A court Sunday handed down jail time to the managers of two Thonglor nightlife hotspots linked to the spread of the coronavirus in Bangkok and the whiff of politician scandal.
Kanchit Sueborisutjai of the Emerald Club and Chawalit Puttarat of the Krystal Club and were given two-month sentences for violating zoning law and the pandemic emergency decree by the Bangkok Criminal Court after dozens of people, rumored to include some very high-ranking government officials, became infected there. No action was taken against the clubs’ owners.
Maj. Gen. Sophon Sarapat, commander of the 5th metro police division, did not explain why the club managers were prosecuted rather than the owners, but it didn’t escape notice: people online suggested the two clubs are owned by powerful people immune from consequences, as did a former MP last week who also said that at least one, Krystal Club, was regularly visited by figures from the upper echelons of power, including cabinet members.
He said the police are considering whether the two spots, so-called gentlemen’s clubs where young women perform topless, should be closed for five years rather than the customary 14 days.
The club’s registered owners are Kiattipong Kamtai, Pannaporn Kamtai, Chanpen Kaewatsadong, Kamontat Kritsupang, Nittaya Jaiyod, Jarukit Srisawat and Supasan Duangchana, according to investigative news agency Isra and Thansettakit.
At least 18 Thonglor police officers have been infected as well. Sophon said officers became ill on the job inspecting nightlife venues and wore face masks at all times.
The social media accounts of the Krystal and Emerald clubs have been scrubbed since last week. Such clubs are only theoretically allowed in Bangkok’s narrowly drawn entertainment zones of RCA, a stretch of Ratchadaphisek Road and Patpong, though they flourish throughout the city.
Thailand on Sunday reported a one-day record high of 967 new COVID-19 infections bringing the total to 32, 625 infections and 97 deaths since the outbreak began in January 2020.
Krystal Club has been in the spotline under hot water since Wednesday when maverick former politician Chuvit Kamolvisit said top officials should come clean about hanging out there. He refused to name names.
Speculation has focused on Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob and head government propagandist Sansern Kaewkamnerd, as well as Japan’s ambassador to Thailand, Kazuya Nashida. All three men were diagnosed with COVID-19 last week.
At least Saksayam had received the first dose of Sinovac vaccine in mid-March. Reached for comment Friday, his office referred Coconuts to the timeline Saksayam submitted to health officials.
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