Morbid curiosity seekers and exhibitionism in the wake of Tham Luang cave tragedy

“A sad incident that claimed the life of one of the rescuers is being used to show off Thai greatness." The authorities have now imposed a gag order on the incident so that no one can ask questions or criticise the boys’ behaviour inside the cave. For many the story has become an “emotional drug”, which the country’s ruling military junta is using to move attention away from “hot topics”

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - One week after the rescue of the football team from Tham Luang cave, "there is nothing left but morbid curiosity seekers and the exhibitionism of politicians and government officials,” a local priest told AsiaNews.

For 18 days, the 12 boys and their coach were trapped in the underground cave in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, after monsoon rains flooded the site.

"The authorities are looking at ways to exploit the tragedy for tourism,” said the priest. “In front of the entrance to the caves, organised trips are being offered, and people continue to arrive to take some pictures. Some of them are important people who come to Tham Luang in their motorcade. "

After the happy ending, the rescue of the 'Wild Boars' football team is being exploited "to praise the heroism of those who took part in the operation."

"Every event in Thailand is experienced as either a source of national pride or something that threatens it. It is typical of our culture, but this inevitably leads to excesses,” the clergyman said.

“The country gets worked up and winds down very easily, but often does not learn from mistakes. A sad incident that claimed the life of one of the rescuers is being used to show off Thai greatness."

"The military junta is putting a gag on everyone. It is not possible to ask questions or criticise the boys’ behaviour. The official position is: 'They are all heroes, even the coach who kept them alive'. Yet, no one has yet explained why the boys went so far into the cave. The few who raised questions did it before the government began censoring the story.”

“When people start saying that 'This is not the time to talk about it', it means ‘Shut up!’,” said the priest.

The tragedy has kept everyone on tenterhooks. Many believe that the authorities have turned it into an "emotional drug", to divert public attention from "hot topics" such as the upcoming democratic elections. However, divisions are emerging in Thai society and there are those who call for reflection.

"Chiang Rai is a mountainous area full of caves, almost all unattended,” the priest explained. “What will be done to avoid a new tragedy? Focusing too much on the heroism of the rescuers might encourage other young people to emulate them to show their courage.”