Today, Chiang Mai Government officials have started to
enact draconian anti-drinking and smoking regulations in the city. Signs are
posted showing that drinking alcohol is only permitted between the hours of
11:00 and 14:00, and between 17:00 and 24:00 hours in all restaurants and
Also, smoking is not permitted in any establishment,
resulting in a fine against the establishment of up to 20,000 Baht if a
patron should not obey these laws. Please note it is not the patron who is
fined for being caught smoking, it is he/she fined for having someone
smoking in his/her premises, over which he/she has no control. If I wish to
light a cigarette he/she would have to call the police to have me ejected,
and they would have no interest in the matter. And he/she would be liable to
the fine, for something he/she did not do.
But, does this apply to any and all establishments?
Are these officials going to attend the premises of the
larger hotels that supply alcohol to their patrons as they eat meals between
the prohibited times of 14:00 to 17:00, and issue the 20,000 fines? I think
that we know the answer.
Of course not!
These businesses are owned by rich people, who can afford
to challenge the authorities. For all the others, those no so well off, they
have no choice but to obey. Therefore these are punitive taxes against those
to live day-to-day and not against those who live in comparative luxury.
Are these regulations really necessary? The answer is NO!
All they will do is further drive the visitors who supply
so much to the regions finances away, and deprive even more Chiang Mai
residents of a living income.
I would like to suggest the following: (these conclusions
are not based on scientific fact, but merely someone who has returned 3
times every year for 2 1/2 years, and who sends 50,000 Baht each month to
keep others from poverty).
1. Roughly 30% of Chiang Mai residents rely on the
financial input of foreign visitors.
2, I would suggest that 30% of these visitors smoke.
3. Of those, 100% enjoy the escape from meddling
bureaucrats in their own countries, and do not relish being under another.
4. Thailand as a whole and Northern Thailand in
particular, has seen a drop over the past 2 years of visiting tourists This
decline has accelerated over the past 3 months for reasons well known. It is
also a well known fact that the number of farang in Chiang Mai at any one
time has dropped drastically.
Does it really make sense to alienate 10% of income
producers in Chiang Mai? And for what reason? Has there been a groundswell
of objection? I cannot find anyone that has asked for this. There are many
other places for a farang to visit that do not make life uncomfortable.
Chiang Rai in the North, and so many other places in Southern Thailand.
Would it not be better to clean up Loi Kroh? Prostitution
is already illegal, and although ‘it does not exist’, a great many farang
would like to see it disappear completely. Prostitution harms all those who
have to endure it, but smoking only harms those that partake.
I think that a rethink is required, and very soon.
Mr., Governor, is it not illegal to parade an Elephant
down Loi Kroh, with the handlers asking money to feed him/her? I understand
that there is a Federal Law requiring those that do to face a fine of 10,000
Baht. Why not enforce existing laws?
I write this drinking a beer, and having a cigarette, not
even thinking about bar-girls, but loving Chiang Mai, and all this lovely