About 200 Patpong vendors on Wednesday night attacked 50 Commerce Ministry officials who raided sellers' booths and arrested them for selling pirated goods.
Farangs at Patpong better be prepared with an escpae plan as the next raid is going to take place today! The Lonely Planet Guidebooks won't be of any help as they wouldn't have an escape route map, do they?
Next possible targets:
Pantip Plaza, MBK shopping centre, Sukhumvit Road, Klong Thom.
Vendors attacked the officials with wooden sticks, glass bottles (probably empty Chang beer bottles) and stones. Reports said guns were also fired to scare off the officials, but the first to jump for cover were happy, innocent tourists.
About 10 officials were injured in the melee, and one is in a serious condition.
Officials arrested some vendors, and loaded four vans with confiscated pirated goods, mostly counterfeit copies of bags and clothes. Many vendors claim that the officials did not check if the goods were really pirated, but just dumped all goods from the stalls into their bags.
Vendors said officials seized all products from their outlets, although some of their products were not pirated. The officials simply did not discriminate between pirated goods and goods which they sold legally, which totally angered the vendors.
As the police headed for Bang Rak police station, the vendors blocked the road and stormed one van after another three vans broke through the crowd.
Vendors in Patpong Road complained that the counter-piracy officials were too harsh.
The government, however, says its anti-piracy drive will continue, and Patpong vendors can expect raids every two days.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the vendors attacked the officials after they tried to seize their pirated goods.
Mr Abhisit said he would ask Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, who oversees the government's anti-piracy campaign, how to avoid future clashes.
"The government must continue to carry out its policies to suppress pirated goods and to confront unlawful influence," he said. "Countering goods piracy is a policy of this government."
Trading in pirated goods cost the country more than 200 billion baht every year, he said. Most pirated products were imported. The influx of pirated goods undermined the competitiveness of Thai products.
The Commerce Ministry declared it would crack down on intellectual property piracy after the United States Trade Representative (USTR) put Thailand on its special watch list of nations that fail to crack down on copyright and patent violations at the end of April.
The USTR also listed China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan and Venezuela as the world's worst offenders. Under US policies, listed countries could be subject to penalties, trade barriers and embargoes.
In Bangkok, the USTR identified five popular areas as the world's most "notorious markets" for pirated goods: Pantip Plaza, MBK shopping centre, Klong Thom, Sukhumvit Road and Patpong Road.
The government will press ahead with its crackdown.
The brave men from counter-piracy division better wear extra paddings next time. The Patpong vendors will be ready next time. Two days is a lot of time to collect enough empty Chang beer bottles (missiles)!
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