Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific said this week it has fired a Thai flight attendant who threatened to throw coffee at a business class passenger during a flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong on Nov. 25. The passenger in seat 15D happened to be the daughter of Thailand’s most divisive political figure, exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
“I immediately told my flight manager that I could not work knowing that the daughter of my enemy was on board,” the flight attendant, identified on the news site Asia Sentinel as Honey Lochanachai, wrote on her Facebook page. “I also called my personal advisor asking if it would be all right to throw coffee at [her], but was told that this could breach Hong Kong’s law.”
The Facebook post, which is no longer public, spread fast and soon put the flight attendant on newspaper front pages across the Southeast Asia. The target of the attack was surprised. “I’ve never thought somebody would have such an idea,” Thaksin’s daughter Paetongtarn wrote on Instagram. As Thaksin supporters protested outside Cathay Pacific’s Bangkok office, the airline apologized.
Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, lives in exile. In 2008, Thailand’s Supreme Court found the Thai billionaire guilty of corruption in a case of government land sold to his then wife, Paetongtarn’s mother, and sentenced him to two years in prison. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is now prime minister.
The last time Paetongtarn became the subject of a viral news story was when her father was still in power in 2004. He threatened to dissolve the lower house of parliament if rumors that he had a hand in her admission to the country’s oldest and most prestigious university, Chulalongkorn University, did not stop.
She is unlikely to see her new nemesis often: Paetongtarn recently sold her three-story Hong Kong residence for $8.4 million.
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