Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Beauty queen speaks up about missing activist

Jun 08. 2020
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By THE NATION

Thai-Swedish model and beauty queen Maria Lynn Ehren (or Maria Poonlertlarp) took on the cause of exiled political activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who went missing in Phnom Penh on June 4, by frankly airing her opinions on Instagram on Monday (June 8).

“What’s scary is that many exiled Thais have been disappearing and later found dead stuffed with concrete under water … what kind of place are we living in when we cannot simply voice our opinion? Life is diverse and so are opinions,” her post read.

She also pointed out that Thailand has been ruled through fear for as long as she can remember. “I’m tired of living in fear. Aren’t you?” her post read. “I’m nervous yet excited that people in my country are becoming more vocal. Time for change is near.

“I am standing together with Thai people, demanding that what is happening is wrong and we want an answer.”

Meanwhile, on Monday afternoon, some 30 activists, led by activist-cum-magazine editor Somyot Prueksa, gathered outside the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok, calling on the Cambodian government to help find the missing activist.

The activists were met by an embassy representative who assured them that their message will be passed on to Prime Minister Hun Sen. The activists said they will return in a week on June 15 to get an update.

The Mirror Foundation announced on June 4 that Wanchalearm had gone missing in a move to raise awareness in Thailand, especially among netizens and political groups.

The activist fled Thailand in 2014 after the military coup and has been a vociferous critic of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration since, openly posting his views on Facebook.

Now, with him missing, many celebrities and influencers are being urged by netizens to pay attention.

On Sunday, Thai actress and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Praya Lundberg  came under fire for staying silent about the case, with many people accusing her of failing in her duty to speak up.

The actress said she was personally sorry about what happened, but clarified that speaking up for the activist was beyond the purview of her humanitarian work at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. She also said that the case was highly sensitive and complicated.

However, her comments were met with disappointment, with many netizens insisting that she give up her post.

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