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Senators urged the interior minister to strictly enforce the law against corrupted officials and find ways to improve regulatory measures to prevent another Mountain B tragedy in the future.
“If the law was strictly enforced since the registration process and there was a proper inspection by officials then such incident could have been prevented,” Senator Wanchai Sornsiri told parliament today.
“There is also no denying that the interior minister is not involved at all because civil servants that were in charge were under his supervision,” he said.
His comments came after an initial police investigation into the fire at Mountain B club in Sattahip, Chonburi, which killed 15 people on early Friday morning found that the owner did not have a license to operate an entertainment venue. More than 40 others were also injured during the incident.
The owner, Pongsiri Punprasong, 28, was arrested on Saturday. He was charged with committing negligible acts that led to the death of others.
The club was illegally modified from a restaurant into a club without a proper fire prevention system, where fire exits were blocked and there were only two fire extinguishers in the entire building.
Pol Col Wutthipong Somjai, the chief of the Phlu Ta Luang station, said last week that local police did not know that the place was being operated as a club, even though local people have filed police complaints of loud noises coming from the venue.
Pol Col Wutthipong and four other senior police officers were later transferred to an inactive post at the Chonburi provincial police operations centre, pending an investigation into the fire.
The Sattahip district chief, Chartchai Sripho-on, was also transferred to the department head office for the same reason.
Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said in parliament that there is no denying that the interior ministry should show responsibility for what happened.
However, the people who are directly in charge are local officials, such as the governor of Chonburi, and the ministry is currently investigating whether state officials were taking bribes to allow the club to open and stay open without a license.
Anupong said the club acquired a license to operate as a restaurant and it was open since June 1st this year, but they were operating as a club instead. With this fact, administrative and local officials must be responsible and the operator was knowingly breaking the law as well.
“The initial order was to transfer the district chief and an investigation committee has been set up to look into possible corruptions,” he said.
“I insist that I am not being careless about this and I have issued a nationwide order to make sure that buildings are following regulations and businesses are operating with proper licenses,” he said.
Anupong also said that all related officials that were found guilty will face severe punishment.
Bangkok Shuts 83 Venues
Following a new round of fire inspection which began after a fire in Silom Soi 2 on June 20, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said on Saturday that they have inspected around 400 entertainment venues so far and 83 of them were not properly prepared for a fire.
All 83 venues were ordered to temporary shutdown until they can follow regulations. Out of the 83 venues, 49 were found in Chatuchak alone followed by 5 in Thonburi.
Other districts that were found to have unsafe venues include Din Daeng, Bang Khae, Phra Khanong, Don Muang, Bang Kapi, Bang Khun Thien and Thawi Watthana. The inspection in other districts is still ongoing.