BANGKOK – In response to Monday’s deadly bomb attack in Bangkok’s Rajprasong district, the Thai prime minister ordered the immediate mass deployment of every concerned facial expressions at his disposal, including several which have never been used before.
Speaking on a televised national address, Prayut Chan-Ocha, who took power in last year’s coup, presented the appearance of deep and abiding concern as he spoke of the vicious attacks on innocent people.
On several occasions, his voice appeared to contain actual emotion, which has never been previously engaged during his administration.
Touching his fingers to his lips, the prime minister encouraged the people of Thailand to stand united in the face of terrorism, and promised that the nation would be “stronger than ever.” He then furrowed his brow, and stared off into the middle distance as of contemplating the cruel nature of life on this conflict-torn world.
In a follow up press conference, national Police Chief Somyot Poonpunmuan confirmed that the full use of Prayut’s face had been authorized by the prime minister himself, as proof of the government’s commitment. In addition to the televised speech, Prayut’s concerned facial expressions have been distributed throughout the state-controlled media in the form of images.
No other details of the ongoing case were revealed by the police chief.
The mass deployment of concerned facial expressions is expected to spearhead the government’s investigation into the attacks, which have yet to produce any arrests or theories on motive. However, with national media coverage of the prime minister’s thoughtful, engaged face expected to intensify over the next 72 hours, authorities are optimistic of a breakthrough.
“Although the Thai police and its special investigative branch ISOC have failed to solve any of the five previous bombs that exploded in Bangkok from 2005-2012, or for that matter any major incident involving advanced forensics, we are confident that this new strategy of showing the prime minister’s concern will yield better results,” said Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.
Global response to Thailand’s approach has been largely critical. According to security expert Gitesh Pandral in an interview on CNN, expressing concern alone has a very poor track record in fighting global terrorism.
“Solving these kinds of bomb attacks requires expert forensic work by an independent, highly trained group with proper equipment and no state interference,” he noted.
“Since no such organization exists in Thailand, they may wish to consider bringing in outside help.”
However, a spokesperson for the junta denied the need for foreign assistance.
“An outsider won’t understand the Thai way of doing things,” explained Norachit Sinhaseni, the Foreign Ministry permanent secretary. “They might issue reports without first considering how those findings might affect national security or infringe on sacred institutions.”
However, Norachit assured reporters that the government was doing everything it could.
“Our prime minister is very, very concerned,” he said. “Just look at him.”
Despite foreign misunderstandings, already the new strategy appears to have improved the government’s credibility with Thais. Social media has been saturated with images of Prayut showing his concern, with overwhelmingly positive comments about how he is working hard to help the nation.
“Prayut is a true soldier for our nation and beloved monarchy,” said one Facebook poster by the name of 9HappynessCUTIE.
Another poster named S1aMPatriot also expressed faith in the government’s facial-expression-based approach to solving crime. “As long as we have pure hearts like our priem minster (sic) the force of karma is on our side,” he said.
“Everything is going to be fine. I can see it in his eyes.”
Skepticism of Prayut’s approach also came from domestic sources. Longtime Thai social critic Sulak Sivaraska commented that while using expressions of concern in lieu of actual practical action was absurd, it was also in line with many aspects of Thai culture.
“When they tell you that face is all that matters in Thai society, now you know why.” he said.
“At the highest levels, they have nothing else.”