Pattaya monorail collides with more opposition at 2nd hearing
More than 100 angry locals, led by former
mayoral candidate Surat Mekhavarakul (center), came out in force against the
proposed downtown electric rail line.
The Pattaya monorail may derail before it ever leaves the
More than 100 angry locals, led by former mayoral
candidate Surat “Mike” Mekhavarakul, chairman of the Mike Group, came out in
force at the second public hearing for the proposed downtown electric rail
line, a pet project of Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome.
Acting as chairman of the “Banglamung Cultural Council,”
Surat said at the Sept. 20 Royal Cliff Beach Resort meeting that many
residents believe the train will create noise pollution, erode Pattaya’s
scenic beauty and cause business owners to lose money as tourists give up
walking on the beach for the monorail.
Yet while tourists may use it, the train will not solve
Pattaya’s traffic problem, he maintained. “Pattaya is only 10 km long and
space is limited. Making such a huge investment just isn’t viable,” Surat
Apparently, Surat isn’t the only one who thinks so.
Chonburi MP Potjanat Kaewpluek said more than 100 people have already
petitioned Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva about the viability of the
project with many saying the entire process - from the hiring of the
consultants to the project planning - is not transparent enough, despite the
series of public hearings.
“The real opinions of the people have not yet been
heard,” she said. “Many projects, such as micro-bus service, failed because
they were not thoroughly planned. Even Pattaya Hospital’s construction is
bogged down by flooding that has not yet been resolved.”
The proposed train line would start at City Hall on North
Pattaya Road, turn left at the Dolphin Roundabout onto Second Road, and make
stops at Big C, Central Festival Pattaya Beach, and Pattaya School No. 8,
then turn right at the flyover onto Chalermprakiat Road and terminate at
Bali Hai Pier.
Plans were shown to the public for the first time Sept. 6
and drew mixed reviews, with Boonma Fungrak of the Rong Maikeet community
complaining there were too few stations spread too far apart. He said people
wanting to use the rail line would have to pay for other transport just to
get to the station.
Pattaya City Manager Sunthorn Rattanawaraha maintains
that the city has gone to great lengths to involve the public in the
planning of the monorail. An advisory group led by Chot Jinda Moody Chelsea
Consultants Co. Ltd. and Tesco Co. Ltd. was set up and plans will be
modified based on reaction at the public hearings.
“If the people agree with the project, then it should
move forward,” agreed Potjanat. But she noted that she and others in Bangkok
believe too much money has already been spent on the project and other
multi-year planning studies that have had too little public input.
From where he sits, Surat only sees the monorail as a
waste of money.
“The city should solve the problems with the current
transportation system, such as baht buses and motorcycle taxis,” he said.
“It should concentrate on improving the infrastructure to help the tourism
industry, including the beach, public utilities, the environment and even to
create new recreation areas.”
Boat operators complain about too many touts, too few anchorages
Too many touts and not enough mooring spaces are the two
biggest problems currently facing Pattaya’s tourist boat operators,
according to the head of the local operators association.
Photisit, president of the Pattaya Tourist Boat Operators group, says too
many touts and too little anchorage are the two biggest problems facing
Pattaya’s tourist boat operators.
Saksit Photisit, president of the Pattaya Tourist Boat
Operators group, told a Sept. 14 meeting at Pattaya City Hall that the
industry and the city’s reputation are both being damaged by beachfront
touts offering over-priced rates for boat service to the nearby islands.
Ripped-off tourists generate complaints and bad press for
the city, he said. He called on officials to crack down on the unlicensed
touts and better patrol the beachfront.
Saksit also said that Bali Hai Pier is becoming too
crowded and boat operators don’t have enough places to anchor. The pier will
either have to be expanded or an alternative found, he said.
Naklua Market businesses
form tourism association
Hoping to entice more tourists to visit Naklua Market,
local merchants have formed their own association.
Preservation and Development of the Naklua Market Tourism Association’s
first president, Chatchawan Pinyasiri.
Pattaya Deputy Mayor Wattana Chantanawaranon hosted a
Sept. 16 press conference at the Plathong Restaurant in Naklua for the
formation of the Preservation and Development of the Naklua Market Tourism
The group’s first president, Chatchawan Pinyasiri, told
the Pattaya City Council members and businesspeople assembled that the goal
of the association is to promote tourism by introducing people to the
traditional and historic lifestyles of the Naklua people.
Bringing more people into the community will revitalize
Naklua’s business sector, which has shrunk steadily as the area slowly
transformed into a bedroom community for Pattaya.
TAT takes to the road with a new 20 million baht budget for tourism
officials achieved some welcome success for the area during the May 2009
road show to the United Arab Emirates. They hope to build on this success
with an upcoming world tour.
Chonburi officials have given the Tourism Authority of
Thailand 20 million baht to promote the area with a worldwide “road show.”
TAT Pattaya office Director Niti Kongkrut announced the
funding from the Chonburi Provincial Administrative Organization Sept. 18
during a press conference with the Thai Hotels Association - Eastern
Chapter, Pattaya Business & Tourism Association and other tourism-related
The funding will see TAT show off the Pattaya area in a
dozen shows next year. The first will be in Cambodia during January with
later stops in Germany, Iran, South Korea, Russia, Indonesia, Vietnam,
Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey.
Pattaya’s traditional stronghold markets in the United
Kingdom and the United States will be left to the TAT’s Internet promotional
efforts, which also obtained some funding.
First controversial Ukrainian
armored trucks arrive at U-Tapao
new armored vehicles are unloaded from the Yuzmashavia,
a Ukrainian transport plane, at U-Tapao Pattaya International Airport.
Royal Thai Army officials have begun testing the
first lot of 96 armored vehicles purchased from the Ukraine.
The BTR3-E1 vehicles, destined for service with the
2nd Infantry in Prachinburi, arrived in Thailand Sept. 17 amid criticism
from the Office of the Auditor General, which questioned the 4 billion
baht purchase after the first trucks experienced mechanical problems.
German engines ordered by the Thai military didn’t
work with the trucks’ U.S. transmissions. Thai military officials
decided to change the engine after the German company refused to ship
the engines at all after the Thai government’s bloody crackdown on
Bangkok demonstrators this spring.
Despite the problems, the Army is preparing to order
yet another 121 Ukraine armored vehicles, but had begun thoroughly
testing them at U-Tapao-Pattaya International Airport upon OAG orders.
Obstacles to daily life discussed at latest disabled development act hearing
Pollook-In (inset) addresses concerned citizens who have gathered to discuss
the revised Persons with Disabilities’ Quality of Life Promotion and
Obstacles to daily living topped the agenda at a Pattaya
hearing on the latest draft of the revised Persons with Disabilities’
Quality of Life Promotion and Development Act.
The Sept. 20 hearing hosted by the Central Council for
Disabled Persons at the Pattaya Redemptorist Center reviewed the problems
that the disabled face getting around in their daily lives, as well as the
obstacles that aid groups face in serving them.
Rewat Pollook-In, vice president of the Chonburi
Administrative Organization, noted that the province has been especially
focused on the needs of disabled. Both provincial and city governments, such
as that in Pattaya, provide assistance to operators of tourist destinations
and large buildings to make them more handicapped-accessible. Chonburi, he
noted, is also the host of next year’s National Disabled Sports Games.
About 150 people from 26 provinces attended the hearing,
which was aimed at collecting more feedback about the development plan,
which is being renewed.
Begun in 2007, the Quality of Life Promotion and
Development Act is a comprehensive rights-based law for people with
disabilities. It replaced the 1991 Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act,
which was the first law on disability in Thailand. The current law pays
qualified recipients 500 baht per month and expires at the end of this year.
Police step up efforts to clear parking spaces blocked by business owners
Lt. Col. Thanapong Phothi (inset) says the best
police can do is advise offenders they are causing problems and ask them to
remove the blockade.
The days of blocking off the curb in front of your house
or business may be coming to an end as Pattaya Police, responding to
long-time complaints from frustrated drivers and puzzled tourists, step up
efforts to get chairs, boxes, cones and other items out of the road.
The problem, echoed in a recent Pattaya Mail
letter to the editor, is obvious to any driver in Pattaya who tries to park
downtown: Due to the city’s rapid, haphazard growth, there already was a
serious lack of parking spaces. Business and home owners who don’t want
people parking in front of their storefronts have exacerbated the problem by
creating their own “no parking” zones with whatever furniture or obstacles
they have handy.
Traffic inspector Lt. Col. Thanapong Phothi said police
are hampered because there actually is no law on the books against blocking
off parking spots. The most officers can do is simply advise offenders they
are causing problems and ask them to remove the blockade.
He said police are stepping up their informational
efforts and plans are in the works to create a law that makes it a
punishable offense to block off public parking.
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Russian woman gets belongings back from alleged bag thieves
Police made the day for a Russian woman who had her
handbag snatched while walking on Pattaya Beach when they recovered her
belongings from a nearby hotel.
Donskaya Marya happily points to the thieves after police were able to track
them down and return her belongings.
Donskaya Marya complained to police her purse, Prada
wallet and Chanel perfume was stolen near Soi 10 Sept. 11.
Police investigators tracked the thieves to a hotel on
Soi 10 where, in room 505, they found Samruoy Nakmai, 21, with the victim’s
bag, wallet, cosmetics and diary.
He then ratted out his accomplices, who were hiding a
floor below in Room 404. There police found 25-year-olds Sak Srisang and
Suthichai Bunmeema, along with Marya’s perfume, some documents and torn up
photos of a foreign woman.
All were charged with theft and robbery.
British epileptic dies after swallowing dentures
A British man suffocated after his dentures became lodged
in his throat, setting off an epileptic seizure.
Ian Lauchlan Graham, 59, was pronounced dead Sept. 20 at
Pattaya Memorial Hospital. His false teeth were still lodged in his throat.
Investigators determined that Graham had been drinking
with friends at the Rose Bar on Soi Buakaow when his teeth came loose and he
swallowed them. Panicked, the man went into a seizure and died of
asphyxiation and apparent heart attack.
Danish meth head turned dealer busted by Chonburi police
Chonburi Police have arrested a Danish drug user turned
dealer and seized a large quantity of methamphetamines at his Banglamung
Munk Noah Tais hides his face as he is brought in for processing after
police caught him with illicit drugs.
Munk Noah “J.D.” Tais, 30, admitted to possessing the 100
ya ba tablets and 2 g. of ya ice found in the safe at his Country Village
house. He and housemate Chakrit Huangthung, who was caught with five ya ba
tablets, both failed drugs tests and were arrested for consumption and
possession with intent to distribute.
In fluent Thai, Tais admitted to police that he came to
Thailand many years ago and began using ya ba. Later, he said, his dealer
helped him start selling the drugs to fund his habit.
The suspects were sent to Banglamung Police Station for
British pedestrian hit
by motorbike, dies
A British man was killed when he was struck by a
motorbike on Second Road.
Sukpichai Injaran has been charged with reckless driving resulting in the
death of another person.
Guy Lloyd, 69, was pronounced dead at the scene in front
of The Avenue galleria Sept. 18. Sukpichai Injaran, 34, surrendered to
police, admitting he hit Lloyd as he tried to overtake a baht bus. He said
he never saw the British pedestrian, who was crossing Second Road with his
Sukpichai - a speedboat driver on his way to Bali Hai
Pier - was charged with reckless driving resulting in the death of another
person. He was treated for a cut to the head before being taken into police
custody. Lloyd’s body was sent to the Forensic Institute for autopsy.
Destitute Irishman hangs himself in Pattaya hotel room
A destitute and depressed Irishman hung himself
apparently after running out of money to pay for his rented room.
Police were called to the Drunken Duck Guesthouse off Soi
Buakaow Sept. 19. There they found Paul Louis George Verrieres, 49, hanging
from a bed sheet in his third-floor room. Authorities estimated he’d been
dead about two hours.
Drunken Duck owner Jureerat Polnara, 23, said Verrieres
had checked in on Sept. 10, but had continually stalled paying the rent. She
found the body when she came to collect the money again.
Lt. Col. Panlop Gangtharathip speculated the Irishman
killed himself because he didn’t have the funds to pay for his room.
Man steals truck only
for property inside it
A painter who used a duplicated key to steal his
employer’s pickup truck told police he didn’t want the vehicle, just the
property inside it.
Watcharapong said he didn’t steal the truck, just borrowed it so he could
steal what was inside.
Watcharapong Boonma was arrested Sept. 22 after
25-year-old Narong Bunchom called police to say someone had just taken his
Toyota Vigo from in front of his Nongprue house as he slept inside. The
engine noise woke him up and he went outside just in time to see the truck
Police quickly blocked off Sukhumvit Road in front of the
Bunthaworn Shop and Watcharapong arrived shortly after, police cruisers in
pursuit. The Udon Thani resident, who also volunteered with the disaster and
accident team at the Buddha Piew Yiang Thai Sriracha Association, denied he
had stolen the truck.
Watcharapong said he’d merely borrowed the vehicle, after
making a duplicate of Narong’s key, to steal the property in the back of
Vigo and sell it at Laem Chabang Market. He said he’d have taken just the
goods, but since it was already in the truck, taking the Vigo was easier.
Incredulous, and slightly confused, police nonetheless
charged the Isaan man with both car and property theft.
3.5 m. King Cobra
captured in Sattahip
Snake-catching calls are weekly occurrences for
Sattahip’s Sawang Rojanathamsathan Foundation, but in 10 years, reptile
rustler Arocha Tainonwittaecha never remembers being asked to round up a
large King Cobra.
Rojanathamsathan Foundation workers capture the King Cobra to relocate it
away from people.
That was until Sept. 23, when 59-year-old Nittaya Kaewkem
called for help with a 3.5 m. female King Cobra she found curled up in a
wall of her Sattahip yard.
Officers blocked off the crowd that had gathered to catch
a peek of the rare snake. About 30 minutes later, the reptile - 10 cm. thick
- was safely captured.
Arocha said there have been other cobras in the past
decade, but none as large.
Nittaya said she noticed the snake by accident when she went behind her
house to do the laundry.
Police chief reassures PBTA that Pattaya prepared for Manila-type hostage crisis
August’s deadly hostage crisis in the Philippines was on
the mind of Pattaya business leaders as they met with the city’s police
chief to discuss how authorities would prevent and handle a similar
Col. Nanthawut Suwanla-Ong assures members of the PBTA that local police
would be able to handle a hostage crisis should one arise.
Pattaya Business & Tourism Association President Jamroon
Vitsavachaipan queried Superintendent Col. Nanthawut Suwanla-Ong at a Sept.
17 meeting at the Green Park Resort about the Aug. 23 Manila tragedy, which
saw eight Hong Kong tourists killed when police botched their rescue from a
Hong Thai Travel bus.
Nanthawut said Pattaya police updated and reviewed their
procedures to prevent similar incidents after the Philippines incident,
which was perpetrated by a Filipino policeman who had been recently fired.
Jamroon said even though the incident had been in a
different country, it still has impacted Pattaya, with several Hong Kong and
mainland Chinese tour groups canceling their trips.
The police chief reassured the PBTA members that serious
crime continues to decline in Pattaya, with special tactical squads making
regular patrols of the city and officers setting up checkpoints on roads
leading in and out of town on the weekends.
U.S. turns over Megaports nuclear-scanning system to Laem Chabang
The United States has turned over a $20 million
cargo-scanning system at Laem Chabang Port to Thai authorities.
U.S. Ambassador Eric John and Thai Customs Department
Director-General Somchai Sujjapongse signed the transfer agreement for the
so-called “Megaports” system Sept. 20, marking the culmination of one of
American’s largest dollar-value assistance programs in the Kingdom.
Department Director General Somchai Sujjapongse and U.S. Ambassador Eric G.
John press the ceremonial button to mark the U.S. transfer of Megaports
equipment to Laem Chabang.
Launched in 2005 and brought online in March last year,
Megaports is backed by the U.S. Department of Energy and is intended to scan
all container traffic going through the harbor, regardless of destination or
country of origin, for radioactive materials. The goal is to provide an
extra layer of safety and security for the people of Thailand and Thailand’s
Under the Megaports Initiative, the U.S. is partnering
with countries around the world to enhance their ability to scan shipping
containers for nuclear and other radioactive materials. This program is
already operational at 30 ports worldwide.
John said the Megaports initiative is a critical
component of the U.S.’s efforts to implement President Obama’s commitment to
securing vulnerable nuclear material and keeping them out of the hands of
terrorists, smugglers and proliferators.
John emphasized the program is not just about equipment.
The key to long-term success, he said, is people. The equipment is operated
by law-enforcement personnel whose experience is enhanced, not replaced, by
technology, he said.
“I am happy to mark another milestone for U.S.-Thai
security cooperation,” John said. “We strongly believe that our partnership
will facilitate international trade, improve both Thailand and U.S. security
and economic well-being and help ensure the security of the international
maritime trading system, while adding to the reputation of Laem Chabang as
one of the most efficient, safe, and secure ports in Asia.”
Final schedule, menu set for Pattaya Vegetarian Festival Oct. 7-17
City officials, organizers and dignitaries line up for the photo session at
the end of the press conference held at Central Festival Pattaya Beach,
Tuesday 28 September, announcing the readiness of this year’s Pattaya
Vegetarian Festival to be held at Sawang Boriboon Foundation premises in the
old Naklua market.
Organizers have decided upon a fried rice and noodle dish
to lead the menu at the Pattaya Vegetarian Festival Oct. 7-17.
As per tradition, a communal meal for 5,000 attendees
will be cooked up in the 3.5 meter giant frying pan donated to the
sponsoring Sawang Boriboon Foundation by Pattaya City Hall. This year, it
will be ‘Pad Yad Thip Paed Sien’, which translates to “fried
miraculous crystal drops (dumplings) seasoned with eight heavenly
ingredients.” The dish contains specially ordered ‘Kiam Ee’ -
tear-shaped dumplings made of rice flour as well as ginkgo and cashew nuts,
bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, dried bean curd and vegetarian seasoning.
It will be served with 5,000 peaches.
Organizers and Pattaya officials Sept. 28 set the final
schedule for the festival’s opening events. A dual-pronged parade consisting
of “Kiew Huang Huk Jow” (the 9 Deities who are the spiritual mascots
of this year’s vegetarian festival) and “Bhodisttava” (also known as Chow
Mae Kuan Im, the Goddess of Mercy, Compassion & Healing) kicks off at 12:29
p.m. Oct. 7 at Bali Hai Pier, running up Walking Street. The parade group
then splits, with half following Beach Road to Central Road and turning
right. The second branch travels along Second Road, stopping at Mike
Shopping Mall for a dragon show, then meeting the first group at Central
Reunited, the groups move to Third Road and then jump on
buses to go to the Sawang Boriboon headquarters to open the food fest.
The event is always well attended, but Niti Kongkrut,
head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Pattaya Office, said he expects
this year to see an increase in vegetarian tourists attending.
Pattaya welcomes USS George Washington and support ships
US Carrier group arriving this weekend
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), USS
Cowpens (CG 63), and USS McCampbell (DDG 85) are scheduled to arrive at Laem
Chabang Port on Saturday, October 2, at 9:00 a.m.
The US Carrier group is here on a goodwill visit that
will further enhance the strong historic ties between the United States and
the Kingdom of Thailand through community relations projects and
professional exchanges between U.S. and Royal Thai Navy counterparts.
Whilst here, activities include giving sailors a chance
to meet and chat with orphans at Baan Jing Jai Home Banglamung. Sailors also
will paint the Baan Khao Chi Chan School Sattahip and interact with students
there, paint the Mafacthong School Banglamung and chat with students there,
repair and paint the Huay Yai School, meet and chat with students at the
Blind School Pattaya, improve the grounds at the Elderly Age Home Banglamung
by planting flowers and plants, clean up the Karunwet Disabled Home in
Banglamung, and repair and paint the Jitapawan Temple.