HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Pisit Ketephasuk welcomed as the new Chiang Mai provincial governor

North Metrological Center warns: cold weather on the way

Fix Highway 118 says Pol. Maj. Yongyuth

126 million baht spent on Chiang Mai International Airport

Lanna Academy opens with ceremonies of respect

Chiang Mai Provincial Narcotics Control Center reports results

Old Chiang Mai City Hall area being developed into an eco-tourism center

300 doctors attend the CMAAO annual academic conference in Chiang Mai

New Chiang Mai Governor stresses the importance of the press

Chiang Mai celebrates Chulalongkorn Day

Royal London Circus gala premier coming November 7

Chiang Mai Neurological Hospital to stop participating in the Thirty Baht Medical Scheme

Is Chiang Mai ready to hold the National Games?

Chiang Mai Social Welfare committee proposes better unemployment benefits

Mae Sa Elephant Camp retorts government charges

Transport Office hastens systematizing 19 red mini bus routes

Thapae Walking Street takes place every Sunday

Pisit Ketephasuk welcomed as the new Chiang Mai provincial governor

Judged up to the task by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Chuchart Leesuwan & Nuttanee Thaveephol

Pisit Ketephasuk has been installed as the new governor of Chiang Mai Province, replacing Kosin Kedthong.

New Chiang Mai governor, Pisit Ketephasuk and his wife, shown here paying their respects to Buddha and the Three Kings Monument, just recently arrived in the northern capital.

Kosin Kedthong has been promoted to director general of Public Relief Work and the Disaster Prevention Department.

The immediate past governor said that he had already met new governor Pisit Ketephasuk to discuss Chiang Mai Provincial officers and ongoing projects, especially the drug problem and social order.

Kosin also said new governor Pisit was a gentle and hard-working man. He was judged to be up to the task by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and Kosin hoped that the new governor will receive the full cooperation of everyone in Chiang Mai.

Our new governor, Pisit Ketephasuk, is 56 years old, and came from being a sheriff in the Donsak District of Surat Thani, Nadee District and Krabin Buri District of Prachin Buri, U-thong and Muang districts of Supan Buri Province to be a permanent secretary and deputy governor of Supan Buri. Before this new appointment he was previously the governor in Angthong and Chachoengsao Province.

North Metrological Center warns: cold weather on the way

Winter season has begun

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Get out your jackets and blankets, the North Metrological Center announced that the winter season has officially begun, and warns that temperatures will be dropping.

The northeastern monsoon, which blows in the dry season, comes down from China to cover Thailand. There is also a low-pressure system across Burma’s Mataban Gulf, and that low-pressure system is moving towards the lower part of Northern Thailand. This is causing temperatures to drop and morning fog in the North and Northeast of Thailand.

Chiang Mai Municipality is warning people to prepare for the cold weather and to protect themselves from the cold and fire, as well as to closely follow the weather situation.

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor said that the municipality is providing health services for many communities, which it started on October 18 this year.

The North Metrological Center said that this winter’s cold started in late October this year and will continue until February next year.

Fix Highway 118 says Pol. Maj. Yongyuth

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Highway 118 from Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai is deteriorating badly, according to letters received by Chiang Mai City Administration. These problems have been noted for over a year, and the repairs, following each rainy season, cannot keep up with the damage occurring.

Highway 118 is the main corridor between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, but in places the road is in disrepair and Pol Maj Yongyuth Sarasombat wants something done about it.

The permanent secretary of the prime minister’s office, Pol Maj Yongyuth Sarasombat said at a meeting held last week at Chiang Mai City Hall that there were several letters about the poor surface on Highway 118, in the area bordering the Pong Num Ron hot springs of Chiang Rai and Doi Saket District of Chiang Mai.

As this is the main corridor between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, it may also affect tourism. The responsibility belongs to the Department of State Highways, but he would be willing to coordinate with Ministry of Transport and Communication, said the PM’s permanent secretary.

Let us hope that will be soon!

126 million baht spent on Chiang Mai International Airport

Improvements being made to runway, sewer system, buildings, and security

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The Airport Authority of Thailand is spending 126 million baht on the Chiang Mai International Airport improvement project, according to Flying Officer Suthara Huangsuwan, the director of Chiang Mai Airport Authority.

The projects being carried out include runways, sewer system, ground equipment, indoor and outdoor passenger building improvements and security system renewal, with all expected to be finished by November 5 this year.

Other projects being considered are hydrant systems, inward and outward bound areas, the top of the passenger building and VIP room improvements.

The Airport Authority of Thailand is spending 126 million baht to improve Chiang Mai International Airport. In the past fiscal year, 2.2 million passengers have passed through this airline hub of the north.

“We are improving the runway because it needs repair, and trying to manage the security system for safety,” the manager said. Chiang Mai International Airport’s runway is 3100 meters in length and 45 meters wide.

Chiang Mai International Airport is being promoted as the Aviation Hub in this region. The landing area can accommodate 7 large aircraft and 3 small aircraft at the same time and there are 6 international airlines and 3 domestic airlines landing at Chiang Mai Airport.

The passenger building has the capacity to handle 5 million people per year and there were 2.2 million passengers for the fiscal year 2002 including 2,080,000 domestic travelers and 120,000 international. Last year there were 16,219 flights including 13,783 domestic and 2,436 international flights.

Lanna Academy opens with ceremonies of respect

Metinee Chaikuna

The grand opening ceremony of the Lanna Academy was held on Sunday October 27 at Khum Bureerut, Klang Wiang intersection, in front of the Luang Vihara Temple at Wat Jedi Luang. The ceremony consisted of a cavalcade which rotated around various temples and shrines in Chiang Mai, all with much significance to the Lanna history and culture.

The Lanna Academy is a network of local organizations founded to recover and preserve the traditions, local wisdom, local culture, and Lanna history. The Lanna Academy will be a center for research and learning about everything Lanna.

Special sights visited during the ceremony where people paid there respects included the Praputtapochanawaraporn Buddha Image at Wat Jedi Luang, the Intakin pole, the Ar ruk Mungrai, the Three Kings monument, the city’s naval temple, the Si Hing Buddha Image, Laikham Vihara Temple, and the Pra Thammasittacharn at Pra Sing Temple. Along the way Assoc. Prof. Somchot Ongsakun provided insightful information.

After the official opening speech, a discussion seminar was held on subjects such as the project of moving the Chiang Mai Women Prison out of the city’s center, moderated by Associate Prof. Dr. Tanet Chroenmuang, Associate Prof. Somchot Ongsakun, and Surapong Pongdejkachorn, secretary of the Lanna Academy.

The seminar was run by Pongprayoon Rajchapai, consultant to the extraordinary committee on education, religion, and culture of the parliament.

Chiang Mai Provincial Narcotics Control Center reports results

Programs set up, statistics released

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai Provincial Narcotics Control Center has released details of this year’s activities in fighting the drug problem.

As part of the prevention program, the center organized a White Powder Day at the Polytechnic Lanna College in June. Approximately 13,500 people attended the seminar and were given vital information about drugs and the drug problem.

The center also held a district and tambon seminar, with 336 people attending 3 classes.

To try and promote drug prevention in industry, the center organized White Powder Projects in the districts of Chiang Dao, Chaipakan and Fang.

Drug treatment statistics show that 6,378 addicts came for treatment, 3,253 for ya ba (amphetamines), 928 for heroin, 731 for opium, 54 for inhaled substances, 40 for marijuana and 1,372 for other drugs.

The figures for drug arrests from January to August this year were: ya ba 3,983 cases, heroin 403, opium 270, inhalation 107, and others 22.

5,551 school students were shown the privations experienced on the jail system and it is hoped that this will assist in preventing drug taking by the youth of Chiang Mai.

A confidential post box was also provided this year and since May 13 letters were deposited in the box, reporting 31 cases, which after investigating, 9 were found to be prima facie cases.

Old Chiang Mai City Hall area being developed into an eco-tourism center

City Center being turned into a tourism site

Metinee Chaikuna

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn announced that the city plans to develop the old Chiang Mai city hall near the Three Kings Monument into an eco-tourism center. The proposed name for the center would be the “Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center”.

The mayor said that people of Chiang Mai have come to know the area around the Art & Cultural Center, Three Kings Monument, the old public prosecutor village, the Chiang Mai district court, and Chiang Mai provincial women’s prison as the city’s “navel”, or city center.

“Many places in the area have been opened to the public and should be developed as tourism spots, especially the Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center run by Chiang Mai Municipality,” the mayor said. The Corrections Department has committed to submitting the land to Chiang Mai Municipality to be developed into a public park.

Chiang Mai MP Yaowapa Wongsawat agrees, and said that over 3.3 million tourists from Thailand and other countries come to visit Chiang Mai every year, bringing 37 billion baht into the province.

“Whilst developing the province as a center of eco-tourism up to international standards, private companies and government offices have cooperated to conserve the environment,” Yaowapa said.

She also said that she has supported and encouraged several eco-tourism projects and activities. These projects include developing historic sites, namely Wiang Kum Kham as an open museum; and the Walking Street Project, which helps reduce pollution and supports tourism.

Chiang Mai has over 30 historic places that can be developed as eco-tourism sites.

300 doctors attend the CMAAO annual academic conference in Chiang Mai

Metinee Chaikuna

The annual academic conference of the Confederation of Medical Association of Asia and Oceania (CMAAO) was held October 25-26 at Lotus Pang Suankaew Hotel and was opened by the new governor of Chiang Mai, Pisit Katephasuk.

The conference covered academic medicine and is one which the CMAAO holds every year for its country members. This year the Medical Association of Thailand, a member of CMAAO, was the host for the conference.

300 doctors from all over Thailand and abroad came to exchange academic knowledge and culture. Following its successful conclusion, visiting doctors were shown Chiang Mai City.

New Chiang Mai Governor stresses the importance of the press

Promises to be open and honest with the media

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Mai’s new governor, Pisit Katephasuk, took office on October 28. Soon thereafter, he met with the press and stressed what an important role he feels the press plays in the community. He also announced that he is very pleased to cooperate with the press.

Chiang Mai’s new governor, Pisit Katephasuk and his wife paid respects to the Three Kings Monument shortly after the governor took office.

“I think the press is very important because it publicizes our official conduct and lets us know what troubles the people might be having, all the while presenting information to the masses,” Pisit said.

The governor said he promises that he will present only the facts and will explain any problem issues. “Chiang Mai people can use the press as a way to inform the Chiang Mai Provincial Office about problems they have encountered,” the governor said.

The governor also said he has received policy guidelines from the Ministry of the Interior about his administration, and that his administration must produce tangible outcomes. The Ministry of the Interior told him to be the leader of the provincial officers and Chiang Mai people, and whilst doing so, be a moral leader and a leader of changes.

Chiang Mai celebrates Chulalongkorn Day

On Wednesday October 23, the Chiang Mai people, led by high-ranking officials, joined the people nationwide in a ceremony to pay respect to His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great (King Rama V) on the occasion of King Chulalongkorn Memorial Day.

Royal London Circus gala premier coming November 7

Charity event will raise money for scholarships and flood victims

Metinee Chaikuna

The Prince Royal College Alumni Association and Dara Academy Alumni are hosting the gala premier of the Royal London Circus on Thursday November 7 beginning at 6.30 p.m. The gala opening is a charity event, and everyone is invited to come and see the show.

The circus will take place on the pitch in front of the Lanna Poly-Technical College in Chiang Mai. After the gala premier, shows will continue every night until November 21.

Royal London Circus shows feature amazing animal acts by dogs, cats, lions and tigers, as well as gymnastics shows, a parade of clowns, and magic shows. In all, the circus features 80 performers and 21 performances.

Some of the proceeds from the gala premier will go towards scholarships and relief for flood victims in the north.

Tickets for the gala premier are priced at 200, 300, 500, and 600 baht, and are on sale at the Prince Royal College and Dara Academy.

Chiang Mai Neurological Hospital to stop participating in the Thirty Baht Medical Scheme

Will transfer their quotas to private hospitals

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Doctor Maitaj Samsen, the director of Chiang Mai Neurological Hospital, announced that from now on the hospital will stop participating in the Thirty Baht Medical Scheme. The hospital will transfer their quota of more than 15,000 patients to Chang Puak Hospital and the medical center of Wing 41.

About two thousand patients will be transferred to the medical center in Wing 41, and the rest, more than ten thousand, will be transferred to Chang Puak Hospital.

“After we stop participating in the Thirty Baht Medical Scheme, some people who don’t know may still come in to get treatment,” said the director of Chiang Mai Neurological Hospital. “If they do, we can provide assistance in simple cases.”

Due to it being a specialized hospital, the Chiang Mai Neurological Hospital is “going full speed” to service patients who need nervous system care, and to provide 24-hour operation room services for emergency cases involving brain trauma, the Dr Maitaj said.

Is Chiang Mai ready to hold the National Games?

With a month to go, there is still much to do

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Mai Provincial Administration will host the 33rd National Games, this year called the Nakhon Chiang Mai Games, December 13 - 24.

Although 14 committees and a bureau are sharing responsibility for managing the Games, there are still many things the committees have to finish before the beginning of next month.

Organizers plan to spend 4 million baht to improve the training courts and sports grounds, but they are still waiting for the Sports Authority of Thailand to contribute the necessary sports equipment.

The medical staff, responsible for treating the sick and injured, is behind schedule, and public utility organizers, responsible for coordinating with the communication offices in Chiang Mai, don’t plan to finish preparing communication devices until a week before the games start.

The business and licensing committee, responsible for giving out licenses to produce official souvenirs and for finding sponsorship for the games, only began to release details on October 30, leaving themselves just one month to find viable sponsorship for the event.

The administrative committee has only just started to design invitation cards and set up “welcome points” at the airport, railway station, and land transportation center.

Other committees are starting to make progress, however, including the public relations committee, traffic and security, sports technique, city and tourism development, and the residence and food committee.

The secretary bureau has ordered souvenirs, but said they have not been finished yet. The bureau also announced that they will be responsible for scrutinizing evidence of sportsmen’s eligibility from all provinces, and report any problems they find back to the provinces in the near future.

The secretary bureau is also creating and printing memorandum books and ID cards. The bureau announced that there will be a press party at the venue on December 16.

Chiang Mai Social Welfare committee proposes better unemployment benefits

Jobless would get 50% of their previous wages

Nuttanee Thaveephol

People laid off from their jobs could be eligible to receive 50% of their pay as unemployment compensation if a Chiang Mai Social Welfare committee proposal is passed.

Under the proposal, whilst employed, employees would contribute 1% of their income to the fund. This 1% would be matched by a 1% contribution from the person’s employer and 0.5% by the government.

Laid off workers could collect an amount equal to 50% of their wages at the time they were laid off. Unemployed could receive this compensation for not more than 180 days within 365 days of the time they were first laid off.

To be eligible for this unemployment compensation, workers must have worked for 15 months and contributed to the fund for at least 6 months before being laid off, and have been registered with the government’s employment office. Also, the termination of their employment must not have been based on criminal, negligent or careless performance, or senility.

Workers must also be ready and able to go to work, and must accept any job the government’s employment office might find for them during their layoff period. When no job is available, the unemployed must report to the office at least once a month.

Anyone who is qualified could begin to receive financial support by the 8th day after his or her last employment.

Surasvadee Chantharat, the director of Chiang Mai Provincial Social Security Office said that the Social Security Office has studied this plan and is prepared to submit it for royal decree social security law enforcement.

Mae Sa Elephant Camp retorts government charges

Says it is not responsible for waterfall deterioration

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Anchalee Kalmapichit, owner and manager of Mae Sa Elephant Camp, says that the camp is not responsible for the deterioration of the Mae Sa Waterfall as the government claims.

“We have all the basic public utilities including electricity, clean water, telephone and Internet,” she said. “The space (throughout the camp) is separated properly and is within public health management standards. The camp also affords facilities and safety for tourists.”

As part of the Mae Sa Waterfall reformation project, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra ordered the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration to investigate the cause of Mae Sa Waterfall’s dirtiness and to fix the problem to improve the waterfall.

The ex-governor said that the main cause of the waterfall’s deterioration is that elephants in the nearby area bathe and defecate in the water sources.

But Anchalee says that’s not true. “The Mae Sa Elephant Camp is not the cause of the problem,” she said, adding that the way they feed the elephants proves her case.

“Our elephants eat natural grass that comes from a plantation. When outside of the camp they eat natural grass as they walk around. The elephants are also fed bananas, sugarcane and corn purchased from Chiang Mai and nearby provinces,” she said.

Anchalee also said, “Water flowing through the camp from the activity areas has no effect on the quality of water (beyond the camp) because the elephants eat vegetables.”

To get rid of the sewage, Anchalee explained that waste from all work and activities is always collected and separated before being sent to the incinerator. When her elephants bathe in the local streams, if they happen to defecate the excrement is gathered up from the water and contained in bags to be used as fertilizer.

She also said that Mae Sa Elephant Camp is trying to join the ISO 9001 version 2000 system in services and is confident of the camp’s international environmental and safety standards.

Transport Office hastens systematizing 19 red mini bus routes

Drivers demand income guarantees

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Saying that there is a shortage of mass transportation in the city, Kosin Katethong, ex-Chiang Mai governor has nominated a working committee and sub committee to work out a municipal minibus system.

The committee has been divided into 5 groups, one each responsible for route signs, public relations, transport point setting, advertising the project and setting a budget.

The city should soon have 19 new red mini bus routes if all the offices involved in organizing the system can work out the details.

The Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office revealed that they will undertake setting out route signs and establishing transport point settings (bus stops).

The office recently met with representatives from Chiang Mai Municipality, the traffic police, the president of Lanna Transport Cooperation, and Land Transport technicians and academics, and agreed to set up 19 minibus routes and 20 mini-bus queues to serve the public during the initial stage. Additional routes may be adjusted or added later.

The sub-committee announced that they are reviewing the proposal and doing a feasibility study, the results of which will be used to set a budget.

The Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office is also studying such tangibles as current minibus drivers’ average income, numbers of cars on the streets each day, numbers of passengers in and out of the city during rush hour, how many cars at what times are plying each main route and sub route, connecting roads to the 19 main roads, appropriate parking points for solving the traffic problem whilst facilitating the customers, and people’s opinions about improving the project in the future.

However, organizers of this project are faced with the problem of minibus drivers saying they risk earning less income compared to running their own routes. The Lanna Transport Cooperation has demanded income assurance from the municipality, starting at 600 baht a day per bus, which would equal 1.14 million baht a day for 1,900 buses. However, the money the cooperation is asking for is just an estimate, not a fixed cost.

The committee plans to find the most appropriate way to manage this compensation, and ideas have been put forward such as selling monthly tickets or asking for cooperation from shops and companies to let their officers travel by minibus, then keep the fee as a foundation for the management at the beginning in accordance with all factions.

Panyapol Mongkolcharoen, chief of the Municipal Commerce Bureau, Chiang Mai Municipal Clerk Office revealed that Chiang Mai Municipality said that Chiang Mai City needs buses to facilitate transporting the masses, although there can be a disadvantage because of the drivers’ income assurance.

“This is one way to solve the traffic and pollution problems, even if the municipality can lose more than a million baht per day,” Panyapol said. “But Chiang Mai townspeople would get better accommodation from the new mass transportation. That is how the municipality would make and return a profit to our people.”

The Chief of Commerce Bureau insisted the project continues, and said he expects that this kind of mass transportation system would not only be possible, but also improve the traffic situation from now on.

Thapae Walking Street takes place every Sunday

Locally made products such as these are big sellers at the Sunday Walking Street.

If all that walking around shopping has given you tired feet, get a foot massage - it’s only 49 baht for 20 minutes.

Thapae Road is closed every Sunday for tourists and visitors to enjoy shopping.