Although the DNP secretary earlier said the partial lifting of the alcohol ban was the DNP chief’s personal opinion and the ban was still in effect, Songkran said such a signal by the DNP chief was against the regulation in effect since December 28, 2010. Under Article 18 of the National Park Act 1961, those bringing alcohol to national parks are punishable with up to a month in jail and/or a Bt10,000 fine. The alcohol sellers and drinkers at national parks could face up to six months in jail and/or a Bt10,000 fine.
Saying such a move was against the former minister’s strict policy, he said the DNP chief would be responsible for losses stemming from consumption of alcohol at national parks. It had also caused confusion in society, leading to problems for operation-level officials.
“What kind of tourists do you want? Most people visit parks for peace with nature rather than put up with noise from drinking parties,” Songkran said. “The old policy was good, I don’t understand why you want to favour alcohol sellers or drunken park visitors,” he said. “The problems from drinking alcohol in parks wasn’t just about fights but the noise levels that could disturb others and also the wildlife, as well as the garbage accumulation issue.”
Meanwhile, Dr Saman Futrakul, director of the Disease Control Department's Office of Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco Consumption Control Committee, yesterday said that besides campaigning against alcohol advertisement and selling at prohibited places and time, the health officials would visit national parks to ensure the existing alcohol-ban regulation wasn’t violated. He said he did not believe that the DNP chief would ease the alcohol ban and even if he did, it cannot come into effect as law.
Disease Control Department chief Pornthep Siriwanarangsan said officials would, during the New Year holidays, visit and warn vendors to strictly observe the Alcohol Control Act 2008, and urged the public to alert the authorities about such lawbreakers on hotline 1422 or 0-2590-3342.
Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said the government aimed to reduce road accidents and casualties during the holiday period from December 27, 2012 to January 2, 2013 by at least five per cent from last year’s figure during the same period. The number of accidents must not exceed 2,939 accidents, and not more than 320 deaths and 3,207 injured. The ministry had readied 1,500 hospitals with emergency medical units, treatments and patient referral systems.
Permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahamethapat said 4,915 ambulances would be dispatched to aid victims within 10 minutes of being reported and people could call for help at hotline 1669. Province- and district-level emergency centres had prepared 100,000 medical staff plus 1,500 surgeons, while 7,243 hospital beds, blood banks and medical supplies were also ready, he added.