Alcohol sale banned around schools and universities will affect popular entertainment areas.
In his cruisade to turn Bangkok and Thailand into a morally irreproachable destination, Thailand Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o Cha decided yesterday to use the Section 44 of the interim constitutional charter to tackle some of the Thai society’s vices: alcool, street bike racing and noise from clubs. The invoked Section 44 gives wide sweeping powers to the PM to tackle issues thanks to a number of repressive measures to bring back “law and order”. The new law on alcool consumption and illegal street activities takes effect immediately.
The most spectacular measure is the ban of alcool sales at outlets within a 300 meter radius from schools and universities. If the measure on the paper could look like a good way to restrain alcool consumption among youth, it will however generate many problems in areas famous for their night life- such as Siam Square, Lower Sukhumvit Road or Ramkhamhaeng. These areas with their numerous bars and entertainment venues are also populated with schools and universities. It means that entire stretches of bars and various businesses are likely to disappear and become “dry zones”.
Online publication “Coconuts Bangkok” draws a map of Central Bangkok with red circles marking the new non-alcohol zones which covers the entire Siam Square area- near to Chulalongkorn University- as well as parts of Rachaprasong area (Chidlom and Ploenchit Stations), Convent Road near Silom and a large chunk of the city between Petchaburi Road, Asok and Sukhumvit. Only hotels in those areas will still be allowed to sell alcool while restaurants will be restricted from sales. The measure will consequently affect many popular tourist areas located in the vicinity of educational institutions.
Many business of course are now protesting the measure, some association of bars and restaurants owners talking about 100,000 jobs being under threat while between 30% and 35% of Bangkok would be affected by the law enforcement.
Other measures to be reinforced are the control on entrance in clubs -not allowed under 20-, closing hours -normally at 2 am- and a curb on noise following complaints from neighbourhood. If they do not comply, their business will be closed for five years.
Another measure is to make illegal biking race in the streets of cities. Youth who will contravene to the law will now face arrestation and heavy fines. In its cruisade for the eradication of vice, Bangkok seems on the right track to emulate Singapore or maybe -in a more distant future- Brunei!