Thailand’s military Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-Ocha has raged at the Thai media after a story in the Daily Mirror (London) described the Thai resort as the ‘world’s sex capital’.

And he told local media in Thailand not to highlight the issue due to ‘risk of tarnishing the country’s image’ reported Prachathai News in Bangkok.

From the Mirror

And he told them that the Thai media should not believe a story written by foreigners.

The Daily Mirror published a story on February 16th headed: “Inside the world’s sex capital: City dubbed ‘modern day Sodom and Gomorrah’ with highest number of prostitutes anywhere.”

There was nothing new in the story, which also stated that 27,000 prostitutes plied their trade in the city.

But it gave the newspaper an opportunity to publish numerous pictures of Thai prostitutes, well,  plying their trade, which I guess might have cheered Mirror readers up on a grey drizzly day. It however was not billed as a ‘Reader Service’.

Prime Minister Prayuth (above) then announced he would clear out Thailand’s prostitutes.

 “You’re the Thai media. Do you believe them? (the foreign medias) Do the authorities arrest [prostitutes]? Yes, they do. I will order the police to clear them out. And let’s see if there will be any trouble. I don’t support prostitution. I follow the law,” said Prayuth. “Instead of improving Thailand’s image, you [media] just keep blaming the government. Why? I don’t get it.”

The Thai media probably do believe the foreign media in this instance. Thai Police of course rarely arrest prostitutes for prostitution. When they do it is usually to shake them down for money. 

Prayuth’s promise to seemingly end the country’s sex trade, a trade which is known worldwide, is unconvincing. 

This promise has been made regularly and the trade grows every year. 

But General Chan-Ocha is not alone in issuing false news from the top in Thailand. If Thai Prime Ministers attracted the same scrutiny as Donald Trump the world media would have a veritable field day.
Thai Premiers are renowned for their denials of everything from human trafficking to bird flu.

General Prayuth is currently issuing legislation to ensure all journalists are licenced and only issued a licence after they pass one of his prepared courses.

Prayuth is known for some classic faux pas. After the murder of Britons Hannah Witheridge and Ian Miller on the island of Koh Tao he stated: 

“There are always problems with tourist safety…They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they wear bikinis and walk everywhere…. Can they be safe in bikinis…unless they are not beautiful?”

Two Burmese migrant workers have been sentenced to death for the crime, but it is popularly believed that they are scapegoats and were framed to avoid blame being attached to Thai culprits.

Prayuth promotes Thainess and encourages modesty, and during the annual water-throwing holiday of Songkran had urged Thai women to dress modestly because:

 ‘Women are like candies or desserts which should be wrapped nicely because people will not buy unwrapped candies or desserts.”

He appears to be against equality for women and in 2015 was quoted as saying: 

“Everybody’s saying that we should create equality, women and men should have the same rights, should be able to do the same good and bad things—if that’s the case, if that’s how you think, Thai society will deteriorate!”

Chan-Ocha had personally told journalists not to report negatively on the Thai fishing industry which has been accused of the widespread abuse and trafficking and even murder of migrant labour merely to avoid paying. 

And he has warned that if any news reports cause Thailand’s seafood industry to lose customers, “the people who published the news must be held responsible.”

Of Thais, he said:

 “The charm of the Thai people is that they look lovely even when they do nothing, because they have smiles.” 

That’s all and well, but a Thai smile does not necessarily denote happiness. His continual reference to Thainess appears to translate that people should follow his orders and not rise up or criticise those in power, who are the reason for their poverty in the first place.

Addressing his middle-class supporters, he said: it was “up to the middle class to swarm to the polls and defeat the poor who are just after government handouts.”

Possibly the main reason why there are so many prostitutes in Thailand is that successive governments have kept the poor in place, and prostitutes can earn more in a few days in Pattaya than during the rice harvesting season in the north and north eastern regions where their families are.

Mirror readers can take heart that there will be no serious crackdown on prostitution and newspapers will be able to continue to report as they do annually on Thailand’s sex trade, not because they have been ordered to but because it sells newspapers.

What inspired the Mirror photo feature? It seems to be the video story of a 62-year-old Brit being caught by police in the company of a prostitute in a ‘short time room’ above a bar – a story the Mirror also covered.

All commercial sex enterprises in Pattaya pay monthly payments not only to the police in Pattaya but also at regional and central level in Bangkok.

Daily Mirror


Footote: The Mirror pictures by the way were from the same set from which the Daily Star published a similar account when the bars returned to normal two weeks after the death of the late King under the headline ;Inside the X-rated world of Pattaya Bars;.

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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