Miss Universe Thailand sparks debate on patriotism

Thailand’s current Miss Universe has once again triggered furious debate on social media. This time, the topic pivots to patriotism after the release of a promo image depicting her standing on what appears to be a Thai flag.

Over the weekend, the Facebook page of Miss Universe Thailand uploaded a photo of Anchilee Scott-Kemmis in a red jumpsuit, with a background of Thai-flag-themed carpet under her feet. 

Sonthiya Sawasdee, an adviser to the House committee on law, justice, and human rights, threatened to file a lawsuit against Scott-Kemmis on Tuesday for allegedly violating three sections of the 1979 Flag Act.

“Miss Universe has sizable followers on social media,” said Sonthiya. “This is considered an inappropriate publication.” 

He alleged that Scott-Kemmis desecrated the sacred symbol and insulted the flag, which is punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of up to 40,000 baht if convicted.

Some netizens who agreed with Sonthiya even said that her position on the blue bar of the Thai flag which represents the monarchy shows her hostility toward the highly respected institution. 

However, some argued it was just her promo photo ahead of the Miss Universe contest in Israel in December.

In response to heated outcry particularly from the pro-institution side, Piyaporn “Pui” Sankosik, the director of the Miss Universe Thailand contest said that Scott-Kemmis has nothing to do with the flag.

“That was the graphic made to convey the greatness of Thai people, not the real flag necessarily,” Piyaporn said in a television interview.

The controversial  promo photo has also been removed from Miss Universe Thailand’s social media feed following the controversy.

“There is enough division in Thai society,” Piyaporn added, urging the public not to prompt more conflicts. 

Reported by Natcha Patanasophon and Panithan Onthaworn.

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