Thai royalists “outraged” over Lazada campaign “mocking disabled people”

Royalist groups in Thailand are outraged after Lazada, an online shopping platform, posted photos they claim make fun of Thai royalty and people with disabilities in a social media campaign.

 

A group of royalists approached the Lazada office on Bangkok's Sukhumvit Road yesterday demanding answers to what they believe to be a controversial video clip on TikTok. Royalists considered the post offensive to the Thai monarchy and that it "mocks the handicapped".

The video promotes the Lazada clothing campaign and features two online influencers, Nara Anivat and Tidaporn "Nurat" Chaokuviang. Tidaporn is dressed in a traditional Thai costume and sits in a wheelchair. The Nara accuses Tidaporn, who plays the role of her mother from a privileged background, of stealing her clothes.

A member of the Thai royal family uses a wheelchair. Thus, Thai royalist groups suggested that this (perhaps tasteless) piece of marketing nonsense was a direct affront to the monarchy.

About 3% of the Thai population, which is about 2 million people, have a Thai disability card. The leading conditions were mobility impairments (about 50%), hearing impairments (about 18%) and visual impairments (about 10%).

In response to the campaign, Nara said that there were never any suggestions as to who the actors should look like, noting "thousands of people in wheelchairs or in traditional Thai costumes". Nara claimed that some people created problems by trying to associate a person sitting in a wheelchair with "a certain person" (Princess Chulabhorn, sister of HM King Vajiralongkorn, suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disease, and uses a wheelchair).

Intersect Design Factory, the advertising agency that hired the ads and influencers, issued an apology Thursday night. They also threw their powerful partner under a bus, dissociating themselves from advertising.

“As an influencer contact coordinator and promoter of the Lazada 5.5 campaign, we are not affiliated with any of the images that are still circulating on the internet…. Regarding the clips that have gone viral on social media, we sincerely apologize for the incident and welcome all feedback to further improve our work."

Royalist demands to personally submit a letter to Lazada's top management did not go as planned. Instead, an employee was sent downstairs to receive the letter. But the protesters felt slighted by the appearance of a humble employee and, after scolding the Lazada employee, tore up their letter. Their parting word was that they were going to declare "war on Lazada".

The letter, later leaked to the Thai media, stated that ... "Thais cannot accept the clip" and claimed that the TikTok clip ... "has an ulterior motive to make fun of the monarchy and people with disabilities."

Political activist Srisuwan Janya, Thailand's "chief complainer", issued his own warning that "he could file a police complaint" against Lazada for alleged lèse majesté and violations of Thailand's Computer Crime Law for allegedly mocking the royal family.

 

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Despite hasty apologies from Lazada management and the social media influencer who created the posts, the outrage continued all night with netizens sharing their thoughts on the matter. The clip has been removed.

The hashtag #BanLazada has received over 100,000 tweets, and similar hashtags are also popular in response to the clip. People even posted videos of them deleting the Lazada app to protest the campaign.

Namida said...

“This cannot be called unacceptable. What kind of seeds do you want to grow in our society? #LazadaTH, can you really deal with the consequences? The consequences are not only that you will be banned, but also the damage done to the way our children will grow up."

404NOTFOUND said….

“Honestly, it's wrong to bully people with disabilities in the same way that it's wrong to bully someone because of their gender, skin color, etc. How pathetic they make themselves out doing it. It's deeply offensive to me and I won't take any shit from a bully like that."

Politicians are also taking part in the fight, with former Democratic Party member Payu Nerngchamnong calling the post "cruel and unacceptable"... "regardless of whether the target is a member of the royal family."

"It's tasteless and the general Thai public will immediately know who they're trying to bully... there's no place for that kind of behavior."