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Patong nightlife operators fear ‘return of bribes’

Patong nightlife operators fear ‘return of bribes’

PHUKET: The President of the Patong Entertainment Association (PEBA) has voiced his concern that nightlife operators will again be called on to pay bribes in order to take advantage of late trading, while supporting a call for venues operating in dedicated zones to be exempt from punishment under the alcohol-promotion laws.

By The Phuket News

Tuesday 9 January 2018, 03:19PM

Signs promoting alcohol hang above tourists on bustling Soi Sea Dragon, off Bangla Rd in Patong. Photo: The Phuket News / file

Signs promoting alcohol hang above tourists on bustling Soi Sea Dragon, off Bangla Rd in Patong. Photo: The Phuket News / file

As recently as November, PEBA members, which represent about 400 entertainment venues in Patong, filed another petition calling for Bangkok officials to make late-trading legal.

The request is a way to end the ongoing “pay for play” racketeering by officials who collect bribes from venues in order to stay open late, Mr Weerawit repeated. (See story here.)

“This needs to be resolved. While Bangkok officials continue to stall on giving an answer, it leaves open the opportunity for officials to demand bribes from venue operators to stay open late to serve tourists,” he said.

Mr Weerawit has repeated time and again throughout the campaign that staying open late is very important for Patong’s nightlife industry as many tourists do not venture out to entertainment venues until after 11pm, leaving bars and clubs only a few hours to legally stay open. (See story here.)

“If the problem with late-trading times is not fixed, the bribes will come back again,” he warned.

Mr Weerawit also supported a call for nightlife venues to be exempt from the alcohol-promotion laws, especially businesses located on Bangla Rd and elsewhere in Patong’s entertainment zone.

“I agree with this idea. Venues must be free from the (alcohol) advertising rules, especially those in popular areas such as Bangla Rd because this is already recognised by the government as an entertainment zone,” he said.

“In turn, we would strongly support enforcing these laws outside the entertainment zone,” he added.

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The call to support the move follows Dr Prapa Nakara of the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) herself calling for such venues to be exempt from the alcohol-promotion laws.

Dr Prapa as Director of the Non-communicable Diseases division directly heads the enforcement of alcohol-related regulations on the island. Following express orders from Bangkok, she spearheaded the crackdown on alcohol-promotion laws in the lead-up to the New Year holidays. (See story here.)

“I go all over the island enforcing these laws and I absolutely agree with setting out special zones where businesses can be free to sell and promote alcohol,” Dr Prapa told The Phuket News.

“The government should set up special areas and publicly declare them as exempt from these laws. We are talking about tourist entrainment zones that the government already recognises as areas where the primary business is selling alcohol anyway,” she said.

However, Mr Weerawit noted that being exempt from the alcohol-promotion laws for now remains a secondary objective – making late trading legal remains his top priority.

“I will not push this issue for now,” he said. “Not until the entertainment zone in Patong is expanded to include the OTOP market, Soi Sansabai and other popular tourist areas and that late trading has become a reality.

“We have waited a long time for this, and so all we have received is blurry response,” he said.

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Kurt | 10 January 2018 - 10:26:29

Guess we can say that the thai culture, so neurotically obsessed by appearance, not counts for pirate nest Patong.
Appearance in Patong, or Surin Beach, shall we laugh about it?

Is Patong --> Thailand? Many people living here on Phuket would answer : No.
The tourists, not knowing any better, would say: Yes.

The late night entertainment opening times in Patong is a fight between 2 partie...

Foot | 10 January 2018 - 09:49:22

I understand having midnight or 1am closing times in heavily residential areas, but, why have any closing time around Bangla Road?
I know, it's for the bribes.  But, to finally eliminate them would go a long way in helping Phuket's deteriorated image.

CaptainJack69 | 09 January 2018 - 20:10:57

The lack of late opening licenses in specified entertainment areas is an embarrassment to Thailand. ALMOST as embarrassing in fact, as the rampant, obvious and unabashed corruption that allows its laws to be so easily circumvented.

For a culture so neurotically obsessed with appearance it seems crazy that Thai's allow this to happen. But hey it's only foreigners right, it's not like...

JSombra | 09 January 2018 - 19:12:31

Majority of bars on Bangla/otop are open all day

Even live music and clubs open and start playing around 7pm. Just no customers as tourists are just getting ready to go to eat after day at the beach. Bars do not get busy until 9-10

Would tourists adapt to early closing time? Yes, this trip. Next one they will pick somewhere else to holiday.Children are sent to bed at midnight not paying tour...

Kurt | 09 January 2018 - 18:55:00

Return of bribes? The bribes were never 'gone'.
Official bar/club time is still 01:00 AM.
Being in business after 01:00 AM, the most profitable hours, has a bribe price, to pay to Government officials. Clear and simple.

The sickening thing is, that Government Officials in demanding bribes not even hide it anymore. Corruption is now a normal Phuket Government happening.
The reforms of...

DeKaaskopp | 09 January 2018 - 17:10:46

Due to a shift in tourists bars are not that much frequented as some years ago.Early closing times would only drive away more tourists,as nobody would like to have an early dinner in order to enjoy a nice party evening.Demands for prolonged opening times are understandable and if allowed by the government will stop the bribes,at least the bribes for the opening times.

simon01 | 09 January 2018 - 16:05:09

Why is this even an issue. If the bars follow the law then there is no problem. If the bars close early then the customers come out early. The customers come out late because the bars dont open till late. Many bars have no staff till after 10pm and then then they just sit and eat. If the bars open at 6pm then the customers come out earier. If the bars stick to the law then they do not need to pay.

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