Published: 24/03/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
The government is considering seeking a Council of State ruling on whether it can ban alcohol sales during next month's Songkran festival.
If the government's legal arm fails to come up with an answer before the festival, a ban may be put into place on April 13, the Thai New Year's Day, Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart said.
A final decision rests with the cabinet.
The government's alcohol policy committee headed by Maj-Gen Sanan met yesterday and discussed a proposed ban during the festival from April 12 to 14 in a bid to curb the horrendous annual road fatalities.
Under the Alcoholic Drink Control Act of 2008, the government can ban alcohol sales on specific days.
Maj-Gen Sanan yesterday said the committee agreed in principle with the ban. If the council gives the green light, the PM's Office could issue the ban immediately, he said.
Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said he disagreed with an alcohol ban. He said it would discourage tourists from visiting Thailand during the country's most renowned festival.
Road accidents during the festival did not result from alcohol but from people who drink too much and drive and because of poor law enforcement by police.
Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum agreed with the governor, saying partying and drinking were a part of the traditional festival and the ban could affect tourism.
Anti-alcohol activist Khamron Choodecha yesterday accused Maj-Gen Sanan of trying to avoid making a decision on the ban by passing the question of legal ambiguity to the Council of State.