Political backtaste lends fire to chilli paste video confrontation

A clip of a confrontation between the owner of a Bangkok eatery and an outspoken commentator was trending Wednesday, as a row that started over making a YouTube video about the food has spilled into both sides of Thailand’s political debate.

The hashtag #น้ําพริกนิตยาไล่ควายแดง, (Nittaya Chilli Paste kicking out red buffaloes), was trending a day after the owner of Nittaya Chilli Paste in Bang Lamphu turned away the video crew of Lakkana Punwichai when they arrived to start a live stream.

“I’m not available today, so I apologize profoundly,” owner Nittaya Laksanawisit told the well-known pro-democracy hostess and journalist, stressing that she “never watched the show before” so she needed to see it first.

Lakkana, also known as Kam Phaka, said that her production team had been in touch with the shop for a month and agreed the date for shooting.

“We have staff that organizes shooting locations,” Lakkana explained. “No one is foolish enough to wander around with a camera and equipment without prior arrangement.”

Netizens were quick to jump on the political flavour of the spicy spat. Nittaya shares a last name with Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit of the Democrat Party. Lakkana is a member of the Red Shirts, the movement that supports former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, now in self-exile, who was ousted in the 2006 military coup.

“The owner realized that I am a Red Shirt so she won’t let me film,” she said.

Pro-democracy netizens accused Nittaya’s last-minute refusal of being an attempt to embarrass the hostess on air. “She should be more professional,” said a tweet. They also urged that the shop be boycotted.

A pro-institution group praised her for not welcoming the hostess, and criticized Lakkana for losing her temper.

“The owner was just worried that crazy people would ruin her shop’s image,” said a comment from a conservative outlet. The pro-institution group also stated that they will continue to support Nittaya’s products.

Later on, Lakkana posted that one of Nittaya’s relatives said that Nittaya “never wants to be involved in politics at all” and she did not say anything about the Red Shirts.

Nittaya has indicated Lakkana was the one to pull out of the planned video shoot, over political differences.

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