Pattaya & Thailand News Update
17/ May/ 2013
Swiss Bank Robbery Suspect Nabbed in Hua Hin
A suspected Swiss bank robber wanted over the theft of nearly five million Swiss francs, or about 150 million Baht, from a bank in Bern in March this year was arrested in Hua Hin on Thursday, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said.
Mr. Enzo Gerber, 42, who lived with his Thai wife in a luxury home in Hua Hin, had reportedly fled to Thailand after his accomplices were arrested by Swiss police following the high-profile heist. Swiss authorities had then reportedly asked the Royal Thai Police Office for help in the case.
According to police investigations, the suspect "arrived in Thailand through Suvarnabhumi Airport on March 19 with a large amount of money." Mr. Enzo, allegedly a "leader" of the Swiss gang of bank robbers, then reportedly bought a house worth five million Baht in Hua Hin for himself and his Thai wife to live in. The Bangkok Post reports that "police also seized ... 60,000 Swiss francs in cash (about 1.8 million Thai Baht), 13.5-baht-weight of gold ornaments and 19 cars and motorcycles."
The DSI said the bank robbery in the Swiss capital "appeared to be well planned and executed as investigators found Mr. Enzo [had] married a Thai woman before the heist to help with his escape." Thai and Swiss police are now reportedly "investigating how the suspect [was able to bring] such a large amount of money from his home country into the kingdom."
16/ May/ 2013
Kuwaiti Tourist Drugged, Robbed by Ladyboy in South Pattaya
A Kuwaiti tourist was reportedly drugged and robbed by a ladyboy in his hotel room at the Right Spot Hotel off Walking Street on Wednesday. He claimed that 7,000 US dollars and 100,000 Baht in cash were stolen by the suspect, later identified as a 20-year-old ladyboy he had met on Walking Street and invited back to his room.
Pattaya One News report that the 55-year-old oil worker from Kuwait was found by police "in a dazed state and appeared to still be feeling the effects of an unknown drug which is thought to have been placed inside a can of beer he consumed in his room" after the ladyboy had joined him there for some late-night fun.
Fortunately, the suspect had left his ID card at the reception, identifying him as a 20-year-old ladyboy; however, police are not sure yet if this was the suspect's real ID card or not.
CCTV footage also revealed that the suspect left the Kuwaiti tourist's room at around 5.30 am, more than seven hours before the victim woke up and informed hotel staff of the incident. The Kuwaiti man reportedly told the media this was his first trip to Thailand but would most likely also be his last one "as he counts the cost of his late night encounter."
13/ May/ 2013
Thailand's Most Beautiful Ladyboy of 2009 Enters Monkhood
The Bangkok Post reports that the winner of the Miss Tiffany Universe 2009 contest, a pageant for ladyboys in Thailand, entered the monkhood at a temple in southern Thailand on Sunday.
According to the family of the katoey pageant winner, the 24-year-old "had breast implants but never had transgender surgery. The silicon implants had since been removed." The abbot of the temple reportedly said: "Jazz [nickname of the ladyboy-turned-monk] is 100% man, emotionally and physically." In Thailand, only men can become Buddhist monks.
"I want to be a monk for the rest of my life and I'm ready to leave my worldly possessions behind," Jazz is quoted as saying after becoming a monk at a temple in his home province. "It's not that I've become a monk to run away from problems, but I've studied dharma for two years and now know what it truly is."
The ex-ladyboy monk also said he took part in the beauty contest four years ago "because his parents urged him to," and that he "wanted to enter the monkhood to repay his parents."
13/ May/ 2013
Russian Killed in Horrific Motorbike Crash on Jomtien Second Road
A 33-year-old Russian tourist was killed in a horrific high-speed motorbike accident on Jomtien Second Road Monday evening. Pattaya One News report that at the "disturbing crash scene", police found the Russian's body "torn into two pieces after he was thrown through the air and hit a street pylon."
At about 8.30pm on Monday, the young Russian was reportedly driving a rented Kawasaki 750cc motorcycle on Jomtien Second Road when he overtook a Honda City vehicle at high speed and crashed into a motorcycle taxi.
According to Pattaya One News, "witnesses ... explained how the Russian approached at a high rate of speed in the left lane of the carriageway and overtook the slower moving car. He then cut back into the left lane after the overtake but failed to see the motorbike taxi in front of the car. A collision took place where the Russian was thrown from his bike and hit a street pylon" which "caused his body to be torn into two pieces."
10/ May/ 2013
Thai Woman Charged With Killing Austrian Husband
A 44-year-old Thai woman has been arrested in Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand after the naked body of her 70-year-old Austrian husband was found in a forest behind their house, "with suspicious bruises and injuries." Pattaya Daily News report that the Thai-Austrian couple had lived in the northeastern city for many years but often had "violent quarrels, and the wife also had an overseas German lover."
Police were notified on April 14 that the naked body of a foreign man, identified as 70-year-old Austrian expat Gunther Kruberg [?], had been found in a forest behind a residential village in Udon Thani. The corpse was reportedly "rotting and gave a bad smell all over the area." Police assumed that the man, who had been living with his Thai wife in a nearby village, had been dead for at least one week. Police also found "medicine for asthma and a pair of slippers" near the body.
When investigated by police, the 44-year-old wife of the dead man claimed that "on April 5, 2013, she and her husband went to visit her seriously ill father at her younger sisterís house, and they stayed overnight ... Later she went back to visit her father alone again, and slept there. She claimed that when she returned home the next day, she didnít see her husband in the house. His passport was also lost."
On April 8, she notified the police of his disappearance and reported her husband as a missing person after she claimed she had gone looking for him "all over Udon Thani, but could not find him." A few days later, PDN reports, "she smelled the rotten smell from the forest behind the house. When she went to check, she found the corpse of her husband."
Following further investigations, however, and autopsy results which "revealed many suspicious points on the victimís body", police charged the woman with killing her husband and disposing of his body in the nearby forest. "There were also many bruise marks on his body, as if he was hit with a hard object."
Witnesses also indicated that the Thai-Austrian couple "always got into violent quarrels and fighting", most recently over the woman's daughter "who had a behavior of stealing." After the most recent dispute, "no one saw her husband anymore."
According to Pattaya Daily News, police also discovered that the woman had "lived with her Austrian husband for a long time, but they never had sexual relations because her husband had congenital disease." This allegedly led the woman to seek another foreign lover, allegedly a German national "who always flew from Germany to see her."
09/ May/ 2013
Two Bulgarians Caught with Fake Credit Cards at Jomtien
Pattaya One News report that two Bulgarian nationals were caught with fake credit cards at Jomtien Beach on Thursday after staff at a local Siam Commercial Bank branch had "detected the men withdrawing cash with the cards from ATMís in the Jomtien area." The two 34-year-old Eastern Europeans were later arrested at Jomtien after CCTV footage from ATMs "confirmed their actions and identities."
According to Pattaya One, a total of 19 counterfeit credit cards, which reportedly contained customer account details from banks in the UK and France, were seized from the men, which have now been charged with credit card fraud offences: "During questioning the pair claimed they worked for a Russian agent who would pay them 10% of everything they were able to withdraw. The rest would be transferred to the agent in Russia. The money they had withdrawn from ATMís in Jomtien has already been transferred out of Thailand."
09/ May/ 2013
High Risk of More Coups in Thailand, Study Says
Thailand, which has experienced 18 successful coups since 1932, continues to face a "high risk" of future coups, the co-author of a new book on democratization in Asia said Thursday.
"The more coups in the past, the more likely coups will take place in the future, so Thailand is a high-risk, coup-prone country," said Aurel Croissant, a co-author of the recently published Democratization and Civilian Control in Asia.
The book ranked Thailand 5th worldwide in terms of the number of coups staged between 1946 and 2010. Ecuador came first, followed by Bolivia and Syria.
Speaking in Bangkok, Croissant said the three factors that made Thailand vulnerable to more coups included the lack of a strong civil society, legitimacy questions about the government, and "a lot of coups in the past." Thailand, like other countries in the region, he said, has yet to develop firm institutions for democratic control of the armed forces. The Nation
08/ May/ 2013
Hackers Target Thai PM With Online Insult
AFP reports that a hacker infiltrated the website of Thailand's first female prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's office on Wednesday, posting defamatory comments in the latest attack on her character.
The words "I'm a slutty moron" reportedly appeared alongside a doctored photo of a smiling Yingluck, followed by "I know that I am the worst Prime Minister ever in Thailand history!!!". The government quickly shut down the website and warned the hacker, later named as a 29-year-old computer science graduate from southern Thailand, he faced tough punishment if caught.
The incident comes days after Yingluck filed a defamation case against a cartoonist for allegedly comparing her to a prostitute on his Facebook page.
Chai Rachawat, a cartoonist for a prominent daily Thai newspaper, posted pictures of Yingluck accompanied by the words "... a prostitute is not an evil person, the hooker only sells body. But an evil woman sells the nation."
Yingluck previously had her Twitter account broken into in October 2011. A 22-year-old university student was caught and is currently being prosecuted under the Computer Crime Act.
04/ May/ 2013
Ladyboy Beauty Crowned Miss Tiffany Universe 2013
On Friday night, a beautiful Thai ladyboy nicknamed 'Nek' was crowned Miss Tiffany Universe 2013 in the televised final round of the annual transgender beauty pageant held at Pattaya's famous Tiffany Show Theater.
Pattaya Daily News report that Nek's "prizes included a Honda jazz car, vouchers worth 1.5 million Baht, and a 500,000 Baht diamond crown." Nek will now also represent Thailand in the "Miss International Queen 2013" contest, a beauty pageant for ladyboys from all over the world, which Thailand will be hosting at the end of this year. The clip embedded below shows Nek moments before she was officially crowned Thailand's most beautiful ladyboy.
We can't help but agree with the comment by Pattaya One News that "for some it can be hard to comprehend the fact that all competitors were born as men and their Thai ID cards show their title as 'Mr'."
02/ May/ 2013
Australian Tourist Dies During Massage After Taking Cialis
A 57-year-old Australian tourist, who had obviously taken an erectile dysfunction drug in anticipation of having sex with a Thai lady, died in bed early Thursday morning while getting a massage in a guesthouse off Walking Street. The young masseuse, who works in a Thai massage parlor on the ground floor of the guesthouse and had come to massage the man in his room. said that "while she was massaging him, he abruptly went into shock and died before they could have sex."
The victim was found by police "lying on the bed in a state of undress", with "his underwear taken off." An initial inspection of the body revealed no signs of trauma; however, next to the bed police found a remaining orange-coloured oval tablet identified as the sex enhancement drug Cialis, as well as a packet containing three unused condoms. He had reportedly earlier asked a foreign friend staying in the adjacent room for the pill "because he wanted to increase his sexual strength."
According to Pattaya Daily News, the masseuse told police that the Australian had "brought her to have sex with him in his room." After the couple had taken a shower, he allegedly took the Cialis pill. "He then let her massage him while he waited for the drug to give sexual strength to him, and then they would have sex together. But while she was massaging him, suddenly [he] went into shock and died on the bed."
Police assume that the victim might have had a congenital disease which, after consuming the sex drug, "caused his body to go into a fatal shock before having sex."
30/ Apr/ 2013
Thailand Considers Opening Tourist Court to Speed Up Justice for Foreign Visitors
According to Xinhuanet.com, Thailand may set up a Tourist Court to make fast delivery of justice to foreign tourists who would otherwise depart from this country before any lawsuits they have filed could be judged by an ordinary court.
According to Tourism & Sports Minister Somsak Purisrisak, the so-called Tourist Court would handle varied criminal and civil lawsuits lodged by foreign visitors against any accused persons in Thailand in relatively prompt fashion, compared to the existing courts of justice which may spend a longer period of time than the plaintiff tourists can wait.
"There are so many cases in which plaintiff tourists such as those who may have been robbed or physically assaulted have already departed from the country before they are eventually ruled in court. We've been concerned that such legal snags might inadvertently fail to serve justice or maintain the confidence of the tourists in the safety of their own lives and property while staying in our country," Somsak has been quoted as saying over the weekend.
He added that the police will also be urged to speed up investigation into criminal and civil cases involving foreign tourists as plaintiffs and quickly forward the results of their probe to court.
27/ Apr/ 2013
US Businessman Feared Kidnapped in Thailand
KIRO-TV, a US television station located in Seattle, reports that a US businessman in Pattaya has gone missing and is feared kidnapped in Thailand.
38-year-old Nick Springer, who has owned several businesses around the US and has lived in Seattle and Oregon, reportedly disappeared after working at a construction site in Pattaya Wednesday night.
"I think heís been drugged an abducted,Ē said Harvey Sims, Springerís business partner in Thailand. "I fear for his safety, heís in grave danger, and I donít know if heíll be ok," he said.
Sims said he was working with Springer to build a kitchen cabinet and woodworking factory in Pattaya. "We were worried when he didnít show up for work three days ago," Sims said. "We went to his home and found things were not right. His bedding was stripped off."
Sims says a security guard at his home in Jomtien saw Springer either sick or impaired, being guided by a woman - presumably his ex-Thai girlfriend - into a car. "We think someone must have drugged him, and taken him away."
"His ex-girlfriend had been threatening him for a long time," Sims said. "She was the last person to answer his phone. We think she knows what happened, but we canít find her now, either."
Andrew Drummond adds that Springer had "been attacked and had threats on his life many times by his ex-girlfriend - including once with a knife. This week he had apparently informed her that she was being taken off being the majority shareholder of his Thai company, a cabinet and woodworking factory - which also presumably owns everything he has in Thailand."
21/ Apr/ 2013
19 South Korean Tourists Injured in Speedboat Crash off Koh Larn
19 South Korean tourists were injured, two critically, when two speedboats ferrying them from Pattaya to Koh Larn island collided Sunday morning.
The Bangkok Post and Pattaya One News report that a 51-year-old tourist had both his legs "partially severed" in the crash, while a 63-year-old had his leg "torn off" above the knee. Other victims - among them an 8-year-old boy from South Korea - suffered severe lacerations to both legs, broken legs and arms, neck injuries, rib and jaw fractures. A Thai tour guide for the group also suffered an armpit laceration and rib fractures. 14 other tourists suffered minor injuries and were treated in local hospitals.
A total of 28 South Korean tourists, who were fortunately all wearing life jackets, were reportedly travelling on the two speedboats when they collided a few hundred metres offshore from Koh Larn's Tawaen beach. One of the speedboats was reportedly "moored, awaiting refueling" while the other one was transporting the Korean tourists from nearby Koh Sak island to Koh Larn "after a morning diving trip." Both speedboat drivers reportedly fled the scene and are still at large.
17/ Apr/ 2013
Birthrate Dropping, Teen Pregnancy Rate Rising
According to a survey released by the the Public Health Ministry, Thailand's teenage pregnancy rate was the "second highest in Southeast Asia after Laos in 2011."
Interestingly, the survey revealed that "although the overall birthrate is dropping [with only 1.56 births per woman in 2011] teen births are on the rise." According to the Bangkok Post, it also found that only 55% of Thai teenagers have protected sex and that one of the main reasons is "limited access to birth control among teens." Here are some alarming figures released by the Public Health Ministry as reported in the Bangkok Post:
- Out of every 1,000 live births in Thailand, 55 come from teen mothers aged 15-19.
- The number of births to teen mums is 1.6.times higher here than in the United States and 10 times higher than in Singapore.
- In 2011, mothers aged under 20 gave birth to 370 children a day, compared to 240 in 2010.
- Women aged under 15 gave birth to 10 children a day, compared to four the year before.
16/ Apr/ 2013
Thai Police Propose To Extend Nightlife Closing Times to 4am
Here are some potentially interesting news for night owls and entertainment venue owners. The Bangkok Post reports that police (yep, police!) have proposed to "extend nightlife closing times by two hours to 4am."
The proposal by Bangkok's Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) which is said to be "preparing to submit the proposal to the Interior Ministry" soon, reportedly comes "as part of preparations for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) launch in 2015."
According to the Bangkok Post, the proposal "seeks to amend the law controlling entertainment venues so bar and nightclub closing times can be extended."
Closing times in Thailand, more strictly enforced since the "new social order" campaign of the Thaksin Shinawatra regime in 2001, are regulated by the nearly 50-year-old 'Entertainment Places Act of 1966' which obviously needs some serious readjustment to keep up with the times. So while we fully agree with this overdue proposal, we just don't quite understand why the police in particular is seeking to amend this outdated law??
12/ Apr/ 2013
Songkran 2013 - Are You Ready to Join the Madness?
Like it or not, it's that time again! As many expats are preparing to leave Pattaya and Thailand altogether simply to avoid getting soaked for seven consecutive days and, ironically at the same time, Thai tourism officials expect an influx of 2.7 million foreign tourists specifically to join the water-splashing madness of Thailand's Songkran festival, here's a brief introduction to what will be expecting you in Pattaya from Saturday on (continued below). To start with, here's a taster:
Songkran is Thailand's traditional New Year festival and marks the beginning of the long-awaited rainy season following months of drought. Traditionally, Songkran starts on April 13 and is being celebrated for three days only (April 13-15) but, here in Pattaya, what has degenerated to a feast of madness, has been extended to as long as a full week and lasts from April 13 to 19. So what is it all about, and what can you expect in Pattaya during the next week - other than sexy girls in wet shirts and with stiff nipples (see clip above)?
Also known and notorious as Thailand's water festival, Songkran is mainly wet - and you simply can't help getting soaked wherever you go in the heat of the day! From dawn till dusk (in certain areas the madness may continue until late in the evening) Thais and mobs of farang yobos will roam the streets with containers of water or high-pressure water guns, throwing often ice-cool water or water mixed with talc at everyone passing by, regardless of whether you're ready to join the madness or not, and regardless of whether you're a local on his way to the office or a tourist caught flat-footed on your way to an air-conditioned restaurant. Sounds like Fun?
Whereas traditionally this throwing of water was introduced as a symbolic method to wash off the sins of the year gone-by and pay respect to the elderly, Songkran as it is celebrated these days, has pretty much degenerated to the "world's largest water battle," especially in Pattaya. While this may be good fun for a day or two, many expats would argue that a full week of Songkran is simply too much. But, to tell the truth: As you won't be able to avoid getting soaked to the skin anyway if you happen to be in Pattaya this week, your best option is probably to get yourself a water pistol and participate in the wet and crazy "Fun", i.e. grin and bear it; just be careful when riding a motorcycle, especially during the day, and - most importantly - keep your wallet, mobile phone, camera etc. in a plastic bag!
Following a full week of water-throwing madness, April 19 will mark the big finale (wan lai) in Pattaya. The Pattaya Mail reports that Pattaya Beach Road will be closed to normal traffic from 8am to 10pm; there will be booths featuring "everything from concerts to a Muay Thai fight event" while hundreds of police officers and volunteers will be deployed around the area to ensure the safety of tourists and locals. Starting from 7.30am, religious ceremonies, alms giving, musical performances etc. will take place at Wat Chaimongkol temple in South Pattaya, and a "Buddha parade will attempt to roll up Beach Road to the Dolphin Roundabout and back" at noon.
With several checkpoints set up around town, police have warned that "Pattaya will be very strict on drinking and driving, and will enforce all traffic rules, starting with wearing helmets." Also note that Songkran is a public holiday (April 12-16 this year) and banks, immigration etc. won't open again before Wednesday!
For a rather cynical yet truthful discussion of what Pattaya's week-long Songkran celebrations mean for this city's expats, i.e. mainly an unwanted overlong nuisance, please see this 2013 Pattaya Songkran FAQ thread at ThaiVisa.com, which also has many useful tips for tourists and newbies. For more "wet and wild" clips of previous Songkran festivals in Pattaya, please see our special Songkran videos page.
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