July 23, 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of Pattaya Mail, Vol. I No. 1. The following pages contain a look back at the past 20 years, with messages from you the readers, as well as staff both past and present. Some of you who have been around a long time may recognize some of the events highlighted on the following pages. For others who might not have been here quite as long, perhaps you might gain a little insight into Pattaya’s past 20 years. Either way, we do hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we did researching and publishing it.
It is with heartfelt thanks that we salute you the reader, you the advertiser, and you the contributor, for without you we wouldn’t have been able to last this long. We hope we may continue to live up to your expectations for the years to come.
Daniel M. Dorothy, Executive Editor
Pattaya Mail was barely 2 months old when one of the most remarkable stories we ever covered took place in September 1993. Our good friend, Norwegian numismatist Jan Olav Aamlid, had returned to Pattaya from a trip overseas, bringing with him a veritable treasure of valuable coins. The short version is that once he made it home, the baht bus he had hired ran off with his treasure. The following two days were a remarkable show of detective work that ended with a trail of empty beer bottles leading to the baht bus driver’s home 600 kilometers away in Kampangphet. The villagers certainly enjoyed the parties he threw, and his wife certainly enjoyed the gold and jewelry he had heaped upon her, but alas it was all short-lived and what was left had to be returned to its rightful owner.
The baht bus “challenge” is nothing new, as evidenced by this June 1994 front page. Seems there was a big push on to replace the ubiquitous baht buses with what was being termed as a more sensible approach: micro buses. “… the baht bus system, whilst useful and providing a necessary service, is subject to abuse … and too many buses … adds to the traffic problem in the city.” There are now over 700 of them on city streets, and although many alternative ideas have surfaced over the years, none have caught on.
Hey, I have an idea, the mayor and business owners exclaimed back in December 1995. Let’s ban traffic on “the strip” from Siren bar to Bali Hai. Thus, Walking Street was born. Over the years, the times the road has been closed to traffic have changed, new archways have been erected, torn down, and erected again … and again. Now there is even an idea afloat to extend Walking Street the entire length of Beach Road.
When notorious drugs dealer and Danish escaped fugitive Red Rene was arrested in Pattaya back in April 1996, it was one of the first “major” international crime arrests in our seaside resort. The photo that appeared on an inside page of this edition, with police pointing a gun at Rene and waving for him to exit the baht bus he was in, sent a clear signal that Pattaya was no longer an easy hideout for foreign criminals.
In July 1997, some thought that perhaps the Royal Jomtien Resort fire was a portent of things to come. The tragic loss of at least 90 lives, due in part to chain locked fire exit doors, had, at least for a while, a profound effect on fire safety in Pattaya. In the days and months following the disaster, new fire regulations were instituted, old regulations more strictly enforced, and fire training enhanced. To this day, most reputable hotels in the area carry out regular fire training, and fortunately, in the intervening 11 years, though there have been fires, disasters and accidents, none have been as fatal as the Jomtien disaster, due to somewhat better management and safety regulations being (occasionally) enforced.
As with all good, long lasting events, there has to be a first, and in September 1998 the Jesters Motorcycle Club, along with the Pattaya International Ladies Club and Foster Wheeler held a fund raising party at Delaney’s Irish Pub (which is where More Bar is located now), and raised 1 million baht for the then little known Fountain of Life Center. We are happy to have been able to give that event, and all those subsequent, strong coverage in Pattaya Mail. In 2007 the charity drive raised 7.25 million baht. This year’s event is just around the corner.
Unlike the Jomtien Resort blaze two years previously, the Thai Oil fire in Laem Chabang in December 1999 was a freak accident, rather than a management failure. A fuel storage tank was leaking but the errant fuel ignited before any preventive measures could be installed. Seven people died and many more were injured before the blaze was contained. The initial explosion rattled windows as far away as Pattaya.
In January 2000, at the dawn of a new century, Pattaya Mail clientele voted three eminent Pattaya personages as the “Pattaya Persons of the Millennium”. Sadly, Louis Fassbind, former GM of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, also known as “Mr. Pattaya” and Father Ray Brennan, founder and director of the Pattaya Orphanage, have passed away. Sopin Thappajug, the third nominee, is deeply immersed in many charitable projects, assisting the less fortunate in the community.
The Pattaya Mail PC Classic, in 2001 renamed the “Pattaya Mail PC Classic – Royal Cliff Beach Resort International Regatta” is one of the many sporting events sponsored by the Mail. With many other supporters, including the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, large amounts for charities have been raised through the medium of this yacht race held at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in South Pattaya. Funding has been channeled through Rotary to provide equipment and assistance to schools in the Pattaya-Jomtien area.
In August every year the Thai nation celebrates HM the Queen’s birthday, the day also being Mothers’ Day dedicated to Thailand’s women-folk. 2002, however, was a special year, and the Pattaya Mail issued a full-color supplement to mark the occasion of Her Majesty’s 70th birthday, which simultaneously commemorated the 26th anniversary of the founding of Her Majesty’s project, Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques (SUPPORT). This initiative has been instrumental in upgrading the skills of Thailand’s less fortunate women.
HM King Carl XVI of Sweden, Honorary President of the World Scout Foundation, in January 2003 attended the first-ever World Scout Jamboree held in Thailand, where the movement is very strong. The Jamboree, held at Sattahip, attracted more than 20,000 boy and girl scouts from 144 countries and the Pattaya Mail coverage secured Thailand’s leading place in the Scout Foundation.
The horror of the 2004 tsunami placed into even clearer focus the death-toll and suffering of the Thai people, when a grieving nation learned of the demise of Their Majesty’s grandson Poom Jensen who perished along with thousands of other people. Pattaya City officials and many private sector institutions immediately went to the aid of the people in the badly-hit southern provinces.
The Pattaya Mail has consistently reported on any events which affect the people around the Eastern Seaboard and further afield. One of these pressing problems has been the threat of water shortages and the June 10, 2005 issue alerted the citizens that the main source of water, the Mabprachan Reservoir, was drying up. Now, three years later, with a frenzy of building and construction in the area, the situation is still critical and the Mail, in cooperation with the city authorities, frequently alerts the denizens of the Seaboard of the status of the water supply.
His Majesty the King celebrated the diamond jubilee of his accession to the Thai Throne, as the Ninth Monarch of the Chakri Dynasty. The Pattaya Mail covered the numerous events staged to celebrate the King’s 60-year rule. One special event was the grand convocation of 25 royal houses from around the world, on June 12, 2006, assembled at the Ananda Samarkhom Throne Hall, Bangkok, to honour our King.
In July 2007, the inaugural Mike Franklin Classic Charity Golf Tournament was played. Over a million baht was raised for charity, the funds going towards charitable programs run by Rotary International, Jesters Care for Kids, the Camillian AID Center and much, much more. Although the 2nd annual event has been rescheduled for later in the year, we predict that this new event will become a regular fixture on Pattaya’s fund raising charitable golf schedule.
On November 28, 2008, Pattaya Mail’s 800th edition hit the newsstands, featuring vcity workers taking down power poles and tangled lines from Beach Road Pattaya. Bureaucrats promised the work would be done “by the beginning of December”. Also on front page, over 100 bar owners stormed Pattaya police station to protest the arrest of a fellow bar owner for allegedly playing copyrighted music without permission. Allegedly, undercover representatives went into the bar, asked an employee to play a CD they handed her, then when she did, arrested her for playing it. Fair pay? You decide.
Thailand was in the midst of several years of political turmoil and a ground swell of upheaval among the masses when, on Tuesday, April 7, 2009, then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, on his way out of town after inspecting the Royal Cliff Beach Resort’s ability to host the upcoming summit of ASEAN leaders, had his motorcade attacked by violent protesters at the intersection of Pattaya 3rd Road and South Pattaya Road. The PM was unhurt, but his driver sustained minor injuries to his neck. The following week, the protestors broke through police barricades and stormed the Royal Cliff, breaking windows and doors on their way to occupying the building. Many ASEAN leaders, fearing for their lives, were evacuated by helicopter and the summit was summarily brought to a halt. Also in 2009, we at Pattaya Mail and many members of the community said goodbye to good friend Mike Franklin, who passed away on January 7. R.I.P. friend.
It was a tough decision trying to decide the top story of 2010. There were a few in contention, including the riots and burning in Bangkok. The deciding factor was that the riots were in Bangkok, and although they affected tourism here, many of the people I talked with said that the top event was the finish and opening of the Highway 7 bypass on March 25, making it much quicker and easier to get into and out of town. Officials state it was a 4-year, 6.6 billion baht project, but I think if truth were told, it was actually started before Pattaya Mail came into existence. I can certainly remember seeing the barrels and concrete barriers blocking the mysterious “new road” for many more than 4 years.
2011 might have been the year of the rabbit, but in Thailand it might be remembered as the year of the floods. It seems that, by the end of the year, nearly the entire Kingdom was underwater at one point or another. Close to home, flooding is nothing new in Pattaya. However, flooding on September 11 was so severe, the Million Year’s Stone Park was unable to contain perhaps hundreds, or more, of its man-eating crocodiles. Floodwaters overwhelmed a manmade lake there, reputed to contain 2,900 of these scary creatures. Park officials admitted they didn’t have an exact count of how many escaped, but they did offer 5000 baht rewards to anyone brave enough to return one. It’s no wonder the neighbors were on edge.
Whilst the beach sand nearby was eroding away, the city decided to spend a small fortune on beautifying the promenade in February, 2012. A few months later, near the end of August, city workers commenced chopping down almost all the trees on the promenade – hardly making it more “beautiful”. But, as anyone who might have traveled down Beach Road lately could see, this was all done so that an extra lane could be added. As of this writing, in July 2013, that new lane is far from complete. What is there is mostly being used for free parking, causing even more traffic problems. As a side note, the world didn’t end on December 21. Just thought you might like to know.