By Hassaya Chatmontri
An heiress to the Singha Beer fortune yesterday handed out at Government House copies of controversial pin-up calendars promoting a new brand of beer.
Jittapas Pirompakdee, who works at the PM's Secretariat, brought two boxes of the racy calendars in her BMW's trunk and offered them to the media, police and officials, including deputy government spokesmen Phumin Leetheeraprasert and Supachai Jaisamut.
The two spokesmen denied taking the calendars, saying they were only passing by.
Jittapas later asked a close friend to tell reporters she didn't intend to distribute the calendars, only giving them to Government House security guards who asked for them.
Dr Saman Futrakul, director of the Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco Consumption Control Committee, affirmed that the selling of such sexy calendars, rather than giving them away for free, remained a violation of the law.
He said the selling or distribution of calendars with models body-painted to emphasise the alcohol drink's brand name or logo was a form of advertising via print media.
He would soon meet with the committee's advisory board to discuss the calendar before filing a police complaint.
This was also a good opportunity for the committee to bring up the printing of brand names or logos of booze on clothes for possible legal punishment, because that was also within the framework of advertising.
Supermodel Methinee Kingpayom, who produced the calendar, has said she would start selling the 2010 calendar in one to two days.
But Saman said they would proceed with legal action against the sellers on grounds the calendar was an illegal item, so selling or contributing to it was illegal.
He had earlier warned that, under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, distributing a calendar with a brand name or logo but no worthy information could bring a one-year jail term and/or Bt50,000 (S$2,101) fine, as well as a daily fine of Bt50,000 until a correction was made.
Meanwhile, well-known Thai woman activist Arunee Srito slammed Jittapas's action and said her group, together with some anti-alcohol activists, would submit an open letter to government heads today to express their objections and demand for the calendar distribution to stop.
-The Nation/Asia News Network