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Patong bar owners claim victory

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PATONG: The embattled bar owners of Patong appear to have won a reprieve from the enforcement of the 2 am closure law after putting intense pressure on the government, both locally and in Bangkok. The bar owners gathered this evening in the Pasha discotheque on Soi Sunset. There, the Mayor of Patong, Pian Keesin, announced that a tacit agreement had been reached that bars in Patong may stay open until 5 am, but at 4 am must close their doors, turn off their neon signs and turn down the music. Sakorn Cheua-yuan, secretary to Member of Parliament Chalermlak Kebsab, stressed that bars caught contravening any of five laws could expect no help from the rest of the bar-owning community. These laws were those covering the sale of drugs, admitting minors, allowing guns on the premises, playing music too loudly and allowing lewd entertainment. He emphasized that the laws on drugs and admitting minors were particularly important. K. Pian explained that the leaders of the protest, including himself, Patong Councillor Chaiya Tamchu, Pasha owner Chairat Sukbal and K. Sakorn would be visiting the bars frequently to discuss any problems the owners may have. He said that all five met this morning with two of Phuket’s vice-governors, Amnuay Sanguannam and Wittaya Pintapaet; Deputy Provincial Police Chief Col Pongsak Na-Nakhorn; Patong Police Chief Col Paween Pongsirin; and Kathu District Chief Sutin Uthaitamrong. At the meeting the five were told that although they could expect nothing on paper permitting the bars to open late, the crackdown would nevertheless be relaxed. The agreement by the authorities to “close one eye” is expected to last until proposed new zoning legislation can be passed by parliament – legislation that is widely expected to include a relaxation of the closing hours. This morning, Provincial Governor Pongpayome Vasaputi told the Gazette that there had been a drop in the number of road accidents, fights and drunken incidents since the 2 am closure was enforced. “I’m concerned about the effect on business [owners’ profits], but they should accept that there have also been many benefits. “I don’t think we should change the law,” he added. “Instead, we should try to change the tourists’ behavior.” The enforcement of the law requiring entertainment venues to close at 2 am has hurt Phuket’s boisterous after-hours recreation capital. One foreign bar owner, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Gazette that his turnover had fallen 20% since strict enforcement began about two weeks ago. K. Chairat, who also owns the Safari and Pow-wow pubs, and who has been a prominent leader of the protests, said, “We estimate the losses to Patong have been about 20 million baht a night.” The pressure on the authorities included a mass closure of bars last night and today, and large open-air protest meetings at Loma Park last night and this afternoon. There is considerable bitterness against establishments that did not join the protest. Those at this afternoon’s assembly repeatedly cheered calls for a boycott of the Shark and VIP discos, which stayed open last night. One speaker, armed with a bundle of incense sticks, led the assembly in making a pledge to “29 gods in heaven” not to support Shark in any way. K. Sakorn later told the meeting at Pasha, “The last thing you must remember is Shark. Shark is the biggest entertainment place in Patong, but they did nothing to help. We should all stick together. Shark is no shark. Don’t go into Shark.”

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

Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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