The request is a way to end the ongoing “pay for play” racketeering by officials who collect bribes from venues in order to stay open late, Mr Weerawit repeated today, as he also explained to The Phuket News last week. (See story here.)
This time the request was filed to Kathu District Chief Somprat Prabsongkram at the Kathu District Office, with Mr Weerawit joined by other PEBA members.
“There are more than 400 entertainment venues in Patong. About 190 of them are legally licensed,” Mr Weerawit explained.
“We can estimate the income generated by the Patong nightlife industry averages out to about B25 million per day. This amount of money also affects other occupations and sources of income for people in other industries, and this in turn also stimulates the nation’s economy,” he said.
Mr Weerawit explained that although for years requests to extend the legal closing times had yielded no response at all from the presiding officials in Bangkok, the government was now considering expanding the entertainment zones so that more businesses could be issued entertainment licences and legally stay open one hour later.
“We want this problem to be solved. It is a way to reduce the opportunity for officials to take bribes, and also 4am is the most suitable time for venues in Patong to close,” Mr Weerawit said.
However, he added, “Just expanding the entertainment zones is not enough, as businesses will still need to stay open past 1am in order to serve customers and stay in business.
“But by extending the closing times, most entertainment operators are willing to pay more to the government for this benefit instead of paying bribes,” Mr Weerawit noted.