HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Making merit with traditional food marks end of Buddhist Lent

City encourages communities to weed out drug problems

Social Security Department looking for permanent home for sub-branch

Long Boat races to compete for the Royal Princess Cup

Pattaya Air & Fun Fly-In 2004

Traffic chaos over long Chulalongkorn Day weekend

Sriracha Tiger zoo to re-open soon

Husband stabs wife to death during argument

Broken-hearted foreigner attempts suicide

German resident loses patriotic bicycle in fire

Thai human trafficker arrested

Police briefs

Sriracha Municipality to build “Kwan Yin” statue


Making merit with traditional food marks end of Buddhist Lent

Devotees bring “Kaotom Harng” food offerings to monks

Ariyawat Nuamsawat

Devote Buddhists throughout Thailand marked the end of Buddhist Lent on October 29. The holiday, called “Auk Pansa” or “Tak Bart Tay-Wo”, has long been a Thai tradition.

Devote Buddhists put “Kaotom Harng” offerings into a priest’s bowl during ceremonies to mark the end of Buddhist Lent.

Thai Buddhists have two special days to mark the end of Buddhist Lent. On both days they go to the temple to make merit; food is given to the monks in the morning, offerings are made to the monks in general, making merit is done at the temple, and people listen to the “Tay-Wo” sermon (an event where food is given to the monks).

All temples in Banglamung and Pattaya were crowded, especially the Photisamphan Temple, Sawangfa Phutaram Temple, Chaiyamongkhol Temple, Nong Yai Temple, Nong Or Temple. Devotees brought the “Kaotom Harng” or “Kao tom Lookyon”, which is symbolic of “Tay-Wo”, to give to the monks early in the morning. People believe that this will bring luck and prosperity to themselves and their family.

The end of the Buddhist Lent is always on the increasing full moon on the 15th day of the 11th month, in or around October each year. It is the last day the priests have to remain in the temple after residing there together for the 3 months of the rainy season.

The monks must make “Sangkakam” (religious services) on what is called “Maha Pawarana Day” (Day of service). This is when the monks gather to assess each other’s behavior and to receive council. The abbot conducts discussions and a questioning session with lower ranking monks. This “Pawarana”, one of the priest’s behaviors, is done to replace praying “Patimok” (priest rules), which is done every 15 days during Buddhist Lent.

For “Tay-Wo”, giving food is done on the decreasing full moon on the 1st day of the 11th month, one day after the end of the Buddhist Lent. As the story goes, Buddha went up to heaven to give a sermon to his mother and stayed 3 months during the Buddhist Lent, then came back to earth at “Sangkassa Nakorn City”.

This second coming down from heaven is called “Dawadung”. In the old days the Buddhists waited to give food, and the tradition has continued and is still practiced today.

The “Kaotom Harng” story came from a day when the temple was crowded and some couldn’t give food to the priests. Therefore the “Kaotom Harng” was made to put the offerings into a priest bowl. Offerings are made from sticky rice and covered with a coconut leaf, and the offering has a long tail, which is good for throwing. They believe that this will bring the greatest fortune, and this tradition has continued, too.

City encourages communities to weed out drug problems

Ariyawat Nuamsawat

Last Friday morning at city hall, Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn opened a seminar for over 50 community leaders to encourage further efforts in removing drug problems, which fall in line with the central government’s policy on removing the problem from the country altogether. The seminar follows Prime Minister Taksin Shinawatra’s renewed war on drugs.

The Pattaya administration has received a budget to continue anti-drug programs to encourage communities to take a tough stance on the issue from a local standpoint.

During the seminar, community leaders were urged to relay the relevant information to people in their area and were educated on what to look for in terms of drug users or dealers as well as procedures to inform drug suppression units.

Nattawut Piamdee, Region 6 drug suppression officer and Pol. Col Woratchai Sriwattanawut, Banglamung police superintendent relayed the vital information needed in weeding out drug users and dealers.

The target communities of the seminar included Wat Chomlom, Suroa Tonkrabok, Central Pattaya, Soi 5 Thanwa, Soi Post Office, Khaotalo, Wat Thamasamakee and Korpai communities. The course was co-organized under the government administrative development project by the Institute of Management and Law Development.

Social Security Department looking for permanent home for sub-branch

Ariyawat Nuamsawat

The Social Security Department of Chonburi Province recently acknowledged some Pattaya entrepreneurs and their employees were experiencing difficulties making their payments to officials.

The Social Security Department set up a mobile service for the employers and employees each Wednesday at Pattaya City Hall. This provision has been suspended since July 8, though, since the space was needed for the Financial Department’s newly installed Coordinate Activities Center.

Social Security representatives said the department is not being complacent and they’ve tried to find a place for the installation of a permanent Social Security sub-branch for more convenience for the employer and employee.

The department recently announced it has divided the districts into groups. First district groups are Muang District, Panthong District, Phanat Nikom District, Ban Bueng District, Srichang District, Bor Thong District, Nong Yai District and Kor Chan District. These groups have 4,742 entrepreneurs and have 201,957 insurers. The second groups are Sriracha District and Banglamung District, which 5,595 entrepreneurs and 206,486 insurers.

The Social Security Department Provincial Chonburi has submitted a request to the Social Security Department secretary-general for approval to open a new branch in Sriracha District with the intention to rent space in the Laem Thong Building No. 4/222 Village No. 10, Thung Sukla, Sriracha District, located opposite the Laem Chabang Industrial Estate and Laem Chabang Port. It is 5 km from Sahapat Industrial Group and 15 km from the Bor Win Industrial Estate.

Long Boat races to compete for the Royal Princess Cup

Coming November 20-21 at Mabprachan reservoir

Decha Chalermyart

Chonburi Province, in conjunction with the Provincial Administration Department in Pattaya City, TAT Central Region 3, local officials and private organizations will organize the 4th Long Boat competition to honor the Royal Highness Princess Theprattanasuda and Princess Soamsawali, on November 20 - 21 at the Mabprachan reservoir on Soi Siam Country Club.

One of the close finishes at last year’s event had the crowd on their feet.

Sontaya Khunplome, minister of tourism and sports is the competition organizer. The 2-day event will also feature other contests, including wind surfing, tom-tom native drums, buffalo racing and booths will be set up selling One Tambon One Product goods. There will be plenty of fun, food and activities for everyone to enjoy.

This is one of Thailand’s most colorful traditions and a favorite with tourists and locals alike. The long boats have always played an important role in Thai society. Throughout history communities along the rivers, canals and waterways of the kingdom have depended on boats for fishing and transporting goods.

One of Thailand’s most ancient and uniquely indigenous boats is the ‘Rue Yao’ or Long Boat. Originally designed for battle against aggressors, this unique and beautifully crafted vessel is now used in races. Young, powerful rowers from towns along the waterways compete against each other in crews of 30 and 55 rowers, in friendly rivalry to bring fun to this vibrant celebration that pays tribute to nature’s gift of rain and water.

For more information contact the Nongprue sub-district Administrative Tel. 038-249820 or TAT Central Region 3 Tel. 038-428750 and 038-427667.

Pattaya Air & Fun Fly-In 2004

Air show pays tribute to Queen Sirikit’s 72nd birthday

Suchada Tupchai

Pattaya Air Park and Pattaya City have organized a spectacular air show, “The Pattaya Air & Fun Fly-In 2004” to celebrate the 72nd birthday of her Majesty the Queen. This is being done with support from the Thai Aircraft Conservation and Development Foundation under the sponsorship of His Majesty the King.

The air show is scheduled for November 11-14 at the Pattaya Air Park airfield. This is the first event of its kind in Pattaya, but organizers say it will be held annually in the future. It is part of a greater plan to expand sporting events in Pattaya.

Group Commander Weerayut Disyasarin, the main supporter of Fun Flying Thai Air Service Co. Ltd. heads the Thai Aircraft Conservation and Development Foundation under the sponsorship of the King. Support from the Sport Flying (Thailand) Association was also provided.

Thai air travel has rapidly grown in the past 10 years due to support by official departments and private organizations that would like to see an even greater increase in the number of pilots and privately owned aircraft in the kingdom, as sport flying is very popular in other countries. However, in Thailand, the number of pilots is low. This may be because the public doesn’t have enough information and understanding about air travel, its high costs and the rigorous training it takes to get a pilot’s license. The organizing committees set up “The Pattaya Air & Fun Fly-In 2004” as a way to publicize air travel and the joys of flying.

Each day will have many interesting activities including a flying competition, parachute jumping, fiberglass and carbon fiber aircraft construction, remote controlled airplane demonstrations, motocross shows, a Harley show, and much more. Actors and singers will also participate in these activities.

The air show will also emphasize participation from private pilots, flying shows, flying competitions, a products booth, a flying information exhibition, and a demonstration in repairing and assembling an aircraft.

For more information regarding this event call 04-0717876 or 01-6595290 or visit websites and/or

Traffic chaos over long Chulalongkorn Day weekend

A portent of things to come?

Suchada Tupchai

In what is most likely a portent of things to come, the Chulalongkorn Day long weekend, October 23-25, saw a flood of motorists and visitors to Pattaya causing long traffic delays at many of the city’s major intersections. The almost tenfold increase in vehicles highlights the need for a long term solution to Pattaya’s traffic woes.

Traffic was blocked over a kilometer along Sukhumvit Road during the Chulalongkorn Day long weekend holiday.

From the early morning on Saturday, October 23, the influx of visitors saw traffic blocked over a kilometer along Sukhumvit Road. Other major arterials such as Central Pattaya Road, Pattaya and Jomtien Beach roads experienced similar congestion. Police and volunteers were out in force. Police blocked off intersections and u-turn points to keep the flow of vehicles moving, albeit slowly.

One officer on duty told reporters, “The long weekend sees many cars and people traveling from other provinces, causing major traffic jams. Traffic officers were stationed at numerous points around the city to keep things moving. Traffic-wise it’s chaos, but fortunately there have been no serious accidents or incidents.”

Road congestion now occurs almost every weekend, specifically during long holiday periods. Much of the cause is an increasing number of visitors, including families from Bangkok who come to enjoy the beaches and atmosphere.

Because of Pattaya’s relative proximity to Bangkok, Pattaya is experiencing a resurgence in the number of Thai visitors, and as such, the number of vehicles on the city’s roads triples, which highlights Pattaya administration’s need to come up with a long term solution before the city ends up like Bangkok: a traffic nightmare.

Sriracha Tiger zoo to re-open soon

Remaining tigers given clean bill of health

The Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi Province is to re-open soon, as health authorities have found no evidence of the bird flu virus in its remaining tigers. The zoo’s remaining 60 tigers all tested negative; however, zoo authorities plan to test the tigers again for the avian flu virus before re-opening the zoo to the public.

Chairman of Sriracha Tiger Zoo Co. Ltd. Maitri Temsiripong told reporters the zoo would not be opened until they receive official permission from the government committee on bird flu.

The zoo owners are also working with the provincial authorities on launching a fresh campaign to promote tourism to the province to help counter the damage the zoo’s dead tigers may have done.

Dozens of tigers died recently from bird flu after contracting the virus from raw chickens they were fed. (TNA)

Husband stabs wife to death during argument

Boonlua Chatree

Police received a report of a stabbing death on Soi Sanam Central Pattaya on October 22. When officers arrived at the scene they found the body of a woman lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk. An examination of the victim revealed she’d been stabbed in the back 3 times. A nearby motorcycle taxi driver said she had been fleeing for her life, but had fallen to the pavement, dead, before anyone could help her.

The victim, later identified as Somruedee Pongrat, 24, from Chaiyaphum, had been working at a beer bar on Soi 11 and living in a rented room with her husband and a co-worker. Investigating officers went to the room where they found blood on the floor and signs that a vicious struggle had taken place.

Somruedee’s husband, Surasak Weeraphan, 29, was not at the room, but police questioned the roommate Sudapat Prommalee, 31, a cashier at the same bar. Sudapat said that the couple had been fighting because the husband refused to get a job, only staying home to mind their 2-year-old son. The numerous quarrels centered on the fact that Surasak was content to let his wife work as a prostitute to foreigners, rather than work himself.

The last argument was fatal for Somruedee. Surasak became enraged and stabbed his wife in the back. Mortally wounded, Somruedee ran from the room and died on the street in front of a motorcycle taxi stop. Surasak fled the scene with his young son.

Surasak is a murder suspect and police are now searching for him.

Broken-hearted foreigner attempts suicide

Police abort tragedy with words of comfort

Boonlua Chatree

At 2 p.m. on October 24, Pol. Capt. Siripop Sukkasi, Pattaya criminal investigation officer received a report that a foreigner was trying to cut his own throat at his 4th floor apartment on Soi Bua Khao. A team of police raced to the scene investigate.

At the location of the drama, police found a foreigner, dressed in a pair of shorts, sitting on a paint container on the balcony of the fourth floor apartment. In his right hand was a 30cm knife and he was trying to cut his own throat. Blood oozed from the self inflicted wounds as he also tried to slit his wrists. The foreigner was also seen burning 15,000 baht in cash, throwing it off the balcony and muttering that money had no meaning anymore, since his girlfriend left him.

Police tried to calm the man down. Only after 30 minutes of talking, in which police handed the distressed man some cool water, did he lay down the knife and stop cutting himself.

The foreigner, an Irishman, was taken to hospital for treatment as he had lost a substantial amount of blood.

When asked why he wanted to kill himself, he replied that he was heartbroken that his girlfriend had walked out on him two months ago and he hadn’t seen nor heard from her since. He decided to end his pain through suicide.

German resident loses patriotic bicycle in fire

Boonlua Chatree

At 1 a.m. on October 25, Pol. Capt. Anuchet Karssomboon, Pattaya police criminal investigation unit received a report from local residents that a fire had been started in front of a Beach Road shopping center. The blaze engulfed a bicycle belonging to a retired German resident. Police rushed to the scene to find tourists and residents dousing the flames of the burning bike.

Peter Kraft stands in disbelief that someone would burn his bicycle for no apparent reason.

The bike’s owner, Peter Kraft, 62, stood over his burnt bike in disbelief. He told police that had bought the bike for 2,800 baht at the Big C shopping center and had decorated it with German flags and other memorabilia, adding that he loved his homeland very much. He was very upset.

Kraft said that he bought the bike to ride around the city. He said that he locked the bike, with some valuables still in the basket, before going off to purchase some food.

Witnesses told police that they saw a male foreigner approach the bicycle and set it alight before running off in the direction of South Pattaya. Pattaya police are investigating the incident and intend to bring the foreign vandal to justice.

Thai human trafficker arrested

8 illegal Cambodians will be deported

Boonlua Chatree

Suspecting a ring of illegal workers was operating in the Pattaya/Rayong area, Immigration officers watched the movements of foreign nationals being transported from Aranyapratet to Chonburi Province for jobs. The surveillance paid off. Police stopped a Toyota pickup truck with Bangkok license plates loaded with 8 Cambodians at the Krathinglai - Rayong crossroads. The 8 aliens and driver, Songkran Bunphengpat, 34, from Nakhon Nayok, were brought to the Pattaya Immigration office for questioning.

Songkran Bunphengpat was arrested for human trafficking.

When none of the Cambodians could produce legal documentation, Songkran told officers about his operation. He said he transported illegal Cambodian workers to Pattaya City construction sites and fishing industries in Samaesarn sub-district, selling them for about 5,000 baht per head, and admitted he’d been doing so for some time.

Police seized 7,000 baht in cash, and impounded the truck as disputed property. Songkran was later charged with transporting and harboring illegal aliens with the intent to sell them, and was transferred to Banglamung police station.

Pol. Col. Itthipol Idthisarnronachai, Pattaya Immigration Superintendent said that this arrest was made under the jurisdiction of Police Major General Kowit Wattana, National Police director, who is tasked to strictly investigate and enforce the law against alien traffic. The case was then assigned to Police Major General Suthep Thammarak National Police assistant director who is working in conjunction with Pattaya Police Immigration.

Police briefs

Boonlua Chatree

Korean man arrested for
stealing rental car

On October 23 Pattaya police investigation officers received a report from Wittaya Bunserm, 30, that a Korean man had rented his car and hadn’t returned it for over 1 month. Wittaya complained that the foreigner had stolen his property, had not paid for the use of the car, and he wanted the man arrested.

Keeping an eye out for the stolen car, police eventually spotted the perpetrator, later identified as 22-year-old Korean citizen Seo Jung Kyu, driving the vehicle in Soi Pattayaland 1, Second Road. Officers detained Seo and charged him with property theft.

Worship candles set room ablaze

A female employee from a 7-Eleven store placed some burning joss sticks on her worship shelf and forgot to extinguish them before leaving for work. Later, the shelf caught on fire and nearly burned the whole building down.

At 3:00 a.m. on October 25, Pol. Captain Anuchet Katsomboon, Pattaya Police criminal Investigation officer received notice that a fire was raging at a rented room behind the Wanna Apartment Complex, Soi Sophon Cable TV, Central Pattaya. The police went to the scene accompanied by 2 fire engines.

At the scene they found smoke coming from the room on the second floor. It was rented by Panprairin Juachan, 18, who was not in the room at the time. Police forced their way in through the window and found the worship shelf ablaze. Firefighters doused the fire and found a computer costing around 20,000 baht was burned as well.

Panprairin turned up shortly after and told officers that she had prayed before leaving for work at 10 p.m., and had come back because her friend told her that her room was on fire.

Investigators are waiting for lab results to determine the exact cause of the fire.

Gamblers and drug dealers nabbed in a night’s work

Banglamung police investigators arrested 38 gamblers at a makeshift gambling house in a Pattaya hotel. More than 50 people were shooting dice when the raid occurred. But some got away as officers stormed the room.

The cops seized the gambling paraphernalia and detained those who had failed to flee. Just as officers were taking the gamblers off to jail, a car pulled into the hotel parking lot and three suspicious looking men exited the vehicle. Alert for mischief, police detained the trio and a routine search found Pichai Rotwattanawiboon, 47, from Sattahip, Nopparati Wohsongkram, 30, of Banglamung and Chaowalit Kramaisom from Chantaburi Province in possession of one .38 caliber pistol and 8 bullets, and 2 packs of the class one drug called Ice. They were later charged accordingly as were the group of 38 betters.

Officers are still investigating the case as to whether the individuals are connected to a ring of gambling and drug dealing.

Sriracha Municipality to build “Kwan Yin” statue

Decha Chalermyart

Sriracha Municipality, Sriracha District Office, Council of Cultural Affairs for Sriracha, and the Sriracha public are building the biggest “Kwan Yin” goddess statue in Thailand.

The biggest “Kwan Yin” goddess statue in Thailand is being built in Sriracha.

The statue is being made out of white jade, and it will be erected at the Koh Loy Sriracha Public Park to honor His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great on His 77th birthday, December 5, 2004.

The statue will be placed in a central elevated position for the entire Thai population to see, and will be the new visiting and recreation place for Chonburi.

The goddess Kwan Yin statue will be 4 meters high and will be made of white marble and white jade from Myanmar, and will cost about 30 million baht. The money is being donated to the Sriracha Municipality by U-thai Chailuekit. A Chinese Royal Palace master craftsman will carve the statue. Part of the goddess Kwan Yin statue will have 2 disciples, which will be 2 meters high and have an 80 cm joss stick pot.

The Bodhisattva, according to Mahayana principles, was ordained by avatar in female form to be a daughter of King Meow Jong in China 2,300 years ago. The Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean Buddhists have much respect for the Bodhisattva because of her help to release people of their anxiety. Therefore this goddess, known as the goddess of compassion for her sacred miracle performing power, is predestined to help people who are down on their luck.

The Sriracha Municipality would like to invite all believers to make a donation to the Bodhisattva Kwan Yin statue fund at Muang Sriracha Municipality. For more information contact tel. 038-312 007, and 038-314 060.

EDITORIAL: Drink and Drive - a death wish

Suchada Tupchai

The end of Buddhist Lent is a cause for celebration throughout Thailand. It is an important ceremony on the Buddhist calendar, with the majority of people making merit, releasing birds and fish, and other traditional rituals which are performed by entire families as part of the religious festivities.

However, there is a darker side following Buddhist Lent - many people return to their former ways. Groups celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent with a drinking session after abstaining for that period. They drink themselves into festive oblivion, often ending in tragic road accidents.

Statistics from the office of health promotion reveal that more people binge drink every year. Last year’s stats show that 5.4 million people engage in the activity, with over 500,000 of them under the age of 18. Statistics also reveal that 40 percent of road accidents occur within this age group and increase to a staggering 72 percent during annual festivals and long weekends.

In October 2003, during the end of Buddhist Lent, there were 6,770 injured in reported road accidents and 539 deaths, with 50.5 percent and 55.3 percent respectively occurring within the first day after the end of Buddhist Lent. These figures are comparative to the September 2003 (during Lent) statistics with only 45 percent in the age group.

But the cycle doesn’t end here. Other annual festivals such as Halloween - popular among the youth - Loy Krathong, ‘Tod Kratin’ ceremonies, all the way to New Year and Songkran festivals also see a frightening rise in road accidents and fatalities during each holiday period.

Pattaya is another one of the many cities where celebrations regularly take place. As a tourist city many visitors flock here during the holiday period and long weekends, especially during the more colorful festivals. It is also one of the areas in Chonburi, along with 10 other provinces, where the push to reduce drunk driving road accidents is being undertaken.

Despite police efforts and law enforcement measures, authorities are lacking in human and technical resources. This leads to less convenient travel for visitors as well as the opportunity for drunk drivers to take their chances on the road, many times leading to accidents, loss of life and property.

Even with laws in place and their fuzzy enforcement, the safety of all road users and drunk drivers lies with the people themselves, in having enough common sense, understanding and responsibility to do the right thing rather than endangering the lives of innocent people as well as their own. Drunk driving shatters lives; the innocent are left to pick up the pieces, through no fault of their own.

It’s time we as human beings make an effort to reduce road accidents by practicing some discipline, or more people are fated to die on our roads. Drunk driving is just another death wish.

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