Thai man fined and sentenced to prison over craft beer review

Artid Sivahansaphan with politicians in favour of amending the Alcohol Control Act | Photo via Facebook page Baek Beer Hai Plia Kaem

A court in central Thailand fined a man 150,000 baht and handed him a six-month suspended prison sentence for posting a picture and review of a craft beer on Facebook. He paid an additional 150,000 baht to be released on bail.

In 2020, Artid Sivahansaphan posted a review on the Facebook page “Daek Beer Hai Plia Kaem,” a beer review page with thousands of followers.

Nonthaburi Provincial Court ruled on Friday that Artid Sivahansaphan’s beer review violated Section 32 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (2008) which prohibits, “advertising or displaying, directly or indirectly, the name or trademark of any alcoholic beverage.” Breaking this law carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a 500,000 baht fine.

The convicted alcohol advertiser said he plans to appeal his sentence in the hopes of doing rid of a draconian law that he believes is unfair to both consumers and small business owners.

Initially, Nonthaburi Provincial Court sentenced Artid to eight months in prison and a 200,000 baht fine for “enticing” others to drink. The court then reduced his sentence to a six months prison sentence and a fine of 150,000 as well as an additional daily fine of 5000 baht per day. However, the sentence is suspended for two years.

The court said the additional 5,000 baht daily fine was because Artid refused to “correct” the rest of his beer reviews on the Facebook page.

Artid paid an additional 150,000 baht to be released on bail…

“It’s funny when you’re sitting in the bail room. There was a drunk driving case released on bail for 60,000 baht. My bail was 150,000 baht. I felt like, what is the standard? I just wrote a review of a beer, now I have to pay 150,000 baht.”

Artid received a summons at the end of 2020 from the Office of Alcoholic Control Committee to discuss the offending beer review. At that time, the beer enthusiast was asked to pay a 50,000 baht fine. Artid refused to pay, prompting the committee to take the matter further.

The Matter reports that the fines paid for crimes violating the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (2008) are partially handed to government officials. E.g., government officials would receive between 15,000 – 30,000 baht of a 50,000 baht fine, according to The Matter.

Artid said that many small vendors are guilty of violating Section 32, but most in cases they pay the initial 50,000 baht penalty and the matter never reaches the court. However, Artid refused to pay because he wants to make a point that he doesn’t believe that reviewing alcoholic drinks is wrong.

In another Facebook post, Artid said he contacted five political parties who all agreed that Alcohol Control Act should be amended.

Back in 2019, the page was posted on Facebook…

“I insist on my freedom of expression… Human beings must have the right to speak and express their opinions.”

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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