Yannuch Sirimangkrakul, 25, has a royalist uncle and father. Her father, Charnsak, is a Poo-Yai Baan (Village Elder) in Lampang Province.
In late September, her uncle posted about the monarchy on his Facebook page. She offered her counter opinions in the comment section and shared the thread to her own Facebook Page. Her friends also joined the debate.
The next day, her aunt and mother had a conversation with her. They said her father told them to tell her to stop. But he wouldn’t speak to her directly. Yannuch and her father are not Facebook friends.
Next, her father posted a status update and tagged the uncle. In the post, he wrote his daughter’s full name and stated he wouldn’t allow her to use his last name anymore. Also, he wrote that he’s not accountable if she says anything inflammatory towards monarchy.
Father and daughter then got into a heated exchange on Facebook. He threatened to inform the authorities to charge her with the alleged crime of “overthrowing the monarchy.”
How did that make you feel?
I was very scared and nervous. I didn’t know what to do, so I screenshotted the comment and posted it in the Royalist Market Place Facebook group to ask for some advice. Group members then went to my dad’s Facebook, and everything blew up.
The next morning, I woke up and saw a message from my mom that my dad was giving an interview on Facebook Live. In that interview, he said he would file charges against me to the full extent of the law.
It’s not fair at all. Instead of speaking to me like a family, he decided to use the law against me. It’s very authoritarian.
What does this say about freedom of speech in Thailand?
The problem is there isn’t a safe space for the two sides to have a reasonable discussion. The fact that there are laws to shut one side up damages society even more. If we have free speech and no thought control, we would have a fair space to discuss. Those who have been suppressed might feel less angry.
Why is staging a protest illegal? People are just voicing out their problems. But instead of listening to them, the government tries to suppress them or file charges against them.
We should be able to discuss and debate about any topics. It’s just a conversation.
Why do you think Thailand needs a rational dialogue?
It opens up the chance for people with different opinions to have a conversation and listen to each other’s reasonings.
If we normalized this, I believe we would see less news about how people get into fights for not sharing the same opinions. We would learn to respect other people’s views.
Do you feel a change is coming?
I can feel it, very much so. For example, The Bad Student group, they are a very progressive movement. It’s the political awakening of the young generation. They also send messages to wake up other generations.
Social media also plays a massive role in this. It has been a great platform to send out messages and organize movements fast.