BANGKOK — The military junta has agreed to exempt this month’s Full Moon Party on Koh Pha Ngan Island from the nationwide curfew, allowing revelers to party from dusk-til-dawn as is tradition.
Kho Pha Ngan's all-night full moon parties, held every month on the days before and after a full moon, regularly attract thousands of carousers, the majority of whom are tourists.
In an announcement issued today by the military command in Surat Thani province, the military said a "thorough questioning" has established that the Full Moon Party "has no connection to politics, demonstrations, or violation of previous announcements by the National Council of Peace and Order in any way."
Therefore, the military has agreed to lift the curfew over Haad Rin Beach on Koh Pha Ngan island, where the dusk-till-dawn party will be held from 9-13 June, as requested by the party's organisers. It is understood that the rest of Koh Pha Ngan island will remain under the military’s midnight to 4am curfew.
The announcement makes Haad Rin Beach the fourth tourist destination in Thailand to enjoy curfew exemption, after the military lifted the curfew on Pattaya, Phuket, and Samui island two days ago.
Representatives of the tourist industry have been pressing the NCPO to lift the curfew in other major tourist destinations, citing the financial ruin it has brought upon bars and nightclubs that have already suffered through an unusually anemic tourist season because of the country’s political turmoil.
It is estimated that the Thailand's political crisis, which ignited last November, has cost the the tourism industry over 20 billion baht.
The NCPO imposed a 10pm-5am curfew over the entire country when it seized power from the elected government on 22 May, but later eased the forbidden hours to between 12pm and 4am. The military has argued that the curfew is necessary to maintain peace and order following the sporadic political violence that left almost 30 dead over the course of six months.
Despite pleas from the tourist industry, a spokesperson of the NCPO said Thais should not expect the nationwide curfew to wholly-lifted any time soon.
Army spokesperson Col. Winthai Suwaree explained that army's security and intelligence units will ease the curfew on a case-by-case basis, depending on which areas have seen a restoration of peace and order.
"It depends on the peace and order. Incidents of unrest may be lurking so we need to deliberate carefully over all aspects," Col. Winthai said at a press conference today.
When asked whether the NCPO will consider easing the curfew for the beginning of FIFA World Cup on 12 June, Col. Winthai replied that the matter is still under deliberation. He said the junta has not made any plans to repeal the curfew specifically for the football season.
Football is extremely popular in Thailand, and World Cup matches typically bring huge crowds to restaurants and bars across the country. This year's FIFA World Cup will kick off in Brazil on 12 June.
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