Thailand cracks down on street racing

Thailand cracks down on street racing
Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya, centre right, accepts a petition from Theerapat Kahawong, the coordinator for anti-alcohol youth network, yesterday. The group is calling on the minister to help push forward the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages.
PHOTO: The Nation/Asia News Network

AUTHORITIES have vowed to hold accountable everyone - youth or adults - involved from the very preparatory stages of street racing by motorcycles or other vehicles, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said after a meeting yesterday.

Any social-media channel that is used to promote a race will be shut down by police, and he warned that those found in the vicinity of where racing begins would also be arrested unless they could prove their innocence.

Racers will face legal action and their vehicles will be seized; if they are found to be modified, the owners will be required to restore them to their original condition. The parents of racers and shops selling modified parts will have to follow relevant laws strictly, he said.

As for regulating outlets selling alcoholic drinks, Paiboon said that as a short-term solution, state officials could use their discretion to decide what to do about entertainment venues near universities. Those venues near schools would be punished and even be permanently closed if they open beyond the legal time, create disturbing noises, or operate without a proper licence, he warned.

Landlords of venues near schools will also be accountable if they lease the site to outlets selling booze, he added. For a long-term solution, the police and the Public Health, Finance and Education ministries would determine the appropriate legal radius.

In related news, a 3,400-member business network yesterday opposed the Alcohol Beverage Control Committee's draft declaration on the suspension of all alcoholic-beverage sales in a 300-metre radius of universities and other tertiary institutions.

The draft declaration, approved on June 18, is to be proposed today for the National Alcoholic Beverage Policy Commission's approval.

The network said in its statement yesterday that this declaration did not address the economic impact - about 125,000 jobs would be at risk - and it did not address unintended impacts, such as shopping malls no longer being able to sell alcohol, while the exact definition of the 300-metre radius in practice was still unresolved.

They claimed that it was developed without well-rounded inputs from all stakeholders, and hence it could cause complications while this "heavy-handed measure" could lower investor confidence.

The network said the draft failed to address the root cause of underage drinking directly, as it only focuses on suspension of sales, not consumption.

The current ban on sales of alcoholic drinks to persons under 20 is already effective and carries a heavier penalty for offenders, they added.

The network comprises the Thai Retailers Association, Thai Hotel Association, Thai Food Traders Association, Khaosan Business Association, Thai Wine Association and Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association.

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