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The Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand threw a swank party last night for the kingdom's new premier, Abhisit Vejjajiva. Following custom, they welcomed him into a large ballroom, fed him and invited him onstage for an anything-goes Q&A session.
Abhisit — 44, Oxford-educated and well-spoken — performed well for the crowd of journalists, embassy folk and others who came to see his most-public grilling so far. He won't satisfy Thai voters looking for a spitfire politician like deposed ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who seemed to inspire love-him-or-hate-him reactions.
Abhisit comes off as pragmatic and soothing, something that may serve Thailand well in the wake of massive political unrest. He also didn't offer any surprises last night... until the end.
The last question went to an Associated Press reporter, who requested Abhisit's top five music picks for 2008.
"I look around the room," Abhisit said, "and a lot of you were born too early." Then, in his posh, British-accented lilt, he responded:
1. The latest from The Killers, an pop-indie outfit from Nevada.
2. The Last Shadow Puppets, a side project by U.K. rockers The Arctic Monkeys.
3. Comeback albums from Oasis, Metallica and Guns 'n' Roses.
There you have it.