The peaceful rally began at 11pm with people holding placards saying that “they are hungry” and “do not want to lose jobs”, reported the Phuket office of the Public Relations Department (PR Phuket).
Pictures from the scene did not show any officials or police officers. No public disorder or acts of violence were reported by PR Phuket.
The rally followed an online post by a “well-known lawyer” who said he “received a complaint from Phuket residents saying they were suffering from Patong Bay Hill Hotel*”.
“Entertainment venues [at the hotel] have been operating over legal hours with crowds of people, loud noises, annoyance and illegal things for years, and the officials are still silent. I decided to see the place with my own eyes and it turned out that this entertainment venue is actually open until morning with a lot of people gathering there,” said the post (as quoted by PR Phuket).
“What should we do if a new COVID-19 cluster arises? Why does the Phuket Provincial Police Commissioner neglect it and allow entertainment venues to stay open beyond the legal time limit and violate measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus? And as far as I know, this entertainment venue doesn’t have a license as well,” the lawyer went on.
“Entertainment venues in some hotels operate for years, having thousands of tourists a day. I ask the national Police Commissioner to investigate the reason for such neglect. Is there any bribery or corruption? The official policy is strict law enforcement and elimination of malignancy when discovered, while the Phuket Provincial Police Commissioner is clearly flawing on this. I hope you will solve this case as an example,” the post continued.
The publication was supported with a video from inside the venue showing people having fun in the pool area and a DJ playing music to entertain the guests.
One of Patong Bay Hill Hotel employees explained that if the business is closed or suspended, a lot of people will lose their jobs. The employee said that Phuket has gone through two years of COVID-19 epidemic during which people have been struggling to survive and now are risking to lose what they have left because of the complaint.
“Has anyone come to see us and look after us? Everyone’s life is difficult. But he came to show his power causing widespread impact and damage to the establishment”, the employee said about the poster of the complaint.
It was stressed that most Patong people – born and raised there – understand the “context” of their lives and the nature of a resort town where people have to develop tourism as there are “no rubber plantations, no palm plantations”. With Patong’s assets being a “beautiful beachfront” and a “world-class city”, it has a specific way of development which is now under threat due to critisim, it was stressed.
“How will the employees be? No one knows. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been no agency on hand to provide us assistance. The employees have had to struggle to survive and make a living and now face this [criticism]. Let’s help push for our country,” the employee said.
*As named by PR Phuket.