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Patong, Phuket's nightlife hub, has been asked to close on time

Phuket Bars, Discos 'Told to Close On Time By US Navy'

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
PHUKET: The US Navy has asked Phuket entertainment venues to close on time - costing the venues the chance to make extra profit while an aircraft carrier strike group is anchored off Phuket.

Weerawit Kuresombut, President of the Entertainment Association of Patong, said today: ''Venues in Patong have been asked to close by 2am in a letter from the US Navy.''

Most venues in Patong, Phuket's west coast nightclub hub, have become accustomed to staying open beyond the 2am limit in order to make as much money as possible.

''That means low income for us,'' Khun Weerawit said today. ''But of course, we still have to pay all the people who come seeking bribes.''

Estimates are that at least 14 official organisations are engaged in bribe-taking in Patong, a public meeting in Patong was told two years ago.

The cost of all the corruption is inevitably passed on to visiting tourists, including US sailors.

It is believed the US Navy letter that Khun Weerawit said he had received was intended to ensure the safety of the 5350 crew of the nuclear-powered USS John C. Stennis and its accompanying warship, the USS Mobile Bay.

Groups of up to 2000 sailors are rotating for liberty leave on Phuket, with the strike group anchored off Phuket's east coast deep sea port from Sunday to Thursday.

Estimates by US officials of previous carrier group visits have put the amount of money spent by the sailors at about the equivalent of $1 million a day.

However, the deaths of four patrons - including an English tourist and a French tourist - in a blaze at Patong's Tiger Discotheque at 3.55am on August 17 is thought to have triggered a reappraisal of the safety of US sailors.

At the weekend, one of Patong's largest discotheques, the Hollywood, underwent a lengthy evacuation drill.

The owner, Preechavude ''Prab'' Keesin, said today that he had spent 300,000 baht making sure the Hollwood Disco was safe.

''There is no foam insulation, we have 60 extinguishers and large fire exits, and we can adequately cope with up to 700 customers,'' he said.

''Our staff have undergone proper training. We replaced all the electrical wiring. Everything is by the law,'' he said.

Khun Prab said he and the owners of other Patong venues had spend four million baht rewiring the Soi Bangla strip with safe electrics.

Few complaints have been made since the USS Ronald Reagan became the first carrier to visit Phuket in 2009. US warships have anchored off Phuket for shore leave regularly since.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I would like to see the Thai navy request the night clubs of Hawaii to close at a time of their request, as this is Thailand I don't believe they have the right for such a request and in my view is rude.

Posted by coxo on October 9, 2012 14:40

Editor Comment:

Asking for Patong bars to obey a Thai law is perfectly polite. The Canadian government asking for information about the deaths of tourists in Thailand to be suppressed is rude.

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It's an interesting statement by the US Navy who are usually very sensitive and reserved in their comments at ports of call.

I'm sure they gave it a lot of thought before they decided to make such a request, but I'm glad they did.

Little change for the better will come about on Phuket without outside pressure applied.

Not abiding by this request would put the local authorities in the spotlight for flaunting the law.

Posted by Andrew on October 9, 2012 15:05

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Ed, i concur asking is polite, telling is not. Your headline implies the latter.

Posted by David on October 9, 2012 17:44

Editor Comment:

Perhaps it should read 'Asked' rather than 'Told.' Perhaps, in calling us to account, you should settle on one name and stick to it, David/Unbelievable/Sensible/Anonymous.

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"they need to open later than 2am due to having to pay bribes"
But of course, we still have to pay all the people who come seeking bribes.'----------------------------

how on earth will thailand/phuket ever move forward, with so many peoples' snouts in the trough?

Posted by ayjay on October 10, 2012 03:54

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I think its a perfect reasonable request asking someone to abide by the law.

Ayjay, Thailand has never moved forward, only it looks that way because of modern Technology. The tribal mentality is all here.

Posted by Tbs on October 10, 2012 07:12

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Me thinks this is a good idea for all concerned. Why ruin a good thing now. So far the track record of the Navy has been great. Having 2000 extra people spending what they can is a gift to these bar owners...Be happy with it.

Posted by Ted Davis on October 10, 2012 07:56

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The Navy is only trying to keep their sailors out of trouble. Since the law is 2am closing all the navy personnel would be told they must follow the law and leave the bars at that time or be held accountable by the U.S. Navy they are only asking the Bars to help make that happen as a young sailor drinking in a disco may not be paying close attention to his or her watch and if the bar stay's open late shore patrol may walk in and any sailor found in the bar will have a bad day back onboard the ship (loss of money and the ability to go ashore in the next port they visit.. ETC)

Posted by mike on October 10, 2012 10:05

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Why not tell the navy personnel they have to be back at the port by 2.00 instead of poking their nose in.
Could you imagine some one visiting the States and telling what to do.
Even if it is the law I do not see what it has to do with them

Posted by richie on October 10, 2012 13:07

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This makes no sense. The late closings doesn't effect the US Navy. They all have a curfew of 2am or earlier. Why would they ask bars and clubs to close when they won't even be there? Even the officers which have overnight liberty (but who make up a relatively small number) have a 2am curfew. A very strange request which I doubt very much actually happened. Something has been lost in translation here.

Also, carriers have been visiting Phuket long before the Ronald Reagan came in 2009.

Posted by NomadJoe on October 10, 2012 13:40

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[quote]
But of course, we still have to pay all the people who come seeking bribes
[/quote]

The first step in stopping corruption is to refuse to pay bribes.

Over the years of doing business in Phuket, Bangkok and Ao Nang I have lost count of how many fake police, real police, fake monks etc have visited me in attempts to elicit money. None has succeeded. I simply wave them away with a smile and a white lie 'not my business - you need to speak to the owner'

If I can do it, so can others!

Simon

Posted by Simon Luttrell on October 10, 2012 14:27

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Khun Weerawit has admited to paying bribes.

Posted by Jay on October 23, 2012 20:11

Editor Comment:

Are you some kind of enforcer, Jay? Or are you just looking for a bribe?


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