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Vol. XV No. 29
Friday July 20 - July 26, 2007

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Updated every Friday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern

Weather Update

NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

How safe are the special pathways for the physically challenged?

Pattaya Mail is Fourteen

PBTA urges police to crack down on power line thefts

IT fair to be staged in September

Xi’an to sign tourism agreement with Pattaya

Thieves rob prize elephant of potent tail hairs

74-year-old grandmother arrested for selling porno mags

Police officer injured in crash with truck

Complaints of lewd behavior in public cannot stem tide of prostitution

Two die as pickup smashes into 18-wheeler

Mayor Niran celebrates 47th birthday

Narcotics control officials given tour of Navy drug suppression center

Ceremony held at Wat Chong Lom for departed monks

No dog’s life for pig in clover

124 candles cast at Wat Chaimongkol for Buddhist Lent


How safe are the special pathways for the physically challenged?

Can they be used without fear of further injury?

Vimolrat Singnikorn
Pattaya City has implemented a policy to care for the welfare of the physically challenged, but it always seems like they are not the priority concern, when it comes to caring for their immediate needs like swift maintenance and repairs of pathways and ramps. How does one jump over a pothole sitting in a wheelchair?
“It’s very difficult to cross Pattaya Beach Road to get to the beach,” said Pranee, a 21-year-old disabled tourist who was seen using one of the new pathways for the physically challenged to get to the beach.

A physically challenged girl points to one of the many obstacles that she has to go through to get anywhere in Pattaya.
“Even though there is one way traffic, looking several times is needed before crossing the road. It’s already difficult enough for normal people to get across, but it’s more difficult for me because I have to cross with my wheelchair.”
“Where are the zebra crossings,” she asked bewildered.
There are some 50 slightly sloping cement “handicapped walkways” as the city calls them on Pattaya Beach, but only some of them can be used.
Some are simply inconvenient because there are obstructions, including the trees and plants recently added to Beach Road as part of the landscaping. Others are obstructed by signposts and even by garbage.

It’s a terrifying mission, just crossing the street.

A standard walkway for handicapped people should be 90 cm wide and this implies that the immediate vicinity of the walkway should be of at least similar width, but with the various obstructions many of the walkways are not broad enough for a large size wheelchair.

Pattaya is promoting itself as a tourist destination for the physically challenged, where they are promised all the amenities and services that they would get in their own countries.
Pranee says that it is very difficult for handicapped people to cross Beach Road, not just because of the traffic but because it is difficult to see if the walkway is clear enough for a wheelchair. Once across the road, any difficulties encountered could cause a problem.
“After crossing the road the water drainage pipe is encountered. For normal people it is okay but for disabled people it causes a problem,” says Pranee.
The difficulties continue once a wheelchair user has reached the beach side of the road. There are 10 wooden walkways that have been constructed to allow the disabled access to the sea, but Pranee says not all of them can be used because some have a steep slope that is difficult for wheelchairs.

A friend holds her breath as Pranee hesitates at the top of the ramp. Not an easy feeling when one dreads getting hurt, every ‘step’ that one takes.
“Disabled people can’t climb them in their wheelchairs, and they are afraid of an accident,” she says. “Furthermore, some parts of the walkways are broken, damaged by heavy rain.”
Pattaya Mail asked Amnuoy Na-Ek, construction supervisor of Pattaya City about the obstructions.
“We cannot move a tree away from a disabled walkway, but it is still useable even though it may be inconvenient in some cases. However, many places are good and useable.
“Regarding the walkways to the sea, some were changed after construction because the surface was being covered by sand blown by the wind. We are looking at these various problems and will resolve them as quickly as we can.
“It was important for Pattaya City to go ahead with the main plan for the disabled, in line with Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn’s policy on the welfare of disabled people. This in some ways is still a project under design.”


Pattaya Mail is Fourteen

on July 23, 2007

Pattaya Mail turns 14 years old with this issue, and as such represents a milestone, not just for the Pattaya Mail newspaper, but for Pattaya and the Eastern Seaboard itself.
For any enterprise to get into the double digits, in this fast-paced age, means that not only is the product right, timely and fitting, but also filling a need in the community. The community response to the Pattaya Mail over the past 14 years has shown that this is the case. You have made and molded your newspaper to where it is today.
To understand the community’s needs has taken dedication by senior management in the newspaper. To be guided by the community has required the newspaper to be part of the community, to feel the way the readership is moving and growing. The Pattaya Mail, your Pattaya Mail, has been central to many beneficial community projects, especially to those extending the hand of charity to those less fortunate in the community. For 14 years, we have been there for them.
Whilst there are always those from the newspaper who have a higher, or more obvious, public profile, the Pattaya Mail is not just these people. The Pattaya Mail has, over the past 14 years, developed a strong group of personnel who help put the paper together from the editorial and advertising point of view. Some of these people have also been with us since day 1. They are just as important as the high fliers.
As the paper has grown over the past 14 years, so has the staff, now numbering over 50. We need them all to be able to continue and grow, now being the largest employer in the newspaper industry on the Eastern Seaboard. We, the Pattaya Mail Publishing Co. Ltd, thank you Pattaya for your 14 years of assistance and trust.


PBTA urges police to crack down on power line thefts

Ariyawat Nuamsawat
The Pattaya Business and Tourism Association has said that the continual theft of power lines has reached a critical stage, causing grave problems for real estate developers and costing the government millions of baht.

PBTA president Chamroon Witsawachaiypan, (left) and vice president Sanga Kijsamrej make an appeal for action against the bandits.
Chamroon Watsawachaiyapan, the association’s president made an appeal for action during a meeting held on July 11 at Bangkok-Pattaya Hospital.
His call was backed up by information from PBTA vice president Sanga Kijsamrej, who said that the problem started to become particularly acute at the beginning of the year and that the thefts are being carried out on a daily basis.
Chonburi Governor Pracha Taerat has already classified the situation as being one that affects the entire province, and has directed that close monitoring be carried out by the police of all the secondhand shops, many of which are known to be dealers in stolen goods.
However, the value of copper is too high to completely deter the thieves and the thefts are continuing.
The PBTA says that the thefts are being made from projects in the private sector and from government departments, and is causing both sectors heavy financial losses in addition to delaying projects. The association wants the police to be more active, but continual monitoring of the large number of secondhand shops is an unrealistic use of police time.
Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh said that this situation has already been discussed with the police, and that Pattaya is far from being nonchalant about the problem.
He added it was important that these thefts should be registered with the police, because very often, when copper had gone missing from storage and had been found in a dealer’s premises, it was unclear who the actual owners of the stolen goods were.


IT fair to be staged in September

Narisa Nitikarn
An information technology fair will be held at PEACH, in the Royal Cliff Beach Resort during the period September 5 to 9.
AR Information and Publication Co Ltd, the organizers of Commart Pattaya 2007, presented a program of events to Pattaya Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay.
The exhibition will display computers, mobile phones and other IT products, and will be promoted throughout the Eastern region.
The organizers have requested help from the city in providing billboards and contacting the media, and a press conference will be held on August 2 at Pattaya City Hall. Verawat proposed that AR Information invite the Tourism Authority of Thailand Central Region 3 to be co-host to increase the public relations coverage, as the TAT has the facilities to handle the local media.


Xi’an to sign tourism agreement with Pattaya

Li Jianhua presents a souvenir to Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh as representatives of both parties look on.

Ariyawat Nuamsawat
Xi’an in Shaanxi Province, China, is to sign an agreement with Pattaya in which the two cities will exchange information regarding international tourism.
Li Jianhua, Deputy Director-General, Foreign Affairs Office, People’s Government of the Shaanxi Province, visited Pattaya City Hall on July 9, where he met with Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and city council chairman Tawit Chaisawangwong.
Chainarong Keratiyutwong, head of the Royal Thai Consular Office in Xi’an said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China is impressed by Pattaya’s performance as a center of tourism and was keen to exchange international information as well as stimulate tourism between Shaanxi and Pattaya.
In the past two years Shaanxi Province has also signed an agreement with Sukhothai Province, both having a heritages as ancient capitals and centers of cultural development.
Deputy Mayor Ronakit said that tourism agreements are of great benefit to both signatories, and that Pattaya also has agreements with Kazakhstan, Xinjiang, Hainan, and Karamay.
Such agreements can be undertaken at the provincial level with the approval of the Ministry of Interior, said Ronakit. In addition to the exchange of information and the generating of tourism business, visitors to both destinations are assured of well-organized tours that use authorized guides and other personnel to take care of the visitors’ needs and interests.
Xi’an is the largest city in northwest China and was the ancient capital for 13 dynasties. Its most famous attraction is the army of terracotta warriors unearthed in 1974 and now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Thieves rob prize elephant of potent tail hairs

Used as charms, hairs are worth more than 500,000 baht on black market

Patcharapol Panrak
Thieves made off with the tail hairs of a famed breeding elephant at Nong Nooch Garden that will find a ready market in Asian countries where belief is held in the potency of elephant hairs for magic spells and as cures for various ailments.

Kaichae woefully shows the almost bare tip of Plai Bird’s tail.
A mahout reported on July 8 that a 30-year-old elephant named Plai Bird, who has fathered 20 elephants, had been robbed of an estimated 2,000 tail hairs. Worth at least 500,000 baht on the black market, the hairs are made into rings, bracelets and necklaces that find ready buyers amongst Indian and Korean people, as well as Thais.
Two baby elephants had also been robbed of their tail hairs, and Nong Nooch Garden has now mounted a security watch to try and prevent this happening again.
Officers from Sattahip Police Station were called in at 7:00am on July 8 by Kaichae Wongkittikhun, a 33-year-old mahout from Nong Nooch Garden, who reported that an unknown number a thieves had subdued Plai Bird with veterinary lances and removed his tail hairs. Suspicion has fallen on local mahouts as the theft was carried out while the elephant was tethered behind the central kitchen of Nong Nooch Garden.
Kaichae said that after the show in which Plai Bird is one of the stars he had taken the elephant to eat grass and then tethered it behind the central kitchen. Next morning, when he went to bathe Plai Bird, he discovered the tail hairs were gone.
In addition to his strength, potency, and dexterity as a performer, Plai Bird has a tail that is shaped like a bodhi leaf, and is darker, thicker and longer than other tails. This would make the hairs even more desirable and valuable, and it is suspected that a dealer paid a neighboring mahout to commit the theft.
Kaichae said the price of a single hair would be about 80 to 100 baht, and that a ring would fetch 300 baht, a necklace 500 baht, and a bracelet with nine braids of tail hair between 2,500 and 3,000 baht. The loss of the elephant’s tail hair, if used only to make bracelets, would be valued at approximately 500,000 baht. The special qualities of Plai Bird’s hair would make it even more valuable, and the potency of the elephant means the hair could be used to ward off curses.
Plai Bird was stupefied for the remainder of the day following the theft, as the cutting of the hairs would have given him a feeling of loss of balance and he would also have been unable to swat flies and other insects.
Mrs Kwanwan Kantisuk, general manager of Nong Nooch Garden has ordered the questioning of all the mahouts employed there, saying it was possible one or more of them was associated with the thieves, or knew who committed the crime.
Whoever committed the theft knew how to carry it out. The incident occurred at night when it was raining, and the lights were out. Furthermore, Plai Bird had two legs tethered with a chain, so he could not avoid the thieves. It will take between nine and 12 months for the hairs to grow back again.

Samples of what the rings and bracelets look like made
from an elephant’s tail hairs.


74-year-old grandmother arrested for selling porno mags

Theerarak Suthathiwong
Police have busted a 74-year-old grandmother who was selling pornographic magazines from her bookshop on South Pattaya Road.
Pol Col Suthin Sappuang, superintendent of Pattaya Police Station had discovered during investigations that a bookshop was illegally selling pornographic materials, and at 17.30 hrs on 7 July a team of officers descended upon the premises.

Officers inspect bookshelves displaying the obscene reading material before confiscation them.
The shop is located on the ground floor of a four-story building and sells all kinds of reading matter. Mrs. Duon the 74-year-old owner was serving a customer when the officers arrived. They found 100 Thai and foreign pornographic magazines on open display. The owner was arrested and the materials confiscated as evidence.
Mrs Duon told officers that she ordered fortune telling magazines from an agent in Bangkok who made the delivery in a 10-wheeled truck. Inside the boxes there were also some pornographic magazines so she put them on show. The magazines sold very well and she didn’t think that she was breaking the law until she was arrested.
Pol. Col. Suthin said the arrest was made under National Police Headquarters policy to eradicate all types of pornographic materials. Such crimes incur punishment of not more than six months’ imprisonment or a fine of not more than 30,000 baht. Anyone found selling pornographic materials would be fined and arrested, he said.


Police officer injured in crash with truck

Theerarak Suthathiwong
A policeman was injured when the car he was driving was involved in a collision with a six-wheel truck at 08.00 hrs last week.

Looking at the condition of the car, Pol Capt Chavalit is very lucky to have suffered only minor injuries.
The accident happened at the U-turn near the Khao Main Kaew flyover on the Highway 36 stretch from Chonburi to Rayong.
Police and rescue workers from Sawang Boriboon rushed to the scene, where 500 meters from the flyover they found a Toyota Fortuner in a drainage ditch at the side of the road with its side smashed in. Inside the vehicle in the driver’s seat they found Pol Capt Chavalit Thamacharn, a crime suppression officer with Pattaya Police Station. He had suffered an injury to his left ankle but was fully conscious. He was freed and taken to Bangkok Pattaya Hospital.
The six-wheeled Hino truck was 10 meters away, and had suffered a slight bump in its right side. The driver was waiting for officers and was identified as Charan Chanthung, 40, of Phechabun. He told officers he was driving from Khao Mai Kaew to Rayong. At the U-turn he indicated a right turn and the Toyota smashed into the side of his vehicle. Passing vehicles slowed down to see the incident, which resulted in another accident involving three vehicles, but all involved were able to reach agreement. Police are now waiting for Pol Capt Chavalit to recover before proceeding further.


Complaints of lewd behavior in public cannot stem tide of prostitution

The beach promenade is lined with girl offering their services.

Boonlua Chatree
Police appear powerless to stem the tide of prostitution along Pattaya Beach, despite numerous complaints from tourists who are being harassed and also despite the lewd behavior that often occurs in full view of the public between the service girls and their prospective clients.
During an inspection by media reporters on July 14 there we saw an estimated 400 to 500 girls sitting along the beachfront offering their services to the public. Some were even going as far as to let men touch them, to the embarrassment of passers-by.
When the reporters asked Pol. Col. Suthin Sappuang, superintendent of Pattaya about the size of the prostitution problem, they were told that the police had effectively run out of ideas.
All they can do, said the superintendent is to book the girls for offering sexual services, and that 20 to 50 are brought in daily. They are fined and have their names recorded, and they are given a warning. The following day they are out there again offering their services to foreign tourists.
A meeting is to be held with the chairman of the Pattaya Cultural Council to consider what else can be done to remedy the problem.


Two die as pickup smashes into 18-wheeler

The pickup truck is seen rammed under the trailer with its top cut off, killing two passengers.

Theerarak Suthathiwong
Two people were killed during the evening of July 13 when their pickup crashed into an 18-wheel trailer on Highway 36 inbound near the Khao Mai Kaew flyover.
Police arriving at the scene found a large crowd of onlookers at the U-turn, about 1 kilometer from the flyover.
Police deduced that the accident occurred when the silver pick-up truck rammed into the 18-wheeler as it was making a U-turn to head towards Rayong.
There were two dead people in the pickup, one in the front passenger side and one in the rear. The dead where identified as Khamron a 34-year-old resident of Nakhorn Rachasima, who had been decapitated, and Somchai Moenphote, 27 of Sa Kaew. Rescue workers had to use steel cutters in order to remove the bodies from the wreckage.
Two other passengers in the pickup were injured. They were identified as Vacharintr Chimavong 34, the driver, a foreman and Somchai Phanich, 28, of Pathumthani. Both had suffered only minor cuts to their heads.
The trailer driver, identified as Bunchan Srimunagmae, 31, of Saa Kaew stood nearby waiting for police officers to arrive. He said that he was on a delivery run to Sriracha, when he reach the place of the accident. When he had to make a U-turn, he signaled and moved to the left lane so that the massive truck could maneuver the U-turn. Suddenly he heard the sound of screeching brakes and the pickup rammed into the trailer.
The pickup driver told police that, having finished work, he and his colleagues were driving back to Bangkok. He was driving in the right hand lane behind another vehicle. The vehicle in front indicated that it was about to make a right turn so he put his foot down to overtake it and saw that the trailer also moving to the right. He tried to brake, but it was too late, so the pickup smashed into the trailer.
The driver of the trailer was taken into custody and charged with reckless driving causing death.


Mayor Niran celebrates 47th birthday

Ariyawat Nuamsawat
Well-wishers gather for Niran’s final birthday in office Pattaya residents, business people and government servants and officials gathered on July 12 to wish Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn a happy 47th birthday.

Well-wishers inundate Mayor Niran with red roses to show their love and respect for him and wish him many happy returns of the day.
Pattaya City permanent secretary Sitthipab Muangkum led well-wishers to the mayor’s office where they presented Niran with bouquets of flowers and gave their congratulations for what will be his last birthday celebrated in office, as the mayor is now in the final year of his term.
Niran Wattanasartsathorn was born on July 12, 1960. He finished his primary schooling at Pungbun Wittaya School, and then continued his secondary education at Phothisampanpittayakarn School, at the Dusit Commercial School in Bangkok. He graduated in Jurisprudence at Ramkamhaeng University, and is currently studying for his MB at the National Institute of Administration Development at the Special Course in Chonburi.
Niran first served Pattaya City in 1989 as a city councilor. He succeeded in private business before becoming the deputy permanent secretary of Pattaya City in 1996. He became permanent secretary in 1999 when the government changed the administration system in Pattaya.
He first became deputy mayor of Pattaya City in 2001 before being elected to serve Pattaya City as mayor in 2004.


Narcotics control officials given tour of Navy drug suppression center

Patcharapol Panrak
Pharmacists from 10 countries have been taken on an educational visit to the First Naval Area Command at the Royal Thai fleet to learn about the measures being taken against smuggling of narcotics by sea.

Thai and foreign naval officers meet to discuss ways to prevent drugs smuggling.
Narcotics control officer Wanchat Srisuwan was the Thai representative who led 35 pharmacists from Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Singapore who were on the fourth training course to be held for ASEAN narcotics law enforcement officers.
The group visited the Narcotics Protection and Prevention Center at First Naval Area Command, where deputy chief of operations Captain Taksin Rueksangket introduced them to the center and Captain Prasartporn Sartsawat gave a talk on the measures taken against smuggling of drugs by sea.
Geographical responsibilities for the center cover the coastal provinces from Chumporn to Trat.
The duties of the visiting pharmacists cover the verifying of narcotic substances seized from smugglers, and the educational visit was to show them how the Royal Thai Navy operates and how narcotics shipments are detected and intercepted, and how drugs are disguised and hidden.


Ceremony held at Wat Chong Lom for departed monks

Buddhists give offerings of saffron robes to the monks as part of the religious ceremonies.

Narisa Nitikarn
Wat Chong Lom held its annual ceremonies to pay tribute to former monks on July 9, with 27 monks throughout the four regions of Thailand who have been in the priesthood for more than 10 years attending the temple in Naklua.
Abbot Wimonthammasit led the ceremony in which robes and food were laid out as offerings to the monks, and eminent monks who included Phra Dhamathorasurung of Wat Tepsirin in Bangkok and Phra Pisanwinaiwat of Wat Bowornniwet Wihara, also in Bangkok, conducted the chanting.
Many leaders of the community attended the ceremony, including Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn, superintendent of Banglamung Police Station Pol Col Sarayuth Sa-Nguanpokai, head of the Banglamung Cultural Assembly Surat Mekavarakul, and Banglamung District chief Pratheep Chongsoubtham.
Wat Chong Lom holds this ceremony paying respects to the spirits of departed senior monks each year, as a time of merit making for the community.


No dog’s life for pig in clover

Patcharapol Panrak
A wild boar has been living in domesticated bliss with a family and their dog ever since they adopted it on Songkran Day.
When a Pattaya Mail team visited the home of Somporn and Warin Prachongchad in Bangsarae Sub-district on July 12, they found the young boar was being treated like one of the family. Somporn picked little Bunmak up and kissed it like a child, adding that they feed it cake and bread, and play with it as if it were any other domestic pet. Even the family dog plays with the little pig.

Somporn and Warin look after their special babies.
Somporn said that Bunmak is four months old. It is the son of Bunlua and Bunkong. On April 13 this year, when Bunkong was three years old, she delivered a litter of 10 piglets. Unfortunately the mother died just after giving birth, and the other piglets also died one after the other. There was only one male that survived, and he was named Bunmak. (Lots of luck and merit)
The family believed that he was lucky, and they took him into the house. Soon, he was like a member of the family.
Somporn said that Bunmak is so tame that he waits at the door whenever Warin goes out, and welcomes her home with a lick on the cheek. However, as Bunmak is growing up, he has started to become a little unruly, chewing up power cables and clothing. He now lives outside, remaining on good terms with the dog.
Warin appears to be a little shy about sharing her home with a wild boar, and hid somewhere outside the house when Pattaya Mail paid them a visit, not wanting to be photographed with the family’s unconventional pet. But we did sneak a few photos of the odd couple.


124 candles cast at Wat Chaimongkol for Buddhist Lent

Paisan Bunditayanond takes part in casting the candles in honour of HM the King.

Vimolrat Singnikorn
A traditional candle making ceremony for Buddhist Lent was performed at Wat Chaimongkol on July 8, led by Suan Panomwattanakul, president of the Chonburi Cultural Assembly.

Children perform Thai Classical dances in the competition.

Attended by representatives of government departments and private organizations, the event was held in cooperation with the Cultural Assembly of Banglamung District.
Participants cast 124 candles that will be used on Buddhist Lent Day, July 30. There was also a children’s classical dance competition, which was divided into two categories, one for the four to eight-year-olds and the other for the eight to twelve’s.



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