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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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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

The Thaiger

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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