After Murders Of Two Brits, Thailand’s PM Says Girls Shouldn’t Think They’re Safe In Bikinis

Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found murdered on the beach on Koh Tao island…

David Miller and Hannah Witheridge

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

This week, tragic news emerged that two British tourists have been murdered on a beach on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand, but the Thai Prime Minister seems to think that it’s not a murderer’s fault, but the fault of ‘beautiful’ women thinking they can safely walk on Thai beaches in bikinis. Really.

Initial investigations show that Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, had both been beaten around the head with a hoe, and David was apparently dragged down to the shore, while unconscious, where he then drowned. Police have now ruled out that Hannah had been raped (something they suspected at first) but they have said there’s evidence to show that she had been engaged in sexual activity before the murder. CCTV footage of Hannah and David holding hands as they left a nearby hotel has been released, as has a video of the suspect – a man with dark hair running along a street.

While police hunt for this man – they’ve questioned three Burmese migrant workers and let them go without charge – Thailand’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-O-Cha, has this to say: ‘We have to look into the behaviour of the other party too because this kind of incident should not happen to anybody and it has affected our image,’ AFP reports. ‘What you [the media] need to do is explain to foreigners that it is not always safe everywhere. They think it’s safe like where they are from, everywhere and at any time, but our country still has problems.’

It was later reported that he said: ‘There are always problems with tourist safety. They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere.’

He added: ‘Can they be safe in bikinis... unless they are not beautiful?’

READ MORE: As Tributes Pour In For Murdered UK Backpackers In Thailand, It’s Revealed The Suspect Is A British Tourist

While we stall our rage for a moment, we appreciate that Thailand has its issues: the country is currently under martial law following a military coup which took place in May. According to our Home Office’s advice for tourists: ‘Martial law is in place and provides an enabling framework for the Royal Thai Army to take action it deems necessary to enforce law and order. Instructions can change rapidly.’

However, some reports say that because of the crackdowns the Thai army is enacting on illegal operations, such as bars that jut out onto beaches, exploitative taxi drivers and unmonitored tour guides, it’s actually safer for tourists out there. But it still stands that from January to August of this year, tourism in Thailand has dropped by 10.7% from the year before, with only 15.7 million foreign nationals visiting.

READ MORE: The Thai Army Is Using ‘Babes’ To Calm Down Protestors

The worrying part, though, much like that Indian minister who blamed the ‘small incident’ of the gang-rape and death of a 23-year-old medical student for the dwindling tourist numbers in India, is that the Thai prime minister wants to find a way of blaming the tourists themselves. And even though two people – a man and a woman – have been killed, the he seems to identify the woman and her bikini as the root of the problem (and not the vindictive mind of a murderer).

We’ve heard a lot this summer about what British tourists can get up to overseas, especially in environments where young people are away from their families for the first time, have a ‘what happens on tour stays on tour’ mentality, and are gee-ed up by local bars and promoters to indulge in as much hedonism as possible. But no matter what you get up to on holiday, surely it shouldn’t end in your murder.

READ MORE: Indian Minister Blames ‘Small’ Delhi Bus Rape For Lower Tourism Rates

While it is up to Thai police to now work out what happened, there are going to be inevitable points where the victims will be discredited in some way. Speculation will start around whether they had been drinking, whether David had been cheating on his girlfriend Jessy Howorth (who wasn’t in Thailand at the time and today posted a photo of them together to Facebook with the caption: ‘My best friend and the love of my life’) and whether the pair had been having sex before the attack. All things that plenty of us have done at some point (and are certainly encouraged to do) while on holiday.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, who sits on the Commons foreign affairs select committee, has responded to the Thai PM’s initial comments, reports MailOnine: ‘At a time when the loved ones of the victims are mourning their loss, it is inappropriate and insensitive for anyone, let alone the prime minister of the country where the murders took place, to cast aspersions on those whose lives have been taken away.’

‘It’s a tragic situation and until the facts of what took place are known, it is wrong to make judgements like this.’

We’re yet to hear what people think of the Thai PM’s comments on women in bikinis, but we expect derision.

Perhaps, it would be a lot more sensitive to consider that it’s not the death of two innocents that gives Thailand a bad image, but a prime minister looking to blame them for their own tragic deaths.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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