BANGKOK — The faceoff between an ultraroyalist and a pro-democracy activist was initially billed as a debate, but it soon devolved into a one-sided screaming match.
Harutai “Ou” Muangboonsri sparred with Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattarasaksa in the talk show “Straight Talking with Jomquan” aired Wednesday on Thairath TV.
Harutai spent much of the hour-long “debate” shouting various conspiracy theories and questionable claims at Jatupat, including the allegations that the United States and “Jews” were behind the recent protests in Thailand.
“Thailand has been peaceful for years. You’re the one sowing hatred among children and riling them up,” Harutai yelled at maximum volume to Jatupat. “Prepare to be slaves to imperialism and great powers’ interference!”
“All you do is attack the monarchy on the streets,” she said in another moment. “All my feelings are filled with this nonsense. I’ve been so angry for so long.”
“We can just talk normally without yelling like normal people,” Jatupat, clearly exasperated, said in reply. “I don’t have to agree with you; you don’t have to agree with me. All you do is yell at me. ”
“That’s because you’re not skilled enough to argue with me,” she said, with crossed arms and a smirk.
The two met on the show moderated by host Jomquan Laopetch, the latest in a series of the debates between pro-establishment figures and activists seeking, among other demands, reforms of the monarchy.
Harutai is a celebrity and member of the Thai Phakdee royalist group. Jatupat is an activist who was jailed for two and a half years for lese-majeste, the first such case under King Rama X. He is also active in leading the pro-democracy protests.
‘How can we take money from Jews?’
In one of her more controversial statements bordering on anti-Semitism, Harutai said that iLaw, a legal reform advocate group, was funded by “Jews.”
“Who is iLaw? And why are they taking money from American Jewish World Service? How can iLaw take money from Jews? I am a Thai person, I cannot accept that. How can the constitution be amended by American Jew [sic] World Service? Are you even Thai?” Harutai yelled at the top of her lungs.
iLaw was founded in 2009 and has often worked as a legal watchdog for human rights cases across Thailand. The organization is also spearheading the effort to amend the current charter and make it more democratic.
After the “Straight Talking” show aired, iLaw posted on their Facebook that from 2009 to 2014 they were funded by Open Society and Heinrich Boll foundations.
They have also received funding from the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy, Fund for Global Human Rights, American Jewish World Service, and Google, the website said.
‘Black people have no dignity in the U.S.’
When Jatupat said that Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha should resign because he came to power in a coup and won the 2019 election with the power of 250 unelected senators, Harutai said that they were necessary to counterbalance “corrupt politicians.”
“My life is definitely better [since Gen. Prayut came to power],” Harutai said.
She also said that racism against black people in the U.S. was proof that democracy was not needed to ensure freedoms.
“Thai katoeys have the most freedom here anywhere, more than in Europe. How is there no freedom in Thailand?” she said, referring to transgender people.
“Black people have no human dignity in the United States. That’s what happens in a country with liberal democracy, can you accept that?”
Terror Attacks as a Warning
Jatupat advocated reform of the monarchy, one of the activists’ three demands – the others being PM Prayut’s resignation and charter amendment. He maintained that the older generations’s reverence for Nation, Religions, and Monarchy was not shared by the newer generations.
“For the younger generation, the nation is not the nation-state, but the people. The new generation sees diverse religions and respects all beliefs,” he said.
Jatupat continued, “We want to be able to speak about and change the laws. But there has been no change. While the economy is bad, the money to support the monarchy keeps increasing.”
But Harutai said that attempts to reform the monarchy were caused by U.S. foreign interference.
“All countries know our strong side is the monarchy. With the monarchy there is no hate or division,” she said. “If they want to make our country weak, they will attack. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, has the U.S. ever had an issue with that?”
She also said the “entire world” has laws to protect libel against the head of state.
“The entire world has this law to protect the head of state. How can you say that Thailand has no freedom? Are you insane?”
Harutai went on to suggest that the terror attacks in France over depictions of Prophet Muhammad were a result of “infringing on others’ rights by mocking their faiths.”
“Think of that as a warning,” she said. “We shouldn’t have this here, because attacking the beloved monarchy is hate. Where there is hate and violent emotions, the nation is weak.”
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