The 1999 horror-slash-romance movie Nang Nak (นางนาก) made Inthira “Sai” Charoenpura a star. She started in the entertainment industry at 14 years old, has appeared in countless TV series and movies, and is also a singer.
At 39 years old, she’s called the “ท่อน้ำเลี้ยง” (pipeline) for the democracy movement. She provides food trucks and mobile toilets at protest sites.
What are you fighting for?
Honestly, I would just like the right to speak out about something without having an arrest warrant coming to me afterward. In other countries, people are fighting on specific issues [race, welfare, etc.], but Thailand is still stuck on fighting for the most basic right, freedom of speech.
A protest should be a normal thing. If you want to fight for something, a protest is a form of expression. But in Thailand, people still think that protests are for extremists. People focus [their fear] on ‘radicalism’ rather than paying attention to the actual causes of why we need to speak out.
We have the right to demand; this should not be denied.
How has your personal life been affected?
Sometimes when I meet someone, I take a selfie with them. Then I post the selfie on my social media and tag the person.
That person would get many private messages saying things like, ‘how could you be friends with Sai? She is anti-monarchy; she is ชังชาติ [nation-hater]!’
The person would message me to ask me to take the photo down or ask to be untagged in the picture.
Why haven’t you given up?
How could you give up on being yourself? Sometimes I think that if I would just change myself, everything would be easier. People would just love me. But do I really want that?
I’m sure that I’m not doing anything wrong. If I can’t be myself, then I would have to rethink who I am. I don’t want to lie to myself or anyone. That’s just not right.
Have you anything good to say about Prayuth Chan-o-cha?
[He] Sucks (ห่วย). There’s nothing to compliment. Compliment him on what?
But he had over eight million votes in the election, do those votes not mean anything?
Also, it’s the 250 senators that they handpicked themselves. Is that fair?
I would understand if his supporters are just the 1% who live a luxurious lifestyle. They probably don’t have to care about what’s going on as it doesn’t affect their lives.
What I don’t understand is everyone else whose lives are affected. Look at the situation our country has been in.
What do you think about the newly-minted pro-government movement ไทยภักดี (Thai Phakdee)?
They really do know their target group, and that is the family Line group chats. It’s a platform that shares fake news the most.
These people do not care to fact-check anything. They don’t care what the other generations in the family think. They just believe what they want to believe without fact-checking.
Where do you see Thailand in five years?
Nothing will change if we don’t have the right to speak out [police harassments and unjust laws].
If we don’t have a fair fight [elections and 250 senators], we can’t move forward.
We would still be just fighting for the basic right to speak and not evolve to other issues.