Red-shirts calm on King comments row

Red-shirts calm on King comments row

Speaker Orapim
Speaker Orapim "Best" Raksapol on Thursday posts a picture of her speaking at an unknown forum. (Photo from @best_orapim Instagram account)

Red-shirt members will keep their composure in the face of a controversial speech that many consider insulted northeasterners, former United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leader Tida Tawornseth said on Sunday.

"I believe that the general public, people in the northeastern region and UDD members are mature enough not to be mobilised to counter Ms Orapim," she said at Sanam Luang.

The comments by motivational speaker Orapim "Best" Raksapol angered northeasterners as it appeared to cast doubt on their love for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Many questioned the timing of the controversy. Ms Orapim made the comments in a speech to about 3,000 people at Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University on Jan 6. It was uploaded on Jan 23 before it was widely shared on social media in the past month. The talk was organised by security authorities to promote royal activities of the King and royal family members in the provinces.

"I don't ask whether you [northeastern people] love the King or not. The only thing I know is that the King has visited the Northeast so often and greatly helped you," she said in the clip.

Mrs Tida, now chief advisor to the UDD, denied speculation that red shirts were using the clip to renew rifts in the country. The red shirts should not be dragged into the issue, she added.

"The country needs peace and unity, and is in mourning."

Karom Ponpolklang, a lawyer for the red shirts, on Saturday filed a complaint with Rattanathibet police against the 26-year-old speaker for defaming people in the northeastern region.

Mrs Tida said on Sunday the lawyer was not working on behalf of the group and was just exercising his legal right as a native of Roi Et.

Ms Orapim has apologised more than once for the comments, saying she had no intention of insulting people in the Northeast.

The latest apology was posted on her @best_orapim Instagram account with a message saying "Apololgise again from the bottom of my heart".

It drew both praises from supporters who cheered her up and criticism from commentators, mostly from the region.

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