Thursday, April 22, 2021

Miss Universe Thailand loses mental health post for condemning police brutality

Unlike many risk-averse beauty queens, the 27-year-old Thai-Canadian has often been vocal on social media.

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Only a few days after the Department of Mental Health appointed Amanda Obdam as its brand ambassador, it reversed its decision after she spoke critically of state violence used against the pro-democracy movement, media sources report.

Crowned Miss Universe Thailand last year, Obdam was dismissed this week after she expressed disgust at images showing security forces appearing to assault medical volunteers in the street.

“The Department of Mental Health acknowledges people’s concerns and it cannot proceed with Amanda’s mission that may cause conflict and discomfort among the people, therefore we have terminated Amanda’s brand ambassadorship from this point onward,” the department’s statement reads.

Obdam was only appointed last week and pro-government elements were already criticising the move, saying it was wrong to appoint a “nation-hater” – a popular term used by conservative royalists to describe those pressing for social and government reform.

Unlike many risk-averse beauty queens, the 27-year-old Thai-Canadian has often been vocal on social media.

She has tweeted about cases of forced disappearances and criticised police violence ever since October when officers first deployed chemical-laced water cannons against protesters.

“Protesting is never a disturbance of the peace. Corruption, injustice, war and intimidation are disturbances of the peace,” she tweeted last month, quoting American author-activist Bryant McGill.

After police officers were filmed stomping on a volunteer medic on the ground on Feb 14, Obdam spoke out again.

“Disgusting behaviour. Where is the humanity?” she tweeted. “How can we talk about love when there’s still violence on the street?”

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