July 2024

Monday, October 8, 2018: Was it a good-natured welcoming roar or were Buriram people booing Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan? He thought it was the former but anti-military critics insisted the loud noises were an unmistakable sign of political resentment. The significance of it is that the incident took place right in the middle of the den of former kingmaker Newin Chidchob, believed to be the de facto leader of the Bhum Jai Thai Party.

“If they do hate me, the noises would have come with missiles,” Prawit said. “Of course, they were welcoming me.”

The noises in question came after he declared open a world motorcycle championship which is taking place in Buriram. He apparently got the name of the tournament wrong. Instead of calling it “MotoGP”, it came out more like “MotoCP”.

The social media was not on his side, though. “The people might not know they were allowed to throw missiles at him,” one person tweeted. “He stayed put after the wristwatch scandal,” another noted, adding “this is just boos.”

Prawit, it has to be said, is not very popular. He refused to resign from the Prayut Cabinet following disclosure that he had not declared extremely-expensive wristwatches in his possession. He claimed he borrowed the accessories but few people believed that.

To be fair, it’s hard to tell from the noises whether he was being teased for the apparent mistake or was really disliked. Listen for yourself: