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No Change On Early Closing

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bangkok ‘monitoring early closing’

PHUKET CITY: Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura has said that the government is monitoring reaction to its controversial early-closing policy for entertainment venues, but that it is still “early days”.

Speaking at his regular press conference at the Provincial Hall on Monday, the Governor also stressed that he did not have the power to alter the rules for Phuket.

Since September, entertainment venues across Thailand, from bars to karaoke parlors to massage salons have had to close at midnight or 1am, depending on their location. Owners of such venues in Phuket estimate they have lost hundreds of thousands of baht in earnings, and say they have had to lay off scores of staff.

Despite vociferous protests in Phuket, Gov Udomsak said that the law must be obeyed, but that the Government would continue to evaluate its effects.

He added that Deputy Interior Minister Pracha Maleenont had implemented the law only after consultation with many committees.

The law had been in effect only a couple of months, said Gov Udomsak, adding, “For the moment, we in Phuket have to obey the law.”

He continued, “I had thought that, as a tourist destination, we might get permission to allow venues to stay open later, but so far that hasn’t happened, and even as Governor I don’t have the authority to allow that.

“The law would have to be changed to give a governor the power to allow venues to stay open later [than the rules stipulate], he explained”

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