BANGKOK — Online debate is swirling Monday after celebrities were caught supporting an Instagram post about slapping a Future Forward Party spokeswoman.
Netizens noticed today that Thai-American singer Amita Marie “Tata” Young had commented in support of a post threatening to slap Pannika Wanich, possibly made in jest, by user @a_adisorn on June 13. @a_adisorn is allegedly the account of Adisorn Sopha, a travel and media businessman.
“#WaitingToSlapEChorAtTheArrivalGate,” read a now-deleted Instagram post by @a_adisorn. “Chor” is Pannika’s nickname while “E” is a derogatory prefix.
The aggressive hashtag likely referred to Pannika’s return to Thailand on June 13 from a trip to Yangon.
“This is a way to decisively win over my hatred against you #EChorNukPaenDin #EChorShortNeck #EChorHasMumps #IDon’tWantYourNewFuture,” the post continued.
Among several supportive comments under @a_adisorn’s post was one from Tata’s verified account, @tataamitayoung, reading “Please do me a favor!”
Another singer, Pol “Pete” Christensen or @petepol, also commented “#Mumps” with a laughing emoji.
Although @a_adisorn’s post was made on June 13, netizens unearthed the comments today in a new round of online debate, with the hashtags #TataYoung, #PetePol, and #WaitingToSlapEChorAtTheArrivalGate trending as of Monday.
“You can’t fight with your wit, so you have to resort to violence? I’m ashamed that your education and wealth has failed to increase your humanity,” @funny_yhong tweeted on Monday.
“Her concert is coming up in October. Let’s see the consequences of her recent political hatred,” read another tweet by @ywkrnt.
Some netizens complained that Tata’s comment went against an interview condemning bullying published in The Standard in 2018.
“I see bullying as an act in which the perpetrators should be ashamed of themselves,” Tata said in the interview. “These people might have problems on their minds, but since they can’t figure out how to deal with those problems, they have to gather themselves up as a group to feel they belong. It’s quite a pity that they have to use hostility to bring themselves up.”
The two celebrities defended themselves online late Monday, with Tata insisting she never took the threat of a slap seriously.
“I admit that I made such a comment on my close friend’s account without thinking of the consequences,” Tata wrote on her Instagram post. “I do not support the use of violence, but as a Thai citizen, I’m following politics…I apologize for what happened.”
Meanwhile, Pete said he made the comment about “mumps” in jest and reaffirmed that he is not salim, a derogatory term used to refer to supporters of the Yellow Shirts.
“I find what [@a_adisorn] posted to be funny but I do not intend to support harming anyone,” Pete wrote in an Instagram post. “I only posted an emoji with #mumps to laugh at [@a_adisorn’s] remark. I never intend to bully anyone. Please do not get me wrong and I have to apologize for the misunderstanding #IAmNotSalim.”
In contrast to the apologies though, @a_adisorn stood by the original post with a screen capture of a notification from Instagram advising the June 13 post had been deleted. An accompanying caption reads, “I didn’t delete it myself. Figure out the chronology of what happened and you’ll know why I have to slap her.”
Amid the social media debate, Phalang Pracharath MP Parina Kraikup and singer-actress Haruthai “Au” Muangboonsri – both long-standing detractors of Pannika – also came out in support of Tata and Pete.
“Love Tata Young, because Tata Young loves Thailand,” read a Facebook post by Parina.
“Preventing artists from expressing their political opinions? Democracy your ass! Do I have to be a politician to talk politics? Not necessarily!” said Haruthai on Facebook.
While Pannika herself has not given a statement on the slapping scandal, Future Forward Party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul touched on the posts in a Monday press conference.
“I urge everyone to give attention to things that really matter to our country,” Piyabutr said. “If we bring up small things like this, society will be distracted from the misdeeds of government and monopolized capital.”
In recent months, Pannika has become a prime target of attacks from pro-junta supporters. Earlier in June, online debate swirled over a 2010 graduation photo showing Pannika watching a classmate point at a photo of King Rama IX, with some accusing the photo of constituting lese majeste.