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Ministry of Culture Reviews Nong Ja



Ms Ja has not handled the criticism well, although the negative attention has not curtailed her public appearances.

Nong Ja, a 20-year-old student whose song about an itchy ear has taken the country by storm, attracting a staggering 16 million hits on YouTube, along with 100,000 ”likes” on her Facebook page.

But Ms Ja’s performances have outraged social conservatives in the predominantly Buddhist nation and prompted many complaints to the Ministry of Culture, which is considering the matter.

Having an itchy ear is a Thai idiom which means somebody is talking about you, not unlike Western people saying their ears are burning.

The trouble is that in her performance the scantily clad Ms Ja does not confine the itch to her ear as one of her hands goes towards a more intimate part of her body.

Her critics say little is left to the imagination.

The song also has obvious puns that some might regard as lewd word plays more suited to a late night comedy show.

As the song quickly became Thailand’s most popular – you hear it in taxis, in restaurants, in tuk-tuks and even on motorbike taxis – Ms Ja was accused of all sorts of things, including being a prostitute, which she is not.

Ms Ja has not handled the criticism well, although the negative attention has not curtailed her public appearances.

Asked by one breathless interviewer how she could do something like that on stage, Ms Ja answered tearfully: ”I come from a poor family.

”If I could choose I would not choose this life.”

The controversy is similar to one that raged in Indonesia in 2002 about dangdut dancer Inul Daratista, whose suggestive hip movements known as the ”drill” outraged Muslim conservatives.

At last Thai people have something to talk about other than divisive politics or street protests.

Ms Ja is Thailand’s hottest act at the moment. Her photo has been on the front pages of newspapers, television stations flood her with invitations, and she has stage appearance bookings well into 2012.

They called for Ms Daratista’s performances to be banned and prompted the drafting of anti-pornography legislation.


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