For the past 50 years, Banglamphu’s Nittaya Thai Curry
has been venerated by Bangkok foodies for its homemade curry pastes.
The store’s owner has put that reputation to test after she backed out of a pre-arranged, on-air interview with two journalists, which they allege was because they hold different political views.
When outspoken columnist and TV host Lakkana Punwichai, along with co-host Janya Rosie Wongsurawat, went to film Nittaya’s as part of SpokeDark’s TV programme Coach Khaek, store owner Nittaya Laksanawisit told Lakkana that she was not ready to be interviewed.
“I rarely have time to watch your TV show… I need to watch your TV program before we start our interview,” she said.
In a bizarre turn of events, she then offered the emcees freebies.
While seemingly non-confrontational, Nittaya’s reasoning didn’t convince the emcees. They believe they were denied for their allegiance to the red shirts, the political movement linked to exiled former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, which is at the vanguard of the pro-democracy fight today.
Despite Nittaya’s claim of ignorance regarding the program, Lakkana revealed that the show’s production team had contacted her in advance and been given the greenlight to interview her.
“She gave us permission to film her store,” Lakkana said during the show, which aired live on Facebook and YouTube. “When she realized I’m a red shirt supporter, she changed her mind.”
After the show aired, netizens unloaded on the shop, with many suggesting that its owner sought to make the emcees lose face.
“The store owner was extremely unprofessional,” wrote Twitter user cnew888. “The TV programme [Coach Khaek] had been in contact with her for months. If she wasn’t comfortable [appearing in the show], she should have refused them in the first place. What’s wrong with being a red shirt supporter?”
Another Twitter user, Freelyaskpharm, noted that Nittaya may have seemed polite, but her actions spoke louder than her words. “Did she realize how much money and effort it takes to film one TV episode? She has ruined the TV crew’s whole plan.”
Supporters of the shop, including her niece, spoke out in support of Nittaya and denied that politics played a part in the kerfuffle.
“She [Nittaya] has never been involved in politics,” wrote Preedawadee Laksanawisit, who works for the curry paste shop.
“Even in the video, she has never said anything about not welcoming the red shirt supporters. If she really discriminated against them, why would she prepare a feast for you here? Please don’t accuse her wrongly… she may not have been sure if the show would be about normal lifestyle content or politics. She just wants to remain neutral in this.”
At the time of writing, Preedawadee did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Nittaya could not be reached.