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Vol. XVI No. 3
Friday Junuary 18 - Junuary 24, 2008

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Updated every Friday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern

Weather Update

NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Boat operators feel the squeeze as gasoline costs rise

Police officers urged to avoid temptation

Nong Oui hops to fame

Tourist Police increase patrols

Microchip implants are being considered to control stray dog population

Security guard injured by firework

Shaman faces rape charges

Austrian man faces charges of molesting 16-year-old Korean girl

10 Russians plucked from ocean as charter boat sinks

Nong Nooch Tropical Garden organizes condolence book for HRH Princess Galyani

Urgent works begin as survey finds contaminated drinking water in schools

Navy Base organizes condolence signing for HRH Princess Galyani

PBTA asks for more urgency to improve city roads

Devotees gather at temples on New Year’s Day


Boat operators feel the squeeze as gasoline costs rise

Many are being forced out of business by increased overheads

Sawittree Namwiwatsuk
Boat and ferry operators are complaining that despite the escalating costs of fuel they are unable to increase their charges, and are consequently having to bear the increase in overheads themselves.
Many are unable to do so, and with other increases such as salaries and maintenance they have been forced out of business.

Ratthakrai Kroddee, owner of a large ferryboat that plies between Pattaya and Koh Larn, says ferry prices need to be adjusted to reflect the current high fuel prices.
On January 8, retail oil prices were adjusted upwards again. ULG 95 RON is now 33.69 baht per liter, UGR 91 RON is 32.39 baht per liter, Gasohol 95 - E10 is 29.69 baht per liter, and HSD, 0.05%S is 29.74 per liter.
Ratthakrai Kroddee, owner of a large ferryboat that plies between Pattaya and Koh Larn told Pattaya Mail that he has been operating his ferry service for more than 20 years. At that time, HSD 0.05%S was 14 baht per liter and tickets were 10 baht per person. They were later adjusted to 20 baht per person, but still remain the same price today, even though the price of the fuel is now 29.74 baht per liter.
Additionally, said Ratthakrai, the salary for crewmembers has risen to 6,000 baht from 4,000 baht, and maintenance costs have increased.
Furthermore, the ferry must have insurance for the passengers. If it is insured for 180 passengers, then it can’t load more than 180 of them. Normally the boat can make four trips per day, and consumes 150 liters per boat. Some days there are less than 180 passengers. Ordinary passengers on the weekdays are foreigners, and during the high season there are more Russian tourists. Thai passengers use the ferry only on the weekends.

Sanit Bunmachai, speed boat and banana boat entrepreneur on Pattaya Beach: “The price of gasoline has doubled, and the quantity of tourists has decreased by half.”
Ratthakrai said that the Pattaya ferry entrepreneurs have submitted a letter asking for permission to increase the fee from 20 baht to 30 baht per person. Permission has not yet been granted. In the event of approval, then the new price would support the entrepreneurs, more or less.
Sanit Bunmachai, a speedboat and banana boat operator on Pattaya Beach said that he has been providing a speedboat service to tourists for more than 10 years. At the time he started, ULG 95 RON was 16 baht, and the charge for service was set at 800 baht. Over the past two to three years, lots of tourists have used the speedboats, and the gasoline was not expensive. This provided a sufficient income to support families, and some money was left over for saving.
Recently, however, the price of gasoline has doubled, and the quantity of tourists has decreased by half, even though it is high season. In previous times he made approximately 20-30 trips per month, but right now it has decreased to 10 trips per month.
“This makes me, a person who lives day to day, have to handle this increase in costs, which has doubled since I started the business,” said Sanit.
“It is not only the price of gasoline that has increased. Maintenance costs me more, the monthly mooring fee is now 3,000 baht, and a crewmember’s salary is 6,000 baht.
“I tried to reduce expenses by installing LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), but it was un-successful. This is because the speedboat has a two-stroke engine. With LPG the motor might develop a problem or it might be damaged, which would cost more money. I ended up using UGR 91 RON instead of ULG 95 RON, even though the price difference is not a large one. It reduces the cost by only one or two baht, but it’s better for the people like me who must live day to day.”
Sanit said that the number of banana boats has decreased by half on Pattaya Beach. Now there are only 10, as opposed to 20 in the past. This was due to operators not being able to handle the high costs, especially the high price of gasoline. The price to ride a banana boat is 400 baht for 20 minutes, but 300 baht goes to the gasoline, and the operators are left with only 100 baht. Some days they don’t have any customers, so many operators have simply given up.
Sanit said he would continue to provide a speedboat service, even though he has less income. He has done this for a long time, and will try to shoulder the burden, even though he is already out of the market for ULG 95 RON.


Police officers urged to avoid temptation

Theerarak Suthatiwong
Pattaya Police Station held its monthly meeting during the morning of January 9, during which superintendent of the station Pol Col Nopadol Wongnorn reminded officers that their integrity was of paramount importance.

Pol Col Nopadol Wongnorn reminds officers that their integrity is of paramount importance.

The meeting took place at the Grand Sole Hotel on Second Road, with Pol Lt Col Supachat Piemmanat, deputy superintendent of crime suppression leading the 214 police officers who attended.
Officers who were being promoted to new positions at Pattaya Police Station were introduced before the meeting was held. They were Pol Maj Wittaya Yuenyong (chief of crime suppression), Pol Maj Chalermsak Tientongsri (investigation), and Pol Maj Pasakorn Paijit (crime suppression).
Following the announcements, Pol Col Nopadol Wongnorn thanked all officers for their diligence during the elections, during the birthday celebrations of His Majesty the King, and over the New Year holiday period.
The superintendent urged every officer to exercise the utmost vigilance in his duties in the prevention of crime and in the providing of service to the people, saying that an efficient and courteous police force was essential for the wellbeing and future of Pattaya.
He stressed that every police officer should avoid the temptations of becoming involved with gambling houses, the publishing of lewd materials, pirating of intellectual property, illegal entertainment, narcotics, and the inducements of influential people within the area.


Nong Oui hops to fame

Theerarak Suthatiwong
A frog that can dance, ride a toy motorcycle and apparently understand when it is spoken to is causing great excitement, not to mention a rush on lottery tickets, on Soi Phothisarn 12.

Nong Oui strikes a pose for the cameras.

The frog, whose name is Nong Oui, belongs to 52-year-old Mrs Thongsai Bamrungthai, who resides in a rented room on the second floor of a residential building with her 51-year-old husband Buncherd and their four children.
A great deal of media interest has been displayed in Nong Oui, a female frog who lives in an enamel basin, and who was found by Thongsai about 10 months ago.
Thongsai is happy to allow Nong Oui to show off in front of visitors, riding a toy motorbike, balancing on a bottle, and dancing in her bowl, rather than just hopping it, as any other frog would.
Thongsai says that she is from Panomprai, in Roi Et. She is from a farming family, but she abandoned farming a long time ago because of droughts and not having money to invest. She is also blind in one eye, and therefore restricted in what she can do to earn a living.
She found the frog early last year in Panomprai. Thongsai said she had been awoken about 5 a.m. and had found the frog in the mouth of a chicken. The frog was only about one week old and tiny, so she couldn’t understand why the chicken hadn’t swallowed it. Feeling that maybe this was a lucky omen, she had taken the frog and fed it, and it became a family pet.
Nong Oui allows anyone to touch her, and understands human language. She obeys orders. Many people in Panomprai came to see the creature and to ask for lucky lottery numbers, and many had been successful. Eventually, Thongsai became overwhelmed with the large numbers of people, and felt unsafe. Therefore, she moved with her family and Nong Oui to live with her daughter in Pattaya to avoid the large numbers of villagers.
Thongsai has not been left in peace for long, as the fame of Nong Oui has grown quickly. Thongsai has vowed to take care of the frog until its last breath, and says she won’t sell it, no matter how much anyone might offer.


Tourist Police increase patrols

Sawittree Namwiwatsuk
More patrols have been added by Pattaya Tourist Police to provide greater security for visitors to the city.

Pol Capt Suprapat Phopirom, deputy superintendent of the Pattaya Tourist Police.
The announcement was made on January 9 at the regular monthly meeting of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, chaired by association president Chamrun Witsawachaiyaphan and held at Bangkok Pattaya Hospital.
Pattaya’s police services consist of Pattaya Police Station, Banglamung Police Station, Pattaya Immigration, and the Pattaya Tourist Police.
Pol Capt Suprapat Phopirom, deputy superintendent of the Pattaya Tourist Police said that the number of bike patrols has been increased in the Walking Street area between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. every day. There are two or three officers to each patrol, and about 20 Thai and foreign volunteers on patrol each day.
The deputy superintendent said there are foot patrols in other parts of the city, which coordinate with vehicular police patrols. These are divided between two zones, one being North, Central and South Pattaya, the other being from Thappraya Mountain to the end of Jomtien Beach.
Certain sois that are regarded as being potential danger areas are also patrolled on a regular basis.


Microchip implants are being considered to control stray dog population

Vimolrat Singnikorn
Pattaya inhabitants have been bringing their cats and dogs into the Public Health Center for free sterilization, and city hall is studying the possibility of implanting microchips into domestic pets in the future in order to keep control of the number of strays.

Pattaya citizens bring in their dogs and cats for sterilization, hoping to reduce the number of stray animals.

The sterilization program began on January 10, and was inaugurated by Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay. A dog show was also organized by the Chaiyapak Dog Training Center for the large number of people who brought their pets along to the opening ceremony.
Along with the sterilization, vaccinations were being offered to prevent diseases such as hydrophobia (rabies).
Pattaya’s deputy permanent secretary, Suchat Puotphan told the gathering that city hall is studying the possibility of implanting microchips into domestic animals. He said that it would not be possible to make this a compulsory program, but that officials hope to be able to encourage owners to have this done in order to control the number of stray animals in the city.
A similar program has already begun in Bangkok, said Suchat, and along with the implant the pet’s photograph is also taken. The cost of the microchip for each dog is about 200 baht, and city hall would budget for this. Suchat said the project needs more study, and that the agreement of the city council would be needed before it could go ahead.


Security guard injured by firework

Boonlua Chatree
A security guard from a well-known hotel seriously injured his hand while setting off a firework on New Year’s Day, after getting drunk and showing off to beer bar girls.

A too short fuse on an oversized firework nearly cost a security guard his hand.

Officers from Pattaya Police Station and Sawang Boriboon rescue workers were called out at 6 a.m. on January 1 to the front of the Marine Hotel in South Pattaya. The injured man was identified as Prasit Khakai, 23, a security guard at the hotel. His left hand was burned, he had suffered a broken finger, and his arms were also burned. Prasit’s moustache, eyebrows and hair were singed. The remains of a 1-meter long firework were found at the scene. After administering first aid, officers sent Prasit to Banglamung Hospital for treatment.
A number of beer bar girls at the scene stated that Prasit had brought the giant firework to celebrate the New Year. At that time Prasit was very drunk, and was showing off in front of the girls. He put the firework on the ground and lit the fuse. However, the fuse was too short, which caused it to go off too quickly and injure Prasit’s face and arms.
Police say that despite warnings and several arrests, there were vendors selling fireworks to locals and tourists during the New Year celebrations. A police spokesman said that setting off fireworks in public was dangerous, particularly when large quantities of alcohol are being consumed.


Shaman faces rape charges

Patcharapol Panrak
A woman who approached a fortune teller seeking help in getting her husband back did not foresee that he would order her at knifepoint to perform oral sex upon him and then rape her in the back of his pickup truck.

Boonyarit Tongbai reads the charges against him.

The man is alleged to have threatened to “necklace” her by placing a rubber tire around her neck and setting fire to it unless she did his bidding.
Boonyarit Tongbai, a 48-year-old shaman who runs a fortune-telling business from an address in Najomtien Sub-district faces charges of rape, but has been allowed out on bail of 200,000 baht.
A 22-year-old woman given the alias of Miss Suay has filed a complaint with Sattahip Police Station, saying that Boonyarit forced her to perform oral sex upon him and then raped her. Boonyarit denies rape but says he had consensual sex with Miss Suay, who he said invited him into the back of his pickup for that purpose.
Afterwards, said Boonyarit, the woman had asked for 100,000 baht, which he said was obviously an attempt to blackmail him. He has been a fortuneteller for 10 years and he knows many celebrities in Thai society. The woman has ruined his reputation. He has hired a lawyer to contest the case, and if he wins he will counter-sue for damages.
Miss Suay said this story should act as a warning for women who have problems with love and family, and go to see a fortuneteller, a spell caster or an occultist. She said she had gone to see Boonyarit because of problems with her love life. He had performed shamanist rituals and then driven her in his bronze Chevrolet pickup to a deserted area where he threatened her with a knife, made her take off her clothes, forced her to perform oral sex on him, and then raped her.
The case continues.


Austrian man faces charges of molesting 16-year-old Korean girl

Boonlua Chatree
An Austrian man is facing charges of molesting a 16-year-old Korean girl in an apartment building on New Year’s Eve.
Officers from Pattaya Police Station went to an apartment in North Pattaya after receiving a report at 9:30 p.m. December 31, where they interviewed Miss Chongta (an alias), a 16-year-old Korean girl, who was in a room on the third floor of the building.
Chongta was lying on the bed and crying from the pain of a broken toe, and her neck was bruised. She told police that while she was resting in the room, the man who rented the room next to hers had entered and attempted to molest her. She had fought him off, and cried for help. Other residents had come to her aid, and the man had returned to his room.
Entering his room, the police found Andrees Hiesl, a 35-year-old Austrian national asleep on the bed. Chongta confirmed it was he who had assaulted her. The officers then sent her to Banglamung Hospital for treatment.
A warrant has been obtained from Pattaya Provincial Court, charging Hiesl with trespass, assault and molestation. Hiesl has denied the charges. The case continues.


10 Russians plucked from ocean as charter boat sinks

A naval officer interviews the captain and passengers
of the ill-fated Operick pleasure boat.

Patcharapol Panrak
Ten Russian tourists, including a five-year-old boy, were rescued from the sea after the charter boat they had hired capsized.
The passengers were picked up from the ocean 2.4 nautical miles off Laem Chabang Port by a cargo vessel, the E-Na Supply 1 Boat that had sailed out of the harbor and was on its way to Juksamed Port at Sattahip.
The captain of the E-Na radioed ahead to the Sattahip Navy Base at 12:10 a.m. on January 4 that it was bringing in the 10 Russians plus one Thai man, and Vice Admiral Jamnong Kittipeerachol, commander-in-chief of the First Fleet made the arrangements to receive them.
There were no injuries amongst the rescued Russians, who were named as Andrey Sazhnov, age 20, Miss Maria Zeniaeva, 14, Miss Margarita Udod, 16, Anaoly Kobzeva, 64, Mrs Liudmilo Kobzeva, 64, Denis Kurashov, 33, Mrs Svetaona Kurashova, 26, Master Vasilli Kurashova, 5, Mikhail Bustnov, 48, and Oceg Zhupanov, 49.
The Thai man was identified as 20-year-old Chanwith Duangkaew, a resident of Naklua, who was the operator of the boat.
Chanwith said the boat was named the Operick, and was a 40-foot long white vessel with two engines. She was able to carry 15 people and had a recreation room, bedrooms, and a storeroom. The Operick belonged to Apipong Porluan and moored at the Ocean Marina in Najomtien Sub-district.
Tourists frequently hired the boat to go fishing, and the group of Russian tourists had chartered her for a fishing trip around Rin Island. However, during the trip the Operick had started to take on water, and they had turned around to return to Ocean Marina. The aft section of the boat had broken away, and she sank.
Everyone had been wearing lifejackets, and they floated in the sea for about two hours before they were picked up.
Chanwith said the Russians had items of value on board but these had been lost with the vessel. An estimate of the value of the items is awaited for submission to the owner of the boat.
Vice Admiral Jamnong said the Russians were traveling with the Nataree Tour Company, and had come to Thailand on January 1. They were due to leave on January 13, and all of them had stayed in Pattaya.
He said that the boat operator had acted admirably in preparing the lifejackets, and that this had prevented any loss of life. The wreckage of the Operick must now be found as it may pose a danger to shipping, and there was the possibility of rescuing some of the items of value from the boat’s cabin.


Nong Nooch Tropical Garden organizes condolence book for HRH Princess Galyani

Nong Nooch Tropical Garden has organized a book for the signing
of condolences following the passing away of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana.

Patcharapol Panrak
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden opened a book for the signing of condolences following the passing away of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana.
On January 8, Nong Nooch director Kampol Tansatcha placed a large image of Her Royal Highness in front of the museum building, along with an exhibition of some of her works.
Thai people and foreign visitors queued to sign the book, the first to add his name being Sattahip District Chief Narong Teerachantarangkul.
There were many Russian and Chinese names being signed on the pages alongside the Thai names. The Thai visitors included eight-year-old twins Miss Nathakran Srisantisuk, the oldest, and Miss Nathakan Srisantisuk, together with their seven-year-old sister Miss Tanaporn Srisantisuk, the youngest in the family, which hails from Maha Sarakham Province. The girls, who all study at Wapee Patum in Maha Sarakham, said they felt honored to be able to sign the book in memory of Her Royal Highness.
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden had organized the condolence book for those people who did not have the opportunity to go and sign their names at the official offices or in Bangkok during this New Year period.


Urgent works begin as survey finds contaminated drinking water in schools

Sawittree Namwiwatsuk
Pattaya City is beginning an urgent project that will improve the quality of drinking water in the schools and on Koh Larn, following a survey that has revealed widespread contamination of water resources.

Mrs Suwanna Jarunut, director of the Chonburi Medical Sciences Center.

A meeting was held on January 4 at Pattaya City Hall between representatives of the Regional Medical Sciences Center in Chonburi and the Consumer Protection Division of the Pattaya Department of Public Health and the Environment.
Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay chaired the meeting, which included Mrs Suwanna Jarunut, director of the Chonburi Medical Sciences Center, Mrs Bubpha Songsakulchai, sanitation specialist at the Department of Public Health and the Environment, the 10 directors of the schools under Pattaya City jurisdiction, and representatives of the Koh Larn community.
Suwanna said that a survey had been undertaken in November of the water coolers at 20 schools. It was found that lead solder had been used to connect the drinking water tanks. This was a potential danger to the health of the students, teachers and other people who consumed the water. The survey also covered the potable water resources of the Ban Koh Larn community, and it was discovered that the rainwater tank had not been cleaned for more than a year, and that supplies are consequently contaminated.
Under the standards of the Food and Drug Administration at the Ministry of Public Health, the drinking water in the schools and on Koh Larn is unclean and unsafe. Chonburi Medical Sciences Center is therefore working with the Consumer Protection Department at the Public Health and Environment Department as a matter of urgency to ensure safe water supplies.
Suwanna said that initially, water samples from each school are being analyzed at the Chonburi Medical Sciences Center to find out what the substances and chemical compounds are that are contaminating the water, and to find out how these can be removed by improving or changing the water filtration systems.
A budget is being prepared for this project, and will be divided into two sections. The first part is for the training of officers, analyzing the costs, and the fee for transporting officers, and the Chonburi Medical Sciences Center must bear this. The second part is for remedial works, and the Pattaya Education Department and the Pattaya City Koh Larn Office must bear this.


Navy Base organizes condolence signing for HRH Princess Galyani

Patcharapol Panrak
The Royal Thai Navy in Sattahip held a ceremony to present wreaths, and for people to sign their names to mourn the passing away of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana.

Naval officers at Sattahip organize, then sign condolences books to mourn the passing away of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana.

An image of Her Royal Highness was placed at the Commissioned Officers Club at Sattahip Naval Base, and Admiral Prawit Srisukwattana, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Fleet, Vice Admiral Komin Komuthanon, commander-in-chief of the Coastal Defense Force, and Vice Admiral Sriwisut Rataron, commander-in-chief of Sattahip Naval Base led the presenting of wreaths and signing of names.
Rear admirals, commanders and higher-ranking officers then added their names to the book. So too did the teachers and students from the two schools under the Sattahip Naval Base zones, namely the Sattahip School in the Sattahip Naval Base area, and the Sattahip School in the Royal Thai Fleet area.
Vice Admiral Sriwisut said the condolence book was organized because the officers and their families did not have an opportunity to go to Bangkok.


PBTA asks for more urgency to improve city roads

Ariyawat Nuamsawat
The Pattaya Business and Tourism Association has urged city hall to mend the road surfaces and fill in potholes as a matter of urgency, as the business sector is concerned that the current state of disrepair would harm Pattaya’s image during the high season.

The Pattaya Business and Tourism Association is concerned about the current state of Pattaya’s roads.

PBTA President Jamroon Witsawachaiyapan presided over the association’s monthly meeting on January 9 at the meeting room at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, with Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh also attending.
Naris Petcharat, a committee member of the PBTA voiced his concern over the condition of the roads and the increasingly chaotic traffic. The congestion and traffic jams during rush hour and at the weekends, along with the poor condition of much of the road surfacing, is causing great problems, he said.
Sukhumvit Road is a traffic nightmare in South, Central and North Pattaya, while the construction of new roads in the area of Jomtien Second Road, and roads along the railway, has created serious problems with dust.
Ronakit said that city hall is not standing still on this, and has held meetings with contractors to keep to their schedules and obey the regulations concerning noise, dust and construction activity. There is a lot of road construction work going on, and most of it will be completed by the middle of the year. After this, there would be a substantial easing of the traffic problems.
Regarding Jomtien Second Road, said Ronakit, pressure is being applied to finish the project quickly but progress is being hampered with problems about the surrender of some portions of land.
For more than two years, Pattaya City has received a support budget of more than 90 million baht for the main roads, including Sukhumvit Road. However, because of the poor economic outlook of the country and the political uncertainties it has not been easy to find reliable contractors. Bidding has now been opened for highway maintenance work, and once the contractors are selected there are plans to improve a 16-km stretch of Sukhumvit Road.


Devotees gather at temples on New Year’s Day

Many people gather at their local temple on New Year’s Day.

Patcharapol Panrak
Many Thai people and foreign visitors attended Huay Yai Temple on January 1 to make offerings to the monks and to rid themselves of the accumulated bad luck of the old year as they looked forward to the promise of 2008.
The monks performed a ceremonial ritual in honor of the dead, and nine types of auspicious animals were released to make merit. There was also the pouring of holy water to make merit for parents and teachers, and to relieve those who have been suffering under a curse.
Abbot of Huay Yai Temple Sarawuth Jitpanyo said that this ceremony had been held on New Year’s Day for many years, having been held in the time that Ajarnkarn was the abbot. After he passed away, his body did not decay. It was placed in a glass coffin in the old pavilion, where he had spent much of his time when alive, and Thais and foreign visitors alike come here to pray.
Many devotees also attended Chongsamaesarn Temple in Sattahip, where Abbot Wisartsutakorn along with a group of committee members from the community, temple committee members, and representatives of the people in Chongsamaesarn Village were staging a ceremony for the Buddha relics that are on loan from the Buddhist Supreme Patriarch Thipbatuwawa Srisumangkalamahatero, grand chairman at Siammabalee Malwatta Temple, at Kandy in Sri Lanka. The relics have been on display since December 22.
The area in Samaesarn Sub-district on top of the hill at the Luang Por Dam Shrine is a holy one, and many people brought boiled eggs, bananas, betel nuts and fruit to offer to Luang Por Dam. He has been the spirit monk for Samaesarn inhabitants for a long time. The fishermen in particular pray here and make offerings, the favored item being boiled eggs, as they believe that Luang Por Dam will protect them and help them catch many fish.
Devotees also visited Master Buddha Ee, or Praku Worawetmunee, the former abbot at Sattahip Temple. He delighted them by reciting the story of how Sattahip residents had taken shelter in the temple in World War Two, and the abbot stood outside and prayed for protection. All the bombs had fallen into the sea.
Another location that was very popular on New Year’s Day was the Prince Chumporn Ket Udomsak Monument on the top of Laem Poochao Mountain at Sattahip Naval Base, where navy personnel, government servants and members of the public gathered to pay their respects to the Father of the Royal Thai Navy.



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