BANGKOK — A small town official came to the capital Monday to complain about selling a buffalo to a poor farmer whose friendship with the animal made them an internet sensation.
Accompanied by a gadfly ultra-conservative lawyer, an angry Boonlert Kanpakdee went to police in Bangkok’s Khan Na Yao today to complain that he hadn’t meant to sell Tongkum the buffalo and never expected Surat Phaeoket to actually come up with his 100,000 baht asking price.
With the help of donors smitten by their interspecies friendship, Surat on Thursday took possession of Tongkum after handing the money over to Boonlert, a subdistrict chief in Chai Nat province for whom he had been buffalo-sitting.
Boonlert today said he did not like that the purchase was crowdfunded.
“I berated him to his face. How could you act like a beggar? I look bad, as the mayor,” Boonlert said to the media Monday.
With him was Songkran Atchariyasap, a lawyer previously in the news for his outrage over displays of sexuality. He also is the head and sole member of the Network Against Acts that Destroy Kingdom, Religion and Monarchy.
“He solicited funds through people who believed him. I also donated money,” said Songkran, who himself had donated 100 baht. “Soliciting money from citizens is like tricking them. He tricked all the media as well.”
They alleged without evidence Surat’s told people the buffalo was already sold to someone else. Surat denies making such a claim and says a number of media accounts inaccurately embellished his story.
Days after the deal was done, Surat said Boonlert’s just trying to go back on his word.
“[Boonlert] told me he would sell him to me. He’s just changing his mind now,” Surat said by phone Monday. “I did everything correctly with the best intentions.”
As for Tongkum, he said they shall not be parted.
“I just want to be with him forever,” Surat said.
Boonlert said he had no plans to file a criminal complaint against Surat.
Maj. Yuttasilp Plasarn of Khan Na Yao police said they would look into whether any laws had been broken.