Deputy PM Puts A Dampener On Songkran Celebrations With Midnight Curfew
Songkran celebrations must stop at midnight this year, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has said. He said provincial governors must take responsibility for any incident that may occur in their provinces before or after midnight.
Speaking after the regular Tuesday cabinet meeting yesterday, Gen Prawit insisted cabinet members did not discuss a proposed “Midnight Songkran Celebration” event. The meeting focused on other activities for the country’s famous water-soaking festival and measures to curb unwanted incidents, he said.
His remarks came after companies in 19 provinces, mostly tourist-related, proposed a plan for midnight Songkran celebrations in their provinces to provincial governors for consideration.
If allowed, Gen Prawit stressed that activities and events should be toned down and safety and security measures must be implemented strictly.
Gen Prawit said he held talks with Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda and they agreed that Songkran celebration activities and events should be kept low key as the country has been in mourning for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away in October last year.
Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang said safe zones throughout the Songkran celebration will be allocated in the 50 districts of Bangkok, and extra security measures will be used in certain areas including Khao San Rd which is popular during the water festival among Thais as well as foreigners.
The measures include prohibition of large water guns, alcohol, skimpy clothes and the use of powder. Revellers are urged to use water sparingly, he said.
Meanwhile, Atisith Chainuvati who assists the government spokesman said the cabinet yesterday approved the “Three Sevens (7-7-7)” safety plan which was proposed by the Transport Ministry.
The Three Sevens programme involves road traffic safety during the Songkran festival in a bid to prevent road users from being killed or seriously injured, he added.
He said the programme will focus on the three main time periods from April 4-24 – the seven days before the festival, seven days of the festival, and the seven days after it. Col Atisith said the ministry stressed on improving public safety and facilitating road users.
Traffic signs are to be set up and street lighting installed to ensure safety. Checkpoints will also be set up to encourage road users to drive more carefully, he added.
The transport minister had ordered relevant agencies to ensure enough space at bus terminals, railway stations and parking spots to serve the needs of passengers during the festival, Col Atisith said.
He had ordered public transport operators to increase their services to cater to the expected upsurge in passengers.
Col Atisith added that Gen Prawit, who oversees security, had ordered heightened security measures during the festival with an emphasis on intelligence gathering, monitoring possible sabotage activities, and preventive measures in crime hot spots.
The transport minister said the hot spots include airports, railway stations, electric train stations, bus terminals and department stores.