MP tells how she lobbied Thaksin over bar problem

BANGKOK: Chalermlak Kebsab, Phuket’s Member of Parliament for Region 2, which includes Patong, was a busy woman yesterday morning, trying to persuade the government in Bangkok to relax the crackdown on bar closing times in Phuket’s entertainment capital. Her first port of call was a meeting of the Democrat Party, at which she sat with Pol Lt Gen Wannarat Kosharat, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, and now a Democrat party-list MP. “I told him about the problem and asked him how the previous government had handled similar problems – he had been involved in this sort of situation when he was in the police. I pointed out that, in the past, tourism provinces had always received special dispensation but that, this time, they had not,” Chalermlak said. She said that Gen Wannarat had made suggestions about how to solve the problem and had asked for the telephone number of the Chief of the Kathu Police, Pol Col Paween Pongsirin. Next, K. Chalermlak tried to get an appointment to see the Minister of Interior, Polachai Piemsomboon, but he was too busy to see her. So, using her initiative, she managed to pin down Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Parliament. She informed him, she said, about the protests against the crackdown, and about how the protests were backed by businesses owners and local politicians, all urging the government to allow bars to remain open until 4 am. “He told me it was his policy to keep minors out of bars. I told him I agreed with that, but I pointed out that Patong is different from other parts of Thailand, because our market is mainly tourists. I urged him to be flexible,” K. Chalermlak told the Gazette. “I told the Prime Minister that I had heard that the bar owners had decided to suspend business in Patong on Wednesday, and I was worried that the situation would result in economic damage, not only to the bar owners, but also to the country,” Chalermlak added. She told him she didn’t want to wait until Parliament passed new legislation providing for zoning of entertainment areas, because this would take a long time. “I felt that the crackdown should be relaxed until the new law came into force,” she added. “He said he would discuss this point with [Polachai]. I don’t know what he said to the minister but, in the event, the closing hours have been relaxed. I didn’t put any pressure on anyone to help; I told them that if they wanted to check the truth of what I was saying, they could always do so. “I don’t know if it was I that solved the problem; maybe the Prime Minister already knew about it,” K. Chalermlak added modestly.

Phuket News
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