NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Flood relief begins

Gone with the wind!

Tenders sought for industrial estate project in Chiang Rai

Local pollsters testing the waters

We’re from the Taxation Department and we’re here to help you

Electric Bus project buzzing along

Municipal garbage recycling nets 10 million baht

Fire prevention training is mandatory

Message from Governor Pisit Khetphasook

Safari Night Zoo going ahead

Going shopping? Forget parking, go by tram

A new flower market?

Three new parks for Chiang Mai

Asian-Oceania IT meet in Chiang Mai

Drug dealers stung by border police

Two competitors narrowly escape death at this year’s Yi Peng Festival

“Wan phob yart”, or “meeting relatives day” recently held at Chiang Mai Prison

Suicide as a way out on the way up say the Samaritans

Wat Lok Molee commemorates Queen Jiraprapha

New cable car to assist Royal Projects

Wieng Kum Kam gets government backing

US Mid-Term elections result will not change Thai-US relations, says US Ambassador

Flood relief begins

But so does the dark waters of discontent

Supatatt Dangkrueng and Nuttanee Thaveephol

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra last Friday began disbursement of flood relief moneys at the 700 Years Anniversary Sport Complex in Chiang Mai to aid the flood-hit farmers from San Pa Tong and Hang Dong districts.

PM Thaksin headed the presentation of financial support to help relieve farmers’ plights after they lost property during the recent floods in Chiang Mai. The support comes under the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperative’s relief plan. The presentation ceremony was held at the 700th anniversary sports complex last week.

The government has set up a 2.5 million baht flood relief fund, but there are already many complaints from the victims. Most complaints center of the differing cash amounts, which might not be able to cover all the damage the farmers have experienced because they are claiming some farmers with little damage have received more than others with major flood catastrophe.

Prime Minister Thaksin said that although the flood has ended, it is quite difficult to check the degree of individual damages, and he told the press that anyone who feels aggrieved should inform the provincial agriculture office for re-evaluation of their damages.


Gone with the wind!

Chiangmai sets an unofficial record

Chiangmai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn and his team aimed high when they successfully attempted to release the world largest air balloon, or “Khom Loy”, on Tuesday morning.

It took 26 people to prepare the balloon for takeoff.

As one of the highlights of this year’s Yi Peng Festival, about 1000 spectators witnessed the preparations, decoration and ‘filling’ of the huge air balloon.

Up it goes, and everyone who was left on earth was relieved and proud.

At a total height of 16 meters and a diameter of 10 meters, 22000 sheets of paper in the proud three colors of the Thai national flag, and a lot of cello tape was necessary to achieve this record, and it was all smiling faces and thumps-up when the balloon finally went up into the air.

Chiangmai Mail hopes that the ‘officials’ representing the Guinness Book of Records made it in time to the municipality.


Tenders sought for industrial estate project in Chiang Rai

Offers open until November 30

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand is promoting a project for construction of industrial estates in Chiang Saen and Mae Sai districts, Chiang Rai Province. This plan is a pilot project for economic development in boundary areas.

Chiang Rai provincial industrial officer, Banjong Jiarapong announced the project was now open to tenders from interested parties to compete for the land contract in the first instance. It must be at least 1,000 rai close to a public thoroughfare and have enough water and drainage and be in a suitable zoned industrial land area.

Those interested should submit tenders to: The Director of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, telephone number 02 253 2874, 02 253 0563 ext 3343, 3306 before November 30.

The winning tender will be announced on December 20 this year.


Local pollsters testing the waters

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The head of Chiang Mai Provincial Statistical Office, Udom Pinyo, said that the statistical office has been transferred under the minister of information, communication and technology.

Their new task is focusing on peoples’ attitude towards the government policies by carrying out a poll called the ICT Poll. This poll covers 10 topics including government policy in the region and the country, the 30 baht medical scheme, government fund, government administration, decentralization, entrance examinations, time zone changes, floods, future predictions, drugs, and corruption.


We’re from the Taxation Department and we’re here to help you

538 billion baht is the prize

Metinee Chaikuna

A revenue department seminar took place in Chiang Mai recently at the Empress Hotel to update executives of the revenue office, from every region, on the taxation laws, to develop the e-Revenue project for the taxpayers’ benefit, and to reform the organization’s structure.

A revenue department seminar recently took place at the Empress Hotel to update revenue office executives on the taxation laws and other issues.

The revenue department has been assigned to collect our taxes - altogether 538 billion baht, and the objectives of the seminar were to lay down a policy and plan the tax strategy for the fiscal year 2003. The department wants to encourage people to pay their taxes, and make the collection system more efficient.

On the service side, the department is going to develop an e-Revenue project so that people can pay their taxes through the Internet.

Suparut Kawatkul, the director of revenue department, said that he hopes every strategy and plan this year will allow successful execution of their objectives and goals.


Electric Bus project buzzing along

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Mai people will be given the new electric school buses as a New Year present from the municipality, says Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor. The electric shuttle bus service will be starting at the beginning of 2003, especially for students of schools along Charoen Prathet Road, who can help the city keep the environment clean by collecting their recyclable rubbish and using it to pay their bus fare.

“The students have to pay with their families’ recyclable garbage instead of regular bus fare; for example, 5 old newspapers, a bottle or 3 cans. The municipality will sell all the rubbish and donate the money to the municipal schools in Chiang Mai,” said the mayor.

The municipality has set Chiang Mai Land Housing Estate’s field as the first pick up point, which can serve parents from many districts in Chiang Mai. The route will go from Chiang Mai Land Village, passing Buarawong Hotel, going along Charoen Prathet, turning to Chang Klan Road.

Although 72 percent agree and are willing to be part of this project, the mayor is still concerned about some parents who may not follow the campaign for selfish reasons. “Everyone has the right to drive cars on Charoen Prathet Road, if it is necessary, but we are concerned about the ones who may find that there is no traffic jam when the shuttles are in service and may take advantage of this situation, but this will cause traffic problems later,” he said.

The ten buses, which can take 24 students each, are expected to reduce rush hour traffic by more than 600 vehicles. The mayor also said that there will be an extension of this project if the pilot study proves to be effective.


Municipal garbage recycling nets 10 million baht

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The municipal recycling market project seems to have its future assured, with the fund bringing in more than 10 million baht since March last year, from the almost 6 metric tonnes of garbage that are delivered to the market every day.

Chiang Mai Municipality has been transporting the recyclable garbage from the communities in municipal areas to the 3 recycling centers including the Ban Den old electric station in Kawila Precinct, Santidhamma Cemetery in Sri Vichai Precinct and Hai Ya Cemetery in Mengrai Precinct.

The recycled garbage entrepreneurs pay for the recyclable refuse such as plastics, metal, bottles, glass and paper, at prices fixed by the municipal committee.

This project is aiming to encourage the people to use this solution for environmental problems and increase the communities’ revenue from the once useless garbage. The municipality has also extended the recycle project as a “recycling bank” for schools and communities in its area by creating a “bank” showing the type and weight of the garbage and the money collected from the sale. The moneys belong to the schools or communities that have collected the recyclable garbage.

The municipality is also offering garbage recycling as a way to make merit by donating the revenue from the recyclable garbage to Wat Chedi Luang starting in January next year.


Fire prevention training is mandatory

Labor office cracking down

Metinee Chaikuna

Thipakorn Udommaneesuwat, head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Labor and Welfare Office, is emphasizing that fire prevention and training is mandatory under the country’s safe working practices code. Employers in every kind of business, be that hotel, services work, mines, transportation, and all factories must demonstrate a satisfactory fire security system in their work place in order to safeguard employees from fire danger and prevent the spread of fires.

As covered under the legal code, the employer should have a fire security plan in the work place, covering checking and fire drill training, as well as escape plans if fire does break out. Fire drills must be carried out at least annually, and a minimum of 40% of staff must be present.

The employer must submit their plan and the details of their fire drills to the Chiang Mai Labor and Welfare Office for approval before the drill day.

If the employer is not able to organize the fire drills, the employer can utilize any company with permits issued by the governor’s office and the employer must submit the report of the drill to Chiang Mai Labor Protection and Welfare within 30 days after successful completion of the drill.

For further information, contact Chiang Mai Labor and Welfare, 2nd floor of the Provincial Governor’s Office (the new building), Chotana Rd. Chang Puek, Muang, Chiang Mai. Tel. 053 890 472-3, 053 214 844 during office hours.


Message from Governor Pisit Khetphasook

I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co., Ltd., on the grand opening of the first English language weekly newspaper in Chiang Mai.

Mr. Pisit Khetphasook, Governor of Chiang Mai.

On this occasion, I would like to extend my best wishes to the management and staff of the Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co., Ltd., for continued success and prosperity in their future endeavors.


Safari Night Zoo going ahead

Phitsanu Thepthong

Chiang Mai Safari Night Zoo is progressing and according to reliable sources at the Chiang Mai City Hall, it has the backing of the new Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook.

The governor has said that the working group, chaired by the permanent secretary of state for the ministry of natural resource and environment, indicated that the planning was in progress, after the completion of the feasibility study, and the next step will be to bring in the experts for future implementation and consultancy.

The master plan is expected to take three months to complete, and the provincial authorities will handle this strategic planning, as well as launching a public relations campaign about the study and the results of the environmental impact. This will be done in conjunction with an expert team from Singapore - which is employed as the project consultant.

The employment of Dr Bernard Harrison, an expert and special consultant for this project was discussed recently and it was agreed his 3 million baht fee would be divided into two equal installments.

This night spot is to be another international tourist attraction and will showcase Thailand’s wildlife, while also providing greater public awareness on the preservation of natural habitats. The preferred site is near a botanical garden in Tambon Mae Hia, Muang District of Chiang Mai.

At this initial stage of planning, it looks as if the implementation and administration of the Safari Night Zoo will be handled as a non-profit venture by the government agencies under Royal decree. It is expected the zoo will attract 2 million visitors annually.


Going shopping? Forget parking, go by tram

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn has indicated that the municipality would grant a concession to a foreign consortium to build a tramway and run electric trams inside and around Chiang Mai City.

The main routes for the old-style trams have already been fixed. The tracks will be built around Chiang Mai City Moat and have five branch lines to the city hall, airport, railway station, arcade transport center, and Chiang Mai University.

The mayor said, “There is a French-Canadian private company Bombardier that has tendered for this project. The company has to research the rush hour carrying capacity and indicate how many years they want to get the concession, and how much they want the municipality to subsidize.

The project will be a way of mass transit provided for local people and tourists. Other companies have also shown interest, including Siemens from Germany and Hyundai from Korea.


A new flower market?

Plans growing slowly

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Mai Municipality has already planned for a new flower market and food stalls in the Ton Lamyai Market area by proposing building a 3 storey market instead of the current rather wet and messy small space on New Praisanee Road.

The Ton Lamyai Market could get a facelift if city plans reach fruition.

The municipality decided to improve the area following the Regional Cities Development Project, selecting the KBTD Property Management Company Limited to build a new marketplace for the merchants at the rear of Ton Lamyai Market.

KBTD Company was allowed to take this project by agreeing to rent the building for 15 years. The company has to pay dividends to the municipality three years after finishing the construction, commencing at 100,000 baht per annum for years 3-5, 150,000 baht for years 6-8, 200,000 baht for years 9-11 and 300,000 baht for the final three years.

This project is still in progress but has hit a submerged snag because the municipality has to ask permission from the Harbor Department as the area is in the Ping River zone.


Three new parks for Chiang Mai

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Mai municipality is constructing a new park on the 60 rai site at the old State Railway Hotel area and two small parks at Sriphum Corner and the Chang Phuek Gate. However, Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that the municipality is waiting for some funds to finish the larger public park.

The plan is to use the park for exercise, complete with all facilities, which will also include a jogging track and a small shopping area.

The Sri Phum Corner Park used to be a car sales outlet and was purchased by the municipality to turn into a small park, tourist viewing point and fountain. The mayor expects to finish this park at the end of the year.

The Chang Phuek Gate park is being constructed at Chang Phuek Ground after dismantling the old municipal public health center, and it is expected to be finished before Songkran next year.


Asian-Oceania IT meet in Chiang Mai

Nuttanee Thaveephol

On November 28-30, over 500 IT personnel, including IT ministers and business executives from all over Asia-Oceania will be at ASOCIO 2002 (the 20th Asian-Oceania Computing Industry Organization general assembly and symposium), to be held at the Westin Riverside Plaza Hotel, Chiang Mai.

At this conference, the IT ministers and IT professionals will work together to seek the necessary cooperation for important issues such as Connected Asia and Digital Divide which is leading to the enhancement of the industry’s potential in the entire region.

The highlights include an IT ministerial speech on “IT Policies and Industry Development,” concerning the development of information technology in many countries of Asia, and parallel sessions include topics as e-Government and business tracks from IT business companies in Thailand and many other countries.

The ASOCIO Award this year, which is given to a person who plays an important role in boosting Asia-Pacific IT industries, will be given to Prime Minister Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra.

For more details check the website www.atcil.or.th/ASOCIO or +66 2636 7272.


Drug dealers stung by border police

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Six drug traffickers were arrested at the border while attempting to transport more than 400,000 amphetamine pills and 24 packets of heroin into Thailand.

The border patrol police received an undercover tip-off that there would be a large shipment into Chiang Mai via Phrao - Chaiprakarn District.

The border patrol police headquarters 33, led by Pol. Lt. Col. Pongsak Kheawkaew, intercepted and arrested the suspects, confiscating the drugs plus the three pick-ups used in transporting the goods into Thailand.

The drug traffickers were identified as Wattna Bhothong, Anchalee Bhothong, Chaiwat Saenkaew, Suwan Sangfoo, Patchara Sangfoo, from Mae Ai and Pitakchai Supawee from Wieng Haeng District, Chiang Mai.


Two competitors narrowly escape death at this year’s Yi Peng Festival

Near fatality during raft races

The raft race during the second day of this year’s Yi Peng Festival nearly started with a double fatality, as two participants drowned when their boat capsized.

The Mae-Ping River Rescue Team works fast to bring back to life one of the raft race competitors who drowned when his team’s raft capsized. Thanks to the fast response, the man and another who suffered the same fate lived to compete again.

But thanks to the Mae-Ping River Rescue Team’s immediate response, the two unlucky men were revived.

Both were hospitalized after the emergency medical treatment was complete on the riverbanks.


“Wan phob yart”, or “meeting relatives day” recently held at Chiang Mai Prison

Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Udom Puasakul (center) cuts the ribbon to mark the opening ceremony of the “Wan Phob Yart”, or meeting relatives day at Chiang Mai Prison on Chotanata Road, November 12.

Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Udom Puasakul visits with one of prisoners and his relatives inside the provincial prison.

Relatives of prisoners and prisoners at Chiang Mai Prison got a surprise when Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Udom Puasakul stopped by to say hello and check how the rehabilitation process was proceeding along.


Suicide as a way out on the way up say the Samaritans

Phitsanu Thepthong and Nuttanee Thaveephol

Suicide rates have been increasing annually since 1999, according to Assoc. Prof. Dr Prieab Kuramarohit, deputy director of the Samaritans Chiang Mai Center, adding that this figure is expected to continue to rise in the near future.

Suicide rates for males are four times that for females, and most were aged between 20 and 40 years old. Most were caused by social problems, with many living alone and feeling isolated, while some cases were broken hearts, or family problems.

“They feel sad, and perhaps chaotic, inferior in the society, feel upset or hurt or poor and needy,” Dr. Prieab said. There are also “copy cat” suicides and those who are unable to cope with problems.

She stressed that the best way to look after these sick people is that their close relatives and friends or colleagues should comfort and take care of them and ensure they receive help.

The Samaritans Chiang Mai Center office is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. The center sees four to five cases every day, and consults them regarding school problems, quarrels, divorce, broken hearts, jealousy, love and sex problems. The center also runs training programs for the elderly who need care.

Samaritans Chiang Mai is one of the consulting organizations that has been keeping suicide statistics in Chiang Mai and reported that there were 541 suicide cases in 1999, which amounts to a rate of 34.75 per 100,000 people, 556 cases or 35.71 in 2000, and 598 cases or 38.41 in 2001.

Suicide is the 5th most prevalent cause of mortality in Chiang Mai, with AIDS, heart disease, respiratory problems and cancer being the other top causes.


Wat Lok Molee commemorates Queen Jiraprapha

Queen Jiraprapha reigned over Chiang Mai City, as the 18th Queen of Mung Rai Dynasty, in 1845. She resolved much of the city’s problems and patronized Wat Lok Molee.

The history of Chiang Mai records show that Queen Jiraprapha oversaw much good work in Chiang Mai and the Wat Lok Molee temple. To pay respect to Her, Wat Lok Molee temple’s board consulted the Antiquities Office, the 6th National Museum in Chiang Mai, and the historians, then contracted sculptor Worawat Keotip to cast a life size image of the Queen.

The casting ceremony was held at Wat Lok Molee during the Yi-Peng festival, and the statue will be kept in the temple.

Wat Lok Molee temple was built in the Pra Muang Ket Klao era, between the 15th and 17th Mung Rai Dynasty.


New cable car to assist Royal Projects

Metinee Chaikuna

HRH Prince Bhisadej Rajanee, the chairman of the Royal Project Foundation, presided over the launching ceremony of a cable car at the Royal Project Development Station, Mae Poon Luang, Phrao District of Chiang Mai, which will be used for transporting hill tribe agricultural products.

With much ceremony, the new cable car makes its first voyage laden with hill tribe produce.

The cable car was designed and built by the Rajamangala Institute of Technology, Northern Campus. The cable car is powered by a 3 horsepower electric motor and test runs show it is capable of speeds of up to 30 meters per minute and can carry 150 kg up a 30 degree incline.

MC Bhisadej Rajanee officially launches the cable container.

MC Bhisadej Rajanee performs a religious ceremony before launching the cable car.

The cable car will be used in the collection of hill tribe agricultural produce to take it to the Royal Project station. This is in line with the objectives of the Royal Project Foundation to support and develop the hill tribe standards of living by encouraging them to plant beneficial plants, and support local agriculture.

The Royal Project Foundation covers 5 provinces in the North. The development station in Mae Poon Luang was founded in 1980. One of the obstacles the project had to overcome is transportation, and the cable car will assist in bringing the produce to the markets, fresh and in good condition.


Wieng Kum Kam gets government backing

The Underground Empire raised again?

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai Provincial Administration, with the government and private enterprise behind it, has plans to promote the ancient Wieng Kum Kam City (the Underground Empire) as a tourism attraction. Wieng Kum Kam has more than 700 years of history and was discovered in 1984, 1.2 meters underground, in Saraphi District in Chiang Mai Province.

Chiang Mai Provincial Administration announced it has plans to promote the ancient Wieng Kum Kam City (the Underground Empire) as a tourism attraction.

Chiang Mai MP Yaowapa Wongsawas said the government is supporting the project and aims to make this ancient Lanna capital a historical and cultural attraction. It is hoped that this will encourage people to be proud of our country and our history.

Officials and children dressed in Lanna style promote the start of the Wieng Kum Kam City project.

The promotion has been scheduled from January to April next year, and will be over two periods. The first will be a light & sound presentation entitled, “Muang Kaew Kwan Klao, Wieng Kum Kam”, starring famous movie stars, and it will be shown on January 18-19. The second period commences on February 2, continuing on to April 6 including bicycle, tricycle, horse and carriage tours, Kad Kum Kam (the market in Kum Kam style), and tours by the local people.

Backing this up, there will be a television feature, telling the long history of the Wieng Kum Kam lifestyle which will be aired on every channel. The feature focus is that Wieng Kum Kan is not just the remains of an underground empire, but it is also significant in Lanna history and architecture.

Sahawat Nanna, director of the 6th Regional Office of Archaeology and National Museum Chiang Mai, said people should be made to realize it is important to protect our heritage. By protecting it, we will have something of historical significance to show the tourists as well.

(Editor’s Note - A locally published book on Wieng Kum Kam is reviewed in the book section of the Chiangmai Mail this week.)


US Mid-Term elections result will not change Thai-US relations, says US Ambassador

The US Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Darryl N. Johnson, is confident that despite changes to the make-up of the US Congress, Thai-US relations are still solid. Speaking to the Rotary Club of Bangkok earlier this month he said, “You can rest assured that one thing which will not change as a result of this election is the strong and enduring Thai-US relationship. This is because of the bi-partisan support within Congress to sustain our long friendship.

“We (recently) learned which party would control the US Congress for the next two years. We knew well in advance, however, that whatever happened in this election, the essential strength of our relationship will endure.

“On the fundamental issues of security, law enforcement, trade & investment, education, research, cooperation for international peace, and in the exchange of people and ideas, the relationship between our two nations has never been stronger. Both of our societies are based on tolerance and respect for the beliefs of others. Our constitutions enshrine the importance of human rights. We both share a common vision of a world where stability, respect for human dignity, freedom of commerce, and economic development can be realized for societies everywhere. Candidates and incumbents will come and go, but our common goals and values ensure a continuity of cooperation and mutual respect between our two nations.”

With much uncertainty in world politics and affairs, this statement from H.E. Darryl N. Johnson will probably be looked upon as a stabilizing influence.