PM Thaksin attends mobile cabinet meeting in Pattaya amid tight security
Over 1000 police, navy and army personnel on hand to safeguard political heavyweights
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and members of the
government arrived at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort for a mobile cabinet
meeting held May 18-19. Sontaya Khunpluem, Tourism and Sports Minister,
Sawarng Srisarkun, Chonburi governor and senior Chonburi government
officials were in attendance to greet PM Thaksin and his cabinet as they
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra arrived at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort for a
mobile cabinet meeting held amid tight security.
Over 1,000 police, army and navy personnel from all
stations in the province took part in the security measures organized for
the visiting politicians, covering both uniformed and plain-clothes
A 400-meter radius around the hotel was secured and the
Bangkok-Pattaya Highway had checkpoints set up to protect officials from any
potential threats. Extra security was placed on alert after a series of
letters were sent to the Thai premier by a number of groups that wanted to
meet with him on May 19.
The Ordnance Department of the National Police Bureau
brought in a special 63 million baht bomb disposal robot with a mobile X-Ray
unit to search for any potential hazards inside the hotel. Police patrolled
the area along the beachfront with other bomb detection devices.
At 4 p.m. provincial and local administrators and senior
police officers met with the cabinet and the prime minister to discuss
matters concerning Chonburi Province, Pattaya City and tourism in the
The governor introduced information gathered by a number
of local organizations and the city’s government and private sector
committee (G & PS) including short and long-term solutions to the region’s
First to be discussed were the long-term goals intended
to ensure Pattaya’s slot as a world-class tourist destination and promote
it as a sports center highlighting golf, water sports and other activities
available in the area.
The other focal point was the region’s rich variety of
prime tourism destinations and its ability to cater to all categories of
visitors. It was stressed that further development of Pattaya will allow the
city to become a gateway for tourism into other eastern provinces.
Local officials called for urgent action in developing
the tourism image of Pattaya City in the quickest possible manner. The G
& PS called for the implementation of a workshop to assess and resolve
tourism issues in the city involving all businesses dealing with tour and
travel as a means of correcting problems within the private and government
sectors and exchanging ideas.
Other problems facing the tourist industry were discussed
including the negative impact SARS has made on the economy, value added tax
(VAT), excise taxes, hotel room taxes, and the increase of social welfare
funds, which was recently introduced and will be supported in the interim.
A request was made to review regional budgets for high
quality road shows in both national and international markets to attract
Chonburi Governor Sawarng Srisarkun proposed a plan for
the construction of a water reservoir large enough to hold 98 million cubic
meters of water, which would solve the province’s water shortages.
Santsak Ngampiches, advisor to the minister of tourism
and sports said, "The fact that the prime minister and the cabinet have
chosen Pattaya for the cabinet meeting is a good example for the city’s
tourism image. In the near future the committee will present a proposal for
a budget consideration on developing U-tapao Airport. The previous
government had left that issue to the navy.
"Speaking on behalf of the tourism committee, a 200
million baht budget is required to upgrade the facilities but only 50
million had been allocated in order to purchase a new radar unit. There is a
need to improve the airport for charter flights to upgrade Pattaya’s
status as an international travel destination," Santsak said.
"On the issue of Thailand’s first casino being
located in Pattaya, a meeting scheduled for the middle of next month will be
held with the central government committee, banks and parliamentary members.
This meeting, involving almost 500 people, will be held to discuss the
positive and negative aspects of the project," concluded Santsak.
The cabinet meeting then turned to the issue of reducing
fuel prices. A government spokesman said the government has been successful
in implementing controls.
As of May 20 prices for diesel went down by 1.2% to 13.29
baht per liter; Benzene 91 down by 1.1% to 15.59 baht per liter and Benzene
95 down by 1.1% to 14.59/liter.
The cabinet agreed to guarantee a 4 million-baht
compensation per head for foreign tourists if they contracted SARS while
touring in the country.
The government will set aside around 2.94 billion baht to
stimulate the country’s tourism in the remaining period of this year in a
bid to recover the loss of revenue from the SARS scare.
Tourism and Sports Minister Sontaya Khunpluem and
governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Juthamas Siriwan
reported that the tourism industry in four eastern seaside provinces had
been badly affected by the SARS epidemic. However, the situation had now
eased and tourism is recovering. The number of foreign arrivals in Pattaya
had almost returned to normal.
The cabinet suggested that TAT, local administration organizations, and
local tourism operators should cooperate in keeping foreign tourism
operators in 30 countries informed that Thailand is free from the deadly flu
13,295 military personnel get Cobra Gold 2003 underway in Sattahip
This year focusing on counter terrorism
Cobra Gold 2003 officially began at its traditional
stomping grounds of U-tapao air base in Sattahip last Friday morning at 10
The year’s combined forces exercises include 13,295
military personnel; 5,600 Thai personnel, 7,600 from the U.S. military
forces and 95 from Singapore. A total of 11 countries have been invited to
observe this year’s military exercises being held in a number of provinces
soldier teaches an American soldier how to catch a cobra with his bare
Darryl N. Johnson, US Ambassador to Thailand said during
the opening ceremonies, "It is a pleasure to be back here at U-tapao to
open the 22nd Cobra Gold Exercise. For over two decades, Cobra Gold has been
the keystone of the US and Thai military exercise program, the public face
of a wide-ranging relationship, which serves the national security needs of
both of our countries. As those needs change, so has Cobra Gold.
"I’d like to make three main points today. First,
Cobra Gold is truly a regional event, promoting regional stability and
security. Second, Cobra Gold offers command post and field training critical
to keeping our militaries ready to respond to the taskings of our political
leadership. Finally, Cobra Gold plays a role in the overall effort to combat
terrorism, which can strike targets, including innocent civilians, at any
time, as the tragic attacks in Saudi Arabia this week indicate.
"This year, to improve the combined abilities of our
three nations to combat terrorism world-wide, elements of the Cobra Gold 03
Command Post Exercise will require US, Thai, and Singapore forces to work
through a counter terrorism scenario.
"The United States very much appreciates the high
level of military, intelligence and law enforcement cooperation that
Thailand, Singapore, and many of the observer nations here have provided to
the international coalition against terrorism since September 11.
Multilateral exercises such as Cobra Gold are essential to help us train and
work together to defeat those terrorists and eliminate their networks in
Southeast Asia and around the world."
General Surayut Chulanont, Supreme Commander of the Thai
Military forces added, "The Thai and US military have had a long
cooperation since the very first Cobra Gold exercises. Strong friendships
have developed among the ranks. Each time we hold these exercises it is for
a specific branch and not to create suspicion or doubt among our close
neighbors. The mixed forces have a job to do and apart from the call to war
must train and prepare for the day when it arrives. However, our main
problem is that of SARS currently affecting our neighboring countries.
Disease is a normal part of life but can used as a weapon. We can use this
opportunity to ready ourselves should such a weapon be used in the
The Cobra Gold Exercises not only focus on military exercise but also
involve a number of humanitarian projects further promoting the multi
lateral exercises between Thai and US military. The Humanitarian help for
the citizens will happen from May 25-29 at various location around the
Eastern Seaboard and other provinces where exercises are being conducted.
General takes orders from doctors after skydiving mishap
Thailand’s top soldier will be "at ease" for
the next two months after injuring his back in a parachuting accident in a
Thai-U.S. joint military exercise.
Commander Surayud Chulanont (center) is a bit sore after winds blew him
slightly off course during a sky dive marking the opening of the annual
Cobra Gold exercise at Sattahip. (Pattaya Mail Photo/ Patcharapol Panrak)
Supreme Commander Surayud Chulanont, an avid skydiver,
was blown off target by strong winds in a jump marking the opening of the
annual Cobra Gold exercise at Sattahip.
Surayud, 59, suffered bruises to his spine when, instead
of touching down on a lawn in Sattahip naval base, he made a hard landing on
a nearby street. U.S. and Singaporean officers also participated in the jump
Doctors who treated the general, who retires later this
year, told him he will need about two month’s rest to recover.
Surayud has said that after leaving the military he plans to do a stint
as a monk at a Buddhist monastery.
Controversial road marking discussed at recent city council meeting
No parking zones up for debate
Tawit Chaisawangwong, Pattaya City council chairman,
Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat and council members and city officials met
last Tuesday at City Hall to discuss the hot issue of the red and white
striped no-parking zones.
areas of town, no-parking zones stretch for 100-meters or more, apparently
in contradiction with Thai regulations, which specify a maximum of 30
meters. However, along some streets, like this area on Second Road where
heavy traffic plies a narrow street, it would appear necessary to ban
parking in order to facilitate traffic flow.
Some council members made the novel suggestion that the
definition of zoning should practically coincide with the real situation of
the city’s traffic flow.
Sanit Boonmarchai, council member proposed to the council
to reconsider the road mark coloring and parking limitation regulation on
the various main roads in Pattaya. Sanit said, "In areas such as the
Dolphin roundabout, Hard Rock Hotel, Mikes Shopping Mall (old branch) near
the temporary pier, the Siam Bayshore Hotel, and Tops Supermarket Pattaya
Central Road, the red and white zone (the no parking zone) should not be 100
meters or longer since it would be in contradiction with the regulations in
Thailand, which specifies a maximum of 30 meters."
In response, Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat said he
ordered the no-parking zone to be enforced at the old Mike Shopping Mall
area in hopes of reducing traffic congestion and so far the results have
been an improvement. The mayor said, "In the past big buses used to
park in this area and caused problems for other road users."
Phisit Uthaiwattananont, director of Pattaya’s
construction control department explained that his workmen had only
repainted the old markings that were there before. However, in the Dolphin
Roundabout area, traffic is heavy and the city should not allow any parking
there, so a 100-meter long no-parking zone was marked.
Phisit also suggested that in other areas, such as near
hotels, the committee board should observe traffic conditions with the view
of possible changes since the parking controls have only been implemented
for 2 moths. Therefore more time is needed for evaluation. He added that
more coordination between traffic control department officials and Pattaya’s
traffic police is essential.
The city council acknowledged some mistakes have been made and would try
to correct them as soon as possible.
City proposes new zoning policy
and closing time extension
Central government needs 90 days to gather data
An open session for an opinion poll and a data collecting
campaign held during the recent mobile cabinet meeting at Pattaya City Hall
last Monday mainly focused on the zoning proposal and closing time
extension. Many local private business operators and Pattaya officials
attended the meeting to air their views.
Surapol Kiatchaiyakorn, head of parliament’s Advisory
Board of Tourism and chairman of the Social Order in Tourism Business
committee disclosed that the committee would need at least another 90 days
for serious observation to consider the possibility of extending the 2 a.m.
closing hours in Pattaya. The board is in the process of making surveys in
Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya.
Surapol said the committee concluded that entertainment
venues in the provinces impressively coordinated with the government’s
social order policy and agreed that they should be given some flexibility in
the operating schedule. Surapol said there is a good possibility that the
closing time of entertainment establishments in these three tourist
destinations would be extended.
Preecha Kamolbutr, former Chonburi governor, said in
reality ‘night people’ started to go out at around 22.00 hrs and agreed
with the proposition that Chonburi should have the approval from the
government to allow entertainment venues to stay open until 4 a.m.
Preecha added that Chonburi Province must maintain a
strict enforcement of current laws and keep a close eye on adult
entertainment complexes that have previously been caught serving under-aged
Thanes Supasaharangsri, president of Pattaya Business and
Tourism Association conceded social order is an important issue, but there
should be some exceptions in tourist destinations - Phuket, Chiang Mai, and
Pattaya for instance.
"The one and a half-year-old closing time
restriction policy imposed by the current government has had a negative
impact on the business community and it is time to reconsider the
facts," said Thanes.
Thanes added that the zoning policy was already approved
and could be exercised, but as yet there is still no clear-cut strategy or
process to bring it to life. Thanes said the most suitable area for an
entertainment zone would be Walking Street, South Pattaya from the entrance
to Bali Hai cape, where he said currently there are a lot of go-go bars and
many other services available.
Sophon Cable TV management calls a meeting of program owners and producers to lay down the law on broadcast copyright issues
Also announces some programs have been removed due to increased cost of broadcasting rights
Chanyuth Hengtrakul, managing director of Sophon Cable TV
Pattaya called a meeting of program producers and those who rent airtime on
Pattaya’s Cable TV network to resolve a number of issues, specifically the
breach of broadcast copyrights.
Hengtrakul, managing director of Sophon Cable TV Pattaya called a meeting of
program producers and those who rent airtime on Pattaya’s Cable TV network
to resolve a number of issues, specifically the breach of broadcast
The meeting, aimed at informing show producers the
problems associated with the breach of copyright on the company’s cable
channels, was held at the Dusit Resort Pattaya on Saturday May 17.
The Ministry of Commerce is focusing a current crackdown
on copyright laws in Thailand pertaining to movies, music and karaoke.
Copyright owners have forced the government to take action against these
lawbreakers. They want strict enforcement among business operators. Those
found breaking the laws now face even stiffer penalties.
This subject pertains to many cable operators around
Thailand. To prevent any problems from occurring, Sophon Cable TV management
called airtime lessors together to bring about the required changes and
improve the overall structure of programming quality.
Chanyuth said, "Sophon Cable wants show producers to
understand the guidelines that have been set down and they will be enforced.
Those people using copyrighted material will be audited for its legality.
Inappropriate material will be checked to see that it is properly censored.
We also encourage producers to create quality material that does not
discourage people from watching due to poor quality or boring presentations.
"As for advertising, the rules are clearly defined.
The word advertising cannot be used on cable networks; however, the term
"program sponsors" is acceptable. There should be no more than 5
sponsors per break and all ads must be truthful and not exaggerate the
sponsor’s products. This is in the confines of the law; any sponsors
supplying herbal products must also have the appropriate legal documents,
such as in this case, authorization from the FDA," Chanyuth said.
A 3-month deadline has been given to remove all
inappropriate material and footage that does not comply and all presenters
to obtain the relevant licenses from the department of communications.
Chanyuth said, "It is time to improve the quality of shows aired on
Sophon Cable TV. However, currently some channels and programs have been
removed as the cost of broadcasting rights to these programs have increased
significantly and we are unable to increase monthly membership fees."
Police round up “women of the second category” groping tourists along Beach Road
Scourge of Pattaya taken off streets for one night
Acting on a flood of complaints, a team of police
officers finally patrolled the beaches in Pattaya and found 13 "women
of the second category" (katoeys) offering sexual services to passersby
in the area of Beach Road. All 13 were taken in for questioning.
group of freelance operators are doing irreparable damage to the local
tourism industry. Police finally took them off the streets, for one night,
fined them 100 baht and set them free.
The raid was triggered by numerous protests registered by
tourists and business people in the area who not only object to this kind
activity in public places, but also object to the aggressive behavior this
breed of katoey employs. Complainants said these prostitutes are causing a
lot of annoyance to tourists, present a danger to the general public and
destroy the city’s image.
None of the offenders denied their actions. Personal details were
recorded and each was fined 100 baht before being released. Unfortunately,
most of these offensive creatures were probably right back out on the
streets the next night. With Pattaya’s reputation as a safe holiday
destination beginning to wane, local police are in a position to make a
visible improvement by permanently ridding the streets of this particular
group of people, who are giving respectable women of the second category a
bad image as well.
Light fingered ‘katoey’ arrested after trying to lift foreign tourist’s wallet
Finnish national quickly foils sneaky fingers
A thirty-two year old "woman of the second
category" - aptly named Sin Saengcharoen - was arrested at a popular
entertainment venue after attempting to steal a foreign tourist’s wallet.
Fortunately, 46-year-old Mackvell Mense, a tourist from Finland, was quick
to foil Sin’s tricky intentions and, with the help of the establishment’s
security, detained the pick-pocket ‘of questionable gender’ while
waiting for police.
Officers attending the scene took Sin into custody for
questioning. The Finnish tourist and witnesses followed police to make an
official statement and complaint.
The "woman of the second category" initially
denied all charges brought against him saying that he was only looking for a
night out. However, witnesses disputed Sin’s claims.
Mense told officers that had he had gone out for the
evening alone and that Sin had approached him and introduced himself.
Apparently during the course of the evening, it had tried to lift his wallet
a number of times. When Mackvell caught on to the ploy he tussled with the
man in women’s clothing until Mackvell’s wallet fell on the floor. The
tourist immediately requested security guards to detain the ‘woman’.
Officers questioned Sin extensively and eventually pulled
the offender’s rap sheet. The file revealed that Sin Saengcharoen was a
previous offender and had already been charged on numerous occasions with
the theft of valuables from foreign tourists and was in fact banned from the
Based on the evidence and previous criminal convictions
Sin Saengcharoen was charged with theft.
Coast Guard arrests two coral thieves off Sattahip shores
Two others jump overboard to escape arrest, fate unknown
A Sattahip Coast Guard patrol boat investigating reports
of coral thieves arrested two men in the process of leaving Koh Rak after
collecting valuable coral for sale in the marketplace. Two others jumped
overboard to elude capture. They may have swam to shore, but their fate is
Coast Guardsmen caught Sangna Samarng (2nd left) and Adul Srichoke (right)
for stealing coral.
The Coast Guardsmen gave chase to the speedboat, fired a
warning flare and ordered the thieves to stop. During the chase, officers
noted large amounts of coral being thrown overboard by the men.
Finally catching up to the boat, Coast Guard officers
arrested two men employed to do the dirty work. Officers found a bag
containing documents belonging to one of the men who dove off the boat as
well as a loaded .38 Smith and Wesson pistol.
The two men arrested were 41-year-old Sanga Samarng and
25-year-old Adul Srichoke. Both told police that they had been employed to
steal the coral but refused to accept the responsibility of gun ownership
saying that belonged to a man identified as Lichit Boonsom from Sattahip.
Coast Guard officers found documents belonging to Lichit in the bag
containing the gun.
The pair were transferred to local police and charged
with illegal fishing in a national park waters, damaging public property and
possession of a loaded weapon without a license.
Thieves have been raiding the water of Saemsarn Bay for some time. Those
in the trade often sell their stolen wares to Bangkok businessmen looking
for living coral. Warehouses have been located and as is often the case,
criminals have been paying off some local authorities to keep their illegal
Eleven unlucky gamblers caught
in the act by local cops
The crackdown on illegal gambling continues in Pattaya
despite the bright prospects of a casino opening sometime in the future.
In the latest criminal investigation police raid, 11
people were arrested at a residence in Soi Khor Pai, South Pattaya. Officers
confiscated a deck of cards and other gambling paraphernalia and the booty
of cash totaling 20 baht.
The group admitted to their misdeeds and were charged with illegal
gambling and fined accordingly. The fine was substantially more than
officers netted in the raid.
Banglamung Electrical Authority beautifies lamp poles and tidies up electricity wires along Pattaya Central Road
Residents on Pattaya Central Road do not need to bear the
eyesore scenes of hanging and dangling electricity wires that threatened
their lives anymore. Banglamung Electricity Authority sent workers to fix
the loose and improperly grouped wires from poles, tidy up swinging wires
and change broken and ripped wires along Pattaya Central Road and nearby
Electricity Authority sent workers to fix the loose and improperly grouped
wires from poles, tidy up swinging wires and change broken and ripped wires
along Pattaya Central Road and nearby sois.
Some small wires were also replaced with bigger ones to
be able to handle the expansion of electricity demand that grows endlessly
in the area.
The three main sois taken care of are Soi Yume or Paniad
Chang, Soi Sukhrudee (AR), and Soi Wat Tai Hee, Pattaya Central Road.
The team properly erected the leaning poles that were abandoned for some
period of time. Now residents are safe from the devil’s hands and do not
have to meticulously watch 360 different angles when walking on the
footpath. But of course, there are still many roads and electric poles
around town that definitely need attention.