Topless teenage dancers 'distorting Songkran values'

"It hurts the image of Thailand, in particular Silom," he said. "It distorts Songkran culture too."

Surakiat said the topless dances took place on Naradhivas Ratchanakharin Road.

"Close examination showed the topless revellers were young, so young that it dismissed my initial assumption that they might have been workers in the redlight zone of Patpong," Surakiat said.

Lodging his complaint at the Yannawa Police Station, Surakiat urged police to track down the teenagers who have carried out obscene acts in public places.

National Police Commissioner General Wichien Pojphosri vowed action against both the topless revellers and their cheering crowds. Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat, meanwhile, wanted action taken against those lending loudspeakers and stereo systems for the topless dancing.

"Apart from being fined, the topless girls should be required to do some

cultural work. For example, they should be made to read books about the Songkran Festival for young students to listen to as part of the punishment," Nipit said.

Video clips showing the topless Songkran revellers were posted on the Internet on Saturday, provoking a public outcry.

Culture Watch Centre director Ladda Tangsupachai yesterday disclosed that Nipit also instructed her to officially ask the National Police Office and the ICT Ministry to ban the video clips on the Internet.

Family Network board member Wanchai Boonpracha said he felt bad that some young revellers had strayed so far during the Thai New Year celebrations.

"If such things go on, foreign tourists will finally think that Songkran is just about the water fights. They will not see Songkran as a beautiful culture," he said.

He urged authorities to seriously enforce laws to prevent inappropriate acts in the future.

In Phichit, two transvestites were fined yesterday for exposing their breasts during the Songkran celebrations.

"I am so sorry for doing so. I was under the influence of alcohol. Next year, I will wear a decent Thai costume to celebrate Songkran," one said.

In Chon Buri, Pattaya City's councillor Rattanachai Suttidechanai said all entertainment venues were told not to stage pornographic shows.

"We are developing Pattaya as a world-class destination. The world is watching us," he said.

Water splashing in Pattaya City will be officially permitted from today to tomorrow.

-The Nation/Asia News Network