Vol. I No. 10 Saturday 28 December 2002 - 3 January 2003
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Precious new faces ready to welcome in the New Year

Elephant torture debate heats up as Aussie model strips

One Tambon - One Product items promoted as New Year presents

Vaccination can rid the world of polio

Rug Up! Chiang Mai will be frozen this winter

Lamphun Children’s Day 2003 to encourage education

The Fang Citrus Festival promises to be a sweet event

Dinosaur found in Phayao

Local doctors combine with overseas surgeons in charity operations

The Twin Pagodas in Doi Inthanon National Park are highest in the Kingdom

Chiang Rai is ready for APEC 2003

Belgian benefactor honored by villagers and CMU

Early Warning Center opened

Girl ordered to remove bra in classroom

Chiang Mai governor personally checks market prices

PAO chief reveals where the money went

Don’t drink and drive this Xmas/New Year

Duty Free Zone mooted for Chiang Rai industry

New standards for Thai whisky

Precious new faces ready to welcome in the New Year

These cute little youngsters were just recently born at the Chiang Mai Zoo, and officials at the zoo regard them as Nature’s New year’s gift to the people. The staff at Chiangmai Mail would like to join with Mother Nature in wishing all our readers a safe and fun New Year’s Eve, an exciting New Year’s Day, and more importantly, a safe, prosperous, healthy and Happy New Year.


Elephant torture debate heats up as Aussie model strips

Government minister treating reports very seriously

Metinee Chaikuna

The Australian model who stripped and chained herself up to protest the treatment meted out to Thai elephants has raised the ire of Sonthaya Khunpluem, the Minister of Tourism and Sports. The minister said that he had directed the Ministry of Agriculture and the Kotchabal Elephant Institute to find a solution to the recent protest by the Australian model against Thailand.

The case began when an Australian model stripped down and bound herself in chains, naked, to convey the image of Thai elephants (sorry, no photo). The message given was to ask people not to go to Thailand since Thai elephants are mistreated. The minister pointed out that the image of Thailand has been damaged, so we need to show that Thais and elephants are friends, and we do not torture them as is being portrayed to the world.

This has resulted in damage control to recover the country’s image by having meetings on elephant care and treatment. The most recent conclusion to come out of these meetings was an agreement on the care of elephants, and that our elephants need appropriate places, like elephant parks, which do not destroy the environment.

Minister Sonthaya said Thailand will need to show that the mahouts never torture their elephants as was shown on the video. He wants any organization involved with elephants to be aware that they need to remember Thailand’s image before deciding to accept money to allow sensationalist filming to occur. Sonthaya also said that the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports would also check the elephant foundations and organizations in any case.


One Tambon - One Product items promoted as New Year presents

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Udom Maneekhat, chief of Chiang Mai Community Development Office said that Chiang Mai Province has selected 34 favorite products from the One Tambon - One Product Project they want to promote as New Year presents.

The commodities consist of hand woven cotton textiles, woven bamboo, local dresses, carved wood, silverware, fabric items food, and fruits. All these goods can be used decoratively and arranged in gift baskets.

The Thai government has a stated policy for promoting the purchase of Thai products to reduce spending on foreign products and strengthen the local economy. The project, One Tambon - One Product was created to increase local communities’ incomes by fostering the local capacity to produce products which can be made by the local people themselves.


Vaccination can rid the world of polio

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The World Health Organization (WHO) campaign of having children under the age of 5 years vaccinated against polio is in its 9th year in Thailand and is supported by the Thai government. This campaign has the aim to wipe out polio from all parts of the world.

Wuttikrai Mungmai, the provincial chief medical officer of Chiang Mai Provincial Health Office, said that polio is caused by a virus and is passed on by droplet infection. Initially it produces symptoms similar to a cold with high temperatures, headache, sore throat, and a runny nose, but if there is no prevention or treatment, it may be fatal.

The next mass immunization day will be on January 21 next year; another dose is necessary later.


Rug Up! Chiang Mai will be frozen this winter

Nuttanee Thaveephol

A strong high pressure area covering the North of Thailand is bringing cold weather with morning fog and frost in some areas. The Northern Regional Meteorological Center says that the temperatures will drop to 2-4 degrees overnight. There will be frost in the mountains; especially Doi Inthanon and Doi Ang-Khang, getting down to 1 degree Celsius.

Chiang Mai always has frost on the peak of Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain of Thailand.

The weather forecast for the Chiang Mai Red Cross Winter Fair during December 29-January 13 is for temperatures under 10 degrees Celsius. There will also be morning fog covering the town and frost.

The Northern Regional Meteorological Center is warning townspeople to maintain their health and not to let coughs and colds go untreated.


Lamphun Children’s Day 2003 to encourage education

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The director of the Lamphun Provincial Authority of Tourism and Sport, Manoo Anantacharsiri said that national Children’s Day will be on January 11; consequently Lamphun has set January 1-17, 2003, to be national Children’s week.

The stated goals are to promote awareness in youth of the importance of the Nation, our Region, and the King; all significant concepts among Thai citizens. The children will also learn more about self-responsibility, self-discipline, and democracy.

The Lamphun Provincial Authority of Tourism and Sport will celebrate national Children’s Day on January 11 at the Lamphun sports stadium with interesting activities for children of all ages. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has made the slogan for Children’s Day “encouraging children to enjoy their lives with learning, creativity and technology”.


The Fang Citrus Festival promises to be a sweet event

Metinee Chaikuna

The Fang Citrus Festival, which will be held December 30 to January 2 at the Mae Soon Agriculture Market Center, Fang District, Chiang Mai, promises to be sweater than ever.

Sai Nam Pueng oranges, fully ripe and very sweet, will be the center of attention at the Fang Citrus Festival December 30 to January 2 at the Mae Soon Agriculture Market Center in Fang District, Chiang Mai.

Boonserm Jitjensuwan, Fang District officer said that during December and January, the popular Sai Nam Pueng oranges are fully ripe, and very sweet. The Citrus Festival will promote the oranges and support Fang tourism, as well as produce revenue for the local farmers in Fang, Mae Ai, and Chai Prakarn districts, Chiang Mai.

Kriangkrai Kanongdechachat, director of Chiang Mai Provincial Agriculture and Cooperative Office stated that the Sai Nam Pueng oranges take 11 months to ripen, and went on to allay fears of chemical fertilization dangers. He said, “On the use of chemicals, the farmers only use products allowed by the Department of Agriculture. When the oranges are 8 months old, the farmers reduce the use of all chemical substance in order to reduce exposure and 1 month before harvesting, there is no chemical detectable at all. The gloss on the oranges on the stalls is only wax. These oranges will be 100% safe after you peel them. I personally guarantee that they are safe.”

The festival will be opened on December 30, and there will be many exhibits from the local area. Kriangkrai also indicated that it is easy for tourists to get there with transportation available from Chiang Mai to Fang by bus. The bus from Chang Puek station costs 100 baht, and the bus from the Fang station to the Mae Soon Agriculture Market Center costs 10 baht.


Dinosaur found in Phayao

Bones more than 130 million years old

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Dinosaur bones more than 130 million years old have been found in Chiang Muan District, Phayao beside the Yom River. The provincial office now hopes to develop the area into a local ‘Jurassic Park’ to encourage tourism to the region.

The dinosaur bones in Phayao were discovered by a man from Ban Pat, Chiang Muan District, Phayao in November this year. Geologists from the Department of Geological Resources, of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment have proven that the fossils are the remains of a Sauropod dinosaur. They are more than 130 million years old, which is the oldest dinosaur ever found and it is the first dinosaur discovered in Northern Thailand.

Phayao Governor Somsak Boonpleung has asked the local people to be mindful of conservation because these fossils can be beneficial for the area.

Tourists can visit the dinosaur site. Chiang Muan District is 119 kilometers from Phayao. Turn right at the intersection 2 kilometers before the Chiang Muan District Administration Office and go 8 kilometers along the Chiang Muan - Song route and turn right at Pong Sanook School. The site is 2 kilometers from the school.

So far, the dinosaur has shown no indication that it might turn dangerous. For additional information, call the Phayao Public Relation Office, 0-5448-1204.


Local doctors combine with overseas surgeons in charity operations

135 children aided by humanitarian plastic surgeons

Metinee Chaikuna

A group of Thai doctors in the USA founded an organization called the Thai Physician Association of America and became volunteers in the team for the Healing The Children Midlantic, Inc (HTC) which consisted of surgeons, nurses, and other doctors who wished to help disfigured children from the north of Thailand.

To do this was a logistic exercise, requiring cooperation between the Ministry Public Health, Chiang Mai, and the Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University (CMU), and the Healing The Children Midlantic, (HTC) to set up the project known as Healing The Children Midlantic, Inc (HTC) - Chiangmai 2002 to honor His majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great for his public charity.

The organizers revealed that the project had been very successful for there were a number of disfigured children who were taken into the project. The children’s’ ages ranged from 3 months - 18 years old, and came from Phetchabun, Nan, Nakhon Sawan, Phitsanulok, Pichit, Kamphaeng Petch, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao, Chiang Rai, and Chiang Mai. All the reconstructive plastic surgery was carried out at no charge to the children or their families.

On the medical team, there were 39 doctors, nurses from the International Organization of America and the medical team from the Faculty of Medicine, CMU. For the organizers, it was heart-breaking that 268 children applied but the project could only handle 135 people, which included 71 children with harelip, 22 cleft palate, 26 burns, 11 hernias and five others.


The Twin Pagodas in Doi Inthanon National Park are highest in the Kingdom

Both have deep Royal significance

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The twin pagodas of the Royal family are located in Doi Inthanon National Park, known as Phra Mahathart Napametaneedon and Phra Mahathart Napapot Poomisiri. These twin pagodas were built out of reverence to the Royal family and were built by the Royal Thai Air Force and Thai citizens on the anniversaries of the 5th cycle of life (one cycle being 12 years) of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen. The first one was built for the King in 1987 and the second for the Queen 5 years later.

Phra Mahathart Napametaneedon, named by His Majesty the King, has an octagonal bell-like style, is 60 meters high, in honor of His Majesty’s 60th birthday, and is the highest pagoda in Thailand.

Around the buildings are many kinds of colorful flowers which can be grown, despite the winter climate. At the top of the two pagodas, you can see a beautiful vista, with the clouds lying below, and many people saying that it is like walking in the angel’s garden.

Phra Mahathart Napametaneedon is 60 meters high and 50 meters wide with an octagonal bell-like style. The 60 meters in height is to represent the King’s 60th birthday. The octagonal style of the bell-like pagoda refers to the simultaneous achievement of ‘Mak 8’, a principal in the Buddhist religion. It is one of the noble truths of the Buddha, which is the way to perfect religious precepts. The King himself gave the name Phra Mahathart Napametaneedon to the Pagoda. It means the earth- to-heaven pagoda containing a sacred relic of the Buddha. Inside the structure, there is an enormous carved Buddha image in granite.

Phra Mahathart Napadol Poomisiri has a twelve-angle bell-like style, and is 55 meters high in honor of Her Majesty the Queen being 5 years younger than the King.

Phra Mahathart Napadol Poomisiri, honoring the Queen’s 60th anniversary birthday, was built in 1992, 5 years after Phra Mahathart Napametaneedon, so it is 55 meters high as Her Majesty the Queen is 5 years younger than His Majesty the King. The name Phra Mahathart Napadol Poomisiri refers to being the power from the sky and the goodness of the earth. The Buddha image is a massive jade carving, over 3 meters high and weighing several tons.

The twelve-angle style is to remind one of the 12 miracles of Buddha’s Mother. The structure is constructed to be colorful and graceful, referring to the personality and the nature of womankind.

All visitors entering the pagoda should dress appropriately, wearing either long pants or skirt, and shirts or blouses with sleeves.


Chiang Rai is ready for APEC 2003

City welcomes and waits for February conference

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Rai government and private sectors are ready for the APEC Conference which will be held for the first time in Chiang Rai February 12-21.

Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panichkit said that following the government’s directive to hold the APEC conference in the North, Chiang Rai was indeed ready.

The preparation has included beautification of parks, buildings and roads, and all local tourist attractions have also been spruced up.

The governor said that the leaders from 21 countries will come to the APEC officers’ conference. “This event will be good for Chiang Rai and Thailand’s economy and tourism,” he added.


Belgian benefactor honored by villagers and CMU

By Dr. Paulo Anderson

This December, six villages north of Chiang Mai, along with Chiang Mai University, carried out a very unusual ceremony to honor Ignace Sere (AKA Khun Chio) and bestowed upon him a PhD in Science. It was a most emotive moment, and the speech given that day by Wipada Krisanamis is printed here as a record as to why Khun Chio received this honor.

Ignace Sere (AKA Khun Chio) was bestowed a PhD in Science.

“Dear friends, I see people from the villages, from the city, from the university, and from the mountains. We never got any explanation from Khun Chio about his reasons to do things. If we insisted he would reply why do we need a reason to do what is right, ‘If I do something wrong, then ask me why,’ he always said.

“When he came to Chiang Mai to work with the Royal Forestry Department he didn’t know a word of Thai, but he was always learning and always looking for a way to communicate with others. This friend of us, farang outside but khon Thai in his heart, has saved a lot of lives, has taught hundred of children, and has given his time and knowledge to his community.

“Twice he was reported dead in 2001’s floods, and everybody knew about the crazy farang who battled the floods day and night rescuing people. People he didn’t know but they are all here today; people that couldn’t understand him, but trusted their lives to him and let him treat them. They are here today. His Disaster Organization - people organizing people- was a success in all ways.

“He shared with the University all kinds of knowledge, from biology and medicine to comparative languages, logistics and computers. He went all around the campus from one faculty to another on his bike. Some friends at the University call him the “one man NGO”.

“One day he came to live in this moo ban. He said that there was no special reason for that, only just that he had no money. However, I am going to tell you a secret - in Moo Ban Pheen, near here, near the Ping River, he helped a women give birth to a baby boy. That boy is here today with all his family. Every time we needed him, he was ready and every time that something had to be done, we knew that he would be the first in say ‘I will do it’.

“He has taught us in many fields but he never claimed that he was teaching, he always said that he was learning. This was difficult for us to understand at the beginning.

“Even now villagers far from here say that in Ton Kiu there is a crazy farang who teaches and works for no reward, just for food.

“But we all know he is not a crazy farang and that is why we are here today. That is why we have tears in our eyes. We didn’t know how to say thank you, Khun Chio. We know that you didn’t want any recognition, and that you were annoyed with us because of our proposal to the senate, but now, looking to all this people that come here only to be with you, only to say you thank you, I know we were right.”

The Chiangmai Mail joins with the villagers to pay our respects to someone who has earned the respect of the entire community.


Early Warning Center opened

Prevention the best medicine for the public

Metinee Chaikuna

On December 16, Pramual Rujanaseri, the deputy minister of interior presided over the official opening of the Public Relief and Disaster Prevention Center Region 10, Lampang. The center, which was formed from the Accelerated Rural Development, covers the 6 provinces in the North: Lampang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Lamphun, and Mae Hong Son.

Kosin Ketthong, former Chiang Mai governor and now the director of the Department of Public Relief Work and the Disaster Prevention Department said that preventing danger before it occurs can be achieved by helping to make people aware of public safety issues, encourage research and develop accident prevention techniques, as well as keeping statistics and planning policies.

Following reshuffles in the public ministries, this center has been established instead of the Accelerated Rural Development Office, which was only involved with rural problems.

The responsibilities of this new center includes that which were originally under the umbrella of the Department of Provincial Administration, the Department of Public Welfare, Office of Prime Minister, the Department of Community Development, and the Department of Accelerated Rural Development.


Girl ordered to remove bra in classroom

Investigation ordered by tech college director

Metinee Chaikuna

Monticha Maitree, a 28-year-old teacher, was accused by the father of one of the students at the Kanchanapisek Technical College in Chiang Rai of ordering his daughter to remove her bra in the class.

Sawai Kantaprom, reported to Pol. Maj. Dusit Srichan, the duty police inspector, that his daughter was late attending her college the previous day. She was met by her teacher, Monticha Maitree, who noted that she was not wearing an undershirt, but only her bra and her white uniform blouse. The teacher then commanded her to take her bra off and put it in the classroom.

Sawai’s daughter did not do this but went in to her usual classroom. Monticha followed the girl into the classroom and commanded her again to take off her bra. The teacher claimed that there was a regulation that any student who did not wear an undershirt had to take her bra off and give it to the teacher. The girl then complied with the teacher by taking her bra off in the toilet and putting it on the teacher’s desk. She was very embarrassed by this situation and had to borrow her friend’s jacket to wear all day.

Kate Boonlorm, director of Kanchanapisek Technical College in Chiang Rai said he had begun investigation into the accusation and had called upon the teacher concerned to make a full report.


Chiang Mai governor personally checks market prices

Wants to ensure tourists are charged fairly

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Governor Pisit Khetphasook said there has been good cooperation from local vendors in labeling and pricing and it is now very easy for consumers to see the price tag. On his recent tour of inspection he had time to talk with the vendors, this being his first visit to the Warorot and Ton Lamyai Markets.

Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook (right) visits and greets vendors in Warorot Market and Ton Lamyai Market.

The governor said that standardization is the aim for labeling, and price tag checking by officials will be done in the other markets. There will not only be price tag checking, but also there will be quality checking as well.

Since Chiang Mai is a tourist destination, where many tourists have chosen to visit for the attraction of keen bargains, price tag checking in every market is to guarantee continuing value for visitors.


PAO chief reveals where the money went

Metinee Chaikuna

Udornphant Chantraviroj, the chief executive of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) revealed where the Chiang Mai PAO spent this year’s budget and indicated ongoing projects for 2003 and beyond.

There were 282 projects using the budget appropriation of over 132 million baht. The projects included constructing crematoriums, a sports complex, cemetery, public buildings, bridges, road resurface repairs and a conference building. Another 35 million baht was used to support other government offices with 180 projects covering religious aspects, culture, education, careers, tourism, anti-drugs project, and sports. All of these projects have been completed.

There are some projects that have not been completed because they are on-going. A budget from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of around 465 million baht was received to resolve the problem of garbage and environmental pollution in Chiang Mai. However, this project has faced some regional problems with the local people who do not understand the effect of garbage to the environment and who object to the building of garbage compactors and incinerators in their local area. The PAO has embarked on a course of informing the local people more fully.

CEO Udornphant emphasized community development for which he set up 65 projects to strengthen the community, and 39 projects for supporting local culture. He also stated that there would not be any problem getting the necessary budget for 2003 because this would come from tax and revenue from the government and given to the PAO, however they have to wait for the budget to be released.

Udornphant also said that he gave much significance to the tourism of Chiang Mai because most of the Chiang Mai revenue was from that source. Next year, the PAO has planned to develop tourist sites, including the local museum development, the King Norseman monument in Chiang Dao, Phra Chao Luang’s lotus reservoir at Doi Saket, and the Phra Baht See Roi temple development at Mae Rim.

Other proposed new projects are mostly on improving the water for agriculture and daily use, for example dredging the Mae Hea brook, and dam constructions in rural areas. He hoped the projects would all be completed next year.


Don’t drink and drive this Xmas/New Year

Blood alcohol testing threatened

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Deputy Minister of Interior Pramual Rujjanaseree said the government’s “Don’t Drink and Drive” campaign is aimed to reduce traffic accidents during the New Year holiday period, and he has asked liquor sellers not to sell alcohol beside the road or in gas stations.

The deputy minister said he was willing to answer all questions from gas stations owners on the road to Bangkok but repeated that selling alcohol in gas stations will encourage the drivers to drink. The police will issue one warning and further violations will result in the arrest of the owners.

Another part of the campaign is that presumed drunken drivers will be subjected to blood alcohol testing. If the reading is too high, the drunk driver will receive the maximum penalty fine.

Pramual has also asked all the provincial governors and district officers to be in their areas to serve their people. All of the security centers will stand by over the period to render assistance for all accidents if required.


Duty Free Zone mooted for Chiang Rai industry

Phitsanu Thepthong

A feasibility plan to study the possible set-up of a new Duty Free Zone Industrial Estate in the special economic zone located along the Chiang Rai border districts with Burma and Laos would be undertaken soon.

According to a close source, more Thai and Chinese investment projects for economic and trade developments are expected to come into the northern Thai border areas, following on from the economic and trade cooperation agreement signed between China and Thailand.

The proposal is that the border districts of Chiang Rai such as Mae Sai, Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong, would become special economic and industrial zones, using Thailand as the production base.

A reliable source said the Thai-China economic cooperation in the plans to build an industrial estate on the Mekong River banks in the Chiang Saen district could be implemented as soon as January.

The source continued that despite fears, the growth of China will not negatively affect this region as a whole, but it would produce positive impacts on economic growth and development, bringing benefits to the region as a whole.

China has signed agreements for tariff privileges with Burma and Cambodia. In November 2002 China signed an agreement on economic cooperation between China and ASEAN member countries; a forerunner of free trade areas.


New standards for Thai whisky

Bootleggers on the way out

Phitsanu Thepthong

The quality of local Thai whisky is still a problem that is needs urgent resolution, according to Somchai Chormduang of the Science and Food Science Technology Department, Faculty of Agro -Industry, Chiang Mai University. Foreseeing a problem, he said the department has prepared a special curriculum dealing with Thai fermented local alcohol and wine production, at post-graduate study level.

Thailand’s Whisky Bill was imposed in 1950 and effectively blocked local whisky production. Regarded as a Thai wisdom, local Thai alcohol production methods were then handed down secretly and illegally to the younger generations. However, amendments to the Bill freed up production in the late 1990’s has opened up opportunities for more production of whisky legally, resulting in companies and agricultural cooperatives looking for permission from the Excise Department, with more than 600 applicants this year.

One of the main problems with the local production, according to Somchai, has been product quality, with various results from exploding bottles to sediment and bad smell. These have given the local product a bad name and demand has fallen off. This in turn brought about a lack of confidence in business investors.

These problems need urgently to be solved to make whisky production into a sustainable and self-sufficient economy in line with the government’s One Tambon - One Product campaign. Somchai said that to resolve the problems, local producers themselves must add academic knowledge to their built up years of experience. “However, this must be applied with scientific methods, so whisky can be produced for mass production at the industrial level with clean, safe and hygienic products at every step of the production process,” he said.

The Department of Science and Food Science Technology has scheduled courses on Saturday and Sundays for science graduates. The application forms are available from now to February 14, next year for the upcoming semester. Interested students could contact the Graduate School, Chiang Mai University, Tel 053 - 942426 or at the Science and Food Science Technology Department, Faculty of Agro-Industry, Tel 053- 948244 - 5.



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