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Yesterday the first reading of the new Aviation Safety Bill was passed at the National Legislative Assembly. The bill could result in anybody who causes the closure of the airport facing the death penalty.
The proposed bill will be considered as a replacement for the 1978 and 1995 laws and states that anybody that destroys and aircraft in service, damages an aircraft to the point where it is no longer operational or plants any material in an aircraft that causes it damager will face execution or live in prison, further more anybody whose actions force the closure of the airport, damage the airport facilities, or maim or kill anybody within the airport would face the death penalty or a life behind bars, murdering anybody in the airport would carry the same sentence.
However NLA member Somchai Sawangkarn said that the death penalty for causing closure to an airport could be too harsh, none such penalties for such an act elsewhere and many countries no longer have the death penalty he said. He went on to say that he did not support the closure of airports but when an airport needs to be shut down, such as the 2008 protests where Suvarnabhumi and Don Meuang were shut he felt that the law should give operators room for maneuver.
A second NLA member Klanarong Chantick, felt that some of the articles in the bill could harm the aviation industry and were not realistic such as Article 12 that states that passengers affected by drugs or alcohol in flight should receive five years in jail and a five hundred thousand baht fine, he said this in real terms means that serving alcohol on board was effectively prohibited. He also raised concerns about Article 8 that states that those caught smoking in a restricted area would be fined twenty thousand baht, the same punishment for those bringing prohibited substances and explosives onto a plane, articles he feels should be amended.
Prajin Juntong, transport minister ACM said that the government would take the concerns of the lawmakers into consideration and the bill would be amended during meetings of an ad-hoc committee.
Other articles in the proposed bill include a fine of one hundred and twenty thousand baht or three years in prison for sexual harassment, sexual offence or indecency, five years in jail or a one hundred and twenty thousand baht fine for anybody that uses force to hurt somebody, damages somebody else’s property and those drinking alcohol and or using narcotics as well as anybody causing chaos on a flight.