HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

All aboard please, Pattaya’s air-con bus service is finally running

Deputy PM gives city 2 months to sort out water shortage problems

Councilors slam city administrators over poor management

A project with vision helps the elderly with free eyeglasses

Mayor honors those who have worked for their community

Had Yao in readiness for mass gathering of Scouts as 25th Asia-Pacific Jamboree draws near

City takes ownership of new 72mn baht rescue boat

Dead manatee washes up on Bang Sarae beach

German fleeing Berlin on fraud charges captured in Pattaya

Jealousy may have led to shooting of builder

Frenchman faces heavy jail sentence for having sex with 8-year-old girl

No smiles for Mona Lisa staff caught gambling

All aboard please, Pattaya’s air-con bus service is finally running

Ariyawat Nuamsawat

After many months of delay, Pattaya’s public bus system is finally running. The Pattaya Beach Bus Company, which has the sub-contract to provide public transport, began services on August 23. City administrators and members of the media boarded the bus as it left city hall for the maiden trip.

In the initial stages, three buses will run the Green route over the next 30 days in order to iron out any potential problems. Following this, a further six buses will begin servicing two other routes.

Amnart Luengamornlert, Pattaya Beach Bus Company president, revealed that the company had invested 80 million baht on this part of the public transport concession contract, aimed at easing the city’s growing traffic problems.

Air-con buses, each seating 30 people, will service three main routes with a fare of 30 baht for the entire distance of each route. The month-long test run will also gauge the number of passengers as well as difficulties on the route. The full 24 vehicles are expected to be in service on all three routes in October.

Future plans will see the buses modified to cater to the city’s disabled community, and there will be an increase in bus stops and ticketing venues at hotels, shopping centers and convenience stores.

The three routes are color coded into Red, Green and Yellow lines 

Route 1, the Red Line, is the longest at 30 km. A total of 8 busses are scheduled to run this route. The “right hand route” leaves Big C Supercenter in South Pattaya, heads south along Sukhumvit Highway all the way to and down Soi Chaiyapruek, up Jomtien Beach Road, past the Dongtan Corner and up Thappraya Road, through the South Pattaya Road Intersection and continues along Second Road through the Dolphin Roundabout, continuing along Pattaya-Naklua Road to Banglamung Police Station, where it takes a left onto Sukhumvit, past Banglamung District office. The bus then makes a u-turn at the Kratinglai intersection and heads back south on Sukhumvit Road all the way down to Soi Chaiyapruek before making another u-turn and returning northward to the Big C Supercenter in South Pattaya.

The Red Line’s “left hand route” leaves Big C Supercenter in South Pattaya and travels north along Sukhumvit Road, turns left at the Banglamung Police Station and travels along Naklua Road to the roundabout, where it makes a right turn down towards Beach Road, travels along Beach Road to the beginning of Walking Street, where it turns left onto South Pattaya Road. The route takes a right at the South Pattaya Second Road intersection and continues along Thappraya Road, along Jomtien Beach Road to Soi Chaiyapruek, up to Sukhumvit Road and returns to the Big C Supercenter in South Pattaya.

A total of 3 busses service Route 2, the Yellow line. The starting point is also the Big C car park in South Pattaya. It begins by heading south down Sukhumvit Road, and takes a right onto Thepprasit Road. The route continues along Thepprasit before making a right at the Thappraya Road intersection, makes another right onto Pattaya Third Road under the overhead bridge, then makes its way along Pattaya Third Road to the North Pattaya Road intersection. Here it turns right towards Sukhumvit, makes a U-turn at the Sukhumvit intersection and heads back towards the beach past city hall, then goes round the Dolphin Roundabout to return back to Sukhumvit, heading south down Sukhumvit to the Thepprasit / Sukhumvit intersection, where it makes another u-turn and finally returns to the starting point at Big C Supercenter in South Pattaya.

Route 3, the Green Line, also has right and left hand routes. The outgoing (right hand) route starts from Big C Supercenter in South Pattaya, goes down South Pattaya Road to the South Pattaya / Second Road intersection, where it turns right onto Second Road, continuing up to the Dolphin Roundabout in North Pattaya. At the roundabout, it goes straight along Pattaya-Naklua Road before turning into Soi Potisarn. At the end of Soi Potisarn the buses turn left onto Sukhumvit and run past Bangkok Pattaya, then make a U-turn in front of the mosque before going back along Sukhumvit Road to the Thepprasit intersection, making another u-turn and returning to Big C in South Pattaya.

The Green Line inbound (left hand) route leaves the Big C Supercenter in South Pattaya, travels north along Sukhumvit, turns left onto Soi Potisarn in Naklua, and left onto Naklua Road before turning right at the roundabout, goes south along Beach Road to Walking Street and back up to Sukhumvit, turning right and making a u-turn at Thepprasit before returning to the Big C Supercenter in South Pattaya. A total of 3 vehicles will service this route.

Ticket prices are 30 baht for one trip, 90 baht for a day pass, 180 baht for a three-day pass and 900 for a monthly pass.

The bus service is scheduled to run daily from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. with service at regular intervals and additional buses at peak time for the most popular routes.

Deputy PM gives city 2 months to sort out water shortage problems

Ariyawat Nuamsawat

Two months have been given to the water authorities and the East Water Company to increase supplies to the city in time for the upcoming tourist season, following a visit to Chonburi and Rayong by Deputy Prime Minister Phinij Jarusombat on August 25 to investigate the regional water shortages.

Deputy Prime Minister Phinij Jarusombat reviews the current status of water shortages in Chonburi and Rayong, which included a visit to Pattaya.

Phinij’s tour included an inspection of the Pattaya wastewater treatment plant, which releases approximately 40,000 cubic meters of treated water daily. The aim is to turn this water into a viable resource to help combat the city’s current shortage, and in association with the East Water Company to build a pipeline to the Mabprachan reservoir to refurnish supplies.

East Water president Wanchai Lohwatanatrakul said that the use of wastewater is a feasible concept but the current high levels of chloride make it unsafe.

“Once we solve this issue the water can be re-used without any problems. The city needs to investigate why the chloride levels are so high and once this is done East Water can pump the water to various industries which in turn will return a significant amount back to the residential sector,” he said.

The proposed idea is estimated to cost around 10 million baht and one to two months would be required to install the systems, according to Wanchai.

Chonburi Governor Pisit Ketphasook, who was also present during the visit, said that the province is still having major water shortage problems.

“The water levels in the eight main reservoirs in total are only around 10 percent of capacity. Currently we are working on short-term solutions to hold off running out of supplies,” said Pisit.

A 700mm-diameter pipe has already been laid from the Bangpra reservoir to the Pattaya Water Authority and is providing an additional 40,000-50,000 cubic meters per day. As a medium-term strategy, East Water is currently laying a pipe from the Bangpakong River to the Bangpra reservoir to increase the supply by another 200,000 cubic meters daily. This should be completed by November this year.

“For the long term, we are in the process of studying the effects of adding another two reservoirs in the Huay Soam and Huay Kai Nao areas of the Khao Mai Kaew sub-district to aid in supplying the Pattaya area. The study should be completed within four months,” said Pisit.

On behalf of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn, PBTA secretary said that Pattaya businesses have never had to deal with such problems in the past and it is a costly exercise to date.

“As an example of the increased costs, 15 of the 25 main hotels in the city have seen their average water bill rise from 30,000 to 50,000 baht per month to 300,000 to 500,000 baht per month. The water authority claims that they are supplying 80,000-100,000 cubic meters per day, which is not possible.”

Phinij ordered the relevant departments and the East Water Company to increase water supplies to the city, returning them to normal levels in time for the upcoming tourist season or an average of 90,000 to 100,000 cubic meters daily.

Councilors slam city administrators over poor management

Ariyawat Nuamsawat

Two city councilors have hit out at the Pattaya administration for what they say is management failure on a number of issues.

The grievances were aired during a fiery debate at the monthly council meeting on August 23, held at city hall, with councilors Sanit Boonmarchai and Farouk Wongborisoot leading the charge.

Tawit Chaisawangwong, city council chairman chaired the monthly council meeting.

Sanit started by calling for clarification and further action on the city beach enhancement projects, specifically the Bali Hai, South and North Pattaya beach areas.

“These areas are very important to the city’s tourism, specifically the beaches. These have changed dramatically due to tide changes. The beaches are washing away because the administration has failed to prevent business operators from building structures on the water, specifically near the Dusit Resort corner on North Beach Road,” he declared.

“These water breaks have also been built near the Sea Rescue office near Bali Hai without any significant interest from the administration in correcting the problem. The issue is urgent or we’ll see these areas become a mirror of certain areas on Jomtien Beach where there is virtually no beachfront left.”

Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn replied that these problems have been longstanding and the city is not idle on the subject.

“We handed the issue over to the department of public works to inspect these areas, with the results to be returned in the near future, so that a proper solution can be undertaken to preserve the beaches,” he countered.

Farouk next stepped into the debate by berating administrators on their failure to properly execute the city’s public relations campaign to boost tourism. Farouk cited two recent events that failed to draw any significant interest because of the poorly planned campaigns.

“The first and most beneficial was the opening of the new Queen Sirikit Public Park on Pratamnak Hill as part of the Mother’s Day/Queen’s Birthday celebrations and the second was the Father Ray Memorial Day at the Redemptorist Vocational College for the Disabled.

“Both of these were poorly attended due to the lack of a proper public relations campaign and cooperation with the local media in giving them information. They are a clear failure of the city administration’s responsibility to improve the overall profile of Pattaya in the local, national and international community. We have the facilities, equipment and infrastructure but they were not properly utilized.”

City administrators accepted the responsibility for the failure and offered to look closer to prevent the situation from re-occurring.

Also during the city council meeting, Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn handed out 33 educational scholarships, valued at 10,000 baht each, on behalf of the city as part of the annual educational support to the city’s underprivileged children.

A project with vision helps the elderly with free eyeglasses

Narisa Nitikarn

Eyeglasses were handed out to the elderly at city hall on August 24 under a support project organized by Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn in conjunction with Pattaya councilors.

Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn (left) looks on as an elderly woman takes an eye test prior to being allocated eyeglasses under the elderly and disabled support project.

The eyeglasses were donated by members of public and by the Beautiful Eyeglasses optical store under the auspices of the Social Welfare Department.

Administrative officer Pannee Limcharoen said this project was initiated because the elderly often could not afford to buy eyeglasses. The elderly and disabled support project was therefore created for those who are 60 or over, and who are registered as residents of Pattaya City. There were 102 eyeglasses received in total but some were not in good condition so the Beautiful Eyeglasses store made up the shortfall of 39.

Each of the recipients was given a sight test so they could receive the correct eyeglasses. The city has further schemes in the pipeline to give the elderly wheelchairs, walking sticks and hearing aids.

Mayor honors those who have worked for their community

 Narisa Nitikarn

Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn held a presentation ceremony at city hall on August 24 for people whose conduct and good deeds have raised money for and benefited the community this year.

Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn and Pattaya councilors have their photo taken with the prize recipients.

Deputy Mayor Wuttisak Rermkijakarn had earlier presided over a meeting, which was attended by Pattaya City Council and 27 community representatives, to choose nine people whose actions and good deeds have benefited the community most during 2005.

Those chosen were Praphan Thinnarong from Roilang, Mrs Lamiad Arunsaeng from Wat Chaimongkol, Kamnung Chaweeruang from Koh Lan, Padet Wansuntorn from Soi 5 Thanwa, Kae Ketthong from Watthammasamkkee, Santi Klongnoi from Lanpho, Surat Bunsua from Khao Noi, Miss Chutikan Huay Yai from Soi Post Office, and Ar Thongtawee from Nongket.

The mayor presented a shield to all nine people as well as certificates to 17 other people who have worked to benefit the community.

Mayor Niran praised those receiving the awards, saying that every person in the community, not just those on council committees, has the opportunity to work to benefit the whole of the community. He said that their hard work and sacrifices are well appreciated and he hopes that others in the community would follow their excellent example.

Had Yao in readiness for mass gathering of Scouts as 25th Asia-Pacific Jamboree draws near

December 28 to January 3 will see the 25th Asia-Pacific Regional Scout Jamboree gather at Had Yao, the second occasion that this camp has hosted a huge assembly of Scouts. Had Yao was also the venue for the 20th World Scout Jamboree held from December 28, 2002 to January 7, 2003, and opened by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Had Yao Camp is the perfect spot for a Scouting jamboree this size.

Had Yao Camp is located on the Gulf of Thailand about 180 km, a two-hour drive, south of Bangkok, and about 30 km from Pattaya. The ocean-side camp covers an area of 6,500 rai, has a beautiful beach, and numerous islands lay just offshore. The surrounding area is one of great natural beauty, and there are many places of interest including a number of temples, several fishing villages, the HTMS Chakri Naruebet aircraft carrier, and Nong Nooch Garden with its lakes, botanical gardens and cultural center.

The jamboree is being held under the theme of Scouting: the Road to Peace, and the Ministry of Education and the National Scout Department are sharing the responsibility for its organization. The minister of education is directing the operations, assisted by the secretary-general of the Vocational Education Committee, the commander of Sattahip Naval Base, the governor of Chonburi province, and other supporting departments.

Organizing an event of this magnitude involves many aspects including adaptation of buildings and all facilities, completing a thoroughfare, and supplying utilities including a sewage system and a health and safety administration.

Participants will arrive at the height of Thailand’s tourist season, and will enjoy excellent weather conditions. Many will visit Sattahip and Pattaya prior to the jamboree for a holiday, and they will also have the opportunity to travel to Chiang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok.

City takes ownership of new 72mn baht rescue boat

Suchada Tupchai

As part of the efforts to provide safety on the region’s waters the city has purchased a new rescue vessel, the 72.5 million baht Pattaya 801, which was launched on August 19 near Ocean Marina.

The 72.5 million baht “Pattaya 801” sea rescue vessel ready for launch.

The 24.4 meter long and 5.48 meter wide boat comes complete with the latest safety equipment, sonar, global positioning system, and a full-fledged onboard critical care unit.

Designed and built locally, and powered two 820 horsepower engines, the Pattaya 801 can travel up to 20 nautical miles per hour in rough conditions. On deck are two water cannons used for fire fighting which can spray water and foam up to 70 meters, and a 30-meter hose is also stowed on board.

Sutham Petchgate, Larn Island community chief who represented the city upon receiving the vessel said, “This is the first time Pattaya has taken real steps to ensure marine safety. The vessel has the best and latest equipment and can handle rough conditions.

“This step is timely as there has been an increase in accidents in the bay, specifically near Koh Larn and in surrounding waters.”

Dead manatee washes up on Bang Sarae beach

Sattahip resident Amporn Pengjinda, out walking on Bang Sarae Beach, immediately called the Rojana Thammasatan Foundation when he saw a dead manatee laying at the water’s edge. Foundation personnel said that it hadn’t been dead for very long.

A rare manatee washed up on Bang Sarae Beach.

This species is in danger of becoming extinct. They used to be a familiar sight swimming across Sattahip Bay, but their numbers have been greatly reduced because of environmental changes. The manatee’s main food is seaweed, which in the past was plentiful at Sattahip.

The manatee was measured and found to be 2.5 meters long. It weighed in at 260 kilograms. There was an open wound on the head, which was assumed to have been caused by a fishing net. Fishermen using their nets illegally in restricted areas at Bang Sarae for other breeds of fish are likely to have inadvertently caught or harmed the manatee.

The dead manatee was taken to the Fishery Department for further study and display.

German fleeing Berlin on fraud charges captured in Pattaya

Boonlua Chatree

Acting on information from the German Embassy, Pattaya Immigration police led by Superintendent Pol Col Ittipol Ittisarnronnachai moved in to detain a German national wanted in Berlin on fraud charges.

Klaus Schiffer, 63, was arrested in front of his Jomtien condo at around 10.30 p.m. on August 23 and taken to the immigration office for questioning.

Whilst at the office, Schiffer asked why he had been arrested as he had done nothing illegal in Thailand.

Pol Col Ittipol produced the August 18 court order from Berlin seeking his arrest after being found guilty of defrauding the equivalent of 40 million baht in diamond jewelry in Germany. The immigration superintendent said the embassy was revoking Schiffer’s passport and that he was to be deported immediately to face jail time in his home country.

Jealousy may have led to shooting of builder

Boonlua Chatree

Police believe jealousy may have been the motive behind the killing of a building decorator, shot dead by unknown assailants in his home in the soi opposite Town In Town Hotel.

The shooting occurred around 9:30 p.m. on August 19. When Pattaya police arrived on the scene, the victim had already been rushed to Bangkok Pattaya Hospital by one of his friends.

A food vendor working nearby, 35-year-old Mrs Somporn Nguanthaisong, told police that she heard people shouting and then she saw two men fleeing on a blue Honda Wave motorcycle. The rider was wearing a full helmet and the passenger wore a white cap.

At Bangkok Pattaya Hospital, the victim was identified as Pornthep Siangjong, 41, a native of Kanchanaburi province. Pornthep had received multiple wounds from a 0.38 caliber gun. He had bullet holes to each temple, in his chest and in both hands. Two of the bullets were still in his body.

Officers questioned the dead man’s friend, 33-year-old Wuthichai Huabunsarn, who said he wasn’t aware that Pornthep had any enemies. Wuthichai said Pornthep had a wife, Jong, and was very possessive of her. They argued often. On the evening of the shooting, Pornthep had gone out to follow his wife.

Investigations moved to Mrs Banjong Prombai, 34, an employee at Pornthep’s building business. Banjong said she had a close relationship with him for about three months, although she stressed that their relationship was platonic. She said he often verbally abused her and she did not want to assist in the murder inquiry. The police should investigate this matter themselves, she said.

Banjong did, however, admit she had been told the shooting had been carried out by her brother Ngaew. Investigations are continuing.

Frenchman faces heavy jail sentence for having sex with 8-year-old girl

Sad story of the mother who sold her daughter’s services

Boonlua Chatree

A mother who hired out her eight-year-old daughter to foreigners for sexual services has been arrested along with one of her regular customers.

The Redemptorist Street Children’s Center alerted the police to the case, the center’s Supakorn Noja reporting that the woman had been hiring the child out at the price of 1,000 baht each time.

The young victims point out French national Jean Claude Charmoux.

When officers investigated they discovered that Mrs Dang Saebun, 42, was working at a bar in South Pattaya and acting as a procurer for the sexual services of her eight-year-old daughter, who has been given the alias of Srai. A habitual customer was named as 56-year-old Jean Claude Charmoux, to whose 17th floor Jomtien Beach condominium Dang regularly delivered the child.

Police obtained an arrest warrant from Pattaya Provincial Court and took Dang to Pattaya police station for questioning.

Dang tearfully admitted that she was forced to hire out her daughter because she was very poor and sick, and needed the money. She had been taking her daughter to Charmoux regularly since 2004 and he had paid her 1,000 baht each time. She was charged with procuring a child for sexual services, and Police Lieutenant General Jongrak Juthanont, commander of Police Region 2, who had been in charge of the case, ordered Dang be charged with one more offence, namely that of forcing her daughter into prostitution.

The scope of the case widened when police obtained another warrant from Pattaya Provincial Court, this time for the arrest of Jean Claude Charmoux, a French national. He was apprehended at his Jomtien Beach condominium, where police learned he also had a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl, alias Ae.

Police searched the room and found over 300 pornographic photographs that Charmoux had taken during sex sessions with the girls. It was alleged he was going to distribute the photos via the internet. Charmoux confirmed the woman’s story that she had brought the eight-year-old child to him for payment of 1,000 baht each time. He has been charged with raping the children.

Investigations revealed that a woman had brought 12-year-old Ae to Charmoux, and that she lived in a rented room behind Lotus in South Pattaya. Police identified her as Miss Benjamas (Mam) Thabtimthai, age 28. She has been charged with procuring a girl under the age of 15 years for sexual services.

Police Lieutenant General Jongrak said the two cases represent the type of crime that the government is determined to stamp out. He said that it was extremely sad that a mother would use her own eight-year-old daughter to earn money in such a way. The children were totally innocent and the adults participating in this vile trade should be punished with heavy jail sentences.

When asked what kind of punishment those involved could expect, Jongrak said that the mother would be liable to imprisonment of 10-20 years and/or a fine of 200,000-400,000 baht. Charmoux would be liable to a jail sentence ranging from seven years to life, and a fine of between 14,000-40,000 baht.

No smiles for Mona Lisa staff caught gambling

Boonlua Chatree

Following up on reports that illegal gambling was taking place at the Mona Lisa karaoke bar on Pattaya Second Road, a police squad consisting of a major, a captain, two sergeant majors, a corporal and another 15 officers raided the premises.

They discovered 11 Mona Lisa employees playing cards. One pack of cards and a pot of 150 baht were seized. All 11 were arrested and charged with illegal gambling. It was noted that the staff were playing cards in their own time and not during working hours.