There's only one answer to the issue of infidelity
Until social values go through a marked change, extramarital affairs and 'minor wives' will remain a fact of life, like it or not, in this country
The wisdom of old Thai sayings is second to none. One of them rightly warns Thai women never to trust boyfriends or husbands who work as policemen, boatmen, likay performers or on the railway. Insightful as our ancestors undoubtedly were, the list is far too short for the modern day. Forestry officials, at least, should be added to the group, as current news headlines suggest.
Womanisers don't need mobile jobs to thrive, but it certainly helps. At least that's what one woman believes, and she has dealt with it. However, the complaint she filed that her husband - a senior provincial official of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment - was leaving a trail of infidelity wherever he went, addressed only the tip of the iceberg.
Anyone, from retired officials to tourists, would confirm that men who "work with nature" have a tendency to succumb to nature's urges. We've seen a news report about tourists witnessing a soap opera-style catfight at a forestry head office. Needless to say, the man at the centre of the female showdown was the chief of the forestry unit. The same report said some men like him were concealing as many as seven minor wives, not to mention countless one-night stands.
That a "problem" is solidly confirmed doesn't mean real action will be taken to solve it. Reporters have scrambled to get great quotes from senior authority figures, who made vague promises that disciplinary measures will be carried out to prevent such behaviour among hormone-driven male officials. Realistic voices - those saying there is little that "others" can do about it - were overshadowed by the empty threats of disciplinary punishment.
Keeping a man in one place might contain him for a while, but wherever there's a lust, there's a way. Travelling jobs present opportunities, but social attitudes are the main reason men look for opportunities in the first place. Moreover, in today's world, infidelity does not require a great distance from a spouse.
The woman who complained that her husband's frequent professional transfers were the cause of his betrayal might have overlooked the possibility that he was taking advantage of his job, rather than letting the job getting the better of him.
This news story has flash-in-the-pan publicity written all over it. It's common knowledge that forestry officials and those in similar jobs often have minor wives. That one woman has had enough doesn't mean her man will be able to reform. That she is desperate and deserves help doesn't mean that punishing her husband or confining him to one place of work will put a stop to his extracurricular activities. This social "problem" is far more complicated than the suggested solutions.
Shouldn't something be done? You may ask. Again, that this is the right question doesn't mean there is an easy or correct answer. Or whether an answer is even possible at all. The woman has done her bit and the rest is up to different individuals. Courageous or jealous, or both, she has done her job. The hard part is how society will react to this centuries-old issue that rears its ugly head at frequent intervals. People condemn infidelity, but do they also condemn corruption? Has a man ever been fired from his job in Thailand for having a minor wife? Who would dare to fire such a man to begin with?
The woman in question is echoing female voices of desperation through the generations. But even our ancient wisdom can only reflect this recurring issue and cannot provide a fix. Avoid travelling men, say the warnings from the past. If you can't do so, there's no ancient wisdom that effectively tells you what to do.