White elephant and Moose

Thai folks just love to import stuff! Imports are hi-so, they are cool. You can eat import food, you can dress to the latest import fashion using imported clothes. You can watch the 10m-Bt imported Chinese pandas chewing bamboo in Chiang Mai Zoo. Then you can drive away in your imported American gas-guzzler, or your imported Japanese shiny “jewel-box-on-wheels”. Of course, when you are back home to tell your folks about the adventure, don’t forget to use fancy imported words from Steve’s collection to complete the picture. 😉

But Thailand doesn’t stop here. Now they decided that their ‘home-made’ currency is just too… provincial. So now the image of His Majesty is pressed on the new 2Bt-coins in Canada. Yep, that’s right, folks. The white elephant teamed up with the moose.

I don’t know how you feel about this, but it’s strange to say the least. Isn’t the currency of a country considered to be a national symbol? Thailand is very defensive on any perceived offense on its national/religious identity – let alone anything that involves the image of the king!

The decision doesn’t make sense from an economical point of view either. Thailand surely has its own mint, manned with Thai workers. Yet, they chose to pay more than ten million dollars to Canadians to produce these coins overseas. That’s 400+ million Baht loss for Thai workers – not exactly pocket change (pun intended).

The bird flu and the tsunami still weigh heavily on the Thai economy; it needs all the captial influx it can get. I don’t think this is the best time for classy show-offs such as importing currency.

Regrettably, I wasn’t able to find an image of the new Thai 2Baht coin. Since they went to great lenghts and spent the taxpayers money lavishly, the coins must surely feature their overseas origin! I am still very curious about what do we get when we cross the white elephant with the Canadian moose. Time will tell.

Do you think that pressing the King’s face on coins in FarangLand is borderline lese majeste? So would I, if I were Thai. Bear in mind however, that the decision was made by Thai politicians/businessmen, and they didn’t see anything wrong with it. I still wonder though: how do traditionally patriotic Thais of the street reconciliate with the fact that their revered King’s image is created and pressed in a foreign land?

For those who don’t know, I should mention that any object featuring the king’s image must be handled with the outmost respect and caution. You can’t use an old newspaper page if the photgraph of the king is on it. You can’t stop a rolling coin by stepping on it – you’d step on the king’s image! You can’t put your bottle on a banknote either.

Also a bit of background on the 2Baht coin. You don’t see on the streets nowadays. It was made for special occasions such as the birthday of the Crown Prince; the birthday of the Queen Mother and HM the King’s 64th birthday. Other notable figures who were worthy of the honor are the father of Rama IX, and Rama VII.

With all respect to Canadians: the moose just doesn’t belong into this company… IMO.

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