Vol. XI No. 19
Friday 9 May -15 May 2003

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Updated every Friday
by Parisa Santithi


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Mother nature lends helping hand in water crisis

U.S. and Thailand to hold Cobra Gold ’03 Joint Exercise May 15-29

Mayor says city didn’t put a hole in the sidewalk that took a bite out of Englishman’s leg

City begins rabies eradication project on Larn Island

Iron-stomach contestants make quick work of crocodile eggs in egg eating competition

Royal Ploughing Ceremony held on May 8

Plutaluang receives ‘Drugs Free Zone’ flag from Sattahip district chief

Effort to ease traffic woes in Pattaya part of national project

Foreign resident robbed of valuables

Members of vehicle theft gang caught during attempt to run police roadblock

Drunk climbs onto roof of house in South Pattaya, startling occupants

Government to review gun legislation

Tourist police bust ‘yaba’ dealer in Walking Street

Belief of invincibility leads to the arrest of gun toting youths

Naklua Rice Harvest Festival and traditional activities attract huge audience

Mother nature lends helping hand in water crisis

Recent heavy rainfall increases volume in Chonburi reservoirs

Veerachai Somchart

Recent data shows that during the months of February and April, rainfall has increased the volume of water in the Bangpra reservoir to 19.20 million cubic meters. This means an easing of tap water shortages for some areas of Chonburi.

Even with Mother Nature’s help the local reservoir is still very low, although Boonsom Yutithampinyo, head of Chonburi Irrigation Management and Development Bureau said there should be enough water to supply our needs for now, and with the rainy season coming, more help is on the way. 

The Bangpra reservoir is the main source of water supply for many locales in Chonburi Province. Its low level has been creating severe water shortages since the beginning of this year. In January the reservoir contained only 13 million cubic meters of water, which was insufficient to supply an increasing demand and Chonburi residents suffered through a shortage of tap water.

Boonsom Yutithampinyo, head of Chonburi Irrigation Management and Development Bureau said that he has good news for Pattaya City. He pointed out that Pattaya and nearby areas receive water supply from Chark Nork reservoir, which has a capacity of 7.03 million cubic meters. However, in January the reservoir’s volume declined to only 1.429 million cubic meters. But heavy rainfall within the past three months has increased the volume of water by 500,000 cubic meters, which, he says, is sufficient now to meet water demands in Pattaya City, Banglamung, Sattahip, and Jomtien.

Boonsom said, "Nevertheless, residents in Huay Yai Sub-district are still not receiving enough water because the village is situated on higher ground and the water pressure is weak.

"The authorities plan to lay a pipeline directly from the Huay Saphan reservoir to help increase the water volume and pressure in the Chark Nork reservoir to reduce tap water shortages in Huay Yai. The project will cost about 20 million baht and is due to start in 2004," Boonsom said.

Boonsom also explained that the water shortage problem in Pattaya and nearby areas was solved to some degree by using water from Huay Saphan reservoir. Total capacity in this reservoir is 3.84 million cubic meters. Presently the Huay Saphan reservoir is holding 3.80 million cubic meters which means it is nearly full.

Boonsom said the authority’s new water supply adjustment was recently announced and that Chonburi Irrigation Bureau will be producing tap water to supply the whole Chonburi area at a total of 100,000 cubic meters a day. Bangpra reservoir will allocate 60,000 cubic meters of the total raw water supply.

Boonsom said short-term water saving and distribution management plans might be eased since the region’s rainy season starts in June and the province is no longer suffering from acute shortages.

U.S. and Thailand to hold Cobra Gold ’03 Joint Exercise May 15-29

Pattaya extends a big “Welcome ashore” message

Embassy of the United States of America

The armed forces of Thailand, Singapore and the United States will conduct exercise Cobra Gold ’03 in Thailand May 15-29, 2003. Cobra Gold ’03 is a regularly-scheduled joint/combined multilateral exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of U.S.-Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai armed forces to defend Thailand or respond to regional contingencies.

Cobra Gold ’03 (CG-03) is one of the largest exercises involving U.S. forces in the Pacific Command. This year’s exercise will focus on peace enforcement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. The exercise will also include the planning and execution of a noncombatant evacuation operation. As in all previous Cobra Gold exercises, this exercise will include joint-combined land, sea and air operations. The exercise will also assist the people of Thailand through combined Thai-U.S. medical and civil affairs projects.

Approximately 5,200 U.S. service members will participate, including elements of U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC); U.S. Marine Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC); U.S. Navy, Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) and U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF); as well as Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC), Air Combat Command (ACC), Air Mobility Command (AMC), Military Sealift Command (MSC) and reserve elements from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Participating Thai forces will number approximately 5,400 and will include elements of the Royal Thai Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Participating Singaporean forces will number approximately 100 personnel.

Editors note: Whilst here, the US Military will be conducting several community relations projects, such as helping local schools (Wat Thong Hong School, Ban Huang Hin School, and Ban Nong Rai School in Rayong are three that come to mind), as well as contributing to local charity projects. Many military personnel will also take their R&R in Pattaya and the surrounding environs, bringing in a much-needed infusion of tourist business. Local businesses are once again very happy to see the US military return, and are laying out the welcome mat. Welcome back!

Mayor says city didn’t put a hole in the sidewalk that took a bite out of Englishman’s leg

Brit’s wife says don’t let it happen again (please)

Eakkachai Kamolsri

The story of 38-year-old Englishman Steven Adderson, who last week accidentally fell into a hole in Walking Street, has been a hot topic of discussion around town.

This dastardly hole in the sidewalk took a bite out of Steven Adderson’s leg - but not to worry, the city is looking into it...

On the night of April 24, Sawang Boriboon Foundation life saving volunteers rushed to Walking Street to help a foreigner in great distress after he slipped and fell into a carelessly covered drain. The rescue team found Steven sitting on the sidewalk writhing in pain. His right leg had been slashed to the bone when a loose metal lid meant to cover a drain penetrated his flesh. Steven was transferred to Pattaya Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Panadda Pungya, age 28, explained that she and her husband Steven had gone to Walking Street for the evening and were on their way home. As Steven was walking he stepped on an old and rusty metal cover which gave way under him and he plunged into a hole, gashing his leg in the process.

Panadda said it was an unlucky accident, but pleaded for the city to be more careful and that those responsible for the condition of public walkways should consider the public’s welfare.

Responding to the incident, Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat said the hole that Steven fell into was not the work of the city and that it belonged to a private business. He said the establishment connected their wastewater drainage with the city’s main pipe, which was installed under the footpath along Walking Street, to drain wastewater from their venue.

The mayor added that city hall would not ignore the matter and the authorities will order the responsible business operator to fix it. He also urged hotel and business operators to properly maintain properties and premises so that accidents like this can be prevented.

City begins rabies eradication project on Larn Island

Continued efforts to eradicate rabies in Pattaya City and its surrounding areas have been extended to Larn Island. Deputy Mayor Wutisak Remkijikarn officially presided over the launch of the "Larn Island rabies eradication" project by sending a team of 70 volunteers to comb the island for animals to vaccinate against the disease.

The project was initiated to eventually eradicate this life threatening disease and ensure the safety of residents and visitors to the island.

The city has received complete cooperation from the Larn Island community, the Chonburi Livestock Department, Thappraya Animal Welfare, and the Chonburi Center for Disease Control.

Authorities are determined to ensure that Larn Island is free of rabies. Officials have set a target of vaccinating more than 80% of the island’s dog and cat population and will implement birth control for 225 female dogs and cats and sterilization procedures for an additional 135 dogs.

Team leaders said they expected to catch about 200 stray animals on the island, which equates to approximately 80 percent of the total animal population.

A large number of stray dogs that have already been vaccinated and sterilized will be taken to the Thappraya Animal Welfare Center in Srakaew Province.

Iron-stomach contestants make quick work of crocodile eggs in egg eating competition

Suchada Tupchai

The Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile farm held a particularly bizarre competition, a crocodile egg eating contest, to mark the May 1 Labor Day celebration.

World boxing champion Yodsanan 3-K Battery (right) participated in the crocodile egg eating contest. Could this be the secret to his success?

The winner, Chana Suksabai, shown here looking as if he is about to barf, managed to woof down 10 crocodile eggs in 4 minutes.

The contest, arranged by the management of the theme park, had 30 competitors eating 10 crocodile eggs in the fastest time and battling it out for a first prize of 10,000 baht.

Contestants were able to improve the taste by adding sauce, salt or soy sauce, which was probably a welcome inclusion in the rules.

With a voracious appetitive, winner Chana Suksabai from Nongyai consumed all 10 eggs in just four minutes. Chakarin Chinpakdee closely followed him with a time of 4 minutes 30 seconds and Saiyant Pongsuk with 5 minutes. All winners collected their prize money from Park managing director, Suan Phanomwattanakul.

Suan said that the Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile intends host the event annually on May 1 and that it can be developed into a much larger contest in the future.

For visitors who want to give this exotic food a try, the park offers crocodile eggs for consumption at 3 for 100 baht.

Royal Ploughing Ceremony held on May 8

The annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony at Sanam Luang near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, and the accompanying Cultivation Ceremony held at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha the day before, are of great significance in Thailand. This year the events took place on May 8.

During the ceremonies, appropriate strains of different grains for cultivating are selected just prior to the planting season, and rituals are performed to interpret the year’s harvest. Grain selection is an important consideration when planting crops, as the crops rely on soil, ample rainfall and other natural factors.

The Cultivation Ceremony is also performed to help keep the different grains free from disease, producing a bountiful harvest.

His Majesty the King, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen, always preside over the Cultivation Ceremony held at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Phrasriratanasasadaram).

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony signals the beginning of the planting season in Thailand. Two well cared for oxen of the same color pull an ancient plough, breaking the ground so that sacred seeds may be planted. Two other oxen wait in reserve.

Two Brahman priests sprinkling sacred water along the path lead the royal procession, with its nine-tiered royal umbrella.

Two pairs of female guardians carry grain in one gold and one silver container following behind the plough, seeding the tilled ground.

Three circuits tilling the earth around Sanam Luang are completed and at the end the oxen are offered seven types of foods to select from: rice grain, corn, peas, sesame, liqueur, water and grass. Brahman priests then interpret their selection.

Following the ceremony, many people collect the seeds from the ground to keep as sacred objects promising a prosperous year, while others sow the ceremonial seeds mixed in with other seeds to sanctify the season’s crop.

Plutaluang receives ‘Drugs Free Zone’ flag from Sattahip district chief

Patcharapol Parnrak

A declaration of war on drugs by the central government, spearheaded by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, imposed tough polices to wipe out Thailand’s illegal drug users and dealers within three months starting from February 1 of this year. Some areas were more successful than others. Plutaluang Sub-district, Sattahip was one of the areas that achieved a satisfactory level of suppression.

Pol. Lt. Col. Noppadol Suthiserm, Plutaluang sub-district police station deputy superintendent announced that Plutaluang is now a "Drugs Free Zone".

Sattahip district chief, Surapol Tiensuwan presided over a ceremony to declare the district a "Drugs Free Zone", and flags and plaques were presented at the community trade center.

Pol. Lt. Col. Noppadol Suthiserm, Plutaluang sub-district police station deputy superintendent gave a report of the war on drugs, during which he said Plutaluang was heavily hit by the spread of drug abuse, especially methamphetamine pills, or what the Thais call "yaba".

Noppadol said, "There has been much cooperation from the locals in the Plutaluang area. Some surrendered to their crimes, some turned themselves in to police and others helped police find drugs users and dealers. Many quit using drugs and became good citizens."

The deputy superintendent said 93 percent of people involved in drugs are known, have been recorded, and will be monitored. Seven percent were forced to leave the area.

The deputy superintendent explained that Plutaluang is basically a combination of 8 villages. Those villages cooperatively set up their own committee to screen families involved with drugs and separate them from the rest of the community. The community also set up a rehab campaign for the addicted and coordinated with police to watch their behavior before and after the rehab procedure.

People who report in as addicts and go through rehabilitation will have their urine tested regularly. The community has also organized sports activities for their members with police and governmental officials to bind relationships and reduce the gap between officials and citizens.

Surapol Tiensuwan, Sattahip district chief presented Drugs Free Zone flags to community leaders who coordinated the campaign. He also presented plaques to governmental officials, police, and military personnel who worked especially hard to support the anti-drugs effort. Finally, the district chief proudly announced Plutaluang a drug free zone.

Effort to ease traffic woes in Pattaya part of national project

Pattaya officials meet university reps and receive ten-step plan

Suchada Tupchai

A nationwide program to ease traffic snarls in Thai cities is including Pattaya City on its agenda, and now, thankfully, Pattaya is being studied by experts from the King Mongkut University of Technology in Thonburi.

Dr. Tawatchai Laosirihongtong, director of the research and development center for traffic and transportation planning at King Mongkut University of Technology in Thonburi, has a ten-point plan that he believes will help solve Pattaya’s traffic woes.

Professor Dr. Tawatchai Laosirihongtong, director of the research and development center for traffic and transportation planning from the university told officials that the center has been instructed by the central government to study and come up with a solution to traffic problems in large cities and provincial centers.

Bangkok has been the focus of the most attention, but surrounding provinces experiencing rapid growth now require urgent attention. This includes Chonburi and Pattaya.

Dr. Tawatchai said, "The center has inspected all major areas of the city and has formed a master plan to ease current problems and address potential future problems, and will focus on convenience, safety and how to save time and money on development. The initial stages include planning and rectification from 1-3 years with a budget of 1 billion baht and will include 8 months of close monitoring of the primary stages before proceeding with the next step."

The planning stages, taken from the overall picture of the city traffic and transportation, have been broken down into 10 sections: 1) Traffic system planning, 2) Safe work plan; 3) Developing a public transport system; 4) Development plan concerning roadside vendors; 5) Road and equipment maintenance; 6) Education on rules and regulations for various departments; 7) Product delivery transportation in the city; 8) Public transport development; 9) Tourist destination development and finally; 10) Environmental development planning.

The study revealed that Pattaya City has a number of inherent problems, specifically: chaotic parking, problems created by baht buses randomly picking up and dropping off passengers at any point along the road, damage to road surface caused by construction, and the road construction currently affecting Pattaya Central Road which is creating mass chaos on the city’s streets.

Dr. Tawatchai recently met with Pattaya officials and outlined the overall strategic plan, which he says should effectively resolve current traffic problems. During his meeting with Pattaya official, Dr. Tawatchai also solicited opinions and information from the various concerned departments to proceed with rectifying traffic and transportation issues in the city.

Foreign resident robbed of valuables

Another snatch and run theft on Pattaya streets

Boonlua Chatree

Italian national Francesco Gallo was enjoying a quiet evening along the beachfront in North Pattaya with his girlfriend in the early hours of April 29 when two youths on a motorcycle rode past, snatching a bag from the victim’s motorbike. The crime visibly shook the pair and ruined their pleasant night, as they were robbed of over 400,000 baht in cash, Mr. Gallo’s passport and a mobile telephone.

Italian national Francesco Gallo (seated center) lost over 400,000 baht in cash, his passport and a mobile telephone when two youths on a motorcycle snatched his bag from the front of his motorbike.

Approximately 15 minutes after it happened, the couple reported it to police in Soi 9. Officers radioed mobile units to be on the lookout for a pair of youths riding an unregistered motorcycle, which, of course, narrowed down the search to, oh, about a third of the populace.

Luckily, however, when police showed the couple mug shots of previous offenders they recognized one of the thieves. Criminal investigation officers are searching for the man and his accomplice and, if properly motivated, could expect to make an arrest shortly.

Sadly these incidents are on the rise. Thieves mainly target mobile telephones and unattended bags, as in this case.

The rising toll of victims signals that police cannot catch the thieves or effectively prevent such crimes from occurring. For whatever reason, lack of resources, not enough manpower or quality controls within the bureau, law enforcement is sorely ineffective.

The public should be aware that prevention is the best method and always use common sense when carrying valuables. Do not carry large amounts of cash or wear expensive jewelry.

Members of vehicle theft gang caught during attempt to run police roadblock

Teenage theft ring tricked motorists out of their vehicles with ruse of intentional accidents

Boonlua Chatree

Responding to a rash of reports of stolen vehicles, General Sanae Khamthiang, commander of Police Bureau Region 2 Chonburi, led a Pattaya and Chonburi investigating team to track a car and motorcycle theft gang that has been operating throughout Chonburi Province.

Police paraded out 7 members of the auto theft gang.

Victims reported to police that the gang would cunningly try to stop their cars by intentionally hitting their cars and then getting them to stop for a settlement. When the victims stepped out of their vehicles, the gang would threaten them with guns and make off with their cars.

On the morning of April 27, while crime division police were conducting a routine road check, they spotted a white Honda car reported to be a vehicle the gang used in their operations. Officers ordered the car to stop but it sped through the checkpoint.

After a long Hollywood-style car chase, the car was stopped and the driver and the passenger were dragged out. Interrogation revealed the men in the car were indeed members of the vehicle theft ring. More questioning led to the revelation that the gang was composed of 16 members including five 15 year old boys and girls, and nine other men.

Police found 6 cars and 4 motorcycles at their residence and arrested some of the gang members. Police are still searching for the rest.

Drunk climbs onto roof of house in South Pattaya, startling occupants

Perhaps the booze didn’t get him high enough

In state of severe inebriation, 38 year old Chai Kidtuk for no obvious reason climbed on the roof of a house belonging to Duen Pongte and Nolie Strymann (sic) located in the Soi Kor Pai area at around 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

The couple was in the living room with their two-year-old baby at the time. Startled when their dog began barking loudly they went to investigate. That’s when they discovered the drunken man had climbed onto the roof. They immediately called for police assistance.

Officers arrived within minutes, give or take, to escort the man off to jail. The couple told officers that they did not want to press charges, as the man was too incoherent to make any logical decisions. They did however, asked police to put him up for the night in Soi 9 for his own safety.

Officers did so and left Chai Kidtuk to sleep off his stupor in Soi 9 before being released in the morning.

Government to review gun legislation

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has ordered a review of legislation relating to gun control and licensing, in what will be seen as a bid to stave off heavy international criticism of apparent government inaction over the huge number of killings carried out by drug traders trying to silence potential informants.

Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said that Thaksin had asked him to review legislation relating to gun control, war weapons and gun licensing, saying that gun laws were related to crime, and the security of persons and property, and that the government would have to be increasingly strict on gun control in the future.

Gen. Chavalit said that a gun culture was particularly prevalent in the northern, southern and eastern regions of the country, due to the perceived need to protect various interests.

Gen. Chavalit, a former defense minister, admitted that most of those in control of Thailand’s gunmen were uniformed officials with a huge amount of local influence, but said that solving the problem would not be difficult as long as the government and local authorities tackled it in the same way as it had faced the war against drugs.

"One way of solving the problem is by modifying legislation. Existing legislation is too old. It needs modification, particularly legislation relating to gun licensing. Existing laws allow people to carry guns to protect themselves and their property, or to hunt animals. This is no longer appropriate," Gen Chavalit said. (TNA)

Tourist police bust ‘yaba’ dealer in Walking Street

“Easy pickings” as he didn’t see them coming

Boonlua Chatree

Another exciting public drug bust scene occurred last week when Pattaya tourist police officers, led by Police Captain Jirasak Sukhonthasap, Sub-Inspector of the Pattaya tourist police station, were patrolling Walking Street in South Pattaya.

Spotting a Thai man suspiciously handing something to a foreigner in front of a bar, officers made a move to check on both men. When the foreigner noticed he was being approached by police he bolted and disappeared into the crowds. But the cops managed to detain and search the Thai man.

Kriangkrai (family name withheld), a Nakhorn Sawan resident, was found with 4 methamphetamine or ‘yaba’ pills in his possession. Kriangkrai confessed that he had been selling the speed pills to foreigners in Pattaya for over 4 months. He bought the pills from another dealer in Soi Diamond at 150 baht per pill and sold them to foreigners at 200-250 baht each. He said he hadn’t notice that police were watching him while he was handing the drugs to the buyer.

Kriangkrai was arrested and charged with possession and sale of a class 1 illegal drug.

Belief of invincibility leads to the arrest of gun toting youths

Gang plays out own version of bulletproof monk

Boonlua Chatree

A group of teenagers who thought they were bulletproof were arrested after firing shots into the air and daring police to catch them. The gang members were each covered in religious tattoos and sporting Buddhist amulets from a well-know temple in Rayong, making them believe they were invincible.

This youthful gang of tattooed "invincibles" weren’t quite as untouchable as they thought when police "tattooed" them upside the head and carted them off to jail.

Pattaya Police responded to a report of shots being fired in the Na Jomtien area at 2 a.m. on April 30. Officers arrived at the location to find 5 youths in a pickup truck just leaving the area, paying no attention to the approaching officers.

Police pursued the truck while radioing for a roadblock at the intersection of Pattaya-Jomtien and Thepprasit Road. The pick up sped through the roadblock, narrowly missing officers. Reinforcements were called in to give chase after the criminals slammed into a police vehicle and sped off in another direction.

The group then headed back towards Jomtien, where doughty cops caught up with them at the Leo Village in Banglamung. All five were captured and a handgun and three 12-gauge shells were confiscated.

The youths, aged from 16 to 26, were taken to the station for questioning. The 26-year old driver, Mana Khonteang, admitted to ramming the police car while the others cheered.

While in custody the group was strip-searched and to officers’ amazement, each of the men had religious tattoos across their back and wore identical Buddhist amulets. The group admitted that they had intended to challenge police to prove their invincibility but were detained before being able to act.

They were each charged with possession of a loaded weapon in a public place without a license, attempted murder of police officers in the line of duty and reckless driving causing an accident and injury.

Police impounded the car as evidence and sent each of them to a jail cell where they could prove their invincibility to the other prisoners.

Naklua Rice Harvest Festival and traditional activities attract huge audience

Suchada Tupchai

Naklua’s Rice Harvest Festival, celebrated in the Larn Pho area, enjoyed the participation of a huge crowd this year, making for one of the most fun events in the recent history of the festival.

Deities and angels brought their blessings with them to share with the crowd.

The celebration is believed to create good luck for farmers and build a strong bond between the locals. The kong khao (rice harvest) festival has been celebrated for decades, but it is has just been over the past 7 years that it has become an official Larn Pho celebration. This year the festival was packed with many interesting activities such as sea boxing or "muay talay", tug-of-war contests and other traditional Thai games which tested the athletic prowess of those who were not bothered by the heat.

Taking aim in the slingshot contest.

In the afternoon there were activities involving traditional customs and children’s games.

The arrival of Pattaya Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat along with his deputies, city hall administration officers and many distinguished guests marked the official opening. Ceremonies included the parading of costumed gods and goddesses giving blessings to people and a parade of spirits or ghosts receiving donations from people along the side of the walkways.

A "Tri Bhumi" depicting heaven, earth, and hell performance delighted the audience. After the ceremony, food collected was equally shared among the ceremony attendants. In the evening traditional shows and dances provided more fun entertainment.

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