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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Traffic accidents causes anxious moments

New Senate Elections scheduled for 29 April

Cop killer arrested

Elderly Brit arrested for sexually abusing underage girls

Benevolent restaurant owner accused of raping 13 year old girl

Wai Wai sponsors youth jobs

Baby elephant born at Pattaya Elephant Park

Rebuilding of the boat ramps in Jomtien delayed further

New ecommerce laws being written

Bartercard Voted Best New Company

Lanna Thai residents implement a Community Group

CGU Life Insurance opens branch in Pattaya

Lax laws open gates to child trafficking

Traffic accident causes anxious moments

Anxious moments ensued, as rescue personnel were unsure whether the gas was explosive or the fumes toxic. Police and fire trucks immediately transferred passengers out of the area and redirected traffic away from the scene.

The fire department then doused water onto the truck to prevent an outburst of fire and contained the gas leak within a few hours by spraying compressed air onto the leaking truck.

Experts from the gas company later assured the authorities that the gas fumes were non toxic.

The bus had been traveling from Sattahip to Korat. No details were released as to the number of passengers on the bus, but the Sawang Boribun Rescue Unit transported four injured people to Bang Lamung Hospital.

The driver of the truck, identified as Nikorn Singkhorn-Ad, was determined to have caused the accident when he ran a red light at the intersection of Krating Lai coming from Rayong.

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New Senate Elections scheduled for 29 April

Public questions the 1,000,000,000 baht proposed expenditure

The Chonburi Election Committee announced new senate elections will take place on Saturday, 29 April. Advance voting for handicapped people and people out of country will take place 15-17 April.

Seventy-eight seats will be voted for in 35 provinces. The 78 candidates who had won the seats in the previous election were all deemed to have been involved in some sort of voting malfeasance, which did not pass Election Commission scrutiny.

All three Chonburi candidates, Sombat Phechtrakul, Pol. Lt. Gen. Preecha Padibatsarakij and Rear Adm. Wiroj Amtakulchai did not pass the screening and therefore Chonburi voters will once again be asked to go to the polls.

Data collected by the Election Committee that consisted of input from the Private Development Network, the Democratic Organizational Foundation and other private organizations, identified 80 counts of wrong-doing involved with the election process in Chonburi.

On 24 March the Election Committee confronted a number of the candidates to ascertain if they intended to try to remain on the ballots during the new election, but no clear response was forthcoming from any of the candidates.

The election process in Chonburi, consisting of a wide range of influential persons, received close scrutiny by the Committee from the start. However, the Committee has not made it clear exactly what irregularities took place during the first election. For instance, it is unclear as to whether officials in various levels of government situated in the sub-district communities were involved in orchestrating support for one candidate over another, by either entertaining or presenting favors to voters. It still has also not been made clear if the candidates themselves were directly involved in any wrongdoing.

Chonburi candidate Sombat Phechtrakul was sited by Bang Lamung police with possible election fraud involvement after two men were arrested on election day transferring voters to the polls. Evidence indicated votes were bought at 200 baht apiece. What the two men exactly confessed to, is again, also unclear, but the matter is to be resolved in court, and whether Sombat will be involved in the 29 April election or not is still to be decided upon.

Two days before the election announcement, a group of 500 Chonburi residents conducted a peaceful demonstration behind the Provincial Government Administration building to protest the senate election process. They wanted to know the reasons for holding the new election. Members from the community presented petitions to the government leaders demanding answers; protesters in Bangkok presented similar petitions at the Parliament building.

Chonburi Governor Sujarit Pachimnan and Wichit Chitwised, an associate of the Mayor of Saen Sukh Municipality, Kamnan Poh, explained to the crowd of protesters the circumstances surrounding the call for new elections. Although the rationale provided did not specifically identify concrete reasons, the two officials smoothly handled the affair and the protesters disbursed just before noon.

The Provincial Police Commander has reported that he has already assigned additional police officers to all voting locations in the province. Specific instructions to provide full support to the 29 April senate elections have already been issued, thus insuring it is conducted fairly, and that security is maintained.

Estimates of the overall cost to support the second election project runs to over one billion baht.

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Cop killer arrested

Later killed in attempt to flee

by Boonlua Chatree

Pattaya Police Lance Corporal Wiwat Thika was murdered on April 1st while attempting to subdue a drug dealer. The gunman, 28-year-old ex-convict Mongkhon Sriphong and his younger brother/accomplice Kraisorn Sriphong were both arrested within 2 days. Mongkhon was later killed in an attempt to escape.

On the fateful night, police had set up a checkpoint at Soi Ko Phai and Thepprasit Road opposite Soi Jularat. The Sriphong brothers, riding a motorcycle, ran the check point and attempted to flee down Soi Jularat. Motorcycle officers, including Lance Corporal Wiwat, immediately put chase.

Police helicopter pilots coordinate their search for the two suspects, one of whom gunned down Pattaya Police Lance Corporal Wiwat Thika (inset).

Police Corporal Amnuay Bunlert was able to run the motorcycle down in Soi Jularat. He was in the process of controlling Kraisorn when Mongkhon started to run, just as Lance Corporal Wiwat arrived.

Lance Corporal Wiwat ran after Mongkhon and managed catch him from behind, but Mongkhon wheeled around, took the officer’s pistol from his holster and shot him once in the leg and twice in the head before fleeing into the woods.

Corporal Amnuay, who was trying to control Kraisorn, had only managed to put handcuffs on one of Kraisorn’s hands when the shots were fired. In the commotion, Kraisorn was able free himself from the corporal, and he too ran off into the dense woods, but with the handcuffs still attached.

Lance Corporal Wiwat was transferred to Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital where he survived the night, but succumbed to his wounds by morning.

A massive manhunt ensued, with over 200 police officers surrounding the area, led by Pattaya Police Chief Pol. Col. Phinit Satcharoen. The suspects’ red Suzuki motorcycle was confiscated and its ownership traced.

Chonburi Provincial Police Commander Pol. Maj. Gen. Phanuphong Singhara Na Ayuthaya then arrived to take charge of the search. A police helicopter was brought in with searchlights to assist, but 2 hours of searching on the first night produced nothing.

The next day, 2 April, Kraisorn was caught and arrested. During interrogation, he told police his brother Mongkhon had shot Lance Corporal Wiwat. Police also learned that the brothers had just recently been released from jail where they had been incarcerated for theft.

At 10:00 a.m. on 3 April, Mongkhon was arrested in the area of Soi Jularat. He confessed to shooting Police Lance Corporal Wiwat. He said he was carrying 200 amphetamine pills when he and his younger brother came upon the police and, not wanting to return to prison, he told his brother to run the checkpoint. He said saw an opportunity to escape when Lance Corporal Wiwat relaxed his grip on him. Mongkhon said he went for the officer’s gun, then shot him three times.

Mongkhon said he was able to sneak out of the wooded area and deliver the 200 amphetamine pills to friends. He then returned to the wooded area to wait for his friends to sell the drugs, planning to use the money to continue his escape.

Mongkhon told police the gun, a .38 cal, was still concealed in the woods, so he was taken, in handcuffs, by a group of officers to the area to retrieve the weapon just 200 meters from where he was arrested.

Mongkhon then made another attempt to escape by jerking out of the grasp of the police officer holding him as he neared the spot where the weapon was concealed. He pounced on the weapon, still handcuffed, and frantically fired off five rounds. The officers jumped out of the way of the gunfire; one drew his own weapon and shot Mongkhon three times. When the shooting stopped Mongkhon Sriphong was dead, still handcuffed, with Lance Corporal Wiwat’s weapon in his hand.

Pattaya Police Chief Pol. Col. Phinit Satcharoen and Provincial Police Commander Pol. Maj. Gen. Phanuphong Singhara Na Ayuthaya responded to the second shooting by saying that since Mongkhon had made another attempt on a police officer’s life, he died a suitable death. It was fortunate that no other police officer was injured during the conduct of duty.

Later, when Police Lance Corporal Wiwat’s mother heard the news of Mongkhon’s death, she requested to see the body. Once there, she agreed that justice had prevailed, but asked where her son’s weapon was, as she wanted to shoot the man one more time. The request was denied.

Police Lance Corporal Wiwat was survived by his mother Mrs. Anong Singsae, his 29-year-old wife Ananthita and his eight-year-old daughter. His body will be taken to Phetchabun Province for final services.

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Elderly Brit arrested for sexually abusing underage girls

Second offense in under 3 years

70-year-old John Maurice Praill (sic) from Great Britain was arrested on March 31st for sexually abusing two girls, aged 13 and 14.

The girls told police that Praill had persuaded them to go to his home on Soi Ko Phai on March 12th. After arriving at his address, the girls said Praill forced them to have sex with him and refused to allow them the leave.

70-year-old John Maurice Praill from Great Britain makes his second appearance in Pattaya Mail, this time for molesting two young girls.

A police search of Praill’s house turned up three tubes of KY jelly, two viagra pills, four soiled cloths and one face cloth with lipstick stains.

Tourist police transferred Praill to the officer on duty at the Pattaya Police Station’s Women and Children’s Rights Office for further investigation and disposition.

This was the second time Praill was arrested for child molesting. In December 1997, Praill appeared in Pattaya Mail after being charged with molesting a young boy, a charge which Praill denied. At that time, he was fined and released.

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Benevolent restaurant owner accused of raping 13 year old girl

Chamnan Chosuwan, owner of the Chamnan Restaurant, was arrested for raping a 13 year old girl. Chamnan is best known for donating to local school charities.

Chamnan Chosuwan protests his innocence after being arrested for raping a 13 year old girl

The girl, whose name has been withheld, told police that Chamnan first confronted her on the morning of 31 January. She said Chamnan stopped his car, a black Toyota, as she was walking in the area of the Chaimongkhol Temple, and using a pistol, forced her into the vehicle. He then took her to a place near his restaurant on Pratamnak Road, Nong Prue. She said the 45 year old man threatened to kill her and took her into a room where he had his way with her. He later released her with further threats on her life if she revealed what had taken place in the apartment.

The girl said she was frightened and uncertain of what to do. Then, on 1 February Chamnan took her to the same room, and again threatened and raped her. A further similar occurrence happened on 20 March.

The young girl first described the incident to the wife of a police officer who made the incident known to the girl’s father. The father immediately contacted his lawyer, Kalp Phimsakul, and reported the incident to police.

Police officers assigned to the Pattaya Women and Child Rights Assistance Center were assigned to investigate the case.

Pattaya police arrested Chamnan at his restaurant at 1.00 p.m. on 1 April. At the police station he denied the young girl’s accusations, even as she stood pointing him out as the rapist. Chamnan was charged with committing rape of a minor and using a weapon to threaten her life. He is now in custody awaiting trial.

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Wai Wai sponsors youth jobs

A representative from the distributors of “Wai Wai” Noodle Products, Assistant Professor Thiraphan Lothongkham, recently issued seven vendor carts to young unemployed persons, along with financial assistance whereby helping to establish them as local entrepreneurs. Bang Lamung District Chief Wichien Chavalit and Pattaya Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat took part in the ceremony, with Mrs. Uraiwan Thienthong, the Director from the Ministry of Interior’s Local Education Administration office.

The Wai Wai Noodle Company is sponsoring young, unemployed people with noodle carts to help them launch a new career.

The program was implemented to assist deserving persons that are out of work and who lack the skills in finding suitable employment opportunities. Consideration was given to young people unable to find meaningful employment that could possibly leave them wide-open to the damaging amphetamine drug epidemic rampaging throughout the Kingdom. The program helps individuals to be self-reliant and independent, without becoming a burden on society.

The Thai Foods Production Company (Wai Wai) has to date already sponsored 250 of the vendor carts at a cost of 18,000 baht apiece. The company has assembled food preparation experts from the Sothiwech University to provide instructions to the new vendors in how to prepare the many different varieties of noodle dishes. Additional instruction is also presented on running a business with franchise information. The program has drawn a lot of interest in the provinces with a large crowd of people wanting to become a part of the idea.

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Baby elephant born at Pattaya Elephant Park

Mother and child doing just fine

Pattaya Elephant Park “hit the jack-pot” in this, the Year of the Dragon when a baby elephant was born on March 17th.

Mother and child are doing just fine, thank you, with baby Samson playfully running around his pen.

On 31 March, park management proudly showed off the healthy baby bull elephant as it joyfully played around. The elephant birth is considered very lucky and the management feels certain the Year of the Dragon had something to do with the auspicious event. They are planning a special Auspicious Birth Ceremony to celebrate the event and are inviting the Minister of Tourism to participate in the ceremony.

The baby elephant was given the name “Samson”. He was born to the mother elephant named “Phang Radsamee” and the father named “Numsek”. The mother carried the baby for a total of 24 months before Samson decided to appear at approximately 11:00 p.m. on 17 March.

Samson’s mahout is a 25 year old man from Buriram named Jorn Udeeram. The two are inseparable as he looks proudly after the baby elephant each day and night. Samson’s appearance is not only cute but it is said his physical traits are exceptional, as he has large ears and a long trunk extending to the ground. His playful character has been attracting the attention of everyone passing by.

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Rebuilding of the boat ramps in Jomtien delayed further

OCEF funds could be used to help

The decaying boat ramps in Jomtien that have been in need of repair for two years, yet are still being used to service visiting tourists. Only the one ramp situated opposite the Thai Commercial Bank is still serviceable; the second ramp is opposite Soi 14.

Boat ramps in Jomtien are deteriorating.

City Maintenance Director Sittiphap Muang Khun reports that, “the ramps are continually inspected,” but goes on to say, “it is still undecided whether the repairs are worth the effort. Alternatively, a more suitable location offering a neater appearance could be a better plan.”

The TAT is in control of 140 million baht in budgeted funds from the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund to support such projects. The upkeep of the ramps falls within this budget. Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat held a meeting with TAT representatives on March 29 to discuss the ramp improvement project, but as of yet, no details of the meeting have been released.

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New ecommerce laws being written

“Computer technology, especially ecommerce, is an important technological avenue that has a large impact on the economic development of countries. (This new way of doing business) is prompting the development of supporting laws in order to keep up with international markets,” Environmental and Science Technology Deputy Minister, Dr. Athit Urairat said when he chaired a Ministry of Science seminar on computer technology from 24-26 March at the Montien Hotel in Pattaya.

Environmental and Science Technology Deputy Minister, Dr. Athit Urairat (center) chaired a seminar on computer technology covering new laws pertaining to ecommerce.

The Ministry has formed a sub-committee which is curently working on drafting new laws to support computer technology.

Business, education and communications on the Internet now involve over 300 million people from 186 different countries.

Various speakers on the subject included Dr. Pairat Tachayaphong, the Director of the National Science and Technology Development Agency, and Dr. Thaweesak Koanantakul, Director of the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC).

The discussion focused on laws pertaining to business and electronic signatures, computer crime, and the protection of personal information.

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Bartercard Voted Best New Company

Bartercard - the international barter exchange company - has been voted the best new company in Thailand by the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Judges for the association commented that the company’s uniqueness had given it the edge over the other strong nominations within the category. Graham Brain, managing director of Bartercard (Thailand) said, “This endorsement is confirmation in our belief that we have an excellent service and a company which can prosper in Thailand as it has done in other parts of the world.

“We have operated in Thailand for nearly two years and in that time we have established a professional, innovative method of doing business. Both Thai and international companies have swamped us with their enthusiasm for the system and their willingness to make it work for them.

“Our rapid development is down to the commitment from our members and the systems that we have put in place for our staff and customers,” he said.

In less than two years, Bartercard has attracted over 450 member companies who have collectively traded over 200 million trade baht via the system. The company’s services, along with operational activities, are governed by strict quality-controlled procedures, and further supported by quality improvement systems.

The company is now planning to create a network of franchised offices within Bangkok and other regional cities; develop full ecommerce capabilities; and focus on greater interaction with the banking sector.

Brain added, “The next 12 months will see dynamic development for this company and we expect the foundation of a franchise network to create huge interest and rapid growth for the company throughout the company.”

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Lanna Thai residents implement a Community Group

Bang Lamung District Chief Wichien Chavalit took part in a meeting introducing the recently organized “Pattaya Lanna Thai Community Group” at the Pattaya Champ Hotel on Pratamnak Road.

Mrs. Pakawan Sameujai, the Lanna Thai Group Secretary and owner of the Khrua Phanya Inn Restaurant situated on the first floor of the Champ Hotel, introduced the group of members from the northern region now living in Pattaya. The Lanna Thai Group was organized to preserve the customs of the north and participate in the many Pattaya festivals, presenting the varied traditions from Lanna culture to visiting tourists.

The group was established with 130 members. They elected as their first president Professor Phongphan Satjareun from the Din Decha School in Bangkok and wife of Pattaya Police Chief Pol. Col. Pinit Satjareun. The community plans to participate in the up-coming April Pattaya City Festival. Displays of costumes, music and traditional dance from the Lanna Thai area will be on show.

A group of students from the Mae Jan District in Chiang Rai Province performed a traditional dance and played Thai musical instruments whilst raising educational funds for their school during the evening’s entertainment. A fashion parade, displaying traditional Lanna costumes made from silk, entertained the audience. The show was orchestrated by students from Chiang Mai University. Students from the north attending Pattaya public school #8 also took part in the inauguration performing a traditional Thai dance.

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CGU Life Insurance opens branch in Pattaya

The British based CGU Group Life Insurance Company, the largest life insurance company in England, opened a new branch in Pattaya on March 30. The new office is located at 3/110-111 on 3rd Road, tel. (038) 370817-8, fax: (038) 370819.

Mrs. Busara Ungphakorn (left), Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat (center) and Sopin Theppajak (right) cut the ribbon to officially open the new CGU Life Insurance branch in Pattaya, as (back row left to right) CGU Chief Executive Officer Ron Huntley, Pattaya City Councilor Vichai Rodpin and General Manager Pichit Pichetvivatana look on.

The 300 year old company, which has been offering life insurance in Asia for 100 years, has branches operating all over the world. The CGU Group is currently working towards becoming the largest life insurance provider in the region. CGU currently has main offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and 50 other offices in 14 countries in Asia. CGU established their Bangkok office in 1997.

Sutham Phantusak, Managing Director of Tiffany’s Show and Woodland’s Resort, congratulates CGU Pattaya Branch Manager Amorn Malhotra.

CGU Life, which has combined with the Commercial Union Plc. Company and the General Accident Plc. Company, has over two billion USD in assets.

Amorn Malhotra has been named as branch manager of CGU in Pattaya. He and his staff of qualified personnel will be able to provide services to customers on the Eastern Seaboard and the East Coast.

CGU plans to double its sales force under Pichit Pichetvivatana, Agency General Manager. Plans to open a second branch office in Pattaya this year are already underway, with the goal of increasing sales 80% by the year 2003.

CGU Life Chief Executive Officer Ron Huntley and Pattaya’s Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat conducted the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Pattaya office, presided over by Mrs. Busara Ungphakorn, Department Specialist from the Department of Insurance. Agency General Manager Pichit Pichetvivatana and the CGU Thapphaya 2000 Branch Manager Amorn Malhotra, along with a group of honored guests also participated in the grand opening.

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Lax laws open gates to child trafficking

from Child Labor News Service

Child trafficking in South and Southeast Asia is rising due to lax enforcement and the inadequacy of laws established to fight it, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said last week.

“The increased number of projects and governments involved in combating child trafficking has not stemmed the tide of children who fall prey to traffickers,” said an ILO report released at a recently concluded three-day international conference on child labor in Jakarta.

In South Asia, the report said children are being trafficked for forced or bonded labor, as well as for camel jockeying, forced marriages and even the sale of organs. Sexual exploitation is also rife, with recent research suggesting there are about 200,000 Bangladeshi children in the brothels of Pakistan and another 300,000 in the brothels of India, where there are also tens of thousands of Nepalese children working in the commercial sex business.

In Southeast Asia, most trafficking victims are forced into prostitution, though others are trafficked for bonded labor, domestic work, forced marriages, adoptions, and more recently to work for begging gangs in Thailand, a phenomenon also seen in Vietnam.

The report said an influx of paedophile tourists has increased the demand for child prostitutes in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. It said the age of child prostitutes is dropping on account of prevailing misconceptions.

While all South or Southeast Asian countries have laws relating to the trafficking of children, they are generally incomplete and ineffective. With the possible exception of Thailand’s laws, none meet international standards.

For example, several countries do not define children as under the age of 18, the guideline set in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Another problem the report cites is that child victims of trafficking are often treated first as illegal aliens and second - if at all - as victims of crime.

The report said that in much of the region, corrupt officials, police or military are involved in child trafficking and prostitution, with some owning brothels themselves or protecting those that they personally frequent. Recruiters also form networks with law enforcement officials in order to get protection.

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Updated by Chinnaporn Sangwanlek, assisted by Boonsiri Suansuk.