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Thai protesters against beer listing

BANGKOK, October 27 – Around 100 people gathered outside Thailand\’s stock market on Monday to protest against plans to list one of the country\’s top beer makers, claiming the move would threaten the nation\’s morals.

Campaigners from the Network Against Alcoholic Beverages submitted a letter to the chairman of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) urging him not to accept Thai Beverage\’s application last week to be listed.

"We do not oppose any businesses under Thai Beverage group except its alcoholic beverage business," said group coordinator Kumron Chudacha.

"This business destroys the whole society, from its health to its morality, and from family to the whole country," he told AFP, adding that the group would also submit a protest letter to the finance ministry on Wednesday.

Thai Beverage, producer of the popular Chang beer, has applied to be listed on the stock exchange with 80 million shares available for investors, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Naree Boonteeravara, senior vice president at SET, said executives would take 30 days to consider Thai Beverage\’s application.

The company has been listed on the Singapore exchange since May 2006, after its 2005 attempt to get listed in Thailand was scotched by protests led by conservative monks who said beer offended morals in mainly Buddhist Thailand.

Thais are among the world\’s heaviest drinkers, but a strong puritanical strain also runs though Thai society, with politicians often capitalising on this by reducing opening hours of bars and banning alcohol advertising.

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