4am curfew proposal protested by drunk driver victims

PHOTO: Anti-Drunk Driver activists rally to stop a 4am curfew extension. (via Marco Verch Flickr)

Entertainment venue and nightlife operators are fervently pushing for a 4am closing time and have gained support from many key government officials. But a protest outside Government House pushed back against a later curfew, fueled by victims of drunk drivers and a coalition of anti-drink driving activists.

The 4am curfew extension is expected to be officially proposed to the Cabinet for approval at its weekly meeting on November 15. Famous nightlife spots like Patong in Phuket, Khao San Road in Bangkok, Ao Nang in Krabi, and Koh Lak in Phang Nga top the list of areas that would be considered for this extension, according to The Phuket News.

Minister of Tourism and Sports Pipat Ratchakitprakarn has been a strong supporter of the later curfew, seeing it as a boost to the Thai economy, especially after he visitedvisit to the busy and profitably drunk Full Moon Party in August. The measure has also gained the support of Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt who recently expressed approval for a later curfew in key nightlife areas of the capital city.

But the Network for the Quality of Life gathered some 60 protesters yesterday to demand that the proposal is rejected. They believe more nightlife time will lead to a sharp increase in drinking-related road accidents and deaths. The leader of the Network of People Affected by Drinking in Bangkok is wheelchair-bound due to a drunk driver and spoke out strongly against the curfew extension.

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“We don’t have enough of those injured, disabled or dead today when nightspots close at 2am. Adding two more hours might not be long. But how many people would die, be injured or become disabled in a year as a result of that?”

Thailand spends about 90 billion baht per year on damages caused by drunk driving and more than 20% of all accidents involved alcohol, according to the Thai Health Promotion Foundation along with other similar non-governmental groups. One rescue volunteer at the protest yesterday said more than half of accidents at night in Bangkok involve drunk drivers.

Activists pushed the tourism minister as well as Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, whose Bhumjaithai Party supports the curfew extension after being an influential factor behind the legalisation of cannabis. They are pleading for powerful government officials to consider how many people will die as people have two more hours to knock back cocktails before getting behind the wheel for a late-night drunk drive home.

Road deathsThailand News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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