“The shocking confession” from PM Surayud

"The shocking confession" - October 6, 2007

Many, many 2Bangkok readers have asked about this, so this is the explanation: PM Surayud has been using the Thai saying "jon glap jai" to admit he used his influence in the past to enrich himself. In English this is stated as "I have never claimed to be a perfect man and am only a reformed thief."

This is an expression for a person to say when they have changed their mind to be a good person.

For instance, when a "southern thief" (a southern separatist) is reformed and joins with the Thai government, he is said to be "jon glap jai" meaning he broke the rules in the past, but now he has changed or turned over a new leaf.

PM Surayud is known to have two 40 million baht cars and a resort house illegally on public land in Khao Yai. This means he has used his influence as many Thai men do to reap financial benefits from his position. This type of this activity usually only becomes an issue when a "big man" gets into a position of power and others want to knock him out of his position.

The Surayud/CNS junta thought they were immune from corruption attacks because they held power (in the same way Thaksin and his cronies acted with impunity when they were in power). However, a revolt from former anti-Thaksin allies appointed to anti-corruption groups has decimated the Surayud-led government in recent weeks. Surayud is doing damage control by trying to express to the public he has his flaws and is vulnerable, but is trying to do the right thing.

We mention all this because it is not at all clear from the way the PM's statements are being reported in English that his statements are couched as a "jon glap jai" idiomatic phrase. The Nation, in particular, reports the PM's statement as if the PM is making a very peculiar admission by describing himself as a "former thief."

Sonthi mum on future - The Nation, September 30, 2007
...Regarding criticism that his estate might intrude into national parkland in Nakhon Ratchasima, he said the National Counter Corruption Commission had already released its findings on the case.
"I have never claimed to be a perfect man and am only a reformed thief," he said, insisting that despite his flaws, he strives to do good deeds...

Thai talk: PM's shocking confession: I used to be bad - The Nation, October 4, 2007
"I have said it before and I am saying it again: I am not a good man. I am only a repentant convert."
...Reporters at Government House just let PM Surayud Chulanont off the hook too easily. They should have squeezed a full confession from the premier. This must be the first time that the "reluctant, gentleman prime minister" even remotely suggested that he wasn't such a good man after all...

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