CHIANG RAI — Instead of enjoying his family dinner at a mall, Peerapong Amornpich couldn’t contain his rage at a pickup truck squatting a handicap parking space – and smashed the able-bodied owners’ window.
Police on Monday said Peerapong, 46, was released without charges on Saturday night after he agreed to pay a compensation of 10,000 baht to the car’s owner for a damaged window. His vigilante act also went viral over the weekend, thanks to sympathetic netizens and praises from disabled rights activists.
“I tolerated many social wrongdoings in the past,” Peerapong said to reporters. “But this time, I wanted to teach people how to be more responsible to society. I just want to see our society to become more liveable, not that I want to get attention or waste my money.”
The video he posted after the attack won the hearts of many netizens who condemned the couple’s parking habits, though some said he had overreacted.
In his post, he wrote that he was at a Big C Chiang Rai Airport superstore when he saw an apparently able-bodied couple stepped out of their pickup truck parked on a marking parking space reserved for disabled persons.
Unable to immediately chase them as he was carrying his child, Peerapong said he then went to the information counter and asked the mall to make a public announcement calling the car owner to move the car.
But after a family dinner at a sukiyaki restaurant inside the mall, he went back to the information counter and found out that there was still no response from the car’s owner. It was at that moment when he made an ultimatum over the mall’s speakerphone that he would smash the car within the next 10 minutes if the owner failed to move the car, he said.
Peerapong said he waited for more than 10 minutes before he decided to smash one of the car’s windows.
“I did it. I could not let this happen,” he said in a live video recorded shortly after the couple returned to their car. “I’m ready to pay for the damage, but I could not just let this happen to Thai society while I did nothing to stop it.”
The driver said he didn’t know he parked over a reserved spot. He apologized, but he asked Peerapong why he couldn’t have settled the problem by talking.
Peerapong said he already made several announcements, which the driver said he didn’t hear.
They then went to a police station to settle the case. The driver initially claimed 70,000 baht for the damage and reparation, but the figure was eventually lowered to 10,000 baht.
Netizens largely sided with Peerapong when his video went viral over the weekend, calling him a “hero.”
“Kudos to this bro. Although it might be too harsh, but at least he ignited society’s conscience,” Facebook user Kompakorn Saksriphaijit commented. “There’s a lot of these careless, selfish folks out there.”
Others said Peerapong should not have used violence.
“I disagree with his actions,” user Khaopoht Sontaya ThiwthongNamchai wrote. “It shows that he used force instead of your brain to solve the problem.”
Disabled rights activist Accessibility Is Freedom praised Peerapong’s action, saying it’s a “wakeup call” for government agencies to pay more attention on priority parking rights.
“Although we don’t support any violence, but we are pushing full support for his agenda because the Thai society is heading towards an era of irresponsibility,” Manit Inpim wrote on his Facebook page.