The plea came at a meeting of bar and other entertainment venue business operators following the raid of the ‘Velvet bar’ in Soi Sea Dragon, off Bangla Rd, last week that uncovered a child sex trafficking network.
Mr Weerawit said that the incident affects the image of all entertainment venues on Bangla Rd, and throughout the whole of Patong.
Mr Weerawit claimed that “99% of [entertainment venue] operators” uphold the law on the prohibition of children under 18 years old from working in or entering entertainment venues, the prohibition of drugs, physical abuse of tourists and the possession of weapons.
“The group [PEBA members] have continued to follow the law, especially ones of such importance,” he said.
Mr Weerawit asked for cooperation from PEBA members to look out for illegal activities in all entertainment avenues in the area, “because the majority of operators as well as officers may not know about it”.
“If anyone finds any suspected illegal activity, they should immediately inform the association,” he said.
Mr Weerawit explained that the operator of the Velvet bar was known to be involved in the operation of four other bars.
“I’m not sure if they also operate the same way, but I know that officers have already ordered them to close down,” he said.
The PEBA has singled out the operators of the related bars to be banned from opening new venues, he added.
“We will ask the landlord to not rent out the space, because if they are allowed to operate again, we are afraid that they will use children for sex trafficking again,” he said.
Mr Weerawit said Patong was not known for child sex trafficking. “This may be the first case in 18 years,” he said.
“After the raid, there was an order commanding the venues to close by 1am, which has affected the whole area, especially innocent people [entertainment venue operators].
“This case has caused damage to the Patong economy of at least B100 million over the past seven days and resulted in damage to the local economy,” he said.
Mr Weerawit argued against bars and nightlife venues in Patong being forced to close at 1am.
“When the bars close early, tourists gather at the beach. This has created alcohol trade on the beach. Some of the vendors even bring chairs to put on the beach, he said.
“And this may cause crime as well,” Mr Weerawit concluded.
Kurt | 22 March 2023 - 09:16:05