Road blocks of denial
A wedding is supposed to be a joyful affair.
But the wedding of Lt Col Pitakpol Chusri and his bride, a young woman from a wealthy family in Khon Kaen, on June 8 has drawn numerous complaints, mostly from commuters.
This was because part of the busy Mittraphap Highway was sealed in order to pave the way for the groom's kan mak, a traditional procession in which a groom and his entourage make their way to the bride's house to propose formally. The convoy reportedly resulted in heavy traffic congestion as it took place during rush hour. The tailback was said to have stretched over 10km and this caused an online uproar over the past few days.
Some frustrated commuters even blasted the groom, alleging that the officer, who is known as "Seh Pete", abused his military status.
The groom's prompt apologies have helped cool down the outrage.
He said he accepted his mistake and that he did not expect traffic would be so bad. The bride's family is also apologetic. Her mother said the number of guests simply exceeded what was initially anticipated and that was to blame for the mayhem on the road. That should put the debate to an end.
To be fair, sealing off parts of public roads or highways for a procession or a ceremony is not very unusual in this country. A procession for a man entering the monkhood, which is called nak in Thai, is a frequent sight even on Bangkok streets. School or temple processions are more than familiar. It tends to be the case that a procession causes traffic congestion -- and public anger -- given that few organisers bother to issue a warning for road users ahead of the event so they can avoid the area.
However, the reaction from Col Winthai Suvaree, the spokesman of the National Council for Peace and Order, in his dire attempt to defend the groom, is unacceptable. Without properly investigating the matter, he simply denied the highway was partially closed for the groom's procession. Col Winthai said the congestion occurred because there were so many guests who arrived in their own cars and it so happened that some of them had no choice but to park their vehicles along the road.
That is not the truth. Pictures that were circulated on social and mainstream media show traffic police at the location. A line of traffic cones demonstrates that part of the highway was indeed sealed off by the authorities.
The groom himself confessed he had asked Khon Kaen traffic police to help out at his wedding. The officer admitted to the media he sent a note to the police, asking them officially to facilitate his kan mak procession.
The regime spokesman seemed to ignore the suggestion that authorities should look into the matter and probe why such a request by state personnel was accommodated.
As the regime spokesman, we expect Col Winthai to carefully check information before making any statement. We also expect him to stick to the facts. The spokesman may have acted out of goodwill and dismissed the allegations, thinking the problem is trivial. But that can hurt his credibility.
The wedding case shows we have to question Col Winthai's "no problem" attitude. It may bring into question whether anything he says in the future is truth or propaganda.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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