BANGKOK – A Nok Air airline calendar showing women in hot pants and bikinis has been criticized by a member of the Thai government.
The budget carrier has caused a stir in the traditionally conservative country by publishing a raunchy calendar that echoes that of Ryanair published in this country.
While the Ryanair girls are members of the cabin crew, the Nok Air version shows models striking poses on the runway while skimpily dressed in the bright yellow colour of the airline. “Different professions entirely,” according to Patee Sarasin, Nok Air’s chief executive.
Prisana Pongtatpitakkul, the Ministry of Culture’s Permanent Secretary, complained to the Thai media however about companies using women’s bodies as marketing tools.
“They lack the sense of social and cultural responsibility and ignore social and cultural repercussions,” she told the newspaper The Nation, “particularly female dignity.”
Patee said he was not surprised by the reaction. “Understanding the [Culture] Ministry, their reaction isn’t really a surprise,” he said, “however, given what the public is exposed to on a daily basis, we believe that we have not crossed the line.”
He told CNN Travel: “The airline business has always been seen as sexy globally, that is why our planes – we believe they are well designed – appropriately become the background of these models.” He added that requests for copies of the calendar were flooding in “from all walks of life”.
Nok Air has a reputation for only hiring young staff to crew its cabins while replacing older members, a move Patee defended, courting controversy once again, in 2011.
It seems that shaking off sexual stereotypes is important to the Thai government at the moment. Only last week, it tried to block a video clip of a Saturday Night Live sketch from the internet.
The US television sketch was a parody of a Rosetta Stone advert about learning the Thai language. It featured men surreptitiously learning phrases for use in Thailand’s notorious night-life, such as: “Take your clothes off”.