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Out of the limelight, but not inner light

Ornapa ‘Ma’ Krisadee, Famous transgender TV co-host

Bold and beautiful, strong and fierce, sharp and foul-mouthed; call her whatever you want, but one thing famous transgender TV co-host Ornapa ‘Ma’ Krisadee isn’t, and will never be, is a fake or a liar.

Almost a year after being sacked overnight from all TV shows and boycotted by the public for her harsh comments on a teenager’s post about her participation in an anti-government rally, the 66-year-old former top model and makeup artist says she was “very happy” without the limelight. It forced her to venture out and try something new, a skincare product.

Known for her perfectionism and arrogant image, the public probably think she is putting on a happy face, but insiders know it is true. Thanks to her regular Vipassana meditation over the past ten years, Ms. Ornapa said it helped her cope with the sudden change that would have sent her into downward spiral.

“I learned about the sacking on TV at the same time as everyone else. I was at home, watching news with my mother. It was very strange because when I heard the reporter announce it, I didn’t feel sad or angry at all. All I felt was, ‘Too bad, that is a huge loss of income.’ – no crying nor complaining. In fact, I was also surprised with myself.”

Insisting she was not shocked to numbness, Ms. Ornapa says her brain was fully aware at the time the news broke, processing the information clearly. “I even asked myself why my mind was so calm,” she admitted, saying she was not always like that in the past.

For almost 50 years in the entertainment industry, the Thai TV co-host was well- known, or rather notorious, for her outspoken, straightforward nature which had served her rather well. With her impeccable sense of style, aesthetic background, and an eye for the ‘it’ factor, Ms. Ornapa, has proved to be one of the best judges on the country’s major audition programs and TV idol shows. It was truly a love-hate relationship between her and the media, as well as the public.

The last straw came in August last year when she told the schoolgirl to “keep playing with your (explicit word) at home. Don’t go to school, you demon kids.” The comment spread across the Internet like wildfire and ignited public uproar.

“In fact, I had second thoughts about it and went back to the comment to delete it. But seeing that it had already gone viral, I just said, “Never mind” and everything just went Boom!” But she accepted it; after all, it was part of her nature.

“I have a quick tongue and my straightforwardness and bluntness didn’t help either. Although I don’t do unsolicited comments, I usually say what’s in my head when asked because this is who I am. I can’t accept something unless it’s the truth,” Ms. Ornapa explains.

But it is meditation practice that has helped her come to terms with herself and her actions, including their consequences.

While she acknowledges that her words are sometimes too harsh, Ms. Ornapa says she isn’t sorry for what she said, noting that she has no problem with different political views. It’s the manner in which the young generation express them, and their “laziness” and “refusal” to dig deeper into the country’s history, which irk her.

Thailand’s current political divide is deeper than the fight between the military government and pro-democracy groups. The contentious point is the pro-democracy group’s belief that the monarchy should be abolished in order to allow democracy to fully flourish, viewing it as irrelevant in today’s world.

However, it cannot be denied that the nation’s foundation was built mostly on strong kings and other royal members who tried to protect the nation from imperialism through modernization. Although Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, King Rama V was the real trailblazer. His launch of the Slave Abolition Act was part of a plan to pave way for a new system, largely influenced by Western democracy, also studied heavily by his son, King Rama VI. He also set up Dusit Thani, a city within the palace, governed under democratic rules as part of his modernization plan.

“What I can’t accept is the lack of respect. It’s the lack of gratitude I cannot stand,” she notes. “We are not where we are today without the monarchy’s contribution; those kids must realize this.”

Perhaps if she changed her style, it would improve her chances of getting her messages across?

“I hardly see these types of kids listen when their parents use soft words to teach them. Yes, my words are brutal and I take the consequences, but I still believe in respect and gratitude. I just hope after my generation, there are more good people in power than bad.”