The Alcohol Control Committee Tuesday surprisingly withdrew the proposed ban on alcohol sales within a 300-metre radius of universities and colleges.
While these are good news on the face of it, there’s a catch. The 300-metre rule has been dropped only in favour of an equally controversial junta-issued order to vaguely ban alcohol sales “in the vicinity” of schools and “educational institutions”.
A concrete radius for the dry zones, however, has been as little specified as which “educational institutes” will be affected by the ban, leaving it up to the arbitrary “judgement” of law enforcement officers how strictly or laxly to enforce the new rules. The Bangkok Post reports that “relevant agencies” have now been
ordered to determine exact distances between alcohol vendors and educational institutes within 180 days.
Khaosod English notes that
a committee will spend six months deliberating what “vicinity” means.
Six months is a long time. So in the meanwhile, how will the police handle a ban, the implementation of which is still being studied? Obviously no one, not even the police, knows.
The director of the Alcohol Beverage Office has however been quoted as telling reporters:
In the meantime [i.e. pending a decision on what “vicinity” actually means], security officers will have to exercise their judgement, based on appropriateness of the situation.
The next couple of weeks will show whether police will indeed exercise restraint or avail themselves of the vagueness of the ban.
Here’s our earlier report on the booze ban: Thailand Bans Alcohol Sales Near Schools – So What?