Sukhumbhand sues over virgins, mockery and fleeing to the hills
published : 7 May 2015 at 20:01
writer: Online Reporters
Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra on Thursday filed a police complaint against ASTV-Manager newspaper for defaming him by ridiculing his flood handling in its humour column "Phu Jad Kuan".
MR Sukhumbhand’s spokesman, Wasan Meewong, and his assistant secretary Natthanan Kanlayasiri lodged a complaint on behalf of the governor with Pol Lt Panya Mungkhunkamchao, an investigator at Chana Songkhram police station.
According to the complaint, "Phu Jad Kuan" published on May 6 an article mocking MR Sukhumbhand, saying he ordered City Hall officials to gather virgin women across Bangkok to perform a traditional “rain-dispelling” ceremony involving the use of lemongrass.
The rite was aimed at preventing the city from possible flash floods in case of heavy rain, according to the column headlined “Sukhumbhand mobilises virgin women to place rain-dispelling lemongrass”.
An old belief in Southeast Asian says a specific person stabbing lemongrass upside down in a rice field or open ground can prevent rain from falling or make the rain go elsewhere. The upside-down lemongrass is meant to convey a message to the Rain God that it is not growing season and “do not let the rain pour down just yet”.
The conditions used to select the person to embed the lemongrass varies across the region, but common are virgin women, widows or the youngest daughter of a family. The use of virgin women is prevalent in Thailand.
The article said MR Sukhumbhand recommended people “go live on a mountain” if the “lemongrass women” failed to help. That was an apparent reference to MR Sukhumbhand’s flippant remark last month when he suggested people move to the hills to avoid flooding. It enraged the public.
"Phu Jad Kuan" is described as an entertainment column whose content is made up.
But Mr Wasan said the article caused damage to MR Sukhumbhand because it was published on the newspaper’s website (www.manager.co.th) and many people posted hate speech against him. Some were misled by the article and posted comments about the “governor’s stupidity”.
“The police complaint is the first in six years by City Hall executives seeking to prosecute the press which reports false news and creates hatred against the Bangkok governor,” Mr Wasan said. “This is being done to protect the reputation of MR Sukhumbhand and prevent a repeat of this kind of incident.”