A tad of sympathy should given to the Maldives manager, named in the official announcement as Ms Mintra Yindamnoon, but only on a technicality.
According to the order to close the Maldives night venue for five years and the order to close the H2O nightclub just a few doors down for 30 days, the only difference was that the Maldives was caught with minors on its premises. To be clear, that’s not good and should be punished, but that one difference – again, according to the official record – earned Ms Mintra a ban four years and 11 months more than handed down to operator of the H2O club.
How that can be justified when other venues dotted across the island have been caught for the same, but not punished the same, says it all.
And keep in mind that neither venue was charged for what the obvious complaint was: playing loud music past 4am, as made painfully obvious by Maj Gen Uthai Kawindechathorn, Chief of the Phetchaburi Provincial Police, who was unable to sleep at his house nearby.
If Phuket officials want to keep their books straight, so far Phuket police have been officially unable to catch and charge the loud music culprit. They just adopted the approach of ‘streetwise’ law enforcement of yesteryear and found something to punish the violator with even though they could not prove it. Now with that behaviour written in words, it sounds a lot more ominous than this case really was. In terms of law, this is what human rights campaigners shout loud about.
The closure orders also became the second instance whereby Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Pornsak Nuannu had publicly said that he had issued specific orders that were later found to have only somewhat obeyed, in one instance ignored entirely. Make of that what you will.
Yet the message to nightlife venue operators this week has been heard loud and clear, and it is not to cease late trading, playing loud music or even serving minors – it’s being called out by the wrong person.
For people on the sidelines, however, it has been fun to watch what can happen in Phuket when a high-ranking officer from outside the province with no vested interest in the parties involved goes public with evidence of what is for local residents an everyday embarrassment.