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Thais To Leaders: ‘You Make Us Hurl!’

Mon., Dec. 22, 1997

Thais grappling with economic crisis had a chance to trash past and present leaders Sunday literally.

For about 20 cents each, hundreds of people hurled balls at a target to dunk a cardboard cutout of their least favorite of Thailand’s past five prime ministers into rice-filled garbage cans.

The venue was fitting: Bangkok’s Market of the Former Rich, a weekend flea market where big spenders down on their luck raise cash by selling the trappings of bygone wealth - Rolex watches, Mercedes-Benz sedans, private planes.

Amusing the thousands of market-goers is important to organizer Wasun Panon. So he set up the dunking stand.

“When they really don’t like someone, they throw the ball really hard and get out a lot of bad feeling,” Wasun said. “They can go home feeling happier.”

According to Wasun’s tally, the prime minister most likely to be dunked was Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who resigned in November after less than a year in office.

No. 2 on dunkers’ lists was Chatichai Choonhavan. He was toppled as prime minister in 1991 in a coup by military officers who accused him of massive corruption.

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