Many Celebs are Silent, But Some Speak Out Over Missing Activist

Left: Hugo Chakrabongse. Photo: Kittee Ouanaramwilai. Right: Maria Poonlertlarp Ehren

BANGKOK — Several celebrities, including a former Miss Universe Thailand, joined a social media campaign Monday demanding answers over the alleged abduction of an exiled activist in Cambodia.

While the majority of Thai celebs – who readily supported causes overseas just days ago – remain silent over the disappearance, Miss Universe Thailand 2017 Maria Poonlertlarp Ehren posed frank questions in her Instagram story about the fate of activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit.

“I may or may not stand with him, I don’t know enough to say, but I am standing together with Thai people demanding that what is happening is wrong and we want answers,” Maria wrote.

Read: Police Chief Faces Inquiry Over Dissident’s Kidnapping


Maria also wrote about three anti-monarchist Thais who were found dead in the Mekong River in January 2019. 

“What’s scary is that many exiled Thai’s have been “disappearing” and later found dead stuffed with concrete under water… what kind of place are we living in when we cannot simply voice our opinion?” she wrote. “Fear is exactly what is wanted and it’s how we Thai’s have been ruled with since I can remember. I’m tired of living in fear. Aren’t you?” 

Maria said that she was “nervous yet excited that people in my country are becoming more vocal. Time for change is near.” 

Singer Hugo Chakrabongse also posted on social media calling for clarity over the incident.

Another perceived to be the anomaly is 23-year-old Sumitra Duangkaew, or Faii, of girl group BNK48. Her Facebook status was taken by many netizens as a message of support for Wanchalearm.


“No one deserves to die just because they have different opinions,” she posted in English on Saturday, receiving more than 14,000 likes and 3,400 shares.

“Thank you, Faii for doing this. Seeing someone who appreciates the value of a human life and uses their fame for good in supporting it makes my heart full,” wrote user Nipat Kaewnoj. 

The largely conservative bevy of Thai celebrities has not responded to Wanchalearm’s disappearance with the same enthusiasm as their participation in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Even Praya “Pu” Lundberg, the UNHCR Goodwill ambassador of Thailand, refused to comment on the matter, saying it was too “political.”