More than 50 activists, some dressed in bloodied Halloween-type costumes representing injuries caused by alcohol-related road accidents, protested at the Ministry of Public Health headquarters in Nonthaburi yesterday.
The representatives of the Alcohol Related Harm Prevention Network were expressing their opposition to the government’s decision to extend the opening hours of night entertainment venues in Bangkok and other cities from 2am until 4am next month.
Teerapat Kahawong, a coordinator of the network, said its members are disappointed with the change, which will start in the pilot provinces of Bangkok, Chon Buri, Phuket and Chiang Mai on Dec 15.
The government said the move aims to help stimulate the economy and tourism.
Mr Teerapat said the ministry must protect people’s health, and drinking alcoholic beverages runs counter to that.
As such, any related policy should be created in response to the Alcohol Beverage Control Act BE 2551 (2008) and drafted with the participation of various stakeholders, he added.
The groups oppose the new policy because it also creates a higher risk of road accidents involving drunk drivers, Mr Teerapat noted.
“To solve an economic problem, the government should not create a new problem or a new burden for medical staff,” he said.
“The government would face huge expenditure in covering the medical treatment of those impacted by such alcohol-led accidents. It should ensure it has well-rounded information before making any decision.”
The groups also demanded the ministry set up public hearings before going ahead with the policy.
Senior officials at the ministry led by Dr Cherdchai Tontisirin, assistant to the public health minister, showed up to listen to the network’s concerns.
Dr Cherdchai said the ministry would take their concerns into consideration as safeguarding people’s health is the ministry’s top priority.
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