HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A star is born

Stricter road safety controls will be implemented during Songkran to try to reduce death toll

Pattaya’s sunken wreck will officially open this month as part of HRH Crown Prince’s birthday celebrations

Pattaya City launches annual rabies prevention campaign

Order on Jomtien Beach still difficult to enforce

Chat Thai Co. leaves streets filled with garbage

Local hotels upset over reaction to SARS epidemic scaring away tour groups

Pattaya Police test their metal in dramatic simulation training exercises


Key ecstasy and ya ba dealers busted

Man arrested after holding gun to foreign tourist’s head

Tourist police arrest teen drug dealers

Failed relationship ends in murder - suicide

Police arrest extortionist in a sting operation

A star is born

Elephant Pang Jenni gives birth to bouncing baby boy at an auspicious time and date

Nong Nooch Gardens has a new addition to the family. Twenty-nine year old show elephant Pang Jenni gave birth to her third calf at 5 a.m. on April 5th (which is considered as the fifth lunar month). Mahouts named the new addition ‘Plai Sao-har’. To the superstitious, the month date and time of birth is considered to be a good omen.

Big Mama Pang Jenni and her young son, Plai Sao-har, are both doing well. Plai Sao-har was born on fifth hour of the fifth day of the fifth lunar month - an auspicious time indeed.

The show manager at Nong Nooch, Songwon Bupata said the female show elephant had mated with Plai Bird 22 months ago and delivered the bouncing baby boy at an auspicious time.

The fifth hour of the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, coinciding with a Saturday as well, it was definitely a reason for celebration.

Later that day, as word spread, Nong Nooch received calls from curious residents not only congratulating the tourist spot but also requesting some of the elephant placenta, which is believed to help cure a number of ailments in humans.

Both mother and son are reported to be doing well. Plai Sao-har can now look forward to a life in show business, just like mom and dad.

Stricter road safety controls will be implemented during Songkran to try to reduce death toll

The annual water fest begins this weekend everywhere but Pattaya and Naklua, next weekend here

Veerachai Somchart

The rising death toll on Thailand’s roads has been causing the government concern. In an effort to promote more public awareness and enforce stricter laws, a new road safety campaign aims to reduce fatalities during the upcoming 5-day Songkran holiday, which is the traditional Thai New Year.

The water festivities “officially” start throughout the country on April 13 and run through April 15, although in reality the water throwing usually begins earlier and lasts until later. In Pattaya and Naklua, the celebrations take place on the 19th and 20th.

Chaturon Chaisaeng, deputy prime minister in charge of the Eastern Seaboard provinces was recently appointed to head a committee tasked to increase road safety in Thailand’s eastern region.

Working in conjunction with the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Communication, Ministry of Public Health, and National Police Bureau the committee aims to reduce the number of deaths this year. Last year 543 persons died in road accidents during the Songkran holiday. The target this year is to reduce that number by 20% from April 11 through April 16.

Data shows there are currently 15 million motorcycles using the nation’s roads, but only 6 million of them are registered. Statistics also reveal that 60-80% of the road accidents - especially during the Songkran holiday - involve motorcycles. Drugs and alcohol are also major factors contributing to accidents and sadly, figures show that only 22% of motorcycle riders wore helmets and only 4% of their passengers wore helmets.

Chonburi Governor Sawarng Srisarkun is coordinating with Chonburi regional police departments, and police stations in every location in promoting the campaign: ‘With love, We arrest’. The intention is to send a message that law enforcement will arrest offenders for their own good, not because they are trying to give them a hard time. Included in the campaign plan is first-aid assistance to injured victims.

The campaign was created to warn vehicle users to go strictly according to road rules and do not drink alcohol or take other drugs before or when driving. Traffic police will keep a close watch and when they catch lawbreakers they will fine them a minimum 100 baht.

The central government urged every provincial governor and road safety committees to follow up on the campaign for at least 2 weeks, or from March 17th to 31st. However, for Chonburi Province, the governor asked the committee to continue through the holidays.

People are urged to leave their vehicles at home if they are going to a party and get drunk. Motorcycle riders and passengers are being warned to wear proper helmets while traveling.

For the campaign to be successful road safety be taken seriously. The fining system has to be strictly enforced. Helmets also have to be up to standard. Mediocre substitutes will not pass.

Police have authority to arrest any vehicle users with over 50 milligrams of alcoholic substance in their blood. The offense carries a fine from 2,000 to 10,000 baht or a 3-month jail sentence or both.

Pattaya’s sunken wreck will officially open this month as part of HRH Crown Prince’s birthday celebrations

Suchada Tupchai

Pattaya City, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Royal Thai Navy representatives have announced that the official opening of the city’s first sunken wreck, HMS Krarm will take place beginning at 9 a.m. on April 26 through April 27 on the beachfront area between Sois 4-5. This grand opening of Pattaya’s latest tourist attraction will be part of the 50th birthday celebrations of HRH Crown Prince.

Niran Wattanasatsathorn, Pattaya deputy mayor said, “We are currently engaging in an extensive PR campaign to preserve the wreck site and protect it from being damaged. We are, however, very concerned about safety issues and trying to prevent divers from using the wreck before it is declared open.”

“The two-day program for the opening celebrations will include presentations on the history of the HMS Krarm and the operations the navy undertook to sink it. A ceremony will take place which will release marine life into the waters of Pattaya Bay. The tourism aspects of underwater preservation will be addressed and booths will be set up on the first day by the navy and private companies to display and sell diving equipment. Beach cleaning activities have also been organized,” said Niran.

Meanwhile, officials will keep a close watch on the wreck area to ensure safety at the facility before it is ‘officially’ opened to the public.

Pattaya City launches annual rabies prevention campaign

Rabies greatly reduced due to free vaccinations and community efforts

Songklod Kaewvisit

Pattaya City is working hard to control the dreaded rabies and recently launched its annual prevention campaign to protect the city’s animal population.

Hold tight, this will only hurt for a second...

Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat officially declared the annual rabies prevention campaign open at the Soi 6 community health clinic last Friday afternoon, April 4.

As Pattaya’s citizenry increases so does its animal population, as many residents now own house pets. The city’s canine population is estimated at almost 4,500 and the threat of rabies to residents and tourists must be eliminated.

City managers are taking action in reducing the risk of rabies, and in conjunction with volunteer veterinarians, the Department of Health and Hygiene, Pattaya Animal Welfare Society and the Chonburi Livestock Development Department, 13 treatment points will be set up around the city to vaccinate animals against rabies, give contraceptive injections and implement sterilization procedures.

A team of 50 people in 10 vehicles will set up these points at the Soi 6-community health clinic, Pothisampan Temple, Chomlom Temple, Soi Post Office in South Pattaya, Thamasmakee Temple, Kratinglai Temple, Khao Noi community, Larn Poh markets, Pattaya School Number 8, the Nonget community, Nongyai community and the Nonpangkae community.

Volunteers will provide the service for residents and stray animals free of charge. The goal is to treat 80% of the canine population within the city area.

The annual campaign has been made possible through the donation of vaccines, medical supplies and valuable services to rid the region of rabies. This year 1,000 doses of rabies vaccine have been made available and government and private organizations have donated 300 bottles of contraceptive medicine, medical supplies for sterilizations and 308 dog collars.

Rabies is an extremely dangerous disease and is fatal in humans. Since Pattaya is a well-known tourist town, the city keeps a constant vigil to control the disease in the animal population and has urged everyone to stay away from aggressive dogs.

Order on Jomtien Beach still difficult to enforce

Proposal on the table to restrict vendor rights to local residents

Veerachai Somchart

Sethapol Boonsawat, Jomtien committee head recently chaired a meeting at Pattaya City Hall to follow up on the creation of order on Jomtien Beach. At the meeting, held on March 27, it was acknowledged that it is still hard to maintain order in this area. This section of the beach is heavily populated with tourists, foot traffic and motor vehicles. The array of food and beach chair vendors, motorcycle taxis, baht buses, horse-drawn carts, tour buses, ice cream carts, and pickup trucks selling seafood are all creating a variety of conditions which contribute to havoc. Although the vendors provide services to the area, the committee stressed that they must practice more discipline and keep their areas clean. Motorcycle taxi drivers must obey traffic laws. Complaints include tour buses that blow their loud horns and also disrupt traffic flow.

The Jomtien Beach committee says that local vendors are ok, but those from out of town can be a pain.

The committee meets regularly to publicize and confirm the city’s regulations. There are penalties for breaking the laws and they will be imposed on offenders.

Addressing the disorder and disobedience of city laws, Sethapol Boonsawat said there are vendors selling their goods on the footpaths and on the beach, especially in the area that provides beach chairs and food and drinks. He pointed out that if the city allows this misconduct to continue, Jomtien Beach will revert to its former state - messy, dirty and chaotic - like some areas of Pattaya.

Sethapol said that Thai and foreign beach goers regularly complain about these ill-behaved vendors.

The committee has come up with some ways out to improve the situation. It was suggested that priority be given to vendors that are registered as Chonburi or Pattaya residents. These local vendors don’t create any problems and usually follow the city’s regulations. But because vendors from other provinces are part of the region’s “floating population” they are cavalier about local laws and their behavior is careless and antagonistic. Some are seen aggressively running after tourists trying to sell their goods and when tourists don’t buy, these vendors become rude and belligerent. This results in destroying image of the city.

The committee is also willing to hold an open discussion with the beach vendors to listen to their opinions and allow them to participate in drafting some of the regulations which apply to them and will submit the draft to the city authorities.

Chat Thai Co. leaves streets filled with garbage

City forced to clean up the mess

Veerachai Somchart

Wuthisak Rermkitchakarn, Pattaya deputy mayor in charge of public health and environment recently revealed that during last two weeks Pattaya’s streets were overflowing with garbage because Chart Thai, the company responsible under contract for city waste management, simply abandoned its routine work.

The deputy mayor said he received reports that Chat Thai company employees did not come to work at the beginning the month. Apparently they spent their salaries on partying and getting drunk.

The deputy said the city had to manage the waste itself to halt the flood of complaints that the city received from residents and tourists.

A new company, East Waste Management Company recently signed a contract with the city after the last contract the city had with the Chat Thai company finished.

The deputy mayor said the new contract signed with East Waste Management Company was more carefully drafted to prevent the mischievous conduct that was characteristic of the Chat Thai company in the past. The 7-year contract was designed to match the current situation of the city, now that the population has grown and more tourists visit.

The East Waste management company is scheduled to start their work on April 16, 2003, and will continue until May 1, 2010.

Wuthisak said East Waste Company’s performance will be evaluated every 4 months, and if the evaluation result comes out good, their contract might be extended for 7 more years. The deputy mayor added that the East Waste Management Company must prepare 5 rai of land for waste unloading and separation and must transfer that piece of land to the city, until the contract expires, to prevent the company from using that piece of land for other purposes.

According to one rule written in the contract, the hired company is to be responsible for 70% of the total area of Pattaya and Naklua, and city hall will account for the other 30%, mainly in tourist areas.

Monthly fees collected from residents currently amount to about 1.2 million baht, of which 70% goes to the contractor and 30% into the city’s coffers.

Local hotels upset over reaction to SARS epidemic scaring away tour groups

APEC meeting scheduled for April 7-12 also postponed as a result of SARS scare

Veerachai Somchart

On April 4, the Marriott Resort & Spa Pattaya hosted a press conference concerning the precautionary measures they have put in place to prevent the potential spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Staff at the Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital have donned masks when dealing with patients to protect them from possible SARS infection.

Supadit Maneejaratasri, managing director of the Marriott Resort & Spa Pattaya was joined by Antapol Wannakij, deputy director of the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) central region 3 office and Wannaporn Jamjumras, director of the Pattaya Department of Public Health and Hygiene for the press conference at the hotel.

Supadit informed members of the press and guests that there has been an over-reaction to the spread of this potentially fatal disease within Thailand, saying he has followed the news reports from the outset. There have only been two deaths in Thailand related to SARS and both persons had traveled from Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The hotel has felt the full force of the disease scare which has resulted in a loss of business as tour groups have cancelled all travel plans.

Supadit said the hotel has implemented meticulous methods of prevention and protection, and has contracted a private company (Ecolab) to aid in all sterilization and hygiene procedures.

Antapol Wannakij, TAT central region 3 office deputy director explained that TAT is currently undertaking a PR campaign in tourist markets in conjunction with Pattaya’s business community and organizations including the THA-Eastern Chapter, PBTA, and Pattaya Hotels Association to ensure every measure of prevention is undertaken.

Current statistics show that in the last 10-15 days the number of tourist arrivals to Thailand has dropped 10-15 percent.

A survey of hotels in Pattaya showed a significant drop in bookings in March, resulting in 50-70 percent vacancy. The drop is attributed to the current US-led war in Iraq.

The APEC tourism meeting scheduled for April 7-12 at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort has now been postponed because Thailand and the other 21 member nations fear further spread of SARS throughout the region.

Antapol said, “TAT cannot yet say how the disease will affect Thailand but will have to wait for the final word from the Ministry of Public Health.” He stressed that the ministry is keeping a very mindful watch on the situation around the country.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has already indicated that Thailand is not at risk of reaching a level of epidemic status and has taken the country off its list of risk countries. TAT offices around the world have mounted an intense PR campaign based on this non-listing.”

Wannaporn Jamjumras, director of the Pattaya Department of Public Health and Hygiene said, “Thailand is currently experiencing only ordinary flu strains and there has been no distribution of specific medicines used to treat the SARS virus.”

However, as a precautionary measure Wannaporn urged everyone to maintain a high level of hygiene and ensure everyone receives adequate rest. She explained that according to current information being released symptoms of SARS infected people would typically include running a fever of 38-40 degrees for 3-5 consecutive days.

Pattaya City has distributed leaflets to inform residents of the symptoms which would indicate SARS. Wannaporn stated that and if any people suspect they have become infected or someone close to them might be infected, they must inform the Pattaya Department of Public Health and Hygiene or the Banglamung Hospital immediately.

Wannaporn concluded by saying, “There have been no reported cases in Pattaya; however, officials and hospital staff are taking all the precautionary methods which are recommended and are also wearing surgical masks while dealing with the public.”

Pattaya Police test their metal in dramatic simulation training exercises

Songklod Kaewvisit

The need for police to keep their skills and response time to serious crimes finely honed is an ongoing process. The latest training scenario took place earlier this week as an armed robbery was used to refine reaction times and violent suspect detention skills.

“Stop in the name of the law!” Pattaya police tested their metal in a dramatic exercise last week, apprehending four “armed robbers”. Although this was just an exercise, it looked quite real to passersby who didn’t know what was going on.

The simulated crime took place in South Pattaya, as three men ‘robbed’ a storeowner at gunpoint, fleeing the scene in a getaway vehicle with a fourth man acting as driver. The owner of the store then called police regarding the simulated incident. A team of officers was dispatched to the crime scene while another team went in search of the fleeing criminals.

Using radio communication officers caught the men on Sukhumvit Road near the Redemptorist Center. A large number of residents watched the operation, all the while wondering what was going on.

Quick police action in such incidents is vital, and to date, police are well practiced in this type of crime. The training operation not only tested police operations but also aided in the overall reduction of crime in Pattaya.


This side soi off Pattaya Third Road was used as a parking area during the recent Pattaya Music Festival. The electrical wires have been left to hang at a low level, not only causing an eyesore, but more importantly, this is very dangerous should a hapless pedestrian not see them or a car or motorbike drive into them. When will the Banglamung electrical authorities or the city begin to rectify such sub-standard and dangerous work?

Key ecstasy and ya ba dealers busted

Over 400,000 baht worth of evidence confiscated

Boonlua Chatree

A lengthy police investigation culminated on April 1 with the arrest of two suspected “big time” drug dealers, Thaweesak Saetung, aka Seng Cefiro, aged 32, and Wiwat “Lek” Thientananurak, also aged 32. The two are though to be major suppliers of ya ba and ecstasy.

Pattaya’s police chief, Police Col. Kamolchai Tienrungroj (left) spearheaded an investigation that led to the arrest of suspected drug dealers Thaweesak Saetung, aka Seng Cefiro, and Wiwat “Lek” Thientananurak.

The two were paraded before the press, along with over 400,000 baht worth of drugs, paraphernalia, cash and equipment that had been confiscated from them.

The arrest came after undercover police learned that the two were about to make a drug deal in Soi Arunothai, central Pattaya. Police arrested the two suspects, who were allegedly waiting to exchange drugs for money.

Pattaya’s police chief, Police Col. Kamolchai Tienrungroj, spearheaded the investigation.

Police troops led by Pol. Lt. Col. Sakrapee Preawpanich, Pattaya police deputy commander, searched Thaweesak’s car and found 91 yaba pills, 6 packs of ecstasy weighing 10 grams, 1 pack of the drug ketamine, 1 mobile phone, many pieces of jewelry and 86,000 baht cash.

Both suspects were charged with possessing with the intent to sell first class illegal drugs.

Man arrested after holding gun to foreign tourist’s head

He denied all allegations

Boonlua Chatree

Bangkokian Jaroenwit Sarntikanavin was not overly impressed with snide remarks made by two foreign tourists regarding Thai people. Drunk and insulted, he first pistol-whipped one man who’d made acerbic comments about Thais, then belligerently held his loaded 9mm Glock pistol to the other foreigner’s head.

In a sad display of the times we now live in, Jaroenwit Sarntikanavin (left) allegedly held a loaded 9mm Glock pistol to a German tourist’s head after the latter allegedly made disparaging remarks to the Bangkokian.

Police called to defuse the situation disarmed Jaroenwit, then took all three men to Soi 9 station for questioning. The two German tourists filed a complaint about being threatened.

Officers unloaded the gun of its 13 rounds of ammunition before questioning Jaroenwit, who initially refused to give any details whatsoever. Officers did check the gun’s registration documents which revealed his name, age and place of residence.

Jaroenwit denied all allegations that he threatened the foreigners but the tourists were adamant, as were the witnesses to the incident.

Police charged Jaroenwit with attempted murder, carrying a loaded gun in public without permission and illegally carrying a concealed weapon. The thin-skinned gunslinger was transferred to the criminal investigation office before being escorted to the ‘monkey house’ where he now awaits trial.

Tourist police arrest teen drug dealers

Boonlua Chatree

The desperation amongst the drug-dealing community is beginning to show. In the latest crackdown, Pattaya tourist police arrested three teenagers; a 17-year-old boy and two girls aged 13 and 16. The threesome was arrested in North Pattaya following an investigation and a sting operation which used marked banknotes.

During a supposed purchase, officers handed over the funds in marked bills and then arrested the three teens and confiscated the 39 speed pills in their possession. They were promptly taken to tourist police headquarters where they confessed to selling the illegal drugs, stating that this was the second time they had done so.

They told officers that they had received the pills from a man identified only as Keng, who delivered 30-50 pills each time. They added that they had already sold 30 pills from their first stash. The second time around they weren’t so lucky.

All three teens were transferred to Soi 9 police station for further interrogation and were charged with selling a class one illegal drug.

Failed relationship ends in murder - suicide

Lover shoots himself rather than surrender to police

Unrequited love ended in tragedy for two lovers on March 30. Police were called to the scene of a shooting on Soi 8 at 5 p.m. On arrival officers pushed their way through a large crowd of onlookers in the busy soi. At the scene they found a young woman who had been shot in the head by her boyfriend, who had fled after the murder.

Twenty five year old Siriwan Songsermsakdikul, a staff member of a hotel on Soi 8, lay fatally wounded on the floor next to her desk. Hotel staff that called in the report told police the shooter had run out the back door of the hotel.

Police gave chase, quickly found him and ordered the man to halt. One officer fired a shot, which missed the suspect but did hit a nearby car. Seeing no way to escape, the man turned the gun himself and ended his life on the side of the road. He was later identified as 36-year-old Pramote Oopsee.

Investigation revealed that Pramote and Siriwan were seeing each other but their relationship was stormy. Siriwan apparently called it off.

On the day of the shooting Pramote had visited his estranged girlfriend to try to patch things up and when she refused, Pramote pulled out a 12-gauge shotgun and shot her in the head. Pramote eventually shot himself with the same weapon.

The bodies were sent to the forensic institute for further examination before funeral rites were carried out.

Police arrest extortionist in a sting operation

Boonlua Chatree

After five long months of paying extortion money to a gang, 33-year-old Khao Mai Kaew resident Anusorn Timmanao finally had enough and reported the harassment to police.

Buriram resident Sombat Krongkaew (seated) was arrested for extorting 500 baht a month under threat of physical harm from Khao Mai Kaew resident Anusorn Timmanao.

The matter was handed over to the criminal investigation department, and during an interview with officers, Anusorn said the group had demanded a sum of 500 baht per month. They threatened him with physical assault if he missed a payment. Finally fed up with the extortion and threats that created great problems for Anusorn and his family he went to the cops for help.

Officers planned a sting operation and handed a marked 500 baht note to pay off one of the men. At 2.30 a.m. Anusorn met with Sombat Krongkaew, a resident of Buriram Province. Police lay in wait and detained Sombat once the transaction was complete, taking him to the Soi 9 station for questioning.

At the station, Sombat denied all allegations that he had extorted money from Anusorn, and claimed that the money handed over was for a previous drinking session. Unconvinced officers stated that the marked bill was in Sombat’s possession and subsequently booked him on charges of extortion and threat of bodily harm.