Thai Twitter's loss as Kristie Kenney bids adieu

Thai Twitter's loss as Kristie Kenney bids adieu
US Ambassador Kristie Kenney has completed her four-year service in Thailand and will return to Washington next month.

THAILAND - As if further proof were needed that time flies, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney has completed her four-year service in Thailand and is packing her bags ready to return home next month.

Evidently they've got a nice, cushy desk job lined up for her at the State Department in Washington.

Kenney has been one of the more outstanding foreign diplomats in recent memory, not least because she's a minor star on the social media, gaining many admirers here and - all right - a few enemies too, though not due to anything personal, just that country she represents.

The ambassador announced her imminent departure in style - in Thai, in a video on her embassy's Facebook page. She goes through the formalities of thanking us for our hospitality and friendship, but with such unquestionable sincerity that the video swiftly drew 1,500 likes and 240 shares.

It must be said, though, that one of those doing the sharing was American writer Michael Yon, who's been among her harshest critics. He passed it on with the comment, "Thailand: Fantastic News! Ambassador Kristie Kenney is finally going home! Thank you for going home, Ambassador Kenney. Many people greatly appreciate this." The graceless sarcasm attracted plenty of hostile reactions in turn.

Fortunately for US-Thai relations, most of the viewers were diplomats at heart, filling the page with nice farewell messages. Some applauded Kenney's accessibility and said they'll miss her morning greetings on Twitter and the pictures she liked to share of official events. Kristie wasn't above surprising followers with birthday tweets and occasionally posted amusing videos of herself and the embassy staff celebrating Songkran or doing the "Harlem Shake" dance. In fact there were few popular topics that she didn't comment on.

Yon and other critics of the US government can cheer Kenney's departure, but what if her replacement turns out to be a truly "ugly American", totally devoid of her colourful personality? They might send us John McCain or something.

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