Brewing your own beer is illegal. As is sharing booze pics on social media, especially if a brand’s label is visible. Mixing drinks in advance is forbidden, and no alcohol can be sold during 14 hours of the day.
But the latest anti-alcohol measure, a de facto ban on all delivery, was the last straw for an advocacy group whose members say they will fight to the last drop in court for those intoxicated by the same thirst for justice.
“Nothing makes sense. It’s ironic that the people affected by these laws never got a chance to voice their opinions in the legal process,” said Thanakorn “Benz” Tuamsa-ngiam, founder of the Prachachon Beer (Beer People) community.
The group – a 20,000-strong community of drinkers, brewers and entrepreneurs linked via Facebook – was one, if not the first, to respond to Tuesday’s proclamation that direct sales of alcohol through electronic devices would be forbidden starting Dec. 7.
“Whoever is affected by this ban, please join us in filing complaints to the Administrative Court,” Thanakorn wrote to Prachachon Beer’s followers in response. Today they were building out a legal team to take their complaint to the court which hears grievances against public agencies and officials.
The new rules, signed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, amend two sections of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act. Health Ministry officials cited that the pandemic-era online boom for making liquor too easily accessible. They cited a new difficulty in regulating the time, place and manner of alcohol sales.
Critics say they haven’t even tried and are all too ready to reach for the ban hammer.
Were underage drinking the genuine concern, Thanakorn said evidence should be presented to prove underage people are really ordering alcohol at problematic levels.
“There is nothing to prove that kids are ordering booze,” he said. “Where is the research, where are the numbers?”
The head of the alcohol retail association condemned the new law as another of the government’s “big lies.” Thanakorn Kuptaijit, president of Alcoholic Beverage Business Association, said it was no more sincere than the ban on homebrew’s true purpose of protecting the giant brewers’ grip on 90% of the industry.
Instead, Prachachon Beer’s Thanakorn Tuamsa-ngiam told Coconuts Bangkok, the ban will just punish the majority of people, not just small businesses, but customers.
“Instead of people being able to order booze and drink at home safely, they will have to get out and drive to buy booze. Then drunk driving follows, then road accidents,” Thanakorn Tuamsa-ngiam said.
Names are being gathered via the Facebook page for a potential class action to be filed in the Administrative Court. He thinks that could happen as soon as next week.
Though he sees the scales tipped against them in a world where “big business always wins and the little people always lose,” Thanakorn Tuamsa-ngiam is hopeful about the power of a pissed-off public.
“If people are united and their power is strong enough, we can make our voices really, really heard, and anything can happen,” he said.