Bangkok burns after protest leaders arrested
UDD leaders surrender, arsonists take over
Thai soldiers leap over an anti-government barricade
during a military crackdown Wednesday, May 19 in Bangkok. Seven leaders of
Thailand’s red shirt protesters surrendered to authorities after a deadly
army assault on their fortified encampment. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Denis D. Gray
Bangkok (AP) - Downtown Bangkok turned into a
flaming battleground Wednesday as an army assault toppled the red shirt
protest leadership, enraging followers who fired grenades and set numerous
fires that cloaked the skyline in a black haze.
Using live ammunition, troops dispersed thousands of
anti-government protesters who had been camped in the capital’s premier
shopping and residential district for weeks. Four protesters and an Italian
news photographer were killed in the ensuing gun battles and about 60
After red shirt leaders gave themselves up to police,
rioters set fires at the Stock Exchange, several banks, the headquarters of
the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the high-end Central World shopping
mall and a cinema complex that collapsed. Thick smoke drifted across the sky
of this city of 10 million people.
The government declared a nighttime curfew in Bangkok,
and said army operations would continue through the night. An announcement
signed by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and broadcast on television said
nobody in the capital was allowed out of their homes from 8 p.m. until 6
a.m. Wednesday unless they had permission from authorities.
Protesters also turned their rage on the local media,
which they have accused of pro-government coverage. They attacked the
offices of state-run Channel 3, setting fire to cars outside and puncturing
water pipes that flooded the building.
“At Channel 3 need urgent help from police, soldiers!!!”
tweeted news anchor Patcharasri Benjamasa. “News cars were smashed and they
are about to invade the building.”
Hours later its building was on fire. Its executives were
evacuated by helicopter. Other staff escaped on foot.
The English-language Bangkok Post newspaper evacuated its
staff after threats from the red shirts. A large office building down the
street from the Post was set afire.
Unrest also spread to the rural northeast of the country,
where red shirts, who claim Abhisit’s government is elitist and oblivious to
their plight, retain strong support.
Local media reported protesters set fire to government
offices in the city of Udon Thani and vandalized a city hall in Khon Kaen.
Udon Thani’s governor asked the military to intervene. TV images also showed
troops retreating after being attacked by mobs in Ubon Ratchathani.
The chaotic end to the red shirt gathering in Bangkok is
certain to deal a heavy blow to the economy and tourism industry of
Thailand, long considered one of the more stable countries in Southeast
Asia. The red shirts are demanding the ouster of Abhisit’s government, the
dissolution of Parliament and new elections.
Cabinet minister Satit Vongnongteay described the chaos
as anticipated “aftershocks.”
“There are violent-prone protesters who remain angry,”
Satit told a news conference.
At least 44 people have been killed, most of them
civilians, in a week of violence in Bangkok as a military attempt to
blockade the protesters - who had camped in the 1-square-mile
(3-square-kilometer) Ratchaprasong district for six weeks - instead touched
off street fighting, with soldiers firing on protesters who fought back
mostly with homemade weapons.
The final crackdown began soon after dawn Wednesday, as
hundreds of troops armed with M-16s converged on the red shirt base in
Ratchaprasong, where high-end malls and hotels have been shuttered by the
Armored vehicles crashed through barricades of piled
tires and bamboo stakes, then soldiers gradually moved toward the
protesters’ hub, opening fire and drawing return fire from militant red
shirts, Associated Press journalists saw.
Bullets flew overhead and several grenades exploded near
the soldiers, forcing them to pull back and take cover briefly before
pushing forward. A Canadian freelance reporter was injured by grenade
shrapnel. Two other journalists were wounded earlier, one Dutch man and an
American documentary filmmaker. An Italian photographer was killed.
With no hope of resisting the military’s advance, seven
top red shirt leaders turned themselves in on Wednesday afternoon, saying
they cannot see their supporters - women and children among them - being
“Brothers and sisters, I’m sorry I cannot see you off the
way I welcomed you all when you arrived here. But please be assured that our
hearts will always be with you,” Nattawut Saikua, a key leader, said as he
was being arrested.
“Please return home,” he said.
By mid-afternoon, the army announced it had gained
control of the protest zone and the operations had ended - nine hours after
troops launched the pre-dawn assault.
“Police officers and soldiers have now stopped their
operation,” army spokesman Col. Sansern Kawekamnerd said.
But the red shirt leaders’ decision to surrender - over
two months after they began their protest in the Thai capital - clearly
enraged some followers. Rioting spread quickly to other previously
unaffected areas of Bangkok - prompting the government declaration of a
curfew for at least one night - and to cities in the northeast of the
Associated Press writers Thanyarat Doksone, Jocelyn
Gecker, Vijay Joshi, Eric Talmadge and Chris Blake contributed to this
Officials step up security at Pattaya City Hall
With bloody street warfare raging in Bangkok, officials
are stepping up security at Pattaya City Hall to better control the opposing
political groups that have staged periodic rallies there.
Pattaya City Council member Sanit Boonmachai asks the
mayor about security at the Pattaya City Hall.
At a May 12 meeting, City Council member Sanit Boonmachai
noted that the pro- and anti-government groups had improperly used an area
in front of city hall to assemble and worried that future rallies could
damage the city’s property and image. To date, the rallies have not been
properly controlled, he said, asking for more security measures to be
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome said the city wants to allow
groups of all colors to exercise their right to assemble, but insisted that
they do so quietly and peacefully. To ensure that, city security guards will
now work with Pattaya Police officers and additional private security has
been hired to control parking and city property. Additional CCTV cameras
will also be installed, he said.
In case of a conflict between opposing groups, Itthiphol
added, the city Crowd Control Division will work with Chonburi Provincial
Police to restore peace and control traffic.
Area officials developing
sustainable tourism master plan
leaders, led by Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome (center)
are meeting to devise a master plan for sustainable tourism.
Officials are putting the finishing touches on a master
plan to develop part of the greater Pattaya area into a sustainable-tourism
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome led a meeting of representatives
from the Pattaya Local Administrative Organization, which is comprised of
the city and its nine sub-districts. The goal was to sort through data and
determine the best place to develop the zone, which will see improvements to
enhance environmental and cultural facilities.
The master plan, once finished, will focus on economic
stability, “green” initiatives to improve the environment, tourist
infrastructure and public safety.
In focusing on “sustainable tourism,” area officials are
acknowledging that runaway development and Pattaya’s all-out drive to
generate tourist business cannot continue without irreversible damage to the
environment and, eventually, the demise of the very tourist base it strives
The sustainable tourism zone will see upgrades to
landscaping and aesthetics to stay in better balance with nature. The needs
of the community will be addressed through “green innovations” such as rest
areas along the beach, more open areas and places for the public to express
their creativity, Itthiphol said.
Currently there are about 140 projects being worked on
separately by Pattaya and officials from the nine sub-districts. The master
plan aims to consolidate management of all of them and prioritize which ones
will be best for the public and the environment.
Bang Saray to train
pig farmers, fishermen how to turn waste into energy
Farmers and fishermen
to the presentation on how to turn waste into energy.
Public officials and academics will educate and train
Bang Saray’s many fishermen and pig farmers how to turn polluted water and
pig manure into biogas that both can serve as an energy source and preserve
Sattahip District Chief Chaichan Iamcharoen launched a
biogas-production training program May 10 at the Bang Saray Municipal Office
with representatives from Burapha University, the Na Jomtien Learning
Community Center, and Science and Technology Volunteers.
Burapha Assistant Professor Chantana Chanwong, head of
the university’s Office of Academic Services, noted that a recent survey
showed that nearly 60 percent of Bang Saray’s population are either
fishermen or pig farmers who produce more than 1,000 metric tons of waste
each year. Using anaerobic digesting equipment, the manure and water from
boiling fish can be reprocessed into usable methane-based biogas and clean
Burapha will demonstrate the technology for area
residents while science volunteers will provide training.
Chaichan said such education can not only directly
benefit the population through a cleaner environment and lower energy
expenses, but also lead to increased productivity and even new careers.
Livestock manure reprocessing is already used in Thailand
and throughout the developing world as an alternative means of energy
production. Fecal matter is treated with microorganisms that break down
It’s often used to treat wastewater, such as that
produced by the fishermen. The byproduct of the process is gas rich in
methane and carbon dioxide that can be further scrubbed to reuse as a fuel
source. The solid material leftover can also be used as fertilizer.
The technical expertise required to maintain
industrial-scale anaerobic digesters coupled with high capital costs and low
process efficiencies, however, have limited its application as a waste
Study to tackle Pattaya slum project to be complete by October
Pattaya officials expect to have a new
residential-development plan that addresses the city’s growing problem
of sprawl and sub-standard housing by October.
Lecturer Panita Sa-Nguansap, a city planning
researcher from Rajamangala Thanyaburi Technology University, discusses
the ongoing residential development plan.
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome met May 6 at Pattaya City
Hall with Rajamangala Thanyaburi Technology University lecturer Panita
Sa-Nguansap, a city-planning researcher, and staff of the of the
national Housing Authority to discuss the ongoing “Residential
Development Plan for Solving the Slum Problem.”
Panita noted the project comes out of the
long-standing national goal to create sustainable cities in the central
and eastern regions of the country. This month’s meeting was the second
by city planners. The first followed a survey of the area which found
that while Pattaya has grown its economy and tourist base, it still has
many sub-standard housing areas and homeless people.
Among the problems that need to be tackled are
residential sprawl, lack of zoning, and makeshift homes. Issues with the
homeless and unlicensed street vendors also need to be addressed, she
Itthiphol said he looked forward to completion of the
study by October, which will give Pattaya a solid development plan to
No city-wide water shortage, mayor reassures Pattaya City Council
The more than 50 percent drop in the Mabprachan Reservoir
and sporadic complaints from eastern Pattaya residents again has some
Pattaya City Council members worried about water shortages.
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome ensures city counselors that
there will be no water shortage during this dry season.
At a May 12 meeting, city counselor Farooq Wongborisuthi
quizzed Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome about his concerns over water supplies
during the hot summer months. He said he had been fielding questions about
people who’ve seen Mabprachan levels fall to very low levels.
Itthiphol said the city realizes it always has problems
during the dry season with maintaining water supplies to higher-elevation
areas east of Third Road and in Naklua, Pratamnak Hill and Roilang. However,
he said, there is no systemic shortage of water for the area.
Mabprachan is far from the region’s only source of water.
The city gets water from the Mabprachan, Banglamung, Saknok and Nong
Klangdong reservoirs, which have a combined capacity of 6 billion cu.
meters. The city also purchases water from the Eastern Water Management and
Development Co. Ltd. to supplement the reservoirs.
Nonetheless, Itthiphol said the city Engineering and
Public Health and the Environment departments meet with the Provincial Water
Authority and East Water to discuss the current situation.
He also encouraged anyone experiencing problems to call the city call
center at 1337, which will dispatch a water truck.
Pattaya Beach suffering rat infestation problem
Discarded food from tourists and dirty dishes left behind
by beach chair vendors are feeding a rat-infestation problem on Pattaya
Locals are urging Pattaya City Hall to cure its rat
problem before it gets further out of hand.
Residents and tourists alike are complaining that after
dark large rats are crawling out of trees and taking over the sand, dining
on food thrown into tree planters and tubs of unwashed plates left behind by
vendors. They’re gnawing on beach chair mattresses and defecating
everywhere, prompting fears that disease may affect daytime beach visitors.
It’s not a new problem. The rats seen after dark are large, old and have
been around for a while. Locals are urging Pattaya City Hall to cure its rat
problem before it gets further out of hand.
Sri Lankans given lesson in running
tourism city from top Pattaya officials
Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and City Council
President Tavich Chaiswangwong present information on sustainable tourism to
officials from Sri Lanka’s Northwestern Province.
Officials from Sri Lanka’s Northwestern Province received
advice on how to develop a tourism-driven city from Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol
Kunplome and City Council President Tavich Chaiswangwong during their
official visit to the city May 10-13.
Northwest Province Chief Minister Athula Wijesinghe heard
a presentation on general management of the city, including municipal
administration, tourism, wastewater treatment facilities, garbage disposal
The Sri Lankans are interested in stimulating tourism in
their area and looked to Pattaya, which has decades of experience as a
Itthiphol said another of his goals is to protect
residents and visitors from natural disasters, such as the 1994 tsunami that
devastated parts of both Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Downpour causes flooding,
home damage in Sattahip
Houses and businesses in Sattahip were flooded
two-hour downpour May 12.
A two-hour downpour May 12 caused heavy flooding, damaged
homes and snarled traffic throughout Sattahip.
The first big storm of the rainy season caught many
residents by surprise as torrential rain caused road flooding up to a meter
deep and flowed into houses.
Cars stalled and motorbikes drove over the median around
the 700 Rai Market in Sattahip where small streets took on as much as 1.5 m.
Behind Thongthip Market in Bantaothan more deep water
damaged 20 homes. Power was knocked out, and people needed to scramble to
protect their belongings.
City council approves 2.8 million baht for
new storm drainage
Pattaya City Council has agreed to boost flood relief
efforts along Second Road.
The Pattaya City Council has approved nearly 2.8 million
baht to construct a new storm-drainage canal along Second Road.
At a May 12 meeting, Deputy Mayor Wutisak Rermkitkarn
urged the council to approve the 2.78 million in funds to supplement an
existing 3.1 million baht budget that was insufficient to finish the
reinforced concrete channel and connecting cesspools. The system would
connect parts of Second Road where flooding has been endemic to the drainage
pipe at Soi 10.
The council approved the request unanimously and it’s
hoped work will be complete before the worst of the rainy season sets in
Red shirt protests hit Chonburi with Laem Chabang Port blockade
Members of the UDD block roads in Laem Chabang Monday, May
Pattaya Mail team
Bangkok’s anti-government protests spilled into Chonburi
this week with a group of red-shirted demonstrators blocking access to Laem
Chabang Port and obstructing traffic on Sukhumvit Road.
About 300 red shirts organized by Puea Thai Party member
and head of Laem Chabang’s community radio station Nitchanant Wangkahad used
tires to block access to Thailand’s main seaport May 16 and 17. Traffic from
Pattaya and Bangkok backed up for kilometers as the Laem Chabang Bridge was
partially closed to traffic.
Nitchanant rejected calls from Chonburi Provincial Police
Commander Maj. Gen. Thanet Pinmuangnam to disperse, claiming she would lead
the red shirts there for days. The group maintained up to 10 “red guards” to
protect the barricade.
Chonburi Gov. Senee Jittakasem ordered police to clear
the demonstration now deemed illegal under the State of Emergency decree
imposed on the province May 13. He also said the so-called “people’s radio”
station may be closed down if it is determined it was inciting unrest.
Laem Chabang Transport Operator Association Chairman
Sangob Kingthong complained that the closure of the port would not only
cause financial hardship for themselves and the country, but damage
Thailand’s image in the international trade community. Truckers said they
personally would have to reimburse freight owners if products were delivered
To date, the two-month red shirt protest that has claimed
more than 67 lives has yet to affect Thailand’s vital exports, which account
for nearly 70 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. They also
haven’t much impacted the baht, which remains strong. That could all change,
however, if the port were blocked for an extended time. By Tuesday
afternoon, however, the red shirts had cleared out of the area and all was
calm. Locals expressed hope it remains that way.
Traffic snarled after NGV
tank-carrying truck overturns
Traffic backed up for kilometers after a truck carrying
liquefied natural gas containers overturned on Highway 36.
Police, Pattaya Disaster Relief officers and two fire
engines responded to the May 11 accident. Fearing the tanks used for natural
gas vehicles could explode, authorities shut down the roadway until the
accident could be cleared.
Driver Santi Kiatwong, 47, said he was headed to Laem
Chabang Port from the Maptaput Industrial Estate in Rayong when an Isuzu
pickup cut him off. With the road slick from rain, he lost control of the
vehicle and it overturned and slid for about 10 meters.
No one was injured in the accident and while one tank was
leaking, none exploded.
Heartbroken ex-husband commits suicide
A heartbroken restroom attendant apparently killed
himself after threatening to kill his recently divorced wife with the same
Police and medics were called to the Parsopsuk Apartments
near the railway in Nongprue May 13 where they found the body of 27-year-old
Isarin Korkaew. He was lying fully dressed on his bed with a single gunshot
to the head. The room was in disarray with the bed pushed up against the
The Surin native had a .32 caliber pistol in his hand and
on the bed were divorce papers ending his marriage with 24-year-old Oranit
Kambang, who had another apartment in the same building.
Oranit, a waitress in a North Pattaya pub, said she’d
been living with Isarin, who worked at a South Pattaya bar, for some time.
But the man was a jealous drunk who she often got into arguments with, she
said. So they separated two months ago.
On this day, Oranit said her ex-husband had come to her
room demanding she come back to his apartment. She refused to open the door,
claiming Isarin had threatened to kill her if she didn’t return. But she
relented when Isarin fired several shots outside her door.
Oranit said she gave Isarin the divorce paper and managed
to escape while he was distracted. Apartment owner Sanit Nimad said she
called police after hearing gunshots and that officers arrived to find him
in his apartment with the gun. They tried to persuade him to drop the
pistol, but instead he slammed shut the door.
After another single shot, they found him dead.
Police believe headless man in Samae San Bay murdered
Police believe a man whose headless body was found
floating in Samae San Bay was most likely murdered.
Police recovered the corpse dressed in what appeared to
be military attire with a Royal Air Force belt May 13 near the Natural
History Museum of the Thai Islands and Sea at Khao Major. About 30-35 years
old, the man had been dead and in the sea for about a week. His body was
sent to Sattahip Km 10 Hospital for an autopsy.
7 nations launch annual CARAT naval exercise in Sattahip
Rear Adm. Chaiyot Sunthonnak, commander of the Royal Thai
Navy’s Frigate Squadron 2, and Rear Adm. Nora W. Tyson, commander of the
U.S. Logistics Group for the Western Pacific preside over the start of CARAT
2010 in Thailand May 14.
Naval forces from seven countries kicked off the annual
Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercise in Sattahip May 14,
focusing on sea operations, not political unrest in Bangkok.
Rear Adm. Chaiyot Sunthonnak, commander of the Royal Thai
Navy’s Frigate Squadron 2, and Rear Adm. Nora W. Tyson, commander of the
U.S. Logistics Group for the Western Pacific, had to fend off questions
about whether the American forces would join in putting down the bloody
riots by red-shirted anti-government demonstrators. Assuring reporters that
the many rumors they were chasing down were just that, Chaiyot insisted the
war games would stick to the scheduled laid out months ago.
CARAT this year saw Thailand and the U.S. joined by
navies from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.
Based out of Royal Thai Marine Corps headquarters at Prince Chumporn Camp in
Toeuyngam Bay, the exercise, now in its 16th year, covered air defense,
suppression of submarines mine warfare, defensive weapons firing, amphibious
attack, psychological operations and other tactics.
11 donate 1.1 million baht
toward Chonburi pillar shrine
Benevolent residents of Chonburi gathered in Governor
Senee Jittakasem’s office to donate funds for a city pillar shrine.
A former governor, area business people and wealthy
residents, 11 in all, donated 100,000 baht each to kick off fund-raising for
a planned city pillar shrine for the city of Chonburi.
Gov. Senee Jittakasem welcomed former governor Chaijit
Ratkhajorn and his wife Kornkanok, along with the other contributors to his
Chonburi office May 11 to accept the donations for the pillar, which is
believed will bring good luck to the city.
While Chonburi was founded in 1933, it has never had a
pillar shrine similar to those in other cities. City officials proposed the
pillar in 2006 with the goal of having it completed in time for HM the
King’s birthday in December 2011.
Donations are still being taken for the project. The
first 1.1 million baht was contributed by the former governor and his wife;
Kamol Athirakul of Chonburi Pongsak Co. Ltd. and Sukamol Co.; Wiwat
Pattanasin of Banglamung District, Him Jiratpikanpong of Kit Rung Ruang
Starch Co.; Sunthorn Kijdaorung of Chonburi, Jira Sa-Ngiampornpanit of
Chonburi Stainless Steel Industry Co., Ltd.; Vichit Supornsahatrangsri of
Banglamung District; San Supornsahatrangsi of Banglamung District; Charoen-Saiporn
Jureekanon of Sriracha District; Ammart Sopanarom of Vorakit Montree Co.
Ltd.; and Narong Anantakhun of Khun A-nan Co.
Anyone interested in donating to the project can do so via Krung Thai
Bank’s Chonburi Branch, account #207-029118-9. The account name is “Chonburi
City Pillar Shrine.”
Factory worker tops
in crocodile-egg eating contest
Payab Pansaengthong (right) eats the fastest on his way
to becoming champion of the 8th Crocodile Eggs Eating contest.
A 39-year-old factory worker bested a field of 28 people
in quickly devouring 10 crocodile eggs at the Million Years Stone Park
Crocodile Farm’s annual egg-eating contest.
Payab Pansaengthong of Banbung, Chonburi, who makes
vehicle parts for a living, took home 10,000 baht and a certificate for
winning the farm’s eighth-annual competition. Security guard Preedee
Singhachan, 37, won 5,000 baht for second place. Former croc-egg eating
champ Udom Butngam, 43, came in third, winning 3,000 baht.
The May 1 competition was sponsored by the tourist
attraction and the Chonburi Cultural Council and, as always, brought out a
crowd of Thai and foreign tourists. Contestants were judged on how fast they
could shell and down 10 boiled crocodile eggs.
Baywatch: Drainage pipe
Pratamnak residents complained to Pattaya officials about
the laying of a drainage pipe on Ban U-thong Beach and Soi Pratamnak 6. The
drains are not covered and are taking away from the beach scenery.
Residents also are afraid that it may endanger tourists
and locals swimming in the area.
They urge city workers to finish their job quickly and restore beauty and
safety to the area.