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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

High drama on Theprasit Road

Tourist numbers up

Ya Ba addict commits suicide

Municipal police captain accused of abusing position

Tailor shop worker brutally murdered

SOS Rice “phase 2” wraps up ths weekend

German Thai Chamber very confident in the Thai Economy

Pattaya’s mistreatment of Chinese tourists gaining national attention

Jessada Kongsommard Art Exhibition opens February 2

PSC signs contract to begin construction of clubhouse

High drama on Thepprasit Road

Young dental assistant held at knifepoint

Whilst Panudda was innocently standing at a roadside stand waiting for her order of chicken, 35-year-old Chalerm Narakul rushed up to the stand, grabbed a meat cleaver and held it to Panudda’s throat. Surrounded by police and with a large crowd of onlookers encircling the scene, the deranged Chalerm threatened to kill her if anyone approached.

Panudda had no way of knowing that the drama had actually started long before she became involved. Earlier in the day, Chalerm, having just been fired from his welding job in Naklua, began drinking and taking methamphetamines. The potent combination induced Chalerm into a paranoid state, whereby he thought people were trying to kill him. Chalerm took off on his motorcycle, making a stop at the PTT gas station on Thepprasit Road.

Police offer Chalerm a drink of water whilst trying to coax him into setting Panudda free.

After filling up his tank, Chalerm had a paranoid delusion that the pump attendant was part of the plot to get him. Chalerm doused the attendant with gasoline, then left the pump running, spilling a large amount of petrol onto the tarmac. The station manager, Den Modnok, said Chalerm took out a cigarette lighter and threatened to ignite the fuel. But before he could do this, Den rushed him and managed to wrestle the lighter away. Chalerm then jumped on his motorcycle and drove off.

The station manager, Den Modnok called Pattaya municipal police to report the incident. Police raced to the scene and were quickly able to corner Chalerm in Soi Chularat off Thepprasit Road. Chalerm abandoned his motorbike in the middle of the road when he saw that his escape routes were blocked, then ran over and grabbed the knife and Miss Panudda.

During the standoff, Chalerm continued to insist that someone was trying to kill him. Police officers, led by Pol. Lt. Col. Sakrapee Priawpanich, attempted to calm him down while he held everyone at bay, hugging the young and frightened dental assistant with the knife at her throat.

Chalerm began making demands, first wanting the keys to a pick-up truck parked nearby so he could drive off to his home in Chantaburi with his hostage. Police obtained the keys to the truck from the owner and handed them over to Chalerm whilst requesting the girl’s release. Chalerm responded by ordering soft drinks and maneuvered onto the back of the truck saying he would release the girl, but he quickly changed his mind and said he wanted a pack of cigarettes, which were handed over as police continued requesting the girl’s release.

After nearly two hours, Chalerm began showing signs of indecision as police continued their efforts to convince him that it was no use holding on to the young girl, as she could not do him any harm. Chalerm began asking police not to harm him in return.

No longer in possession of his cigarette lighter he asked for a light and agreed to release the girl at Pol. Maj. Kittipong Pongpanich’s request. After inhaling the cigarette a few times, Chalerm dropped the knife, released Panudda and got off of the truck. Police immediately took him into custody.

Miss Panudda was quickly ushered over to medical attendants waiting at the scene, who rushed her off to Pattaya Memorial Hospital.

Chalerm admitted to police that after being fired from his welding job in Naklua, he started drinking and using methamphetamines. He said he stole the motorbike, which was parked on Pattaya Beach Road, and stopped at the PTT station for fuel. He said he thought the attendant was going to kill him so he grabbed the gas nozzle and let the fuel run free, which nearly emptied the station’s tank. He said he took a hostage hoping that the police would give him protection and take him home.

Chalerm was charged with threatening the life of a hostage, destroying private property, creating a local disturbance and stealing a motorbike.

Miss Panudda is reportedly unharmed physically, but will require some counseling to get over the trauma.

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Tourist numbers up

Manit Boonchim, director of TAT Central Region 3, announced that tourist numbers from November 2000 to February 2001 have increased over the same period last year. He said many hotels and businesses have reported being at full capacity.

Manit said, however, that the TAT is concerned with keeping the momentum going through the low season from June to August.

In an effort to improve on last year’s numbers, a marketing campaign has been organized within Thailand to promote Pattaya as a prime conference and seminar destination. This will also coincide with this year’s Pattaya road show to the Asia/Pacific region to promote Pattaya as a year-round holiday destination. The proposed road show would visit Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Japan.

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Ya Ba addict commits suicide

High on drugs, hangs himself

Pipatpong Butsa, aged 31, was found hanging by the neck in the bedroom of his home in Tambol Takian-tia, Banglamung District. Police, after taking statements from friends and neighbors, are confident the death was a suicide.

Vichan Butchalerm, aged 26, told Pol. Capt Noparit Somnuek from the Banglamung police station and his team of investigators that Pipatpong worked in a nearby coconut plantation. He lived with his mother, but unfortunately Pipatpong was a drug addict.

That day he seemed to have overdosed and was walking around the compound in a very frenzied state of mind. After a while he disappeared, so the neighbors went to take a look and found that he had committed suicide.

Police sent his body to Banglamung Hospital fro an autopsy, after which the family would perform religious funeral rites.

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Municipal police captain accused of abusing position

Restaurant owners complain he wanted to many freebees

Owners of the Ban Tech Restaurant complained to Chonburi provincial police that Pattaya police captain Chitpol Yuyanyao was abusing his authority by refusing to pay numerous bills for nightly entertainment.

Ban Tech owners filed a complaint with Chonburi police stating that a local police captain was abusing his authority to accumulate large, unpaid “entertainment” bills.

The proprietors of the Ban Tech entertainment business, Wira Srithawachpong, who also owns Holiday Drinking Water, and Ruangsak Wanprasert, chairman of the Ban Tech board of directors, along with other investors, said Capt. Chitpol’s bills are “longer than a kite’s tail.” They said that when they confronted him to pay his bills, his antics included threatening to close the business for staying open after prescribed business hours. “The threats were made well before the prescribed closing times,” Ruangsak Wanprasert said. When challenging the police captain on the matter, he would leave in a huff, only to return in full uniform to cause a scene, ultimately chasing off paying customers.

They described his behavior as intimidating and not only did he drive away good customers but the entire staff fears the man each time he enters the establishment and starts making demands.

While giving their statement, the businessmen said they had already filed complaints with Pattaya police, but no action was taken. They decided to report the delicate matter to Chonburi police hoping for assistance in rectifying the situation.

Chonburi provincial police commander Pol. Maj. Gen. Sene Khamthieng received the complaint and ordered provincial police deputy commander Pol. Col. Annant Charernchasri to investigate.

The provincial police deputy commander said if evidence indicates the police captain is guilty, then steps for dismissal will proceed immediately.

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Tailor shop worker brutally murdered

Stabbed in the chest after violent struggle

Police are searching for the perpetrator and motive in the brutal stabbing of 45-year-old tailor shop worker Somsong Charernchaiyaporn.

Somsong was found dead in the bathroom of his Sabaichai Village home on January 14. The murder weapon, a large folding pocketknife, was still buried deep in his chest. The condition of the room indicated a violent struggle took place prior to the murder.

Somsong Charernchaiyaporn before his brutal murder

The investigation has progressed little so far and as of earlier this week, Pattaya municipal police chief Pol. Col. Phadungsak Ubekkhanon said that more time is needed as police officers are still taking statements from neighbors and relatives. He said thus far it appears the motive for the murder was robbery, as Somsong’s gold necklace with five Buddha amulets was missing.

There were signs of a break-in from the back of the house and it is presumed that as Somsong came out of the bathroom he was confronted by the burglar who then stabbed him and escaped with the gold and an undisclosed amount of money.

Police are still looking for evidence and taking fingerprints from the home which they hope will lead to identifying the murderer, otherwise, the police chief said, the main clue is Somsong’s missing gold.

Residents in the area described Somsong as a friendly and well-liked person who was very outgoing with no known enemies. He supported himself as a self-employed tailor, and many of his customers were from the gay community.

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SOS Rice “phase 2” wraps up this weekend

Donation boxes set up at shopping centers

The second phase of this year’s SOS Rice campaign will finish up on Saturday, January 27. Donation boxes collecting rice, money and other necessary goods to be given to poor children in the Chonburi area have been set up at shopping centers throughout Pattaya since January 24.

The first phase of the operation, which ran from December 1 to 5, was very successful. The campaign raised over 600,000 baht in cash and goods, which have already been handed over to many charity organizations.

More than 1500 poor children in Chonburi stand to benefit from the project and will receive the rice and cash donations organized by the SOS Rice 2000 committee.

Surat Mekhawarakul, Project SOS Rice 2000 committee president stated that at present there are many poor children in many areas that seriously lack food, especially rice, which is a staple diet for them.

Officials and students from local schools and centers are on hand to assist the project, as are members of the Sawang Boriboon Foundation, who are using foundation vehicles to announce the project and invite people to join in.

All donated items, including rice, money and other necessities will be forwarded to concerned charities for distribution to the underprivileged children.

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German Thai Chamber very confident in the Thai Economy

At the Stammtisch (networking evening) held at the Amari Orchid Resort, Stefan Buerkle of the German Thai Chamber of Commerce expressed his opinion on the Thai economic recovery, which he felt was very strong.

(L to R) Martin Fuenkner, managing director of Duscholux Thailand, Marion Vogt, Michael Vogt, general manager of the Amari Orchid Resort, Karsten Engel, president BMW (Thailand), Mrs. Podleska and Eberhard Podleska, managing director of Liebherr Thailand Co., Ltd. enjoy a moment at this month’s Stammtisch.

In addition he stated that this recovery was stable and the bilateral trade relations between the two countries was very healthy, with German imports to Thailand up 20% in the 2000 calendar year and Thai exports to Germany up by 30%.

He reminded Thai businesses that the German marketplace was huge and a wonderful opportunity presents itself to Thailand to continue their market expansion into the European continent through their German partners.

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Pattaya’s mistreatment of Chinese tourists gaining national attention

TAT governor urges immediate corrective action

Fearing the potential loss of billions of baht, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Pradech Payakwichien came down to Pattaya last week to address the problem of mistreatment of Chinese tourists visiting Pattaya.

The Chinese government has threatened to ban Chinese tourists from coming to Thailand if corrective action isn’t taken.

Chinese National Tourism Administration team during a visit to Pattaya in December 2000

The Chinese National Tourism Administration (CNTA) alleges Chinese tourists are being forced to go to places offering illegal sex shows, gambling, drugs and prostitution.

The CNTA said the problems were not isolated to live sex shows, but also included a long list of other infractions, including conspiracies between tour agencies and businesses offering inferior merchandise at inflated prices, currency exchangers taking commissions, and inflated prices on Larn Island, where “costs fluctuate with whatever anyone can get away with”.

The matter has reached the National Security Council, so on January 17, TAT governor Pradech Payakwichien chaired a conference at the Royal Garden Resort to address the problem. Over 200 people attended the conference representing the Pattaya business community, police, government officials, the Association of Thai Tour Agencies and the Tourism Business Registration Office.

During the conference, the TAT governor outlined a new direction for the tourist industry, saying the Thai government, working in conjunction with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the CNTA have come up with a working solution that identifies acceptable standards to be incorporated into the tourist industry. He said the new standards are directed at tour agencies and tour guides within both countries, and that tourism representatives from both countries have agreed to meet and review progress every three months. Companies violating the standards will have their business permits revoked.

Referring to Pattaya’s potential as a major international tourist area and the 750,000 tourists visiting annually from China, Pradech said, “there are many negative factors threatening tourism to the local area that also affect tourism nation-wide. The tours from China consist of a large portion of the overall market in tourism to Thailand and have great potential for expansion.”

Pradech urged the appropriate agencies to suppress the illicit entertainment that continues to destroy the country’s reputation.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Chalermchat Sitanon from provincial police region 2 admitted that out of the eight provinces under his jurisdiction Pattaya had the majority of tourist related problems. But he said he supports local efforts to suppress the problems, identifying a number of crackdowns and successful arrests.

Pattaya’s mayor, Pairat Suttithamrongsawat asserted that the local administration was fully aware of the problems, but said immediate corrective action was unavailable due to the complexities involved.

Chonburi governor Sujarit Pachimnan asked for a combined effort in identifying locations and businesses involved in illicit activity, specifically live sex-shows. He announced phone numbers to report illicit activity and implored communities to assist by contacting appropriate agencies or calling (038) 275034 and 01-685-7844.

Governor Sujarit said, “Pattaya’s plan to clean up the local environment should also include eliminating fraudulent practices in the tourist industry as well as lewd entertainment.”

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Jessada Kongsommard Art Exhibition opens February 2

On Friday February 2 at 4 p.m., Jessada Kongsommard will open his 4th exhibit at Burapha University in Bangsaen. Everyone is welcome to attend the opening. The exhibit will be on display until February 22.

Jessada is a very talented artist who this year is finishing his last year at the Faculty of Fine and Applied Art at Burapha University. He wants to continue his studies for two more years abroad, and he is now looking into different alternatives.

Jessada Kongsommard

Born in Kalasin in the Northeast of Thailand, Jessada often uses Thai silk, rice and other Thai related symbols in his pictures. He has his own style of painting, and was presented at the 71st Art Exhibition in Thailand. He also received the honor of having a separate art exhibit at the Chulalongkorn University last year.

Jessada has received several awards for his work, and one he really appreciates was when he was certified as a “nice person who contributed to the Art and Cultures Center in Ubonratchatani”.

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PSC signs contract to begin construction of clubhouse

On Thursday January 18, Peter Malhotra, president of the Pattaya Sports Club (PSC), and Somsit Lauvanich, manager of the S.A.T. Group, signed a 2.1 million baht agreement for the construction of the new PSC clubhouse on Pattaya 3rd Road.

(L to R) Adirak Sanguanchat representing Jural Law Offices, PSC President Peter Malhotra, S.A.T. Group Manager Somsit Lauvanich and Dick Caggiano, Chairman of the PSC Building Committee at the contract signing for the new PSC Clubhouse.

The PSC Building committee was set up by the Annual General Meeting in June 1998 and was tasked to find a permanent home for the club. At the AGM 2000 the members approved the purchase of 144 sq. wah of land on Pattaya 3rd Road adjacent to Pattaya Driving Range.

Construction of the two-story building is expected to be completed midyear. The clubhouse will serve as the focal point for all PSC administrative functions, meetings and a gathering point for all members.

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