Phuket woman who bragged gov’t aid was ‘small change’ faces prosecution

Authorities set up a team to investigate a woman in Phuket who described THB5,000 in government aid as only “small change” to her.

Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, secretary of the Finance Minister, said on Thursday that authorities were looking into the case of a woman who, posting to Facebook as Nana Kochaporn, whose comments about the government stipend met a furious response online.

“THB5,000 has been wired to my bank account already. It’s just small change on my refrigerator,” she wrote on Facebook as Nana Kochaporn. 

Thai COVID-19 aid plan includes stipends for ‘informal workers’

The social media account has since been deactivated after netizens criticized her response to the aid package meant to help independent and informal workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Many condemned the woman for obtaining the stipend despite her apparently luxurious lifestyle documented on social media – including a photo of her holding a brand-name handbag.

“Congrats to people who got THB5,000. Those who still got some money and aren’t really struggling but are so good at filling in the [governmental] form, please don’t do it,” singer Ja R-Siam posted on her Instagram. “Don’t rely on the government in selecting the recipients, but rely on our honesty. This time is the time of sacrificing, not being selfish.”

In late March, a stimulus package worth upward of THB200 billion (US$6.1 billion) including THB5,000 (US$150) stipends was approved for those who qualified. The financial assistance was set to continue three months but was extended through September.

Thanakorn said that if the woman was found guilty of not being eligible for the money, it would be seized. But if she didn’t actually receive the money as claimed, the Digital Economy and Society Ministry would take over and consider prosecuting her under the Computer Crime Act for saying something untrue.

He said that, during this time of crisis, people should stay “in harmony with each other” and “not try to stir chaos.”

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