The response to the death of Stuart O'Neill and the resulting flood of touching messages that followed have over the last two weeks turned around a really tragic incident into a celebration of the life of a great and funny friend.
Now I am being brought back to earth with a bump by a flurry of messages from Pattaya -a land far far away.
Neils Colov, Thailand's greatest living and possibly most famous rehabilitated Dane and publisher of the Pattaya People, has written to inform me that he is not at war with rival publisher American Drew Noyes, of the Pattaya Times as I reported at the beginning of this year, so I am of course more than happy to pass on the news.
Much in common
I was guessing somewhere along the way there were legal threats or it seemed that way from an email from Mr. Colov, publish at the end of this blog. But no, according to Drew they have both found much in common.
For a start they both have better biographies than Mother Theresa.
These two chaps see, to be very close to canonization, something which, I guess, is quite possible in Pattaya.
Of course close to sainthood too was the former owner of a Pattaya gay venue who had been trying to get me into jail for years! And it took the Appeal court to decide otherwise.
Anyway, the thing is, with the current economic and tourism downturn in Pattaya close to a tourism disaster zone neither sees any future in pursuing personal grudges.
Of course, generally speaking if the truth be told, they can't tell it. There is only one way to run an English language newspaper in Pattaya, and that is with subservience to police, local authorities, and persons of influence, or at least that is the way the editors run their newspapers at the moment.
The only local publications I have seen not doing that in Thailand are 'Phuketwan' an internet news site down in Phuket, or the wonderful Pim Kemasingki's 'Citylife' up in Chiang Mai. Alan at Phuketwan runs close to the wind and even chastises his more challenged readers. Pim runs a mag with integrity but keeps her views to her editorials and wisely keeps out of the mire.
Electric stun gun
In Pattaya we have had reporters operating as policemen, and bail bondsmen. The British Embassy many years ago had a complaint from a British citizen on a cheque fraud charge that he was interviewed by a police volunteer with an electric stun gun*. Then the police volunteer, seemingly a bit of a 'Ben Ten,' transformed into a 'bail bondsmen' telling him the price for an acquittal , and finally he transformed into what was his normal job, a journalist, and was able to quote a price for keeping his case out of the television or newspapers.
The latter cannot happen now because there are too many English language newspapers in Pattaya.
The recent news from the British Embassy, that no British paedophile arrested since 2004 has been refused bail, sort of confirms that other things are still going on and of course there is wild speculation down in Pattaya over Mikhail Pletnev, the famous Russian pianist and conductor, who is playing the game well, telling the world the Pattaya police are doing a wonderful job, while awaiting trial on charges brought by them of child sexual abuse.
Good news though comes from Kevin Quill, who was convicted of a drugs possession charge in Pattaya, convicted, acquitted then convicted again, despite a statement by an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Bangkok to the British Embassy that he had been 'framed'.
He has now been given an 'Amnesty', he tells me. And will soon be able to get his life back. Looks like he has found a publisher for his book too and if there is anybody who can report how 'colourful' Pattaya can get its this man.
Thursday July 15th 2010
Pattaya Times has removed all (false) stories about me from their website, as I consider them not only false but also defamatory. I would like to ask you to remove the same stories for the same reason. '
Kind regards Niels Colov
Friday July 16th 2010
I have never met this Lance Shaw and I do not know him or as such had any dealings with him ever. I misunderstood the people who I met at the Pattaya Police station, to think that Lance Shaw was another person that I had met before, this person's name is however Lane and not Lance. I only spoke with the foreigners at the police station for a few minutes and they told me that they had difficulties to present their case to the police at the station, the only thing I said to them was 'why don't you contact a lawyer and let him help you present the case to the police', they asked me if I knew a lawyer and I said that I do not recommend any lawyers to be better than others, but when they kept on asking me for a name of a lawyer, I said that the chairman of the Esarn Association in Pattaya was known to be a good man and his name was Khun Sucreep. That was it. I have been mixed up in this case without any reason. I know nothing about the case and thats it.
Friday July 16 2010
The story you mentioned appears to be still up on the Pattaya Times site. Please would you clarify. Nor have I received confirmation that the Pattaya Times will remove it.
Friday July 16th 2010
Yes, it is true Niels and I have come to terms with all outstanding issues. Our newspapers serve very different markets and we have no advertisers in common, so there is no newspaper war between Pattaya Times and Pattaya People.
The www.Pattaya-Times.com website has been edited to remove indirect statements about Niels's possible involvement with Lance Shaw. Niels says he met Lance Shaw, says he did introduce two of Shaw's victims to a lawyer so those quotes from the victims are left intact.
It is important to note that Niels is significantly more relaxed and laid back than before and I am, also. Pattaya is changing. Fewer Anglo-Saxons, less money. Niels and I have children with whom we spend our free time. Business is secondary to family.
As Expat leaders, foreign business owners, long-time Pattaya residents and family men with Thai wives and 50/50 kids Niels and I have more in common than most.
Over my last 13 years here in Pattaya Niels and I formed and have been leaders of the same Expat Club, served in the same Rotary Club, served in the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association (PBTA) and other associations and have been the only foreign advisors and organizers for many events sponsored by Pattaya City and Chonburi governments to attract more Expat participation in cultural and sporting events. We did this even when we did not like each other. We worked together. We did it to help make a difference to improve the quality of life for Expats in Pattaya.
As far as Lance Shaw goes, our research shows no conclusive proof that Niels was involved with Lance Shaw except as stated above.
It is better to all get along and forget about the past. Supporting each other rather than fighting with each other is good for morale of the rest of the foreigners you, he and I serve.
Saturday July 17th
Your headline: 'Ouch! First salvo in Pattaya newspaper war?'
- does not have much relevance as there is no so called 'Newspaper war' here in Pattaya.
Sunday July 18 2010
I am happy to correct my blog on an unsubstantiated claim that you were in some way in cohoots with Lance Shaw. This is not only corrected on the original blog but will also in a blog today. Your claim that the headline 'Ouch! First salvo in Pattaya newspaper war?' is no longer relevant, is also noted.
May peace reign.
PS: I hear the radio stations are at war now.
Monday July 19th 2010
No problem with the radio station in Pattaya.
*STUN GUNS: I was down in Pattaya two weeks ago on a feature assignment and found that stun guns are now on the list of things being touted by the endless bar hawkers. They are obviously de rigeur for the average tourist to the city.................but didn't it used to be just flowers and chewing gum, watches, lighters, and daughters?