Thailand's Junta

Thai food is great. Except maybe when it’s served at the national parliament canteen

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 7:30pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 10:48pm

Forget military coups and insurgent red shirts, Thailand’s political establishment is facing a new and potentially deadly threat – an infestation of rats and a frightening level of filth in the kitchen that serves the nation’s parliament.

Health officials in the Thai capital Bangkok have ordered a day-long clean-up of the canteen which gives daily sustenance to politicians, civil servants - and even the occasional top brass member of the ruling military junta.

As the city in which food is more than an integral part, for locals and tourists alike, is engaged - like Hong Kong - in a rancorous debate over the demise of traditional street food, the image of a fully-grown rat tucking into some ready-to-serve food in a canteen in Thailand’s parliament has sparked a national bout of culinary soul searching.

The Bangkok Post reported: “Rats have chewed their way through plywood walls to enter the food area…meanwhile, unruly piles of garbage and clogged drains full of stinking water as well as food scraps were found just outside the canteen,’’ a team of inspectors sent in to probe the situation in the wake of the rat picture surfacing.

The scale of the stench, filth and mess was so extensive that health officials said it would take a team of cleaners a full day to put right, the Bangkok Post reported.

The controversy – which was initially blamed on anti-junta protesters for blocking the access of garbage collecter - has prompted the Thai authorities to give the “people who handle food at the canteen’’ hygiene training.

Meanwhile, officials are facing criticism over an order to remove vendors off three of the Bangkok’s most popular street food sites in the heart of the city’s Sukhumvit area.

One commentator lamented: “The CNN news network has named Bangkok as the top city for street food in the world - twice in a row…less popular street food cities than Bangkok have excellent, attractive city areas for street food, City Hall should adapt, not dictate.’’