1 May 2010 - 17 Iyyar 5770 - י"ז אייר ה' אלפים תש"ע
Outrage in Thailand over Fascist Images on Highway Billboard Print E-mail

To placate outraged foreign diplomats in Bangkok, Ripley's Museum in Pattaya has been forced to cover up and then replace a giant billboard of Adolf Hitler giving a Nazi salute, accompanied by the notorious swastika.

The billboard was promoting the Louis Tussaud's Waxworks exhibition at Ripley's World of Entertainment, titled: Believe It or Not. Complaints were received from the Israel and German ambassadors who stated that the billboard was 'offensive' and 'utterly tasteless'.

The billboard - along with three others featuring famous people - was given prominent visibility on a site along Sukhumvit Road on the main highway into Pattaya and was part of an advertising campaign for the show opening November, 2009.

The Thai slogan read: 'Hitler is not dead.' Mr. Somporn Naksuetrong, General Manager of Louis Tussaud's Waxworks, made a quick back-track and apology on receiving a formal complaint from Itzhak Shoham, the Israel Ambassador to Thailand, explaining that the creative agency behind the campaign had not intended to cause offence.

The Bangkok Post reported the story telling that Somporn Naksuetrong said that in the museum they don't show him with other world leaders, but show him in the scary section.

Mr. Somporn admitted that since the billboard was erected, more than two weeks previous to receiving the Israel and Germany complaints, they had received about 100 other complaints protesting the insensitivity.

At this stage the promotional concept cannot be changed but another image would be chosen instead of the infamous German dictator.

German Ambassador Hanns Schumacher had noticed the billboard on journeying to attend the opening of the Child Protection and Development Centre in Pattaya. He immediately informed the representatives of Pattaya City Council and the local business community that such kind of utterly tasteless advertisement would hurt the feelings of many people.

The German Ambassador made it clear to the authorities that he would appreciate it if the poster was removed as quickly as possible.

Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Shoham said his embassy had received many complaints over the billboard and he had asked authorities involved to urgently remove - 'this hateful street sign'.

"The image of Adolf Hitler and the writing underneath are not only offensive to the Holocaust survivors but also to anyone who deplores racist behaviour. It brings a chilling memory of a dictator who systematically murdered in horrific methods 11 million people, men, women and children, during World War II" he said, adding, "Not only did the Jewish people fall prey to the hands of the Nazi regime under Hitler, but millions of other people around the world were brutally exterminated because of his bigoted ideology."

Mr. Shoham also said many Israeli tourists holidaying in Pattaya had been horrified to see such a sign on the main highway. "It is totally unacceptable to have such a monster like Adolf Hitler on public display," he reiterated. "How this could happen is beyond my understanding and comprehension. The billboard should be removed not within days but within hours."

He also urged the operators to remove the Hitler waxwork from the museum, informing them that the display of Nazi images is not an offence under Thai law, but in Germany, it is a criminal offence carrying penalties of up to three years jail!

(Issue November 2009)

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