BANGKOK — Netizens on Monday are heaping criticism on a reporter affiliated with the armed forces after she published articles filled with racial slurs and ultranationalist claims on her Facebook.
Among those criticizing the two articles published by Wassana Nanuam, a self-styled “military reporter” for Bangkok Post, are a minority rights NGO and an opposition MP who accused Wassana of lending her platform to Thai supremacist rhetoric.
The articles, which Wassana said was penned by an unnamed “Air Force general,” lashed out at Future Forward Party chairman Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s pledge to guarantee land rights and legal protection for members of the Hmong ethnic group.
The first post, published on Dec. 28, urged Thanathorn to “take the Hmongs back to their homeland so they would no longer be a burden to Thai people.”
It also said, “Hmongs are still lacking intelligence (although some of them may be brilliant) because they are lacking a good education. They can only become Thai when they fully transform their traditions, beliefs, and arts to match with those of Thai people.”
The same author escalated his language and went on to argue in the second article, posted by Wassana on Sunday, that Thais should take care of their own people before they render aid to “billions of Hmongs, Rohingyas, white khaek, Arabs, Muslims, Negroes.”
The article also accused Muslims in the southern region “who had never taken part in building for fighting for Thai nation throughout the Thai history” of “taking over” the country and multiplying their numbers.
“Soon, they would be able to impose their old laws from their desert land, [instead of] Thai laws and regulations that fit Thai customs,” the anonymous general wrote.
“We, Thai people, are not prejudiced against ethnic minorities,” wrote the general, who goes by the pseudonym Air Tiger 24/7, “We welcome them to join our nation, but I have to ask the Thai people: Are we going to let those who haven’t brought any benefits to our country exploit our resources?”
Response to the writings was mostly critical. Future Forward MP Manop Kiriphuwadol – who is a Karen himself – said the author seems to be spreading a jingoistic message that ethnic minorities are not Thais despite their residence here.
“The country is formed by the people of different backgrounds,” Manop said. “Many have inhibited the land even before Thailand became a nation-state.”
Surapong Kongchantuk, chairman of ethnic minority rights group Cross Cultural Foundation, said Hmong people and the issue of ethnicity should not have been drawn into a political feud. He also warned that the articles published by Wassana may incite troubles.
“The articles are trying to stir hatred between ethnic groups, and it’s an effort of a government official and media to induce disorder in our society,” Surapong said.
Neither Wassana nor her employer, the Bangkok Post, has issued any response to the criticism.
Many netizens also questioned whether it was appropriate for Wassana to serve as a mouthpiece to the regressive voices from the military.
“Why does Khun Wassana have to publish such a controversial article,” user Vinai Poncharoen commented. “You said that it’s a national security viewpoint, but why does it have to be such an outdated and discriminating idea?”