Thai PM says sorry for bikini remark
THAILAND'S junta chief yesterday apologised for suggesting that tourists in bikinis could be more vulnerable to attack, comments which caused an international outcry following the brutal murder of two British holidaymakers.
Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is also Prime Minister, on Wednesday drew condemnation after questioning the safety of female tourists in the kingdom in off-the-cuff comments to government officials.
"They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere," he said.
But "can they be safe in bikinis... unless they are not beautiful?"
The remarks came just two days after the battered bodies of British tourists David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were found on the southern resort island of Koh Tao.
In a rare public moment of contrition from the tough-talking army chief, General Prayuth said he did not mean to cause distress. "I'm sorry that it hurt people," he said at a hastily convened press conference in Bangkok.
"I didn't intend to insult or criticise anyone. I just warned that sometimes people have to be careful... today, Thailand is safe except there are some bad guys - like anywhere in the world."
The incendiary remarks from Gen Prayuth, who seized power from the elected government in May, prompted the British Embassy in Bangkok to ask for a "clarification" raising its "concerns" over his remarks.
John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, had branded the comments "demeaning".
Speaking before Gen Prayuth issued an apology, he said: "Prime Minister Prayuth's off-the-cuff remark unfortunately implies that women victims of violent crimes are somehow responsible for the abuse they suffered because of what they were wearing.
"This sort of statement demeans women - and if that was not his intent, then he should issue a statement clarifying matters."
The hunt for the killers of the British pair continued to draw a blank.