Tue, Apr 05, 2011 - Page 5 News List

FEATURE: Private eye tracks down cheating spouses in Thailand

AFP, BANGKOK

Amnuaiporn Maneewan demonstrates putting a GPS-tracking equipment under a car in Bangkok on March 14.

Photo: AFP

Amnuaiporn Maneewan imparts the wisdom of her more than 15 years working as a private detective in Thailand: “The only man you can trust is a dead one.”

“If they’re still alive, still breathing, then you can’t trust them,” she says.

With her James Bond-inspired gadgets including spy cameras and tapping devices, Amnuaiporn specializes in digging up evidence to expose cheating spouses for a law firm in Bangkok.

The 42-year-old has become a master at tailing the unfaithful, catching them in compromising situations with the use of tiny cameras and recording equipment hidden in pens, car keys, buttonholes and even calculators.

Her work has made her a minor celebrity in Thailand, where having a mia no, or “little wife,” on the side of a marriage is seen almost as a right by some.

This “mistress detective” said there are more extracurricular affairs in the country.

“It’s just increasing the whole time. It’s not slowing down at all. Now, they don’t just have one mistress, they have two or three mistresses,” Amnuaiporn said. “It’s like a fashion. It’s normal. No man leaves the house without a mistress.”

Unsurprisingly then, business has never been better.

Three or four new clients, mostly women between the ages of 20 and 60, contact her every day.

Government officials are apparently particularly likely to have mistresses, traditionally exploiting their positions to net minor wives.

“They have their status; they have power; they have money. It’s quite easy for them to pay for another woman,” said Ronnachai Kongsakol, psychiatry professor at Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok.

His research on extramarital affairs by officials suggests that opportunity, intimacy and sympathy are the main motives for men to seek mistresses.

However, it’s not just Thai men who are tempted to stray.

Amnuaiporn estimates that three out of 10 calls are now from suspicious husbands.

Tales of infidelity abound in Thai society.

Panaa had been living with her partner for seven years when she found out he was secretly seeing another woman.

She tracked down the suspected mistress and confronted her, only to be faced with a surprising revelation.

Her rival produced a marriage certificate that proved she was actually married to Panaa’s partner — meaning Panaa was the mistress.

“I was shocked as I never thought that I would be the mistress. I never had any idea. I thought I was morally superior, but it turned out I wasn’t at all,” said Panaa, whose asked that her real name be withheld.

While she did not need a detective to reveal the scandal, many people do seek help to find the truth.

“If there was no one like me, these people would have to suffer for a long time. Me, my job, helps people to open their eyes. I let them see the truth,” Amnuaiporn said.

Her job has got her noticed in Thailand where her good looks, chatty demeanor and anecdotes of sordid transgressions have been lapped up on television and in print.

She has even produced her own book — The Private Eye: They ask me to investigate adultery — which is billed as the first in-depth account of the work of a female private detective.

Featuring images of her in various disguises she uses for work — including a Native American outfit complete with feathered headdress — the book includes true stories from her years tracking the unfaithful.

In one instance she was hired by a wealthy man who suspected his wife was straying.

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