Dial 'C' for chalerm, Let's face it, Sex sells

Who you gonna call? Chalerm!

Help is just a phone call away for outspoken actress Bongkoj ''Tak'' Kongmalai, as she contemplates her safety at the hands of her red shirt critics.

Bongkoj ‘Tak’ Kongmalai and her mother.

The government's chief crimebuster has come to the rescue, offering her a contact number should she feel under threat.

Chalerm Yubumrung, deputy prime minister and the government's chief crime stopper, on Wednesday offered his mobile phone number to Tak, who was chased from Pattaya last week by red shirts unhappy with her comments on the lese majeste debate.

Speaking in the House, Mr Chalerm said he did not think the red shirts who hounded her from Pattaya meant any harm.

However, if she felt unsafe, she could contact him and he would send police to help.

''Don't think you are unsafe, or can't work, as I don't think things will get any worse,'' he said.

''If you think you're unsafe, or in danger from the red shirts, just give me a call on that number,'' he said.

Tak was hounded from a film set in Pattaya last week by 30 angry red shirts.

A videoclip of the Pattaya incident has surfaced. It showed red shirts chasing Tak from town, cutting in front of her black BMW, holding aloft placards, and honking their horns.

Tak was in Pattaya to make a movie. When the red shirts arrived, Tak was in the BMW, about to film a scene with a farang character. They sped off instead, with red shirts on motorcycles giving chase.

The actress and her film crew made it to a petrol station on the outskirts of town, and from there headed home safely.

Her remarks, and the ensuing drama in Pattaya, set off a round of comments on both sides of the lese majeste debate.

Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit said he did not see the red shirts harm Tak. They only followed the actress on motorcycles and that was not a threat.

If Tak felt she was threatened she could file a complaint with police, he said, adding that people should not judge only from the video clip they saw.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, however, said the incident raised questions about women's rights, and asked why the government with a female prime minister as its head wasn't doing more to protect Tak.

Red shirts took umbrage after Takcelebrated the death last week of convicted lese majeste offender Ampon Tangnoppakul on her Facebook page.

Ampon, aka Ah Kong, aka Uncle SMS, died in jail on May 8, and in Tak's view went straight to hell.

''It's his karma,'' she pronounced on Facebook, while also firing off a few choice remarks at his supporters who include red shirts campaigning for a change to the lese majeste law _ asking when they would join him in hell too.

Ah Kong, 62, was last year sentenced to jail for 20 years for sending four text messages which defamed Her Majesties the King and Queen. He was denied bail eight times while waiting for a decision in his case.

Contacted the next day, the actress said she was shocked by her Pattaya hounding, but did not intend to press charges, as she realised that everyone was entitled to an opinion. She has said little publicly since.

Contacted by the Kom Chad Luek newspaper, Tak's mother Tanapa (Lek), who is unwell with a heart condition, said her daughter had called a couple of days after she was chased out of Pattaya.

''She told me she was safe, and not to worry, Lek said. She asked me if I had taken my pills and been to the doctor. She didn't seem scared to me,'' she said.

She didn't understand why the red shirts had to chase her daughter out of town, but didn't want to say too much in case it inflamed the debate.

''You had better wait until my daughter comes back. She told me she is busy working on several movies, and her phone is often switched off. But she sounds fine to me,'' Lek said.

Asked whether she wanted anyone to keep an eye on her daughter, Lek said she would rather think about her own needs first.

''Tak is always telling me not to worry, as I have a heart condition. If I do get stressed, I might end up with problems, so for the moment I would rather not think too much about it,'' she said.

Keep your mind on the music

Sexy girl group Girly Berry say while they would like fans to focus on the quality of their work, they are forced to exploit sex as a selling point.

Piya ‘Giftza’ Pongkulapa.

Singer Piya ''Giftza'' Pongkulapa, one of the four girls who make up the group, is defending their latest music video, Featuring, against critics who say it goes too far.

Within days of its release, the video had notched up more than one million YouTube views.

Giftza, wearing a skimpy pair of shorts, plays a muay Thai instructor to a young man whom she admires.

Her boxing student shakes up a carbonated drink and opens it, covering himself in spray. The scene has prompted the group's more conservative critics to ask what message the scene is trying to send.

Giftza admits the scene might offend some, though she hopes it won't prompt the Ministry of Culture to issue any warnings, as they have done with Girly Berry songs in the past.

''I don't think we were trying to send any message. It was just a drink that goes off.

''We can put a break on the film crew, if we think they go too far, and generally they listen. But in this case they decided that it's up to the viewer what to think,'' she said.

Giftza is aware that some critics believe the group just sells sex, but isn't worried about their image.

''If we really did sell our bodies, everyone would know about it. We don't.

''However, while we would like fans to focus on our work, we know we have to use sex as a selling point,'' she admitted.

She was prepared for any criticism.

''The girls and I are most concerned with our dance moves and our clothes. Clever camera angles achieve the rest.

''At first it may look on the strong side. But by the end the viewer knows he was just imagining it all,'' she said.

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