Bomb squads being kept busy chasing false alarms
Paranoid residents have police running around “diffusing”
everything from suitcases to cardboard boxes
with the Navy Bomb Squad. If you see me running, try to keep up.”
Since the recent bombing in Bali, plus in the south of
Thailand and in the outer Bangkok province of Nakorn Pathom, some of
Pattaya’s more paranoid residents have had police running around town
diffusing delusional situations. In four separate and unrelated incidents
the local constabulary was called in to check supposed bomb threats.
The first occurred last Saturday in Soi Bongkot when a
resident called police after he discovered a suspicious looking object in
front of his barbershop. The object was actually a discarded letterbox, but
the resident wasn’t about to check the contents himself so he called the
cops to do it for him.
Police arrived on the scene in the wee hours of the
morning to find a 30cm x 30cm x 20cm cardboard box in front of the
barbershop. The box had the name of the owner and a Bangkok address printed
on the outside. Nonetheless, police cautiously opened the letterbox, only to
find nothing inside leaving them to shake their heads and throw in it in the
The second incident occurred when a 71-year-old resident
called police after noticing a black “James Bond style bag” (briefcase)
on the roadside next to an electrical pole. Concerned that there might
something dangerous inside – the elderly gentleman called in the cavalry
to inspect the situation.
A team of bomb disposal units and a contingent of police
officers arrived on the scene to examine the object. Cops questioned the
man’s wife to find out why her husband may have thought the briefcase
contained a bomb, and the wife told police that she didn’t know. She said
she rarely left the house, but her children had tour boat businesses on
Jomtien Beach. However, as far as she knew they did not have business
quarrels. But apparently the old man wasn’t taking any chances.
Back on the street it was the same story. An hour went by
as the group of specialists decided what to do about the bag. Bomb disposal
experts first x-rayed the bag while a crowd of curious onlookers gathered.
X-rays revealed metal objects inside. So the bomb
disposal team trained a water jet on the bag in case it contained
explosives. Finally, they gingerly opened it and found a pair of metal
scissors, notebooks, two packets of cigarettes and documents. Much relieved,
officers kept the contents of the bag to review at a later date.
Pol. Capt. Somporn Suponsongkrarm of Pattaya police
station said, “This incident shouldn’t have happened. It was merely the
outcome of paranoid delusions of some people in the area. The bag could have
been placed to stir up some of the residents. However, we will still have to
take a close look at the bag and contents before investigating further.”
The third incident turned out to be a bag of laundry
(reported in the Pattaya Mail last week), and the fourth was a
suitcase an unfortunate Thai tourist had forgotten near a restaurant (see
story page 4).
Although these incidents were false alarms due to fear and suspicion they
have certainly kept officials on their toes.
Pattaya wins vote to hold 2006 Skål world congress
124 for Pattaya against 71 for London
At the Skål world congress held in Cairns,
Australia this week, the bid put forward to host the 2006 World Congress by
the local Pattaya team was successful. As the results of the vote were read
out, spontaneous applause rang through the crowded Cairns Convention Centre
and the Pattaya team were congratulated on their fine performance in
promoting Pattaya as the venue.
Skål team in Cairns lets out a cheers when the results are announced.
(Photo by Liam Maceoin)
Since the Skål delegates from around the world
represent the ‘movers and shakers’ in the tourism industry, this is
indeed a great coup for the “new” Pattaya, to be able to showcase its
attractions for this group in 2006. While many may say, “It’s four years
away,” we will need all of that time to prepare and present the Skål
delegates of the world with the finest promotional programme that we can
offer. The opportunities for increased tourist numbers to our resort city
will benefit everyone who lives here.
The Pattaya Mail salutes “our” Skål team led by National
Councillor Malai Sakolviphak; president of Bangkok skål Brian
Sinclair-Thompson; president of skål Pattaya and the East, Murray
Hertz; vice-president Peter Malhotra, the publisher of the Pattaya Mail;
secretary Andrew Wood, the GM of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort; and Skål
members Bob Lee and Eric Hallin. Congratulations on a job well done - and
the next item on the agenda is the job coming for 2006!
Governor announces over 75% of Pattaya says “yes” to casino
Results to be sent to central government
Chonburi Governor Sawang Srisakun announced that the
survey taken among Banglamung and Pattaya residents last month revealed that
residents are overwhelmingly in favor of allowing a casino to be built
somewhere in the greater Pattaya region. He said the survey was successful
enough to push through to the next stage and submit the results to the
central government for further action.
Students from Burapha and Sripatum Universities
questioned 60,000 of the area’s population. Experts from the research
department completed and tabulated the results at the end of last month.
In a recent statement the governor said that over 75% of
residents responded positively to the question as to whether Pattaya should
go ahead with building of the country’s first legal casino.
Governor Sawang said, “The results are in. Now, as
required by law, we will submit them to the central government for further
consideration, after which, there will be an ‘official’ census created
to gain the final results.”
Provincial and local business leaders see the opportunity
of building the country’s first casino in Pattaya as a way to attract more
foreign currency to the nation and attract more tourists to the area.
Despite the fervor in pushing for the project the
bureaucratic road must be traveled if it is to be successful. Some sectors
in the community oppose the idea as being immoral and a detriment to
society. However, the lure of money may prove more powerful than the
ideology behind opposition as the next stage progresses.
Prime Minister Taksin Shinawatra has already met with
executives from the MGM Casino group to discuss the possibilities of
building a world-class casino in Thailand.
City announces D-Day coming soon for bike and car rental companies on Beach Road
City aims to reduce vehicles by 50% to provide easier
access for pedestrians
The packs of rental motorcycles and cars that line
Pattaya Beach Road and prevent ordinary pedestrians from exercising their
right to use the city’s public sidewalks will soon have their numbers
reduced by half. Authorities plan to issue orders for these rental companies
to find another location to park their vehicles and will introduce hourly
parking fees for those who operate on Beach Road.
During the monthly meeting of local government department
heads, Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat addressed the city’s social and
logistical problems. One of the major issues discussed was how to reclaim
the streets and footpaths from motorbike and car rental businesses.
The volume of traffic in this area is increasing and
since the road parallels the city beach options to improve traffic flow are
limited. Vendors and rental companies have long been a major source of
obstruction in this area. Residents and visitors are complaining that
belligerent peddlers and those renting vehicles have deliberately damaged
their cars for parking in what are actually legal parking spaces. These
public parking areas have been illegally ‘commandeered’ and a
territorial turf mentality keeps most law-abiding motorists from challenging
their right to park there.
Creating order out of this chaos has been difficult since
this group of business operators refuses to comply with requests for
corporation. City Hall is now demanding that these operators relocate 50% of
their vehicles to another location, perhaps somewhere else in South Pattaya
or at a specified place on Pattaya Third Road. To put teeth in the policy a
proposal was made to charge operators for the spaces.
Pattaya police prepare to tackle traffic problem during peak tourist season
Will start with enforcing traffic laws...
As we all know, the high season in Pattaya is coming
right up and thousands of tourists will visit the area. This year an even
greater number is expected and Pattaya’s traffic cops are gearing up to
see how they can handle what is already an enormous traffic problem. At the
top of their list is to crack down on reckless drivers, those who break
traffic rules, and those who create obstructions to the flow of traffic.
police say they are working on ways to ease traffic congestion in the
Police Major Somchai Pongsai, who happens to be captain
of the traffic police in Pattaya, said that this year Pattaya will be more
colorful and enthusiastic as the World Scout Jamboree will be held in the
region at the end of the year and the city wants to make a good impression.
He said road improvements will be made. Traffic symbols
are now being refurbished, signs, roads and crosswalks are being painted and
baht bus parking places will be designated along the route from Dolphin
Circle to Walking Street. Even all the traffic lights will be working!
Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat already budgeted funds to
support this project and says work is running on schedule.
A decision was made to make Pattaya 2nd Road a one-way
street as soon as Beach Road construction is completed. A previous trial
period which turned Pattaya 2nd Road into a one-way street showed the
experiment greatly improved traffic flow.
Traffic police will perform spot checks to make sure baht
bus drivers and motorcycle taxi drivers are not carrying or using illegal
Tourist safety is an important issue and the city plans
to conduct activities and training seminars for volunteer traffic police and
those who provide public transportation.
A contingent of officers will go to all 10 Pattaya
schools to give lectures to youngsters on road safety.
Pattaya traffic police kindly ask for support and cooperation. If
everyone works together they feel they can better control traffic in the
city and reduce accidents.
Deputy Mayor orders removal of buildings invading public property
Gives residents until the end of November to move out
Niran Wattanasatsathorn, one of Pattaya’s deputy
mayors, led his team of officials to inspect the progress of the removal of
illegal dwellings in the Soi 9, or Soi Bongkot, area according to an order
recently authorized by the Pattaya city committee.
Mayor Niran Wattanasatsathorn and his team inspect illegal dwellings in the
Soi 9, or Soi Bongkot area. He gave the residents until the end of November
to pack up and get out.
However, at the site there were no signs of any buildings
having been removed as ordered. During a talk with the people in the area,
residents again asked the deputy mayor to extend the deadline, as they said
they could not find new places to move in time.
Niran explained that the removal of the illegally
constructed buildings was only to regain beauty and neatness in the city and
to make use of the area. He said he did not want to have a slum in the area,
which he said could become a place for drugs users and a criminal hideout.
Damrong Wongsaiyut, aged 53, one of the locals living in
the buildings for over 6 years said he and other dwellers did not oppose the
removal but needed more time to look for a place to move. He pleaded with
the city to relax. Damrong said he and his neighbors, some of whom have been
living there for 20 years, never create any troubles for the city and do not
know of anyone who would commit crimes.
Niran said he has no choice, but nevertheless agreed to an extension;
however, he said that the buildings must be removed by the end of November.
Foreigner of unknown origin dies in Pattaya police cell
Had refused food for over a week
Felix Harte, aged 45, of unknown nationality, died last
week in Pattaya jail after refusing to cooperate with police and refusing to
eat for over a week.
The strange saga began late last month when Harte was
picked up on North Pattaya Road and brought in for questioning after a
concerned citizen had phoned police to tell them that Harte was “losing
control of himself”. The citizen told the officer on duty that he feared
the foreigner (Harte) might get hurt if he continued his weird behavior on
Police detained him at the local lockup, where he refused
to cooperate or eat. Police suspected that he might be suffering from mental
illness, so they tried to transfer him to Somdej Chao Praya Hospital in
Bangkok, but he was refused hospital admission due to lack of authorization
He was again returned to Pattaya police station where his
behavior continued. He did not eat or drink and often made loud noises.
Police eventually had to handcuff him.
Police also said that since he wasn’t cooperating, they
couldn’t find out where he came from or who to contact.
Then, at ten minutes past midnight on October 28th,
police found him dead on the cell floor.
When Pattaya police station superintendent, Pol. Col.
Padungsak Ubekkanon got to the station to investigate, both of the man’s
wrists were seriously injured and swollen; his mouth and nose were bleeding.
Police called Sawang Boriboon rescue unit to move the
body to the forensic unit, crime department.
Police and crime prevention volunteers sweep Beach Road clean of over 100 streetwalkers
Continuing the “new” social order campaign
In keeping with the promise to restore social order in
the city during the peak tourist season, over 100 Pattaya police and crime
suppression volunteers swooped down Beach Road in an attempt to remove the
large number of streetwalkers known to inhabit the area and ply their
dubious services to tourists and residents.
recent police sweep netted over 100 freelancers off Beach Road.
The operation netted over 100 people on the strip between
Pattaya Central Road and the South Pattaya pier, all of whom were taken to
the Soi 9 police station. There, officers recorded their personal details
and fined each of them 100 baht. A stiff warning was issued telling them not
return to that area to solicit customers.
Pol. Col. Padungsak Ubekkanon said that the operation was
organized after receiving a number of complaints from residents and
tourists. A follow-up check on the area revealed these people were creating
a nuisance and were a menace to Beach Road. He admitted that this problem
has been going on for a long time. Public behavior such as this has
contributed much to Pattaya’s reputation as Sex City and officials have
reached the point where they feel they must do something about it.
The police chief added that the strict crackdown will last at least until
World Scout Jamboree is over. Police officers will continue to patrol the
city and inspect any suspicious behavior as well as set up checkpoints at
intersections for motorcyclists and vehicles which violate traffic
regulations by either not having a license plate or that have been illegally
modified. They will also perform body searches to reduce the number of
weapons and drugs amongst motorists.
Paranoia strikes again as police are called to inspect another bomb threat
Officers diffuse bag loaded with documents
Paranoid residents were at it again earlier this week
when police and bomb disposal units were called to a location behind the
Pranpor 2 Restaurant after the owner reported a suspicious looking bag.
leave your bags unattended or men in padded suits might try to sneak up on
At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening Banglamung police
received the call and rushed to the scene to find the bag in a covered area
in the car park. Unsure of the situation, they called in bomb disposal
experts from the Sattahip Navy Base to assist in the operation.
dangerous looking bag had residents calling in the bomb squad.
When naval forces arrived they reviewed the situation and
X-rayed the bag for any signs of explosives. But the results were sketchy
leaving the ‘experts’ still unsure of the contents. The bomb disposal
team removed the bag from the building and used high-velocity projectile
equipment, which supposedly renders explosive devices inactive. Then they
shot though the bag.
After all these precautionary measures, the bag just sat
there and refused to explode. The navy personnel gently opened the bag only
to find documents belonging to a 26 year old woman from Khon Khaen. The
documents were extremely damaged. Nonetheless, police took the bag and its
contents into their possession.
In the way of an explanation, Pol. Lt Col. Pramote
Ngampradit of the Banglamung police station said, “The owner of the bag
probably forgot to take the bag with her. But since it was found in an
unusual place, the restaurant owner had reason to be concerned. Despite the
false alarm, we would be negligent if we failed to respond to call. There
was no clear evidence that the bag did not contain explosives, so we called
in the experts.”
This is the fourth case in under a week that local law enforcement
officers have been called to diffuse suspected bombs. To their credit, they
have responded with due care each time.
Nigerian gang busted for cocaine smuggling
Allegedly “double-crossed” Thai girl who they used
as ‘mule’ to transport cocaine to Brazil
Police received a tip that drug deal was going down in a
hotel room on Central Pattaya Road and when they went to investigate, they
surprised three Nigerian nationals and one Thai girl who had 1 kg. of
Lisia Jod from Esoto, Sibo Niso from Zimbabwe, and Richard Hidu from Nigeria
were arrested along with a Thai woman identified as Siripan Imkamol for
possession of a kilo of cocaine.
Malake Lisia Jod from Esoto, Sibo Niso, age 32, from
Zimbabwe, and Richard Hidu, aged 26, from Nigeria were arrested along with a
Thai woman identified as Siripan Imkamol. Police confiscated their passports
and air tickets along with a sum of cash.
Interrogation at the police station revealed that Siriwan
was hired by the three men for a fee of $US3000 to meet a Mr. Brown in
Kwanchao, China. Apparently after the meeting he was to hand her an air
ticket to Brazil - not for the carnival - but instead to meet another man
who would give her a parcel of cocaine to be brought back to Thailand.
Apparently the plan was to sell the cocaine in the United Sates, for which
they figured they’d get about 50 million baht.
When Siripan was not paid for her services in Brazil, she
decided to have a stopover in Hong Kong and Penang, then took another bus
from Penang to Morchit bus station in Bangkok and stayed at a friend’s
home in an outer Bangkok province.
Siripan switched the package to another bag and threw the
original one away. A few days later she came to Pattaya to see her brother.
But in the meantime, the cocaine gang was looking for her and she was
worried they would trace her to Pattaya. So she telephoned the police.
Officers made a plan and told her to meet the gang at
their hotel. The cops then made their bust.
Police officer Saneh Khamthiang said that at the moment
they are hunting for Mr. Brown who is reported to be staying in a hotel in
Bangkok. Police believe that it will not take too long to find him.
The gang is now in police custody for possession of class 2 illegal
substances. The judge has refused bail and visitors.