Bikini-clad beauty queens offend Thais
Miss Universe organisers scrambled to calm a furore over photos of
bikini-clad contestants posing near an ancient Buddhist temple in
pageant host Thailand after the images infuriated religious leaders.
The photos, which showed beauty queens on a Bangkok river cruise with
the famed Wat Arun, or “Temple of Dawn”, in the background, were swiftly
removed from the pageant Web site.
But religious leaders and culture watchdogs are still upset, saying
the episode violated traditional values and morality just days before a
key Buddhist holiday.
“This is the time of Visakha Bucha when we are reminded of Lord
Buddha’s teachings. But we have allowed this thing which will mark the
country with sin for a long time,” Phra Thep Dilok, head of the National
Center for Buddhism Promotion, told Reuters.
The chair of the Senate tourism committee, Suradech Yasawat, said the
photos, which were splashed on the front pages of most Thai newspapers,
had hurt the country’s image.
“It is completely inappropriate. When a contest is being held in
Thailand, Thai traditions and culture should be respected,” he told the
Thai News Agency.
About 90 percent of Thailand’s 63 million people are Buddhist and any
slight against the religion can trigger a public outcry.
Pageant president Paula Shugart said the temple incident was
unfortunate and would not happen again.