Royalist motivational speaker acquitted of defaming Isaan people

The courts have dismissed defamation charges against a controversial motivational speaker who in a talk last year accused Isaan people of being disloyal to the late King Bhumibol.
 
November last year, Thai social media was flooded with video clips of motivational speaker Orapim ‘Best’ Raksapon. She was reportedly subsidised by the Royal Thai Army to give lectures on the late King Bhumibol across the country. Her emotional and forceful speaking style made her videos viral but also controversial.
 
Her most notorious address, which subsequently lead to a lawsuit against her, was made in January 2016 at a university in the northeast. 
 
“Isaan people, please listen! The King [Bhumibol] loves you. It’s strange that sometimes you forget the King. It’s just strange. I’m not blaming you. I understand. You were born too late. You were born and saw the King sick,” said Best.
 
Her speech outraged the public, especially Northeastern people. Noppadon Sidatan, an Isaan lawyer, subsequently filed a defamation complaint against Best on 26 November, arguing that the speech creates hatred and misperceptions of northeastern people.
 
But the Appeal Court on 31 August 2017 confirmed the Court of First Instance’s dismissal of the charge, ruling that Noppadon is not a direct victim even though he is an northeasterner.
 
The court reasoned Best was talking about Isaan people in general, rather than the plaintiff specifically. Only the speech’s immediate audience has a right to file a complaint.
 
The court added that the controversial viral video was made with bad intentions towards Best, as it presented only one part of her speech, risking misunderstanding and hatred. As such, it was Best herself who was defamed by the video, rather than the plaintiff.
 
 
Orapim ‘Best’ Raksapon (Photo from Thairath)