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Jakarta Post

Thai-Indonesian flame war spotlights ASEAN’s identity problem

Thai-Indonesian flame war spotlights ASEAN’s identity problem A supporter wrapped in a rainbow flag attends the annual "Pink Dot" event in a public show of support for the LGBT community at Hong Lim Park in Singapore, on July 1, 2017. (Agence France-Presse/Roslan Rahman)
Gisela Swaragita and Tama Salim
Jakarta   ●   Fri, April 16, 2021

Indonesia’s netizens have once again lived up to their reputation as the most ill-mannered in all of Southeast Asia, after a recent display of homophobic commentary devolved into an all-out flame war with Thai internet users.

But the incident also casts a long shadow over the regional project to construct a “common” ASEAN identity, as well as Indonesia’s traditional role in leading the way.

Thai national Suriya Kertsang, 28, and his 24-year-old partner Suriya Manusonth have been at the receiving end of obscene and degrading comments online by strangers from Indonesia, ever since they posted pictures of their celebration of union on Facebook on April 4.

It did not take long before the online bullying turned into a cross-border mud-slinging fest tinged with homophobia, Islamophobia and jingoism.

As of Thursday, the couple&r...

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