Foreign man condemned for drinking beer in Chiang Mai temple
A foreign tourist was condemned by Thai netizens for consuming beer at Doi Suthep Temple, also known as Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, in Chiang Mai. Drinking alcoholic beverages in restricted areas is unlawful in Thailand and may lead to penalties and imprisonment.
On Friday, March 17, a video circulated on Thai social media featuring a foreign tourist consuming a can of beer while descending the stairs at Doi Suthep Temple. The video quickly went viral, showing the tourist carrying two more beer cans in a plastic bag held in his left hand while strolling and conversing with his companions.
Thai netizens were unhappy with his disregard for the sanctity of the temple, and some inquired about the beer’s origin, questioning whether any nearby shops were selling alcohol.
The incident occurred on the same day that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited the temple. So, many netizens speculated that there must be police officers standing by to facilitate the PM, and asked why they did not take any action against the foreign tourist.
Others argued that foreign tourists might not be aware of Thai law and culture, and the responsibility lies with the authorities to educate them. People who disagreed said Doi Suthep temple was a respectable and invaluable place for locals in Chiang Mai, and tourists should learn about it before visiting.
A representative from the temple later gave an interview to MGR Online, explaining that the incident might have happened due to a miscommunication between the temple’s security guards and the PM’s security team. The temple’s security team assumed that the PM’s team would take care of the whole area and withdrew to facilitate them, resulting in them not noticing the foreign man with the beer.
A representative emphasized that the temple has strict rules against alcoholic drinks and always checks and notifies foreigners about them. The representative promised not to let any similar cases happen in the temple area again.
The foreign man featured in the video was not arrested or fined that day but according to Section 31 of the Act to Control Alcoholic Beverages, alcohol is banned from temples, state hospitals, government offices, schools, petrol stations, public parks, and other places. Anyone who violates the law shall be punished with imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to 10,000 baht, or both.
Last year, a foreign couple was slammed for kissing at the Si Suphan Temple in Chaing Mai. The abbot of the Si Suphan Temple, Phra Khru Pithak Sutthalolee, insisted that the temple had signs to inform foreigners of the temple rules. The others were following it well, except only this couple. No legal action was made against the couple.
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