A German man living in Thailand with a Thai wife staged numerous silent protests this week in Rayong but was warned off by police officers on Thursday who visited his home. His case is similar to that of French man Yan Eric Marchal who hit the headlines in 2019 with a viral video targeting Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha. Mr Marchal, despite similar cautions and promises to discontinue his activities, remained controversial with numerous online incidents and outbursts against the government and higher authorities. He was ultimately deported and blacklisted from Thailand.
A German man, on Friday, claimed he had been given a warning by Thai police officers not to continue his silent protest activities seen this week in Rayong in which he targeted the acting Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan. Moritz Pfoh told reporters that he had apologised to the officials concerned for his actions and would instead channel his political opinions into his art. Nonetheless, it is understood that the German and his Thai wife are planning to participate in this weekend’s protests against the government’s leadership being organised by Redshirt leader Jatuporn Prompan in Bangkok.
A 35-year-old German man has revealed that he was visited by the Royal Thai Police on Thursday afternoon after news broke of his silent protest against the Thai government in Rayong province.
Over the last three or four days, up to Thursday, Mr Moritz Pfoh had appeared and was noticed by bemused standers-by at intersections on the Sukhumvit Road in the urban centre or Rayong holding a framed picture portrait of current acting Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan with a red X mark taped across it.
German expat rejects acting PM Prawit Wongsuwan and also voiced disapproval for General Prayut in silent protests with a portrait picture and red X
The German wanted to show his rejection of the new government acting leader who assumed the role on August 24th after Thailand’s Prime Minister, since 2014, General Prayut Chan-ocha was suspended from duties by the Constitutional Court over a challenge to his tenure on the basis of a constitutional term limit.
However, reporters who interviewed the German political activist on Thursday quickly learned that his opposition is not just aimed at General Prawit but also at his fellow ‘brother-in-arms’ General Prayut who took power in Thailand in 2014 following the coup d’État in May of that year which ousted the democratically elected Pheu Thai government.
Residents in Rayong had noticed the tall German making his silent protest on the main Sukhumvit Road at different points for up to 30 minutes at a time this week before getting into a car and driving off.
Expat has been in Thailand for eight years, says he pities the Thai people and is willing to risk losing his visa to stay in the country by protesting
On Thursday, he was discovered wearing a white T-shirt, black shorts, blue shoes and dark sunglasses when accosted by reporters.
He said he was carrying out his private and silent protest because he felt sorry for the people of Thailand and wanted to help.
The German man said he was aware that his actions could have consequences including the possibility of losing his visa and being forced to return to Germany but he was willing to take that risk.
His Thai wife told reporters that he is a man who is very interested in politics and was acting with a good heart toward the Thai people who he feels are more intimidated about speaking out against the government than any expat.
Travelled to Bangkok this week to attend planned protests against the leadership of the government in the capital called by Jatuporn Prompan of the UDD
The couple planned to be in Bangkok on Saturday 3rd September for a weekend of protests led by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) Chairman Jatuporn Prompan who is currently mobilising protest activity against the key military figures who took part in the 2014 coup in Thailand and who are still integral to the government which was elected to office under the 2017 Constitution in Thailand in 2019 headed by General Prayut.
Mr Moritz is understood to have lived in Thailand for the last eight years.
On Thursday night he travelled with his wife to Bangkok to stay in a condominium unit in the city after being warned by police officers who visited him in Rayong to talk about his actions in criticising the government.
Police officers who came to his home were extremely polite and civil but the message was clear, risks losing his visa if this sort of activity continues
The German described the officers who arrived at his home as extremely polite and civil but their message was clear.
If he continues with his protest activity at this time he will likely face difficulties having his visa to reside in Thailand renewed.
The situation is quite similar to another expat, then-47-year-old Yan Eric Marchal, who in 2019 produced a humorous video parodying Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha that went viral with millions of views.
He was similarly visited at home by plainclothes policemen who warned him about his behaviour and demanded an apology.
French expat government critic deported after being denied entry into Thailand via Phuket on Saturday
However, despite an earlier resolution to the contrary, the French man continued to become embroiled in controversy by coming out in support of the violent protests in Bangkok in October 2020 with highly provocative statements which may have breached the law.
Blacklisted: French man’s fate ultimately sealed last November when he was deported on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok to visit his family
After this, he was told his visa was being revoked.
Mr Marchal had an extremely successful Tik Tok site with over 600,000 followers.
The situation subsequently was described as a misunderstanding by Immigration Bureau officers before Mr Marchal’s case ultimately came to head in November last year when he was refused entry into Thailand at Phuket Airport, taken into custody and subsequently deported from the kingdom.
He had travelled to Thailand to visit his family knowing the situation regarding his immigration status was already uncertain.
German has apologised and plans to focus on art
A more cautious Mr Moritz, on Friday, revealed that he had already offered an apology to the police officer who visited his home even though he insisted that he had a private right to protest.
Police officers offered their advice to the German while asking to inspect his documents and confirm his visa status.
The slightly chastened expat told reporters that he may in future confine his political expression to his art and his work much in a similar way to Marchal suggested after the furore in 2019 but whose outburst against authorities in 2020 ultimately led to his visa being revoked and him being blacklisted from the kingdom.
About the Author
James Morris is a pename for an international writer based in Bangkok who works on various international news media. He is a sub editor with the Thai Examiner news website since it began in 2015. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.