Online flame wars over boys' actions

Amid debate on social media over whether the 12 boys and their football coach trapped in Tham Luang cave should be scolded for entering the complex during the monsoon season or hailed for their bravery, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha asked the public to stop creating any more "drama" in relation to the rescue mission.

"It's an issue people are following closely every day, so there's already been a lot of drama about it," he said, urging the media to report on the story responsibly.

"Agencies are working on supporting the boys' rehabilitation and I have asked provincial offices to look into the best way of making sure they are okay psychologically. I'm not saying the 13 people are heroes," he said.

"Most importantly, they must all be [safely] evacuated from the cave and serve as good members of society, and learn from their actions," the premier said.

Although the nation united in seeing the 12 boys aged 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach from "The Wild Boars" found in good health on Monday night, many have criticised the coach and the boys for acting irresponsibly in going into the cave and causing a global fuss.

Minister of Social Development and Human Security Anantaporn Kanjanarat said the public should not be too heavy-handed in its treatment of them.

"I don't want people to blame the group as it was an unexpected incident. I don't want them to be seen as heroes, either," he said. "All the agencies and everyone who is pitching in to help is either busy doing their job, volunteering or helping with relief efforts."

Opinion was divided on their coach Eakapol Chanthawong after reports emerged that he had taught the children to meditate so they forgot their hunger and were able to face 10 grim days in a cold, wet cave without power, food or any idea if or when they would be found.

One Facebook page called HappinessisThailand claimed they only made it because of their coach's sacrifices and sense of calm. He reportedly gave up some of his food so they could eat more.

On Twitter, @JMovf wrote: "Many people might have blamed the coach, but for me, the coach and the children are the victims. Had they known there would be danger they would not have gone there. I think the coach has done his best in protecting the children as well as he could. He is another hero that we can't forget."

@New_1602 wrote: "The heroes are the rescue teams. The children are the victims. Heroes deserve our praise. The victims deserve rehabilitation. It's as simple as that."

About the author

Writer: Gary Boyle
Position: Writer