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Updated every Friday
by Boonsiri Suansuk

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Kingdom of Thailand celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) May 5

Pattaya may get a new deputy mayor in mid May

Jomtien to be put into order

Rare planet alignment reaches its peak May 5 & 6

Wastewater treatment plant contractor fined 88.5 million baht for delay

Hungarian consul visits the Eastern Seaboard

Chonburi traffic officials wrangle with residents over pedestrian bridge

Environmental problems attack Koh Larn

Korean thugs arrested for kidnapping Korean businessman

Five rogue Chonburi policemen arrested for extortion

Swedish tourist leaps to his death

Police briefs

Kingdom of Thailand celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) May 5

Sunday, May 5 marks the 52nd anniversary of the Coronation of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great. The day is celebrated as a national holiday. This year, government offices and commercial banks will observe the day (close) on Monday May 6.

Whist being crowned King of Thailand, the 9th in the Chakri Dynasty (Rama IX), His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great took a sacred oath to rule with Righteousness, for the Benefit and Happiness of the Siamese People, which He has done magnificently, garnering tremendous respect from His people. King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, the longest reigning monarch in the world. Long Live the King!

Each year on the 5th of May, the Kingdom of Thailand commemorates the day when, in 1950, the Coronation Ceremony was held for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, the 9th in the Chakri Dynasty (Rama IX).

His Majesty the King, after studying in Europe returned to Thailand and was crowned King during an elaborate and highly intricate ceremony that out lavished all previous coronations in Thailand.

A week prior to His being crowned King, on April 28, 1950, H.M. King Bhumibol and Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitayakara were married. Following the Coronation the King returned to Switzerland to continue studying.

The Coronation Ceremony reinforces the stature of the Kings of Thailand. The first such elaborate ceremony was performed when Pho Khun Phamuang succeeded Pho Khun Bangklangthao as the ruling King of Muang Sukhothai. Phaya Lithai, a former leader in Sukhothai, left a historical record in stone describing the coronation ceremony in Sukhothai at Wat Srikhum.

In the beginning of the Ratanakosin era, the first King in the Chakri Dynasty (King Buddha Yot Fa Chulalokmaharach) took the title of Rama I and moved the capital of Siam from Thonburi to the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, and constructed Krung Ratanakosin (Bangkok). In the process of building the Royal Palace and Wat Prakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) the first King in the House of Chakri refined the coronation ceremony, establishing important protocol that has lasted to this day. All Kings to follow not undergoing the coronation ceremony would be unable to assume the term “Phrabat” in front of the King’s title of “Somdej Phrachaoyuhua”, and more significantly, the symbol of the nine-tiered umbrella would also not be permissible or officially recognized.

The elaborate coronation ceremony of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great included all the ancient rituals required for assuming the full title and the nine-tiered umbrella. King Bhumibol Adulyadej then bestowed the honor posthumously on His brother King Ananda Mahidol. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s benevolent act raised King Ananda Mahidol’s regal status from seven to a nine-tiered umbrella.

During the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV), Buddhist monks and Brahmin priests were incorporated into the coronation ceremony to conduct rituals to sanctify the auspicious occasion. Previously the ceremony was arranged and conducted by the Royal Palace staff and members of the Royal Household.

The annual coronation ceremony is currently a three-day affair, starting with a ritual “tham bun” ceremony on May 3 to honor the King’s ancestors. Later on the first day, another ceremony is performed, whereby flags of honor are issued to distinguish various military units.

The following day, Buddhist ceremonies continue with chanting rituals, prayers and Brahman priests announcing the auspicious occasion forthcoming the next day (May 5).

On the 5th of May, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX) conducts a merit making ceremony, presenting offerings to Buddhist monks, and leads a “Wienthien” ceremony, walking three times around sacred grounds at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

In the evening the King conducts another sacred ceremony: changing the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian symbol protecting the Thai people, which was transferred from Thonburi to Wat Phra Kaew by Rama I.

Many rooms in the Royal Palace are opened for public viewing on Coronation Day. Auspicious ceremonies are performed and displays depicting Royal achievements are exhibited to reconfirm the King’s stature.

Pattaya may get a new deputy mayor in mid May

Position has been vacant for 9 months

The position of deputy mayor in charge of administering city funds has been vacant for nine months, but the mayor hopes to fill the position by the middle of this month.

Mayor Pairat Suthithamrongsawat sacked Weerawat Kha-khai on July 30, 2001, due to his alleged lack of cooperation with the Pattaya City Administration.

However, the mayor has not yet decided whether he should appoint a deputy himself or put responsibility on the city council to vote for their representative to fill the position.

If the mayor appoints a city councilor to the position, then the city will need to hold an election to fill the vacant city councilor seat. But if the mayor chooses a person from outside to settle into the empty deputy mayor seat, there will not be an election, which would save the city money.

Currently, city council member Urit Nanthasurasak is a leading candidate for the position, as the mayor believes he is best qualified for the job.

Mayor Pairat has also stated that holding an election to fill Urit’s seat on the council wouldn’t be difficult. “It wouldn’t be a problem if we have to spend some baht to look for just one representative to fill the (vacant) city council seat,” he said.

No matter who ends up filling the position, he or she will most likely be a member of the Rak Pattaya political party. The mayor, all four of his current deputy mayors (one each in charge of the Finance Department, Education Department, Health Department, and Administration Department), plus all 24 city council members are all members of the Rak Pattaya political party.

This has taken away any semblance of a balance of power at city hall and given the mayor absolute control over the city government, despite the fact that the constitution stipulates city hall must maintain equilibrium.

There have never been any objections from any of member of the city council over the mayor’s policies and enforcement.

Jomtien to be put into order

Contractors told to speed things up

Progress seems to be going slow on the Jomtien renovation project, and the contractors have received word to speed things up.

The ongoing reconstruction of Jomtien Beach Road and the upgrading of the area now designated as an environmental conservation tourist destination is going a bit slower than hoped, and those responsible have received word from city hall to speed things up a bit.

The city also plans to follow up the renovations by maintaining order among the product sellers and shop owners along both sides of Jomtien Beach Road.

Mayor Pairat recently stated that Pattaya City has no intentions of neglecting the Jomtien area. This stretch of beach and its environs are especially active on Saturdays and Sundays when loads of Thai and foreign tourists gather there. He admitted that some problems still exist, but said that they will receive serious attention.

Maintaining order among food and souvenir vendors is vital, and seating arrangements on the beach need to be supervised more thoroughly, the mayor said. Sometimes officials are sent round to inspect and enforce order to prevent undue disturbance toward tourists.

Regarding the construction of the “bank corrosion prevention operation” and improvements being done on Jomtien Beach, a 23 million baht budget has been allocated and the money is being put to use. Works in progress along five kilometers of Jomtien Beach include development of all-purpose lawns, footpaths, stairways, streetlights and a route for bicycles.

Some business owners and residents have disagreed with the idea of having 14 sections of the all purpose lawn. They fear these will detract rather than promote enjoyment for tourists. When the TAT, Pattaya City and the construction contractors held their last meeting it was decided to reduce the number of lawn sections to eight. Contractors agreed to do their best to blend new development with the natural surroundings. However, no reason was given for the delay in the completion of plan. Word has been passed to the people responsible to finish construction as soon as possible.

Rare planet alignment reaches its peak May 5 & 6

For the next few days, four of the five naked eye planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn, will all bunch up in the western sky just after sunset, with Jupiter also nearby.

Three of the planets - Venus, Saturn and Mars - will crowd into an even smaller patch of sky, forming an eye-catching compact triangle. The best nights to view this will be May 5 and 6.

Anyone with a clear view of the western sky will be able to see the planetary phenomenon - no equipment is required. Just after sunset, look for Mercury (which appears white) near the horizon. About 1/3 of the way up from there, look for Mars (which appears red). Jupiter, the brightest planet in the alignment and the easiest to locate, will be straight up to the Southwest. Saturn will not be far away to the East, with Venus forming a triangle with Saturn and Mars.

Clear skies and a low Western horizon should be all that is necessary, but binoculars might help to find Mars and Mercury.

A wide variety of different configurations involving the planets typically occur during the course of any given year. But it is highly unusual when three or more bright planets appear to reside in the same small area of the sky.

In fact, there will be only three other chances in the coming 100 years to see five planets so tightly grouped, in September 2040, July 2060, and November 2100, but none of the upcoming events will be as visible to casual observers as the one happening this coming week.

The next time a tight planet trio will be seen in a dark sky will be in early August 2010, again involving Venus, Mars and Saturn.

Some people have suggested that the combined gravity of various planets lined up could tug at Earth and create colossal tides or even earthquakes, but scientists say there is no basis for this.

Wastewater treatment plant contractor fined 88.5 million baht for delay

Wants city to pay - but the city is refusing

The biggest project ever planned in Pattaya is turning out to be a big headache for city hall. The 1,800 million baht wastewater treatment plant contractor, Samprasit Co., Ltd., has asked the city for an additional 88.5 million baht for breach of contract fees.

But the city has denied the request because there is not enough money allocated in the budget for excess fees. Due to project delays, expenses are now exceeding the budget of the contract.

The central government will not contribute to the added expenses, either.

Jintana Tavima, director of national environment budget, office of environmental planning and policy, ministry of science, technology and environment said in her brief that the budget allocated to Pattaya City was to build a wastewater treatment plant to solve the sea water pollution problem. The plant is now in use. Pattaya City can collect the local usage fees according to a national decentralized policy, and by doing so, the city should be able to pay back 10% of the borrowed funds to the central government within 15 years and take care of other expenses itself.

Sithipap Muangkhum, director of Pattaya City’s engineering office said that the contract was worded carefully so as to help the city monitor the project and reduce its risk in the venture.

The contract was allegedly signed at the office of environmental planning and policy without any participants from Pattaya City. Sithipap said it was the central government that decided the delays and not Pattaya City.

According to Jintana, it seems that the city will greatly benefit from the project and will eventually be able to pay all debts.

But Sithipap countered that the city still has many other expenses to cover, such as operation, maintenance, and 12 million baht annually to pay back to the national environmental budget office. “So,” he said, “it is quite difficult for the city to find 88.5 million baht to pay the contractor.”

Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat said that the city might have to let the contractor file a lawsuit for the amount in dispute, but that it would be much better if the contractor would allow the city to pay in installments on a yearly basis. He said the issue would have to be discussed further at city hall in order to solve the misunderstandings and prevent greater loss for the city.

Hungarian consul visits the Eastern Seaboard

Makes scheduled stop at Pattaya Mail offices

The consul of the embassy of the Republic of Hungary, Dr. Zoltan Papp, and honorary consul in Pattaya Witaya Bunditkitsada recently visited Pattaya Mail, where they received a warm welcome from managing director Peter Malhotra.

The consul of the embassy of the Republic of Hungary, Dr. Zoltan Papp (center), and honorary consul in Pattaya Witaya Bunditkitsada (3rd from left), visited Pattaya Mail and received a warm welcome from managing director Peter Malhotra (left), and executive secretary Primprao Somsri (2nd right) while Sasipean Sripreang (2nd left), manager Eastern Seaboard JVK Int. Movers; and Janejira Nuogaro (far left), Consular Assistant look on.

Dr. Papp said that Hungary and Thailand have enjoyed historic ties dating back to the 19th century when the first ambassadors visited, the first treaty was signed, and the most dearly cherished event of that time, the royal visit of King Chulalongkorn the Great to Hungary in 1897 took place.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on October 24, 1973. The Hungarian Embassy in Bangkok was opened in 1978 and the Thai Embassy started functioning in Budapest in 1983. Since then bilateral relations have been progressing rapidly.

Significant agreements between Hungary and Thailand have been signed in the field of economy and trade, science and technology, foreign policy, and agriculture, opening up new territories of cooperation aimed at mutual benefit.

The consul went on to say that, in addition to friendly political relations, cooperation in trade affairs could be seen as the mechanism of future development of bilateral ties. Since 1998, total turnover in trade has reached 155 million US dollars, and bilateral trade has been progressing steadily, reaching 276 million US Dollars in 2001.

Both Hungary and Thailand are popular tourist destinations; therefore both counties are promoting and developing their respective tourism industries as a strategy to draw more foreign currency into their respective economies.

Thai citizens visiting Hungary in 2002 exceeded 4,000 and last year more than 10,000 Hungarians visited the “Land of Smiles”.

The consuls spent almost an hour having a fruitful discussion with Peter Malhotra, who then presented each member of the delegation with Pattaya Mail’s commemorative coins and a bouquet of flowers.

Chonburi traffic officials wrangle with residents over pedestrian bridge

Traffic officials want it one place, residents another

Chonburi traffic officials recently proposed the idea of building a pedestrian bridge at the entrance of the Nong Ked Yai Temple, saying it would help minimize accidents at this location.

Chonburi traffic officials and Nong Ked Yai residents are wrangling over where to build a pedestrian bridge in the area.

But residents and business owners have registered their objection to the plan. They feel that if the bridge is built where the traffic officials have proposed, access to commercial shops would be blocked and consequently loss of income in the area would result.

Pattaya City officials brought into the matter have asked Nong Ked Yai residents to settle the dispute by selecting a suitable location for the pedestrian bridge. Two other locations have been proposed but the first alternative is considered too far from the village, and the second substitute location will apparently block more businesses. Thus far, no final conclusion has been reached, and the wrangling continues.

Chaen Cheunsiva, Banglamung district chief who presided over the meeting, stated that whichever location is finally chosen the bridge must be capable of being utilized to its fullest by students and residents, otherwise it will serve no purpose.

Another meeting is scheduled to try and reach an agreement on the issue.

Environmental problems attack Koh Larn

Appeal goes out to the public sector for help

The environmental situation on Larn Island has reached a crises point, said Banchongsin Parnsorn, head of the working committee of Koh Larn residents.

Banchongsin said that due to the rapid growth of the community and an increase in the number of commercial enterprises, the island is now experiencing a garbage disposal and wastewater treatment crisis.

Tackling environmental problems on Larn Island was the main objective of an April 24 meeting of the working committee of Koh Larn residents, hosted by committee head Banchongsin Parnsorn.

There is a vital need to quickly decide on the best scheme for elimination of garbage, treatment of wastewater and how to maintain order around the Ta Waen Beach area.

There are also technical problems involved in the running of the wastewater treatment plant, even though it has received budget support from Chonburi Province in upgrading the equipment.

Dealing with about 3 to 5 tons of garbage per day has become an overwhelming problem. Most of the trash is piling up around the seaport in front of the Koh Larn Village and is generated from the communities and the 14 shops around Ta Waen Beach. The beleaguered garbage incinerator is not in proper working order, as it produces toxic gases that are hazardous to the students at Pattaya School No. 10 and nearby homes. Solving these problems will require support from Pattaya City.

The island is also suffering from a water shortage due to a prolonged dry season. An appeal has already been made to the Royal Thai Navy Base in Sattahip. The Navy has agreed to send in an ample monthly supply of water until the situation is righted.

Korean thugs arrested for kidnapping Korean businessman

Allegedly hired to recoup a 4 million baht business debt

Four Korean thugs, allegedly hired to recoup a 4 million baht business debt, were arrested for kidnapping local Korean businessman Kim Hong Han. A fifth gang member escaped capture.

Kim Yong, the gang leader, Lee Song Yong, Bak Yong Ku, and Shu Ji Wong were arrested from a Jomtien bungalow. The four, plus an unidentified fifth suspect, had kidnapped Kim Hong Han from the Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital where he had taken his wife to deliver a child.

Lee, Bak and Shu admitted that they had been working with Kim Yong as illegal tour guides for a company in Thailand for the past few years. They said they were contacted by a Korean businessman to hunt down two other Korean businessmen, Kim Hong Han and Park Bor Shun, who the first Korean believed may have been hiding in Pattaya.

Kim and Park allegedly owed the unidentified Korean businessman 4 million baht for a tour company that had folded.

Lee, Bak and Shu told police that they were told if they were able to recoup the 4 million baht, they could keep 1 million baht for themselves.

The gang spotted Kim on April 20 outside the hospital. They allegedly handcuffed him, dragged him to an awaiting car and took him to a bungalow in Jomtien where they beat him and forced him to call Park to bring the money to the bungalow.

Instead, Park contacted the Pattaya police, who set up a small posse and converged on the bungalow. Police were able to arrest 4 of the 5 suspects.

A police spokesman said that Asian mafia activity in the area is on the rise. He said with more Asian tourists coming to Pattaya, and some setting up businesses here, crimes being committed by Chinese and Koreans are now out-pacing crimes committed by similar gangs from Germany and Russia.

Five rogue Chonburi policemen arrested for extortion

Allegedly planted drugs on innocent woman

Five Chonburi police officers were arrested by Pattaya police last week and charged with extortion. The five were allegedly trying to extort 50,000 baht from a woman on whom they had planted drugs.

Five low-ranking Chonburi police officers, led by Suradech Akarapol, 37, head of the crime department at the Chonburi provincial police station, were arrested by Pattaya police for trying to extort 50,000 baht from a Prachinburi woman on whom they had allegedly planted drugs.

The victim, Ms. Dutdaen Leevijit, 26, from Prachinburi Province, told Pattaya police that she came to Pattaya to visit her friend, Ms. Ying. But when she arrived a group of middle aged men jumped off a green pick up truck from behind the Wandee Karaoke and walked up to her, claiming to be police on duty. She said one of the men began to search her and produced 2 methamphetamine pills he said belonged to her. She said he accused her of possessing first class drugs.

She alleges that at that point, the gang leader, later identified as Suradech Akarapol, 37, who heads the crime department at the Chonburi provincial police station, told her that if she gave him 50,000 baht she could go free. Otherwise, she would be locked up in jail.

Ms. Dutdaen said she called her boyfriend to ask for help, but he told her he didn’t have that kind of money. She said she then bargained Suradech down to 5,000 baht and called her boyfriend back, but he again said he didn’t have enough.

Ms. Dutdaen told Pattaya police that during the second call, she managed to tell her boyfriend what was happening. He then called the Pattaya police, who raced to the scene and caught the rogue cops in the act, saving the fair young maiden.

Swedish tourist leaps to his death

Police believe the indigent man committed suicide

Swedish tourist Erkki Kotiranta received massive head and body injuries after plummeting from his 7th floor hotel room on Central Road shortly before midday on April 25. He later succumbed to his injuries. Pattaya police initially surmise it was a suicide.

The hotel’s staff told police that Erkki Kotiranta had checked in 4-5 days earlier, and had a pending bill that had not been cleared. Prior to the fatal act, he had told a room boy, who was sent up to remind him of his dues, that he would follow him down to settle up.

The body was sent to the forensic department of the Police Hospital for autopsy.

Police briefs

Methamphetamine dealer arrested in Central Pattaya

Somsak Inchai was arrested at his residence in Soi SS after undercover police posing as customers bought 10 methamphetamine pills from him.

Police had long suspected the house was a center for illegal dealings, and set up a sting operation.

Undercover officers used 700 baht in marked bank notes to buy the pills from Somsak, who confessed to the crime, telling police that most of his customers were service girls working in Pattaya’s entertainment spots.

Pattaya immigration police round up illegal foreign laborers

Pattaya immigration officials, led by inspector Pol. Major-Gen Yingrat Saardying, arrested 22 Cambodian laborers in Chongsamsarn, Sattahip.

The 8 men, 10 women and 4 children and were taken to Pattaya immigration where during interrogation they revealed that they had been smuggled into Thailand through Mae Sot District, Tak Province, by an unnamed Thai agent who demanded 2,000 baht from each of them.

They said the man was transporting between 50-80 people into Thailand at a time, placing them in various communities on the Eastern Seaboard where they tried to find work as laborers in the construction industry or in factories.

Drug dealers arrested for heroin and methamphetamines

Puek Jangwong, 28, Wera Wannasut, 22, and Mrs. Bungorn Churat, 39, were arrested at a Puek’s house in Nong Prue, with 12 vials of heroin and 42 methamphetamine tablets in their possession.

During interrogation, the group revealed that they received the drugs from an agent who “frequently delivers many drugs to them”.

All three were charged with distribution of class 1 illegal substances and could face life imprisonment.

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