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Tough new laws to help clear Phuket beaches of animal touts

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Tough new laws to help clear Phuket beaches of animal touts | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The stakes will be raised for those engaged in the illegal, exotic-animal trade once the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment signs a new law draft, which is expected to take place after the Songkran break.

“For more than 20 years we have witnessed the illegal killing and exploitation of endangered and protected wild animals for tourism. Every day, criminals are taking young wild animals such as loris, gibbons and monkeys, to tourist destinations such as Phuket, Samui, Krabi, Pattaya, the Floating Market and elsewhere in the country,” said Edwin Wiek, the founder of NGO ‘Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand (WFFT)’.

Mr Wiek hopes that more severe punishments outlined in the new draft of the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act BE 2535 (1992) will finally act as a deterrent for the trade. The maximum fine for illegal possession of protected animals will be increased to 100,000 baht, and the maximum prison term will be raised to 10 years.

“The killing of, or trading in, protected animals will carry a maximum fine of one million baht,” Mr Wiek said.

Mr Wiek was especially optimistic about the inclusion of a new regulation that requires those caught in possession of protected animals to foot the bill for care of the animals while their case is processed.

Currently, the act states that the penalty for possession of a protected animal is a maximum fine of 40,000 baht, four years imprisonment, or both.

“The penalty is always brought down to a fine of a few thousand baht and a suspended sentence. The touts just don’t care,” Mr Wiek said.

Quick to agree was Suwat Suksiri, chief of the Thung Talay Non Hunting Zone in Krabi.

“Touts are continuously being arrested, but they just keep coming back because the fines are minuscule compared to what they can earn in a day,” he said.

A tout with a baby gibbon who was arrested on Phi Phi Don last year revealed that he was making at least 5,000 baht a day in the low season and more than 20,000 baht a day in the high season, which adds up to about half a million baht a month.

“About 300 species of wildlife in Thailand are protected, meaning that they are in danger of becoming extinct from over-hunting or being captured for sale as exotic pets. Gibbons are one of those protected species,” Mr Suwat said.

Mr Wiek pointed his finger at law enforcement, alleging that police officers might be unaware of wildlife trade laws or were ignoring the touts. “I suspect some of the officers must be taking ‘tea money’ to turn a blind eye,” he said.

“Local authorities in tourist destinations are turning a blind eye to these organized criminals, or mafia, in many cases profiting themselves. It is obvious that the police are not able or willing to enforce the law,” claimed a statement issued by the WFFT.

Responding to the WFFT’s accusations, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Teeraphol Thipjaroen assured that police are aware of the animal touts and are doing their best to tackle the issue.

“Clearly, the presence of animal touts means that officers are not being effective in stamping out the practice. However, I have not seen any evidence of officers accepting bribes,” he says.

“Society has both good and bad people. The same can be said about officers within the force. We cannot guarantee that every single officer is always totally transparent in his or her actions. However, it is also easy for the public to stereotype the police in a negative way, because people usually deal with the police when they are in some kind of trouble,” said Gen Teeraphol.

Either way, it’s time to stop playing the blame game and to start taking action, says the founder and president of the so-called ‘Phuket Anti-Corruption Network’, Surin Bamrungphol.

“There is no evidence of police receiving money from touts, so I cannot say whether or not police accept bribes from them or not,” he says.

“It’s really not as easy as you might think to pay off the police. If the allegations were true, the touts would have to pay off all of the officers in that area. It just wouldn’t be worth the expense for the tout,” said Dr Surin.

Faced with increased pressure from activists to do something about the slow loris touts spotted on Kata Noi Beach this month, Lt Col Pornnarong Karnonchai of the Karon Police was forced to admit that catching animal touts was a low priority.

“Tourists’ safety and the safety of their belongings is a bigger concern for us. We do our best to take care of smaller issues, such as touts on the beach. However, we are suffering from a lack of manpower,” said Col Pornnarong.

“We do want to get rid of the touts, but we just can’t go running out of the office every time we get a report of a tout. The best way to deal with this is to cut off the demand. Tourists must be educated about the harm being done by these touts and the fact that they are illegally in possession of the protected animals,” the colonel said.

“If there is no demand, the touts will stop.”

— Kongleaphy Keam

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Events

Pattaya firework party lights up the weekend | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Pattaya firework party lights up the weekend | VIDEO | The Thaiger

After much anticipation, the Pattaya Fireworks Festival lit up the sky this past weekend, delighting spectators with beautiful night beachside spectacle. More importantly, it was the first time Pattaya was packed with tourists since March this year, albeit mostly Thai tourists.

The event program was packed with long fireworks shows with hotels offering promotions for advanced bookings in an attempt to provide a much-needed boost to the local economy over the weekend.

To watch some of last night’s events from Mike Bridge, click HEREand HERE.

The annual festival saw Thais and foreigners taking part in the festivities as local bars, pubs, restaurants, and food vendors enjoying a bit more padding in their pockets. Organisers didn’t disappoint as they carried out their assurances to provide a world-class show with 4 fireworks shows per night. Such titles as “Shining in Sky,” “Paradise Pattaya, Everyday for Everyone,” “Pattaya Twilight, Decorated Stars,” and “Light is Life,” summed up the shows’ themes.

During one of the shows’ breaks, a 45 minute concert by popular Thai artist “Mean” graced the ears of onlookers, while an elephant show, by the Pattaya Elephant Camp, proved to be a sight for sore eyes. Marching bands featuring local Thai students started from the North Pattaya area and parading down Beach Road to the main stage area, located near Central Festival Mall filled the air with music, along with tiger shows and an art show by Nong Nooch Botanical Garden rounding up the schedule.

The popular Thai rock band “Big Ass” wrapped up the last fireworks show at 9:30 pm, with another popular Thai band “Boom Boom Cash” rocking out the night.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Pattaya

City officials plan to demolish abandoned Pattaya condo project

Maya Taylor

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City officials plan to demolish abandoned Pattaya condo project | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sophon Cable TV / The Pattaya News

After years of talks, threats, and complaints, the abandoned Waterfront condo development at Pattaya’s Bali Hai pier looks set to be demolished. The Waterfront Suites and Residence is a half-finished condo project that was stalled in 2014 after safety inspectors discovered that the building’s fire escapes and elevator systems designs varied from the already approved construction designs. Read an earlier story about the eyesore HERE.

Pattaya’s mayor, Sonthaya Khunplume, says officials plan to tear down what many have condemned as an eyesore, “as soon as possible” – and charge the owners for it. According to a Pattaya News report, the date of the demolition, along with the name of the company being hired to carry out the work, have not yet been confirmed.

The controversy surrounding the development dates back to 2014, when construction was halted following multiple legal threats and complaints from local residents. The Israeli-owned development company, Bali Hai, are accused of violating building regulations, by building a structure that exceeds the legal height limit, as well as restrictions on proximity to the beach. Local residents have also complained that the development obstructs the panoramic vista of the bay from Pattaya Hill, and the view of the memorial to the renowned Admiral Abhakara Kiartivongse, Prince of Chumphon.

For their part, the developers insist they have complied with all regulations and had the necessary paperwork and permits for the project. It seems however, that Pattaya officials have had enough, and, ignoring the developer’s claims of bankruptcy, they say the whole Waterfront saga must end. They say the demolition will not affect lawsuits being brought by those who paid for condo units that never materialised, insisting that court hearings can still go ahead, regardless of the condition of the building.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Pattaya

Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours

The Thaiger

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Pandemic has washed away Pattaya’s “soapy” massage parlours | The Thaiger

While the Covid pandemic has hit Thailand’s businesses hard, it has also washed away its not-so-legal soapy massage parlours after tourism has dried up its clientele. Such places, known as glorified brothels, have left many masseuses out of work as boards have barricaded the once booming establishments.

Soapy Massage (àap-òp-nûat, อาบอบนวด, literally bath, steam, massage)…
These are the bigger massage parlours where girls are presented in the fishbowl and you get the full program (including sex) for a fixed price, depending on the girl starting from 1,500 and up to 5,000 Baht.

Only a few of the soapy services have survived the pandemic in Pattaya, with Honey Massage Parlour being one of them, according to The Pattaya Mail. After adjusting to the new requirements for social distancing, the business has re-opened on November 19. However, its largest shop has closed, once known as Honey 1 on Soi Honey, or Soi 11, the windows are dark and barricaded. Honey Inn is also up for sale.

25 year old masseuse Maywadee, says she used to work in such parlours where she would get a cut of the 1,500 to 2,500 baht fee. She says she used to see up to 7 clients a day, but now that number has been cut in half as Chinese and Japanese tourists, who were her largest group of customers have dwindled. Now, she is thinking about heading back to her home city of Chiang Mai, to sell handicrafts, as her Pattaya income has dried up.

Such parlours feature masseuses that are usually not native to the area, as many come from lower socio-economic areas such as Thailands northeastern provinces, otherwise known as Isaan. Many make the trip to tourist-driven cities like Pattaya, Koh Samui, Bangkok and others, in an attempt to make a higher salary than they would if they were back in Isaan.

SOURCE: The Pattaya Mail

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