Vol. II No. 1 Saturday 4 January - 10 January 2003
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

15th Doi Kham Fair blessed with Royal Opening

500 houses damaged in freak hailstorm

No legal employment agency in Phrae, says Employment Office

Children’s health projects on show in Lampang

The fight against cervical cancer escalates

Mekong River countries get together in Chiang Rai

Local Orchestra Center open in Lampang

Citizen’s action groups ask PM to resign

Wing 41 welcomes in the New Year

The unthinkable happens! Service in the ‘lunch hour’

Amnesty nets 42 weapons in Mae Ai

Helmets and lights for Chiang Mai motorbikes

Forestry Conservation award goes to Northern village

Opium crop eradication season in full swing

9 million yaba pills and 350 million baht of property confiscated

Death in custody in Wiang Haeng

Another welding gas bottle explodes in Nan

Known drug dealer killed during escape attempt in Mae Rim

Suicide jumper from bank in Phrae

Children of AIDS victims get a helping hand from Novotel

Lamphun University to open in 2004

Snap checks of prisoners carried out in Chiang Mai and Lamphun

Ya Ba driver apprehended with 4 million baht

3rd Inventor’s Day will be celebrated in Lamphun Province

15th Doi Kham Fair blessed with Royal Opening

HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and his Royal Consort Mom Srirassa Mahidol na Ayuthaya on December 9 presided over the opening ceremony of the 15th Doi Kham Fair at Chiang Mai University’s Arts Museum. The fair was organized by the Royal Project to display flowers, products, fruit arrangements, and more. HRH the Crown Prince cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the fair, which finished on December 29. They were welcomed by MC Bhisadej Rajanee, head of the Royal Project Foundation.


500 houses damaged in freak hailstorm

Chiang Mai governor calls for damage assessment

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Heavy hailstorms returned at the end of December, with more than 500 houses in 4 districts of Chiang Mai reported as damaged, especially in Mae Taeng. The hailstorm was at its height around 5 p.m. on December 25 and many people were forced to evacuate.

The tobacco factory opposite the Mae Ma Lai market in Mae Taeng collapsed following the hailstorm on Christmas Day.

The weather bureau says that the high-pressure flow comes from China and passes Vietnam on its way to the North of Thailand. This time, the humidity from the China Sea clashed with the south wind and caused the hailstorm experienced in wide areas of Chiang Mai.

About 300 houses in Mae Taeng District were damaged, especially around Mae Ma Lai Market, where the market roof, the tobacco factory, and San Pa Sak School were heavily damaged. 120 houses in Saraphi district, 18 houses in Mae Rim, and a Tambon in San Sai were also damaged.

Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook has ordered every district to investigate and report on the damaged areas.


No legal employment agency in Phrae, says Employment Office

Unemployed advised to be wary

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Phrae Employment Office is warning job seekers to beware of the illegal employment agencies that deceive the desperate unemployed by offering overseas employment.

With so many jobseekers looking for employment nowadays, illegal agencies have been springing up to take advantage of them.

Nilubol Manunartvimolkrit, of the Phrae Employment Office, said that there were unlicensed employment agencies working with usurers to give credit to people who want to work abroad. The interest rates were inflated and many of the jobs did not exist. Some of the companies have paid local people to suggest that their relatives look for work in Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, Singapore, Brunei, and the Middle-East countries.

The Phrae Employment Office confirmed that there are no employment offices legally registered in Phrae that sends prospective employees to foreign countries. Employment offices are empowered to find positions for the jobless in the local areas. Unregistered offices advertise positions or conditions that will end up costing the jobseekers a great deal of money.

The conduct of these agencies is in violation of the Employment Service statutes. If there is deceit noted, residents are invited to inform the Provincial Employment Office at Phrae City Hall telephone 0-5451-1721 or 0-5451-1807 during office hours.


Children’s health projects on show in Lampang

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The Lampang Children’s and Youth Assembly is tackling national problems by showing projects associated with Health and the Society as part of the Children’s Day festivities January 8-11 in Chiang Mai.

There are 37 projects which were presented at the assembly fair recently held in Lampang. The children’s projects were very varied including recycling garbage, ‘instant’ mathematics, and instrument making, and were adjudicated by Lampang Governor Chalermpol Prateepawanich.

Chakrit Saenjinda, the leader of the Youth Network said that the Youth Assembly was created because educators have to be aware of the direction of today’s society.

The projects being shown in Chiang Mai during the Children’s Day celebrations will then be representative of the ideas and opinions of the youth of today, knowledge of which can lead to the solutions for a better tomorrow.


The fight against cervical cancer escalates

50% reduction in mortality is the aim

Metinee Chaikuna

The Ministry of Public Health has announced a national policy of cervical cancer detection and protection for women. Currently, health service centers from both private and government offices that are participating in the health insurance project are providing cervical cancer checks free of charge for people who are enrolled under the health insurance project.

The project began in the middle of August and aims to reduce the mortality rate at least 50% within 5 years. The target group is Thai women between 35 and 60 years old, which amount to around 10 million people. Over 80% of Thai women with the disease are aged 35 and up.

From the analysis, it is known that the main problem is that they do not have routine cancer checks. In Thailand, it is found that cervical cancer is the number one disease of Thai women. The data revealed that there are 5,600 Thai women diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and 3,000 people will die from it.


Mekong River countries get together in Chiang Rai

9th Cultural Relations Fair

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Rai, with the cooperation of Chiang Rai Provincial Administration Organization, the Tourism Authority of Thailand Region 2, Mass Media and private organizations will hold the 9th Cultural Relations Fair from January 10-12 at the public park at the foot of the Mae Fah Luang Bridge.

Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panichkit said this program is the result of cooperation between government and private organizations to promote the 9th Cultural Relations Fair. It will be a cultural showcase from Thailand, Laos, Burma and China.

Included in the fair will be an orchid contest, jewelry displays and exhibitions of small Buddha images.

Chiang Rai Mayor Wanchai Jongsutthamanee remarked that in the opening ceremony there will be a khantoke parade with traditional foods for all fairgoers to enjoy.

Organizers hope that the fair will make for closer ties between the four nations to improve further business, economy, politics and tourism.


Local Orchestra Center open in Lampang

Aims to preserve Lanna musical culture

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Lampang has opened the Indigenous Orchestral Center in Ban Fon Community School, Muang District, Lampang. This center is to encourage children and youths to become interested in native culture, which can lead to the conservation of local music and instruments.

Rasee Na Lampang, acting Lampang Public Relation Officer, revealed that the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) has indicated the importance and worth of the local orchestra. Realizing that local musical culture would otherwise be lost from Lanna communities, Rasee has assigned a nine-person team to research local instruments. This research will be used as the basis to create the curriculum, and to then record the music.

The students in turn will be trained to return their knowledge to the people and ensure that Lanna music continues in society.


Citizen’s action groups ask PM to resign

Supatatt Dangkrueng and Metinee Chaikuna

Local citizen’s rights groups in the North are collecting 50,000 signatures to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The use of what is described as “excessive force” to quell the demonstrations in Songkhla is what has raised the ire of the citizens.

The people’s networks, covering more than 20 groups, have disagreed with the government’s approach to control the protesters in Hat Yai during the Thai and Malaysian cabinets meeting. The protesters are opposed to the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline.

Many NGO’s said the government used excessive force to disperse the mob and then used the media to attempt to make a controversy between the NGO’s and local people. Human rights committees have investigated the incidents and local people are gathering the 50,000 signatures required to attempt to oust the PM.


Wing 41 welcomes in the New Year

Air Force dogs strut their stuff

Metinee Chaikuna

Wing 41 held many activities to welcome in the New Year 2003. One of these was the pledge ceremony of the air force officers, who together drank sacred water and swore an oath to avoid all drugs.

Air Force dog Anna shows how she apprehends criminal.

The ceremony was carried out in front of an image of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, to honor His Majesty.

Air Force dog Quantum searches for drugs.

Recruits ready for life in the Air Force at Wing 41.

On December 25, Wing 41 welcomed new Air Force recruits. Group Captain Suraphant Suwannatat, the deputy commander of Wing 41 presided over the ceremony, during which the new recruits were welcomed by enlisted men. Monks blessed the new Air Force recruits.

At the end of the ceremony four Air Force dogs put on a display showing how they were trained to find drugs and apprehend drug smugglers. Three of four dogs were Alsatians and the fourth a Labrador.

The Alsatians were trained to fight criminals, while the Labrador was able to find drugs no matter how deviously hidden.

The dogs will be showing their ability again on Children’s Day, during which Wing 41 will be open for children.


The unthinkable happens! Service in the ‘lunch hour’

Supatatt Dangkrueng

In a bold new step, all divisions in the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare will provide service during their lunch break from noon to 1 p.m., and have the full backing and support the government policy of reformation.

The chief of Chiang Rai Provincial Office of Labor and Social Welfare Administration, Manoo Deetet, revealed that all the divisions the ministry regarding employment, social security, labor protection and welfare, the skill development center and the provincial labor office, are supporting the lunch break service.

In addition, the offices will not be closed until the last customer who registered before 4.30 p.m. has been served.

Chief Manoo added that the ministry is collecting data regarding problems from employees and the employers. All problems can be recorded at PO Box 92 Chiang Rai 50700 or Provincial Office of Labor and Social Welfare, Chiang Rai Provincial Administration, Tambon Rimkok, Muang, Chiang Rai, 57100 telephone 0 5371 5829.


Amnesty nets 42 weapons in Mae Ai

Anti-drugs declaration from villagers

Metinee Chaikuna

Lt. Gen. Udomchai Ongkasingha, the Third Army commander presided over a weapons amnesty and mass promise not to deal with any drugs at Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai. 42 weapons were submitted.

Local soldiers, with the cooperation of the Pha Muang Task Force and the Drugs Prevention and Control Center of the 3rd Region Army and the 2nd Region intersection led by Maj. Gen. Nakorn Sripetchpant, all promised to continue the fight against drug traders.

The Army has also been making a mass public relations project to persuade drugs dealers and drug addicts to stop dealing with drugs. As part of that, the army is also spreading knowledge of the harmful effects of drugs to the villagers.

Many drug traders have been arrested and others have fled from the region, while the use of illegal drugs has fallen through these measures.

Now with the knowledge of drugs and their effects, the villagers are ready to fight against drugs and cooperate with the government to advise them on drug trade routes and caravans in their area. 1,500 people from around the Mae Ai districts of Chiang Mai and Huay Chompoo, Muang District, Chiang Rai Province gathered to submit the 42 weapons to the government office, and made a mass promise not to deal with drugs in the future.


Helmets and lights for Chiang Mai motorbikes

Time to stop the death toll says Dep. Public Health Minister

Metinee Chaikuna

The Deputy Minister of Public Health, Pol General Pracha Pormnok, presided over a recent safe riding project to promote the wearing of helmets while riding motorcycles. The accident prevention council of Chiang Mai, led by Provincial Governor Pisit Khetphasook, organized the event to convince riders to wear helmets and turn on their headlight while riding.

The grand opening took place at Arcade Land Transportation Station on December 25 in front of the Deputy Minister of the Health. Students from 10 institutes rode over 200 motorbikes while wearing helmets along the roads in the city to promote the project.

Pol. General Pracha revealed that latest New Year, there were 1,199 accidents and 21 people died. 80% of the accidents occurred with motorcycles, with the main reason for fatality being not wearing a safety helmet.

The Ministry of Health put rescue and recover personnel on 24 hour alert all over Thailand during the New Year period. The emergency number to call is 1669, which will be serviced all over the country.


Forestry Conservation award goes to Northern village

Now you can see the wood for the trees!

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Ban Tha Pa Pao in Lamphun Province has been awarded for its preservation of 8,000 rai of natural and forestry resources for the year 2002.

Phaibul Jamhong, a headman of Tambon Tha Pla Duk said the villagers from Ban Tha Pa Pao started forest preservation 20 years ago after seeing that destruction of the forest caused the droughts, floods and the massive damage to the village.

In 1994 they signed an agreement to protect and save the forest area, which is the source of Huay Sai Khao River. Since then, the forest has recovered with many types of trees proliferating, such as lagerstroemia, shorea, ormasia, Pterocarpus, and teakwood.

When the forest is again rich, the villagers can use and harvest from the jungle, increasing the annual income for the villagers by an average of THB 20,000 a year.

Following the recovery of the forest, Ban Tha Pa Pao has been given the PTT Authority of Thailand conservation award, having been selected from more than 95 candidates all over the country. We should be proud that Ban Tha Pa Pao, a village from northern Thailand, is a leader in the forest conservation in this country.


Opium crop eradication season in full swing

76 areas targeted

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The Northern Narcotics Prevention and Suppression Center of the 3rd Region Army is overlooking an area of possibly 3,274 rai of opium poppies. 76 target areas for this year’s eradication include Wiang Haeng, Chiang Dao, and Mae Taeng districts, Chiang Mai province and Pai district of Mae Hong Son.

Eric S. Rubin, the Consul General of Unite States of America in Chiang Mai (right) and Major General Picharnmet Muangmanee, deputy commander of the 3rd Region Army (left) preside over the opening ceremony of this year’s Opium crop eradication held on December 23 at the 7th Field Artillery Battalion, Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai.

“Opium Eradication may be difficult but, everyone has to cooperate for the good of the country,” says Eric S. Rubin, the Consul General of USA in Chiang Mai.

Eric S. Rubin, the Consul General of USA Consulate in Chiang Mai and Major General Picharnmet Muangmanee, deputy commander of the 3rd Region Army presided over the opening ceremony held on December 23 at the 7th Field Artillery Battalion, Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai.

The Narcotics Control Project was contributed to by the NAS, an aid assistance program from the United States, to help curb narcotics production by supporting the units involved in opium crop eradication.

All the officers are ready to exterminate all the opium in 2,274-rai areas of Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son

Major General Picharnmet Muangmanee, deputy commander of the 3rd Region Army said that everyone has to cooperate in opium eradication and that people in those areas should be ready to assist by giving information regarding the location of the opium fields.


9 million yaba pills and 350 million baht of property confiscated

Majority of drug smugglers foreign nationals, say police

Metinee Chaikuna

Pol. Maj. Gen. Wut Wititanond, the commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police revealed that Chiang Rai Provincial Police have been working diligently following the declaration of war against drugs traders, and that they have arrested 181 people who were not Chiang Rai residents. 97 of the foreigners they arrested came from neighboring countries.

Most of the drugs confiscated were yaba (speed pills) and they had confiscated over 9 million pills.

The Office of Narcotic Control Board has been cooperating with Chiang Rai Provincial Police, who also run promotions for local people to advise them not to deal with drugs, and to also spread knowledge of the ways to prevent drug use and help solve the drug problems in the target villages.


Death in custody in Wiang Haeng

Police claim suicide, villagers not convinced

Nuttanee Thaveephol

More than 200 people from Wiang Haeng District gathered at the provincial police station Region 5 to call for justice in the case of Charn Paka, a suspect who was arrested and died in custody. Police say it was suicide.

Charn Paka was arrested on December 17 and charged with being drunk and disorderly and causing bodily harm. Only an hour after being put in jail, he was sent to the Wiang Haeang Hospital, but the hospital officer informed relatives that he had died before arrival at the hospital.

Charn’s body was still handcuffed to the bed and there were signs of asphyxiation. Police said that the suspect had hanged himself and died. However, the hospital doctor had not indicated the cause of death and merely said that he had died before reaching the hospital.

Later, the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital verified that Charn died through strangulation which could have occurred through suicidal hanging.

The local people are calling for Wiang Heang police officers to get out of the area within 24 hours because Charn’s father did not believe that his son had committed suicide.

Deputy Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5, Pol. Maj. Gen. Pantuwat Sriwalai said that the police would investigate the case as soon as possible and the people should give the police officers understanding in this difficult situation. The police will respond to the case with in 7 days.


Another welding gas bottle explodes in Nan

Unwelcome Xmas gift as 4 injured and 10 houses damaged

Nuttanee Thaveephol

A gas bottle at a welding workshop exploded in Nan City on Xmas afternoon, resulting in 4 people injured and 10 houses damaged. The accident took place at 3.10 p.m. on December 25 at the Chuwit welding shop located in Tambol Nai Wiang, Muang District, Nan.

The gas explosion resulted from a gas leak while the worker was welding in close proximity to a 50-kilograms oxygen tank.

The blast caused damage to more than 10 houses in a 200-meter radius around the workshop. The structures in the area suffered severe damage with windows blown out and roofs shattered.

Chuwit Yajai, the owner of the factory was seriously injured and was taken to Nan Hospital along with three customers, Phra Kru Athorn Nantawat, Nikom Somkuan, and his brother, Preecha Yajai.


Known drug dealer killed during escape attempt in Mae Rim

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The drug suppression police force finally trapped yaba dealer Paisarn Thanapornpaisarn while he was carrying 200,000 amphetamine pills on the Chiang Mai - Fang Road, Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai.

Police had received a tip-off that there would be a drug transfer to Chiang Mai City and set up a checkpoint. They tried to stop a suspicious car, but the driver rammed the car through the barricade and tried to escape.

During the interception of the suspect, he opened fire on police, but died instantly during the exchange of gunfire at the scene. The drug dealer was found to be Paisarn Thanapornpaisarn or Seng Laoyang, from the Lisor hilltribe from Chiang Dao District.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Preawpan Damapong, the assistant commander of the Royal Thai Police Department visited the scene with Pol. Lt. Gen Inthadej Pornpeerapan, the Provincial Police Regional 5 Commander.

The commander said that the police had been following this drug dealer and his gang for a long time and that members of the gang were on the Narcotics Suppression Bureau blacklist. This gang has allegedly been transporting amphetamines to Bangkok as well as centers in the North.


Suicide jumper from bank in Phrae

TFB denies any involvement

By Metinee Chaikuna

A woman was found lying in the road in front of the Thai Farmers Bank in Phrae, having apparently jumped from the roof of the bank building. Pol. Capt. Phadoong Jackthon, the duty police officer at the Provincial Police Station, Phrae went to the scene and found the woman was still alive and she was transferred to Phrae Hospital. However, she died while still in ER.

Investigating police found that her name was Areerat Rattanshompoo, 28 years old. The name was taken from the ID card in her purse which contained 520 baht and a lock of hair. In addition, they found her diary which contained articles referring to God, heaven, and hell. Police have contacted her relatives and family.

Nawin Poonsawat, the manager of the Thai’s Farmer Bank, said that it was quite impossible that the woman jumped from the rooftop of the bank’s building because it was guarded, and every door was closed so no one would be able to get in to the building. He assumed that the woman might have fallen from the back of a vehicle.

Prasert Khankamnanta, a bank officer said that he received a telephone call from the Krung Thai Bank that a woman seemed agitated and tried to go up to the rooftop of the Krung Thai Bank, but the guard took her out of the building and let her go. After that she headed towards the Thai Farmers Bank and Prasert was warned to look out for her, but apparently the woman had eluded both staff and guards.


Children of AIDS victims get a helping hand from Novotel

Metinee Chaikuna

The staff and executives of the Novotel Hotel Chiang Mai, led by Scott Ong, the general manager, donated teaching aids, study equipment, clothing and blankets for the Home & Community Care for the Village project. This was started to help the poor children whose parents died from AIDS.

Scott Ong (standing back center) led the Novetel Hotel team and hosted lunch for needy children in the Home & Community Care for the Village Project set up by the president of the project, Apasaree Chaikuna, seen here with chairmen Jan M. G. Steuten (to the left of Mr. Scott) and Bert Smith (on the right of Mr. Scott).

The president of the project is Apasaree Chaikuna, with chairmen Jan M.G. Steuten and Bert Smith, the organizers. There were 60 children covered by the project from San Kamphaeng, San Patong, Mae Rim, Mae Wang, and Muang Chiang Mai districts.

After the official donation, the hoteliers gave the children lunch to celebrate Christmas. This was arranged at the family’s service place, Ban Peang Medical Center.


Lamphun University to open in 2004

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Lamphun will have its provincial university opening in 2004. It will be the combination of the colleges in Lamphun and will be located in the Lamphun Agriculture and Technology College.

The government’s educational policy has been to foster the creation of provincial universities. Colleges in each province will be combined and upgraded to become the provincial university. Nakhon Pranom and Narathiwas were the pilot provinces, both of which now have their own university.

The Lamphun University Project began in September 2002 and is expected to be the combination of the Agriculture and Technology College, Pa Sang Vocational College, Lamphun Technical College and NIDA.

Agricultural Technology, Tourism Industry, Industrial Technology, Business Administration, and Arts are the faculties which will be opened in the first semester of the educational year 2004.


Snap checks of prisoners carried out in Chiang Mai and Lamphun

Only a single cutlery set found

Supatatt Dangkrueng

As a surprise visit from Santa, an early morning check was carried out at the Women’s Correctional Institute in Chiang Mai and the Central Prison in Lamphun on December 25, by police officers from the 33rd Border Patrol Police Headquarters complete with 12 police dogs.

It is the policy from the Correctional Institute to look for forbidden items, and Nawwarat Tanasrisutart, the director of Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute, said random searches are carried out twice a week and this was the last examination of the year.

The 12 officers, 89 correctional staff and the police dogs examined the property of 2,312 women in Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute, but found nothing.

After the search at Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute, they continued the investigation at Lamphun Prison. 1,404 male prisoners and 289 female prisoners were searched, but only a knife and a fork and a spoon and were found.


Ya Ba driver apprehended with 4 million baht

Claims he didn’t know it was there!

Metinee Chaikuna

Nirund Sakchaipiboon, a Hmong from Chiang Khum, was arrested by Pol. Lt. Gen. Intadej Pornpeerapan, the commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5. At the time of his arrest, 999,000 baht was confiscated, which was assumed to be the revenue from selling drugs. After further investigation, the police then found 4 million baht in cash hidden in the roof lining of the vehicle.

Nirund said that he knew nothing on the 4 million baht, as he was just hired to deliver ya ba pills to customers in Bangkok and return to Chiang Dao. The payment for this job was 20,000 baht.

The commissioner said that this group of drug traders had a large network, and the people involved in drug smuggling were a different group from those who were attempting to shift large amounts of ‘black money’. He also said that the police had a new plan regarding drug smuggling, especially with heroin, which was now coming into the country for a large quantities.


3rd Inventor’s Day will be celebrated in Lamphun Province

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Thailand has produced many inventions, and as far as can be ascertained, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great is the first King in the world to be granted a patent to an invention. The Cabinet has decreed February 2nd as Inventor’s Day to honor His Majesty the King who invented the Chai Pattana Waterwheel and received the patent on February 2, 1993.

In Lamphun, the 3rd Inventor’s Day will be celebrated with an exhibition held February 13-15 at the Tourism Service Center, Lamphun.

There will be many activities, including exhibitions and presentations of some of the King’s inventions such as the New Theory, Royal artificial rain, palm oil, and the excellent research exhibition of HRH Princess Naha Chakri Sirindhorn.

Visitors will also see the works of young inventors and there will be stage performance, debates, a music show, entertainment and learning.

The Tourist Service Center is located in front of Phra Thart Hariphunchai Temple near Ta Kham Bridge, Muang District, Lamphun.



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