Headache Stencil’s doing it. Thanathorn’s tried it. Last night, a fugitive former prime minister even hopped on.
But when it comes to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, his dudeness says he doesn’t have the time to join the digerati opening up their hearts on the white-hot social media app of the moment, Clubhouse.
Generalissimo Prayuth mere shook his head this morning and said he “doesn’t have time” when asked by a reporter at the Government House this morning whether he’d embrace Clubhouse, hours after his political bete noire, Thaksin Shinawatra participated in a chat that drew tens of thousands to one of the app’s “drop-in audio” sessions.
The response reeked of sour grapes from a guy who just this month made a big deal about joining TikTok to reach more youth only to see their fervor transferred to the new, iOS-only chat app where they have been tuning into have real-time conversations with Thai political and cultural figures.
If it was difficult not to notice references to “Tony Woodsome” on social media this morning. That was the name Thaksin, who was deposed in a 2006 coup, used when he surprised the crowd there in a chat room called “Thai Rak Thai Party, whoever lived in that era, please join” in reference to the first political party he brought to power 20 years ago. At least 40,000 people, divided across a number of overflow rooms, tuned in.
Marked as the first time the public could “raise a hand” to shoot questions directly at the former PM who’s lived in exile the past 15 years. Many included how Thailand can improve its economy, how he feels about the current government taking credit for his wildly popular initiatives such as the THB30 universal health care program and what he thinks about the pro-democracy protesters demanding royal reforms. He engaged on all topics but for the last, which he was heavily criticized for declining to answer.
Thaksin said that the recycling of his health scheme by the junta that overthrew his younger sister’s government in 2014 proves its undying popularity. He said he has no idea why Prayuth refuses to say his name when referring to him.
Participants put Thaksin to task with some hard questions as well. He was asked about a 2004 army attack on a southern mosque at Krue Se, and the massacre of 85 civilians suffocated or crushed to death after being ordered onto police trucks in Narathiwat province’s Tak Bai.
He blamed the military as it held the “majority of control” but said he “regrets what happened.”
He left the sesh with 65,000 Clubhouse followers.
Additional reporting Chayanit Itthipongmaetee
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