HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Free bus service slated for Pattaya starting Valentines Day

Midnight closing imminent for many types of entertainment venues

Weekday tourism promotion proposed at PBTA meeting

Governor Pisit reveals statistics on Chonburi’s progress for registration of the poor

Extra police and volunteers deployed to ensure safety through Chinese New Year celebrations

Deputy tourist police chief recognizes volunteers

Banglamung Land Office finds Baan Sukhawdee encroaching on over 6 rai of public land

PM orders provincial governors to solve teen violence

Tourist police arrest two in connection with Best Inn robbery

Multiple-vehicle accident leaves one woman with two broken legs

Police briefs

Elderly tourists lose over 40,000 baht in cash in hotel room robbery

Free bus service slated for Pattaya starting Valentines Day

City shows heart with 6 month trial period

Suchada Tupchai

Pattaya City has announced the commencement of a free bus service on February 14 as a means to help solve the city’s traffic dilemma. A ceremony and fanfare will be held on Valentines Day to kick-start the new service.

Dr. Thawatchai Laosirihongtong announces the new Free Bus Service in Pattaya.

In a press conference at city hall on Monday afternoon, Mayor Pairat Suthithamrongsawat and Dr. Thawatchai Laosirihongtong, director of the research and development department at the King Mongkut Institute of Technology, announced the upcoming plan to members of the media and government officials involved in traffic control.

Dr. Thawatchai noted that after previous meetings and further investigation, research teams concluded that the one-way traffic system on Pattaya Second Road promotes smoother and safer traffic flow. However, this evaluation was at odds with city administrators, since officialdom is convinced the two-way system is better for the general public regarding travel time and expense. The division of opinions spurred the suggestion of a free bus service which will run for a six month trial period.

A new 30-seat micro-bus service is set to begin in Pattaya on February 14. Best of all, it will at least start out free to use. The route will be from the Dolphin Roundabout down 2nd Road to Center Road, taking a right down to Beach Road, head south down Beach Road and eventually circling back to Dolphin Roundabout.

Dr. Thawatchai explained, “The new air-conditioned mini buses will have 30 seats, a TV screen installed at the front of the vehicle, and the service will be free to the public.

“The route will begin at the Dolphin roundabout and run to the Central Pattaya Road intersection before turning right towards Beach Road, and will continue on to South Pattaya Road before returning along Pattaya Second Road and returning to the Dolphin roundabout. A special bus lane will be reserved for this service. A number of bus stops have been designated and the program is scheduled to start the 14th of February.”

Dr. Thawatchai said the new service will cost around 80,000 baht per month and that they are currently looking for sponsors to support the new service to the tune of 100,000 per month.

“It (the bus service) will be very beneficial to Pattaya during the next six months of traffic evaluation,” added the research department director.

Following the evaluation period, adding additional micro buses to operate as of March this year will be considered, and decisions on whether to continue the service free or charge a fare at the end of the trial period will made at a later date.

Pol. Lt. Col. Somchai Phongsai, Pattaya Traffic Superintendent made a clever suggestion - that the bus service also include another route, such as Pattaya Third Road and end up at city hall. “There is a bus stop in front of city hall and this way, city employees and residents wishing to contact city hall will be able to do so conveniently,” said Pol. Lt Col Somchai. This idea met with unanimous agreement from the floor.

Reporters posed questions as to whether the new service would upset the current passenger system, i.e. baht buses.

Pol. Lt Col. Somchai said, “No doubt there will be some noses put out of joint among the Baht Bus Cooperative and that is to be expected. However, if there is serious resistance, the police will have to step in before the problem gets out of hand. Police and city officials will meet with the Cooperative to make sure that they understand that bus service is part of the greater development of Pattaya and we must find a viable solution to the current traffic problems.”

The numbers of buses and time schedules have yet to be finalized, as initially it will depend on the demand for the service. Long awaited, Valentines Day 2004 looks set to begin a new era in local public transport.

Midnight closing imminent for many types of entertainment venues

Nightlife operators brace for tough times ahead

Suchada Tupchai

Pattaya’s entertainment venue operators expressed fear that the impending government legislation controlling entertainment venues around the country will destroy their businesses and effectively wipe out tourism to this area.

Stone-faced business operators were left unimpressed with the new legislation handed down from the central government.

Over 500 business operators sat stone faced at a Pattaya City Hall meeting last Thursday afternoon when city officials announced amendments to the 1966 legislation.

According to Chawalit Saengutai, Banglamung district clerk, the January 13 amendments to the 38-year-old legislation are numerous and pertain to many areas of the industry.

Chawalit began by explaining that the central government has decided to categorize all entertainment venues as follows: clause 3(1) A venue providing dance or ballroom dancing; (2) A venue that provides food, alcohol, tea or drinks and services as to pander or lavish customers; 3(3) A venue that provides bath services e.g. body massage for customers, with the exception of traditional massage, which must be approved by the ministry of public health and 3(4) A venue that serves food and drink and other products.

This is further categorized by the new laws as: a) Live music or shows to provide entertainment with singers or staff that sit with customers; b) Provides equipment for customers to sing (karaoke venues) as part of customer service; d) Dancing or a dancing facility; e) A venue that has music or equipment as such classified by the ministry and (5) An establishment that provides or sells food and drinks and provides live music or other entertainment shows. The official closing time for all venues in these categories is 12 midnight.

Other regulations for entertainment venues classified in this group rule that the business must have its business license renewed annually, with an initial registration fee of 50,000 baht and 10,000 each year for renewal.

According to officials at the meeting, the ministry has yet to finalize the details, but these and other amendments that are to be changed under the current legislation are scheduled to be completed by February 6, 2004.

Chawalit added that apart from the new laws and licensing requirements, enforcement is set to be tighter, with stiffer penalties for those who fail to comply. As for bath massage houses; an additional requirement is that the venue must have a hotel room for sleeping.

Chawalit went on to explain that the rules pertaining to minors and drunkenness prohibit staff under 18 to work in an entertainment establishment as categorized above, and forbid patrons under the age of 20 to frequent such entertainment venues. The law also reiterates that illegal drugs, weapons and lewd entertainment are prohibited. The penalties for infringement are set to range from imprisonment, increased fines and or cancellation of operating licenses and numerous other guidelines.

The announcement clearly unnerved many of those attending the meeting, and mutterings could be heard that the new rules are extremely complicated and will be difficult to comply with.

Surapol Tiensuwan, Banglamung district chief told people at the meeting that he could empathize with them regarding the new regulations, and that they would affect many smaller businesses in the region, specifically the 1,000 plus beer bars and karaoke bars, as the new rules cover these venues and they must pay the 50,000 baht registration fees for licensing - a vast difference from the previous method of requesting a business license.

“However, we must follow the regulations as announced today since they have been handed down by the central government,” said Surapol.

The district chief also touched on the government’s social order campaign and the long awaited zoning issue, which has plagued Pattaya with numerous problems in the past.

“We will have to wait until the final announcement on February 6 when it is expected that the government will also reveal operating hours for the entertainment industry and zoning. The law binds us and I would encourage all business operators to begin registering immediately after February 6 and before March 13 this year,” concluded Surapol.

Following the meeting the majority of business operators were left aghast at the new regulations. They told reporters that the new laws would not only destroy the industry and their businesses due to the new licensing fees, but will ultimately reduce the number of tourists in Pattaya, effectively destroying the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Weekday tourism promotion proposed at PBTA meeting

“Stay one night, get one night free?”

Damri Muangkaew

A brainstorming session and suggestions to promote tourism among the local and international market on weekday packages was brought up at the recent Pattaya Business & Tourism Association meeting held at the Green Park Resort.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) representative Ponganat Sumpanich raised the idea after the success of the “Unseen in Thailand” campaign, the brainchild of PR and advertising company Creative Juice.

The new campaign is aimed at drawing more visitors to the region through the week in order to improve the local economy and increase cash flow in the business community. The campaign will be primarily aimed at the local Thai market and flow into the international sector.

Traditionally, Pattaya sees an increase in visitors over the weekends with many Bangkokians escaping the capital for a weekend at the beach. The normal weekdays are considerably quieter and hence, the special weekday promotion campaign was proposed.

PBTA members warmed to the idea and offered special packages such as ‘stay one night, get one night free’ aimed at the meeting and convention markets specifically.

The finer details are yet to be concluded but it is expected to begin following the Impact Trade Show at Muangthong Thani, held in Bangkok from January 30 to February 1 where visitors will be able to receive special discount cards for a number of shopping centers in the region.

Governor Pisit reveals statistics on Chonburi’s progress for registration of the poor

Majority of Pattaya’s disadvantaged from other areas

Veerachai Somchart

The government program allowing the nation’s underprivileged to register for assistance has met with great success and since the start of the project 73,013 people have registered in Chonburi alone, according to Governor Pisit Ketphasook. Data revealed that the majority of those who registered in Pattaya hailed from other provinces which affirms what authorities have been referring to as Pattaya’s large ‘floating’ population.

The governor revealed that under the eight categories specified by the central government, out of the 73,013 people, 34,360 cited their main problem as having no fixed residence or owned no land.

Figures for those facing insurmountable debt were 18,315 and a further 17,787 said they had no land to create an income for themselves. Out of the total registered in the province, for those in Pattaya there were 5,492 persons whose housing registrations were from other provinces. Under the program they do not have to register in their home province, as would normally be the case with much of government paperwork.

The central government is aiming to remove poverty in the country by the year 2008 and has slated 8 provinces as it first target including Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Udon Thani, Nakorn Ratchasima, Nakorn Pathom, Chonburi, Songkhla and Surat Thani.

The scheme has been further categorized in to 7 sections involving those who have no means of financial support through the lack of land, those with no fixed abode, those who earn their income illegally, support for school and university students to continue their education and earn income through appropriate means, those who have been cheated out of property or money, people burdened with insurmountable debt, and those persons unable to find accommodation.

The eight initial provinces began the registration process as of December 6 last year and will allow those in dire straits to continue to register until March 31 this year.

Chonburi was the first to implement the registration process, allowing people register at the Banglamung district office until February 29. Those required to give further information have until that date to do so. Further details are available at

Extra police and volunteers deployed to ensure safety through Chinese New Year celebrations

Suchada Tupchai

If you happened to notice many more people in uniform during the Chinese New Year celebration, the following is the official explanation of why.

“The personal safety and the prevention of property destruction for residents and tourists has always been the focus of local and regional administrators.” With this in mind, law enforcement agencies and volunteers were gathered in front of Pattaya City Hall to receive an address from Chonburi Governor Pisit Ketphasook and Mayor Pairat Suthithamrongsawat, who told them that as part of the Chinese New festivities, more policemen, tourist police and crime prevention volunteers would be deployed to ensure that this year’s festivities took place without incident.

Ready and raring to go, police and volunteers get set to make their way into the Chinese New Year festivities to make sure that no incidents marred the event that welcomed in the Year of the Monkey.

As in previous years, Pattaya’s Chinese New Year festivities were well attended, and the government continues to place emphasis on the safety of residents and tourists alike, more importantly so during these troubled times.

The governor called for officers to watch over the community with an eagle’s eye and be on the lookout for suspicious characters as well as enforce the laws and regulations for all concerned. Throughout the city, service points were set up to monitor activities and provide advice and instructions to visitors to assure them they could feel at ease while enjoying this year’s festival.

Deputy tourist police chief recognizes volunteers

Caps of appreciation acknowledge community service

Boonlua Chatree

In a small ceremony last week, Pol. Col Pairoj Praditwattana, deputy tourist police chief handed out 200 caps to tourist police volunteers to recognize them for providing service to the department and aiding tourists in the region.

Tourist police volunteers from Pattaya, Rayong, Chantaburi and Trat converged on the Pattaya tourist police office to receive their caps.

Pol. Col Pairoj Praditwattana (left), deputy tourist police chief handed out caps to tourist police volunteers to recognize them for a job well done.

“I am very happy that residents are willing to help tourists and support the police department over the last ten years. Your efforts in helping tourists and providing service has complemented the tourism industry and created confidence among the many visitors to the country. I ask you all to continue your efforts in earnest and ensure the stability region and safety of visitors in the years ahead,” said Pol. Col Pairoj Praditwattana.

Banglamung Land Office finds Baan Sukhawdee encroaching on over 6 rai of public land

Extensive survey done to back up the claim

Veerachai Somchart

The continuing case against Baan Sukhawdee’s encroachment onto public land took a turn in favor of the local administration after Land Department officials found that the large property, owned by Dr. Panya Chotetewan, who is also owner of the Saha Farm Company, was encroaching on over 6 rai of public property along the Kratinglai Beach area.

The issue came to light after local officials called for the land office to clarify the boundaries when 200 coconut trees and a footpath along the beach area at a cost of over 10 million baht disappeared.

In a meeting at city hall on Friday, January 23, Land Office staff announced that the land on which Baan Sukhawdee’s large meeting facility sits is separated into 3 title deeds (chanots). The first section, set as a garden encroaches on 46 sq. wah of public land, the second, owned by Luk Chotewan encroaches on 31 sq. wah and the third section which was built as a garden encroaches on 6 rai, 2 ngarn and 98 sq. wah (total 2,698 sq. wah) of public property.

As of last Friday no action had been taken about the issue, although it was reported to city officials in the presence of Pisit Ketphasook, Chonburi governor. However, it was recommended that the land issue be resolved under the current legal system. The issue of the city’s construction and planting of 200 coconut palms would have to be resolved between the city and owners of Baan Sukhawdee.

Mayor Pairat added that the construction of a path and the planting of palms were intended to ensure that no one would encroach on public land, an issue that still stands today. The mayor said that he would meet with administrators and land officers to further clarify the situation and ensure that all information was clear before proceeding with the next step.

Governor Pisit said that Pattaya City would have to look after its own affairs and despite the fact that he was the provincial CEO. He added that since the information was clear, the matter would have to be settled according to the law. However, it would be up to city administrators as to whether they chose to take a hard line approach or attempt to resolve the issue cordially within the system.

PM orders provincial governors to solve teen violence

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is demonstrating that he is no longer willing to put up with increasing violence among teenagers, calling on provincial governors across the country to ensure that young people do not remain a social menace.

The prime minister, whose pronouncements follow a recent rape of a teenage girl by a gang of young men in Nakhon Pathom Province, conceded that teenagers were creating huge problems in large towns and cities nationwide. Calling on provincial governors to round up young ‘hooligans’, he said that it must be made impossible for young criminals to escape.

The exact measures enforced, and the degree of strictness or laxity will depend on individual situations and the particular young people involved, he said, while also hinting that it might be necessary to amend legislation in order to solve the problem. (TNA)

Tourist police arrest two in connection with Best Inn robbery

Women found to be in cahoots with foreign scoundrels

Boonlua Chatree

Local tourist police investigating the theft of more than a million baht in cash and goods recently arrested two Thai women in connection with the robbery. The two women, aged 24 and 20, were detained following an investigation. Police moved in on one of perpetrators as she was shopping at the Royal Garden Plaza while the second woman was arrested in the southern province of Petchaburi. A warrant was issued and the 20-year-old was later extradited to Pattaya to face charges.

Police arrested two Thai women (seated left) in connection with the recent Best Inn robbery.

Tourist police interrogated the pair, later identified as Wachariya Suebsai and Thawalrat Namsomboon. Investigators revealed that the two women had performed the robbery in conjunction with two foreigners. They added that police knew the identity of the men but they declined to release a statement fearing that the foreigners would flee the country.

It was also revealed that the gang had drugged the hotel receptionist, using crushed sleeping pills in the beverages in order to commit the crime. Police added that they expect to arrest the two foreigners shortly.

Multiple-vehicle accident leaves one woman with two broken legs

Boonlua Chatree

A multi car accident in the early hours of Sunday morning on Thepprasit Road left one woman with two broken legs after she was thrown from her motorcycle.

The domino effect had apparently come into play, as the woman became caught up in an accident involving a Nissan NV pickup and a Daihatsu Mira pickup.

A multi-vehicle accident on Thepprasit Road last Sunday night sent one woman to the hospital with two broken legs.

The two pickups and the motorcycle were all heavily damaged.

No one else received and major injuries in the accident, although the driver of the Nissan NV, later identified as Tim Scheckels, was taken to Pattaya International Hospital for minor injuries.

The motorcycle rider was rushed to Pattaya Memorial Hospital suffering two broken legs.

Witnesses at the scene told police they were eating at a roadside stall when they saw the Nissan NV plough into the smaller vehicle as it was heading towards Jomtien.

Police recorded the statements and hauled the vehicles off to Soi 9 pending further investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

Police briefs

Boonlua Chatree

Korean nationals arrested for immigration offenses

Immigration officers raided the Power Cobra Shop in the old Duck Square following an investigation into four Korean nationals. The investigation, including a stake out, revealed that the four men were illegally working in the kingdom without legal permits.

The raid took place at 8.30 p.m. Kim Sung Bak was charged with illegally working in the kingdom without permission while the other three men, In Jung Sunwoo, Cho Hyun Chul and Lee Jung Hyul received an additional charge of entering Thailand illegally after an officer discovered that they did not have valid passports. All four are being held in the Soi 9 holding cells.

Tourist police raid porn vendor in South Pattaya

Local tourist police, acting as cultural watchdogs, arrested a 24-year-old Bangkok woman in South Pattaya after it was discovered that she was selling ‘inappropriate’ material on her street side stall.

Officers arrested Busdi Jiranusak for selling pornographic magazines, tapes and video CDs at her South Pattaya Road stall without regard for the moral values of Thai society. Authorities around the nation, themselves paragons of virtue, are clamping down hard on this kind of activity, which is easily obtained by youngsters and regarded as a negative influence on their moral standards.

Busdi was charged with displaying and distributing pornographic material in direct contradiction to social values and was escorted to Pattaya police station for legal processing.

Armed teens rob woman on her way home

A gang of armed and ruthless teenage thugs robbed a poor, innocent Thai woman in Soi Khaotalo at around 1.30 a.m. last Friday. Somorn Winlin, age 48, told police that four teenagers, between 16 to 18 years old, approached her as she made her way home from a friend’s place on her motorbike. She said that one teen was wielding a handgun.

She also said the teens rode on two bikes and forced her to pull over as one brandished the weapon. They stole her handbag containing a small amount of cash, personal identification and her ATM card. They also snatched her 1 baht-weight gold necklace before speeding away into the darkness.

Following the police interview, officers assured Somorn that they would catch the young thugs as quickly as they could and instructed her to file a formal statement at the police station.

Elderly tourists lose over 40,000 baht in cash in hotel room robbery

Lax security may have allowed thief easy entry

Boonlua Chatree

Two sprightly English tourists had their extended holiday spoiled after a thief broke into their hotel room and made off with over 40,000 baht in Thai and English currency.

Irene and Roger Cooper returned to their hotel room to find that someone had gained entry and stolen over 40,000 baht.

Irene and Roger Cooper, both in their 80s, reported the crime to Pattaya police shortly after they returned to their room at the Twin Palms Resort on Pattaya Second Road on Saturday afternoon.

They told police that had stayed in the hotel for two months. On the day of the robbery they said they had dropped their hotel key at the reception counter that faces the roadside entrance of the hotel. Then they went for a stroll along the beachfront esplanade. When they returned, the couple noticed that their hotel room door was wide open with no signs of forced entry. It appeared to them that the thief might have used the key to gain access. Upon entering their room the couple discovered that a large travel bag had been slashed and 8,000 baht and 500 pounds sterling were missing.

Police recorded the details of the theft before dispatching an investigation team to locate the criminals.