Cri­tique of Thai Miss Uni­verse gown linked to royal in­sult

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

A THAI so­cial me­dia celebrity who crit­i­cised a gown worn by her coun­try’s Miss Uni­verse con­tes­tant could end up in court after an­other on­line per­son­al­ity filed a com­plaint with po­lice charg­ing that her thumbs-down fash­ion com­ment de­famed the royal fam­ily.

Kit­janut Chaiyos­bu­rana, a busi­ness­man and politi­cian, said Wed­nes­day that he filed his com­plaint after see­ing a Face­book post by Wan­cha­leom Jam­nean­phol, who dis­par­aged a blue dress de­signed by Princess Sri­van­navari Nari­ratana, a daugh­ter of King Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn.

Miss Uni­verse Thai­land, Sophida Kan­charin, wore the gown dur­ing a De­cem­ber 5 pro­mo­tional event that was part of the pageant, won in Bangkok on Mon­day by the Philip­pines’ Ca­tri­ona Gray. Po­lice Col. Siri­wat Deepor, spokesman for the Tech­nol­ogy Crime Sup­pres­sion Bu­reau, said the defama­tion com­plaint had been re­ceived and would be in­ves­ti­gated.

Wan­cha­leom has deleted the crit­i­cal post and apol­o­gised Mon­day to Princess Sri­van­navari in an­other Face­book post.

“Your Royal High­ness Siri­van­navari Nari­ratana, I, Wan­cha­leom Jam­nean­phol, did not have any in­ten­tion to in­sult or dis­re­spect the high in­sti­tu­tion,” Wan­cha­leom wrote, em­ploy­ing lan­guage used ex­clu­sively to ad­dress Thai roy­alty. “I feel deeply guilty and sorry for what had hap­pened.”

Po­lice could for­ward the com­plaint to pros­e­cu­tors as a vi­o­la­tion of the Com­puter Crime Act, which car­ries a pun­ish­ment of five years in prison and fines for spread­ing false in­for­ma­tion and dam­ag­ing na­tional se­cu­rity. Sim­i­lar cases have also been treated as lese ma­jeste, or in­sult­ing the monar­chy, pun­ish­able by three to 15 years’ im­pris­on­ment.

“I acted as a Thai to pro­tect the coun­try’s rep­u­ta­tion and to set an ex­am­ple,” com­plainant Kit­janut told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “So many times peo­ple make care­less com­ments and it ends with just an apol­ogy.”

Kit­janut and Wan­cha­leom are both pop­u­lar fig­ures in Thai­land’s on­line LGBT com­mu­nity. Wan­cha­leom is a trans­gen­der wo­man with over 500,000 fol­low­ers on Face­book and Kit­janut is a trans­gen­der man with more than 400,000 Face­book fol­low­ers.

Kit­janut said that he did not want to crit­i­cise a fel­low mem­ber of the LGBT com­mu­nity be­cause peo­ple out­side al­ready have a neg­a­tive view of them, but that he acted be­cause he wants jus­tice.

“There are peo­ple say­ing why is a tomboy crit­i­cis­ing a trans,” he said. “But for me, it’s not about pro­tect­ing your own group of peo­ple, but about right and wrong. She (Wan­cha­leom) is a big in­flu­encer and she has a large fol­low­ing. So she should set a good ex­am­ple for oth­ers.” – AP

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