[Update-1] MP Pareena criticized for using “autistic” as insult in social media spat

Outspoken Thai parliamentarian Pareena Kraikupt came under fire Friday from a parents’ association after she called a celebrity “autistic” for criticizing the prime minister.

Her use of the term was “utterly disrespectful to people with disabilities or those with autism,” the Thai Autistic Foundation wrote. The MP’s outburst “shows the use of metaphors without thinking, and disrespect to human dignity,” said the letter, addressed to the president of the National Assembly.

Nicky Nachat, the rumoured boyfriend of the celebrity at the heart of the spat, also posted a response to Pareena’s comments on his Instagram post on Thursday night, mocking the parliamentarian for getting his name wrong.

Along with a screenshot of Pareena’s post on Facebook, Nachat posted to his 1.9 million followers with the caption , “Dear P’ Pareena Kraithong [purposefully calling her by the wrong name], my name is Nicky Nachat krub, thank you.”

This prompted a string of humorous responses from his followers and fellow actors alike. His girlfriend, Arachaporn “Goy” Pokinpakorn, also commented with “ตึ่งโป๊ะ ผ่ามๆๆๆ” (“tueng poh, bam bam”, the sound effect used in Thai sitcoms to mark a punchline).

Pareena on Thursday slammed media personality Arachaporn for criticizing recent comments by the premier on the Covid crisis.  

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha on Monday asked people to “lock yourselves down [at home] please? It’s up to everyone,” to avoid a government-imposed lockdown.

“Others are not like you ka, who can stay home idly for 14-15 days and still have money to spend,” posted Arachaporn, who is also a popular MC and screenwriter.

Pareena lashed out in a post on her private Facebook page. “Who is she? Is she an actress who is cute or autistic, that she is playing a clown in [TV sitcom] Talok Hok Chak?” the lawmaker wrote. “Is she that broke to use General Prayut to gain popularity?”

The MP’s comments had “severely affected the feelings of disabled people, those with autism, and their families very much,” wrote the Foundation, a network of parents of autistic children working for the protection of autistic rights in Thailand.

Arachaporn, who rose to prominence in popular Thai productions such as Talok Hok Chak, Hormones, and GDH, posted her comment alongside an image of the prime minister earlier this week on Instagram, where she has 1.8 million followers.

Pareena represents the Palang Pracharath Party for Ratchaburi province. She is a staunch supporter of the administration and known for her outbursts against popular figures and members of the public.

On her Facebook page Thursday the parliamentarian went on to call out Arachaporn’s rumoured boyfriend and fellow actor Nachat “Nicky” Juntapun for dating a rad, which translates literally as “rhino” but has a meaning more akin to “slut”.

The post went viral and drew criticism within hours. “Before meddling in the business of others, can you first please address your own case in encroaching a forest and perform your duty as an MP, so that it is worth our tax money?” one user commented.

This is not the first time the embattled MP has faced a public backlash. Most recently she was indicted after a poultry farm she owns was found to be allegedly encroaching on a protected land forest reserve last year, according to news reports.

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