PM to review 1 am closing – Gov

PHUKET: Following mass protests in Patong and Phuket City today, Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura has informed representatives of the entertainment industry in Phuket that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will discuss closing times with the Cabinet next Tuesday (November 2).

Packdee Ritthisaman, of the Phuket City Entertainment Association, told the Gazette that the Governor informed him that the Cabinet will discuss a proposal to declare Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samuitourism cities”, exempting them from the early closing regulations.

These regulations require venues in entertainment zones to close no later than 1 am, and those outside zones to close at midnight.

The announcement came after some 3,000 operators and staff of entertainment venues threatened to occupy the grounds of the Provincial Hall, day and night, until they got a satisfactory answer.

After receiving the news of the Cabinet meeting, K. Packdee said the blockade of Provincial Hall would end at 7 pm.

In Patong, however, the entertainment industry took a more cynical view. The Chairman of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA), Sompetch Moosophon, said he wanted the governor to allow venues to stay open late until the Cabinet gives its answer.

“I’m afraid it will be the same thing again – that nothing will change after the Cabinet meeting, so the Governor should let us open longer until next Tuesday,” he said.

Failing that, however, 600 entertainment venues in Patong will close for three days and a sit-in at the football ground on Thaweewong Rd will continue, he said. “We will stay here for as long as we want.”

Some 4,000 people joined the sit-in after the PEBA decided that all 400 bars, plus 200 beauty salons and massage parlors, will remain closed for at least three days.

No decision was made on what will happen after the three days, but Patong’s annual carnival is looming, and the possibility of carnival parades through streets of shuttered bars is not out of the question.

Staff and operators of nighttime venues in Kata and Karon, where 100 bars will also close in protest, joined the sit-in in Patong.

While K. Packdee in Phuket City said that venues in the island’s capital were lobbying to stay open until 2 am, the Patong industry has been pushing for venues to be allowed to stay open as late as 4 am.

Before the Governor’s announcement about the Cabinet meeting, K. Packdee told the Gazette, “We will not survive with a closing time of 1 am. I believe tourists will go to other places or even to other countries.”

He argued that illegal drugs and underage drinking – the stated targets of the early closing order – were not common problems in Phuket. “There are many venues who stay clean and are aware of what the government wants.

“As for prostitution, I don’t think the early closing will change this.”

Phuket News
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