HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

1.2mn baht budget adds sparkle to Vegetarian Festival Parade

Nations meet at Khao Kheow Open Zoo in move to preserve the Golden Cat

City hall mulls problems of parking fee collection

Education committee chairman points to continuing low level of English language skills amongst schools

It could be the end of the Rainbow as city hall gives lukewarm reception to LED screen idea

High-powered delegation arrives to prepare for November meet

Spurned lover slits girlfriend’s throat in karaoke bar toilet

Woman and her son shot by robber on motorcycle

Robber stabs 71-year-old German man to death during break-in

German biker wanted on drugs charges is seized and deported

Health care for the elderly combines with medical training at Yanasangworn Center

Longan fruit from troubled South on sale in Pattaya

Time for a tiger

Police briefs

1.2mn baht budget adds sparkle to Vegetarian Festival Parade

The best and brightest yet

Pattaya’s annual Vegetarian Festival promises to be the biggest and best yet, according to officials who met last week to discuss plans.

The meeting was held at city hall to update the arrangements for the upcoming Vegetarian Festival Parade. Finalizing all the details were Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn, deputy mayors Wirawat Khakhai and Ronakit Ekasingh, Sawang Boriboon Foundation representatives, Pattaya police and traffic police officers, and organization committee members.

The good news is that the city is ready to allocate 1.2 million baht to facilitate all the needs to make the event a successful and memorable one this year.

Wirawat explained some highlights lined up for the opening day. Giant dragons, a huge vegetable soup pot, and what is somewhat mysteriously described as “supernatural fried rice” will lead the parade to signal the beginning of Pattaya’s Vegetarian Festival on October 2.

Mayor Niran has laid down the management plan and the promotional campaign for the festival, and decided on a route for the parade.

The Vegetarian Festival, which is being held in cooperation with the Sawang Boriboon Foundation, will be held from October 2-12. City hall predictions are that the event will be the biggest yet, with about 5,000 participants.

The October 2 parade will start from Bali Hai pier and wend its way along Walking Street, then turn onto Second Road until it reaches the traffic light on Second Road Central Pattaya.

The parade will end here at the Telephone Communication Department, but the participants will board transport that will take them to the traffic light at Third Road South Pattaya. Here the parade will pass through Wat Chaimongkol and end at the crossroads, where the participants will once again board transportation.

Pattaya School No 3 is the third starting point, the parade passing along Sawangfa Road to Naklua New Market, reaching the traffic light at the fork in the road and finally ending at Lan Poh Public Park, where the festival’s opening ceremony will be held.

Security and traffic circulation will be coordinated by two police stations, with officers and volunteers expected to number more than 500.

Nations meet at Khao Kheow Open Zoo in move to preserve the Golden Cat

Suchada Tupchai

Khao Kheow Open Zoo was the venue September 5-7 for representatives of 11 nations meeting to discuss the breeding and preservation of the endangered Golden Cat.

The meeting was led by Sophon Dumnui, director general of the Zoological Park Organization, which is under the patronage of His Majesty the King, together with the association’s advisor Pisit na Pattalung and Suriya Saengphong, director of Khao Kheow Open Zoo.

Representatives of 11 countries in the Golden Cat breeding project attended the meeting.

The Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) Golden Cat Project is being undertaken by the South-East Asia Zoo Association, SEAZA, in cooperation with the Zoological Park Organization.

The 11 countries involved in the project are Nepal, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, South Korea, New Zealand and the US.

Sophon said the Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii temmincki) is of the same race as the domestic cat, but is bigger. The cat has a slender body with red-brown or gray fur, and black and white markings around its face. It originates from East and Southeast Asia, and lives in mixed forests and humid virgin forests. The cat is now in trouble because its natural habitat is so often destroyed by fire in the dry season, and its food supply is becoming erratic.

The Zoological Park Organization had two special announcements to make during the meeting.

The first was that the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, WAZA, has now certified Khao Kheow Open Zoo as having reached world zoo standards. The second announcement was that a Siberian Tiger in the zoo has given birth to three cubs, two males and one female. All are healthy. They were fathered by a three-year old tiger named Dimitry, the mother being a four-year old female named Kiera that the Zoological Park Organization had imported from Canada in May.

The Siberia Tiger (Felise Tigris) lives in cold areas and is found in Siberia, North Korea, northern China and southeast Russia. The number in the wild has fallen dramatically. Sophon said that it was greatly to Khao Kheow Open Zoo’s credit that it can breed the Siberia Tigers.

There are about 42 types of tiger in the world and Khao Kheow already has more than half of them. Few other zoos have anything like this number. The zoo is planning to develop a tiger valley with a budget of over 20 million baht.

City hall mulls problems of parking fee collection

Narisa Nitikarn

A committee meeting was held at city hall on September 5 to examine the problems of the somewhat vague system of collecting parking fees from vehicle owners.

U-Rit Nanthasurasak, deputy Pattaya councilor and Sitthipab Muangkum give their opinions.

U-Rit Nanthasurasak, deputy Pattaya councilor, said that the hiring on a lump-sum basis of those collecting the parking fees is divided into three zones: Lanpho-Naklua, Beach Road from the Amari curve to Siam Bayshore, and Jomtien. There are obstacles to the collection of the fees, the main one being the use of plainclothes officials which makes motorists wary of a scam.

This should be resolved as soon as possible, said U-Rit, because in addition to the fee collecting Pattaya at the moment has problems enforcing the parking regulations. The regulations are not clear enough, and those infringing them are often not aware of doing so.

Sitthipab Muangkum, deputy city clerk, said that collectors might be more motivated if they received a 10 percent commission on the fees. Another idea would be for local contractors to be assigned the job.

Education committee chairman points to continuing low level of English language skills amongst schools

Chairman of Pattaya education committee Faruk Wongborisut made a plea to the education chiefs at city hall on September 5, pointing out that the children under their responsibility have poor English language skills. Standards need to be raised, with teachers skilled in teaching their subjects, he said.

Tawatchai Rattanyoo, director of the Education Department, responded that the city council continuously supports and encourages English knowledge learning.

Faruk Wongborisut, chairman of the education committee, made an urgent called to all concerned departments.

“A part of the school curriculum is that the subject should be taught by a native English teacher,” he said. “The Ministry of Education policy, which is applicable to the whole country, is that under the English teaching and learning system students should be able to read, write and make conversation before finishing secondary school class 3. This lets each school prepare its own teaching system because the ministry realizes that the students’ ability and English skills are not uniform countrywide.”

Tawatchai added that city hall has formulated a teaching and learning plan by having workshops in each subject, which enables the school director to monitor progress.

Faruk said that in his opinion adjusting the level of the English courses is essential for students and it should have been adopted a long time ago.

“Pattaya City is a tourist destination and it has a lot of foreign visitors,” he said. “Students in our schools need to improve their English skills for use in the future. If this adjustment is a success then other languages should be added to the curriculum, such as Chinese and Russian.”

It could be the end of the Rainbow as city hall gives lukewarm reception to LED screen idea

 Narisa Nitikarn

City council chairman Tawit Chaisawangwong presided over a meeting of councilors at city hall on September 6 to decide whether Pattaya should purchase an advertising screen board made by Korea-based Rainbow Light & Electronics Co Ltd.

CEO and vice-chairman of Rainbow Light & Electronics Sang-Mo Lee said that the company was founded 23 years ago. Headquartered in Seoul, they are leaders in LED screen production.

Tawit Chaisawangwong, city council chairman, presides over the meeting.

It has been proposed that a screen be placed in the Walking Street area to advise visitors on activities and projects happening in and around Pattaya.

“The LED screen is admired in many countries such as the US and Singapore,” said Lee. “In Korea there are 138 LED boards, of which 86 have been manufactured by Rainbow. They can be used for up to 18 hours a day and have a lifetime expectation of 16 years.”

Lee said the investment required for a 12m by 9m screen would be US$1.5 million, with maintenance costs of 150,000 baht per month.

Tawit said he was unclear of the purpose of the LED screen presentation. Did they want Pattaya City to be an investor, a buyer, or a co-investor?

The company didn’t give any details on this matter, he said. Rainbow should submit the price and specifications including all relevant details, which they allegedly didn’t present at the meeting.

If Pattaya City council thinks it would be advantageous then a new appointment can be made for further discussion. Tawit also asked whether the meeting attendees would be interested in a portable 5 by 4m screen which could be mounted on a vehicle and would be transportable throughout the city.

After the Rainbow presentation, Tawit talked about the duty of Pattaya council, which is not to make an order immediately. Pattaya councilors didn’t make a resolution at this meeting, he said. Cooperation is requested from all councilors for the final council resolution.

High-powered delegation arrives to prepare for November meet

Narisa Nitikarn

Representatives of countries from the Asia Parliament Association visited Pattaya as part of the preparation for a major conference to be held at the resort in November.

Representatives of the Asia Parliament Association have their photo taken with Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn as a memento of their visit.

Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn and Chawalit Saeng-utai, senior deputy Banglamung district chief, welcomed 17 delegates from five countries. The representatives were from Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Cambodia and the Philippines, the group being led by Zahid Hamid, Pakistan’s minister of the interior.

Amongst those welcoming the guests was Narong Ratanaporn, director of the Bureau of International Relations Secretariat of the House of Representatives and secretary-general of the MP Department.

Narong told reporters that the delegates had come to Pattaya to prepare for a meeting that will be held November 19-25 at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort. There will be over 200 participants from 40 countries throughout the Asia and Pacific region.

The visitors had a meal at the Pattaya Park Hotel before going on a sightseeing tour of the city. They visited the World Gems Collection and then went on to Mini Siam, with Mayor Niran personally leading the tour.

Spurned lover slits girlfriend’s throat in karaoke bar toilet

Boonlua Chatree

Pattaya police station in the early hours of September 5 received a report that a woman had had her throat cut at Pom Karaoke on Soi Buakao, and that a man had been injured. A friend had already taken the woman to Pattaya Memorial Hospital while the man had been transferred to Banglamung Hospital.

Police went to Pattaya Memorial Hospital where they found the injured woman, Miss Benjamat Kotprae, age 26, undergoing emergency surgery in the intensive care unit. Her throat had been deeply cut and her windpipe was almost severed.

Officers at Pom Karaoke interviewed the owner, 39-year-old Nopakhun Namsawang, who had taken Benjamat to the hospital. He said that Benjamat had entered the venue with four male and female friends. They had ordered about 700 baht worth of food and drinks. Later he had seen a man named Pern, who he knew to be a former lover of Benjamat. The two had talked together for about five minutes before Pern pulled Benjamat sharply into the toilet and cut her throat with a knife. Benjamat shouted that she was hurt and fell to the toilet floor.

Rushing into the toilet to help, Nopakhun found Pern using the same knife to stab himself in the chest. Nopakhun asked an employee to take Pern to Banglamung Hospital and he took Benjamat to Pattaya Memorial Hospital himself.

Police at Banglamung Hospital identified the attacker as Sakda Bunprasert, age 26. The knife was still sticking in his chest and the Banglamung medical team hadn’t removed it. He was transferred quickly to Chonburi Hospital for treatment. He couldn’t give any statement to the police.

Witnesses told police that Benjamat had a new British boyfriend. Pern tried to persuade Benjamat to go back to him (Pern) but she refused. He then attacked her, cutting her throat and then attempted to commit suicide. Police have charged him with attempted murder.

Woman and her son shot by robber on motorcycle

Son succumbs to gunshot wounds

Boonlua Chatree

An armed robber on a motorcycle shot a woman and her son before escaping with a 3 baht gold chain that the woman had been wearing.

Banglamung police station on the evening of September 4 received a report from Banglamung Hospital that two people, a mother and her son, had been admitted with gunshot wounds. The woman was gravely injured, but the son was dead on arrival.

At the emergency room police discovered 58-year-old Mrs Mukda Thamprayot, who had been shot to the left side of her head. The bullet had lodged in the back of her skull. Another shot had hit her in the left knee, and this bullet also remained in her body. Mukda’s son Monchai Thamprayot, age 29, had been shot in the left side of his chest, with another shot to the torso and a third to his left knee. All the bullets remained in his body.

Mukda’s sister-in-law, 59-year old Mrs A-Nong Thamprayot, had accompanied the two to hospital. She told police that the three of them had gone by motorcycle to the market. They had returned home with A-Nong riding pillion on Monchai’s motorcycle with Mukda following behind on her own motorbike.

About halfway home, behind Thuanthong Temple in Pong district, a man on a motorcycle and wearing a full helmet had cut in front of Mukda’s motorcycle. He forced her to hand over the 3 baht gold chain and amulet she was wearing around her neck. Mukda shouted to her son for help, and Monchai turned his motorcycle round. The robber shot Monchai three times and then fired two shots at Mukda before escaping with the gold chain, although the amulet was dropped in the road. A-Nong said she was not shot because the robber had no bullets left.

Robber stabs 71-year-old German man to death during break-in

Boonlua Chatree

A 71-year old German man was stabbed to death by a robber who broke into his home and escaped with valuables.

Pattaya Memorial Hospital on September 9 reported to Pattaya police station that a man of German nationality had been certified dead on arrival, the cause of death being knife wounds. The crime had happened at a house in Jomtien Nivet Village.

Arriving at the hospital, officers found the body of Kurt Heinz Nigen Horst. He had been stabbed in his left ribs and had wounds to his face. Physicians confirmed he had died before reaching the hospital.

Police at the townhouse in Soi 8 in Jomtien Nivet Village found evidence of a struggle. They also found the murder weapon, a 35cm long knife, which had been dropped on the kitchen floor.

Police are looking for a man described by a witness as being about 20 years old, 160cm in height, with a shaven head and looking like a drug consumer. He was seen exiting the house carrying property and wearing a red-black shirt and blue jeans. He ran off in the direction of Najomtien.

German biker wanted on drugs charges is seized and deported

Boonlua Chatree

The head of a German biker gang wanted in his own country in connection with over 40 drugs charges has been arrested and deported by Pattaya Immigration Police. He had been hiding out in Thailand for three years.

Working in conjunction with the German Embassy and the Royal Thai Police, the Immigration Police traced Thorsten Wiechmann, 38, to a North Pattaya address via his motorcycle license. Wiechmann, a distinctive figure with his many tattoos, was apprehended in Walking Street and served with an arrest warrant that had been issued in his native Hamburg.

He was wanted for a total of 40 cases, most notably bringing over 3kg of cocaine into Germany. Investigators allege Wiechmann was trying to buy drugs in Thailand for export.

Health care for the elderly combines with medical training at Yanasangworn Center

Chatchanan Chaisree

Dr Wichai Thianthaworn, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Public Health, was guest of honor at the 12th anniversary celebrations of the Supreme Patriarch Center on Agingon August 25.

Dr Wichai Thianthaworn visits Supreme Patriarch Center on Aging.

The Institute of Medicine for the Elderly opened the center in 1993. As well as providing health care for senior citizens it also serves as a training center for medical personnel and public health employees. Both the public and private sectors, from Thailand and overseas, attend the center which in the recent past has hosted visitors from Chulalongkorn, Mahidol, Khon Kaen and Burapha universities, and researchers from Vietnam, Korea, Australia and the USA. To date, over 4000 people have successfully undertaken training courses at Yanasangworn.

The elderly residents of the center receive comprehensive care for both physical and mental ailments under the responsibility of trained physicians, nurses, psychiatrists and nutritionists using modern medical techniques.

Dr Wichai said it is vital that care for the elderly meets the requirements of the Elderly Act 2003. The Ministry of Public Health has stipulated that all hospitals should have a special elderly service, and has directed that the capacity of clinics for the elderly be expanded so that there are sufficient places both for now and in the future.

Longan fruit from troubled South on sale in Pattaya

Ariyawat Nuamsawat

Seasonal longan fruit from the troubled Southern province of Narathiwat is available throughout Pattaya following an agreement signed between city hall and the Narathiwat provincial government and its chamber of commerce.

Pattaya public supports Southern compatriots by buying longan.

Inking the agreement were Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn and Narathiwat Governor Pracha Taerat, together with Somchai Khunplome, mayor of Saensuk municipality, which has its own distribution agreement.

Ensuring open distribution channels for the greatly loved fruit is a Royal Projects initiative devised for the three border provinces suffering insurgency problems.

It was feared that the internal provincial strife would affect the longan season, at its height in the period September to October, preventing farmers from getting their crops to the market.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is giving her support to the governors of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala to help agriculturists in the region.

Pattaya City and Saensuk municipality have agreed to buy the prized Tanyongmas grade longan for distribution. Amongst the outlets, the fruit can be found at the entrance to Walking Street and Dongtan Curve at Jomtien Beach.

Time for a tiger

Sriracha Tiger Zoo donates cubs and crocs to Chiang Mai Night Safari

Narisa Nitikarn

Sriracha Tiger Zoo has presented tigers and freshwater crocodiles to the government-organized Chiang Mai Night Safari. The new intake will be available for the public and zoological students to view in November.

(From left) Maitree Temsiripong, chairman of Sriracha Tiger Zoo Co Ltd, Plodprasop Suratsawadee, deputy minister for resources and the environment, donate Bengal Tigers and freshwater crocodiles to Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo.

The announcement was made at a press conference led by Maitree Temsiripong, chairman of Sriracha Tiger Zoo Co Ltd, and the zoo’s legal advisor Watcharin Duangdara. Also present were Plodprasop Suratsawadee, deputy minister for resources and the environment, and Vijit Kessamma, administrative director of Conservation Area Department Section 2.

Plodprasop said Sriracha Tiger Zoo breeds a significant quantity of Bengal Tigers each year and that the government has a project to open the Chiang Mai Night Safari, which still needs a lot of animals, including tigers and crocodiles.

The zoo presented 100 tigers and 20 freshwater crocodiles, to be collected in three stages. November 16 will see a handing-over of tiger cubs, giving an opportunity for children to hold the baby tigers and have their photographs taken.

Maitree said that Sriracha Tiger Zoo is happy to cooperate with the government so that students and the public will have a better understanding of wildlife. The zoo has a breeding program for Bengal Tigers and every year breeds more than 30,000 crocodiles.

Police briefs

Boonlua Chatree

Three drugs dealers netted during one evening

Three drug dealers were arrested in three separate police raids during the evening of September 2.

Banglamung police already knew from their investigations that ya ba dealers were using the Petroleum Thai filling station at Khao Mai Kaew crossroads as a distribution point, and they moved in and arrested Suchart Laor-Iam, 36. Suchart had 1,200 ya ba pills on him.

Officers entering a house in Nongplalai sub-district found Sompong Dang-Nual, 42, in possession of 200 ya ba pills. Police staking out Bangkok Pattaya Hospital car park seized Rangsan Kotchomphoo, 34, and found him in possession of a 5-gram pack of the narcotic ice.

All three men have been charged with illegal possession of class 1 drugs with intent to distribute.

Electrician burned climbing pole to enter his room

An electrician climbing an electrical pole to get into his room after forgetting his door key accidentally touched a live cable and was seriously injured.

The incident happened at a three-story building under construction in Soi Naklua, in front of Big C in North Pattaya.

Officers from Pattaya police station along with a team from Sawang Boriboon Foundation rushed to the scene on the evening of September 5 after reports that a man had been electrocuted.

They found the man, a 19-year-old Karen named Soo Ja-prem, on an overhanging part of the building. He had suffered burns to his right hand, had a broken right arm, a dislocated backbone and broken ribs. The officers used a wooden ladder to get to the man and a cradle to lower him down to the ground.

Investigations revealed that Soo was an electrician responsible for installing the cables during construction of the building. He had rented a room next door, on the second floor. Discovering he had forgotten his key, Soo climbed an electrical pole and accidentally touched a high-voltage cable.

Mother of 2 climbs post and threatens to jump

A mother of two who was beset by domestic problems climbed a 130-meter high-voltage electricity pole on the evening of September 6 and threatened to jump.

Police and Sawang Boriboon Thammasatarn Foundation officers called out to the scene, in front of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand offices at Nongprue, found Mrs Sawat (or Saifon) Sothon, age 38, in a distressed condition. She cried out that she wanted to be reconciled with her husband, who had left her to bring up their two children alone. Sawat said her mother-in-law had interfered in her marriage, causing quarrels and the eventual breakup of the relationship. She said that if she could not have what she wanted she would jump to end her life and all her troubles.

A large crowd had gathered, and they and the police officers told Sawat that such an action would leave her children in an even worse predicament. Police asked Sanit Bunmachai, a Pattaya council officer, to bring an elevating work platform and an air cushion. Still Sawat refused to come down.

By 1:30 a.m., after three hours and with rain falling, and with police unable to find Sawat’s husband Ae, police decided to take the risk. Five officers ascended on the platform and offered her some drinking water. Then they quickly secured her and brought her safely to the ground. During the struggle Sawat lost consciousness and was transferred to Bangkok Pattaya Hospital for treatment.

Police bust ya ba party and find youth with gun

A police raid on a ya ba party held by a group of youths in a room at the Wichit Bencharong apartment building on Soi Samroeng on September 5 revealed that one of them was armed.

Responding to a report from a member of the public, police entered the premises where they found four youths taking ya ba. The officers were in the process of confiscating the equipment and arresting the four when another youth entered the room and was discovered to be carrying a .357 caliber gun and 32 bullets. Kriangkrai Saengsawang, 20, claimed he had bought the gun for 20,000 baht to protect himself. He was charged with illegally possessing and carrying a gun and bullets.

Police conducted a urine test on the other four, which proved positive in all cases. Woratod Klaisuban, 20, Kamron Net-In, 19, Chaya Net-In, 17, and Komsan Wanacheep, 20, were charged with consumption of a class 1 drug.