Lecturer subjected to Facebook threat after post supporting election

Asst. Prof. Vinai Poncharoen, lecturer at the College of Politics and Governance, Mahasarakham University, has been attacked on Facebook by Maj. Gen. Rienthong Naenna, after posting a message on his personal profile supporting the upcoming general election. 

Vinai posted the question “Who plays a part in delaying the election? Remember that the will of the people is more important than any ceremony.” At 19:48 on 8 January, Maj. Gen. Rienthong, a prominent monarchist and leader of the ultra-royalist vigilante group RubbishCollection Organisation, responded on his Facebook page, asking Vinai to clarify what he meant by “ceremony” and implying that there will be repercussions for Vinai’s action, even though he would not be employing Article 112.

At 9:06 on 9 January Maj. Gen. Rienthong posted another message calling for the authorities to take action against Vinai for “undermining the monarchy.” He also called for Maharasakham University to remove Vinai from his position as lecturer. 

Vinai told Prachatai that he has closed his Facebook account to keep the matter from escalating any further. Other than Maj. Gen. Rienthong’s post, he has yet to receive any other threats from government officials or university personnel or students. Vinai said that he is happy to discuss the issue with Maj. Gen. Rienthong or with university executives if they would like to meet him. He said that he made the comment because he disagrees with the government delaying the election so far. As for Maj. Gen. Rienthong’s movement, Vinai does not believe that the general is using the monarchy as a political tool, but that he is expressing his loyalty to the monarchy in an ill-judged manner.