Phuket Opinion: Safety first
PHUKET: One of the delights of living in Thailand is the lack of rules and regulations that crimp one’s fun, or sanuk.
Monday 27 August 2012, 05:00PM
Or to be more precise, the lack of enforcement of rules: the ability to ride around on a motorbike with no helmet and little likelihood of being stopped; or the ability to get a drink at just about any time, never mind the laws on bar closing times.
The dark side of the same equation is that the habitual scoffing at laws, and the habitual inability of authorities to enforce them, kills people.
The investigation into the Tiger Discotheque fire is still ongoing, so it would not be appropriate to point fingers at this stage.
New rules brought in following the horrific Santika Pub fire in Bangkok, which killed more than 60 people, are not due to be complied with until next month, so the vast amounts of highly flammable styrofoam at the Tiger disco – which are believed to have accelerated the blaze last Friday morning – are not, technically illegal.
But legally right or wrong, the attitude that businesses needn’t bother to do anything about safety until forced to do so (and even then, there are ways to make that “problem” go away) is morally offensive.
The nighttime entertainment business in any country tends to attract a less appealing kind of operator, not often troubled by moral issues. Thailand is no different.
Once again, disaster has hit Phuket and somehow, somewhere, one knows that a cynical attitude to safety, an attitude that values money over life, lies behind it.
Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit, a regular visitor to Phuket in controversial times, has called for a crackdown on night venue safety.
Let’s hope that local authorities are listening, and will summon up the courage to compel operators to comply.
If not, there are dozens of disasters just waiting to happen. It’s just a matter of time.