BANGKOK — A pro-government politician apologized on Wednesday to a prominent critic of the junta for accusing her of scheming to overthrow the monarchy.
Speaking at a joint news conference at the makeshift parliament building, Thai Civilized Party leader Mongkolkit Suksintharanont offered his contrition to Nuttaa “Bow” Mahattana for the allegation. The accusations had prompted Nuttaa, a pro-democracy activist, to file a libel suit against Mongkolkit.
Mongkolkit and Nuttaa together urged other politicians and the public to learn from their case by uniting against “fake news” and false accusations.
“Today we are here to campaign for a stop to political attacks based on fake news and smears,” first-time MP Mongkolkit said. “We desire to see a joint effort to clean up politics, whether in political or civil sectors. Together we symbolize the two sectors.”
In a video published in late 2018, Mongkolkit, whose party was among the faction that supported Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s second term in office, accused Nuttaa of acting with the backing of foreign agents to overthrow the Royal Family.
Allegations of disloyalty to the monarchy – a serious taboo in Thailand – are commonly employed by supporters of the junta against critics. Nuttaa, who routinely organized protests against the military government, denied the accusations.
Speaking at today’s news conference, Nuttaa said she accepted the apology and will formally withdraw the lawsuit against Mongkolkit next week.
The activist said she filed the lawsuit not to clear her name but to raise awareness of the serious impacts of fake news and bogus political attacks.
“I want the media and the public to see the importance of constructive communication,” Nuttaa said.
She also lashed out at those behind a leaked video of her in a sexual encounter with Pheu Thai MP Watana Muangsook. Nuttaa said she believes she was a victim of an “information operation” engineered by her opponents to discredit her.
In June, a criminal court dismissed a libel suit that Nuttaa filed against a pro-junta newspaper columnist for calling her “scum,” among other derogatory terms. The court said the slurs were an expression of personal opinions.