Recently, the image of a smoking police officer in Singapore went viral. Nobody was seriously appalled, but neither were the comments very kind. I’m sure the poor guy is going to get into trouble, but then, who on earth would be so unoccupied after dinner to repost the picture of the smoking cop striking a kiam pa pose. Certainly not me when far more interesting things happen in Thailand.
Royal Thai Police are investigating a police lieutenant who shared photos of himself striking a “feminine” pose on Facebook.
The set of photos, which were posted to a Facebook account named natchaichalerm wongyai, have been widely re-shared online, eliciting a negative outcry about the supposedly inappropriate poses.
The officer in the photo was later identified as Police Lieutenant Natchaichalerm Wongyai at Narathiwat’s Srisakorn district. According to Sanook, Srisakorn Superintendent Police General Payong Sanukul did not punish Natchaichalerm for his provocative demeanor, as Payong saw it as a personal issue.
Natchaichalerm admitted to being the person in the photos. He followed the advice of his colleagues and recently deleted his Facebook account.
Thailand is generally tolerant to such behaviour, but a certain standard of manliness is still expected of the guys in uniforms when they appear in public. But how could a pose like that create an uproar in Thailand? Well, apparently, there’s more.
Poor Lieutenant Nat. He forgot to shave his chest hair while trying to imitate the female model he saw in Maxim. No wonder he evoked so much disgust in the Thai community. A smoking Ah Beng policeman? Step aside. Lieutenant Nat’s pics are far jucier and more share-worthy.
But, as we can tell from the news, no disciplinary action will be taken against him. If only we can say the same for our Ah Beng policeman. There is another valuable lesson to be learned from this episode (referring to Lieutenant Nat). While Thai society is rather tolerant to prostitution and behaviour deemed deviant in a more rigid society like ours, this tolerance is based on privacy and at least partial confidentiality. Strictly no public discussions or exhibition. This explains the uproar. Thais felt that they have lost face.
Meanwhile, trouble has been brewing in the temples and I’m not just talking about beer.
BANGKOK: — After discovering that Luang Pu Nenkham Chattigo, who also goes by the moniker Phra Weerapol Sukpol, spent Bt95 million to buy 22 Mercedes Benz cars, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will also investigate to see if the monk was part of a money-laundering racket.
DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said investigators had learned that between the years of 2008 and 2011, the monk had purchased 22 luxury cars in cash, of which 21 of them were in his own name. The 22nd car, worth Bt7.59 million, was bought under the name of his disciple Pansaeng Chumang.
The DSI yesterday also conducted a DNA test on an 11-year-old boy in Si Sa Ket, who is believed to be the monk’s son. Luang Pu Nenkham allegedly had a sexual relationship with the young boy’s mother when she was only 14. The result of the test should be ready in two days.
The DSI has also tried contacting the monk’s parents for DNA samples, and said if they did not cooperate, the agency will seek help from court. A DSI senior official said the agency will ensure justice for all sides.
Tarit said that according to the Central Institute of Forensic Science, the photograph depicting Luang Pu Nenkham lying next to a person believed to be a woman, had not been doctored. However, the institute is unable to confirm the other person’s sex.
Saying Wat Or Noi abbot Luang Pu Buddha Issara would submit “confidential” information about the monk to DSI today, Tarit warned the monk’s followers not to tamper with evidence or threaten witnesses or they could be charged for obstructing the authority.
According to the website www.alittlebuddha.com, Luang Pu Nenkham and his three companions had left France for the United States yesterday. The Foreign Ministry also said yesterday that they had not been asked to help locate the monk.
National Buddhism Office chief Nopparat Benjawatananun said if the report was true, they could contact US authorities for the monk’s extradition. The office is also working on revoking the monk’s passport.
Of course, after observing Thailand for so many years, I’m not at all surprised by such findings, but check out the words in bold. His followers are willing to remain true to him in spite of the truth. They would even tamper with the evidence to protect him. Is this what they call faith? Certainly not very Buddhist if you ask me.
What’s the lesson here? Many celebrity monks in Thailand are not teachers but really cult leaders. Scary? Yes, but then, where is a creative writer like me going to get inspiration without all the bizarre happenings in Thailand?
© Chan Joon Yee