Warning: Skateboarding against Thailand’s government could be hazardous

Original photo: Rize-Style Skateboard / Facebook
Original photo: Rize-Style Skateboard / Facebook

Which is more dangerous: Selling a skateboard without a warning label or criticizing the government?

In lieu of a definitive answer, skateboard sellers throughout the realm are rushing to slap stickers on their decks after unprecedented enforcement of a consumer protection law saw one of their own hauled off to jail.

The alleged crime – common practice for decades – that could see Jakrit Jaipleum jailed for a year? Selling skateboards without stickers warning that, yaknow, people could get hurt.

“You don’t need a sticker to know you might fall if you step on a skateboard,” Simon Pellaux said Monday as he printed ones destined for the decks sold at Preduce Skateboard’s Siam Square shop. “Most people won’t read it anyway.”

But the law, however selectively enforced, is the law.

“It is actually the law, even if we didn’t know about it, so we’ll add those stickers,” he added.

Simon declined to address speculation carving through the community that Jakrit’s real crime was pissing off the wrong people.

Coincidentally or not, Jakrit and his Rize-Style Skateboard shop in Chai Nat province drew fame late last year when they started selling decks assaulting the leadership of Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the famously thin-skinned former army chief who seized power seven years ago.

Those decks along with skate-related protests against Prayuth’s ongoing rule (a label for skaters would warn of persistent, subversive tendencies) drew a flicker of international media attention and then, months later, police to Jakrit’s door. To show they meant business, they confiscated his inventory of skateboards.

 

Jakrit said he was free on bail Friday after being charged with violating the Consumer Protection Act, which says failure to slap a warning label on designated goods “which may be harmful to health” can be punished with a THB50,000 (US$1,600) fine and six months in prison. Manufacturers or importers face up to a year and a THB100,000 fine.

As of publication time, Jakrit had not responded to messages seeking comment.

Mongkorn Timkul, who runs the Head Rock Skate Shop in Hua Hin and has written about Thailand’s skating renaissance in this space, wants to have fun with labels that show “dudes with their legs amputated.”

In the meantime, he’s settled for perfunctory warnings similar to those of Pellaux, which urge users to wear proper safety equipment and skate in suitable areas under supervision.

Mongkorn said there are better ways to go about improving safety than a sticker.

“I’d understand if there were, say, campaigns to try to enforce wearing safety gear. Maybe get a celeb to promote that kinda thing,” he said. “But arresting dudes just because a bunch of authorities all of a sudden decided that skateboards are dangerous is bullshit.”

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CITY: BANGKOKCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME, POLITICS

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