In Singapore, ringing in the new year is pretty, for lack of a better phrase, normal, whichever ethnicity you belong to.
For the Chinese, we have lion dance performances and lots of CNY songs. For the Malays, we have lots of homemade goodies and visitors. And for the Indians, you’ve got festive lights and good food.
Yep, pretty normal alright.
In Thailand, however, it’s kind of a different thing
Every April (not 1st), the Songkran festival in Thailand will take place, and you can see many revellers usher in the Thai New Year with parties and water fights.
And to really put it into perspective, you get this…
And this as well.
So yeah, it gets pretty wild.
But here’s the thing, if you’re planning to visit Thailand this year to join in the festivities, be warned that some of the rules have changed.
Thai Police Crackdown
As attendants of the previous Songkran will surely attest to, many tourists would take the opportunity to join in with the celebrations.
And perhaps share selfies or videos on social media.
But this year’s kind of a different occasion. While the usual festivities are allowed to go on, the Thai police will be cracking down on lewd photos or videos shared on social media.
You Cannot Share Lewd Photos & Videos
According to The Nation, Pol Colonel Siriwat Deepor, the spokesman and deputy commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) has warned netizens that they should not post photos, videos and live broadcasts of lewd and obscene acts on social media as it’s illegal.
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This is a case that transpired over previous Songkran festivals, during which people would take indecent photos of young women or transgender people and post them on social media.
Additionally, posts that encourage the consumption of alcohol are barred during the festival as well. There will also be a ban on alcoholic drinks in moving vehicles, though drivers are allowed to give rides to drunken passengers.
Ignorance Isn’t Bliss
The police, meanwhile, have stated that they are ready to take action.
And you cannot say “you don’t know”.
“Be warned that TCSD officers are able to probe and to trace [postings] back to the culprits to face prosecutions, and the suspects cannot claim to not know the law or their action’s consequences or not having an illegal intention,” said TCSD commander Pol Maj-General Paiboon Noihoon.
Jail Terms & Fines
According to reports, people who share or post lewd images can be charged with violating the Computer Act.
If found guilty, they could potentially face a maximum of five years in jail and/or a fine of up to Bt100,000 ($4,267).
Those who capture images or videos themselves, on the other hand, can be charged under the Criminal Code’s Section 388 for performing a shameful act in public, either through the indecent exposure of themselves or committing other indecent acts.
A maximum fine of Bt500 ($21.34) could apply.
Also, people who post invitations on social media asking other people to drink alcohol will be held liable on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.
These offenders might face a maximum jail sentence of one year, and may get fined a total sum of Bt500,000 (RM64,800).
The Thai’s version of The New Year, the Songkran festival is held on 13 April every year, with the holiday period extending from 14-15. In 2018, the festive period was extended to five days, from 12 – 16 April.
Due to its wild and no-holds-barred nature, however, the Songkran festival has also claimed its fair share of lives. In 2018, there were a total of 3,724 road accidents across the country, with 418 lives lost and 3,897 injured.
Drunk-driving was set as the major cause of fatal crashes in 2018, at 40.28%.
Speeding followed closely at 26.50%.
Sexual misconduct, on the other hand, has also been rampant, though it’s an issue that only started to be addressed last year (2018).
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