Thailand’s finance minister appears on soap opera

By Newley Purnell

Thailand’s finance minister, Korn Chatikavanij, appeared on a Thai soap opera Tuesday night to deliver a message about the government’s efforts to help citizens pay off debts to loan sharks.

AP has the story:

“Vanida” is a sappy drama set in World War II Thailand that revolves around a love triangle between a colonel, his aristocratic fiancee and the daughter of a merchant. Debt is central to the story line, in which the colonel’s money problems get him into all kinds of trouble.

Korn has cited the show on his Facebook page to explain illegal debt collection practices, and the Finance Ministry collaborated with the show’s producers for a three-minute short that followed the main show Tuesday night.

It begins with the three main characters talking about someone who owes money and the colonel says, “Nowadays the government is helping with debt.”

Cue Korn, who enters in gray trousers, a white shirt, striped tie and suspenders.

“The Abhisit Vejjajiva government has already helped about 500,000 people tackle illegal debts,” he says heroically, as the show’s two starlets smile and bat their eyes. “For those who have registered but have yet to receive help, you can call our hot line at 1689.”

Here’s the clip. Korn appears at about the 1:35 mark:

Korn is no stranger to the media — and he is particularly adept at social media. His Facebook page has been “liked” by more than 130,000 people. And he has nearly 55,000 followers on Twitter.

(Emphasis mine.)

(Via @thaitvnews)

UPDATE: Bangkok Pundit, in a tweet just now, says: “Cheesy but effective.”

Newley Purnell is a journalist in Bangkok. You can follow him on Twitter at @newley.