(2 August) The photo of
the opposition leader visiting the resort island in Gulf of Thailand to inspect the crisis of oil
spill on the island′s beaches was seized by his critics as example of his eliteness.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the Democrat Party and former Prime Minister of Thailand, was
visiting Koh Samet with some of his associates this morning. The group landed on Ao Phrao Bay which
was the scene of the most severe oil spill that reached the island, forcing many tourists to cancel
their trips and causing environmental damage in the popular island.
The oil was leaked from
underwater pipeline operated by PTT Chemical Group, a subsidiary of the state-run petroleum giant
During his visit there, Mr. Abhisit criticised the
government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for being too slow in their response to the crisis,
and suggested that the government must work harder to convince the locals and tourists that the
incident was being handled appropriately.
public seemed to be distracted from what he spoke at the island to the photo of the moment Mr.
Abhisit and his team reached the shore of Ao Phrao Bay.
The photo showed Mr.
Abhisit standing – looking
impeccably dressed with his shirt unblemished – with his companions on a carriage pier being
moved toward the shore with a number of staff. His critics of the social network forwarded the
photo, saying it is yet another proof of Mr. Abhisit′s elite aloofness and his unwillingness to get
his hands dirty.
The Eton-educated former leader was also accused by some on social network
of visiting Koh Samet only for photo-op and PR stunt.
The comedy Facebook page “Somrak
Pak Puen Geng” (Somrak for Gay People Party) posted the picture with a caption saying that Mr.
Abhisit and his fellows were having “good time” at the beach, while other people carrying the pier
were wondering why wouldn?t Abhisit and his friends just stay home and follow the news on
Later, the Facebook page of Blue Sky Channel, the TV channel allied to the Democrat
Party, clarified about the photo, saying that the landing pier is a normal way tourists disembark on
Ao Phrao. According to the statement, usually the pier is driven by a truck but as the vehicles were
unavailable today the staff at the beach had to draw the pier by hands.
The channel said the
Redshirts were trying to twist reality to smear Mr. Abhisit. It also accused Ms. Yingluck of
spending a marvellous time abroad, walking on the red carpet rather than caring about the oil
spill crisis in Gulf of Thailand, referring to Ms. Yingluck′s trip to some African nations at the
Meanwhile, PTT Plc announced an official apology statement, adding that they are they
are actively proceeding with the clean-up process which is 90% complete and expected to last at
least for another 2-3 weeks.
The company also launched a live broadcast on its website
showing the operation in Ao Phrao.
Local authorities are calling for related organisations
and the government to regain more trust from tourists and seafood consumers in order to revive the
businesses, the main income sources for the popular resort island.