Thai man faces backlash for photos showing welfare card along with luxury items

Thai man faces backlash for photos showing welfare card along with luxury items
PHOTO: The Nation/Asia News Network

Facebook user "Wachrin Tankuranun" has apparently attracted unwanted attention after he posted a photo of an expensive wristwatch, a cup of iced coffee and his government-issued welfare card on the popular social media site.

The photo went viral and drew negative comments about how a welfare-card holder apparently was living an extravagant lifestyle, including possessing an expensive watch and drinking expensive coffee.

Under the photo, he wrote: "I've got the card. My status has changed. I'm really poor." A photo on his Instagram account showed him wearing footwear with an accompanying box bearing the Louis Vuitton brand.

Thai nationals applying for welfare cards are supposed to be jobless or earn less than Bt100,000 (S$4,000) per year, not to have bank accounts and not to have assets such as government bonds or real estate.

Only those who meet the qualification criteria are eligible for the card, which entitles them to monthly government subsidies for transport, groceries and cooking gas.

The subsidies are intended for low-income people, making Wachrin's photos on Facebook appear to reveal violations in his application for the card. In response, Comptroller-General Department director-general Suthirat Rattanachote said the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) would examine whether Wachrin met the qualifications for the welfare card in the light of photos appearing to depict a luxurious lifestyle.

The FPO would notify the department of its findings and the department would revoke the card if it were concluded that he did not qualify as low income, she said.

Earlier media reports stated that Wachrin was a popular model on Facebook, which raised questions about whether he fit the qualifications to receive financial welfare from the government.

Wachrin's Facebook wall shows photos of him in sexy poses as well as images depicting a high-rolling life, including him riding a big motorcycle.

Some of those who commented on the photos wrote that he was not actually that popular and the photos might be misleading about the success he had achieved.

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