News World Miss Universe quits after comments lead to social media storm
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Miss Universe quits after comments lead to social media storm

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Thailand’s contender for the Miss Universe beauty pageant has relinquished her crown after she allegedly called for supporters of the ousted government to be “executed”, sparking a social media furore.

A tearful Weluree Ditsayabut, 22, said she was giving up the chance to represent her country after a barrage of online criticism upset her family.

She was accused of calling for “the execution” of the “damn Reds” – a reference to the “Red Shirt” followers of former premier Yingluck Shinawatra and her family, which has won every Thai election since 2001.

“The land of Thailand is dirty because of people who want to get rid of the monarchy,” she was quoted as writing.

The remarks, made on her Facebook page late last year, have since been removed.

At the time protesters were massing on Bangkok’s streets calling for the resignation of Yingluck, in a political crisis that culminated in a coup carried out by Army Chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha on May 22.

Thailand has been torn apart by a bitter division since Yingluck’s elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire tycoon-turned-populist politician, was ousted in an earlier army takeover in 2006.

Political opinions of any kind can be highly inflammatory to the other side.

Facebook and Twitter users took aim at Weluree’s physical appearance in a campaign seemingly waged in reaction to her posts about government supporters.

Weluree, who is also a prominent actress, announced Monday that the backlash had proved too much.

“The comments that I have received were quite severe,” the pageant queen — better known as Nong Fai – said at a news conference Monday, where she appeared without her tiara or beauty pageant sash.

“I said sorry… I understand that I am a public figure but when I see my mother is unhappy, as a daughter I cannot be happy either. So, today I have decided to step down as Miss Universe Thailand.”

Dismayed organisers did not immediately say who would inherit her title and represent Thailand at Miss Universe later this year.