PHUKET: Interior Minister Purachai Piemsomboon went walkabout in Patong and Phuket Town until early this morning, and ended up ordering the temporary closure of three nightspots. He also rattled the operators of the famed Shark discotheque. The minister also had three foreigners arrested for fighting in the street as he walked by. K. Purachai and his team – which included Crime Suppression Division officers and the Director-General of the Department of Local Administration in Bangkok, as well as local officials led by Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi and Patong police chief Col Chalit Thinthanee – set off for their tour of Patong nightspots just after midnight. As they walked down Soi Bangla they came across three Westerners, two men and a woman, fighting and making a great deal of noise. K. Purachai ordered police to arrest them for affray and for causing a public disturbance. He then walked into the newly-opened Tiger Pub where he watched foreigners dancing. Since the pub did not have a discotheque license, he ordered it closed for 30 days with immediate effect. Next stop was the famed Shark Pub. After watching customers dancing for 15 minutes, K. Purachai called for the operating license. Close scrutiny showed that the license had been issued for a “ramwong” bar in Phuket Town. Although this was the wrong kind of license for the disco, and although the building was found to have no fire escape, K. Purachai allowed Shark to stay open, but ordered officials to ensure that these infringements were quickly rectified. He also ordered them to keep a close eye on Shark’s closing time, and to check the place regularly for drug abuse and underage drinkers. At 1.30 am, K. Purachai and his team moved on to Phuket Town, where they paid a call on Dance Fever in Rassada Rd. It has been closed a number of times in the past for infringing licensing laws, but has always managed to reopen. As the Minister walked through the hundreds of frenzied dancers, the musicians onstage spotted him and stopped playing. A hush fell over the place. As K. Purachai walked out, boos broke the silence. The Minister then ordered the lights turned on and the doors barred. Police checked the ID cards of all 226 customers and took urine samples from everyone, including two young women initially found unconscious on the floor from overindulgence in alcohol. After tests this morning, 23 of the samples – 13 from men and 10 from women – showed positive results. These will be subjected to further tests before any charges are brought. The officers found no underage patrons. They also found no fire escape or extinguishers. K. Purachai ordered Dance Fever closed for 30 days. While the Minister was looking around Phuket Town, CSD officers checked other bars in Patong and found that the Galaxy Pub in Soi Sunset had the wrong kind of license. They referred to K. Purachai, who ordered it closed for 30 days. Today, Phuket Town Police Superintendent Col Paween Pongsirin issued an appeal, via the Gazette, for entertainment venue owners to comply rigidly with the law. “Please obey the regulations,” he said. “Don’t allow people under 18 to work behind the bar, don’t serve people under 20 years old, and check ID cards carefully. “You should also check job applicants’ resumes carefully and be ready to show your license whenever officers ask for it. “Don’t disturb neighbors with noise and don’t become a place for drug abuse. Close at the right time and do business with the right license. “If you don’t, you may be arrested, your place may be ordered closed, and you may lose your license.”
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