Thai protest leader accused of ‘anti-foreigner’ rant.
Celebrity protest leader Dr. Seri Wongmontha has been accused by a Western journalist of launching into an “anti-foreigner” rant following an onstage interview with another Western reporter in front of demonstrators, according to reports.
The comments were made during an address from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s (PDRC) Asok rally stage on Tuesday afternoon, according to Patrick Winn, senior Southeast Asia correspondent at the Global Post.
“Do they think we’re stupid? It’s proven people with yellow skin are smarter than people with white skin,” Mr Seri allegedly said. “Thais who study abroad get better marks than their classmates. They think they’re better than us.”
Mr Seri is well known in Thailand as a political activist, university academic and president of the transgender beauty contest Miss International Queen.
His alleged comments followed an onstage interview with journalist John Sparks from Britain’s Channel 4 News on Monday, which can be seen in the video below.
While Mr. Sparks was filming the rally at the Ratchaprasong intersection stage, Mr. Seri offered him an interview in front of the demonstrators.
The reporter challenged the protest leader on why the democratically-elected premier Yingluck Shinawatra should step down, and got a passion-filled response.
“Election is a process of democracy but it is not democracy in itself,” Mr Seri told the journalist. “Being elected doesn’t mean that your corruption will be legalised or legitimised.
“If you violate laws, if you violate the constitution, we have to overthrow you before the term ends.”
The reporter asked why the PDRC is unwilling to let the public decide who should run the country “in an open election”.
“We don’t have any channels to tell people what is going on because at the moment, we don’t have democracy, we have parliamentary dictatorship because Thaksin has a huge amount of money and he has bought so many constituents,” said Mr Seri.
“He bought many provincial governors, he bought many provincial policeman, he bought many election committees and he also used his populist schemes to lure many people to support him.
“They like the benefits and the incentives but they don’t know that Thaksin is corrupted. He cheated and stole a lot of money from Thai people. We don’t want people to have a beggar’s culture, waiting for subsidies without considering morality, ethics, merit and also good governance.”
When Mr. Sparks asked a further question about allegations of vote-buying on both sides of the conflict, the protest leader advised the Western reporter to “investigate and know the context of Thailand” before commenting on the country’s political conflict.
“Some degree people tolerate,” said Mr Seri, getting increasingly loud . “But Thaksin went overboard. We will never tolerate his actions again.”
Mr. Sparks later described the Ratchaprasong rally stage as “a hostile place to do an interview” for a foreign journalist, said a Bangkok Post report.
The reporter said the protest leader delivered “a double-barreled blast of anti-government passion” but did not feel he adequately addressed “concerns about undemocratic behaviour and the prevalence of corruption on both sides of the political spectrum”.