Pubdate: Mon, 29 Mar 2004
Source: Nation, The (Thailand)
Copyright: 2004 Nation Multimedia Group


I am an international businessman from the United States, and I own a 
marketing/product development company. We develop products for a number of 
the largest retail stores in America and also produce television 
advertisements for our products.

I first visited Thailand in 2002 and fell in love with your beautiful 
country and most especially with the Thai people. In fact, I left Thailand 
after that first visit with the firm resolve to move a large part of my 
business here, and I am now in the process of doing so with a large 
investment of both time and money involved. I am now seriously 
reconsidering my investment.

On Wednesday, March 17, after dinner with a large group of friends and 
fellow business people we arrived at the Novotel CM2 nightclub for an 
after-dinner drink. Approximately 20 minutes after our arrival the lights 
came on, and we were informed that the nightclub was being subjected to an 
inspection for illegal drugs and under-age patrons. We were then informed 
that every person present would be required to submit a urine sample for 
testing. Amid much confusion, small bottles were distributed and long lines 
formed for the restrooms. We were then required to wait in another long 
line to present our urine samples and identification to the police.

Throughout this process, several television cameras with bright lights 
blazing circulated among the patrons, while other photographers snapped 
pictures. I was finally allowed to exit the building some two and a half 
hours after the "raid" began.

On March 19 I read an article that informs us that one, repeat one, 
under-age patron was found to be on the premises and that the nightclub 
will now be closed for 30 days.

I have several questions for the government and people of Thailand:

1. Is it now the policy of the government to illegally detain people and 
invade their privacy without any evidence that they may be involved in 
criminal activity?

2. Should foreign visitors refrain from leaving their hotel rooms after a 
certain hour to avoid search and detainment?

3. Is there a list of acceptable entertainment venues that can be consulted 
before venturing out in the evening?

4. Are restaurants that serve alcohol off limits, or is it only nightclubs?

5. Should we purchase our own urine-sample bottles to speed up the testing 
process? How about blood samples? (Actually, since hair samples provide the 
most accurate information on substances used, perhaps we should all have a 
mandatory haircut upon entry to an establishment open after 2100 hours).

In all seriousness, do the people of Thailand really expect foreign 
tourists and investors to continue to visit and invest in your wonderful 
country when they are subjected to random search and detainment while 
engaging in normal and acceptable behaviour? People throughout the world 
dine, drink and dance while on vacation and conducting business. They are 
not children who need to be told to be in bed at midnight.

What I find especially ludicrous is that at the same time that the 
government is attempting to promote Thailand as an international fashion 
centre they are imposing rules and regulations that prohibit what is 
considered accepted behaviour in virtually every other major city in the 
civilised world.

In conclusion, please understand that I am in no way suggesting that as a 
guest of your country I should not abide by the rules of your government or 
respect the culture of the Thai people. I also fully realise that all 
societies have a vested interest in maintaining social order. However, 
imposing restraints on normal activities does nothing but create resentment 
and will certainly curtail further tourism and investment in the Kingdom.

Concerned Visitor
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart