Singha Beer Is for Condescending Urban Elitists, Say Thai Boycotters

Memo to Singha beer heiress: probably not a good idea to insult your customers

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Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters

Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, whose family owns the Boon Rawd Brewery, the maker of Singha Beer, attends a rally in Bangkok on Dec. 13, 2013

Correction appended: Jan. 13, 2014, 2:33 a.m. E.T.

In a new twist to Thailand’s political tumult, people in the impoverished northeast have started boycotting iconic national beer brand Singha, after a derogatory comment by a member of the family that owns the brewery.

In a widely reported comment, 27-year-old beer heiress and frontline protester Chitpas Bhirombhakdi said that many Thais, “especially in the rural areas,” lacked a “true understanding” of democracy. Her remarks reflect the bitter political rift between the working-class and rural government loyalists on the one hand, and protesters drawn from the ranks of urban elites on the other.

Chitpas has since written on her Facebook page that she does not look down on rural people, but the boycott has spread across Thailand’s northeast — the agricultural heartland that is the power base of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.

The Singha family patriarch, Santi Bhirombhakdi, has expressed his disappointment with Chitpas’ political activities.

[New York Times]

An earlier version of this article stated that Thais around the world were boycotting Singha, but accounts mainly speak of a regional boycott.