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Phuket bar operators fined for holiday trading



PATONG Police arrested and fined some 12 bar operators for selling alcohol on the Buddhist holiday, Visakha Bucha Day, on June 4.

Comments from bar owners that no warning was given for bars to close for the holiday fell on deaf ears, although one bar owner pointed out that only months ago a senior police officer in Phuket was reported as saying that closing on religious holidays was a “formal request”, not a legal requirement.

Kathu Deputy Superintendent Lt Col Kittipong Klaikaew refuted this.

“Phuket alcohol retailers must know that selling alcohol beverages on Buddhist public holidays is prohibited,” he said.

He explained that ministerial regulations issued by the Office of the Prime Minister in 2009 specifically prohibited the sale of alcohol on Makha Bucha Day, Visakha Bucha Day, Asarnha Bucha Day and Buddhist Lent holidays.

[Ref: Notification of the Office of the Prime Minister RE: Determination of Days of Prohibition of Alcoholic Beverage Sales (No. 2) B.E. 2552 (A.D. 2009) – Click here to see the law]

As for the lack of notice to publicans, he said, “We no longer conduct public relations campaigns to inform people about these alcohol sales bans because the regulations were introduced years ago. Anyway, many other media [organizations] run campaigns to tell people about the ban.

“Alcohol retailers should know by common sense what to do when people go to temples on religious holidays. You should not just say that you do not know the law,” he added.

However, Lt Col Kittipong confirmed that police will run public awareness campaigns to inform people of alcohol bans on election days.

Lt Col Kittipong did not reveal how much each publican was fined in the latest raids.

The Gazette was informed that the bar managers were taken to Patong Police Station, then released on payment of 5,000-baht surety – which was returned when the person charged presented him or herself to Phuket Provincial Court on June 5.

“The fine was about 1,000 baht,” one bar owner told the Gazette.

“Of course we don’t mind closing. We would just prefer to be informed first. But mostly it was the rough treatment of the bar managers that upset us. There was no need to place them in holding cells while they were waiting to appear in court,” the bar owner said.

— Chutharat Plerin


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