Celeb Under Fire After Saying Student Protesters are ‘Manipulated’

Photos: Sunny_Suwanmethanont / Instagram

BANGKOK — Netizens on Friday are calling for a boycott on one of Thailand’s foremost actors after he suggested students were “manipulated” to join the ongoing wave of anti-government protests.

Sunny Suwanmethanont’s comment was met with the hashtag #SoSunnyIsASalim trending to the top on Friday; salim is a derogatory term that refers to supporters of the establishment. Another celeb was also forced to apologize after someone discovered a comment he made in support of a pro-military protest movement back in 2014. 

“People have different opinions … If we want to blame someone, it should be the person who is manipulating them,” Sunny said on Thursday when reporters asked him if he feared for the students’ safety. “With these issues, no one thinks they’re wrong anyway.”

Many criticized him for seemingly suggesting that the students didn’t come out to protest on their own volition.

“Having different opinions is fine, but looking down on others’ mental capacity, saying that we are being brainwashed, is not,” @Sii_amm wrote in a tweet.

“Stars are living it large anyway, pulling in hundreds of thousands per job. You never struggle and have no need for justice or democracy, unlike us starving grassroots people,” @Guggigkiii tweeted.

Protests took in dozens of educational institutions nationwide since a court disbanded the popular Future Forward Party on Feb. 21 – a phenomenon that much of the young-oriented celebrity culture largely refused to mention in their social media platforms.

Miss Universe Thailand 2017 Maria Poonlertlarp was an exception. The pageant winner tweeted Friday “Proud of Thai students,” which was retweeted almost 60,000 times in two hours.

Some netizens were also angered by silence from much of the celebrity circle, who had no qualms expressing their support for the street protests back in 2014. The movement eventually resulted in the military coup that brought PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to power.

Among the years-old tweets ‘dug up’ by netizens was a post in which Sunny the actor declared he would not go vote in the 2014 snap election because “it’s a waste of time. Farting into the fan is more productive.”

Actor Pachara “Peach” Chirathivat also came under fire after opponents of the government discovered a series of tweets he sent in support of the anti-election protests back in 2014.

In response to criticism, Peach tweeted Tuesday that he “did not agree with” the dissolution of Future Forward, but said he too uninformed to take a stance. He also apologized for tweeting divisive contents in the past.

“I believe in a democratic system, but I’m not picking any sides because I don’t have enough knowledge. So no comment. But I’m sorry if my thoughts have caused division,” he tweeted.