BANGKOK — A feud over a black-and-white pantsuit escalated when a pro-junta MP accused a Future Forward MP of breaking the lese-majeste law.
Phalang Pracharath’s Parina Kraikup took to Facebook Sunday to informally accuse Pannika Wanich of insulting the monarchy over a 2010 graduation photo which shows her looking at a photo of King Rama IX while a classmate points at him.
“‘E Chor’ nuk paen din,” Parina wrote.
The saying, “nuk paen din,” roughly translated as “scum of the earth” or “burdens on the country,” was popularized by a 1975 anti-Communist song of the same name. It is associated with the massacre of Thammasat University students on October 6, 1975, when the song was played on army radio before and after police and paramilitary forces stormed the university, killing at least 46.
In February, army chief Apirat Kongsompong said that a Pheu Thai party PM candidate should listen to the song.
“I was so angry when I saw the photos that I cried…this is a clear violation of the 112 law…the officials must prosecute her,” Parina elaborated in a Sunday interview.
Pannika for her part defended herself online in a Sunday post, saying that Parina was sharing the photos out of context and “witch hunting”.
“At the time, it was the 2006 coup era. People were being attacked on- and offline for not being loyal to the monarchy…So as political science students we worriedly followed these events closely,” Pannika wrote. “After the coup, it was easy to land anyone in jail just by pointing at them and saying that they weren’t loyal. This hate mongering led us youths to talk about it ironically, to reflect on the tragedy affecting Thai society.”
Still, Pannika added that “I deeply apologize to any citizens who are uncomfortable with the photo. But I hope everyone understands that youths are now growing up with questions about using the monarchy as a political tool…my friends and I believe in the system of a democratic government with the king as the head of state.”
But in a Sunday interview, Parina said she didn’t buy her rival’s explanation.
“What does the 2006 coup have to do with that photo? It’s completely unrelated when she’s referring to the monarchy. It’s a bad answer,” Parina said. “And people who say the phrase, ‘using the monarchy as a political tool’ do not know their place.”
“That’s why I want to spread the hashtag #EChorNukPaenDin. Because she’s such a burden on the land,” Parina continued.
As usual, most comments disagreeing with Parina have been deleted from her Facebook page.
“Friends of MP Parina, please be informed that people attacking me vilely are all hired by the Future Forward party. Please ignore those kids,” Parina wrote Sunday.
Parina’s photos were first shared Saturday by Juk Panchupet, a member of the conservative Action Coalition for Thailand Party and a professor from Naresuan University.
“Because I love the King so much, this hurts me and cuts me deeper than I can say. A picture says a thousand words. The past shows your true self,” Juk wrote.
The events have prompted ultranationalist and right-wing groups to dig up other photos from Pannika’s past. A post from the page Cheer Lung, shared by Parina, features the hashtag #FatherAndDaughterNukPaenDin under a photo of young Pannika wearing a red shirt.
Such posts are drawing angry comments from ultra royalists and right-wingers who see them as evidence that Pannika is anti-monarchy.
“Disgusting jek clan,” Tipalak Duangpetch wrote, using a derogatory term for ethnic Chinese. “You borrowed our country to live on, and you’re still traitorous to it.”
“From what I’ve heard and read, everyone in the Future Forward party is evil and a danger to the country, religion and monarchy,” wrote Wichuda Kongnakorn. “I’m so worried that young people won’t be able to see through their smoke and mirrors.”
But on liberal Twitter, the top-trending hashtags on Monday #EChorNukPaenDin and #SavePannika were filled with messages of support for the Future Forward MP. Many users pointed out that Pannika wrote tribute posts after King Rama IX’s death and funeral.
— ชีวิตดีแล้ว (@nongnanajaa) June 9, 2019
Since becoming MP, Pannika has become a primary target of attacks from the pro-junta coalition. In a live video in late May, Parina coined the name “E Chor” for Pannika, with “Chor” being Pannika’s nickname and “E” a derogatory prefix. Parina has vacillated between attacking Pannika and claiming that “E Chor” is Ratchaburi slang, though this has been soundly denied by locals.
Last Wednesday, pro-junta Senator Porntip Rojanasunand criticized Pannika for wearing a black-and-white ombre pantsuit to a parliamentary session, rather than all black to mourn former PM and chief royal adviser Prem Tinsulanonda who died on May 26. A day later, Parina piled on.
Note: An image was removed from this article for legal concerns.