HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Love is in the air

Pattaya’s Indian community celebrates Lohri

Four organizations join hands in training project for youth detention center

Privy Councilors survey the development area around Yarn Temple

Diving business operators voice their opinion on Larn Island natural resource preservation issue

Internal Security Department holds training seminar

Police gather for some footy

‘One Stop Service’ to operate in Banglamung district from January 31

Service girls arrested for solicitation along Pattaya Beach Road

Pattaya’s hustlers and indigents are ruining the image of ‘paradise’ city

Vogue Fashion short-circuits in Central Pattaya

Paranoid drug addict seriously injured falling out of a tree

Shooting at a local karaoke leaves one teenager dead

Police briefs

Love is in the air

Bridal couple reaches new heights, becomes first to wed in an ultralight

Songklod Kaewvisit

Wut Artkhom and his bride, Saisamorn Wichairat became Thailand’s first couple to marry in an ultralight last week when the two love birds took their vows about 499 feet (about 150 meters) in the air.

Wut Artkhom and his bride, Saisamorn Wichairat became Thailand’s first couple to marry in an ultralight on January 18 when the two love birds took their vows about 499 feet (about 150 meters) in the air above Bangphra Reservoir.

The couple, dubbed by some as Thailand’s “lovers of the year” married in an ultralight on January 18 as over 1,000 wedding guests witnessed the thrilling event. Chadej Insawang, permanent secretary of Ministry Sports and Tourism presided over the wedding ceremonies.

Wut Artkhom is a 35 year-old marketing manager at Chonburi Muang Thong (C.M.T.) Co. Ltd and his bride, Saisamorn Wichairat, a 39-year-old insurance firm employee at Thai Insurance Co. Ltd. The wedding took place from the Chonburi Flying Club near the Chonburi-Rayong bypass. They dubbed the event: “One Plus One Sky Love Match”.

The list of honored guests included Prakaud Chanthong, Sriracha district chief, Suporn Pradprung, the chairman of Chonburi Muang Thong (C.M.T.) Co. Ltd. and members of the media.

During the ceremony, the master of ceremonies spoke about the bride and groom’s love story; how they arranged the 7 USA imported small ultralights, for the bride and groom, and for Sriracha district chief to present the marriage registration papers to the couple.

At 5:00 a.m. Wut and Saisamorn dressed in aviator suits and sat in the ultralight and drifted into the sky, 499 feet above the Bangphra Reservoir, while guests in 5 other ultralights joined to throw popped rice and flowers in the sky.

The sweet words from the couple were, “We will love always, on the earth, in the sky or under the sea.”

When the ceremony in the sky was finished, Chadej Insawang, the secretary of Tourism and Sport Ministry blessed and sprinkled water on the bride and groom on the ground.

Wut Artkhom said when he was young, he feared heights, but when he learned to fly, he grew to appreciate the sport. When he glides with his wife, he said he loves and cares for her more and more.

Saisamorn Wichairat added that although the wedding ceremony was very challenging, she was very happy that she and her husband could touch the clouds in the sky.

After the wedding ceremony, they hosted a reception that included a thrilling ultralight acrobatics show performed by special pilots from the Chonburi Flying Club, and an exhibition of Thai aircraft. The ceremony also included presentations of scholarships to children and a free concert by Thai popular singers.

Pattaya’s Indian community celebrates Lohri

Akshay Singh

Pattaya’s Indian community celebrated the festival of Lohri at the Gurdwara, or Sikh temple, on Jan. 13 in North Pattaya. For Punjabis, this is more than just a festival; it is also a way of life.

Anmolrattan Singh celebrates his first Lohri.

In the morning, children go from door to door singing songs in praise of Dulha Bhatti, a Punjabi version of Robin Hood who robbed from the rich and helped the poor. These visitors are usually given money as they knock on their neighbor’s doors. In the evening, people gather around bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice, and popcorn into the flames, sing popular folk songs and exchange greetings.

Geographically speaking, the earth leans towards the sun along the Tropic of Capricorn from the day following Lohri. The earth, farthest from the sun at this point in time, starts its journey towards the sun along its elliptical orbit. It is this transition which is celebrated as Lohri.

Ladies gathered at the Gurdwara to pray in the afternoon.

The period, beginning from the 14th of January and lasting till the 14th of July, is known as Uttarayan. The festival assumes greater significance if there has been a happy event in the family during the elapsed year, like the birth of a male child or marriage.

This year’s festival was particularly significant for Amrik Singh, the head of the Sikh community of Pattaya, as he celebrated his grandson, Anmolrattan Singh’s first Lohri.

In the morning, prayers were held at the temple and the ladies of the community held a celebration in the afternoon. In the evening, friends and relatives gathered at Amrik Singh’s home to celebrate this auspicious occasion.

The festival that brings joy and happiness to millions of people in India brought this community of Pattaya together, as they celebrated Lohri with the newest member of the Sikh community.

Four organizations join hands in training project for youth detention center

Songklod Kaewvisit

Kids at Chonburi’s youth detention center recently got a helping hand through training sessions aimed at teaching productive skills which can eventually lead to their successful reentry into society when they are released.

Patinya Sutsuwan, chief judge of the family and juvenile court in Chonburi and members of the four organisations cut the ribbon to officially open the vocational training project in front of the Chonburi’s youth detention center.

On January 9 four government and private organizations, including Chonburi’s family and juvenile court, led by district judge Patinya Sutsuwan, the Rotary Club of Taksin-Pattaya led by Ingo Rauber, club president and Peter Thorand, past president, Pattaya Sports Club, represented by president Karl Engel and charity chairman Bernie Tuppin, and Chonburi Vocational College’s professors and lecturers, cooperated in organizing three training projects for the center’s young residents.

The projects include teaching how to grow organic vegetables and beauty salon skills, and the group also supports a motorcycle repair training center.

Peter Thorand said the toxic-free vegetables plantation project was so successful at the Sattahip School that the club wanted to try it at the detention center. The plants cultivated can be cooked for children at the center and will also reduce the center’s operating expenses.

The beauty salon skill training is supported by the Pattaya Sports Club and was very popular as it drew a lot of girls in the center to participate in the 50-hour hands-on training program.

Judge Patinya, head of Chonburi court said these children also need love and care to nourish their lives. They can become great people if they are given opportunities to develop themselves.

On the same day, YWCA Bangkok-Pattaya led by Nittaya Patimasongkroh and members presented sacks of raw rice to the center.

Privy Councilors survey the development area around Yarn Temple

His Majesty the King has graciously designated a group of Privy Councilors, led by Palakorn Suwanrat, a privy councilor and His Majesty’s representative, to survey the development area around Yarnasungwararam Temple in the royal-initiated project. They were welcomed by Chonburi deputy governor, Phisit Boonchaung and Banglamung District Chief, Somsak Yonokpha.

His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great looked at the barren land and poor residents in this area in 1982, and knew about the desire of His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch (when he was the abbot of Yarnasungwararam Temple) to develop Yarnasungwararam Temple’s area.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great spoke to the group who had an audience with the king to consider development area around Yarnasungwararam Temple entitled “The training center of agricultural youth of Wat Yarnasungwararam in Royal-initiated project”, and started the project in 1985.

Regarding progress in 2002, there were 4 sections. The first one was called the conservative natural resources group and divided into 6 different categories including land development project, river development project, the Banglamung research and the wildlife nurture station, grounds for animal preservation and the Sirijaruenwat forest project.

The second section was allocated for agricultural study and research, the third was allocated for occupation promotion and development group and the fourth was the management group.

Diving business operators voice their opinion on Larn Island natural resource preservation issue

Veerachai Somchart

Pattaya City Hall spent almost 10 million baht in 180 days for Pattaya Bay and its islands’ natural resources preservation project.

Doctor Thammasak Yimin (center) officiates over a seminar with local divers and fishermen about the 10-million baht worth of buoys being set in the bay to protect endangered coral.

The money went to two natural preservation consulting companies: Mahanakorn Consultant Company and Binary Company. These companies will be supervising and controlling the standard and quality of buoy markers to effectively preserve endangered coral reefs in the areas near three main islands. On January 13, twenty seven diving business operators attended a seminar held at Pattaya City Hall to express their opinions on the issue.

Doctor Thammasak Yimin, sea natural resource preservation expert said the project was aimed to designate marine areas to be preserved, and urged underwater diving tourism business operators and fishing boats to cooperate with the authorities in this development campaign.

The three main natural preservation and development spots are areas around Larn Island, Krok Island and Sark Island. These three areas are endangered sites that officials could no longer ignore due to vast and rapid coral reef damage caused by increased tourist activity.

The committee will set up 150 buoys in safe areas for boats to anchor so that they won’t damage the reefs. The committee will also draw up an underwater map and distribute it to sailors, provide GIS computer programs for tourists to correctly search for natural resources, and publish general information brochures and buoys manual maintenance techniques.

Business operators said the proposed project was a good and helpful one. However, in their view 150 buoys will not be enough for tourist boats sailing in Pattaya Bay, as the boats sometimes number up to 1,000. They proposed there should be tougher restrictions on anchoring in certain areas.

In the past, Pattaya City received 300 buoys from the government but they did not work well and some are now missing. Doctor Thammasak concluded that the project is due to finish in February and the committee will take every suggestion into consideration. He also urged the officials to tie up buoys properly for effective use in the future.

Internal Security Department holds training seminar

Suchada Tupchai

Two hundred and twelve officials from a group of volunteers of self-development villages and Internal Security departments from 31 provinces - Regions 1 through 4, recently attended a training session set up to improve their management efficiency.

General Panlop Pinmanee, deputy director of the Internal Security Department of Thailand

General Panlop Pinmanee, deputy director of the Internal Security Department of Thailand opened the training seminar for the year 2003 at the Town In Town Hotel, which ran from January 14 through 17.

The officials were trained to develop logical thinking, problem solving and help find ways in which villages can become stronger through unity. They were provided with techniques to manage their communities and strategies to increase cooperation between the government and private sector in developing designated border provinces.

The officials are expected to pass their knowledge on to community members to boost national security.

Police gather for some footy

Pattaya police organize tournament to enhance unity and relationships

Boonlua Chatree

Pol. Lt. Col. Cheerasak Chareonchasri, the investigation officer at Pattaya police station, recently opened the Pattaya police internal football tournament at the Pattaya School Number 8 football pitch.

Police stars of the football pitch gather for a team photo.

Police officers from 6 different departments of Pattaya police station attended the football tournament. The friendly matches were set up to provide a chance for the officers to get in a little healthy exercise, improve their physical and mental health and make them more alert on their jobs.

Police work involves teamwork and the games help build a sense of accord and unity in their working relationships.

‘One Stop Service’ to operate in Banglamung district from January 31

Veerachai Somchart

Somsak Yonokphan, Banglamung district chief said that recently the Ministry of Interior handed over responsibility to the ruling departments to reorganize and develop government service systems and procedures to streamline public services.

The reorganization is intended to make procedures more practical and precise. In order to increase efficiency, the MOI wants to combine as many government services as possible under one roof, which will be referred to as One Stop Service.

The ‘one stop’ means that people will be able to have access to all types of facilities such as electricity, tap water, telephone, and public transportation. At the bureau, people will be able to book bus seats, and pay electricity, telephone, and water bills. The public will also be able to obtain much more general information offered by both private and governmental sectors.

Banglamung District is one of 8 initiative districts in the kingdom that will include the one stop service in their bureaus. The other 7 districts are Muang District in Nakornpathom, Muang District in Udon Thani, Sansai District in Chiang Mai, Bangrakam District in Phitsanulok, Sadao District in Songkhla, and Muang District in Nakhon Rachasima.

The one stop service national project is scheduled to commence in several district bureaus on January 31, 2003. The other 800 district bureaus are scheduled to begin the service in 2004.

In Pattaya and Banglamung, tourist information and services will be given top priority. The one stop service in Banglamung District will provide information on tourism businesses and services.

The district chief said he has been to Tiffany and Alcazar shows and commented that both places are a powerful magnet that attracts great numbers of tourists to Pattaya City and he was personally very impressed with the international standard of performance.

The district chief added that the most important concern right now is the security and safety of tourists visiting Pattaya and nearby regions. He also urged people in Pattaya and Banglamung to help the authorities look for flaws that they may come across and report them so they can be quickly corrected for the benefit of the city and the district.

Service girls arrested for solicitation along Pattaya Beach Road

Over 50 tourist police and 20 foreign crime prevention volunteers converged on Beach Road and detained 40 women selling their “wares” along Beach Road.

Don’t let mom see my face in the paper!

The 20 foreign volunteers had been dispatched to the areas where it was reported that the women were soliciting male tourists. As the volunteers were approached by the women, police officers stepped in and were able to take the women into custody, after which police recorded their details for official records.

Questioned and fined, the offenders were released with a warning to clean up their acts.

Pattaya’s hustlers and indigents are ruining the image of ‘paradise’ city

Social Commentary by Boonlua Chatree

Pattaya is a very well known tourist destination in Thailand and attracts people from around the world, and increases the national income. Nevertheless, city management is still inefficient in solving the social problem that tarnishes the reputation of Pattaya City.

A large number of homeless people are dwelling on Pattaya beaches, from north to south, creating a very degrading scene for tourists who are there to enjoy the beautiful beaches Pattaya has to offer.

The question is - why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? Has Mayor Pairat no shame for his city? Some local indigents are approaching tourists and offering sexual services for 300 baht. This has to stop and the authorities must take action and clear these undesirables out of the area.

At the moment, Pattaya is gaining the reputation of a paradise city - but only for thieves and hustlers who can easily take advantage of the tourists.

Vogue Fashion short-circuits in Central Pattaya

Not trying to set a new fashion trend

A local business operator called police and firefighters to the scene of a fire on Central Pattaya Road after sparks from a transformer ignited the roof of the Vogue Fashion clothing outlet on Pattaya Central Road.

Police officers and 2 fire trucks rushed to the scene to find that the electrical meter behind the shop had been destroyed by fire and the roof set alight, sending smoke billowing from the flames. Firemen brought the blaze under control in 20 minutes.

An initial investigation showed the electrical transformer behind the shop had overheated and started the fire. Fortunately, quick action on the part of the proprietors and firemen avoided major damage.

Maybe the shop’s owner will get lucky and the “slightly singed” look will be “in” this year.

Paranoid drug addict seriously injured falling out of a tree

Supot Prompila, age 23, from Nong Khai Province, was last week perched on a tree branch about 10 meters from the ground, screaming for people to save him from an imaginary person who was trying to kill him. The drama unfolded in the Naklua 12 area.

Supot’s ghostly figure was perched high atop a tree as he tried to escape an imaginary person he said was trying to kill him. Ya ba (crazy pills) was determined as the cause. They don’t call it dope for nothing.

Police spent over 2 hours trying to convince him to come down, but to no avail. As dusk approached the befuddled man tried to climb even higher but suddenly slipped and fell to the ground and landed on his back. He was promptly sent to Banglamung Hospital for treatment.

An investigation into Supot’s police record revealed that he was previously convicted for stealing and had served 6 months in jail, after which he came to Pattaya looking for a job.

On the day of the accident he took 2 amphetamine pills and began to hallucinate thinking that somebody was after him and was trying to kill him, so he climbed up the tree to escape.

Shooting at a local karaoke leaves one teenager dead

Another teenager wounded

Boonlua Chatree

A gang dispute in a local karaoke bar ended tragically when things got out of hand and led to a shooting, which left one young man dead and another wounded.

Friends cry over their wounded friend, who was actually lucky, as his friend died from gunshot wounds.

The crime occurred in the very early hours of the morning last week at karaoke venue on Pattaya Third Road. The deceased was only 18 years old.

The teenage man died after being shot by another group of teenagers following an argument. The dead man’s friend also received a bullet wound during the shootout. Both men were taken to a hospital by friends before police arrived.

Police went to the hospital to question witnesses who said that they, including the deceased, were enjoying themselves at the karaoke club when another group came in. A fight erupted shortly after and spilled out onto the street.

One of the rival gang members pulled out a gun and shot the two victims, then fled. In their haste the perpetrators left two motorcycles behind, both of which were impounded by police.

The identity of the motorcycles’ owners was traced to two local addresses in the Banglamung area. Police are searching for the teenage owners of the bikes and expect to make an arrest of the teenage shooter shortly and charge him with murder.

Police briefs

Illegal phone repair shops raided by local officers

Police raided several shops at Talad Nad on Thepprasit Road and arrested 4 persons for operating mobile telephone repair shops without licenses. Samran Joimuang, Sarawut Worakarn, Premsiri Onmak, and Damrong Plabplaplung were taken to the police station for questioning. During the raid officers confiscated 24 mobile phones and 63 battery units, all of which had been smuggled into Thailand to avoid taxes. The group was charged with importing goods illegally and running a communications business without business licenses. It is not known whether they were actually able to repair said mobile phones.

Local discotheque raided for serving juveniles

Pattaya investigation police raided a Soi Bua Khao disco for operating after hours and allowing patrons under the age of 20 to enter. Forty underage teens and another 20 who did not have ID cards were taken to the police station and fined. The owner of the discotheque, Ruengsak Wanprasert was arrested and fined 1,000 baht for operating the business after hours, 1,000 baht for allowing under age patrons to enter, and another 1,000 baht for employing underage workers. He was also booked for selling alcohol after hours. The 3000 baht (US$70) fine might seem a bit hefty to some, until one considers the place probably took in ten times that amount after the legal closing hour.

Police raid nets 19 illegal gamblers and over 3,000 baht in cash

Boonlua Chatree

A group of avid betters just couldn’t wait for Pattaya’s first legal casino to be built. On the evening of January 15, police broke up an illegal card game, netting 19 very surprised men and women. The raid took place at a rented apartment behind the Chaimongkol Temple in South Pattaya.

Head of the Criminal Investigation Unit, Sakrapee Preawpanich led the raid and ordered the arrest of all 19 gamblers. All were charged with illegal gambling and were bound over for trail without bail.

Police received an unusually large windfall from the event, as they confiscated a total of 3,155 baht in cash and deck of cards. These reported raids usually only net about 30 baht.

Rayong police round up over 100 illegal immigrants and vow to deport them

Police and employment officials in Rayong Province conducted a mass haul of illegal immigrants on January 17, netting over 100 immigrants without documents. Officials vow to send them back to their countries of origin.

Over 30 police officers took part in the swoop, which was aimed at the Pak Nam area of Rayong Town, well known for the vast number of illegal immigrants who reside there.

The January 17 raid marks the first such haul following the expiry of the government’s temporary easing of immigration regulations allowing previously illegal immigrants to register. Immigrants were warned that they would face prosecution if they did not register by January 15.

Police said they netted a total of 110 immigrants, mostly Burmese, Cambodian and Lao, in the raid. The immigrants will be housed in the Maptaphut Immigration Office to determine their nationality before being deported back to their countries of origin.

Describing illegal immigration as a problem of national security, Krissadorn Phleethanawongse, deputy superintendent of Maptaphut Immigration Police, warned that the swoop was a just a taste of more to come. (TNA)