Red-shirt poet, anti-lese majeste law activist, tireless campaigner for the release of political prisoners. Kamol Duangphasuk, who was shot to death on Wednesday, was quite a personality.
Better known under his pen name “Mainueng Kor Kuntee”, Kamol was blunt, vocal, brash, generous and kind. These are words his friends and acquaintances used to describe him.
At the same time, ultra-royalists regarded him as their enemy and expressed satisfaction on social media that “trash” has been removed.
The motive behind his murder, which took place at a car park in northern Bangkok, is still unknown. But many people are speculating it is related to love or politics.
Born in Samut Songkhram and from a humble background, Kamol won a place at Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts.
He once ran a small restaurant, selling duck dishes, although he had been a poet for the past three decades.
He came to prominence after the coup in 2006 which ousted Thaksin Shinawatra, with his profile lifted further following his campaign against the lese majeste law and for the release of all political prisoners detained in the aftermath of the May 2010 bloody crackdown on red shirts.
Back in late 2011, when Amphon “Akong” Tangnoppakul, one of the best-known lese majeste convicts, passed away in prison, Kamol expressed his outrage with a pen and wrote a poem which partly reads: “Because we love to be friends who share sufferings, we must rise to eradicate the cause of suffering.”
His role in co-founding a group that demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners, called the Declaration in Front of Court, made him even more well known after the group organised events in front of the Criminal Court for months.
Kamol never tired of appearing on red-shirt stages to recite poems against perceived political injustices. He regarded himself as a commoner poet.
When the news of his abrupt death spread on Wednesday, many supporters wrote poems to express their grief, while some of his opponents expressed their satisfaction through pens and keyboards.