Watchchiranon Thongthep, reporter, on BBC News Thai (March 1, 2020)
On February 22, the Student Union of Thailand organized a brief rally at Thammasat University to protest the Constitutional Court’s decision to dissolve the Future Forward Party (FFP), or Phak Anakhot Mai. FFP’s legislators had been stripped of their status and its executive committee members banned from politics for ten years. Thai social media has since been abuzz.
Thai-Swedish model Maria Poonlertlap said she was proud of Thai students for protesting but admitted to being concerned about tweeting this and thought carefully before doing so. “As we are among the influencers, we should ask what an influencer's role is if we do not share our opinions or values with our followers or those who look up to us. I feel that it's time to say something,” she said, emphasizing that expressing opinions is natural in a democratic society.
In the past, celebrities putting forward their views have attracted strong criticism from the public, negatively affecting the actors or singers concerned. Many such public figures have had to apologize or refrain from making comments.
In an interview, Sunny Suwanmethanon, a Thai actor of French-Singaporean extraction, questioned the organizers behind the protest. "If anyone is to blame, it must be those who incited it because nobody thinks anyone is wrong, yet they were encouraged by others to do this, which they didn't think was wrong. Where will it end?”
Thai-American TV host Winyu Wongsurawat, known as John Winyu, posted on Twitter afterwards: "I don’t want to offend anyone, but has any student been incited to come out?" Since then, Sunny has faced a backlash, with the hashtag “#Sunny is sweet?” trending and a public campaign calling on people to stop following the actor's Instagram account.