Fury over Thai beauty queen's ‘execution’ FB post

By Arnaud Dubus, Monday, May 19, 2014

BANGKOK - The winner of Sunday's Miss Universe Thailand competition was forced to issue a public apology Monday after comments were reportedly found on her Facebook page calling for the "execution" of members of Thailand's pro-democracy movement.

Weluree Ditsayabut, 22, accused "Red Shirts" of being “dirty” and “anti-monarchist” and suggested that the country would be cleaner if they left, according to local media Khao Sod online. 

In another comment, she wrote: “I am not neutral. I am on the side of His Majesty the King. I am so angry at these evil activists. They should all be executed.”

The scandal underlines how much the political crisis, which began in November, has divided Thailand. 

Enraged "Red Shirt" members questioned Monday her suitability to represent Thailand at the finals of the international pageant in Brazil and said she showed nothing but contempt for her fellow countrymen. 

Deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division Phil Robertson condemned her posting, tweeting “Perhaps a better title is Miss Politically Divided #Thailand ? Shameful when beauty queens are calling for executions.”

 Ditsayabut - a talk show host, actress, and English student - apologized Monday for November's “inappropriate” remarks, saying that she made them when she was “young and not thinking thoroughly.”

“I promise this won’t happen again. I will use your criticisms to improve myself and do my best to perform my duty as Miss Universe Thailand,” she said.

Thailand's political crisis, which started when then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra introduced an amnesty bill in parliament to allow her exiled brother Thaksin - a deeply divisive figure - to come back to the country, has deeply divided the Kingdom. 

Families, workplaces and friendships have split on political lines, parents have denounced children and violent clashes have frequently broken out between opposing sides.

In another instance, the father of 28-year-old Singha beer heiress Chitpas Bhirombhakdi announced in a letter sent to media in December that his daughter would change her surname, so as her political activities as a core anti-government protest leader could continue without damaging the family business.

Thais, angry that a member of the wealthy family had become a leader in the anti-government movement, had started an informal boycott of the company. 

The boycott became symbolic of the division in Thai society between an urban middle class which despises ex-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's populist government and provincials in the poorer north and north-east who feel their democratic right is not being respected, and are determined to maintain an administration which has delivered them clear material benefits.

Bhirombhakdi had been quoted as saying that many Thais lack a “true understanding” of democracy, “especially in the rural areas.”

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