Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has spoken up against his Interior Minster Purachai Piumsombun's crusade for social order and said a more flexible stance was needed, reports the The Bangkok Post newspaper.
"Social order is a must, but there must be a well-balanced policy which minimises the impact on affected industries and ensures a peaceful and orderly society too… The interior minister will carry on with his job, but some policies should be adjusted to ensure a balance." Mr Thaksin said said, quoting the The Post.
The PM has called for meeting to study the pros and cons after his party's chief adviser Sanoh Thienthong attacked early closing times on Friday.
"Purachai, for all his good intentions, is threatening the livelihoods of millions of people by blindly enforcing closing times without a safety net for the night workers who are going out of work as a
consequence of his policy," Mr Sanoh said in a report by The Nation, one of Thailand's English language newspaper.
"We have to be cautious when trying to abruptly change the nightlife that people have grown to depend on and expect," he added.
Mr Purachai who started his campaign against corruption, drugs and especially youth prostitution a few months ago only drew widespread attention and opposition recently when he ordered strict enforcement of early closing times of bars and other entertainment outlets.
One of the policy's most vocal critics, Somyos Suthangkool who is the chairman of the Entertainment Operators' Association and owner of Rama IX Café said existing operators should be allowed to break even while the Interior Ministry goes ahead with zoning.
The report stated that tens of thousands of night workers and operators are expected to show up at Rama IX Cafe after work on Monday night's rally to work out protest measures.
While some observers have suggested that the government was clamping down on gay sex bars since the straight bars which are in the same area have not been targeted, no one is certain if it was a governmental directive as opposed to local police being over zealous. It should be noted that most of the straight bars did not feature intercourse as part of their performances. A widely circulated online report also stated that the large-scale raids occurred mainly at straight venues.
Although, the English language Bangkok papers also did not have any reports on any statements by politicians or officials indicating a specific campaign against homosexuality or gay venues, several investigative documentaries about the gay "sex-show" bars were broadcasted by Thaksin-owned ITV, which has led some to believe that the programs were linked to government policy.
Ironically, Mr Purachai was said to have recognised that stable same-sex couples existed, and was quoted in a Bangkok Post report published in April saying that legally recognizing gay marriages might be a good thing. Anjaree, the lesbian activist group was reported to have sent the Minister a note thanking him for his statement.
While business owners are expressing their displeasure about the new polices, a poll by Bangkok University found that most residents are supportive of the new policies - almost 76 percent of 1,316 residents surveyed in late August agreed that nightspots should close by 2am.
The poll, which also showed that 65 percent of respondents said they doubted that the police could enforce the crackdown over the long term backed up majority views.