Year-end festivities may go ahead as planned, the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of the Interior has said, after several government agencies cancelled their New Year celebrations, seemingly due to concerns over the conditions of Princess Bajrakitiyabha, the King’s oldest daughter, who remains in hospital.
Suttipong Juljarern (Photo from Ministry of the Interior)
The Ministry of the Interior announced via its Facebook page on 26 December that according to Permanent Secretary Suttipong Juljarern, the Ministry of Interior has not ordered government agencies under its authority or other establishments to cancel their New Year celebrations. However, due to concerns about safety in crowded venues, the Ministry has ordered provincial governors to implement safety measures during the year-end holiday, including having patrol units check that establishments are following the law regarding closing times, age limits, and banned substances and objects. Venues must also have their safety systems checked and make sure they are not too crowded so as to prevent accidents, as well as have measures in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Suttipong also said that the Ministry is asking establishments to put safety first at New Year events and to organize events that promote Thai culture. Provincial authorities should also run campaigns to raise awareness about road safety during the year-end holiday and publicize emergency hotlines.
The Ministry of Education, which reportedly called off its year-end festivities last week in favour of holding prayer sessions and giving alms to monks on behalf of Princess Bajrakitiyabha, has said that it did not order schools and other agencies within the Ministry to cancel New Year events. Atthaphon Sangkhawasee, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education, said that there had been a misunderstanding regarding an internal memo published by local media and that the Ministry has issued a new memo clarifying the issue.
The new memo, published by Matichon Online on 23 December, states that agencies under the Ministry may hold year-end celebrations as their administration sees fit to promote team building, and that they should also hold religious events.
BBC Thai reported on 25 December thatthe New Year “Amazing Thailand Countdown 2023” festival of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is still going ahead, and that the TAT said that the government or the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has to issue an order for the events to be cancelled.
New Year events in Bangkok and other provinces, including in popular tourist towns like Hua Hin and Chiang Mai, are reported to be going ahead as planned. Pattaya, a special administrative area independent of Chonburi municipality, which previously announced that it had cancelled a series of firework displays originally planned for 29 – 31 December, has since announced that there will still be a firework display on 31 December.
Meanwhile, the Khaosan Road Business Association said that it has decided to cancel its New Year celebration as it is currently a “sensitive time” for the Thai people. Association President Sa-nga Ruangwatthanakul told Khaosod that since several government agencies have called off their New Year celebrations, the Association also decided to call off the Khaosan Road New Year event, but businesses may stay open as usual.
Sa-nga said that the Association has informed business owners of its decision, and everyone agreed that it would not be appropriate to hold a celebration at this time. Nevertheless, he said that he does not expect the number of visitors to Khaosan Road to decrease, as businesses will still be open. He also noted that hotels in the area reported a high number of bookings during the year-end holiday.
BBC Thai also reported that Police Chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas has ordered the cancellation of year-end festivities for police units and for officers and other employees to hold prayer sessions for Princess Bajrakitiyabha from 16 December onwards.