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 ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
592765_080908_samak5.jpg
592765_080908_samak5.jpg

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 International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

More from Foreign Policy

A closeup of Russian President Vladimir Putin
A closeup of Russian President Vladimir Putin

What Russia’s Elites Think of Putin Now

The president successfully preserved the status quo for two decades. Suddenly, he’s turned into a destroyer.

A member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police is seen in front of an electoral poster of President Emmerson Mnangagwa
A member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police is seen in front of an electoral poster of President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Cafe Meeting Turns Into Tense Car Chase for U.S. Senate Aides in Zimbabwe

Leading lawmaker calls on Biden to address Zimbabwe’s “dire” authoritarian turn after the incident.

Steam rises from cooling towers at the Niederaussem coal-fired power plant during the coronavirus pandemic near Bergheim, Germany, on Feb. 11, 2021.
Steam rises from cooling towers at the Niederaussem coal-fired power plant during the coronavirus pandemic near Bergheim, Germany, on Feb. 11, 2021.

Putin’s Energy War Is Crushing Europe

The big question is whether it ends up undermining support for Ukraine.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres attends a press conference.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres attends a press conference.

A Crisis of Faith Shakes the United Nations in Its Big Week

From its failure to stop Russia’s war in Ukraine to its inaction on Myanmar and climate change, the institution is under fire from all sides.