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Alcohol relief: National ban details cleared up for businesses

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: A collective sigh of relief could be heard from Phuket officials as clarification of a national alcohol-sales ban officially arrived this week.

The ban, passed by the Cabinet and signed into law by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, forbids the sale of alcohol within 300 meters of an ‘educational institution’. However, what qualifies as an educational institution was originally unclear, leaving Phuket Excise Office (PEO) Chief Pairuch Kulima prepared to strip hundreds of tourism-related businesses of alcohol-sales licences due to their proximity to schools on the island.

“I am worried about the definition of ‘educational institutions’. I hope it will be clarified exactly which types of schools fall under that definition,” said Mr Pairuch ahead of the official announcement.

“My initial understanding is that the law will name only universities and technical colleges as ‘educational institutions’. This is better, as many big businesses, such as Central Festival Phuket, would be affected by this if it applied to all schools.”

In Phuket, there are 106 primary educational institutions, four technical colleges and two universities, as well as 122 private schools that are not included in the system, according to the Phuket Primary Educational Service Area Office.

The clarification made it official that only businesses within a 300m radius of the four technical colleges and two universities will be affected by the ban.

“Before this new law, the Department of Excise issued alcohol sales permits for all shops except for the ones located directly adjacent to academic institutions and temples,” explained Mr Pairuch.

“After the new law is put into effect, we only have 30 days to revoke the permits. We will have to visit all bars, mini-marts, grocery stores and other businesses that sell alcohol in the prohibited areas. We are not sure how we will be able to tackle this efficiently.”

Dr Prapa Nakara, director of the Non-communicable Diseases Division of the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) told the Gazette that it is her officers’ duty to enforce the law.

“Although the draft law is yet to take effect, the PPHO has already prepared for it,” Dr Prapa said.
Earlier last week, the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association released a statement noting that the law covers sales of alcoholic beverages, but not consumption, thus failing to tackle the root of the underage drinking problem.

Calling the law a ‘blanket measure’ that will hurt businesses that are in full compliance with current laws and are not selling alcohol to underage customers, the statement mentioned the effects the new law would have on Thailand’s economy.

“The declaration is a severe blow to the service sector and Thailand’s employment situation with damages estimated at 115 billion baht, along with the possible loss of 125,000 jobs,” read the statement.

“Sales of alcoholic beverages are not limited to just entertainment and service venues. Instead, they also take place via retailers, wholesalers, shopping malls, restaurants, food outlets, hotels and tourist attractions – all of which represent key components in Thailand’s economy and
society.”

The objective of the law is to prevent underage individuals from consuming alcohol. However, there are already laws in place that make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 20.

“The key is that it will come down to whether individuals will choose to obey the law or if they are willing to break the law when it comes to alcohol sales,” said Provincial Police Commander Patchara Boonyasit.

Maj Gen Patchara declined to comment on whether or not the law will be effective in preventing teenagers from drinking.

“Our duty will be to simply enforce the law,” he said.

Though clarification of what is considered an educational institution comes as a great relief to most vendors and those involved in the tourism industry, it could be failing to protect those most at risk.

“It is logical that if there is no alcohol sales near schools, students will choose different activities to pursue after class, as there will be less accessibility to alcohol,” explained Chalam Attatham, director of the Phuket Primary Educational Service Area Office.

“Normally, students, especially high school students, will loiter after class – if there is alcohol sold nearby, this could influence their decisions. We would be better off with ice cream parlors to attract their attention.”

— Kongleaphy Keam

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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