Old Liquor Laws And A New Game Of Cat & Mouse

Published on 10th April 2016 by Stickboy BKK

I’ve mentioned a few times over the past week on social media about the army, along with officers from unknown police divisions, hitting the Sukhumvit strip to carry out raids on various “entertainment” venues.

Last Tuesday Soi 7/1 was the target and the following night doors were knocked at several establishments on Soi 13 and 15. This was followed by a meeting with bar and clubs owners on Thursday in Khlong Toei informing those attending what current laws would be the spotlight of enforcement.

Effective immediately there was to be no smoking inside bars, live music was to be switched off by midnight for those without the correct paperwork, some venues would have to close by 1am and others at 2am… just a few highlights of what was discussed.

Old Liquor Laws New Game Of Cat Mouse

As you’d expect, a lot of calls were made following the meeting and the feedback was carry on as normal unless the army show up which is exactly what happened with exception to the go-go bars in Nana Plaza where most banned customers from smoking inside their venues and one Soi 4 beer bar canceling their live entertainment due to start at midnight, opting instead to fire up the jukebox to be on the safe side.

At 1am on Friday morning there was not a single man in cammo to be seen, bars and clubs closed at their usual times and so the latest game of cat and mouse begins.

The general consensus among those in the nightlife and entertainment business was the army were flexing their muscles following major changes made by the Prime Minister last week under Section 44 of the interim constitution that seen soldiers from the rank of sub-lieutenant and up being given police powers of arrest, search and seizure in a wide range of crimes including extortion, human trafficking, alien workers, immigration, tour guide services, prostitution, excise taxation, price collusion and entertainment venues.

Since the military took power in May 2014 they have carried out numerous raids of their own across the city and given instructions to police districts to clamp down on entertainment venues flouting the law without these latest powers leading me to believe the latest threatened crackdown and recent law changes are just a coincidence.

Random raids and crackdowns are nothing new. Local police districts and specialist divisions have been doing it for decades and after a few days or weeks everything goes back to how it was with heads being turned the other way as donations continue to be collected but since the meeting on Thursday, there has been no follow up from the military or police which was highly anticipated following the events of Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Old Liquor Laws New Game Of Cat Mouse

If the army wanted to eradicate corruption related to the entertainment industry, and put an end to greedy cops putting their hands out, the simple solution would be to update the outdated licensing laws that are the golden goose for the boys in brown which is exactly what the Deputy PM announced the government would do last August following the no alcohol to be sold within 300m of schools debacle.

He said a committee would be set up and a six month study carried out that would include new entertainment zones across the city allowing businesses to apply for entertainment licenses and extended operating hours which are a must in a modern city such as Bangkok, not only for locals but also the huge number of tourists visiting each year who are left scratching their heads when 2am comes around and it’s suddenly bed time.

Eight months have passed and there hasn’t been a peep about these new proposals and I’m not expecting to hear anything anytime soon either, as I believe it was just talk to quash the uproar and embarrassment of the silly no booze near schools rule they revoked less than two weeks after passing it into law.

Old Liquor Laws New Game Of Cat Mouse

As for what will happen in the days and weeks ahead after last weeks raids and meeting… who knows? Will those in charge suddenly show up out of the blue and enforce what was spelled out at Thursday’s meeting? Was the meeting just a PR stunt following on from Tuesday and Wednesday’s unannounced visits so it is on record everyone was reminded of the rules?

I don’t have a crystal ball but if I’m honest, the never ending game of cat and mouse does become a little played out and boring to talk about as most of it becomes a guessing game and Stickboy hates guessing games.

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