Assistant national police chief Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn said on Sunday (Apr 17) the "Big Five" at Patong police station would work at the provincial headquarters to clear the way for a fact-finding police panel to look into the case. The team will investigate whether the hotel violated the rules and question senior police responsible for the area.
The so-call Big Five are the police station chief and his deputies, reports Bangkok Post.
On Saturday (Apr 16), lawyer Sittra Biabangkerd posted a 3-minute video clip on his Facebook page saying he had received complaints from Phuket residents that the Patong Bay Hill Resort Hotel had opened its entertainment venues beyond the legal closing time for years, annoying the public with excessive noise.
Mr Sittra said had he informed the authorities but no action was taken. He came to Phuket and saw with his own eyes that the hotel’s nightspots operated throughout the night until daybreak, he wrote.
The lawyer questioned why the Phuket police chief had not enforced the law and turned a blind eye to violation of COVID-19 rules.
"I think it is not possible for entertainment outlets in the hotel to have operated beyond the allowed opening hours, catering to about 1,000 clients per day, without the knowledge of the authorities. Large bribes may have been paid," Mr Sittra said.
His video clip showed a poolside venue with music playing to a number of late-night patrons.
Later on Saturday night, about 50 staff of the hotel rallied in Soi Bangla in Patong to protest against the video expose. The hotel employees started the protest at about 11pm, holding aloft placards reading "We are hungry" and "We don’t want to go jobless."
A shareholder in the hotel, who asked not to be named, said the lawyer had acted without any authority. Since what he had done might cause some hotel staff to feel they could lose their jobs, they came out to make a symbolic protest, he added.
Many other business operators could also be affected, he said.
A protester said since the outbreak of Covid-19 the people of Patong had struggled to make ends meet. "We only hope he understands our plight," he added.
Stringent COVID-19 restrictions, including closure of eateries, were previously imposed in this southern island resort province. Since the province re-opened to tourists under various schemes, opening hours for restaurants and other places serving alcohol have been extended to 11pm.
The lawyer on Sunday ignored the protest and said he worked for people who had no one to turn to on the violation of the provincial orders that made loud noises in the area.