Thai parliament proposes death penalty for causing airport closure

Thai parliament proposes death penalty for causing airport closure
File photo of a plane taking off at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport.

THAILAND - The government proposed the bill for the National Legislative Assembly's consideration to replace the 1978 and 1995 laws.

The draft states that a person will face execution or life imprisonment if they destroy an aircraft in service, damage an aircraft so that it is no longer operational or put any material in an aircraft that causes it damage.

Forcing the closure of an airport, damaging airport facilities or aircraft at an airport plus any action that maims or kills someone in an airport would result in the death penalty or a life sentence, according to Article 19 of the proposed bill.

A person would also face the death penalty or life imprisonment for murdering someone in an airport.

NLA member Somchai Sawangkarn said putting someone to death for causing an airport's closure might be too harsh.

No death penalty elsewhere

Many countries no longer had the death penalty, he said.

"Personally, I don't support the closure of airports. But in some cases an airport operation needs to be shut down for other reasons such as what happened in 2008 when protesters shut the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports," he said, adding that "the law should give the operators some room for decisions".

Klanarong Chantik, an NLA member and a graft buster, said some articles in the proposed bill were not realistic and might affect the aviation industry.

Klanarong said Article 12 stated that alcohol- or drug-affected passengers who caused a disturbance on a flight face five years' imprisonment or a Bt500,000 fine or both.

"This article means serving alcohol on board is prohibited," he said.

Klanarong said Article 8 of the bill was also problematic and impractical as it resulted in a fine of only Bt20,000 (S$790) - the same fine for people caught smoking in a restricted area - for any passenger who brought a prohibited substance aboard a plane, including explosives.

These articles should be amended, he said.

Transport Minister ACM Prajin Juntong said the government would take all the concerns of lawmakers into consideration and would amend the bill during meetings of an ad-hoc committee.

The goal of the legislation is to protect passengers and people involved in the aviation industry, he said.

Also in the aviation bill:

Three years' imprisonment or a Bt120,000 fine for:

- sexual harassment or any sexual offence

- indecency

Five years' imprisonment or a Bt200,000 fine for:

- using force to hurt someone

- damaging the property of someone

- drinking alcohol or using narcotics

- causing chaos on board a flight

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