‘Buffalo’ Suttipong’s trash-talk tarnishes Phuket’s reputation

The trash-talk of Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Suttipong Juljarern tarnishes Phuket’s reputation, according to the president of the Phuket Lawyers Association.

As the highest-ranking civil servant at the Interior Ministry, Suttipong can’t seem to keep his foot out of his mouth or his name out of the headlines.

The latest of the senior servant’s woes comes as people in Phuket prepare to rally today to protest over insults to the province’s garbage disposal system. Suttipong is opposed to Phuket’s bid to host the “Specialized Expo 2028″ because, he says, the province has destroyed its own environment while failing to take climate-change action.

Suttipong's trash-talk tarnishes Phuket's reputation
Suttipong makes no bones about it: Phuket is not qualified to host the “Specialised Expo 2028,” because it has failed to protect its own environment and take climate-change action.

Expos are global events in response to a specific challenge facing humanity. Specialised expos attract millions of visitors and offer an immersive journey through the theme.

At the annual meeting of the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris last month, Team Thailand delivered its second presentation on its mission to win the Specialised Expo 2028. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the meeting that the Expo would be an international platform for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Chaiyot Punyawai, president of the Phuket Lawyers Association said Suttipong’s trash-talk tarnishes Phuket’s reputation. Phuket is highly ranked by Anti-Corruption Commission for its transparency and good governance and generates over 400 billion baht (US$12 billion) in tourist revenue.

Chaiyot’s Facebook rant went on to demand that Suttipong treat the people of Phuket with more respect and called on everyone in Phuket – local officials, NGOs and the public – to join forces behind the expo.

The interior permanent secretary was already in trouble for events at a meeting of executives on December 27. Suttipong received widespread criticism for insulting and humiliating an official in the presence of several others. The meeting was live-streamed via Zoom.

Suttipong's trash-talk tarnishes Phuket's reputation
Students at Chulalongkorn University have demanded Suttipong resign as president of the alumni association.

Following the meeting, students of political science at Chulalongkorn University demanded Suttipong resign as president of the alumni association for his treatment of the official.

In an open letter to Suttipong dated December 30, the student association said it was very concerned over the attitude of Suttipong to junior officials under his command, which they described as discriminatory and dehumanising. During the meeting, Suttipong called the junior official “stupid” and “as dumb as a buffalo.”

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.