Readers who follow Thai politics closely will probably be aware that, in recent months, the Netherlands Ambassador to Thailand, Tjaco van den Hout, has made various public statements on the contentious issue of lese majeste. His diplomatic interventions are receiving regular coverage, and translation.
But I wonder whether a very different style of Dutch contribution will get as much Thai attention.
Recently I received word from an anonymous European reader of New Mandala that a Dutch tour operator, D-Reizen, has caused quite a stir with its new advertising campaign. In a nut-shell: the campaign uses the pictures of leaders on foreign currency to sell its exotic destinations. The story (now followed by over 100 Dutch language comments) was publicised by geenstijl.nl, which my European informant describes as “a popular blog in the Netherlands, much despised by the well educated elite. The language they use is a very colloquial, contemporary Dutch, and hard to translate”.
The D-Reizen campaign deals “with three countries that are popular with Dutch tourists, yet all three of them have harsh laws against insulting symbols of the country, ie the kings of Morocco and Thailand and the founder of Turkey”.
For those of us without strong Dutch, the anonymous European reader has helpfully translated the geenstijl.nl blog post. It explains:
D-Reizen Looking for a Fight with Ataturk
Funny, that new campaign by D-Reizen. Take a lot of holiday pictures of fat sex tourists and horny girls in bikinis, and then hold a banknote of some king or old ruler [translation note: they use very old fashioned spelling for the word “ruler”[ in front of it. Looks like this. Hilarious, right? A fun way to communicate that “nobody can touch me” feeling, hihi haha. Of course the ad-agency doesn’t know that these things might be a bit sensitive in these countries. Mr Purple Pants [translation note: they always refer to people who work in advertising as “purple pants”] tried to do something with history. And so a few weeks later you see posters everywhere for which they’d send you to jail without further ado, in several of these D-Reizen countries. We check a poster at a random bus stop and count: 1 rude insult of Atat├╝rk, 3 years free stay in a Turkish prison (fullboard). 1x humiliation of the Moroccan king, up to 5 years in jail in isolation but with shared showers. 2 x making king of Thailand take the piss: 15 years in a tiny Thai apartment without running water. So, D-Reizen, check the promotional materials of your tourguides before they leave, if you want them to come back at least.
Comments from New Mandala readers are, as ever, very welcome here.