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Thai premier causes outrage over bikini comment

18 September 2014, 20:32

Bangkok - There was outrage in Thailand on Thursday after comments by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha that swimwear-clad tourists could be considered provocative, after two Britons were found murdered on a Thai beach this week.

"Tourists think they can do whatever but can they be really safe in bikinis?" he said on television late Wednesday, before adding "Unless they are not beautiful..."

Many Thais responded critically on social media. One Facebook user said the comment was "unbelievable and makes me ashamed that my country has anything to do with such uneducated and ignorant views".

A Twitter user asked rhetorically whether Thailand was to become "the first Buddhist country to adopt the burka as swimwear for women".

Author and commentator SP Somtow said, "It might bear pointing out that traditional Thai wear for women is topless".

"Much of what people think is morality is stuff that Christian missionaries brought over. It is not our culture," he told dpa.

Pavida Pananond, a political economy professor at Thammasat University, said the premier's off-hand remark "reflects a deep-rooted sexist belief that rape is caused by women acting or dressing improperly, but not men conducting unacceptable behaviour".

The bodies of a man and a woman, both 24, were found on a beach on Koh Tao Island, around 350km south of Bangkok, early on Monday with extensive injuries to the head and neck.



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