POLICE PANEL CHIEF
Venues outside late zones 'must close at midnight'
Purachai insists Social Order must be enforced, with no exception for Xmas
Nine paraplegic victims of drunk driving accidents hand out leaflets in Muang Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday as part of the groupís anti-alcohol campaign from Vientiane in Laos to Bangkok.
Former interior minister Purachai Piumsombun, whose strict Social Order policy several years ago was widely welcomed - and opposed, warned yesterday that many new night entertainment venues were operating illegally outside permitted areas.
Purachai, now chairman of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)'s panel on justice, police affairs and human rights, called on the Surayud government to strictly enforce the zoning policy, which allows venues to operate in only three areas in Bangkok - Ratchadaphisek, Phetburi and Patpong.
He said a large number of pubs, nightclubs, plus restaurants and food gardens where music is played for customers, now operate freely along Phaholyothin and Nawamin Roads.
But any place that sold alcohol after midnight - outside the three late-night zones - was regarded as unlawful.
During his time as minister in an early Thaksin cabinet, Purachai allowed these venues to open all night only on New Year's Eve (Dec 31 into Jan 1). No exception was allowed on other special nights including Christmas. And Purachai said he expected this policy to still be enforced this year.
Speaking at a seminar on road safety campaigns during the New Year holiday period, Purachai said he may need to submit an urgent motion to the government if it failed to strictly enforce the Social Order policy - which is now in effect as a ministerial regulation.
Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla said the number of casualties from road accidents during the four-day break starting from December 30 would be reported at the actual rates.
All hospitals will begin collecting information starting from midnight December 29 to midnight January 3.
Emergency medical service teams from all major hospitals would be put on standby and required to arrive at accident scenes within 10 minutes.
The ministry would refocus their attention and monitoring activities from major roads to branch roads, where the tendency for accidents was higher, given statistical reports last year.
Permanent secretary Prat Boonyawongwirot said a total of 4,000 first-aid teams would be re-equipped and surgeons and emergency medical staff at state hospitals had been asked to not take any days off during the period.
Motorcycles contributed to 86 per cent of the 434 deaths and 4,772 injuries last year, he said. Of the injured motorcyclists, 61 per cent were under 15 and 28 per cent of those under 15 did not have a driver's licence or wear a safety helmet.
Bangkok police chief Wiroj Chantharangsee said 200 traffic checkpoints would be set up throughout Bangkok on December 29. All up, some 20,000 officers from all 88 police precincts in the capital would man 376 checkpoints over the four-day period, from 4pm to 2am to deter crime and accidents.