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Cooking show could doom Thailand’s prime minister

Import Food Every politician is haunted by his or her past at one time or another, but perhaps none so strangely as the embattled prime minister of Thailand. After facing several weeks of sit-in protests in Bangkok over allegations of corruption, Samak Sundaravej is being brought closer than ever to the ring of fire. Quite ...

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Import Food

Every politician is haunted by his or her past at one time or another, but perhaps none so strangely as the embattled prime minister of Thailand. After facing several weeks of sit-in protests in Bangkok over allegations of corruption, Samak Sundaravej is being brought closer than ever to the ring of fire.

Quite literally, it turns out. Samak is a nationally famous chef, renowned among his culinary colleagues the world over. In Thailand, he is best known for his cooking show, Tasting and Complaining, and his nine-editions-printed cookbook, not for politics.

Import Food

Every politician is haunted by his or her past at one time or another, but perhaps none so strangely as the embattled prime minister of Thailand. After facing several weeks of sit-in protests in Bangkok over allegations of corruption, Samak Sundaravej is being brought closer than ever to the ring of fire.

Quite literally, it turns out. Samak is a nationally famous chef, renowned among his culinary colleagues the world over. In Thailand, he is best known for his cooking show, Tasting and Complaining, and his nine-editions-printed cookbook, not for politics.

As the show’s name implies, Samak roasted more than just spicy fish on the air. He also used the opportunity to vent steam on political issues of his choice. Picture Bobby Flay ripping the Bush administration on Iron Chef between platings, and you get the idea.

The trouble is, Thailand’s constitution prohibits members of the cabinet from working for private companies while in office. Samak cut back on the show after assuming power just over half a year ago, but he has made several appearances since then. Now, Samak is in court defending himself against the gravest allegation of all: cooking while in office. One thing they won’t be able to convict him for? Bad taste: his salmon recipes look delicious.

Elizabeth Dickinson is a Gulf-based member of the journalism collective Deca.

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