BANGKOK — Breaking the shrill cry of activist leaders’ shouting through the mic from a truck was the smooth voice of a young singer, checking in with pro-democracy protesters to their cheers.
“We won’t play the dictators’ game, right? Our activist leaders are fighting for us so much. Although I don’t have the ability to lead, I will do what I can,” said Phachara “Fluke” Thammon. “We’re almost done moving all of the plants! Let’s give a round of applause to ourselves!”
Phachara, better known as “Fluke the Star” for making his singing debut on “The Star” singing contest, is one of the few celebrities lending their voice to the pro-democracy protest taking place today. Members of a popular idol girl group also broke the tradition of staying silent on political matters and showed their solidarity with the protesters online.
Fluke was riding on the same truck as activist leaders Arnon Nampha, Parit Chiwarak, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, his mellow voice breaking the monotony of sharp voices.
In a move that surprised many fans, key members of the BNK48 girl band also wrote their support for the movement, which is calling for the government’s resignation as well as reforms of the monarchy.
“When we stand up for the citizens, we can’t back down. Once you stand for people, you stand for them forever,” Sumitra “Faii” Duangkaew, 24, wrote. “We’re just ordinary citizens without weapons, only our voices. We are just demanding what we should get.”
“Is it too hard to ask for you to have some humanity?” Faii, a Thammasat University graduate, posted Tuesday night after 20 activists were arrested on Ratchadamnoen Avenue.
“There’s so many things that we shouldn’t be afraid of, but we were taught to. Actually, the power is in our hands,” Jennis Oprasert, 20, said. “We’ve been taught to feel that politics is something far-off to us.”
Another band member, 17-year-old Rinrada “Piam” Inthaisong wrote a series of critical comments following the arrests of 20 campaigners on Tuesday evening.
“We pay taxes every month, why aren’t the roads ours?,” “Why can’t we express our opinions? Why can’t you listen? What are citizens to you? I’m confused, don’t we have red blood in our veins too?” and “Do you have golden blood or something? I don’t think so” were just some of Piam’s comments that were widely shared.
Almost simultaneously, Kamonthida “View” Rotthawinithi, 16, wrote, “Do you even have any humanity in your brain?”
“May the sovereign citizens be safe,” Milin “Namneung” Dokthian, 23, wrote. “We wouldn’t have to ask for safety if we had real democracy. But all these sad events are happening, whether the use of violence against citizens, inequality in serving one side, and hurting those who think differently as if they were inhuman.”
Namnueng’s post was soon shared by fellow bandmembers Patchanan “Orn” Jiajirachote, 23, Jennis, Jiradapa “Pupe” Intajak, 22, Punsikorn “Pun” Tiyakorn, 19, Kanteera “Noey” Wadcharathadsanakul, 23, Kunjiranut “Jane” Intarasin, 20, and Isarapa “Tarwaan” Thawatpakdee, 23.
Their remarks did not only break away from the custom of staying “politically neutral” that seems to dominate the Thai celebrity industry, but also appeared to violate the band contract, which prevents them “expressing any opinion about politics, government, rule of the country, political parties, political party leaders, politicians, and government officials, except if the label approves for work with the government.
In 2018, BNK48 came under fire from some pro-democracy activists after its members paid a visit to Government House to promote the government’s radio shows. Band captain Cherprang Areekul also appeared on a state TV program touting the regime’s success in rural education.
Directors of the girl group later said they were complying with the government’s request, and insisted their participation did not indicate any political stance.
Despite her prominent role in the band, Cherprang remains absent from the calls of solidarity with the pro-democracy protest made today by other group members.