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Karaoke operators sing the blues



Karaoke operators sing the blues | Thaiger

PHUKET TOWN: More than 200 karaoke operators gathered at the Phuket Provincial Hall this morning to protest about the closure of their premises and to petition the authorities to allow them to reopen. The protest comes after a three-day campaign by police to check karaoke bars for licenses. Many were found to have none, or to have licenses that had expired. Pol Capt Wiwat Chamnarnkit of Phuket Town Police Station explained, “To open a karaoke bar you must apply for a license at the police station. “Once the premises have been inspected for compliance with the regulations, the application is sent to the Commander of the Phuket Provincial Police for approval and then to the Provincial Governor for his signature. “The operator will usually know within 30 days whether the application has been successful.” Chaiyong Praptook, owner of Sasa Karaoke, near Nimit Village in Phuket Town, demurred. “My shop was checked two days ago and the police asked me to close it because I still haven’t got a license even though I applied two years ago. I’ve followed all the regulations, but everything is so slow.” Nucharee Kongbun, who has operated two karaoke bars in Saphan Hin for almost four years, said, “Both shops have been closed for four days already, but I still have to pay rent every day. I submitted the paperwork for renewal a couple of months ago but the documents are still at the police station.” Many of today’s protesters had not received licenses because they had not submitted full documentation, in particular evidence of property rights or rental contracts – the reason being that they had set up their businesses on public land. Capt Wiwat said, “We are holding about 100 applications at the police station because they have not submitted rental contracts or land deeds.” The protesters urged the authorities to speed up the issuance of licenses for those who had already submitted applications, and to allow business to continue while applications are being considered. They also urged the authorities to consider ways to “help” those who were unable to provide rental contracts or land deeds to support their applications. After meeting representatives of the protesters, Vice-Governor Manit Wattanasen announced that he would urge the police to speed up processing of applications and to clear everything within seven days. As for those who have not submitted applications, he said that they should do so within seven days if they wanted to be fast-tracked with the existing applications. In the case of applications already approved by the police, he would sign them himself today, he said. However, when it came to those who could not provide land or rental papers, he said, “I have to think about this. We have to find the way that will satisfy both the operators and the public, because some of these karaoke bars are on public land. “There will be a big problem if I allow businesses to operate on public land.” Apart from the land requirements, a karaoke bar is supposed to meet four main criteria before receiving a license. Specifically: – It must have a glass door to contain noise from within; – It must have separate toilets for men and women; – The karaoke machine must be shut off at 1 am; – There must be a sign over the entrance stating that anyone under the age of 20 is barred.


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