The manager of the Super Cheap store next to Dowroong Wittaya School was fined B3,000 for selling alcohol outside the permitted hours after officers from the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) presented themselves as regular customers just after 3pm yesterday (Dec 26) and were able to freely purchase alcohol.
“Our officers obtained a receipt that indicated the time of the purchase, which we needed to hand to the police as evidence when we filed a complaint at Phuket City Police Station asking the police to press charges,” explained Natpimon Na Nakorn, one of the health officials who led the “sting” operation.
Ms Natpimon works our of the Ministry of Health’s Office of Prevention and Control of Disease Region 11 office in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, which also covers Phuket.
The health officials escorted the store manager to Phuket City Police Station, where Capt Ronnapoom Pempoon confirmed, “The manager was fined B3,000 for selling alcohol during the incorrect hours. If they do it again they will be fined up to B6,000.”
By law, alcohol may be sold by stores only between the hours 11am to 2pm and from 5pm to midnight.
However, the store is unlikely to have the opportunity to commit the offence again as the PPHO will ask the Phuket Governor to revoke the store’s license to sell alcohol entirely, Ms Natpimon told The Phuket News today (Dec 27).
The same now applies for the bars operating at the Chillva Market in Samkong, where officers arrived in force at 7:30pm last night.
“The Super Cheap store is next to Dawroong School and the bars at Chillva Market are too close to Ban Samkong Municipal School,” Ms Natpimon confirmed.
“These cases will be presented to the Phuket Governor for him to order that any licenses to sell alcohol held by these venues to be revoked and that any future applications for alcohol permits denied as selling alcohol in these areas is banned,” she added.
Specifically, Ms Natpimon noted that alcohol was not permitted to be sold at the Chillva Market as it was within 300 metres of a school.
Worse, it was also discovered that the operators of the seven bars at the market were selling alcohol under the remit of licenses that expired last year.
“The bars alcohol licenses expired on December 31, 2016,” Ms Natpimon revealed today.
Sakarin Kongtrikeaw of the Phuket office of the Excise Department, who was present for the inspections last night, confirmed the finding.
Asked why the licenses were issued at all in 2016, Mr Sakarin said he did not know, but added, “It is the market operators’ responsibility to find out.
“We understand that the market owner invested a lot (in the market). They have visited the Excise Department Phuket office already and filed a complaint,” he said.
The crackdown makes good on the PPHO’s warning Wednesday last week (Dec 20) that health officers will be inspecting venues across the island to enforce alcohol sale and promotion laws. (See story here.)
At the Chillva Market last night, Ms Natpimon pointed out that the operators were also operating in flagrant disregard of the alcohol promotion laws.
The illuminated signs installed at the front of bars were deemed illegal as they were understood to be “in a public area”. Even an inflated balloon floating above the market was deemed to be in breach of the law, Ms Natpimon noted.
The fact that the whole market was on private land was overshadowed by the fact that the general public had access to the areas where the signs were posted, she explained.
The damning aspects of promotion were the “buy 3 get 1 free” discount promotion, which is plainly illegal under the law, Ms Natpimon noted.
“Even (alcohol brand) logos with a message that promotes a promotion for alcohol is illegal,” she added.
Ms Natpimon noted that that the presence of such staff as “pretties”, who are hired to attend venues to highlight specific alcohol brands to potential customers, were legal, but they were not to solicit or serve customers.
“They can only wait for the client to ask them. They can then explain the price of the alcohol,” Ms Natpimon said.