What next for Bangkok’s soapy massage parlours? Raid on Nataree to lead to small fry or the bigger fish?
BANGKOK: — Monday’s raid on the well known Nataree massage parlour in Rachadapisek, Bangkok, could mark a turning point in the industry.
One of the largest of blind eyes has been cast on the “Ap Ob Nuat” or body to body massage industry reported Manager Online.
The closure of the Nataree that operates openly for locals and tourists alike and is owned by a well known public figure will be watched with interest.
The “small fry” whose names appear in handwritten payment lists published in the Thai press will be sought, say police. Prosecutions may follow.
But much larger fish are behind the scenes. The owner of Nataree is known by his initial only as “Mr K” (Nay K – the first letter of the Thai alphabet). He is more commonly referred to as “Sia L” (the word Sia is used for big business owners and wealthy large scale merchants in particular).
Sia L. has been in the sex trade business since the days of the infamous Bangkok Tea Houses many of which offered very cheap sex mostly catering to the Thai market. These were very prevalent in Chinatown in particular in the 1980s. When this business started to die out Sia L. moved increasingly into the body massage business.
A large number of these businesses still operate openly just metres from Nataree as well as in other areas of Bangkok. One or two have closed in recent years but many stay open.
Nataree has previously had conflicts over proximity to educational establishments after legislation was introduced. Sia L is also reputed to have been involved in the purchase of an apartment block in Chok Chai 4, Lat Prao for use as a massage parlour and casino but which foundered due to conflicts with other leading figures.
Sia L reputedly owns other massage places in Bangkok, however.
The raid at Nataree comes after complaints from the NVADER group that has offices in New Zealand and SE Asia. It’s stated aim is to “set people free” from sex trafficking. It is a charitable trust and non governmental organization with a loosely Christian base. It includes ex NZ policemen.
Following the raid it has emerged that Nataree was employing several underage sex workers as well as foreigners. Ledgers detailing payments to third parties were seized.
These could lead to the seizure of assets of those involved.
But as the government seeks to address criticism of their record in human trafficking issues the real question is how high will the investigation go.
Following up on complaints from an international NGO may be just the start of a wider operation though skeptics will say that Nataree will be open again shortly with business as usual.
Source: Manager Online