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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Editorial: A short discourse on Cowardice

Widening Beach Road still on city’s agenda

Pattaya’s prison to become first run by private company

Pattaya residents to the rescue

New AMLO asks for greater cooperation

Hotel employee ambushed on dark road

Thai and Myanmar military leaders to work towards ending border disputes

Vendors protest large rent hike

Nong Prue TAO looks at ecotourism for sustainable developemnt

UNICEF Representative Thailand visits Pattaya Mail Office

Chonburi Photography Business Guild hosting “Photo Expo 2001” in November

Editorial: A short discourse on Cowardice

On Tuesday evening Thailand time, the world changed forever. The suicide flights of four hijacked passenger planes in the U.S. were the start of an international shockwave as the pictures from the news agencies flashed around the world. The largest peacetime disaster in the history of America.

“Horror” was the headline in one of America’s most influential newspapers, but I believe that “Cowards” would have been more appropriate. Terrorism is not a brave act. Terrorism on such a large scale as we witnessed on Tuesday night is certainly an act of aggression. The perpetrators of this crime will attempt to say that it was even an act of retribution, however, when the victims of the attack are thousands of innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives, this is not a brave act in a “noble” war. This is an example of crass cowardice. A terrorist “army” fighting not soldiers, but the unarmed and unprepared public. It does not fill me with horror, it fills me with revulsion. It was the most cowardly act in the history of the world.

One senior U.S. official has described it as a criminal act against America. He is only partially correct. This was a criminal act against the entire world as we know it. That those responsible will be identified is definite. America and the free world will make sure of that. There will be reprisals. “Justice” will be called for, but nothing can be done to avenge this criminal act against mankind. A mankind that we used to believe in, and still want to, but it is going to be difficult.

And why is mankind the loser? Because every time we will meet someone from the race or religion that has committed this act, we will tar them with the same brush. We will instinctually become aggressive towards them. This is not justice either, but is a natural response, but unfortunately a response that will set the cause of world peace back by centuries.

We will weep for those who have perished. We will weep for those who have lost family and friends. But most of all, we should weep for ourselves, a world which has lost the hope of a peaceful future. A hope destroyed by cowards, perhaps misguided cowards, but craven cowards never the less. That they have debased the nobleness of mankind is certain. That we are revolted by it is also certain.

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Widening Beach Road still on city’s agenda

Could begin next month

The city has sent out letters to landowners and businesses on Pattaya Beach Road requesting assistance in allowing the city to re-claim 3 meters of area to turn into a wider walkway. The letter requests co-operation, but finishes with a warning that legal actions to repossess eight meters of property belonging to the state could result.

Members of the city administration have sat down to discuss the widening project with representatives of the businesses facing hefty losses if frontage property is forfeited, or in this case returned to the state. After meeting on September 7 and on eight other occasions the two sides have yet to reach any final agreement. Some businesses seem inclined to agree to 2-meter areas rather than the 3-meters wanted by the city, and some businesses are in total disagreement with giving up frontage space.

According to the building control act, established by the Ministry of Interior in 1975, roads in tourist locations along the coast, such as Phuket and Pattaya, are to have boulevards 8-meters wide. The expanded width would provide convenient walkways next to businesses and present a more scenic and orderly appearance in Pattaya, but those affected by the plan are slow to agree on the necessity, especially to the full extent of 8-meters.

Suchai Ruayrin, former Pattaya city mayor and now representing the group of businesses jeopardized by the plan, wants guarantees from the city that the walkway doesn’t end up
cluttered with vendors
destroying the peaceful setting that still prevails in areas along North Pattaya. The existing problem of rental vehicles and vendors obstructing much of the walking space in other areas of the city have yet to be corrected, another representative pointed out, and the affected businesses are not inclined to undergo expensive renovations just to see the area turned into a flea market.

A source from the city contractor’s office revealed that the city is planning to act and budget preparations are underway. Red paint has been set aside to identify the areas where widening will begin starting from Dolphin Runabout to Central Road. Construction is planned to begin during the tourist low season. Most areas are said to be only affected by 0.50 - 0.2 meters.

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Pattaya’s prison to become first run by private company

Corrections Department calling for tenders to administrate the prison

In an effort to save money, the Corrections Department has decided to try privatizing the operation of the kingdom’s prisons, and has chosen Pattaya’s new prison to pilot the project.

Pattaya’s prison could be the first in the Kingdom to be run by a private company.

Thailand currently has 134 prisons which cost about 1.6 billion baht annually to run. Under the privatization plan, the Corrections Department would contract out the administration of prisons to private companies and pay them an annual fee. The Corrections Department believes this would substantially cut their budget and would enable them to upgrade the system to include a 100 million baht computerization of all prisoners.

Prisoners would also benefit, as private companies would improve health care and rehabilitation programs.

Pattaya’s prison was chosen to be the first to try the new plan partly because it is brand new. The final construction of the prison was just recently completed at a cost of over 170 million baht. The prison is located on 23 rai of land outside of Pattaya in Nong Pla Lai Sub-district.

Pattaya’s new prison can accommodate over 1000 prisoners serving time for minor infractions. It is scheduled to officially open in October.

The prison’s special warden, Wachachai Chaiwat, interviewed on September 7, said the privatization plans called for a vocational training center so inmates could learn a useful trade and receive rehabilitative instruction in the process. The items produced at the prison facilities would be sold on the open market, Wachachai said.

Aside from providing vocational instruction the private administrators would also be responsible for transferring prisoners to and from court. They would also handle overall prison security in accordance with Department of Correction requirements.

Warden Wachachai said if the pilot project proved to be successful the format would be implemented at other prisons around the country.

The Pattaya City Prison was completed almost 2-years ago but has been experiencing repeated problems preventing it from being used to its full extent. Due to the unavailability of running water only a few hundred prisoners could be confined at the location. But local government assistance from Chonburi, Banglamung and Pattaya provides water trucked into the prison and it is now capable of operating at full capacity.

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Pattaya residents to the rescue

Come to the aid of French tourist

Boonlua Chatree

When a destitute man tried to snatch a gold necklace from the neck of French tourist Claude Bendon around noon on September 4, witnesses quickly jumped in and detained the thief.

Battered and bruised, Yingyong will now get a free meal courtesy of the local jail.

Yingyong Phumilamnao, 26, from Ang Thong Province, who told police he hadn’t eaten in two days, tried to snatch a two-baht weight gold chain from Bendon at the Grand Market Hall in Soi Bua Khao.

People in the market who witnessed the event quickly tackled Yingyong, bringing him to the ground. After a bit of a struggle, they managed to detain him until city police arrived.

When police first arrived on the scene, they thought the thief was the victim, as he was in a dazed condition with his body battered and his clothing torn.

The gold chain was retrieved and returned to the owner, albeit in pieces and with a portion missing following the scuffle.

Yingyong defended his actions by telling police he was new to Pattaya and unable to find employment. He said he became destitute and deranged after not eating for the past two-days. He said when he saw the Frenchman walking in the market with the heavy gold chain around his neck, he lost sight of his senses from his severe hunger and instantly snatched the gold chain from his throat intending to sell it so he could eat.

Yingyong’s story failed to draw much sympathy and he was hauled off to the city jail and charged with committing robbery in broad daylight.

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New AMLO asks for greater cooperation

Holds anti-money laundering seminar in Pattaya

Chakrapong Akkaranant

The new anti-money laundering office recently opened in Bangkok and almost instantly money-laundering headlines captivated the media, and just as quickly, the office is stressing the severity of the menace and the importance of expanding cooperation to protect the nation’s interests.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Wadsana Permlap, the secretary of the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), opened a seminar about the direction needed to gain mutual cooperation in combating money laundering and foreign related crime. The seminar took place on September 4 at the Montien Hotel Pattaya.

Police Lt. Gen. Wadsana Permlap, secretary of the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), addressed a money-laundering seminar in Pattaya.

Government and private agencies participating in the seminar included representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Defense, Interior, Foreign Affairs, and the National Police Bureau, the National Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, the Thai Banking Association and the Foreign Banking Association. Also participating in the seminar were representatives from related agencies of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Great Britain and the United States.

The goal of the seminar was to establish new procedures and eliminate obstructions in combating money laundering and foreign related crimes in Thailand by creating greater cooperation among related agencies. The prime minister is the chairman of the newly-formed AMLO, and is supported by the National Security Council. Money laundering and associated crimes are receiving priority attention.

Other topics addressed at the seminar included laws requiring change, specifically the punishment for crimes in money laundering, falsifying documents, and penalties for anyone guilty of laundering funds acquired from drugs, prostitution, human trafficking, corruption and tax evasion.

The AMLO plans to create a central data base so that the AMLO and related agencies can function as a cohesive network whilst tracking suspicious transactions among the multitude of business communications made daily.

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Hotel employee ambushed on dark road

Possibly because of gamblig or philandering

Boonlua Chatree

Sommai Yusabai, 39, was gunned down in a dark and deserted area near Wat Krating Lai, Naklua. Sommai was shot once in the temple and died instantly. A small amount of money was found in the pockets of his clothing and he was identified from his Marine Plaza Hotel employee card.

The body was brought to the Banglamung Hospital, whose staff contacted district police at 11.30 p.m. on August 31st to report the death.

Police officers investigated the surrounding area where the shooting occurred and found only Sommai’s motorbike lying off to the side of the road. No witnesses were available.

Sommai’s wife was later questioned but she was unable to provide any clues, other than identifying her husband as a habitual gambler. She also indicated he was carrying on an affair with a cafe singer.

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Thai and Myanmar military leaders to work towords ending border disputes

Joint border patrols to tackle drug trafficking, illegal labor

Vichan Pladplueng

The “19th Thai-Myanmar Regional Border Committee Meeting” took place September 5-7 at the Cholchant Pattaya Hotel. Thailand’s Third Region Army commander Lt. Gen. Watanachai Chaimuenwong and senior army officers met with Maj. Gen. Thein Sein, chief of the Myanmar military delegation, to discuss border concerns with specific attention being paid to the trafficking in narcotics.

Thailand’s Third Region Army commander Lt. Gen. Watanachai Chaimuenwong (right) and Maj. Gen. Thein Sein, chief of the Myanmar military delegation headed high level military talks in Pattaya last week.

This meeting held in Pattaya resulted from talks with the Burmese State Peace and Development council in early July about investment problems between both countries, various problems along the border including border crossing points, and the exchange of 60 Thai prisoners.

During this past week’s meeting Lt. Gen. Watanachai said the talks focused on the direction needed to suppress and prevent drug trafficking, illegal foreign laborers and other problem areas of concern. He said the two sides were on the verge of conducting joint border patrols in a combined effort to suppress drug production and end mutual disputes along the border, creating stability and peace on both sides.

When asked to elaborate on the government’s 20 million baht budget allocation to combat drugs in the Thai/Burma border region, the commander of the Third Region Army, Lt. Gen. Watanachai indicated a comprehensive effort was required directed at multiple areas. He said in order to eradicate the production of illegal narcotics it was necessary to identify the precise location of production and to understand the history of the problem. He identified a portion of the budget allocation would be directed to crop substitution programs to replace the cultivation of opium poppies in the region.

The Third Region commander referred to the methamphetamine problem as more complicated, requiring further planning, and he described the chemical ingredients to produce the drug as being transported from outside of Burma to production facilities deep in the jungles of Burma. The exact details of suppressing this type of drug trafficking constantly undergo revision and the joint patrols along the border will play an important role in effecting positive results.

Another topic of discussion involved small skirmishes frequently occurring on the border, which are, “still being worked out,” Lt. Gen. Watanachai said. Both sides want to avoid armed conflict.

The Prime Minister’s orders for the military to take a special active interest in eliminating the constant flow of laborers crossing the border was also discussed at the meeting, and indications are that the outcome of the meeting would have a positive affect on this problem area.

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Vendors protest large rent hike

National Housing Authority backs down

A large throng of flea market vendors assembled in protest at the Pattaya complex of the National Housing Authority on September 2 after receiving notices announcing new concession fees would be added to their existing rental fees.

Hundreds of flea market vendors gathered outside the National Housing Authority office in Pattaya to protest a rent hike.

The flea market, located at the market center across from the Aksorn School on Thepprasit Road, is managed by and located next to the NHA office.

Notices distributed on August 31 announced new contract terms effective September requiring a 10,000 baht concession lease fee for spaces 3 x 3 meters and 5,000 baht for smaller spaces. The piece of property is a highly sought after location and there is a long waiting list to obtain vendor space.

The vocal protestors chanted outside the office for three hours before a spokesman from management finally appeared and informed the crowd that the concession fees were cancelled and everything would go back to normal. But before dispersing, the vendors demanded written guarantees. The spokesman eventually agreed to put it in writing.

The market is located on 6 rai of government land. Along with the housing complex nearby, it is leased on a three-year contract at a cost of approximately 3-million baht. The new 10,000 baht concession fee from the 500 vendors would have equaled approximately 5-million baht on top of the daily 100 baht rental fee collected every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which itself equals 150,000 baht per week.

The management had offered payment arrangements allowing for five separate installments, and was also prepared to lease out to new vendors the spaces of anyone not inclined to agree to the new terms.

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Nong Prue TAO looks at ecotourism for sustainable development

The Nong Prue tambon administrative organization recently met with representatives from the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s central region 3 office in Pattaya to discuss the possibility of creating ecotourism attractions to help develop area communities.

Leaders from 14 communities in Nong Prue sat in on the discussions, which identified ecotourism as possibly being included with the “one tambon-one product” scheme as a service type of product. The promotional program is currently underway in many communities in the Northeast and attracts many tourists interested in observing rural life in Thai villages.

The ecotourism plan for Nong Prue is being seen as the start of closer working relationships between local levels of government and the TAT under the government’s decentralization scheme. If ecotourism does come about in Nong Prue the two agencies would be working closely together and consulting each other on all matters and/or problems resulting from the new venture.

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UNICEF Representative Thailand visits Pattaya Mail Office

by Peter Cummins

Last week, Gamini Abeysekera, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative for Thailand visited the Pattaya Mail office for some discussions with Peter Malhotra and Peter Cummins.

A number of important issues involving the vast juvenile population of Pattaya, Jomtien and the Eastern Seaboard, generally, were discussed.

UNICEF Representative Thailand Gamini Abeysekera (R) visited with the “two Peters” - Malhotra and Cummins, at the Pattaya Mail office.

Peter M. pointed out that there are many people and organizations in both the public and private sectors working tirelessly for the benefit of our children. He emphasized that in almost three decades’ experience of living and working in a Pattaya environment, he has seen “remarkable changes and most positive improvements in the whole Jomtien-Pattaya area, especially over the past five years.”

Mr Gamini was impressed with such work as that being done by the Jesters Children’s Fair, the fourth of which will be held next Sunday (Sept 16) and the Jesters’ contributions to the Fountain of Life Center, which, over the years, have raised millions of baht for the children. He was also briefed on the progress of the judicial system where children are protected as ‘victims’ rather than offenders, the “Street Kids” benefits and the “moral camps” philosophy.

It was agreed that, besides the excellent work being done by so many sectors for the benefit of Pattaya’s young people, the additional imprimatur of UNICEF would be invaluable to the ongoing efforts. Or, as Mr Gamini said, “UNICEF’s involvement could contribute a ‘value-added’ component to what is already an impressive array of ‘child-friendly’ initiatives.”

Mr Gamini requested a report documenting and analysing, in a cumulated form, an updated description of what is being undertaken. This would include persons/organizations responsible, funding, anticipated results and, most importantly, benefits accruing to the children themselves.

Peter assured Mr Gamini that Pattaya is, indeed, striving to become “a child-friendly” city and, with UNICEF’s blessing, “We can make even greater strides for empowering our younger generations, in a safe, wholesome milieu.”

The Pattaya Mail will move quickly on preparing such a document which can be used as a preliminary justification for any possible UNICEF plan of action for this and other regions on a national grid.

“We are most happy that UNICEF will give this area the full benefit of the Agency’s attention,” Peter informed Mr Gamini.

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Chonburi Photography Businesses Guild hosting “Photo Expo 2001” in November

Sawad Padiphanprasert, president of the Photography Business Association, and Damrong Ratanachuchok, chairman of the Chonburi Photography Business Guild, announced on September 7 that the “Chonburi Photo Expo 2001” and the “2nd Nationwide Photo Business Seminar” will be held at the Dusit Resort Pattaya on November 3rd.

Sawad Padiphanprasert, president of the Photography Business Association, and Damrong Ratanachuchok, chairman of the Chonburi Photography Business Guild announced the upcoming “Chonburi Photo Expo 2001” and the “2nd Nationwide Photo Business Seminar”.

The Chonburi Photography Business Guild is hosting this year’s function for the members of the Photographic Business Association from 40 locations around the country. The function begins at 9.00 a.m. with a seminar discussing the future of the photography business and modern photography with lectures presented by resident experts in the association.

A photo exhibit displaying modern photography technology and equipment from leading film companies in Thailand is scheduled throughout the day. Photo equipment at special prices will be on sale and free photos will be available.

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Updated by Chinnaporn Sungwanlek, assisted by Boonsiri Suansuk.
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