Thu, Oct 22, 2009 - Page 5 News List

British ambassador defends Thailand over envoy’s attack

AFP , BANGKOK

Britain’s ambassador to Thailand has defended the kingdom after revelations that a 1960s predecessor believed that Thais have no culture and are driven by sex.

“My own views differ from my predecessor of 42 years ago,” said Ambassador Quinton Quayle, who speaks Thai and has served in his current post for two years.

“Ever since I was first posted to Thailand 30 years ago, I have been impressed by the richness of Thai culture, be it art, sculpture, dance, music or literature,” Quayle said in a statement.

“All this is embellished by the natural beauty of the landscape and the charm and warmth of the Thai people,” he said.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Vimon Kidchob said the government would not react to the scathing comments of previous ambassador Sir Anthony Rumbold, which were revealed in a BBC radio program on Tuesday.

“This is only his personal opinion based on his own prejudices, not an official one,” Vimon said.

The BBC program revealed the assessment by Rumbold, who served in Bangkok from 1965 to 1967, delivered in a final dispatch to the foreign office in London before leaving his post.

“They have no literature, no painting and only a very odd kind of music; their sculpture, ceramics and dancing are borrowed from others, and their architecture is monotonous and interior decoration hideous,” Rumbold wrote.

“Nobody can deny that gambling and golf are the chief pleasures of the rich, and that licentiousness is the main pleasure of them all,” he wrote.

“The general level of intelligence of the Thais is rather low, a good deal lower than ours and much lower than that of the Chinese,” he wrote.

Until the foreign office ended the tradition in 2006, departing British ambassadors would give valedictory summaries of their host nation upon leaving the post. The missives were meant to stay confidential.

But the BBC used Freedom of Information legislation to obtain brutally frank dispatches from ambassadors for its radio series Parting Shots.

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