Politics, like magic, often relies on misdirection. The performer gets the audience looking in one direction, while the real action is taking place somewhere else. Thailands military government has just provided us with an excellent example of this. The government, which came to power in a coup detat and which has no democratic legitimacy, has cautioned women that they need to be careful about the kinds of photos they put on the Internet. Specifically, the Thai authorities are cracking down on the latest fad of posting under-boob selfies.
Under the Computer Crimes Act of 2007, you are in serious trouble in Thailand if you post material that causes damage to the countrys security or causes public panic or any obscene computer data which is accessible to the public. Apparently, the authorities have decided that selfies showing under-boobage is obscene computer data. WTF? What kind of under-boob could cause a public panic?
Now, we arent talking about Saudi Arabia or the Islamic State, let alone Utah, here. This is freaking Thailand, the Mecca (sorry, Muslims) of Sex Tourism. A country known for bar girls, bachelor hotels and ladyboys is getting wound up over photos depicting flesh on the periphery of the female breast.
Part of the issue the government has is that the ladies doing this dont necessarily show their faces. When people take these under-boob selfies no one can see their faces, culture ministry spokesman Anandha Chouchoti said. So its like, we dont know who these belong to, and it encourages others to do the same. We can only warn people to not take it up. They are inappropriate actions.
I am firmly convinced that if they really wanted to figure out who these women are, the government could get thousands of 14-year-old boys to volunteer putting a face to each and every under-boob. The public morals of Thailand, however, are not the issue here at all. Misdirection is the purpose of this campaign.
You see, the government of the self-appointed Thai Prime Minister, former Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, seized power in part to fight corruption. And in a case of if you cant beat them, join them, the government has been plagued by corruption scandals. The ex-generals brother, Preecha, for instance, made a small error when reporting his assets and the anti-corruption policy required missing the figure by 11 million baht (about $300,000). Preechas net worth was closer to 90 million baht ($3 million) than the 79 million baht ($2.7 million) he stated on the form.
Still that is better than Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, president of the National Legislative Council, who refused to fill in the forms and declare his wealth. He said his stuff was priceless, so he wasnt going to put a value on them. I dont know how to say Go screw yourself in Thai, but that is about what he told the people.
Then, there is Police Chief Somyos Poompanmuang and his wife whose combined net worth was is 355.8 million baht (around $11 million). How a lifelong civil servant winds up with that kind of money, I dont know. His wife must be very efficient in running the house.
The final juicy tidbit is this whining from the prime minister himself. He doesnt like all the scrutiny and wound up complaining a few days ago when there were demands for great transparency, I beg you not to dig up anything. There is no benefit in so doing. My government is here today to solve problems,” he implored. “I have so many burdens on my shoulder. My wife is also in this difficult situation. I just want some kind of moral support from you. I need your understanding. But the media has tried to dig up many issues. So have some politicians. I must say that you cannot do that for the time being.
I wonder how much longer the Thai people can be distracted by under-boobs when their government is run by a pack of greedy boobs.
Jeff Myhre is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.