foodpanda Thailand apologises after copping flak for calling anti-govt protester 'terrorist'

Foodpanda Thailand has apologised for disappointing and upsetting any parties due to a recent comment on its Twitter account. Multiple media outlets including Nikkei Asia reported that foodpanda Thailand said it would fire a rider who had participated in the pro-democracy movement. In a previous Twitter statement on 18 July, the food delivery company responded to a tweet saying it "will expedite the strict implementation" of the company's rules by immediately dismissing the driver. Foodpanda added that it has a policy against all forms of violence and terrorism, and it is willing to fully cooperate with the authorities "in prosecuting criminals".

The statement was published after footage from the pro-democracy rally on Sunday showed a man present when a royal portrait was set on fire. Another clip also showed the same man riding off on a motorcycle with a woman and the motorcycle reportedly had a bag with the foodpanda logo on it.

In its latest statement on Twitter, foodpanda explained that the comment was posted by its team member without the company's consent and does not represent foodpanda. "We know this has hugely affected and frustrated customers, riders, partners and members of the public, and we are taking responsibility for this comment that was posted on our Twitter feed, regardless of who posted it and how it occurred," foodpanda said.

It added that the company is still trying to determine the identity of the rider, and that it respects the freedom of speech and expression. "We do not believe in implementing policies that impact freedom of speech and expression. Therefore, foodpanda assures freedom of speech and expression is not terrorism and the rider will not be dismissed due to this incident," it clarified.

In the 24 hours since the Twitter statement was posted on 19 July, foodpanda's management and operational team in Thailand are thoroughly looking into various processes to ensure inappropriate comments on its Twitter account do not occur again.

"We are committed to doing our best to support our community, and once again sincerely apologise for any anger and disappointment this incident has caused you. We will work even harder to restore your faith and trust in us again," it added.

Shortly after the first Twitter statement was posted, the hashtag #banfoodpanda has been trending. One Twitter user said almost everyone in his social circle has deleted their account on foodpanda and uninstalled the app while some also posted videos of them deleting the app from their phones. Meanwhile, a few other users also called out foodpanda for allegedly removing the "Delete my account" option on the app.

Last year, foodpanda also copped flak from Thai consumers when it was one of the 25 sponsors identified to have advertised on pro-establishment outlet Nation TV, Nikkei Asia said. It added that pro-democracy supporters encouraged Thais to boycott both the media outlet and its advertisers. Foodpanda subsequently suspended all ads on the channel over concerns of its reputation. According to Nikkei Asia, Burger King, Coffee Club and Swensen's were also boycotted.

Since last year, pro-democracy supporters have been calling for the resignation of prime minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha. In June, media outlets including PBS reported that the supporters took to the streets again to mark the anniversary of the 1932 Siamese Revolution whihc resulted in the overthrow of Thailand's absolute monarchy. They also called for the prime minister to step down once again.