“That which cannot be questioned is always a problem” said the fairy godmother of the anti-establishment protesters

This photo taken on December 7, 2020 shows actress Inthira “Sine” Charoenpura sitting on an inflatable duck, associated with the anti-establishment movement, at her home in Bangkok. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

“Humans are a nation’s most important resource. Nowadays, everyone is equal, equally neglected as a human resource,” said Inthira Charoenpura, nickname “Sine.” The 40-year-old actress has often been in the headlines recently, not for her acting, but because of her role in politics.

Sine was one of the few celebrities to publicly support Thailand’s anti-establishment movement, which earned her the epithet “fairy godmother” from the protesters. The actress collected donations, which she used to buy food, ice cream, helmets, gas masks and even giant rubber ducks, which protesters used as shields against chemical-laced water cannons being used by the police.

It all started early last year, when she expressed support for Thanet Anantawong, a demonstrator jailed for protesting against the 2014 coup d’état. Thanet was released without being convicted. He is an ice-cream vendor by trade, so she bought a tub of ice-cream from him, and asked him to just hand the rest out at the protest site.

Now, though, Sine is also facing criminal charges, under Thailand’s tough and infamous lèse majesté law, for allegedly insulting the monarchy.

“I ask myself, if I knew this is how it would turn out, would I still do it? The answer is yes,” said Sine.

Sine tells herself that, if there are any demands by the protesters with which she disagrees, she will just back off. So far, however, she says there is nothing she does not agree with, though there might be moves by some factions which she thinks are too soon, too much or too late for what’s going on.

If she had to choose only one of the protesters’ three demands, it would be reform of the monarchy, which she thinks would be the start of everything to follow.

“It is not just the monarchy, because the tentacles are spread throughout the establishment. What actually is it? How widespread is this? The bigger it is, the weaker the links it has. This is how I see it. How can you have confidence that everyone will live up to their responsibilities in this? How much of it is really necessary?” Sine explained.

She said transparency is the issue here, and people who ask questions are not living under the same set of rules as people who call themselves royalists. “Right now, even the people who help delivering supplies, or buy food for the protesters are being tracked by their license plates. The other side don’t have to face any of this. It is not fair. We play by different rules. It is like we are the only side that has to be beaten. It is not fair.”

Inthira and Tosaporn: Meet the young protesters’ celebrity ‘godparents’

Amid escalating anti-government protests, famous figures are enjoying fresh popularity for their kind acts towards youngsters taking to the streets. Neither actress-singer Inthira “Sine” Charoenpura, whose song “Sailom Tee Wangdee” (Well-Wishing Wind) is an all-time favourite, nor former government spokesman Dr Tosaporn Sererak have been officially on stage when protesters have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a new charter and monarchy reform.

Keep questioning

Sine believes that change will come, whether people like it or not. She doesn’t know when it will happen but, when it does, it will happen overnight. She just hopes that people will not stop questioning and keep the momentum going, and that will lead to change.

The subject was unmentionable, even just ten years ago. Sine believes that there is more space to ask questions nowadays. She said she feels that, if people are still curious, still able to carry on questioning, it should lead to a change. It might not happen quickly, but it will definitely happen. “Just don’t stop asking questions.”

“That which cannot be questioned is always a problem”

Some people might feel uncomfortable with what is going on, because it is what they are not used to, but the world doesn’t revolve around familiarity, it spins because it does. Sine said she might be a romantic or an optimist, but when the change happens, it will just happen overnight.

It’s all about the accumulation of curiosity, concerns smoldering in people’s minds. It happens little by little. “When there is enough momentum, at a certain level, when everyone questions it together, then that is another story.”

When asked how she would explain her point of view to the people that see it differently, she said she has stopped trying to talk to people who don’t try or want to understand. She said there is no point trying to explain. They cannot change, the same way she cannot change.

Negleted

“Humans are a nation’s most important resource. Now, everyone is equal, equally neglected as a human resource.”

Sine said her generation and the ones that follow will have to deal with the world that is left to them afterbeing bled dry. These are the people that have to live with what is left, so why not let them manage it?

Story by Tulip Naksompop Blauw

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