His culinary television programme must be, to a political news junkie, quite a bore. As the title suggests, Samak mumbles and grumbles while offering his menus on the tube. I have never been sure that he really knows much about cooking. But his gift of the gab provides entertainment for admirers and perhaps disgust among his opponents.
I have overheard food connoisseurs casting doubt, half in jest perhaps, that he might just be in possession of a "crocodile's tongue". This means, in Thai, someone who can't distinguish one taste from another. Among culinary experts, that's almost equivalent to rubbing salt into a wound.
But then, as long as his chef's show is confined to the entertainment category, kicking up a controversy over that would simply have been a flash in the pan ... until last Sunday when Samak himself started adding spices and chillies to the soup. Is it constitutionally wrong for an incumbent prime minister to host a cooking show on television? I assumed that most people, like me, would have found it uncivilised and even pedantic to find fault with the prime minister over such an innocent and non-political indulgence. But then, Samak's other more visible indulgence - political vendetta - has drawn an equal degree of critical political vigilance from civil society.
I wouldn't have taken much notice had the prime minister not declared in his Sunday television programme that he could be forced to lose his premiership - "like a fish dying in shallow water" - if he was found to have hosted the cooking programme as an "employee" of a private enterprise. That, he admitted, is against the regulations that no Cabinet member, in order to avoid "conflict of interest", can be employed by a private business.
"But I am not an employee of that firm. I have merely been contracted to do the programme," he declared. You could sense that Samak knew he was in hot water if he started to play with words, using his familiar "hair-splitting" counter-attack strategy which has helped rescue him from many a precarious political blunder.
That was when I started to see the real crisis the premier has got himself into.
He knew he was treading on dangerous ground.
"When I became premier, I consulted my lawyer about whether it would be wrong for me to continue my cooking programme on television. He told me that as long as I was contracted to do it - and not categorised as an employee - that would be fine".
He knew that there was a thin line between what was strictly legally correct and what could be ethically wrong. But he went ahead anyway, ignoring the possible negative perception the public could have of him. He chose to argue that he was taping the programme on the weekend, therefore he wasn't "moonlighting". Of course, he was no political novice. He also knew that his critics would ask him why he was spending his time on a personal hobby instead of visiting strife-torn and poverty-stricken villagers as any premier would be expected to do over weekends.
Was Samak really confident that he was doing the right thing? Obviously not. He suspended the two TV programmes last week in the wake of a looming political storm that, depending on a verdict from the National Election Commission, could make or break his premiership.
Samak knew he was walking a tightrope. Article 267 of the Constitution prohibits Cabinet members from being involved in a "private business profit-making venture" could be his undoing.
He realised, of course, that, as he put it: "I have survived four threats to my post but I may yet be mortally wounded by this one. As the old saying goes: A fish could die (if it's not careful) in shallow water."
Samak's argument that he had only been "hired" to do the programme - and not serving illegally as an "employee" of the private television production company - doesn't really make much difference in the eye of the public.
The counter-argument would inevitably come to the same conclusion: No matter how the National Election Commission interprets the "technicality" of the two roles, Samak, the private person, is stealing precious time and the attention of Samak, the prime minister.
No matter how hard Samak tries to make that distinction between a "contractor" and an "employee", the public still sees a clear conflict of interest.
No amount of hair-splitting could change the fact that for a prime minister, ethical considerations must take precedence over legal interpretation. Despite all the series of near misses with political mortality, Samak still doesn't get it.
This big fish from the deep ocean suddenly has yet to come to terms with the fact that he is in fact struggling desperately in a shallow cesspool.
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