Withawat Thaokhamlue was a contestant on the Academy Fantasia television talent show. He criticized and damned Abhisit Vejjajiva on his Facebook page. He was then attacked by yellow shirts, the media and others for it.
AP reported that the “hip-looking 17-year-old student, suggested on Facebook that protesters might not have set buildings on fire if the prime minister had dissolved parliament and called an election, as the demonstrators demanded. Government supporters attacked [him], and many viewers expressed their disapproval. Many on the anti-government side became his fans. The whole affair received widespread media coverage.”
The vocal yellow shirts argued for the Withawat’s “immediate expulsion from the show, insisting that while Withawat enjoys the right to free speech, his use of abusive language on a web page open to the public is intolerable and sets a bad example.” They aren’t really interested in free speech unless it is their own.
Interestingly, AP adds: “Last Saturday, as the scandal peaked, Witthawat’s parents asked the show’s producer not to have their son perform on stage, saying they didn’t want him to be in the middle of any conflict. He still managed to get the most votes, apparently drawing support from both fans and political sympathizers.”
One of the accusations made by a bunch of yellow-shirted media vigilantes was that the singer attacked the monarchy. He was removed from the show.
More startlingly, the government’s political bully boys at the Department of Special Investigation and its boss Tharit Pengdit “said investigators will look into Withawat’s alleged anti-monarchy comments…. Tharit heads a working group investigating lese majeste cases.” It appears charges were not laid.
Bangkok Post, 16 July 2010: “Political conflict screeches into a TV singing contest”
Bangkok Post, 16 July 2010: “Mark V11 saga hits sour note”
Bangkok Post, 15 July 2010: “An apologetic Mark V11 quits TV show”
Associated Press, 15 July 2010: “Thai politics intrudes on the world of reality TV”