Under Fire Influencer Accused Of Misspending Donations for Chiang Mai Wildfire Project

Sean Buranahiran

Popular social media influencer, Sean Buranahiran who came under fire last week over his video clip describing Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon as “kind of sweet” is now being accused of misspending donations raised for a wildfire protection project.

After his comment unleashed a storm of anger from followers who didn’t like him apparently cosying up to the government, some of his critics raised questions about his spending of more than 875,000 baht donated for his project to fight bushfires in Chiang Mai.

In response to these questions, Sean on Saturday posted details of the Chiang Mai wildfire project including the spending of donations received between March 30 and May 1.

However, that has only prompted political activist Srisuwan Janya to come out and accuse Sean of misspending 254,516.53 Baht of the 875,741.53 Baht total and call for an investigation into the matter.

Mr Srisuwan, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, said he has petitioned the Department Of Provincial Administration to investigate whether the project was conducted lawfully.

Citing the 1944 Collection Act, Mr Srisuwan said the project must be approved by the chief of Chiang Mai’s Muang district office, issue receipts to every donor and not use any of the donated money for other purposes which, in this case, he alleges was used to fund self-promotional media.

Sean, however, in his Facebook post on Saturday, said the 254,516.53 baht was spent on hiring a professional media production team to produce two video clips aimed at raising awareness about the severity of the wildfire problem and urging more experts to help contain the blazes.

He said, the clips were published on his Facebook page, Instagram and YouTube accounts, and had received positive feedback, especially from policymakers and young people.

He insisted he had over the past four years produced inspiring content out of his own money and would continue campaigning for public participation in fighting the wildfire problem even after the project ends.

Department of Provincial Administration Director-General Thanakom Chongchira said yesterday he had not seen Mr Srisuwan’s petition. However, he said his department has plans to amend the 1944 Collection Act as it is now out of date.

Revenue Department Director-General Ekniti Nitithanprapas, meanwhile, said Sean will have to keep a record of the donations and how they are spent to receive tax benefits.

As for the donations spent on producing the video clips, Mr Ekniti said, the department will have to find out whether they can be waived from tax payment.

Deputy police spokesman Pol Col Kissana Phathanacharoen said police would begin investigating the alleged embezzlement only if a damaged party lodges a complaint.

So far, no such complaints have been filed against Sean despite all the comments on social media.


Archers Mexican Night
Mexican Mondays at Archer Restaurant & Bar Chiang Mai