Beauty pageant's bikini shot incurs controversy in Buddhist Thailand

Miss Universe 2005 organizers will cut footage showing bikini-clad contestants before Buddhist sites background, which has incurred great controversy in the host country of Thailand.

The footage had been screened and anything deemed defamatory to the host country's reputation would be cut from a broadcast planned for the final day of the event on May 31, newspaper The Nation on Wednesday quoted event coordinator Tom Khruasophon as saying.

Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Thepsuthin also told reporters that such images will be edited out of video footage to broadcast on the final day of the pageant.

A still image from the footage, which was shot during a luxury cruise along the Chao Phya River running through Bangkok's Buddhist and historical sites, has also been ordered removed from the pageant's official website, Somsak said.

Censorship of the beauty pageant came as both the contest and related controversy gaining more and more heat in the kingdom.

Photos of beauties visiting the countries' historical and Buddhist sites have been published as headline news on the front page of most of the country's newspapers. The photos also include one showing bikini-wearing beauties posing against background of the historical Temple of Dawn.

News about the promotional event drew criticism from conservative cultural groups, which said the pageant paid more attention to commercial interest than cultural importance.

The beauty contest was based mainly on commercial interests while cultural and moral values attached to Thai traditions were being overlooked, Thep Dilok, head of the National Center for Buddhism Promotion, was quoted as saying.

Ladda Tangsuchachai, head of the Culture Ministry's cultural watchdog network, also said she would recommend banning the video entirely if the edited version turned out to be unsuitable.

There is also report of online forum debate on the topic, with users opposed to the practice remarkably outnumbering those inclined to take the matter lightly.

Most of Thailand's population are Buddhist believers. All visitors to the country's most temples and Buddhist sites are required to properly dress and behave themselves.

At the country's top site Temple of Jade Buddha, visitors wearing shorts and sleeveless tops are denied of entry.

Source: Xinhua



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