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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 09:39 GMT
Thai MPs protest mistress ban
Thai bar girls
The party wants to stop MPs visiting massage parlours
MPs from Thailand's ruling Thai Rak Thai Party are getting hot under the collar over plans by the party leadership to ban them from having mistresses or visiting brothels.

Later this month, the party, led by the prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, will consider plans to screen candidates so that only faithful and monogamous husbands can stand in elections.

One MP told The Nation newspaper that if the rules were enforced, the party would only be able to field around 30 candidates, compared to its more than 200 sitting MPs.

Another said it would lead to mass defections.

But Thai Rak Thai spokesman, Suranand Vejjajiva, told the BBC's World Today programme that social values were "getting stronger" in Thailand, and people had higher expectations of their politicians.

" If your background is not as, quote unquote, clean, or quote unquote, up to social standard, as the other guy, I think you have to pick the other guy," he said.

And he said that all MPs were "now under evaluation".

Many of them have expressed outrage that the party hierarchy is trying to interfere with the practice of keeping a mistress, or "mia noi" as they are known.

"To have a mia noi is an individual's right. There should be no problem as long as the politician causes no trouble to his family or society," one MP, Thirachai Sirikhan, told The Nation.

The party's action appears to have been prompted by a series of scandals, with wronged wives and mistresses publicising their stories.

Mr Thaksin himself cultivates an image as a family man, and frequently appears with his wife and children by his side.

Suranand Vejjajiva, Thai Rak Thai spokesman
"All MPs are now under evaulation"

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