Thai beauty queen renounces title, accused of hateful remarks against government supporters
Weluree Ditsayabut won the Miss Universe Thailand beauty pageant last month
She reportedly called for red shirt supporters to be "executed"
Weluree apologized for "careless" comments; resigned for mother's sake
Less than a month after she was crowned Miss Universe Thailand, pageant winner Weluree “Fai” Ditsayabut has relinquished her title under a barrage of criticism for comments she made online against supporters of the country’s ousted prime minister.
“I felt under pressure. I tried to improve myself but what I could not stand was to see my mother stressed,” an emotional Weluree told reporters in Bangkok Monday.
After the 22-year-old won the competition on May 17, scathing comments predating the contest were found on her Facebook page. They referred to pro-government demonstrators, who are known as “red shirts,” as “dirty” and “evil activists” that should “all be executed.”
“I am not neutral. I am on the side of His Majesty the King,” Weluree said in a comment from November, Khaosod English reported. “I’m so angry at these evil activists. They should all be executed.”
Weluree reportedly said Thailand would be cleaner if the “dirty” red shirts left the country.
Pro-government supporters have questioned Weluree’s pageant victory on popular online forums and social media sites. A Facebook page in protest of her winning the competition had over 10,000 “likes” on Monday – although some users criticized her appearance and claimed she won because of her connections, rather than raising concerns about her anti-red shirt comments.
Other netizens seemed to be preoccupied with comparing Weluree’s appearance to that of Nissa Katerahong, who won the Miss Tiffany’s Universe transgender beauty contest in Pattaya last month.
Weluree – an actress, talk show host, and English student – apologized Monday for the remarks in an interview on Thailand’s Channel 3. “I was careless. I was young. I did it recklessly,” she said. “It won’t happen again.”
But the unrelenting public scorn appears to have worn her down.
“At first, my family was happy for me when I was crowned,” Weluree said Monday. “But there’s no more happiness following waves of criticism from the society.” She said the decision was hers alone, and thanked the pageant judges and her fans for their support.
Weluree beat the pageant favorite Pimbongkod “Ellie” Chankaew who placed second in Saturday’s competition.
Thailand’s political turmoil began in November when the government attempted to pass a controversial amnesty bill that would have cleared the way for the return of then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin, to politics. The former prime minister and tycoon has been living in self-imposed exile to avoid a corruption conviction after being overthrown in a military coup in 2006.
The turmoil began in November when the government attempted to pass a controversial amnesty bill that would have cleared the way for the return of then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, Thaksin, to politics. The former prime minister and tycoon has been living in self-imposed exile to avoid a corruption conviction, after being overthrown in a military coup in 2006.
Since November, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee has led anti-government protesters, who are mostly middle-class royalists, in calling for Yingluck’s government to be replaced with an unelected “people’s council.”
Competing rallies have been held by pro-government supporters, many of whom come from the country’s rural north and northeast and view Shinawatra’s ouster as a “judicial coup.”
Yingluck was found guilty of abuse of power and removed from office along with several cabinet ministers on May 7, and indicted by Thailand’s anti-graft body. If the Senate votes to impeach her, she could be banned from politics for five years.
In a televised address on May 22, Thailand’s army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the country had been placed under military control. Since then, the junta has imposed a series of measures purportedly aimed at restoring order and resolving the crisis, including curfews, bans on public assembly, and media blackouts.
Army chief issues warning as violence returns to Bangkok
READ: Normality resumes: Curfews lifted in three Thai hot spots
CNN’s Karla Cripps and Tim Hume contributed to this report.