Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, has pledged to tighten controls on night entertainment venues after a raid at a popular nightclub in Pathum Thani netted 489 minors.
The January 7th raid, which took place early in the morning, targeted Heaven Rangsit, a nightclub that was allegedly operating without the required license and catering to underage patrons. According to police, the venue was also equipped with secret exits that allowed minors to slip out when authorities arrived.
In response to the incident, Interior Minister Anutin issued a cautionary note on January 8th, stating all relevant agencies would intensify monitoring efforts to ensure night entertainment venues comply with the law.
He said the operator of Heaven Rangsit will face multiple charges, although no legal actions will be taken against those under the age of 16. However, their parents will be summoned for questioning concerning potential violations of child protection laws.
The recent crackdown at Heaven Rangsit is part of a broader initiative targeting nightclubs in Thailand. In December, a venue in Chiang Mai also faced closure for multiple violations such as regulatory non-compliance and serving alcohol to minors.
The Department of Provincial Administration (DPA) under the Ministry of the Interior oversees the licensing and regulation of night entertainment venues in Thailand. The DPA affirmed its commitment to collaborating with the police to address illegal activities in these establishments.
The revelation of the underage presence at Heaven Rangsit has sparked outrage among parents and child protection groups, prompting calls for stricter laws and enhanced enforcement to prevent underage drinking and drug use in nightclubs.
Minister Anutin responded to these concerns by pledging decisive action, emphasizing the Thai government’s commitment to safeguarding children from the potential risks posed by nightclubs.
This comes as nightclubs in certain major tourist areas were just recently allowed to extend their operating hours, a move that has seen both critics and fans. Proponents of the extended hours state that the move will boost tourism, critics have pointed to the potential of more noise complaints, drunk driving accidents, and potential crime.
So far, however, Anutin has stated the extension has overall been a success and pointed out that Pathum Thani was not part of the area extended. It is worth noting, however, that the Ministry of the Interior is now considering expanding the extension of nightlife hours to other provinces and areas.