HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

MOI says New Year’s revelers can party all night

TAT and City Hall to host New Year celebrations on Walking Street

Health Ministry rep meets with business operators to clarify no-smoking ban

Local precinct bids farewell to Police Chief Pol. Col. Padungsak Ubekkanon

Pattaya welcomes a new police chief

Pattaya residents pay chanting tribute to Chao Phor Ket Ngam - guardian spirit of the city

Overheated computer causes fire in South Pattaya

Odds of Pattaya getting a casino beginning to grow

500 baht buses rally to provide transportation during World Scout Jamboree

Kamnan Poh offers more than 600 rai of land to Royal Turf Club

Oil washes up onto Pattaya’s beaches damaging the environment and businesses

Belgian arrested for child porno and employing underage boys at go-go bar in South Pattaya

MOI says New Year’s revelers can party all night

Closing hours extended until 6 a.m. on Dec. 31

Songklod Kaewvisit

Deputy Minister of Interior Pracha Maleenont announced that the authorities have given the green light for entertainment venues to stay open until 6 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.

The move came in response to a barrage of requests from entertainment operators to give them a break.

However, operators must strictly follow the other rules or face 30 days immediate closure as penalty, Deputy Pracha said. The deputy MOI said he demands cooperation from operators in regard to not allowing juveniles on the premises, no drugs or firearms, and no prostitution or lewd shows.

Any operators caught flaunting these basic laws will face a 30-day shutdown without appeal.

Pracha also urged business and entertainment operators to carefully monitor mischievous or criminal acts on their own premises during these dates since police are going to be spread thin and may not be able to monitor all places in the city at all times during the 5-day long national holiday.

Pracha said during the time of former interior minister Purachai Piumsomboon’s administration, tough laws imposed on night entertainment establishments were only meant to create social order in the country. These laws have produced positive results because of the severity of the punishment.

Pracha added that those five basic laws will continue to be enforced due to great support from children’s parents and teachers.

He said a flood of appeals for extended operating hours would not have any effect on the law previously posed during Purachai’s administration because if the operators are still breaching the social order, the law cannot be reconsidered. He said it is the duty of the private sector to get together and find ways to control and weed out the black sheep in society.

TAT and City Hall to host New Year celebrations on Walking Street

Suchada Tupchai

Manit Boonchim, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Region 3 revealed that Pattaya’s New Year Countdown Celebration 2003 will be organized at Walking Street, South Pattaya between December 27th and 31st, 2002 to ring in the New Year.

He said Pattaya is a well-known international tourist city and during the event a great number of tourists will flock into the city to look for some fun and celebration.

During the 3-day event, traditional Thai dancing and musical shows will promote Thailand’s heritage. International cuisine and Thai-made products will be on sale.

On the night of December 31st, a fabulous fireworks display will light up the sky while proceeding for toward the traditional countdown. All are warmly invited to Pattaya’s Walking Street for the countdown excitement.

Health Ministry rep meets with business operators to clarify no-smoking ban

Veerachai Somchart

Dr. Charan Trinwuthipong, director of disease control department, Ministry of Health chaired a meeting on the clarification of the enforcement of the new no-smoking laws to promote understanding in the business community.

Held at Town In Town Hotel, over 500 members of the local press and restaurant business operators in the eastern and central region attended the seminar and the question and answer session.

Dr. Charan said the smoking ban policy or the Non-smokers’ Health Protection Act B.E. 2535 (1992) enforced since November 9, 2002, has created misunderstanding and affected some businesses such as hotels, restaurants, entertainments venues and shopping malls.

The director stressed that members of the press must give accurate information and the police need to be clear on the new restrictions so they can enforce the laws.

Dr. Charan explained that the 2,000 baht fine for smokers who smoke in restricted areas, and 20,000 baht fine for owners of the premises who do not enforce the rule, will be imposed only to protect the health of the public and not disrupt anyone’s business.

The Ministry of Health says that smoking bans are effectively enforced in many other countries and do not negatively affect business operators. There are some exceptions for particular types of rooms such as a hotel rooms or private rooms.

After the meeting Dr. Charan took a walk through the Central Festival Center Pattaya to check to see if operators and customers were adhering to the law and concluded that they were.

Local precinct bids farewell to Police Chief Pol. Col. Padungsak Ubekkanon

Former police chief to begin new assignment in Chantaburi

Boonlua Chatree

A party was in order as officers from Pattaya police station bade fond farewells to their commanding officer of 2 years, Pol. Col. Padungsak Ubekkanon. Held on December 16 at the function room of the Gulf Siam Hotel in North Pattaya, the party was attended by local dignitaries including the mayor and local businessmen. All turned out to wish Pol. Col. Padungsak well at his new post in the Calung Precinct in Chantaburi Province starting January 2, 2003.

Police Chief Pol. Col. Padungsak Ubekkanon (2nd from left) enjoyed a singing sendoff from friends and colleagues

The transfer is in accordance with the regulations set down by the National Police Bureau whereby all government officials serve in one post for a period of 2 years.

New police chief Pol. Col. Kamolchai Tienrungroj will take command of Pattaya Police Station.

Pattaya welcomes a new police chief

New chief says he will enforce the law

Boonlua Chatree

Pattaya now has a new police chief. On December 19, local police officers from all departments threw a welcoming party at the Grand Sole Hotel for Pol. Col. Kamolchai Tienrungroj, who has replaced Padungsak Ubekkanon as the new Pattaya chief of police.

On December 19, local police officers from all departments threw a welcoming party at the Grand Sole Hotel for Pol. Col. Kamolchai Tienrungroj (center), who has replaced Padungsak Ubekkanon as the new Pattaya chief of police.

Pol. Col. Kamolchai was previously stationed as the police chief of Calung Precinct in Chantaburi where Padungsak Ubekkanon has now taken over as chief of the station.

The transfer orders came from director general of the National Police Bureau, Pol. Gen. Santh Srutharnont in accordance with the national policy which decrees a 2-year posting.

Over 30 tables of police, local business operators and city official joined in for a Chinese-style luncheon to welcome the new police chief.

Pol. Col. Kamolchai said that as the new chief he has his own policy regarding safety and service to tourists and crime and drug prevention are top priorities. He said he aims to enforce the law and protect the lives and property of residents and tourists. He went on to say that their safety is an important factor and that the city wants tourists from around the world to enjoy their stay in Pattaya.

Pattaya residents pay chanting tribute to Chao Phor Ket Ngam - guardian spirit of the city

According to Thai beliefs, a guardian spirit protects Pattaya City and resides in a special spirit house. A chanting tribute was paid to this spirit on December 13. Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat and his crew from city hall, together with the Sawang Boriboon foundation organized the Chao Phor Ket Ngam chant ceremony at Pattaya Beach.

Fishermen, merchants, and the general public regularly pay their respects to the Chao Phor Ket Ngam spirit house, but on December 13, TAT and city hall got together for a much larger ceremony to entertain the city’s guardian spirit.

In the morning, religious ceremonies were performed and 9 displays of fireworks were set off to observe King Taksin the Great and Admiral Chumporn Khetudomsak.

Thai traditional dancing, music, Thai boxing shows, and movies provided some entertainment for the spirit Chao Phor Ket Ngam.

During the tribute students from Pattaya schools were presented with school funds. Sawang Boriboon foundation received 6 sacks of 50-kilogram rice. Pattaya City Hall and local clubs including the Rotary Club of Pattaya donated 210,880 baht which will be used for further renovation of Pattaya City’s guardian spirit’s residence.

Chao Phor Ket Ngam spirit house was built in 1957 and received a major renovation in 1994, a period when the Tourism Authority of Thailand was injecting millions of baht into Pattaya roads and beach beautification. Fishermen, merchants, and the general public regularly pay their respect to the Chao Phor Ket Ngam spirit house.

Overheated computer causes fire in South Pattaya

An overheated computer was apparently the cause of a shop house fire opposite Welcome Plaza in South Pattaya last week. The shop is owned by Narinder Kaur Korana.

Four fire engines and two crane trucks were dispatched to the scene and were quickly able to extinguish the blaze.

The fire was reported to have started from a computer and spread throughout the bedroom, also damaging one color TV and one mobile phone. Estimate of the damage was about 50,000 baht.

Misak Meedan, Narinder’s son, told police that before the incident he was working on his computer and left the machine for a moment to go to the rest room. When he returned, he found the computer was already on fire, so he believed that the cause could have been a short circuit.

Odds of Pattaya getting a casino beginning to grow

Ambassador City Jomtien Hotel currently seen as best choice

Veerachai Somchart

It appears that national lawmakers are seriously considering passing legislation that would lead toward allowing a casino to be built in Pattaya.

(L to R) Saensuk Mayor Somchai Khunpluem, casino proposal scrutiny panel chairman Yuwarat Kamolvej, Royal Bangkok Sports Club director Anothai Uthensut, and panel moderator Sunya Mungkorn hold a public discussion on the merits of Pattaya getting a casino.

On December 18, a panel of distinguished guest speakers was formed during the monthly Pattaya Business and Tourism Association meeting at the Dusit Resort to publicly debate the issue. The panel was made up of casino proposal scrutiny panel chairman, Yuwarat Kamolvej, Royal Bangkok Sports Club director, Anothai Uthensut, and Saensuk Mayor Somchai Khunpluem Somchai Khunpluem. Local business operators and politicians, Pattaya press and member of the general public were invited to sit in on the discussion.

Anothai Uthensut told the assembly, “We are still waiting for policymakers at Government House to announce legalization of casinos in the Kingdom.” He said in Las Vegas gambling was legal and did not ruin the city’s reputation because there are strict rules for the gamblers there. “If we apply the same rules here in Thailand, gambling would not be an addiction or create a negative image for the country.”

The issue of legalized gambling in Thailand has been debated for 20 years, while illegal gambling has continued to spread.

The argument for legalizing casinos in Thailand rests on the premise that people are going to gamble anyway, and if legitimate casinos are built, properly managed and monitored, restrictions and rules can be applied for citizens’ protection and screening methods could minimize harm done to those who cannot afford to play on the gaming tables. Economics also come into play since legal casinos can be a source of immense revenue to the state.

Yuwarat Kamolvej, ex-governor of Chonburi, said a renewed push for legalizing casinos in Thailand arose in 1998. Data collected from casinos in the USA, Australia, Britain, and Russia was presented and showed that governments of these countries created barriers to prevent government officials from being involved in the gambling by legalizing only a number of casinos.

Yuwarat explained that presently in Thailand there is a different objective, namely to stop billions of baht from seeping out the Kingdom.

Yuwarat agreed that Pattaya is not like other tourist places in Thailand, as it has something different to offer. He added that if the Ambassador Hotel agreed to provide part of its premises for a casino, the government would suddenly respond to the demand.

Somchai Khunpluem, Saensuk municipality mayor said there is a big possibility for Pattaya City to welcome national and international gamblers. He said that Pattaya is a logical place to have a legal international standard casino because of its existing facilities, such as accommodation, transportation and accessibility. Mayor Somchai estimated that with a legal casino in the area, money pouring into the province could be as high as 600 million baht a day.

A proposal has been made to the Ambassador City Jomtien Hotel that would replace half of its regular clientele with casino gamblers. The hotel would be offered one million baht as a daily renting fee for the next 3 to 5 years.

500 baht buses rally to provide transportation during World Scout Jamboree

Drivers will be trained in good service and polite behavior

Songklod Kaewvisit

Somsak Yonokphan, Banglamung district chief, and Manit Boonchim, Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand Region 3 announced that a campaign has begun to improve Pattaya’s baht bus service in time for the World Scout Jamboree.

Speaking on December 19 at the Tiffany Theater in Pattaya, the Banglamung district chief said the government is planning to recruit and train baht bus drivers to provide good service for visitors to the area during the upcoming event, which will be held at Had Yao, Samae Sarn district in Sattahip.

During the Scout Jamboree over 30,000 participants from all over the world will need transportation throughout the event, and ‘song taew’ or baht buses will play a key role. Authorities have acknowledged the need to train 500 baht bus drivers to address this issue. The campaign is well supported by TAT Region 3, Pattaya City Hall, the Pattaya Baht Bus Union, Chonburi Transportation Department, Pattaya police, and Pattaya traffic police.

Somsak said TAT Region 3 recently discussed the campaign with the Baht Bus Union of Pattaya and asked for its cooperation.

Somsak stressed that Pattaya now has another chance to prove that it is still one of the top tourist destinations in the world and urged the drivers to behave well and charge fair prices. During the event fair price lists will be placed in the passengers’ space in order to avoid cheating and arguments.

Kamnan Poh offers more than 600 rai of land to Royal Turf Club

New horse racing track could generate billions of baht for Chonburi Province

Veerachai Somchart

Speaking at the Dusit Resort Pattaya, Saensuk Mayor Somchai Khunpluem revealed that he was willing to give 626 rai of land along Highway No. 331 in Huay Yai District, Banglamung to the Royal Turf Club for a new horseracing track. He said that Bangkok’s governor Samak Sundaravej recently admitted that Bangkok is no longer suitable for any big event due to limited roads and severe traffic congestion which is already a severe hardship for Bangkokians.

The governor conceded that the current track, Nang Lerng, which is under the supervision of the Royal Turf Club, is over 85 years old. It no longer provides enough thrills for racing fans due to the limited distance of the track.

Bangkok’s governor wants to turn the old track in Bangkok into a public park to commemorate the longest reign of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej and provide people with greenery.

Kamnan Poh said he would be happy to donate the patch of land to the Royal Turf Club and thinks that it could bring lots of money into Chonburi Province, with an estimated 30,000 horse racing fans on each day of competition.

Approximately 2 billion baht would be injected by the Royal Turf Club and the government intends to hire a Japanese company which has the technology to build to international standards.

Kamnan Poh indicated that Huay Yai District would also get the benefit of collecting 4-5% income tax from the new track.

Oil washes up onto Pattaya’s beaches damaging the environment and businesses

Authorities have yet to respond to the situation

Associated Press and
Pattaya Mail Staff Reporters

Oil has begun washing up on Pattaya’s shores after a collision between a tanker and cargo ship two nautical miles east of Bamboo Island (Koh Pai) that left the tanker leaking tons of diesel and crude oil into the water last Tuesday December 17. Officials from the port authority in Laem Chabang have called in the pollution cleanup team to begin operations.

If you go to the beach within the next few days don’t wear your good shoes.

Those operations, however, seem to have missed a part of the slick, as black globules of oil began washing up on Pattaya’s shores between North and Central Pattaya on Monday morning, causing concern and outrage from local beach operators.

One of the area’s most affected is the beach at the end of Soi 6, where the oil is very visible making the beachfront and waters filthy. Beach chair and umbrella vendors said the oil began washing ashore early Monday morning from about 3 a.m. and it has already caused problems for their business as it mixes with the sand. The slick couldn’t have happened at a worst time as the ‘tourist season’ has arrived and with a dirty beach they fear losing business revenue.

At press time, there was no apparent action from local officials acting on the spill with only local residents and businesses left trying to remove the oil from the beaches in their area. More is more washing ashore. “This will destroy the tourist business,” said one operator.

The Kota Wijaya, a 16,731-ton Singaporean-registered container ship, collided with the 5,342-ton Panamanian-registered Sky Ace due to poor visibility in the pre-dawn darkness, said Lt. Commander Pisal Salee of Laem Chabang Port last Tuesday December 17.

The Sky Ace suffered major structural damage and is leaking fuel, but there were no reports of casualties.

Esso Singapore, a division of the U.S. oil company Exxon, dispatched an emergency team to control the oil slick, which continues to spread from the collision site, said Pisal.

Both ships headed to the port after the accident.

According to public records, Kota Wijaya is Danish owned, while the Sky Ace is Japanese owned.

Reporters contacted city officials on Monday to get their response to the dilemma. Deputy Mayor Wuttisak Rermkijikarn said, “We (city hall) have already informed the responsible departments to begin clean up operations. They are closely monitoring the situation from morning till night while they clear the beaches of oil residue.”

“I would like to say to both residents and tourists not to be alarmed at the situation. We have enough resources to effectively clear up the situation. The amount of oil that leaked from the tanker was small enough not to be overly concerned about. However, while we are in the process of cleaning, it is recommended that people don’t swim in affected areas as the oil may cause some skin irritation. The same goes for consuming local seafood, especially all types of mussels and oysters, which, if eaten could be potentially dangerous,” added Wuttisak.

Belgian arrested for child porno and employing underage boys at go-go bar in South Pattaya

Belgian embassy official tipped off police

Boonlua Chatree

After receiving information from Belgian embassy officials, Pattaya crime suppression officers set up a sting operation on December 11 to catch a Belgian national suspected of involvement in child pornography and pimping young Thai boys in Pattaya.

Michel Jose Rosoor and Anucha Sarlika were arrested and charged with promoting prostitution and illegally operating an entertainment business without a license. Anucha Sarlika was charged with procuring under-aged staff for illegal purposes.

Embassy officials told local authorities that 52-year-old Belgian Michel Jose Rosoor was possibly exporting pornographic video CDs to clients abroad which contained footage of foreign nationals engaging in sexual activities with young Thai males.

Rosoor was also thought to be engaged in business activities that offered sexual services to customers from underage boys in the Jolly Boys Studio in Soi Day Night, South Pattaya.

Police set a trap with the aid of two embassy officials to arrest the perpetrators. Marked money was used in the operation and once the bait was taken, police sprang into action arresting the 27-year-old manager from Pichit and the foreign owner.

After the raid, officers ordered the lights turned on and found 40 young men between the ages of 16-18 dancing on stage at the go-go bar. Manager Anucha Sarlika had unwittingly enticed undercover police into an upstairs room before officers made their identities known.

Customers were told to leave the premises and then the 40 boys were told to get dressed so they could be interviewed by police. Personal details were taken down for the record.

Police arrested Michel Jose Rosoor and Anucha Sarlika and charged both with promoting prostitution and illegally operating an entertainment business without a license. Anucha Sarlika was charged with procuring under-aged staff for illegal purposes. The 40 dancers were fined 400 baht each and released with a warning.