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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Gung Hei Fat Choi Year of the Tiger comes roaring in

Thailand hosts 6-nation military exercise

Thailand Post opens Floating Market branch

City promises again to enforce 2008 beach chair vendor regulations

Naklua’s Old Town market closed

Marine emergency medical service to begin on Koh Larn

Number of beach masseuses to be limited on Jomtien Beach

Japanese firm studies technical, practical obstacles to wastewater recycling

Soi dogs remain Pattaya’s unwelcome ambassadors

Immigration to collect global arrest warrants in new online system

Huay Yai police arrest 3 for beating death of tattooed man

PEA equipment did kill elephant

Alleged French pedophile arrested on pimping charges

Powerful tank shells found near Sattahip market

Italian arrested for working without permit

Brazen Russian-Turkish couple face deportation for beach tryst

Pattaya donates 1.3 million baht to Haiti quake victims

7,000 bikers expected for Burapa Bike Week 2010

U.S. and Republic of Korea militaries bring smiles to Thai orphans


Gung Hei Fat Choi Year of the Tiger comes roaring in

Cultural shows, dragon parades, music highlight 3-day Chinese New Year celebration

Pattaya will host cultural shows by performers from four mainland Chinese provinces and Taiwan for the Chinese New Year celebration Feb. 14-16.

Performers from four Chinese provinces will highlight Pattaya’s Chinese New Year celebration starting Sunday, February 14, a three-day event the Tourism Authority of Thailand expects to generate 1 billion baht for the city.
TAT Pattaya Director Niti Kongkrut said hotel bookings are up 80 percent for the Feb. 14-16 period, which will see not only the start of the “year of the tiger,” but Valentine’s Day as well.
The “Fortune, Happiness and Complete Amusement” festival will see cultural shows by performers from the Chinese provinces of Heilong Jiang, Zhejiang, and Tibet, as well as a show from art students from Taiwan.
Festivities kick off at 9 a.m. on Sunday, the official Chinese New Year, with a worship ceremony at the King Taksin the Great monument at Pattaya City Hall followed by a parade from Lan Pho in Naklua at 10:30 a.m. Another parade featuring traditional Chinese dragons and lions roars to life on Walking Street at 6 p.m.
Events continue afterward at Bali Hai Pier, including a dragon and lion dance show, lion and dragon fighting, fireworks and the spectacle of a Chinese lion climbing 20 meters into the air. The highlight of the night’s activities will be a show performed by students from Tianjin Common University in Taiwan sponsored by the Sawang Boriboon Thamsathan Foundation and a concert from the Brazia Band.
Shows begin again at 6 p.m. Monday at Bali Hai, which will see an “angel blessing dance” show, kung-fu exhibition, and the Chinese Girl Pattaya 2010 pageant for kids ages 7-9. Winners will receive scholarships and trophies.
The night’s festivities will come to a close with a dance to honor the Kuan-Im Goddess, cultural show from mainland Chinese performers and a concert by “Rut the Star.”
The final day of the city’s Chinese New Year’s celebrations take place Tuesday and feature music from the Chocolate Band at 6 p.m., the final round of the girls’ pageant and cultural shows from Zhejiang and Tibet with a farewell concert by the Klear Band.


Thailand hosts 6-nation military exercise

An AV-8B Harrier II hooks up to the fuel line of a KC-130J tanker aircraft over U-Tapao during an aerial refueling Feb. 4, part of the Cobra Gold 2010 exercises underway now throughout Thailand. (Official photo by U.S. Army Spc. Lyndsey R. Dransfield)

Rayong (AP) - Thailand and the United States are wrapping up their annual Cobra Gold military exercises, this year with South Korea having taken part for the first time.
Singapore, Japan and Indonesia also participated in the three-week training exercise, which the U.S. Army describes as the largest of its type in the world. About 11,500 personnel, including 6,000 from the U.S., are taking part.
At the Monday, February 1 opening ceremony in Rayong, U.S. Ambassador Eric G. John described Cobra Gold, now in its 29th year, as “an important symbol of U.S. military commitment to maintaining peace and security in Asia.”
The core exercise focused on multilateral peacekeeping operations and humanitarian and disaster responses.


Thailand Post opens Floating Market branch

(L to R) Thailand Post Region 2 Director Pairat Sorot, Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay, Punsak Mahakam, assistant to the president of Thailand Post Co., Ltd., parliamentary candidate Chanyuth Hengtrakul, and Chalerm Ketjae, Chonburi administrative counselor open the Pattaya Post Counter Service.

Sawittree Namwiwatsuk
There’s yet another alternative to Pattaya’s main post offices after Thailand Post Co. Ltd. opened a Postal Courier Service opposite the Four Regions Floating Market.
Top city and postal service officials celebrated the opening of the new service center Feb. 1, noting that Pattaya’s rapid growth is making using only its Banglamung, Pattaya and Jomtien post offices increasingly difficult. The new service center, which follows on one opened recently at the Diana Inn Hotel, is meant to provide more convenient service to residents and tourists.
The Postal Courier Service handles letters, parcels, domestic and International EMS, online money orders, Logispost, stamp collections, Post e-mart, souvenirs, and Pay at Post Services. It is open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday until noon.


City promises again to enforce 2008 beach chair vendor regulations

City officials, led by Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh (center) meet with beach vendors, led by Panthawat Pimsakul (2nd right), head of the Pattaya Beach Chair Umbrella Business Association to enforce 2008 beach chair vendor regulations.

Phasakorn Channgam
Officials are again promising to enforce limits on the number of beach chair vendors on Pattaya Beach after admittedly failing to enforce regulations enacted in 2008.
Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh led a team of city Engineering Department officials on a tour of the North Pattaya beachfront Feb. 3 after the Pattaya Beach Chair Umbrella Business Association called again to ask for rules to establish how many vendors can work in the area and how much space they can occupy.
Chonburi provincial authorities laid out those rules - which state that vendors can occupy only 55 percent of the sand so that public recreation areas are preserved - but due to lax enforcement, unlicensed sellers have joined established vendors in again taking over the beach and encroaching into public areas.
Ronakit said the city will make a fresh effort to control the vendors’ activities, but made a concession to those near the Dusit Thani Pattaya Hotel who’ve been impacted by beach erosion. The mayor said the vendors will be allowed temporarily to occupy 56 percent of the beachfront until improvements are made to restore the eroded sand.


Naklua’s Old Town market closed

Sawittree Namwiwatsuk
Naklua’s Old Town market closed last Sunday after failing to achieve the city’s goal of becoming a unique tourist attraction.

Deputy Mayor Wattana Chantanawaranon.

At a Jan. 28 meeting Deputy Mayor Wattana Chantanawaranon said after finding initial success, the “walking street” project devolved into a typical market selling typical items, rather than showcasing local history and locally made items, as envisioned.
Phumpipat Kamolnat, secretary for Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome, added that traffic problems and the market’s general location also proved to be too much of a problem.
Old Town was a pet project of the mayor’s, who had hoped to spur a rebirth of tourism to Naklua, which in recent years has become a quiet bedroom community. But officials acknowledged this week that the walking street was never organized well enough and that local residents complained bitterly about the weekend traffic that clogged Pattaya-Naklua Road since it opened in late November.
The city may still try to revive the project, but only after more study into how to make the market unique and give visitors a taste for “old Naklua.”


Marine emergency medical service to begin on Koh Larn

Ariyawat Nuamsawat
The National Institute of Emergency Medicine will establish its first marine emergency medical service in Pattaya both to test its new project and help the city avoid further deadly marine accidents.
At a Feb. 1 meeting with institute officials and representatives from Pattaya and Koh Larn rescue organizations, boat operators and community leaders, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh said the pilot project, done in cooperation with the Chonburi Public Health Office, calls for a new medical base on the island to handle all the area’s marine-related incidents. Final details still need to be worked out with various agencies before it can begin operations, he added.
Pattaya City Council member Sanit Boonmachai noted that the current 1669 hotline is used only for land-based medical emergencies but proposed that it temporarily also be used to report marine accidents. He also said all boat operators need to know the new service is available.
“In most previous events it was found boat operators were the first responders to an accident before medic units could arrive,” Sanit said. “I propose the Chonburi Public Health Office send instructors to teach these entrepreneurs proper first-responder rescue techniques.”
He also suggested that Pattaya fund or subsidize life-saving equipment to be placed on rescue boats and ensure that private operators also have first aid equipment and supplies on board.”
The new medical service is the latest step the city has taken in response to several boat-related accidents since December that have killed three people and injured more than four dozen.


Number of beach masseuses to be limited on Jomtien Beach

Phasakorn Channgam
Aiming to cut down on how many times sun worshippers are pestered for massages, Pattaya officials will limit the number of masseuses on Jomtien Beach to two per plot, giving priority to Pattaya residents.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh announces the new beach masseuse regulations.

At a Jan. 28 meeting, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh said currently there are more masseuses than customers in Jomtien. Unless balance is restored, he said, problems and complaints may ensue.
Pattaya will formally announce the new regulations Feb. 15-17. Currently there are 457 managed plots in Jomtien. Only two masseuses will be allowed to work each plot. The city has instructed a lawyer to draw up qualifications and then prioritize vendors, giving Pattaya residents priority.


Japanese firm studies technical, practical obstacles to wastewater recycling

Phasakorn Channgam
Japanese engineers have begun studying how Pattaya can not only safely use treated wastewater as a new raw water supply, but get the public to support the idea.

Tanya Hanpol, head of the committee studying wastewater recycling.

As the latest step in the city’s water-treatment plant project funded partially by Japan’s Ministry of Education and Technology, consultants from engineering firm Nippon Koei Co. Ltd. were brought in to look at both the technical and practical obstacles stopping the city from pumping treated wastewater back into its main water-supply system.
Treating wastewater has been one of several options proposed in recent years as booming Pattaya tourism has strained the water supply. Desalination, another proposal, proved too expensive and, until recently, pipelines have not been able to carry enough water from rivers and reservoirs to fill the area’s needs.
But while the technology has been in place to recycle wastewater back into the raw water supply system, the public has opposed it, believing it is unsafe.
Tanya Hanpol, head of the committee studying wastewater recycling, said the city needs to educate and make the public understand that treated water poses no threat.
Nippon Koei will study the safest, yet least-expensive, methods to begin recycling wastewater and, if adopted, the new water source may actually bring down the price of water in the region, executives said.


Soi dogs remain Pattaya’s unwelcome ambassadors

Pattaya Mail Team
Along with Walking Street and the beach, tourists often leave Pattaya with another iconic memory of the city: the ubiquitous soi dog.
Despite efforts to round up and neuter its legions of stray canines, the city has been unable to bid adieu to its smelly, scratchy, biting, pooping ambassadors. The problem is new strays are born or abandoned faster than the Public Heath Department can take them to shelters.
The Public Health Department will take another crack at limiting the stray population starting Feb. 22 by offering free sterilization, rabies vaccinations and flea and worm treatment at the Nong Yai Temple. The services will be offered from 9 a.m. until noon through April 30. Owners seeking sterilization for their dogs must ensure they receive no food or water at least six hours before the injection.
Department head veterinarian Ronakorn Junjua said the city only picks up about 15 dogs a month and that those left on the street continue to be a source of complaints about digging through trash, barking, fighting, biting humans and defecating. He blames locals for adopting cute little puppies, then abandoning them once they grow up.
“When they don’t want to feed them anymore, they try to release them, which results in the current non-stop increase of stray dogs,” Ronakorn said. “Furthermore, stray dogs breed very quickly with one female dog giving birth to five puppies or more on average each pregnancy.”
Adhering to their Buddhist beliefs, Thais generally won’t kill stray dogs as is done in the west. Instead, they try to limit the population through sterilization and kennels. Pattaya’s main shelter in Plutaluang can house more than 1,000 strays, although there often is not enough food for all of them.
Currently the shelter has about 900 dogs and 63 cats on site with seven caretakers and one veterinarian. They’re fed once a day with food coming from both the city and private donations. But when it’s not enough, caretakers must mix boiled rice into the bowls to be sure all the animals can eat. About three or four dogs die of illness or old age each week, said vet Paladol Multree.
Pattaya resident Arunee Fumfuang, owner of the PJ Food Shop in Naklua, said she thinks owners need to take more responsibility for the dogs they have.
“We cannot kill strays as is done abroad due to our Buddhist religion,” she said. “We can only ask that pet owners sterilize them and always take care of them so they are not a burden on society.”

Stray dogs fill up the Animal Shelter in Plutaluang.


Immigration to collect global arrest warrants in new online system

Saksiri Uraiworn
Thai Immigration officials plan to build an online information network that will collect arrest warrants from around the world in hopes of nabbing criminals hiding out in the Pattaya area.

Col. Athiwit Kamolrat, superintendent at the Immigration Division in Chonburi talks to reporters about the new Internet system.
At a Feb. 1 meeting at Immigration Division 3, Col. Athiwit Kamolrat, head of the Chonburi Immigration Office, said immigration police are working with the Suppression of Human and Child Trafficking, and Youth and Women’s Protection divisions of the Royal Thai Police to tighten the noose on human traffickers, pedophiles and international fugitives that often use Pattaya as a base or hideout.
He said officials are currently closely monitoring Europeans from France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom; Asians from Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea; as well as those from Russia and the United States for whether they have entered Thailand legally, have obeyed the law and are not hiding from authorities at home.
To boost their efforts, Athiwit said the Pattaya Immigration Office will take the lead in setting up a “transitional crimes information center” which will collect arrest warrants from around the global as well as extradition requests received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Pattaya is the lead area for the project, he said, as it is often a base for illegal foreign operations and attracts gangs of human traffickers and those seeking to work in prostitution.


Huay Yai police arrest 3 for beating death of tattooed man

Boonlua Chatree
Huay Yai police have arrested three men for last month’s beating death of a heavily tattooed man who’d taken money from one of the suspects to buy a new pistol and returned with a borrowed shotgun.
Parinya Praothaisong, 18, and Cha-um Wirotrat, 44, confessed and re-enacted the attack on 34-year-old Ban Suan resident Charoon Charungchatchawan, whose body was found in a Khao Mai Kaew pineapple orchard Jan. 20.
Shortly after alleged accomplice Suthep Pitakyat, a 45-year-old Sriracha shoe salesman, surrendered to police, but denied any role in the killing. He was released on 300,000 baht bail.
Parinya told police Suthep had given the deceased 30,000 baht to purchase a .38 caliber handgun for him but returned with an old shotgun and then evaded questions about the delay in getting the pistol. Parinya said Suthep became angry and cooked up a plan with the two other men to kill Charoon.
Parinya and Cha-um re-enacted the crime in which they lured Charoon into a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck and drove him to Khao Nguang Change in Bankai, Rayong under the pretense they wanted him to beat up an enemy for 1,000 baht. But when Charoon exited the vehicle, the three men tried to shoot him and, when they missed, set upon him with the butt of the pistol, pick-ax and hoe.
Parinya said they left the body behind a rock and returned later with a box and dumped Charoon in the pineapple field.

Police drag out confessed murderers Parinya Praothaisong
and Cha-um Wirotrat for the press.


PEA equipment did kill elephant

Mahout receives salary, pursues claim

Workers from a private company determined
that an underground PEA rod connected to the lighting
and fan systems was indeed live and was pushing out about 200 volts.

Patcharapol Panrak
A Najomtien elephant camp will continue to pay the salary of one of its mahouts after the Provincial Electricity Authority was found responsible for the electrocution death of his pachyderm.
Sangchan, a 50-year-old elephant, was killed Jan. 23 when it stepped on wet earth carrying high-voltage current from a rod about three meters below ground near Hern Najomtien Elephant Camp. Mahout Aouy Yuiram, 61, who also felt the shock, was thrown when the beast collapsed and died.
Despite Aouy’s insistence the elephant died from electrical shock, PEA officials denied responsibility, saying checks during dry-weather conditions showed none of its wires, poles and grounds were discharging current improperly. As a result, the elephant camp declined Aouy’s request for continued salary payments. Aouy faced the prospect of suing the utility to recover the 700,000 baht he still owed on his elephant.
But a private company brought in Feb. 1 determined that an underground PEA rod connected to the lighting and fan systems was indeed live and was pushing out about 200 volts. In the rain, the current reached the surface soil and electrocuted the elephant.
Presented with the new evidence, elephant camp General Manager Ekachai Kanchanapatarakul agreed to continue to pay Aouy while he pursues compensation from PEA.


Alleged French pedophile arrested on pimping charges

Boonlua Chatree
Police have arrested a French national on charges he provided underage boys for sex out of his Sunee Plaza bars.

Police bring in Andre Alexandre Janvier for questioning.

Andre Alexandre Janvier, 62, was taken into custody on seven arrest warrants Jan. 30 by a team of officers from the Protection of Children and Women’s Division, who were assisted by the head of Pattaya’s Child Protection and Development Center. He was escorted to his Soi Buakhao residence, where officers found evidence he’d been providing boys under age 15 for foreign customers, including DVDs showing Janvier himself having sex with underage males.
In addition to the pimping charges, he was also charged with operating a bar without a work permit and employing underage teens to work in that bar. Authorities also discovered he had long overstayed his visa.
The long-running investigation was brought to a head after a young teenage boy complained to child-welfare officials that he was being forced to engage in sex for money with foreign customers in one of the Sunee Plaza bars.


Powerful tank shells found near Sattahip market

Patcharapol Panrak
Two powerful tank shells were found in a wooded area near Sattahip’s 700 Rai Market, but were destroyed by Royal Thai Navy officials before they could do any harm.

Explosive experts inspect the scene before detonating two bombs.
Residents found the 3.5-inch rockets in an overgrown forest area about 200 meters from the busy market Jan. 28 and quickly alerted police, which cordoned off the area and called in Navy armament officers.
Warrant Officer 1st Class Songklod Maneeruang said the two rockets had been stolen by smugglers out of the Sattahip Naval Base. They are very powerful and, had they exploded, could kill anyone within a 100 m. radius.


Italian arrested for working without permit

Boonlua Chatree
Chonburi police arrested an Italian man at a Naklua restaurant for working while his work permit application was still being processed.

Alessandro Gregoris has been arrested for working without a permit, even though his application was being processed.
A team of officers descended upon the Dela Luna Restaurant about 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27 and arrested Alessandro Gregoris, 36, who they found sitting at a computer inside the eatery.
Gregoris denied he was working, maintaining he was simply studying to prepare for work later. He told officers he already held a non-immigrant business visa and had applied for a work permit, which was still being processed.
Immigration officials verified his story, but still charged him with working without a work permit and will prosecute accordingly.


Brazen Russian-Turkish couple face deportation for beach tryst

Boonlua Chatree
A Russian woman and Turkish man who brazenly carried on with their sexual encounter on Pattaya Beach even after being discovered face deportation and permanent blacklisting from re-entering Thailand.

Russian Svetlana Guseva, 19, and Turk Helvaci Oglu Halil, 30, scramble to put their clothes on when police arrive.

Police received a report around 5 a.m. Feb. 1 that the partially nude couple were engaged in a tryst on a dimly lit beach near Bali Hai Pier and had attracted a crowd of onlookers and media. Svetlana Guseva, 19, was seen performing oral sex on Helvaci Oglu Halil, 30, until media arrived, when they began cursing and throwing water at photographers.
Police arrested the pair, then fined them 1,000 baht before releasing them.
However, Immigration police are following up on the case and will most likely deport the two and blacklist them, keeping them from re-entering the country.


Pattaya donates 1.3 million baht to Haiti quake victims

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh (center) and Jamroon Vitsavachaipan (left), president of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association help count the donations.

Ariyawat Nuamsawat
Two weeks of fundraising netted victims of the Haitian earthquake more than 1.3 million baht in donations from Pattaya residents, tourists and businesses.
More than 743,000 baht was initially presented to relief organization representatives on Channel 3 on Jan. 26. This was followed with another fundraiser organized by the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association at Central Festival Pattaya Beach.
That fundraiser, which featured shows, music and a charity screening of the blockbuster film “2012,” raised an additional 367,198 baht, which was then supplemented by Central Festival and private businesses with donations of more than 213,000 baht.
The funds are being given to United Nations organizations involved with the relief effort.


7,000 bikers expected for Burapa Bike Week 2010

Saksiri Uraiworn
More than 7,000 motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to roll into Pattaya this weekend for the annual Burapa Bike Week.

Prasarn Nikaji, president of the Burapa Motorcycle Club announces the annual Burapa Bike Week takes place this weekend.

The event kicks off Feb. 12 with a charity ride through the streets of Jomtien Beach and Pattaya. The “Riders for Peace” project also aims to raise awareness about the importance of wearing helmets and promoting peace, unity and friendship among Thai and foreign bikers.
Bike Week festivities continue through Feb. 13 at the Indoor Sports Arena. Highlights include a stunt show, “para-moto,” or powered paraglider, exhibition, Harley-Davidson vintage bike parade and music from legendary Thai rockers Carabao, Lam Morrison and others. The show will finish with the Ms. Motorcycle beauty contest and fireworks.


U.S. and Republic of Korea militaries bring smiles to Thai orphans

Service members of the U.S. Army, Air Force and Republic of Korea Marine Corps and Navy eat lunch with residents of the Mercy Center, an emergency center for small children who are at risk of abuse. (Photo by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jovane M. Holland)

Story and photos by Lance Cpl. Jovane M. Holland, USMC, Cobra Gold 10 Public Affairs
To the children exploring the halls and rough housing on the playground, the Mercy Center is much more than just a location. It is a gift; a second chance.
Established in 2000 by Fred and Dianne Doell with the support of the Victory Family Church in Pattaya, the center serves as an emergency shelter for small children who are orphans or at risk of direct abuse or severe neglect.

Lance Cpl. Wonjin Baek of the Republic of Korea Navy, pushes a resident of the Mercy Center on a swing during a joint military community relations project Jan. 30. (Photo by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jovane M. Holland)
As a Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) project, more than 30 U.S. Soldiers and Airmen and Republic of South Korea marines and sailors visited the center to play with the children, eat lunch and landscape the area.
“The U.S. military, every branch, has been volunteering at the center while participating in Cobra Gold for more than five years,” Dianne Doell said. “When the South Korean military asked to join them this year, we were thrilled. We love what we do, but it can be hard, and all the volunteers give us such encouragement with their service.”
Exercise Cobra Gold 2010 represents the first year of the Republic of South Korea’s participation. Volunteering at the Mercy Center is one of several HCA projects that are scheduled while the troops are in Thailand.
Sgt. Suhwan Lee, a scout leader with 6th Company, 22nd Battalion, said volunteering was one of the most important responsibilities of the military while participating in CG10.
“This day was good for us as well as the children,” Lee said. “This is a great program. I think all of us felt excited and happy with how it went.”
Throughout the day, the 24 children of the center were all smiles as they played soccer, basketball, swung on swings and had a water balloon fight with the service members.
Although the children started out shy, by the end of the day both groups forged friendships.
“I had a blast with these kids,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Wesley Sutton, a chaplain’s assistant assigned to the 15th Airlift Wing, based at Hickam Air force Base, Hawaii. “The fact that they can play and show so much life despite their situation is just amazing.”
“Despite the obvious language barrier between the children and the troops, they understood each other perfectly,” said Dianne Doell.
“Love has its own language,” she said. “You don’t have to talk to, tickle or play basketball. These children felt every volunteer open their heart to give love, and they gave it right back. They were clearly on the same page.”



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