International agencies witness poppy eradication at Doi Sammuen area
By Metinee Chaikuna
Photo by Nuttanee Thaveephol
More than 20 international officials led by the Northern
Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) joined a field trip to the remote
areas bordering Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son provinces to eradicate opium
poppies are popular in Doi Sammuen because of their perfect resin.
Mrs. Ratsamee Witsawawet, deputy secretary general of the ONCB led the
contingent which included representatives of international organizations
from 20 countries to study and observe the public eradication of opium by
the Third Army at Doi Sammuen area, Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai.
The team consisted of 50 INTERPOL officers,
representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC),
and representatives from international narcotics control organizations from
Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Italy,
Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South
Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA, and China. The representatives from Thailand
consisted of the ONCB, the Royal Thai Police Department, and the Customs
from INTERPOL helped eradicate opium plants in the Doi Sammuen area.
The opium eradication in the Doi Sammuen area had begun
two days earlier after the Third Army had discovered the crop. They had
eradicated 56 rai of the opium farm, and found that the poppies were
blooming and growing, and ready to be cut for transforming into the drug
The Doi Sammuen area is located between Mae Hong Son and
Chiang Mai, in Pai District, Mae Hong Son. Most villagers are Thai Yai,
Chinese Haw, and Lisu who live their life by farming and caring for
livestock. Most of the poppies are white because they give more resin than
those of other colored poppies.
Ratsamee said that the international organization had
joined Thailand in drug suppression, so the ONCB organized the trip so that
they could see first-hand the drugs control policy and management being
carried out by the Thai government. The trip was to show Thailand’s
capability to eradicate opium crops. The ONCB expects that the trip would
strengthen the cooperation between Thailand and other countries to resolve
the drug problems.
Pornthep Eamprapai, deputy director of the Northern
Narcotics Control Office, said that drug-eradicating teams are making
satisfactory progress in trying to reach PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s policy to
suppress the drug trade within 3 months. To achieve the target, officers
need to be strong and involved organizations need to cooperate in preventing
drug selling and production.
Ratsamee also told reporters that at the moment the ONCB has imported
mobile X-Ray units to check the transportation used by drug smugglers. Lt.
Col. Boonyuen Inkwang, infantry battalion commander 2 of the Infantry
Battalion 1, Muang Kong, Chiang Dao welcomed the representatives from other
countries and spoke on the progress of drug suppression. He said that
narcotic plants were still popular, especially opium, among the hill tribe
peoples. The major reason to plant and sell the opium was its high price and
the fact that the climate in the hills is ideal for the opium poppy.
Get ready for Chinese New Year
Bring the kids to Waroros Markets
Chiang Mai Municipality will hold a traditional Chinese
New Year Celebration February 1-2 at the Lao Jow Alley in the Waroros Market
area on Kuang Main Street close to Thapae Rd. The celebration will run from
10 a.m. - 10 p.m., and promises many fun activities.
Chinese arch has been prepared for the New Year.
The main parade, which will include Chinese lions and
dragons, will begin from the Chinese Consulate. The celebration will start
this Saturday with strings of Chinese beads available for those who attend
Between 3 & 4 p.m. there will be a performance by the
Yunnan-Chiang Mai Association with Chinese gymnastics, and from 5-6 p.m. the
Woo Zoo Club will be on show.
At the Imperial Maeping Hotel at 6-7.30 pm., there will
be a Teng Li Jen singing contest (named after a famous Chinese singer). At
the same time, Chinese food and beverages from famous hotels and restaurants
in Chiang Mai will be available.
On Sunday February 2, beginning at 1-2 p.m., there will
be a Chinese kiddy contest for 4-6 year old boys and girls, and at 3-4 p.m.
there will be a Chinese kiddy contest for 7-9 year old boys and girls.
Then from 4.30-6.30 p.m., MP Pakorn Buranupakorn will
preside over the grand opening of the celebration, with the Chinese lion
parade being held between 4.30-6.30 p.m. starting from Thapae Gate and
moving along Thapae Road, turning left into the Kuang Main Rd.
The Chinese New Year celebration was held last year for the first time at
the Waroros Market, which is the trading and business areas for most Chiang
Mai Chinese residents, and received good feedback from both townspeople and
tourists. Consequently, the municipality has decided to make the celebration
an annual event.
Thailand should make ready for some changes
PM Thaksin’s master plan unfolds
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said after a workshop
at Suan Bua Resort Hotel, that Thailand must be ready to change its weak
points and build on its strong points to compete in the global market
PM Thaksin noted that the economic experts of the United
States of America and Singapore have focused on the same topics as Thailand
has. This gives the government more confidence to solve the problems, and
the PM believes that they are going in the correct direction as Singapore
The government is focusing on the importance of
productivity as a long term investment. Government hopes to make some
changes in the future to develop our economy similar to Switzerland, to be a
leader in the international forum, to have the best quality products and
services, create innovations from learning, support small investors, be
proud of the culture and our wealth of natural resources and the
The National Economic and Social Development committee
will spend one billion baht raising the status of our country. This budget
will be used in research and to study all kinds of data, after which the
data will show us the direction that we must follow.
He added that the plan to develop our country must be
flexible and rely on the world’s current best practices. It is inevitable
that some plans may be changed, and once a year there will be a meeting to
adjust the strategy and work through it.
Thai elephants are to have
their own ID card
What’s next? A tail light?
The National Elephant Institute, the Thai Elephant
Conservation Center, and the Forest Industry Organization in Lampang are
regulating elephants in cities by forcing the elephants’ owners to
register their elephant’s description on an ID card. Veterinarian Preecha
Puangkam, director of the National Elephant Institute, said that the purpose
is to ascertain the real number of elephants and their true owners.
There are some entrepreneurs who rent or buy elephants
for illegal purposes; for example, bringing the elephants to wander as
beggars in some big cities. The survey showed that there were 170 elephants
wandering in Bangkok, but after the regulation, the elephants were sent back
The National Elephant Institute wants to warn owners that
from now on they have to carry the elephant’s ID card and show how they
have come to possess the elephants.
The director of the National Elephant Institute said that
whenever the police arrest an elephant on illegal business, the Forest
Industry Organization will keep the elephant until the case is over.
Thai villagers protest relocation of Hmong from temple
Holding banners and delivering speeches,
about 4,000 villagers and local officials in northern Thailand protested
Monday against plans to move Hmong refugees from Laos to the area.
Protesters from five districts near the Myanmar border
gathered at a checkpoint in Mae Sot, 370 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of
the capital, saying the influx of 1,441 Hmong hill tribe people would worsen
social problems in the area.
“There are thousands of Burmese (Myanmar) refugees in
our region,” said the leader of a Thai-Myanmar border organization, Paniti
Tanpharti. “If the Hmong of Tham Krabok are moved here, it will double the
The Thai government has announced it will start
relocating the Hmong refugees beginning in March.
The refugees settled at the Tham Krabok Temple in
Saraburi, 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Bangkok, in the 1970s and 1980s
after a communist regime took power in their homeland at the end of the
Vietnam War in 1975.
The Laotian government claims the temple is a sanctuary
for Hmong anticommunist insurgents. Tham Krabok is also known for a drug
treatment program in which herbal remedies are used, though some Hmong
residents have allegedly become involved in amphetamine trafficking.
Boonthum Kitsantia, a local administrator in Tak
Province’s Phopphra district said, “We are afraid of drugs. We are
concerned about our young generation.”
He said Phopphra was already home to about 20,000 Hmong -
half the population - and that the new arrivals would strain local food
supplies, forcing them to turn to the drug trade or illegal logging to
The protesters submitted a petition to Tak provincial
authorities with more than 12,000 signatures calling on the government to
halt the planned transfer.
Chiang Mai governor gets involved in the elephant fracas
Sets up working committee to resolve Chiang Mai elephant’s problems
Governor Pisit Khetphasook has set up a team in charge of
Thai elephant conservation in Chiang Mai to deal with problems such as
elephant torture, incorrect use of elephant labor and other items regarding
the correct care of the beasts.
The Chiang Mai governor said that at present, the team is
being led by himself and consisted of Chiang Mai deputy governors, the
director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Northern Office Region 1, the
head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Relations Office, directors of
management offices in the north, the director of the National Elephant
Conservation Institute, the president of the Northern Newspaper Association,
the director of Chiang Mai Zoo, the president of Chiang Mai Tourism Business
Association, the president of the Northern Jungle Tours Club, chief district
officer, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5, the president of Chiang
Mai Elephant Parks, the Friends of the Elephant Foundation, the Chiang Mai
Provincial Administrative Organization, the Chiang Mai mayor, head of Chiang
Mai Livestock Development Office, head of Animals Health Development Group,
and head of Livestock Development Group.
The team is supposed to work on the problems immediately,
and with all the heavyweights involved, something must be done quickly.
600 police volunteers will allow us to sleep safe in our beds
Six hundred municipal police volunteers in uniform will
be patrolling their communities through the Chiang Mai Municipality’s
environment and anti-drugs policy.
Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that Chiang Mai
recruited volunteers over the age of 18 from each community in the municipal
area, and then set up a police volunteer group from these recruits. The
volunteers will go on duty after they finish their normal working day.
Municipal police volunteers will gather after work and
will be riding bicycles to patrol their own communities. The municipality
will give them some allowances and provide the bicycles.
“This project aims at encouraging people to avoid
drugs, and to help increase general security and prevent dangers in
municipal areas,” the mayor said.
Volunteers will be responsible for their own community,
similar to a police patrol. If anything is wrong, they can inform security
officers or police officers nearby. The police volunteers will be wearing
khaki uniforms with Chiang Mai Municipality armbands.
State Railway of Thailand launches One Tambon - One Product plan
I’ll have one railway train to go, please
To support the One Tambon - One Product campaign, the
State Railway of Thailand has opened a booth selling local products at the
platforms of railway stations.
Mai MP Yaowapa Wongsawat cuts the ribbon to open the booth at Chiang Mai
The governor of the State Railways of Thailand, Dr.
Jitsanti Thanasophon, said that to support government’s One Tambon - One
Product, railway authorities are offering an area in each railway station to
set up a booth to sell these goods. The first was launched at the Chiang Mai
Dr. Jitsanti said the reason Chiang Mai was chosen to
open the first booth was because of the high numbers of tourists, both
domestic and international, coming through the station.
The sales booth has been offered by Siritosapat
Partnership Limited and Thai Telecontainer Co., Ltd. free of charge. These
companies will provide 50 booths on the platforms of railway stations all
over the country. These will sell many outstanding products, such as silk,
woodcarving and handicrafts.
Chiang Mai MP Yaowapa Wongsawat said this would be good,
making an empty area of the railway station very useful. After Chiang Mai
this project will be launched in Phitsanulok, Phichit, Udorn Thani, and Ubon
The State Railway of Thailand is aiming to increase its profits 50
percent over the previous year, and these sales booths will help them
realize this goal and keep ticket prices unchanged.
IBM wants to maintain IT leadership
IBM Chiang Mai officially opened their service center in
Chiang Mai Land Housing Estate, Chang Klan Road, to serve its northern
region customers on January 17 this year.
Phianpattanawit (center), Thamrong Kiatiwongse (right), and Orawan
Siriwongse (left), met the press at IBM’s Chiang Mai opening.
Songtham Phianpattanawit, country general manager for IBM
Thailand Co., Ltd., said that IBM’s goal this year is to sustain their
position as the leader in Thailand’s IT industry.
IBM has been established for 80 years and is in a leading
position in the IT industry with total revenue of over 80 billion US dollars
in 2001. It began its computer and technology business in Thailand 50 years
ago, and is still growing with more than 900 staff and many professional
services and products.
IBM Chiang Mai is aiming to provide professional
solutions in products and services regarding personal computers, storage,
servers, and printers and after sales service. It covers 9 provinces in the
northern region with a free warranty.
The forecast this year is to provide professional service in all regions
with the opening of service centers in Chonburi, Hat Yai, Khon Khaen and
Representatives from Laos PDR study the management of the Ping River Basin
On January 21-25, representatives of Laos organizations
concerned with the Ngam River in Laos, led by the minister of water
resource, came to study the river basin management here in Chiang Mai,
including the local Huai Hong Krai Royal Development Study Center in Doi
The visitors also participated in a session with 10
representatives of local agricultural scientists and farmers from Chiang Mai
and Lamphun to exchange knowledge and experience on the water basin.
Supaporn Thongpuk, a working committee member on the
upper Ping River basin management project said that the Water Resource
Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has followed
the current government’s policy by firstly setting up a project to solve
water problems, and then launching a prevention program for the water crises
in the upper and lower basin of Ping River.
The project encourages local people to participate in the
management program. The working committee has held local discussions three
times this month, regarding the river and water management to keep people
informed at the grass roots level.
1000-year-old pottery found in Chiang Rai
Ban Tung Man Village hopes it will draw the tourists
The villagers of Tambon Wiangkalong, Wiang Pa Pao, Chiang
Rai have discovered ancient pottery aged more than 1,000 years old in their
district and want the area declared as a tourism site in order to keep the
artifacts as the community’s property.
Numerous old kilns were found in Ban Tung Man, with
bowls, dishes, jugs and Buddha images uncovered. Some of the items have
Ancient objects have been unearthed in this Tambon for 20
years, but the poor villagers unknowingly sold thousands of complete pottery
pieces at very low prices to tourists.
However, now the villagers are trying to conserve these
objects by setting up a museum and registering the regions as important
ancient sites. Rather than keep pottery in their houses, the villagers can
display them and keep their ancient items as community property.
Tipayapan Wisanya, a local villager, said that being a
tourism attraction can raise people’s income in the area and they will not
have to sell their objects to the outsiders anymore. This area used to be
Wiangkalong ancient city and was the pottery source during the Chiang Saen
era (one of Chiang Rai’s ancient cities).
Visit Sittisombat, the chief of Wiang Pa Pao District,
said that he will present various pottery items as the village promotion and
development project for tourism. The project will be proposed to Chiang Rai
Governor Narin Panitchkij to support this local endeavor.
Registration on the move
Another government reform
Surachai Srisarakham, the registrar at the local
administration department, said the department has launched its first mobile
registration unit which can handle general services such as birth and death
reports, and residents’ movements. In addition, it can provide ID cards
and can search background information on minority groups, by using on-line
and off-line systems.
Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panichkij, acting as a
representative of the local administration department, received the mobile
registration unit from Michael Dimon, the director of Plan Organization,
Thailand, at Pa-Tung Administrative Organization, Mae Chan, Chiang Rai and
the service was officially commissioned on January 25.
The registrar at the local administration department also
said that the mobile unit is a new service system in line with the
government’s system for reform.
Red buses stall at the first
set of traffic lights
Pay demands impossible says mayor
The red minibus systematization is now in the pending
list of Chiang Mai Municipality projects because there is no budget to cover
the drivers’ demand for income assurance.
minibuses pass through Chinatown. (Photo by Metinee Chaikuna)
Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn informed Chiangmai
Mail that the red minibus drivers demand 600 baht each per day. This
would amount to more than a million baht per day for the assurance, but
there is no budget for this purpose.
“It’s impossible to find over a million baht for the
drivers’ incomes. The municipality can find other ways to systemize the
city traffic instead of paying that sum and there will be new kinds of
transportation even if the red minibus cooperatives do not join this
project,” Mayor Boonlert said.
The mayor insisted that the red minibuses could earn
enough money if they cooperated in the 19 routes systematization project and
he does not care if the drivers are not satisfied because the municipality
will be going ahead and will have enough power to rearrange the city’s
“The thing we can do at present is to get rid of the
dilapidated buses from the area and after we receive the authority to
rearrange the transportation system the minibus concession will depend on
the municipality instead,” the mayor said.
Mayor Boonlert remarked that the municipality can create its own
transportation system at a lower cost and the people will have their
alternatives and their rights to select the best one for themselves. It
looks as if the red busses might have found a permanent red light!
Drugs offences top the list in Chiang Rai courts
Thirty-one suspects receive death penalty and 90 get life imprisonment
Figures have just been released by the Chiang Rai
Provincial Court disclosing that during the past year, the majority of cases
heard by the courts were drug related. The judgments included 31 drug
dealers who were sentenced to death, and 90 drug peddlers sentenced to life
During 2002, 2,778 cases were brought to the court. 2,560
cases were drug dealers, with 2,094 involving amphetamines, 113 heroin, 58
marijuana and another 292 cases were opium and 3 cases were morphine.
This year there are 1,028 cases left over from last year,
and of this number 931 cases involve ya ba, 42 cases are heroin, 3
marijuana, 50 opium and 2 are morphine cases.
It was also reported that the Chiang Mai Juvenile Court
released figures that showed that there were more than 1,000 youth cases
heard at the court, and about 480 were involved with drugs.
Drug locations in the north well known
What will the authorities do in PM’s three-month crackdown?
Governor Pisit Khetphasook called a meeting to discuss
the means of drug suppression in this area, which needs to be resolved
within 3 months, beginning February 1. Addressing the group, Pititham
Thitimontree, the head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Office,
said that drug smuggling into Thailand was not likely to be less than that
of last year, especially the area opposite that occupied by Wa troops inside
Burma and the Mekong river basin.
There are 7 passes for drugs to be transported into
Chiang Mai Province: Doi Hua Waen in Mae Taeng, Kiew Chang Kup in Chiang
Dao, Ban Laowoo in Wiang Haeng, Doi Fai in Chiang Dao, Nong Kheow or Nong
Kalang in Chiang Dao, Pa Daeng in Chai Prakarn, Pong Tong in Fang, and Pha
Hom Pok in Mae Ai.
The figures quoted included the number of storage depots,
with there being 5 villages in Wiang Haeng, 10 villages in Chiang Dao, 5
villages in Chai Prakarn, and 7 villages in Fang, known to the authorities.
He also quoted that there are 42 drug networks in Chiang
Mai, with a total of 1,706 drugs dealers, 421 drug kingpins and 1,285 drug
peddlers. There are also 17,000 drug addicts; 13,410 on ya ba, 31,113 opium
addicts, 1,355 heroin addicts, 257 marijuana addicts, and 658 other addicts.
According to the edict from the PM, they have three
months to flush them out. That works out as 20 dealers and 200 addicts a day
that require rounding up. Do we have detention centers large enough?
Researcher shows go-go bar hill tribe boys at risk
During a special “academic week” recently held at
Chiang Mai University, many papers from the social research institute were
presented and distributed, and an open forum was presented for researchers
and professors to discuss and express their opinions.
Sukanya Pornsopakul, a sexual service bars researcher,
presented findings from research done on go-go bar boys in relationship to
the welfare of disadvantaged people. The result of his research, which was
gained from three gay bars in Chiang Mai, showed that most of the employees
in those bars were hill tribe boys from several ethnic backgrounds,
including Thai-Yai from Burma, and the Esarn or Northeastern boys. There
were very few city dwellers amongst the studied group.
The reasons the boys gave for taking up this type of
career were often very different, but the researcher claimed that most said
they were ashamed of their work. They claimed that they were often ill,
caused by the fact that they were semi-naked, working in air-conditioned
cold and in smoke filled rooms. When they were sick, they could not use the
30 baht medical scheme because they are far away from their registered
homes. Since they worked long hours at night, they were forced to sleep
during the day and had to seek medical advice from after-hours clinics that
were even more expensive.
Regarding sexually transmitted diseases, most of the boys
felt that they were safe but looking at the degree of protection they were
using, this was far from the reality. In addition, since their work was
illegal, they were taken advantage of, receiving no holidays or days off,
and they could not get social insurance because the labor protection law
does not cover illegal occupations.
The researcher also concluded that most of the bar boys
were forced to have sex with the owners of the bars, which was a sexual
violation in itself.
Child molestation case continuing against Swedish national
Remains in jail while investigation underway
On December 31, Simon Engstrom, a Swedish tourist, was
arrested by Chiang Mai police after accusations of child molestation
involving a 6-year-old girl. The alleged incident occurred at a restaurant
in Chang Klan Road, Chiang Mai City.
The girl had been eating out with parents and relatives,
went to the toilet, but when she did not return, the staff went looking for
her and found her near the toilet with the foreign man. The girl had been
attacked and was crying for assistance. The restaurant staff and her parents
called for police intervention. The 21-year-old Swede was then accused of
child molestation and taken into custody.
Currently he is confined in the Chiang Mai Central
Prison, and the Swedish consul and an attorney are assisting in the
investigation. Police sources said Engstrom had accepted that he had dealt
incorrectly with the young girl that evening.
Our sources at the Swedish Consulate said that the consul
assisted by finding an attorney for Engstrom but would not interfere with
the work of the Thai police.
Pol. Lt. Col. Winai Suksiri, deputy superintendent of the
Muang Chiang Mai Police Station, said that Engstrom’s background was
checked and they had found out that he had no record of child molesting in
Sweden, but that he had mental problems.
Pol. Lt. Col. Winai also explained that the police had
gathered evidence to submit to the public prosecutor to pursue this case.
However, they need to wait for the medical report regarding the girl’s
condition, but they already have five eye witnesses who would testify.
Prosecutor Raksapong said that one witness has already
made an official report, but police are waiting for the remaining witnesses
to make their reports before police proceed with more formal charges.
Marijuana bars confiscated while being prepared for export
Thais and foreigners behind the drug export scheme
Drug traffickers left behind 317 kilograms of marijuana
while they were being hunted by police from Hang Dong Police Station. The
marijuana, which had been condensed into individual bars, was found in
Chiangmai-Muangmai housing estate, Chiang Mai-Hang Dong Rd, Tambon San Pak
Wan, Hang Dong District.
Police investigation showed that the drugs were imported
from neighboring countries, passed the northeastern region of Thailand and
were packed in Chiang Mai.
Police checked on the source of the containers and found
that the paper boxes were produced in Chiang Mai and the order came from a
gift shop exporting company for delivery to Germany. The boxes have the
letters C.N.D. Company on them.
Other clues included a vehicle registered at Udon Thani
Province and a motorcycle registered at Phayao that were left behind at the
scene of the drug horde.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Chiang Mai was also
involved and said that the marijuana was packed for exporting to America,
but would have first passed through Europe. The gang of dealers includes
Thai and foreigners, according to informed sources.
Pol. Lt Gen. Inthadej Pornpeerapan, commissioner of
Provincial Police Region 5, has launched a local drug suppression project
policy pursuant to the government’s policy that within 3 months the drug
problem must be contained.
Fly-past of new and upgraded pilots at Wing 41
The end of training fly-past began with warplanes flown
by the trainees. After the air display, Group Captain Anont Arayapan, the
commander of Wing 41 presented certificates to the four pilots.
Capt. Anont Arayapan, commander of Wing 41 presents a good luck flower
garland to the new pilot.
the display, the pilots stand to show respect for the commander.
and upgraded pilots on the left wear gray uniforms whereas the war alert
pilots on the right wear green uniforms.
Two of the pilots who finished the flying course are on
war alert, Wing Commander Sorapat Petmonkol and Wing Commander Mahittipong
Worachat, while the upgraded pilots are Group Capt. Man Sitajit, the deputy
commander, and Group Capt. Thanasak Metanan, another deputy commander.
The two new pilots on war alert were given academic and technical
instruction, as well as the practical course. The upgraded pilots were
basically on a refresher course to bring their skills up to battle ready