BANGKOK — A celebrity TV host apologized on Sunday for suggesting on a Live video that divine powers would save the country from coronavirus infections.
Patcharasri “Kalamare” Benjamas came under fire after she said during her 76-minute video Friday on her Facebook page that Thailand is always spared from national crises thanks to supernatural entities. Many netizens criticized her remark as the number of confirmed infections continued to rise in the country.
“Thailand is super sacred, you know? We have many Bodhisattvas, his Majesty the King, and so many angels and spirits protecting us,” Kalamare, 43, said to her 1.1 million followers.
Writing on Sunday, Kalamare said snippets of her video were taken out of context. The TV personality said she was trying to encourage people not to panic.
“I was just sharing my personal experience in living my life. I wanted to give people hope during these times and find the silver lining. … I am sorry if I caused any misunderstanding,” she posted on Instagram.
In the video, Kalamare said Thailand had gone through numerous crises such as the 2011 floods, 1997 Tom Yum Kung crisis, and even violent protests in 2010.
“So, this isn’t the first time. Don’t panic. We went through all of that,” she said, shrugging.
But her mentions of divine beings were met with widespread backlash online.
“Viruses don’t abide by religion or sacred things. They don’t care about country borders or people’s ages,” user Alisa Nawarat Lichti commented.
“I’m a very devout Buddhist, but the things you are saying are just emotional support. In actual practice, we shouldn’t be just praying for blessings during the time of an outbreak,” user Mis’sis Zippo wrote.
Kalamare’s comment followed an announcement by the government to hold prayer ceremonies across the country in a bid to ward off the coronavirus.
After the plan was condemned by many on social media, government officials said the prayers will only involve a handful of monks in selected temples, and members of the public will not be attending.
Kalamare became a household name when she was the host of a Channel 3 talk show “Women to Women” from 2004 to 2014.
The portion that went viral starts from the 45:32 mark.