Din of discontent grows in Phuket –
The Nation, March 26, 2004
Concerning Phuket: "Yes, it’s a great lifestyle
if your style includes a love of noise…"
Din of discontent grows in Phuket –
tale of two newspapers: Ghost buildings
– March 26, 2004
Same day, same subject: ghost
buildings. The Post quotes "property expert
and lecturer Manop Bongsadadt," and The Nation
quotes "independent architect Yodyiam Teptaranon"
resulting in very different articles.
needed to revive ghost buildings – Amnesty seen as
best way out of problem – Bangkok Post,
March 26, 2004
Construction on half of the buildings, mostly in
prime areas, is expected to restart this year…
“About 25% of the 508 ghost buildings are continuing
with reconstruction, such as the Central World Plaza.
The idea of demolishing them is not fair to their
owners. Rather, we should consider whether it is safe
to reconstruct or renovate them,” he said….
buildings not worth reviving’ –
The Nation, March 26, 2004
…half of those structures should be torn down
immediately for safety reasons alone, independent
architect Yodyiam Teptaranon said.
And the answer to the question, ‘Why doesn’t someone
finish those buildings?’:
… Other experts shared the view that many projects
could not be restarted because creditors and debtors
could not agree on financial matters. Bankers are
reluctant to offer "haircuts", the experts
Paper, March 26, 2004
…It turns out that the photo of a DHL van chugging through
a flooded country road against a hilly backdrop wasn’t shot
anywhere near Nashville.
It was shot in a rice paddy in Thailand, Baker said…
Former media mouthpiece turns on TRT?
– March 25, 2004
Wisarut reports: Even Manager
Daily, which used to be a mouthpiece of propaganda
for Thai Rak Thai, have warned Premier Thaksin and the
(translated and summarized by Wisarut Bholsithi from an
editorial in Manager Daily, March 25, 2004) His
Majesty has pointed out the new forms of corruption through
the message "CEO-Style corruption" and "The
richer of the billionaire, the more corrupt they are!"
Premier Thaksin and his cronies will be expected to suffer
punishment from heaven unless they can clarify the following
1) the privatization of EGAT
2) Bird flu
3) the controversial Laem
Phak Bia Project
4) The Detroit of the East Plan while they are claiming
mass transit projects
4) The integration
of Mass Transit System through nationalization while
bullying private companies that won the concessions to
sell back to the government at very cheap prices before
offering an IPO.
The most blatant example of this kind of bullying is that
"If BTSC and BMCL refuse to sell the shares to the
government at favorable prices,
no extensions allowed!"
Thai Rak Thai have played with the sufferings of Bangkokians
from the traffic jam so that those government could come
up with alternatives in favor of their cronies (e.g. bus
rapid transit, expressways striking through communities
while the cronies prosper from the local people’s sufferings).
This kind of action reveals that those cronies of premier
Thaksin want to silently kill BTSC and BMCL in the same
way they killed the Lavalin
project even though the government is supposed to
help companies to stay alive and well so that they can
make money to pay for the concessions.
[Note that 2Bangkok.com has been reporting on the
political vendettas that have halted
the Skytrain extensions since September 2002, but
the English-language press has never mentioned this at
‘US apologises for human rights allegations’ –
We notice that the MCOT/Thai News Agency site still is
reporting the discredited U.S. apology about the human
rights report: BANGKOK, Mar 23 (TNA) Washington
has issued a formal apology for its report which accused
Thailand of gross human rights abuses, government spokesman
Speaking after this mornings cabinet meeting, Mr.
Jakrapob Penkair said that the US letter, issued in the
name of President George W. Bush and Secretary of State
Colin Powell, expressed apologies for having issued the
report, which the US has already admitted was based on
Earlier: A tale of
two newspapers II – The US human rights report
– March 25, 2004
A tale of two newspapers: US ‘error’ – March 25, 2004
The saga of the two local English-language papers continues:
Today the Post has a different take on the US human
rights report (not mentioning its incorrect story from yesterday),
but still spins it by highlighting the ‘error’ in its headline.
The Nation again hammers home that the government
claims of an apology are false.
stands by report, but removes error
– Bangkok Post
The United States stands by its assessment of Thailand’s
human rights problems but concedes it made an error
in a report, since removed after Bangkok objected,
US embassy spokesman Mark Larsen said.
Embassy confirms no apology issued
– The Nation
There have been no messages from either President
[George] Bush or US Secretary of State Colin Powell
to the Thai government regarding the human rights
report, said Mark Larson, an embassy spokesman.
The US is standing by its human rights report,
In Buddhist Bangkok, even stray dogs have their day –
Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2004
About controlling dogs in Bangkok…
‘regrets wrongly assessed’ findings
– Bangkok Post
…Mr Jakrapob said Foreign Minister Surakiart
Sathirathai yesterday told cabinet a message from
US President George W Bush and Secretary of State
Colin Powell expressed regret for the US report, which
had riled Thai authorities particularly with its criticism
of extra-judicial killings during the government’s
three-month war on drugs.
…Asked to comment on this matter, US embassy spokesman
Mark Larsen said he could not confirm that such a
message had been sent by his government to the Thai
Embassy dismisses apology claim
– The Nation
The US Embassy in Bangkok yesterday dismissed a
statement from the Thai government that claimed Washington
had apologised for alleging extrajudicial killings
in its annual report on human rights.
"I definitely can not confirm that any letter
was sent that can be characterised as an apology,"
the spokesman at the US Embassy in Bangkok said.
bounces back with landslide win – Bangkok Post
surge sours TRT win – The Nation
There is probably no better example of the tone and type of
news the two English-language papers carry than the above
articles. The Post has just the minimum of facts.
The Nation has plenty of interesting analysis which
is likely to be slanted against the government. If the Post
does come up with some background or analysis, it is usually
in an additional article a day after the first one.
a great deal of material here, but do not let that stop you. Here are
some shortcuts to the most fascinating info.
Cost of living in 1941-1942
Cost of living in 1946
The Japanese arrive in Bangkok
Allied bombing of Bangkok & bombing
of power plants
The Great Flood of 1942 (with tram-boat collisions)
Tram drivers’ strike (with old-time strike busters!)
The Thai people sue for libel
Bangkok Triad War!
Return to the Bangkok Tramways main
|What it cost…
Winyoo Angkhanarak (former Permanent
Secetary, Minister of Interior from October 1, 1977 – June 6, 1980)
mentioned that during the time he was studying at Thammasart University
(circa 1937-40), Bangkok Tram tickets were 3 copper satang – enough
to cover 3 rides from Suan Mali to Thammasart University.
Nai Hon Huay
AKA Slipachai Charnchaloem – famous radio news anchor with an Isan accent
from Ubon Ratchathanee and founder of Radio 909 from Kor Ror Por Kalong
Just after WWII, everything was still in short supply even though
the tram lines services were restored after heavy damage from Allied air
raids. The fares were: 20 satang flat rate (then 1 US cent – paid in form
of a thick tin 20 satang coin) for the 2nd class trams ticket and 50 satang
(then 2.5 US cents – half a nickel – paid in a wrinkled 50 satang banknote
– defaced from a 10 baht note printed in Java) for the 1st class from
the City Pillar to Thanon Tok (Lukmuang Line), City Circle, Bangrak-Pratunam-Yotse-Silom
(Pratunam Line opened during the 30’s), Hua Lamphong line and and Bang
Krabue to Wireless Road (extended from Hua Lamphong to Wireless Road near
Cadet Preparation Academy [then the Wireless Signal Company of Royal Thai
Navy] during the 1930’s and later on to Klong Toei during the early 1950’s
– parallel to Paknam Railway which was electrified during the 30’s). Samsen
Line went from Wireless Road to Saladaeng, Sam Yan, Hua Lamphong to Yaowarat
Road, Wang Boorapha, Ban Moh, and turning right along Koo Muang Doem Canal
(the 1st City Moat dug in 1771) to Sanam Luang and then go along Sam Sen
Road to Kiao Khai Ka pier in Bang Krabue.
|ax||70 baht (up from 1 baht before the WWII)|
|a cup of black coffee||50 satang|
|a cup of milk coffee||1 baht|
|dish of rice with curry||1 baht|
|cup of confectionery (khanom thuay talai
– a sweet dessert made of coconut milk, sugar, and sticky rice flour)
|bowl of rice noodles||1 baht|
|ball of Salapao (stuffed Mun Thou made of
|bowl of wheat noodle soup
sold only at Hoy Tian Lao (one of the most famous Chinese restaurants
at Sua Pa Road in Yaowarat Area – now defunct), thanks to wheat flour
smuggled from Singapore
|4-page local newspaper||50 satang|
|8-page for a weekly local tabloid||50 satang|
|pork chop (bake pork rib) at Silom Phattakarn
(Silom Restaurant) – very tasty though expensive
|bull tongue stew at Silom Phattakarn (Silom
Restaurant) – very tasty though expensive
Newspaper and book distributors were along the tram lines.
Eastern end is at Bang Kapi commune (now Sukhumvit area) near Ratprasong
intersection, and Pratunam Flea Market. Victory Monument was then too
far away and remote. Northern end was at Bang Krabue. The city circle
was at Thewet Market, Yod Phimarn Market, Chaloemkrung, and Thieves Market.
Southern end was at Thanon Tok. Thonburi end was at Wong Wian Lek (not
far from Wong Wian Yai), Ban Khaek Intersection, Phrannok (near Sirirat
On November 8, 1947, Trams at Saladaeng were parked longer
than usual and it found out that there was a coup’d etat, so the traffic
near the Ministry of Interior and Defense was stopped until the Army kicked
Rear Admiral Thawan and his cabinet out. At that time the area beyond
Lumphini and Wireless Road was a paddy field. Rama IV Road used to have
a canal (Thanon Rong Canal) connecting Phadung Krungkasem (the third City
moat dug during King Mongkut’s reign around 1857) to Phra Khanong, but
the during the 60’s the traffic got so bad that the canal, Paknam railways,
and tram had to be closed for good to make way for cars.
Ajin Panjaphan a famous writer who founded Fah Muang Thai
weekly magazine (now defunct). In the early 1940s he was a freshman engineering
student at Chula. However, WWII turned his life upside down–wanted to
be with his friends at Memorial Bridge, play music, write novels as the
way to escape the stress of the War that had no end in sight. Eventually,
he decided to drop out of Chulalongkorn University and study at Thammasart
Open University. He then went South to work as a miner for 4-5 years after
graduation from Thammasart.
December 8, 1941
Atsadang Line is considered the shortest Tram line in the world,
running from Atsadang Pier (near Rachinee Royal Seminary – the first girl’s
school in Thailand) along the Khoo Muang Doem Canal (the 1st City Moat)
to the Triangle Shop connecting Samsen line at the foot of Charoenrat
Bridge in Ban Moh area.
|tickets at Chaloem Buri Cinema||10 satang (then 5 US cents)
for 1st class
6 satang for 2nd class
|tickets at Chaloemkrung Cinema||24 satang (US 12 cents)|
|2 duck eggs||3 satang (1 Phai for the old
men alive long enough to see Phai copper coins)
|daily allowance for a boy in
the 10 grade
|daily allowance for a boy in
the 11th or 12th grade
|month salary of a clerk at
the Royal Irrigation Dept. who graduated from secondary school
|monthly rent for a townhouse
in front of Rachinee Royal Seminary
|ice coffee with fresh cow milk
at Ui Lee Coffee shop (the most famous coffee shop in Bangkok – now
defunct – but the recipe is still alive in form of Old-style coffee)
|black ice coffee||5 satang|
|glass of black ice coffee from
a coffee stall
|ice coffee with milk||4 satang|
|ice cocoa (ovaltine)||6 satang|
|monthly salary for Privates
(Royal Thai Army or Police)
|monthly salary for a janitor
at a district office
|monthly rental of a wooden
|2nd Lt. (Royal Thai Army or
|private servant||30 baht|
|rental for a single block townhouse
in Nakhon Pathom
|4 baht a month|
|monthly salary for head of
a Muang District
|monthly salary for a man with
a Bachelor’s Degree
|monthly salary for a doctor||120 baht|
|meal for a family (a husband,
a wife, and 2 children)
|Phatthai with an egg||6 satang|
|10-year-old girl plus her younger
sibling sold by her mother to become beggars
|short time with a prostitute||75 satang|
|1 rai of land around Phra Khanong||8 baht|
|a pair of Asahi rubber shoes||75 satang|
|a pair of Sakura rubber shoes||1.25 baht|
|a pair of combat boots||1.75 baht|
|a bowl for noodles||5 satang|
|rice with green curry and half
a boiled egg
|a full egg||6 satang|
|carton of Red Lion cigarettes
|carton of Red Bull cigarettes
|carton of Tricastle and Abdullah
|canned cigarettes (50 pieces)||50 satang|
|book of matches (50 matches)||1 satang|
|factory-made Youth Army uniform
(pants and shirt)
|tailor-made Youth Army uniform||15 baht|
|glass of ice water||1 satang|
|public toilet fee
at Memorial Bridge
During the 1942 flood
|a pair of shoes made of rubber tires||35 satang|
|a durian||100 baht|
|a prostitute at Soi Sub||10-20 baht|
|a prostitute at Chaloemkrung||25 baht|
|monthly salary for worker at Bangkok Dock||50 baht|
The Japanese Arrive
Everyday at 5:00 am, tram workers (usually young men from Isan) came
to clear the tram tracks with shovels and eaters (a construction instrument
with a sharp head on one side and flat head on the other side for breaking
stone and cleaning the narrow tracks). At that time the tram sign was
a red triangular pedant with a single white star with five arms at the
Mr. Ajin came from Nakhon Pathom. He lived with his aunt
and siblings in a rental block near Rachinee Girls’ School. Mr. Ajin and
his friends witnessed the Imperial Japanese Marines marching down Ratchadamnoen
Avenue. After the invasion, black markets became a reality. Ration coupons
and death sentences could not effectively stop the black marketeers.
Early in 1942, the ticket for Youth Army was a bronze one-satang
coin (“Yuwachon Taharn”–a predecessor of Territorial Defence units. Territorial
Defence unit is a Thai version of ROTC. If you see high school students
wearing olive berets and geen olive uniforms with combat boots, they are
Territorial Defence units. Many high school students study in the Territorial
Defence course to dodge the military draft). For that amount one could
ride from Ban Moh to Sam Yan via Pahurat, Ratchawongse, Songwat, Talad
Kao (old market), Sam Yak Ton Pradoo [Note: Sam Yaek Ton Pradoo, got its
official name as "Moh Mee Intersection" because Moh Mee Dispensary
used to be at that intersection for many years.], Wat Sam Jin (now Wat
Trai Mitr-Golden Buddha Image Temple), Hua Lamphong, and Saphan Luang.
At that time, the Imperial Japanese seized Triam Udomsuksa High School
(my old alta mater). At that time, the study building of this school still
had roofs made of padan leaves, bamboo mat walls, and Phayathai Road still
had Chamchuri trees along the road up to Victory Monument. The flood increased
the price of rice from 12 baht for a 100 kg to 16 baht for 100 kg. After
that, the price of rice shot up to 32-40 baht for 100 kg.
On June 5, 1944 (Visakhapooja Day) at 11:00 am near the Memorial
Bridge. Mr. Ajin an his friend saw Allied bombers flying in circles. They
saw white smoke coming off the bomber wings. At first, they thought that
the bomber was hit by anti-aircraft guns. The bomber circled and flew
away and a few seconds later. It’s purpose was to mark the target area
with smoke for the rest of the fleet. Then a fleet of B29 bombers poured
iron eggs (bombs) aiming to destroy the Memorial Bridge and Wat Liab Power
Plant. However, they hit buildings around Tha Tian and Ban Moh area instead!
The power line for the tram (a pair of copper wires about the size of
a thumb) were cut by the shrapnel. The buildings around Ban Moh intersection
turned to debris, obstructing the tram services from Bang Lamphoo to Hua
Lamphong via Ban Moh. However, the tram lines from Pahurat, Ratchawongse
pier, Song Wat area, Sam Yaek (Ton pradoo – Angsana tree), and Hua Lamphong
still functioned. The bombs destroyed a Japanese hospital in Ban Moh and
corpses were scattered around the area. Mr. Ajin survived the bombardment
even though a bomb dropped ten meters away from him. After that day, schools
and universities in Bangkok were closed and moved out of Bangkok for safety
and the workers from Wat Liab Power Plant came to reconnect the torn copper
wires and repair the tracks a few days later.
B29’s arrived again on April 14, 1945 and plunged Bangkok
into darkness since Wat Liab and Samsen Power Plant were destroyed, tap
water cut off, no light from light bulbs, roads turned dark after sunset,
and trams not running. It took 4-5 years to get everything back to the
Odds and ends
The 2nd class tram tickets from Ban Moh Intersection (electronic
and jewelry section of Bangkok not far from Wang Boorapha and Memorial
Bridge) to Sam Yan was 1 copper stang (about 0.5 US cent). During the
30’s there were an extension of the tramway from Yot Se to Patunam and
via Sam Yan and Sala Daeng (Yot Se area is near Kasatsuek Bridge (Rama
I Road) and Patunam terminal is near the Patunam pier of Nai Lert White
Boat Service which ran from Patunam to Minburi and Nonchok). At that time,
there was only a boat trip a day along Saen Saeb canal since it took a
day or two to reach Minburi and Nonchok (then a separate province until
the Great Depression forced Minburi Province to merge with Bangkok).
Sornsan Phaengsapha was a Chulalongkorn University architect student.
He designed patrol boats for the Mekhong Operation Unit of Royal Thai
Navy which worked much better than the PT boats from the US Armed Forces.
He is also a writer as well, and below recalls the Bangkok Tramway lines
of the 1920’s to 1930’s.
Bangkok tram services ran from 05:30 to 23:30. Tram drivers
on the last rounds (around 23:00) would drive very fast. However, the
last round of feeder lines such as the Ratchawongse line would be at 18:30
since the last round of boat services would be around that time. The Ratchawongse
area was a place to have fun for those who had money to burn at first-class
Chinese restaurants like Hoy Tian Lao (AKA Yard Fah Restaurant).
The tram officers were generally people of good hearts ….
volunteering to help people who lived along the tracks …. asking adults
to give seats for students, sending drunkards from bars back home, helping
the setup of funeral rites without asking …. When inspectors came, the
tram workers had to listen the criticism … and act according to regulations
to ensure that they would receive wages without being fined.
There were 11 tramway lines (Paknam and Mae Klong Railway
not included) during the 1920’s and the 1930’s:
1) Bangsue – Bang Krabue (AKA Bangsue
A line with a single tram starting from a rest hut at Bang Krabue
Intersection (Rachinee Bon Girls School), passing Boonrawd Brewery, the
4th Calvary Battalion – Royal Guard (the toughest Calvary Unit in Thailand
– no hoodlum dare mess with the tough calvarymen from that battalion)
and Kiakkai Intersection. The line turned right at Kiakai Intersection
to go along Taharn Road and pass military units (e.g. the 3rd Cavalry
Battalion – Royal Guard, RTAF Engineer Dept., Anti-Aircraft Division (then
the 2nd Artillery Battalion), RTA Ordinance Dept., RTA Signal Dept. before
turning left after crossing Premparchakorn canal (a canal dug during the
early reign of King Chulalongkorn from Phadung Krungkasem outer city moat
in front of Wat Mongkutkasat to Bang Sai district of Ayutthaya) at Saphan
Daeng. After that, the line turned left and went along Techawanit Road
(a road parallel with Premprachakorn Canal) and passed RTA Ordinance Dept.,
RTAF Engineering Workshop, Wat Saphan Soong, Tao Poon area, Siam Cement
PCL (a heavy industry giant founded by King Vajiravut on December 8, 1913)
before ending up at Bang Sue Railway Junction.
During Boworndej Revolt in the mid-October 1933, Bangsue-Bang
Krabue tram was temporarily halted for security reasons since the government
moved the troops from the units around Dusit area to fight against Boworndej
units from Isan, Saraburi, and Ayutthaya in the rainy and muddy paddy
fields in Bang Khen area. The line ceased services around 1962-65 and
BMTA bus No. 3 (Km11. SRT Community – Klongsarn) and No.5 (Tao Poon –
Chakkrawat Temple) took its place.
2) Samsen-Sathon (AKA Samsen line)
A 3-car tram running from Kiaw Khai Kah pier (AKA Red Boat Pier of
Mae Nam Motorboat Co.Ltd.), turning right at Bang Krabue intersection
to go along the western section of Samsen Road to Sophon Bridge, Vajira
Hospital, Sang Hee Intersection, Vasukree Royal Pier, Seesao Thewet Intersection
(then Seesao Baiporn Intersection), Thewet area, Bangkhunphrom Palace,
Aksornniti Press (a publishing house printing law textbooks, novels, tram
and bus tickets), Wisutkasat area, Bang Lamphoo area Badman Store (later
the Dept. of PR and later on the lottery stalls), Saphan Siaw (a tram
bridge next to Saphan Phanphiphob Leela), Rachinee Road at the back of
the War Office (Ministry of Defense), Saphan Changrongsee (a bridge for
elephants heading to the Ministry of Interior and Giant Swing constructed
in 1910 at the place used to be the Royal Ricemill), Wat Ratpradittharam
before going across the Khoo Muang Doem canal to Ban Moh area at Saphan
Hok. Ban Moh is the area famous for trading in diamonds and electronic
items. After passing Ban Moh, the line headed to Pahurat area (Little
India – famous for textile and garment trading), Saphan Han (one of the
most famous flee markets in the City Center), Mahachai Road, northern
section of Yaowarat Road (Chinatown), Samyaek Ton Pradoo (Bangkok Tramway
HQ)–interchange station with Bangkholaem line, southern section of Rama
IV Road, Hua Lamphong Station, Saphan Lueang (Jarumuang Intersection),
Sam Yarn (Chula U. Campus), King Chulalongkorn Hospital, Queen Saowapha
Institute (Red Cross HQ), Saladaeng (Lumbhinee Park), and ending up at
Sathon Intersection which Wireless Road intersects with Sathon Road.
There were two depots at Bang Krabue near Kiaw Khai Kah Pier
(the Pier for Maenam Motorboat Co.Ltd -> the Red Boat to Nonthaburi)
and Saphan Lueang (the bridge between Hua Lamphong and Sam Yan which was
later on moved to the place near the office of Anglo-American Tobacco
Co.LTd. before the nationalization to create Tobacco Monopoly). Tram tickets
for this line can be used for riding the Red Boat to Nonthaburi and the
tickets of Maenam Motorboat can be used for riding the tram to Pakklong
Talad. The ticket from Bang Krabue to Sathon was 6 Stang (2nd Class) and
10 Stang (for 1st Class).
3) Atsadang Feeder line
A single tram for those merchants at Pakklong Talad flea market and
those girls studying at Sunanthalai Royal Seminary (now Rachinee Girls
School). The line was probably the shortest tram line in the world. It
cost the riders 1 copper stang but the passengers usually used tickets
from the Bangkrabue line to go along this line. The line was abandoned
around 1934-37 since the Bangkok Map of 1937 (now in a very dilapidated
condition at the National Archives) does not show this line at all.
4) Ratchawongse Feeder line
A single tram for those who want to ride the ocean ships at Ratchawongse
Pier (one of the most important piers in the days before Klong Toei port)
and those who want to have good meals at the Chinese restaurants around
Ratchawongse Road. The last tram of this feeder line would run at 18:30
so as to make an extra space for those who want to hang around that area
for dinner and parties at the restaurants. There was no luggage movement
to/from the ocean ships after sunset. This line was abandoned in 1934,
and Siam Electricity Co.Ltd. decided to run a blue bus from the Golden
Mountain to Ratchawonse Pier as a substitute. However, WWII eliminated
this feeder bus of Siam Electricity Co.Ltd due to the lack of spare parts
since at that time the rubber tire for a bus alone cost the company 10,000
baht [US$4,000 in the official rate and US$400 at the black market rate].
Only Nai Lert Bus (white buses) and Bangkok Municipal Buses (green buses
with an elephant seal) could afford such luxuries. Medicines such as Quinine
and Ateppine (for Malaria) and NB-639 (for Syphilis) were priced out of
range for virtually everybody. Only those with good connections with black
marketers could obtain such necessaries. Now, BMTA bus No. 204 (Huay Kwang
– Ratchawongse Pier) runs this route.
5) Sukhothai Feeder Line
A single tram for those who live along Samsen canal who want to go
to Vajira hospital. The line ran from Wat Kwid (Wat Prasart Bunyawart)
pier to the end of Sukhothai Rad. After that, it turned left to go along
Sukhothai Road at the Vajira Hospital side of the road. The line met Samsen
line at Vajira Intersection. It was constructed around 1913 (the first
years of Vajira Hospital) which one can see on the map from the National
Archives, ceased service around 1933-34.
6) City Pillar – Thanon Tok Pier
A three-car tram which was the oldest and the longest line of all.
Originally a horse-drawn line with 4 pairs of horses. The left and right
pair for normal use and the other central two pairs for going uphill at
bridges. The service started on May 22, 1887 from City Pillar to Bangkok
Dock Co.Ltd. (the oldest modern dockyard founded in 1865–still in service
for Marine Police and Royal Thai Navy but as a state enterprise which
was nationalized in 1939 for military use). The line expanded to Thanon
Tok pier in 1888. It become the talk-of-the-town after being used by Royal
Siamese Army for moving military personnel to quell triads fighting for
territory at the ricemill in Yannawa. The details of the traid suppression
in 1889 has been recorded by Prince Damrongrajanuphab (Prince Damrong
for short) in his memoir "Nithan Borankhadee" (written in 1942
and first published as memorial book for the cremation of Prince Damrong
in May 1944 after he passed away from heart failure on December 1, 1943).
[More on the Triad Wars] The horse-drawn tram did
not work very well even though the company had received Royal approval
to construct seven tram lines in Bangkok.
The line ran from City Pillar to behind the Ministry of Defense
and then along Koo Muang Doem to go across Chang Rongsee Bridge to the
Ministry of Interior to go along Bumrung Muang road to Giant Swing, and
then turned right at Seekak Sao Chingcha to go along Fuang Nakhon Road
to New Road at Seekak Phrayasri Intersection. After that, the line went
along New Road to Chaloemkrung Royal Theater (founded in 1933–the air-conditioned
cinema/theater), Werng Nakhonkhasem (Thieves Market), Wang Boorapha Palace
(the palace of Prince Bhanurangsri and the Bhanubongse family founded
in 1876, became Bahnuthat Girls School from 1928 to 1941, sold to a land
developer and then demolished to solve heritage disputes in 1952 ->
and become a trade center ever since). The line also passed Saphan Hun,
Suapah, Wat Leng Nei Yee (Wat Mungkorn Kamalawat), Phraya Sombutphaisal
Building (9-storey building), Sam Yaek Ton Pradoo (Bangkok Tramway HQ),
Nailert Ice Manufacturing at Saphan Lek Larng, Si Phraya, Bangkok GPO,
Oriental Hotel, Bangkok Dock Co.Ltd, Wat Don Cemetery before ending up
at Thanontok pier (Red Boat Pier for Maenam Motorboat Co.Ltd. to Phra
Padaeng). At Thanon Tok, there is a U-turn. It took several minutes to
move the locomotive back to the front, moving the trolley backward, and
make the seats face toward the City Pillar. BMTA bus No. 1 now takes this
7) Hua Lamphong
The redline (line 1-6 for yellow lines) with 3-car tram starting
from Banglamphoo near Banglamphoo Intersection (then Banglamphoo Pratoomai),
turning right at Wat Bowornniwetwiharn to Tanao Road (now an entertainment
road in City Center beside Phra Athit Road), Khok Wua intersection (Old
cattle barn-> Tanao Rd. intersecting with Ratchadamnoen Avenue) to
Bumrung Muang Rd. near Chaopho Sua Shrine. After that, turning left to
go along the Southern section of Bumrung Muang Rd. to Yotseh via Suan
Mali, Saphan Dam Intersection (AKA Maen Sri Intersection – another office
of Bangkok Tramway-> with a depot and a maintenance center). After
reaching Yot Seh, the line went along Krung Kasem Road (a road parallel
to Krung Kasem canal – an outer city moat from Thewet to Si Phraya) before
ending up at Hua Lamphong. BMTA bus No. 53 (Ring line Thewet – Hua Lamphong
– Bang Lamphoo) has filled the slot.
8) City Circle
A single-car tram line which was also the last red line to survive
until October 1, 1968, the end of the tram service. The line ran from
Banglamphoo to go along Phrasumen Road, Prachathippatai Intersection,
Wat Trithossathep, Phan Fah Intersection, Wat Ratchanadda, Mahachai Road,
Samyod Gate, Wang Boorapha, Saphan Han Gate, Wat Bophitphimuk, Memorial
Bridge (old GPO–demolished to make a way for Phrapokklao Bridge in 1984),
Chakphet Road, Pakklong Talad flee Market, Chakkraphongse House (house
of Prince Chakkarabongse–a favorite son of King Chulalongkorn until he
married a Russian lady), Wat Po, Tha Tian pier (a pier to Wat Arun, and
the main pier of Siam Motorboat Co.Ltd. -> Red boat -> to Phra Padaeng
and Pathumthanee), Tha Ratchaworadit Royal Pier, turning right to go along
Na Phralan Road at Tha Chang Pier (HQ of Chaophraya Express Boat). After
that, it turned left at Nah Phralan intersection to go along Phrachan
Road to Tha Phrachan (ferry pier to Bangkok Noy Railway Station – AKA
Terminal of the Southern Railway until Rama VI Bridge become a reality
on Jan 1, 1926), turning left at Phrachan Intersection to pass Thammasart
University, and National Museum before turning left at the National Theater.
After that, it turned right at the mouth of Ko Muang Doem canal (inner
city moat) via Wat Phrakaeo Wangnah (now the School of Arts). After that,
to went along Phra Athit Road (a new entertainment center for Thammasart
people and other college kids) to Pass Ban Phra Athit (belonged to Chaophraya
Woraphongsephiphat [AKA Momratchawongse Yen Issarasena–grandchild of
Kromphratchawangboworn Mahasenanurak–duputy king during the reign of
King Rama II] who was the owner of Bang Buathong Railway) before ending
up at bang Lamphoo via Phrasumen fort , and Wat Sangwet. The riders of
this line needed to pay twice–once at Banglamphoo and the other at Pakklong
Talad Intersectin-Atsadang Road.
9) Yotse line
A single-car tram line which was constructed during the late 1920’s
and early 1930’s and went from Yotse to go across Kasatsuek Bridge to
Ratprasong Intersection via Rama I Road, Bunthathong Intersection, National
Stadium (then Hor Wang (Winsor Palace) of Crown Prince Vajirunnahit and
office of Prince Mahidol), Sapathum Palace (palace of Queen Sawangwatthana,
Prince Mahidol and Princess Mother before becoming Princess Mother Foundation
office), Wat Pathumwanaram (meditation center in downtown BKK), World
Trade Center (then Phatchabun Palace) before turning left along Ratchadamri
Road to Nai Lert pier at Pratoonam near Chaloem Lok Bridge. After that,
you could ride Nai Lert White boat to go along Saensaeb canal to Nongchok
via Klong Tan, Hua Mark, Bang Kapi, Saphan Soong, and Minburi. Nai Lert
boat also went along Praweturirom canal to Paed Riw (Chachoengsao) via
Ladkrabang after branching out of Saensaeb canal at Phrakhanong. Nai Lert
White boat tickets could be used to ride the tram to Bang Rak or Yotse
and the tram ticket could be used to ride Nai Lert White boat to Phrakhanong
or Bang Kapi.
10) Silom line
A single-car tram that went from Nai Lert Pier to go along Ratchadamri
Road and Silom Road to meet Bangkholaem line at Bangrak Intersection.
The line also went parallel to Silom canal which had a long line of Angsana
and Asok trees. Silom canal was gone for good with the expansion of Silom
Road (AKA Windmill Road – for the western windmill not far for the road
during the reign of King Mongkut). During the blooming time of Angsana
trees, the yellow petals of Angsana flowers made the tram track look very
11) Dusit line
A three-car tram that went from Wat Thewaratkunchorn to Seesao Thewet
Intersection before turning left to Uthong intersection. Then turning
right to go along Ratchaseema Road at Suan Kulab Palace. After that, the
line turned left to go along Sri Ayuthaya Road at Karn Ruan Intersection.
After that, it passed the 1th Infantry Division (Royal Guard), Wang Parutsakawan
(Palace for Prince Chakkraphongse–later the Government House after the
1932 revolution until Phisanulok House replaced it in 1939), Suan Misakawan
Intersection (Supreme Commander HQ), and Wat Benjamabophit (AKA Marble
Temple) before turning right along Rama V Rd. to Prince Abhakorn Palace
(now Rajamongkhol Institute, Chumporn Khetudomsak Campus) via Royal Turf
Club. After that, it went along Phitsanulok Rd. to Nang Leng Intersection
and turned right along Nakhonsawan Road to Worachak Intersection. After
that, the line went along Worachak Road to Suan Mali and S.A.B. Intersection
(Societe Anonym de Belge watch shop – now Xin Xia Yit Pao Press), Saphan
Dam Intersection, Wat Sam Pluem (Chakkawatrachawat temple), before ending
up at Wat Liab power plant (now the HQ of MEA).
First Allied Bombing
On Jan 9, 1942 from 2:00 am to 3:00 am – the first Allied bombs hit
Bangkok at B.L. Hua. Drugstore, Wat Tuek intersection, Yaowarat, and Yotse
– not hitting Hua Lamphong at all. After the sunrise, many Bangkokians
rode trams to see the effects of the bombs.
Bombing the Power Plants
On April 14, 1945 at 1430, a fleet of Allied bombers (30-40 bombers)
turned Wat Liab Power plant and Samsen Power plant into rubble. It was
beyond repair–no running water, no electricity, the trams could not run
and Bangkok was in the dark. The government decided to get power from
540-HP engines of HTMS Matchanu and Wirunchambung submarines to feed Lakmuang-Thanon
Tok. However, the DC power burnt the motors when the trams reached Bangkok
Dock Co.Ltd. (the place where 2 submarines were generating electricity
to feed trams) while the trams ran out of power if trams were near the
terminals since DC power could not reach far enough. It took a lot of
labor to put the rolling stocks back to the depot.
[Note: After the bombardment of Wat Liab Power Plant on April
14, 1945, Siam Electricity Co.Ltd. managed to return to service within
three to four months since there were a few parts of the power pant spared
from Allied bombs. However, Samsen Power Plant (belonging to Public Works
Dept., Ministry of Interior) had to take six years to become active again
since almost all parts of the power plant were destroyed. Both plants
could not wait until they received the new generators and boilers from
the US, so they had to build everything from scratch. During that time
(1945-1951), the blackouts and brownouts were very common since Wat Liab
had to distribute power for both Bangkok and Thonburi. Bangkok got the
power one day and Thonburi would get it the next.]
AKA Yot Wachirasathian – recorded in 1971 and revised in 1977
When I was 60 plus 2 months (October 1, 1968), the trams
were NO MORE! No one who was born after that day would have any idea about
the trams except when they saw them in the photographs or sitting on an
old tram. My dad told me that trams were initially horse-drawn from City
Pillar to Thanon Tok via Sam yak Tone Pradoo (in front of Chaloemburi
Cinema). It was in 1894 that the trams were electrified. Trams were the
cheapest mass transit available (compared to rickshaws and rental chariots).
Trams were safe but slow every time they parked at the red pedant signs
with a white star to pick more passengers or waited to let the tram from
other directions go first. Trams were so popular that all walks of life
rode them. The back of the tram was for the 2nd class while the front
of the tram was for the 1st class. The first class tram (with covered
pillows stuffed with coconut fiber) tickets were 10 satang (a nickel)
and the 2nd class (wooden seats) were 6 satang (3 cent or 2 Phai for those
who still remembered Phai-Sorot copper coins).
The lines which owned by the Danes were City Pillar – Thanon Tok
and Bang Krabue – Saladaeng (later on extended to Klong Toei). Trams were
smooth since they did not drive on dirt roads with potholes. If your tickets
still had money left, you could interchange the lines if you wanted. If
you rode a tram from Sam Yak to Nang Lerng (near Royal Tuft Club and Thewakam
Bridge that goes across Premprachakron canal), you would drop down to
S.A.B. Intersection or Saphan Lek Intersection and then ride the City
Circle line to Nang Lerng without paying more.
Bangkok Tramways Company
Bangkok Tramways Co.Ltd. merged with Electricity Co.Ltd. (Samsen
Power Plant) in 1900 which owned Samsen Line In 1901, Siam Electricity
Co.Ltd. took over Bangkok Tramways Co.Ltd. and built Wat Liab Power Plant.
Thanon Tok line went from City Pillar to Thanon Tok line via Bumrung Muang,
the whole Fuang Nakhon Rd., and went along the New Road to Thanon Tok
depot. Samsen line went from Kiao Khai Kah pier (a pier for a boat to
Nonthaburi) in Bang Krabue to Saladaeng (initially ended at Hua Lamphong
Railway Station but later extended to Saladaeng and Klong Toei) via Samsen
Rd., Chakkrabongse Rd., Khoo Muang Doem (the 1st City Moat dug in 1771),
Rachinee Rd., Ubonrat bridge, Ban Moh, Phra Phithak, Phahurat (Bangkok
Little India), Saphan Han, Rob Krung canal (the 2nd city moat), Saphan
Phanubongse Bridge (Wang Boorapha), Yaowarat Road (Bangkok Chinatown),
Sam Yak Tone Pradoo, Charonesawat bridge, Hua Lamphong and ended up at
Saladaeng. Rolling stock of both lines were painted in yellow and the
head office was a 2-floor building at Sam Yak Tone Pradoo.
Siamese Tramway Company
Siamese Tramway Co. Ltd. owned by Prince Narathip was founded on
October 1, 1905 and King Chulalongkorn went to the the inauguration ceremony.
Trams from Siamese Tramways Co.Ltd. were painted in red–thus called red
lines. There were two major lines: City circle near Wat Liab Power plant
and Hua Lamhong line that went across an iron bridge to Wat Bophitphimuk
to Chakkrawat Rd., Yaowarat intersection, Charoen Krung Intersection,
Worachak Intersection, Maen Sri Intersection (Saphan Dum), Golden Mountain,
Nakhonsawan Rd., Nanglerng, Phadung Krungkasem canal (the 3rd City Moat
dug in 1857) and then ended up at Thewet. The fares were collected by
distance which was fair to the passengers and the company. Sometimes when
the trams went off of the tracks, the workers and the passengers had to
use their own strength to put the rolling stock back on the tracks.
The tram companies were officially merged into a single company in
1926 and the electric company was changed to Siamese Electricity Co.Ltd.
to Siamese Electricity Corporation Co.Ltd. on May 5, 1927 after Thai businessmen
become major shareholders. The trams were used by fire Department but
not so good as they expected since it cannot cover every section of the
city. [For more details on the companies involved, see Tramway-related
There was a labor strike in January 1924 by Bangkok Tramways workers.
Initially, Mr. Thiang (a Thai worker) was sacked by Mr. Hui (a Chinese
foreman from Hainan) without reason and the Dane managers believed what
Foreman Hui said. Therefore, nine friends of Nai Thiang tried to appeal
to Mr. J. Knutson (Bangkok Tramways CEO -a Dane CEO who could speak Thai
as fluently as a Thai) but to no avail. Even worse, Mr. Knutsen believed
what Mr. Hui said. Furthermore, Mr. Hui said "Sir, you should NOT
take care of Thai workers since they were just like a bunch of dogs–running
back to our company after hearing the knocking of coconut shells with
dog food. Therefore, you can get Thai workers as much as you want to replace
those who got a pink slip."
Such an insult caused almost Thai workers to strike. Those
who worked as strike brakers (either as volunteers or by bribery) were
beaten bloody with metal-headed clubs by striking workers. Mr. Knutson
and managers were worried since the concession said the government would
nationalize the trams if the company could not run the service for more
than 24 hours. The Chinese and the Dane managers had to run the tram services
until the government of King Vajiravut could mediate the labor dispute.
The results was that Mr. Hui was sacked while Mr. Thiang went back to
work and Mr. J. Knutson had to take care of Thai workers’ welfare much
better than in the past and even get a Thai doctor who graduated from
Germany to take care of sick workers (Luang Suriyaphongse-Wisutthiphaet).
There was also a free loan for workers – they didn’t have to pay the 5-10%
Libel Against All Thais
The leader of this strike was Thawat Ritthidet. He became the talk-of-the-town
when he and Bangkok Tram workers sued Mr. Hui for libel since Mr. Hui
insulted the Thai people in general–with Luang Srisurangwaramat as a
lawyer. However, the court dropped the case since the petition Thawat
presented required 12 million Siamese people to sign it. Thawat Ritthidet
became notorious when he attempted to sue King Prajadhipok in 1933-34.
However, the case was eventually dropped since the 1932 constitution (and
every Thai constitution) states that the "King is a venerable head
of state, and nobody can violate HM and nobody can bring HM and the Royal
Family to court."
Thawat Ritthidet became a member of the People Party since
he was a labor activist. He also tried to help rickshaw workers (usually
illiterate Chinese) to get more power to bargain. Even though the rickshaw
drivers won three times, their lives still were in misery until the demise
of rickshaws in 1954 by the proclamation on January 1, 1953 which states
that the government would no longer extend licenses to rickshaw drivers.
Trams at Phra Padaeng
After electrifying the Bangkok tram, Herrn (Mr.) Prune (a German
businessman) asked for the concession for the public boat from Thanon
Tok to Phrapradaeng and Thai Tianm to Nonthaburi and Pathumthanee. King
Chulalongkorn granted the concession to Herrn Prune who founded Siam Motorboat
(red boats). The red boats could not go along Lad Luang canal – a shortcut
canal dug during the reign of King Rama II (circa 1815) – since the boats
were too big and Phrapradaeng had no electricity at all. So, the steam-engine
tram with a track similar to the railway track along Lad Luang canal from
the canal end near Wat Prot Kate to downtown Phrapradaeng and Phrapradaeng
pier was the answer. It seems to me that the Phra Padaeng tram died after
Siam Motorboat Co.Ltd. was out of business.
After many parts of Bangkok Tram were removed, the removed trams
were reinstalled in Lopburi. Actually, Lopburi was to have a tram system
since the day the leader (Field Marshall Plaek Phiboonsonggram) wanted
to rebuild Lopburi as a new model city in 1938, but the leader need to
wait until they removed the Lak Muang-Thanontok line to install in Lopburi
The Lopburi tram ran from Tha Hin Flea Market to the gate
of King Ananda Mahidol Army Hospital via Phra Karn Shrine. The fare rates
were as follows:
Tha Hin Flea Market – Phra Karn Shrine : 25 satang
Phra Karn Shrine – Sra Kaeo: 25 satang
Sra Kaeo – King Ananda Mahidol Army Hospital: 25 satang
Tha Hin – King Ananda Mahidol Army Hospital: 75 satang
(then 1 US$ = 20 baht)
Tha Hin Flea Market – Phra Karn Shrine : 50 satang
Phra Karn Shrine – Sra Kaeo: 50 satang
Sra Kaeo – King Ananda Mahidol Army Hospital: 50 satang
Tha Hin – King Ananda Mahidol Army Hospital: 1.50 baht
Initially, the Lopburi tram was cheered by the local people.
However, the enthusiasm died down very quickly since the local buses were
much faster and passengers did not need to wait long. Lopburi tram died
after nearly five years after the inception due to heavy loss.
Trams assist in triad battle
[Note: the trams below are not electrified, but were pulled by horses.]
Prince Damrong (a younger half-brother of King Chulalongkorn and the right-hand
man of the king) recorded that in 1889 the Royal Siamese Army used Lakmuang
Thanon Tok tram to move an Army battalion to suppress a riot between two
rival Chinese triads at the New Road near Wat Yannawa. The two Chinese
triads were Tang Kong Xi (Techiew) and Siew Li Kue (Fujian). The two triads
removed the galvanized roofs from local folks to build barricades to fight
on June 19, 1889. On June 20, 1889, there was shooting–20 triad members
were killed and more than 100 wounded. Police could not suppress the triads
since there were thousands of members. Therefore, the police needed to
call the army in to bail them out on June 21, 1889. The army seized all
the trams and drove them to Thanon Tok to move the infantry battalion
to deal with triads. The Danish managers of Bangkok Tramway Co.Ltd. were
willing to let the Army seize the tram since the company was fed up with
the triads itself. A company of Marines and Sailors rode river boats from
Navy HQ to Thanon Tok so as to encircle the triads.
After the fighting ended, 10 triad members were killed and
20 were wounded. 800 members and 8 bosses surrendered. Army and Navy officers
tied the pigtails of those triads into groups of triads–100 triads for
each group–to create public humiliation. Many people living along the
New Road–Siamese, Westerners, Chinese, Indian, and Islamic people–blessed
such a quick and bold action of the Royal Siamese Armed Forces to suppress
the triads. Trams moved up and down between the War Office and Yanna all
day and night of June 21, 1889.
Man#1: Hey. It’s me. It… umm… happened again.
Man#1: Well, this time, it’s a… umm… dude.
Man#1: No, I didn’t kill him!
Man#1: The Lizard killed him and then Ben Affleck killed the Lizard.
Ben Affleck: It was self-defense!
Ben Affleck: That thing was making fun of me.
Man #1: Yeah! Ben Affleck. I don’t know why he’s here.
Man #1: He crawled in the window at 6.30 this morning carrying a baby Komodo dragon under one arm and Kelly Ripa under the other.
Yeah. Kelly Ripa from ‘Regis and Kelly’!
Kelly Ripa: We’ve got to cut this dead body up and
put him in a bag.
Kelly Ripa: This is bad, man. Bad.
Man#1: Ripa! Chill. I’ll handle this.
Man#1: Dude! Stop judging me. Just give me that phone number again.
Man#1 (voice over): Because that number is in my wallet.
Man#1 (voice over): And the wallet is "in" the dead dude!
Man#1: Yeah, he is on the bed.
Ben Affleck: Yo, man. Do you know anyone who wants to buy a suitcase full of panda meat?
1) Notice a Singha beer bottle in the hand of Man#1 in frame #1
2) In frame # 7, Ben Affleck is holding a Sawasdee Magazine with letters read Bangkok on the front page (only a k appears in the captured frame)
3) Kelly Ripa is a daytime talk show host, "Regis and Kelly"
Woman#1: Let me get this straight.
Woman#1: You’re selling me to these guys?
Ben Affleck: What? Nobody is selling anybody, ok?
Ben Affleck (voice over): I’m giving you to these guys
to cover some temporary losses.
Ben Affleck: I’ve incurred from gambling on Russian
Woman#1: You’ve been gambling on Russian roulette?
Ben Affleck: My guy wasn’t supposed to die!
Ben Affleck: I had a system!
Woman#1: You’re high again!?!
Ben Affleck: Alright, I may have socially injected some komodo dragon venom.
Just because everyone else was doing it!
Woman#1: Let go of me!?!
Ben Affleck: You’re being selfish! You
don’t need both of your kidneys!
Woman#1: This is not my idea of honeymoon!
Woman#1: Ben Affleck!?!
1) I guess we are famous for organ trafficking.
2) Russian Roulette? That is so The Deer Hunter (1978).
3) Ben Affleck is making fun of his, reportedly, gambling problems.
Man#1: Hey, dude, it’s me.
Yeah, I know. You were right. Thailand is crazy.
Man#1: Listen, there is a … a situation.
Man#1: I took your advice. I got a hooker.
Man#1: No, Kevin, it was not awesome!
She came to my room and we started drinking this bottle of vodka with a coiled snake in it.
Man#1: The next thing I know, I woke up in the closet and she is not moving.
Man#1: Look, just shut up!
Man#1: What is the name of that guy?
Man#1: You know, that Dutch guy who helps clean up messes.
Man#1 (voice over): Thank you.
Man#1 (voice over): That’s all I needed to know.
Note: Notice Singha beer bottles, some Thai bank notes and a bottle of liquor with a snake in it on the nightstand in frame #1.
Rapee writes: I’m a big fan
of the Saturday
Night Live aired on NBC, Saturday nights at 11.30 pm.
On the 03/13/04 episode, hosted by Ben Affleck, they were poking fun at Bangkok, Thailandby mimicking a famous ad campaign of Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority:
Not only one, but they did 3 sketches on this. They were hilarious. On the other hand, these sketches are, sort of, reflecting what American media think of us.
Source: Saturday Night Live on NBC, Mar 13, 2004
Comedians’ view of the U.S. campaign – Reuters,
March 17, 2004
Reuters had a small space-filling article recounting
late-night talk show hosts’ jokes about the US election
campaign. In one Thailand popped up: NBC’s "The
Tonight Show with Jay Leno": "President Bush
was out touting his economic record in Ohio last week.
Now this is a state that lost 225,000 jobs since Bush
took office. If Bush wants to tout his record he should
do it somewhere where the Bush economy has actually created
jobs, like India or Thailand or China."
Heightened risk? – March 16, 2004
For the first time, a terrorist act (or the reaction to
it) has impacted a democratic election. If the Spanish
bombings are indeed connected to international Muslim
extremists, it would be the first time since 9/11 that
terrorists acts resulted in any political capital for
the bombers. The success of the Madrid bombings in getting
Spain to pull out of the Iraqi occupation forces puts
other coalition partners (such as Thailand) at greater
risk of similar terrorist acts.
Bangkok’s colourful street life to come to an end –
MCOT, March 12, 2004
The end of an era for Bangkoks street vendors
is set to come as early as the end of this month, when,
in the interests of civic order, vendors will be banned
from selling their goods in all but specially designated
points in the capital. Announcing the move yesterday,
Mr. Thanakorn Khunawuthi, director of the Office of Municipal
Affairs, said that from 31 March, street vendors would
be forbidden from displaying and selling their wares in
any area other than the designated zones. The move follows
a moratorium on street trading in five special zones announced
on 2 March, which bans street vendors from selling their
goods near bus stops and footbridges. The Bangkok Metropolitan
Administration (BMA) says that the measure seems to have
been implemented successfully. Mr. Thanakorn conceded
however that some areas were still experiencing problems,
most notably Minburi, where street vendors were resisting
the moves. Although he said that the BMA would consider
requests to designate areas as trading zones, he also
warned that district chiefs would have to take responsibility
for any continuing problems. Local residents have often
opposed the ban on trading, complaining that they no longer
have anywhere to purchase food.
Spill on the expressway
– March 12, 2004
At 11:28am on March 12, 2004, drivers
on the expressway were getting out of their cars and running
back down the highway.
Half a kilometer up
the road, a truck had crashed, spilling some kind of gas
on the expressway (upper right hand corner).
The initial panic was probably
caused by radio reports that mentioned the 1990 gas disaster
on Petchburi Road.
(On September 24, 1990 a liquefied petroleum gas tanker
crash and explosion kills 63 and injures 90.)
Most people quickly returned
to their cars to wait and watch.
A taxi driver gets impatient,
and despite the protests from an orange-suited road worker,
drives through the spill (upper right
Within 5 minutes, a cleanup
crew arrives and spreads white powder over the spill area.
As soon as the spill is covered…
…traffic is allowed to proceed.
Academic turns city into a social experiment – Harvard
Gazette, March 11, 2004
Former Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus implemented some unusual activities
to modify city behavior. Halfway down the page is a list of the
mayor’s other unusual initiatives.
here: Pedestrians are also targets for "mime behavioral
therapy." Pickpockets, jaywalkers, and other lawbreakers
are liable to be followed down the street by the mime artists,
who imitate their every move. The idea is that they will be embarrassed
into changing their ways, much to the hilarity of the large crowds
that gather to watch the antics.
Also: Current Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa visited
Bangkok last March to promote Bus Rapid transit.
The Thai press has lost its vibrancy – The
Nation, March 9, 2004
The Nation points out the silence in the Thai press
over political interference: …This was true until
Veera himself broke his silence in public on March 4 to
confirm that his removal was a result of political interference.
Yet the Bangkok Post made no allusion to it… To be sure,
there was dissent at the Bangkok Post, as 77 editorial
staff signed a petition addressed to its board of directors
and dozens later dressed in black for a few days – but
all this took place without the Post itself acknowledging
that it had occurred.
…Nowhere did Wasant mention the recent interference
at the Bangkok Post or at any other media outlet in Thailand.
This despite the fact that Veera’s removal was widely
reported in the international media, including the International
Herald Tribune, the Asian Wall Street Journal, and even
the satellite version of the Yomiuri Shimbun.
…At a recent international seminar in Manila, I was
reminded by Cambodian and Indonesian journalists that
perhaps their media was now more free than Thailand’s.
Old structures disappearing
– March 8, 2004
Songkhla’s Old Town has over 100 beautiful and unusual
structures clustered along a few narrow streets. Recently,
one atmospheric cluster of wooden huts (above) located
on a prominent corner across from a wat disappeared
and was replaced by a sterile parking lot and cement
buildings (below). Even before the huts were removed
the front yard was being used as a dumping place for
used oil (some of this is visible in the above photo).
2Bangkok.com recently took over 200 photos of the historic
buildings in Songkhla’s Old Town and will be posting
2Bangkok.com has the only English-language mention of the attempts to develop expropriated MRTA land for commercial use. It was extensively covered in the Thai-language press.
This issue first came up in 2001 when MRTA (the subway company), attempted to develop some of the land they expropriated to be a shopping center and residents complained that this would be prohibited by the Constitution. The constitutional ban is based on the earlier scandal involving the Central Lat Prao site (See Was Central Lat Prao really built on a garbage dump?).
From the articles below it seems the focus turned to lobbying the government to change the zoning first, but them MRTA would still have had to confront former owners to settle the issue (perhaps by giving them more compensation).
MRTA land development folded – translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij – March 4-7, 2004
MRTA decided to fold the plan for commercial development of MRTA Huay Kwang depot since it has to expand the maintenance facilities to carry the extended Blue Ring, the upcoming Orange line and future Purple line which will gobble most space available in MRTA land. This will need 300 rai for the current Blue Ring, 300 rai for upcoming Orange line and another 300 Rai for the Purple line–with only 100 Rai left for commercial development.
Therefore, MRTA has to beg the government for the budget to pay off debts until MRTA has gotten the revenue from the passengers, the nationalization, and the private space leasing from 18 stations as well as from future stations. Park and Ride facilities at Ratchada-Ladphrao and Brew pavilion are another source of income–though not much since MRTA collects a very small fee for parking tickets.
MRTA Development Plan Folded – BMA refuses readjust zoning – translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, August 21-24, 2003
BMA and City Planning Dept. refused to readjust the color of the 691-rai MRTA Depot and Maintenance Area from Blue (Bureaucrat Office) to Red (Commercial Area) even though MRTA has tried to lobby hard to make such a change. BMA warned MRTA that if BMA changes the color from blue to red, MRTA must confront the former landowners who had surrendered their land plots for the depot.
Many people said the reason why BMA refused to fulfill the request from MRTA is due to MRTA’s strong connection with CH. Karnchang. Therefore, Premier Thaksin might have ordered BMA not to change the color of the area to allow commercial development to starve Ch. Karnchang and force a merger with the Skytrain.
Even if those who surrendered their land to MRTA agree to allow commercial development on MRTA land, the development might not be worthy as they expected since SRT is going to develop the land around Makkasan Station with government support [as an airport rail depot]. By the time the MRTA plan would be approved, their might be no demand at the MRTA depot location. Therefore, MRTA could only be allowed to construct a park and stadium since they are considered a public good. Another usage might be a new SRT depot.
Senator Seri Suwanphanon insists that MRTA cannot exploit the public utlity land for commercial gain since it violates the expropriation law in the Constitution. Senator Seri is preparing to ask the Senate to set up a committee to investigate the MRTA land deal and ask the cabinet why the government let MRTA make a commercial exploitation. Pheeraphong Saleeratthawiphak (Democrat MP from Phayathai Constituency) who was on of the Transportation Committee in the previous administration stated that the MRTA Act they passed had a provision allowing small shops and restaurants to facilitate subway passengers, not the big business area MRTA plans. If the Thaksin government allows MRTA to exploit the land, the government will be stamped as "Bandits Robbing People!" MRTA decided not to reveal the land development plan to the MRTA committee since they felt the heat from the opposition even though they claimed that final plan is not settled. According to the land development plan drafted by RMJM (Thailand), CB Richard Ellis (Thailand), and PB Asia consultant companies, MRTA needs to invite the private sector to invest in the land so that it will meet the schedule of August 12, 2003 (the day the subway system is starting). Even though MRTA was planning to put the draft on land development to the MRTA Board on May 23, 2001, there was actually no plan discussion during the meeting at that day. The meeting was held at the Emerald Hotel with Dr. Suphachai Phisitwanit as the chair instead of the MRTA HQ. The meeting lasted from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM. After that, they had lunch in the Chinese restaurant.
The results from this meeting showed that the latest progress is 2% off the target, and there was a new subcommittee to make an internal audit headed by Mr. Thoedsak Setthamanop (MRTA Engineering Director). However, the land development plan was not on the agenda even though the MRTA Director was planning to push the plan on this meeting. After the meeting, MRTA Director told Siam Turakij correspondents that this meeting was a welcome meeting for the new MRTA Board, so they decided to change the meeting place and hold a banquet for the new committee. The reason why the MRTA director decided not bring up the land plan during the meeting was that MRTA and the consultant companies need to revise the land allocation according to the discussion with the Huay Kwang Civic Society two weeks ago. As soon as the revision is done, the land development plan will be brought up in an MRTA meeting in the future. However, an MRTA source has told Siam Turakij that MRTA committee has felt heat from the opposition, especially from the mass media and lawyers which saw that MRTA was going to commit crimes against the former landowners and violate the Constitution. Therefore, MRTA decided to suspend the land development plan for a while until everything is fine.
Seri Suwannabhanon (Bangkok Senator) Insists that MRTA Act Has No Right to Commercialize the MRTA Land
Senator Seri Suwannabhanon (Bangkok Senator and a Legal Expert) has continuously insisted that MRTA has no right to make commercial development of land expropriated from the people. He also told Siam Turakij correspondents that there must be some irregularities in the law approval process before MRTA Act became a reality on November 24, 2000 since the Act has so many sections and the sections relating to the land development are separated, so the Senate cannot figure out the actual intention of the law that allows commercial development on MRTA land even though there was nothing that mentioned about the land development in the previous Law relating to the MRTA land. Even though the MRTA Act has empowered MRTA to make a commercial development on their land, it does not allow MRTA to exploit the land for profit on their whim since the MRTA Act states that MRTA could make commercial development for service facilitation (in and around stations for passengers). The senator said "There are controversies about the actual meaning of the phrase ‘According to the Necessaries that benefit MRTA services.’ I can see no difficulties in defining such a term at all since it requires narrow interpretation on the terms to get the exact meaning. MRTA has no right at all to make a broad interpretation of the law (to allow the construction of a shopping center, hotels, markets, or so) for commercial gain since it violates the principals of this Act."
Revealing that MRTA Violates Royal Proclamation on Land Expropriation and the Constitution
Senator Seri also said that MRTA was violating the Royal Proclamation of the land expropriation if MRTA insists that they have full rights to make commercial development on the land they obtain through the expropriation since the land expropriation principles have explicitly stated that MRTA has the right to expropriate the land ONLY for the mass transit system. Furthermore, the 48th Article of the 1997 People’s Constitution said persons have full rights to protect and preserve personal properties and the 49th Article in the 1997 People’s Constitution also explicitly states that No Government Office has rights to expropriate land except for public utilities. Any attempt to make commercial development on the MRTA land expropriated from the local people is considered violating the 48th and the 49th Articles in the Constitution since MRTA has abused the rights stated in MRTA Act to "rob and violate" the land form the people for commercial gain.
Preparing to Tell the Senate to Set up an Investigation Committee and Ask the Government about the MRTA Land Development
Senator Seri said after perusing the commercial land deal of MRTA from the consultant companies, he slammed the conclusion that "MRTA is telling a lie and committing crimes against the former landowners since the MRTA land development plan has explicitly shown that MRTA is going to exploit their land expropriated from the local people for profits even though those folks were willing to receive cheap compensation and sacrifice for the public good. Such action committed by MRTA is totally unacceptable." "If MRTA is starting the land development project, I (Senator Seri) will send the proposal to the Senate to set up the investigation committee to deal with MRTA and deliver the questions to the Cabinet to check if such action from MRTA is appropriate or otherwise. The government has to take the responsibility to deal with the former landowners, and I (Senator Seri) will volunteer to get the land back from MRTA."
Former Transportation Committee Member States that MRTA Has No Right to Make a Commercial Deal on Expropriated Land
MAP Pheeraphongse Saleeratthawiphak (Democrat MP of Bangkok -> Phayathai Constituency), one of the former Transportation Committee which had reviewed the MRTA Act before approval told Siam Turakij correspondents that there were several arguments about land development before realizing the act. Therefore, the committee has stated in the law that the commercial development of MRTA land will be for the activities necessary for the MRTA services, not commercial development. "We (MAP Pheeraphongse and Transportation Committee) have made several reviews of the Act while MRTA keeps insisting that the new MRTA Act should have a provision allowing the commercial exploitation or the government needs to pay an annual bail out since MRTA becomes a loss-maker. We keep responding to the MRTA’s request that we cannot allow MRTA land development beyond the activities that increase the travel convenience for the passengers. Any further land development must be done on the land MRTA purchases, not land MRTA has expropriated"
Advising the Government that "Allowing MRTA to Create a New Business City… (is like) Robbing People in Broad Daylight"
MP Pheeraphongse said that it is unacceptable for government offices to exploit legal loopholes to pay very low for expropriation while milking high profits from commercial rents. If MRTA insists that they have legal rights to do so, he will oppose such a deal at all costs. He believes that the mass media and the former owners of the land will never allow such a dirty deal to exist. Nevertheless, it depends upon the Thaksin government to make a decision on this issue. If the Thaksin government accepts the MRTA land development scheme, the Thaksin government will be condemned as "bandits robbing people."
Siam Business Weekly (AKA Siam Turakij), Vol. 7, No. 334, May 6-12, 2001
Note: This is a rather repetitive article from Siam Turakij, a newspaper that has been very harsh in its criticism of MRTA and their "dirty land deal."
Plan for commercial exploitation of MRTA land ready to deliver to the board on May 23, 2001
Praphat said the prohibition on commercial development of MRTA land will force the government to carry a heavy burden of debt and operational loss
MRTA allocating almost 700 rai of land for commercial exploitation
1) Hua Laphong (museum)
2) Silom (narrow space for interchange station)
3) Bon Kai (narrow space)
4) Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (Thai design inside)
5) Asok (narrow space for interchange station)
6) Rama IX (narrow space)
7) Lad Phrao (park and ride)
8) Mochit (narrow space for interchange station)
9) Kamphaengphet (narrow space and the weekend market)
Huay Kwang Civic Society’s opinion of the MRTA commercial megaprojects
Cheap land expropriations/expensive commercial land development is totally unfair!
Law-expert senators advising the former landowners to file a lawsuit against MRTA to get their land back
Feeling afraid that the dirty land deal will set an example to other government agencies
Chairman of Lawyers Association of Thailand points out that MRTA cannot make a commercial deal
Law experts from Democrat Party pointing out that the unused MRTA land has to be returned to the former owners
Pointing out to the Minister Supervising on MRTA Not Letting MRTA Take Advantage of the Folks
Huay Kwang Civic Society Opposing the Commercial Deals while Asking MRTA to Spare Land for Green Purposes
History of the MRTA Project
1) Phra Khanong-Hua Lamphong-Bangsue (Rama IV Line) – 23 km
2) Wongwianyai-Sathon-Lad Phrao (Sathon Line) – 20 km
3) Dao Khanong-Memorial Bridge-Makkasan (Memorial Bridge Line) -16 km
1) Phra Khanong-Hua Lamphong-Bangsue (Rama IV Line) 23 km
2) Sathon-Lad Phrao (Sathon Line) 18 km
1) Bangkok Land PCL
2) Thanachart Holding PCL
3) Thanayong Co.Ltd.
Comments: Bangkok Land PCL and Thanayong Co.Ltd. are closely related companies since they belong to the Kanchanaphak clan – Bangkok Land CEO is Anant Kanchanaphak and Thanayong CEO is Khiree Kanchanaphak.
MRTA will have to follow the new consultant’s result which includes a public park area on the 1200 rai of land and prohibition of high rise building construction. Otherwise, MRTA will be in very serious trouble from former landowners and residents around the Huay Kwang area. Several people who were adults during the 1960’s witnessed the dirty land deals of SRT which fooled gullible farmers and Bangkokians in the area around Chatichak Park, Central Lad Phrao, Queen Sirikit Park and Rotfai Park which are close to Bangsue Junction and would have become a new Bangkok Railway Station. So farmers decided to surrender their land for such noble ideas without bargaining prices. However, SRT leased the land to construct Central Plaza Lad Phrao and Central Lad Phrao since they could not resist a good deal from the Jirathiwat clan. Furthermore, such leases did cover heavy operational losses SRT had (and still has). There were several dirty deals like the SRT deal during the 1950-70’s which resulted in landless farmers and sharecroppers. Therefore, 1997 People’s Constitution prohibits the expropriations except for public utility and related matters.
They envy us
– March 2, 2004
2B often mentions the hysterical bashing of Thailand by
superior foreigners (and even Thais themselves), but it
is interesting to note that those from other developing
countries greatly admire the rule of law and general orderliness
Khmer Intelligence has the following item: National
ID: Cambodia versus Thailand–The establishment of the
rule of law in any country rests on two basic systems
intended to identify the people and the lands. Cambodia
has none of the two… ‘Donor countries have technically
and financially encouraged the government to issue a computerized
and standardized "Cambodia Citizen Identification
Card" to some 6 million citizens from 18 year-old
up. But for political reasons and other reasons linked
to corruption, the authorities are dragging their feet:
only 2 million cards have been issued over the last eight
Not setting up the two basic systems entails the following
consequences for Cambodia:
1- Land grabbing, land disputes, landlessness and increased
poverty for the weaker segment of the population;
2- Increased government corruption with ghost soldiers
and ghost civil servants; election irregularities with
flaws in voter registration procedures; difficulty for
the authorities to identify and arrest criminals.
In Thailand, as reported in "The Nation" on
23 February 2004, all citizens have been delivered a national
ID for a long time. More strikingly, the country recalls
how the project of a "smart card" started 20
years ago. Project head Surachai Srisaracam proudly declares:
"All 1,077 offices of the Bureau of Registration
Administration throughout the country have been connected
via an online network, which allows information about
the Thai population [information related to households,
people, voters, and marriages and divorces] to be updated
in real time (…). [This] allows us to provide ID card
registration for people in 15 seconds instead of three
admires Thailand’s ‘rich’ sports infrastructure
TG LAX sales –
March 1, 2004
Dave pointed out some scuttlebutt from the aviation
board Airliners.net: Posted Thu Feb 26 2004 18:06:45:
TG cuts LAX (Los Angeles airport) frequency just about
every other year. The reason they lose so much money on
the LAX flight is because their U.S. Sales management
is completely inept. LAX seems to be the dumping ground
for problem children of the Thai Air Force generals who
run (or heavily influence) TG. They don’t want their lazy
brats hanging around headquarters in BKK, so they pack
them off to the US where they can do the least amount
of damage. But, unfortunately, they kill our market. I
haven’t met a bright spark in TG sales since 1989. The
last moron they sent out as U.S. Sales Manager spent his
sales calls presenting a pocket calendar he designed.
He barely spoke English and had absolutely no clue how
to sell TG. Unfortunately, TG always goes for the easiest
sale… the thai ethnic market in LAX. Because of this,
their yields are always crap. There is huge demand for
travel to Thailand. Try to get space on CX, UA or NW…
those flights are almost always full. If TG could ever
get past the cronyism that has prevented the truly talented
staff from rising to the top, it would be an absolutely
Suwannawong family finally beaten
– March 1, 2004
Another regional political force was unseated over the
weekend. The Suwannawong family, which has governed Hai
Yai for 30 years, have been beaten by a candidate from
the Democrat Party. TRT had vowed to unseat regional families–and
spent a lot of influence in confronting parties in the
South. So far though, the Democrat Party has reaped the
benefits of TRT’s aggressive moves in both Hat Yai and
Scam at Blue Dragon, Look-luang Road
Email from the
latest victim of the scam at Blue Dragon:
April 2, 2004
As you can probably guess, I seem to be another statistic
in the Thai Gem scam. I purchased the jewelry from the Blue
Dragon export shop. I found your web site after reading an
article in the lonely planet on this scam. I thought I’d just
check out the credentials of the said shop. I have sent an
email to Mr Manat at the D.I.T as per your web page. I must
thank you for the useful information you have posted on your
site, as I would never have known. Please see mail below sent
to D.I.T with regards to circumstances/dates/places etc. Unfortunately
I don’t have access to scanner so cannot scan receipts just
I would be grateful if you can give me any further
advice. I have only contacted Mr Manat and also my credit card company
to try and stop payment, but transaction was made 2 weeks ago, so
this may not be possible. However credit company have put the transaction
into dispute. I will call my embassy and the T.A.T in due course.
I will be back in Bangkok in approx 1 weeks time and have all documents
plus the goods in question. Where can I goto get the goods valued?
Do you need any further info?
Letter the victim wrote to the police
…I am currently in Thailand for a one month tour and would like
to inform you of an unfortunate experience, which occurred to me on
19 March 2004. I believe I am another unfortunate statistic of the
Thai gem scam.
I am traveling with my girlfriend and decided I wanted
to buy her something special to celebrate the start of what was hoping
to be a wonderful experience in your beautiful country. Unfortunately
it now seems that my expected wonderful experience has turned sour.
Whilst out shopping around Bangkok I hired a tuk tuk
to take me to the Thai airlines office. The tuk tuk driver obliged
and whilst on the way told me he would take me on a small tour of
the city and take me to a sleeping Buddha monument. He also said he
would only charge me 10 bhat for his services if I went to a jewelry
export shop with him. He told me he would get free petrol if I entered
this shop. As I had time on my hands I thought why not? He informed
me that today the export shop was open to the general public for one
day only and that they were offering foreigners a Tax free sale. As
I was looking for a present for my girlfriend I thought this could
be an ideal opportunity for me to buy her a nice present at a nice
I arrived at the sleeping Buddha, where I was approached
by a Thai man who told me he was a teacher there. He was very friendly
and gave me some history of the Buddha image and asked me where I
was going next. I told him I was on my way to meet my girlfriend,
but on the way I was to stop at the export shop. He told me that there
was a special Tax free sale, only for foreigners and I would be able
to buy jewelry at trade price, Tax free. I thanked him for the information
on the Buddha images and left.
Then when I went to find my tuk tuk driver he was
not there. I sat in the Tuk Tuk waiting when I was approached by a
French guy asking for directions. I told him that I didnt know
the area to well and he asked which way I was going as he had an idea
where his destination was and that maybe he could get a lift with
me. I told him I was going to the Export shop first and then to meet
my girlfriend. On hearing that I was going to the Blue Dragon export
shop he told me that he had also been before in previous years and
that it was a place hed bought from and that the prices were
100% cheaper than in Europe. He told me that he bought the goods and
took them home to sell making massive profits. This was not my intention
as I was looking to buy a present.
The tuk driver finally appeared and told the French
guy he was not going in his direction. We arrived at the Blue dragon
shop and my first impressions of the shop were very good. The shop
and the staff all seemed very professional and helpful. I explained
I was looking for a special present for my girlfriend and was duly
shown a selection of jewelry. One set in particular caught my eye
and I was told that the sapphire stones were very rare as the mining
of these stones had been exhausted in Thailand. I was also told that
today it is Tax free for foreigners and I would not only get trade
price but also tax free. I was very impressed with the service and
the sales technique and was convinced I was getting a great deal.
I told the shop assistant that I would like to think about it and
maybe come back in a day or two but was told that the special offer
is only today and afterwards would not be open to the public. I thought
about it and had been totally convinced I was getting a great deal.
I purchased a Sapphire and diamond set in white gold (earrings, ring
and necklace) for 92.100 bhat. I was told by the sales person I was
getting a great deal and that outside Thailand I would pay at least
double the price for this set.
Earrings Blue sapphire 2.32cts, diamond 0.41ct, 18ct white
gold 4.56g 33,200 bhat
Ring Sap 1.16ct, Diam 0.31ct, gold 5.11g 23,400
Necklace sap 1.23g, dia 0.31g, gold 5.11g 33,500
Total paid is 92,100 bhat
The address of the shop is
Blue Dragon factory export center
463/9-12 1st floor
I left the shop feeling happy and was convinced I
had made the right choice. I couldn’t wait to give the set to my girlfriend.
It was only 2 days ago when I bought a copy of the
lonely planet that I read about the elaborate Gem Scam. I went straight
to the Internet and put the shop name on search engine which took
me to the 2bangkok.com web site (where I got your details from) which
informed me this shop was part of the scam. I duly called my credit
card company and told them of the scam. They were looking into stopping
the payment but thought it had probably already been paid. Looking
back at the events leading up to entering the shop I could see that
I was another statistic of this elaborate scam.
Obviously I am very upset about this scam, and from
reading the web site am surprise that this shop is allowed to trade
after their past history. Im also surprised that it warns you
that members of the Thai police may be involved and not to go to them
with complaint. I believe I have been cheated and mislead of the real
value of the jewels by this shop.
I hope you can help me in my unfortunate plight to
at least get a refund. I still have all the gems, the documents. I
will be in Thailand for another 2 weeks, before I go to Cambodia and
Vietnam. I will be back in Thailand again at the last week of may.
I have email-ed 2bangkok.com this information and
will be calling my embassy. I will also be calling the TAT with this
information. I also believe I have to get the gems valued. Can you
recommend a genuine place to go to to get this done?
This event has totally overshadowed what should have
been a pleasant stay in Thailand.
April 8, 2004
Thanks again for your help. Just to let you know,
I have a positive outcome to my problem, please read.
Today I went to the Tourist Police to lodge a complaint.
The lady I spoke to was so unhelpful and was very patronizing towards
me. However, I stood my ground and was very firm with her stating
that I had been told lies and had been cheated by the shop. After
a few minutes she told me to take a seat and a representative from
the shop would be there shortly.
Within 5 mins the lady sales person from the shop
arrived and we were shown to a room. I asked if there would be a representative
from the T.A.T but they said no, deal with this yourself!
Anyway, the lady asked what my problem was and why
I wanted to return the gems. I told her I knew about the shop and
their history and that I had been vastly over charged. She told me
that I signed the slip and agreed to pay for the gems so she shouldn’t
have to. I stated firmly that I had been lied to by the shop and that
I was unhappy doing business this way and wanted a refund. The lady
became a little uneasy and agreed to ‘buy the gems back’ and asked
me how much I wanted, I told her the full amount, 100%. She said that
she can’t possible do this and really she didn’t have to give me a
refund at all. Really I should learn from this experience and just
take 70%. I flatly refused, and told her I had already canceled the
payment with my credit card. She said this was impossible but I told
her otherwise. After more discussion and her telling me that she doesn’t
like doing this job, she has a baby etc and jobs are difficult to
come by in Thailand etc she called her boss. I told her the very least
I would except is 90%, (she said anything more is impossible)otherwise
I would take the matter further. She called her boss who agreed to
give me 90%. I signed the returns form and gave the goods back. I
paid 92,100 and received a credit back to my card for 82,890.
Obviously I have still lost 10% of the original value
which I am not happy about but from what you’ve told me I’ve done
well to get this much.
I hope this information will be helpful for others
facing this plight and again thank you for your assistance in this
One other point, yesterday, I was on
the Silom road looking in jewelry shops just to get estimates on similar
gems, just to check how much I’d been over charged. Me and my girlfriend
posed as customers in several shops and once we left one shop we were
approached by a Thai woman who told us that the shop we’d just been
in was very expensive and she knew of another shop which was trade
prices. Now I knew of this scam I listened to her and asked her to
write the name of shop which she did.(R S Siam Jewelry, Rama 6 Rd)
Within a minute a tuk pulled up. She turned over the slip of paper
she had written on, only to see a warning about the scam!(I got the
paper from previous jewel shop). From reading this she seemed quite
embarrassed and told me that be careful as 2 French, 2 Muslim and
an American guy are involved in this scam, picking up tourist on the
street. We made our excuses and left the woman and the tuk driver
Cursory concerts –
February 28, 2004
Two readers have mentioned the rather cursory concert Mariah
Carey gave in town recently. It started three hours late,
after every three songs an unenthusiastic Carey left the
stage and the audience had to call out for her to come back,
those with 5000 baht seats sat on the floor, Carey only
did a couple of old songs, and there was quite a bit of
bad feeling in the crowd.
Many Western acts (and critics) do not consider concerts
outside of the U.S. and Europe as ‘real’ concerts, but rather
as warm-ups with undiscerning fans in preparation for ‘real’
concerts in the West.
Asking for I.D. –
February 28, 2004
A foreign reader informs us of an odd occurrence. About
a month ago near Asok Skytrain Station an Asian person (perhaps
Middle Eastern) wearing normal clothes drove up on a motorcycle.
He claimed with much seriousness that he was a police officer
and asked to see the foreigner’s I.D. The foreigner refused
and instead insisted on seeing the ‘officer’s’ ID The ‘officer’
quickly backed down and said it was ok because the foreigner
seemed to be Russian anyway (!) and then sped away. Our
reader speculates that the astronomical price of fake traveling
papers (caused by a worldwide crackdown on false documents)
has caused crime syndicates to attempt new ways to get their
hands on passports.
Rusting mass transit – February
– April 6, 2004
Global Witness was expelled from Cambodia for bringing
to light activities like this (from a press release from
Global Witness, ‘Laundering of illegal timber undermines
forestry reform in Cambodia,’ February 20, 2004): In
2000, the Thai company Thitikarn Ltd. obtained a permit
authorising it to collect "branches and tree stumps"
in Oddar Meanchey province. Instead, it purchases square
logs from military-supervised illegal logging operations
which focus on stripping out the provinces remaining
stands of luxury timber trees. In mid 2003 the company
was each month exporting 600 cubic metres of luxury wood,
worth approximately $345,000, to Thailand. Thitikarn operates
under the protection of Oddar Meanchey Governor Lay Virak
and deputy governor Mao Tim, as well as units of the Royal
Cambodian Armed Forces, police, military police, border
police, customs authorities and Ministry of Environment
Amidst a recent high-profile crackdown on luxury timber
dealers in Siem Reap and Oddar Meanchey provinces orchestrated
by the Forest Administration, Thitikarn continues to operate
uninterrupted. As of the end of January, its compound
in OPouk village, near OSmach, contained at
least 700 cubic metres of illegally-harvested luxury wood,
guarded by Battalion 42 soldiers commanded by Colonel
The impunity which Cambodian officials grant Thitikarn
contrasts with the action taken by Thai authorities in
August 2003, when Thai Forestry Police raided a Thitikarn
warehouse in Bang Na, Thailand, seizing luxury wood from
Cambodia and Laos worth around $250,000. Protesting the
raid, Thitikarn publicly defended its plunder of Cambodias
natural resources; claiming that by confining its operations
to Cambodia, this would help reduce illegal logging in