It’s a tough gig, being the top man in a military junta that’s running a country.
Not only do you have to run the economy, run the public service, keep the streets safe and provide attitude adjustment training to the riff-raff, but you’re also required to hand out sage advice when the country needs it most.
Like Valentine’s Day.
It’s a big day in Thailand, and judging by the nervous pronouncements coming from the self-appointed junta PM and the Moral Promotion Centre (yes that’s what it’s called – wait until I tell you the name of the bloke who runs the place), Thai teenagers have used the day previously to be quite promiscuous.
“Skip sex and enjoy a special meal for Valentine’s Day” said the headline in one of Bangkok’s daily newspapers.
“Women must watch out for scary men” said another.
The head of the Moral Promotion Centre is a chap called Sin (I’m not kidding) Suesuan.
“Available information suggests that 83 per cent of Thai teenagers plan to have sex on Valentine’s Day,” Sin said.
“If they hang out in secluded areas after a meal, there is a possibility that they will opt for sex.”
Sin urged teenagers to post “Just a Meal for Valentine” on their Facebook pages this year.
The Government took Sin’s concerns seriously. On Valentine’s Day, a 300-strong police taskforce was sent out to try and prevent underage couples from entering ‘inappropriate areas’.
This included random inspections of pubs and motels.
It also prompted a general lecture from Prime Minister Prayut about appropriate behavior for Thai men and women.
Remember, up until one year ago the Prime Minister was the head of Thailand’s military.
“Women need to build up an ‘immunity’ to protect themselves, while men should not deceive their girls,” he said.
“To be real men, they have to earn money for their families. In my time, when a man wanted to have a date with a woman, he needed to earn money to pay.
“But men these days are only handsome, and they make the women pay.”
Gen Prayut went on to talk about his concerns for his own daughters, saying men are flirtatious and ‘scary’. He had asked his daughters why they have not had boyfriends, and their response was that men today are not gentlemen.
(Thanks Dad. It may also be because our Dad is the most powerful man in the country, known for locking people up simply for offering the Hunger Games salute, or for speaking out about the lack of free speech.)
But I digress. The concerns aired by both Sin and the PM highlight a much bigger problem in Thailand, one which at least one newspaper editorialised on Valentine’s Day.
Thais generally are very conservative. This may surprise a lot of people, who believe Thailand is a country where morals are low, cheap sex is everywhere, and basically anything goes. And there certainly are areas which are not for the faint hearted.
But in general, Thais are very shy. Public signs of affection are frowned upon, people dress sensibly, and sex education, proper sex education, is limited.
Teachers are too embarrassed to talk in any detail about sex issues, which might explain why many teenagers have no concept of the dangers. 75 out of 1000 girls aged between 15 and 19 get pregnant in Bangkok.
A proposal was put forward last week to have condom vending machines put in Thai schools. The head of the Office of Basic Education Commission freaked out, saying this would happen over his dead body.
As the Bangkok Post editorial stated, it’s not just Thai students that need proper sex education.