False posts target newly-elected progressive Thai MP with 'urinating in public' claim

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A video of a person urinating in front of a police station has been shared repeatedly across Facebook and messaging app Line alongside a false claim they are one of Thailand's newly-elected members of parliament from the progressive Move Forward Party (MFP). The posts circulated after the party claimed victory in Thailand's elections, decimating the military-backed elites. According to police in the Thai capital Bangkok, the video in fact shows a different person and not the actress-turned-political activist Sirilapas Kongtrakarn.

The 48-second clip was shared on Facebook on May 21, 2023 with the caption: "Peeing (in public) and showing it off on social media. The 9th constituency Bangkok MP. Is this the person who will represent people? At Lumpini police station."

"Ninth constituency Bangkok MP" appears to refer to MFP's Sirilapas Kongtrakarn, an actress-turned-political activist who won in the Bangkok districts of Wang Thonglang and Bang Kapi during the country's elections on May 14. She was given the number nine during the polls, but her constituency was actually the 14th (archived link).

A person urinating on the side of the street can be seen in the video. At the 22-second mark, the camera pans to show a signboard for the Lumpini police station in the Thai capital Bangkok.

The posts circulated after the progressive MFP defeated the country's military-backed elite in a historic election breakthrough and were in coalition talks with other opposition parties to form a government. It inked a deal with seven other parties on May 22, AFP reported (archived link).

Screenshot of the false post, captured on May 24, 2023

The video was also shared alongside an image of Sirilapas and a similar false claim on Facebook here, here, and here.

The claim also spread on messaging app Line, which is popular in Thailand. Below are screenshots of the false messages:

Screenshot of false claim circulating in Line groups

Some users left comments indicating they believed the false claim.

"Crying so hard. I feel sorry for Thailand," one wrote.

Another said: "This shows the quality of those supporting the Move Forward party as they are really getting along well."

But Sirilapas refuted the false claim on Twitter on May 21 and called on people to send her information about the posts' senders (archived link).

"I will collect information and send it to a lawyer," she wrote in the post.

No such video can be seen on Sirilapas' official social media account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube (archived links here, here, here, here and here).

Police confirmed the person in the video was not Sirilapas.

'Intoxicated person'

"That (person) was not the Move Forward MP," Lumpini police station superintendent Nimit Nuphonthon told AFP on May 23.

Nimit explained the person had been arrested for public drunkenness on May 2 at the Okura Prestige Hotel after police received a complaint.

Officers asked the person's friend to take them home before the person then urinated in front of the police station and posted the video on social media, he said.

They later investigated and invited the person back to the police station before issuing them with a fine and forwarding the case for judicial prosecution, he said.

"All prosecution has been completed," Nimit said.

Google reverse image and keyword searches also found the same video had circulated alongside another clip from a different angle on Facebook on May 3, more than a week before the Thai elections.

Local media outlet Sanook also reported on the incident on May 4 here (archived link).

Following the elections in Thailand, AFP has debunked other false claims about the MFP here and here.