Abhisit's 'stupid woman' remark upsets cousin

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

THAILAND - Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has upset his cousin in the government by talking about a "stupid woman" during an address on Saturday to a large group of Democrat Party supporters.

But the Democrat leader yesterday denied allegations in some media that his remark was tantamount to looking down on women in general.

During his address at a school in Yan Nawa in Bangkok, Abhisit mentioned the Smart Lady reality-show contest - a project under the government's Thai Women Empowerment Fund. He joked that it was unlikely they would hold a contest for stupid women.

"The prime minister has often evaded [national] problems. I don't know what she did over the past week in the country. Just this morning, there was news that she did some project called Smart Lady," Abhisit said. "I wondered why they have to search for smart women and hold this contest for clever women. They said if there was a contest to find a stupid woman, nobody would be able to compete."

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra presided on Friday over the launch of the Smart Lady Thailand reality show, in which the final 12 contestants have to show leadership and teamwork skills.

The PM's secretary-general, Suranand Vejjajiva, who is Abhisit's cousin, has sent an e-mail to Thai media strongly criticising the opposition leader for his remark.

Suranand said the Democrat Party should consider what it did for women when it was in power. "They seem to be busy insulting or looking down on women," he said, adding that many countries now have women leaders.

He also urged opposition politicians to be careful about their choice of words. "It's because their words will be judged by people to determine who is clever or stupid."

Suranand is accompanying the PM on a European tour to Switzerland, Italy and Montenegro from September 8 to 15.