PDRC leaders draw flak for lavish party

A party staged by a leading member of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has drawn a barrage of criticism, even from supporters, after the pictures appeared online.

Former key anti-government figures, including Suthep Thaugsuban, in white shirt, joined the party for Nataphol Teepsuwan on Thursday night. (Photo from Chitpas Kridakorn via Instagram)

The birthday party for Nataphol Teepsuwan was immortalised on the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Chitpas Kridakorn, another top PDRC figure.

The celebration on Thursday night was thrown by Mr Nathapol's wife Thaya for his 48th birthday and for their 15th wedding anniversary. It was held at 4 Garcons, an expensive French restaurant on Thong Lor Road in Bangkok.

Many party-goers wore military-style camouflage outfits including Miss Chitpas, whose T-shirt read "Burapha Phayak" on its back.

Burapha Phayak, or Tigers of the East, is named for present and former soldiers at the 2nd Infantry Regiment (Queen's Guards) based in Prachin Buri. They include the army chief and coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Mr Nataphol and Miss Chitpas, along with PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who was also at the party, were recently released from detention after being seized by the coup makers on May 22.

Celebrating, from left: Chidpas Kridakron, Nataphol Teepsuwan, Chumpol Julasai, Sakoltee Phattiyakul and Thaya Teepsuwan. (Photo from Chitpas Kridakorn via Instagram)

The party drew flak after the images and a video clip were posted, with most people questioning its appropriateness.

"Although I am a PDRC fan, I don't like the clip," Krukaisuay Dekvangeejingjing commented on Miss Chitpas's Facebook account. "Please think of other families who lost their loved ones during the demonstrations to demand political reform for Thailand over the past seven months."

A poster known as "Sandy Thailand" reminded them of other poor PDRC members who were with them during the rallies.

"Key members returned to their lavish life as usual. But poor brothers and sisters upcountry returned to work to make ends meet. They slept outdoors. Some used up all the money, some were tried and some died," the message said.

More work is needed to resolve the problems of the country's less privileged, such as support for palm and rubber prices, Sandy Thailand wrote, adding that these problems should not be forgotten.

Jarin Wimarnamonman blasted the party. "Why didn't they invite their brothers and sisters sleeping on the streets for months to join their celebration?" the message read.

"Don't forget the donations for farmers. Everybody wants to known that," N'Ying Jarupa reminded the celebrants.

Not all of the comments were negative, however.

"Payap Mok" wrote on Mr Nataphol's Facebook account saying that he and others deserved an opportunity to celebrate.

"We, muan maha prachachon (the great mass of the people), shared the past and will share the future. We will never leave each other. You were tired. Take a break to stay with loved ones to make up for your lost time," Payap Mok wrote.

Mr Nataphol posted a message on Friday to thank his wife and defended the party.

"We are sincere and do the best for everything," he said. "Unfortunately, opportunists tried to distort the fact to make others hate and misunderstand us."

Critics of the PDRC blame its leaders for escalating the political conflict over the past six months to provoke a coup, having realised they could not force the former government to resign.

Now that the military is in charge, the PDRC is getting its wish of "reform before elections", which was its battle cry throughout the campaign, though perhaps not in the way some had intended.

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