Maineung K. Kunthee was a penname of Kamol Duangphasuk, a prominent red-shirt poet and activist who was shot dead on Wednesday evening by unknown assailants.
Born in the Amphawa district of central Samutsongkhram province, Kamol graduated from Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Education. Kamol loved writing poems very much. His poems were published on Matichon Weekly and a few other magazines around 1990s. He made his living by owning a small restaurant, called Duck’s Poet Society, serving duck dishes.
After the 2006 coup d’etat, he appeared on anti-coup red-shirt rally. He often gave a speech and read his poems, fiercely attacking the coup makers and the establishment. He was then known as the People’s Poet and the Red Shirt Poet. Several of his poems, composed during the anti-coup era, still today read at red-shirt gatherings from time to time.
Kamol Duangphasuk, aka Maineung K. Kunthee
After Nuamthong Phaiwan, a taxi driver who slammed his taxi into a military tank, died because of suicide to protest against the coup, the red-shirt poet, along with other red activists managed to produce a statue of Nuamthong. The statue is placed at Nuamthong Phaiwan Memorial at the spot where the taxi driver hang himself.
Maineung had been very active with the red-shirt movement during the red-shirt demonstration in 2009 and 2010. Red-shirt sources said Maineung joined a violent wing of red-shirt during the 2010 rally. After the crackdown on red-shirts in 2010, he started to fade away from the red-shirt stages because of, believably, safety concerns. Sources said he fled to Cambodia.
He became politically active again when the controversial amnesty draft bills were put before the Lower House. Maineung joined Suda Rangkupan, a red-shirt activist and former Chulalongkorn University lecturer, in supporting the blanket Amnesty Bill amid oppositions from most of the red-shirts. They said getting the red-shirts political prisoners out of jail were their priority that made them compromised with the blanket bills.
The poet was also very active on the campaign against the Article 112 or the lese majeste law and the right to bail of lese majeste suspects and defendants. Suda and Maineung were the leaders of the Declaration of Street Justice Group. Very active in 2012, the group organized series of hunger strikes for the right to bail of lese majeste suspects/defendants and held a weekly seminar criticizing the Criminal Court on the footpath in front of the court compound.
In 2003, under the administration of then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Kamol was a committee member of Pan Wanfah Award, an award for political literature by the Thai parliament. The committee members were composed mostly of red-shirt poets. The Award was criticized as bias for the reds.
Wat Walayangoon, also a well-known red shirt writer and poet, said Maineung was popular for his poetic style which was direct and voicing strong political messages.
“When some red shirt people in the provinces have events like ordaining monks or wedding, they always invite Maineung to read the poem to boost morale,” said Wat. “He was beloved by the red shirt people.”