Luxury resort heir under fire for calling for pro-democracy protesters to be arrested

The 38-year-old heir to a real estate fortune and owner of a luxury Phuket resort is under fire online for calling for the arrest of a 22-year-old protest leader for speaking her mind.

Vorasit Issara, the heir to the Charn Issara fortune and owner of Sri Panwa resort in Phuket, made comments on Instagram while watching the pro-democracy protests this past weekend.

Vorasit said that the student protesters, including protest leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, should be arrested. The real-estate heir also questioned whether Rung was Thai and alluded to accusations that she was funded by foreign sources, a narrative being pushed by right-wing media and conspiracy theorists in Thai society who say that the United States and other western countries are funding the pro-democracy protests.

The comments were picked up by Thai netizens and sparked a pushback with the hashtag #แบนศรีพันวา (#BanSriPanwa) trending on Twitter. As of Monday morning, the tag has already received more than 100,000 mentions.

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators braved rain and heat to rally in Bangkok this weekend with speeches and events that broached subjects previously considered taboo for public discussion.

The demonstrators, comprised of students and older protesters, gathered at Thammasat University and Sanam Laung in Bangkok’s old town to call for the military-backed government to step down.

The protesters also used the opportunity to address the royal institution, something which had previously been punished by the application of lese-majeste laws that blocked the discussion of the monarch and his family.

Vorasit with General Prayut Chan-ocha who led the coup in 2014.
Vorasit and his father with the former coup-leader and current prime minister.

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