The throwing of paint over a police officer by a singer, during a protest in front of Samranrat police station in Bangkok on Friday, has drawn mixed reactions from all sides of Thailand’s political divide.
The lead singer of the Bottom Blues Band, Chai-amorn Kaewviboonpant, alias Emmy, threw blue paint at an officer during a brief commotion in front of the police station, where anti-establishment protesters had rallied to offer moral support to Chatupat Boonpathararaksa, alias Pai Daodin, who was reporting to the police to acknowledge charges filed against him.
Chai-amorn claimed he acted in retaliation for police harassment of protesters, who are being “painted” negatively by the police. He also vowed to repeat the act, which he claims is a form of art.
Political activist Srisuwan Janya described the singer’s alleged transgression as disgusting and warned that he should not complain if he is charged under Section 358 of the Criminal Code, which carries a possible prison sentence of up to three years and/or a fine of 60,000 baht.
Former journalist Sutin Wannaboworn said that the singer was sending a message larger than just a paint throwing incident.
Former national human rights commissioner, Mrs. Kanchana Nilapaichit, said she disagreed with the singer’s action and demanded the Free Youth movement explain themselves, asking “What if the paint got into the eyes (of the police officer)?,” adding that a police officer, after removing his uniform, is just a civilian. “People who believe in peace will be tolerant and use dialogue,” she said.
A leader of the Pro-election group, Sirawith Seritiwat, alias Ja New, said that throwing paint at someone is well within the definition of non-violent means, saying that the stained police uniform can be washed or replaced.
He cited his experience of losing an eye during an assault, saying “Do not raise the bar of peaceful means so high that we can do nothing.”
“It must be condemned if acid is used or if someone is struck with a wooden club. Throwing paint may look violent, but it is not a violent act,” said the former protest leader, who tried to expose alleged corruption in the construction of the Rajapakdi Park in Hua Hin.
Anti-government political activist Sombat Boonngarm-anong has offered 5,000 baht for the police officer’s stained uniform, saying that it is of artistic value and he wants it kept.