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Phuket Opinion: Last orders, please

Phuket Opinion: Last orders, please

PHUKET: As residents and tourists alike witnessed this week, Thailand still has laws in effect bringing in nationwide alcohol bans. The ban this week was for Makha Bucha, one of five religious days throughout the year on which the sale of alcohol is banned by law.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 24 February 2019, 09:00AM

And on Tuesday, health officials were keen to enforce them. (See story here.)

As law, the ban applies to every person in the Kingdom, and we have four more to go this year: Visakha Bucha (May 18), Asarnha Bucha (July 16), Khao Pansa (July 17) and Wan Org Pansa (Oct 13).

Makha Bucha, Visakha Bucha and Asarnha Bucha Day are all public holidays in the Kingdom. Khao Pansa and Wan Org Pansa, however, are not.

With the March 24 national election just four weeks away, those who have not been in Thailand for electoral polls – and specifically those expats who have landed on the island in the past four years – are about to learn that the Election Act also mandates that an alcohol ban be enforced from midnight to midnight on election day in areas where an election for a public post is being held.

On March 24, that means a nationwide alcohol ban.

What most people have yet to realise is that with the national election out of the way, the door opens for elections for every single local council and elected seat in the country as all of them have now exceeded the maximum four years for any incumbent.

In Phuket, that means elec­tions will be held for 19 local councils – 12 municipalities and seven tambon administration organisations (OrBorTor) – as well as the provincial elections for council members of the Phuket Provincial Adminis­tration (PPAO, or OrBorJor).

According to the Phuket office of the Election Com­mission of Thailand, the local elections for these posts are all expected be held sometime from May through July – pos­sibly later – but very likely to all be held before the end of the year. (See story here.)

We are hoping that some common sense will prevail and that all the local council elections for Phuket are held across the island on one day, with the PPAO election held on another.

QSI International School Phuket

That would create just two more islandwide alcohol bans in Phuket due to elections, instead of having 20 more piecemeal alcohol bans in constituencies where and when local elections are being held, including the heavy tourist areas of Patong, Karon and elsewhere along Phuket’s west coast as well as in Phuket Town.

Creating public holidays to observe religious days raises enough questions, but to enact legislation specifically to enforce a behaviour in line with one particular faith does beg serious questions.

If those in power have doubts about the sincerity of a nation’s faith, perhaps more proactive steps to attract people to that faith should be taken.

Enforcing a law on all people regardless of their faith to observe a tenet of one particular faith upholds only one principle: one law for all. Nothing else is gained.

The alcohol bans for elections are worse, enacted as if once upon a time in the Kingdom the voting adult public could not be trusted not to drink on election day. If that were so, so be it. But enforcing the alcohol ban on those who are not eligible to vote – namely tourists – beggars belief. The local elections have nothing to do with them.

Alcohol is not the be all or end all of a holiday, but for many tourists a drink is a welcome companion adding that finishing touch to a holiday moment. We won’t be seeing any tour operators advertising abroad anytime soon a cocktail on the beach while watching the sunset, without the cocktail, or a romantic dinner for two, without the wine.

A nation rightfully makes laws for its own people and all guests are asked to respect them, while a host’s lack of consideration for guests says everything about the host.

In a country with its most popular faith eternally calling for people to find the middle way in resolving any conflict in life, as honoured on Tuesday this week, surely we can find some middle ground on this particular issue, especially on the country’s most successful tourism island.


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Jor12 | 25 February 2019 - 23:43:06

Would PN have the same "serious questions" about
those nations? I have more serious concerns about capital punishment. Not drinking alcohol is not even on my agenda.    

Jor12 | 25 February 2019 - 23:38:01

Perhaps PN has forgotten that Thailand is a Buddist nation with some 95% of its population buddhist, so if the people want this type of ban, who are you to state, that such laws to "enforce a behaviour in line with one particular faith does beg serious questions." Most Muslim
countries have alcohol bans such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, 
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. 

Jor12 | 25 February 2019 - 23:25:26

s.67, Constitution 2017 states..."The State should support and protect Buddhism 
and other religions..." Thus there is no manadate; demands; 
religious freedoms or separation from the State as has been suggested. One should also read sections 25 and 26 of the Act as well. Therefore such laws are not unconstitutional.

CaptainJack69 | 24 February 2019 - 16:24:44

Thailands' constitution mandates religious freedom for ALL and demands the separation of church (or temple) and state. Thus any legislation that restricts personal freedoms on the grounds of religious faith is, by definition, unconstitutional.

Good luck conducting an effective election when even the national assembly can't respect their own constitution.

CaptainJack69 | 24 February 2019 - 16:18:51

All that assumes that the elections go smoothly. Remember how we got into this mess in the first place, one election after another failed or was disputed or was in the end violently protested. We were subjected to one alcohol ban after another and the only way it ended was with another coup. Who can say if this round of elections will be any different?

Kurt | 24 February 2019 - 13:06:52

So, are we going to laugh on Phuket during Songkan?  A many day alcohol ban, but by than while water shortest will be so eminent, still allowing all these trucks, full with drums of ice water on road ? A habit what has nothing to do with the thai cultural Songkran water sprinkling. I expect Phuket Officials to be silent as a mouse about this, not dare to forbid it.

Kurt | 24 February 2019 - 12:53:40

That whole alcohol ban, whenever, a farce. It is not about the alcohol, it is about the psyche, to put the authority boots in the neck of common people, just to remind them who is the boss to wai for. "Know your place, we are the boss and tell you to obey". Unfortunately these authorities just hide behind this simple behavior, instead of taking care of a other liquid!  WATER on Phuket.

Pascale | 24 February 2019 - 10:24:34

If the ban of selling alcohol for a few days is such a matter of concern for an editor ( as always the writer of an opinion is never named ) or a few other people,then the world must be a perfect place.

Fascinated | 24 February 2019 - 09:40:16

A fundamental error int the article. It is not an alcohol ban it as a ban on the SALE of alcohol. Nothing to stop people buying alcohol before the sales ban and consuming it during the restricted period (which does make a mockery of the law any way). Much ado over nothing as always.

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