NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Lions and dragons welcome in the Year of the Goat

Northern Trade Distribution Center to be built in Chiang Mai

The annual Festival of Flowers on this weekend

Chiang Mai city center to be developed, but into what?

A college for hopeful entrepreneurs

Charity shoot-out to support cancer patients

EXPOMAP receives Royal opening

200 disabled people protest expensive lottery tickets

Chiang Mai - Lamphun Twin City project to be reviewed

Chiang Mai targets 20% garbage reduction in 1 year

Mae Hong Son ready for drug trade suppression

Chiang Rai drug center opened

Chiang Mai students condemn Cambodian violence

Cambodian attack on Thai Embassy condemned by the US

Burmese police arrest a Thai drug trafficker with 10,000 ya ba pills

The three-month drug war has commenced

Lions and dragons welcome in the Year of the Goat

Chinese New Year celebrated in the Waroros Market and Lao Jow Alley

Nuttanee Thaveephol
Photos by Michael and Marion Vogt

Chinese New Year is arguably the most colorful and elaborate of all traditional holidays for people of Chinese descent, and perhaps the most fun for people of all races to watch and even take part in. This year in Chiang Mai, the Waroros Market and Lao Jow Alley were the places to be to celebrate the event.

Lovely young women from Chong-Fah Xin Zoeng School proudly join the annual Chinese New Year celebration, this year held at Waroros Market and Lao Jow Alley. The great response this festival generated has prompted city fathers to make it even bigger and better next year.

The festivities for this, Chiang Mai’s 2nd Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebration, spanned two days, February 1-2. The fun-filled events included Chinese lion dances and a dragon 30 meters long. There were also Chinese food demonstrations, Chinese exhibitions, Chinese music and dancing shows, Chinese food stalls, kiddy contests and colorful parades from the Chinese School in Chiang Mai.

Invigorating Chinese smiles from the girls.

Adults, wearing their best pink and blue outfits, join the parade in the sun.

Communities from both the Waroros Market area and Lao Jow Alley, where most of the local Chinese residents live, joined with the municipality to put together this grand celebration.

Waroros Market was particularly crowded with people joining in the celebrations. So much so, in fact, the city fathers took notice and announced they are ready to better promote this annual event as a way to attract more tourists to the region.

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that the municipality has a plan to construct a permanent Chinese arch to mark Chiang Mai’s Chinatown, similar to other Chinatowns around the world. This project is currently on the drawing board and the arch will be located in the Chinese community in the town center.

The mayor also said that Lao Jow Alley’s Chinese New Year celebration will attract many tourists and will be a good way to promote Chiang Mai’s sustainable tourism.


Northern Trade Distribution Center to be built in Chiang Mai

Cabinet expected to approve the one billion baht proposal

Somsak Thepsutin, the Minister of Industry, has signed a proposal to be put to the cabinet to construct a Northern Trade Distribution Center in Chiang Mai. More than one billion baht will be put into the project.

The aim of project planners is to turn the center into a display hub of grassroots commodities, and according to the minister, this would be good for One Tambon - One Product commodity distribution.

The center will be the second in Thailand and will be located behind Chiang Mai’s city hall. It would come under the responsibility of the Ministry of Industry.

Minister Somsak said that this is a healthy sign for northern businesses, as they will be able to join with central businesses since foreign entrepreneurs, especially from Europe, are interested in investing in northern Thailand.

Thailand is currently a good region for investment, due to the government’s policies, and Chiang Mai being the aviation hub of the north and in a liberal trade zone, is even more desirable.


The annual Festival of Flowers on this weekend

Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, permanent secretary of Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities said that the annual Festival of Flowers is being held this weekend, February 7-9 from 9 a.m. at Buak Haad Public Park.

The Chiang Mai Dramatic Arts College has been rehearsing their shows, and invite everyone to come on out and watch them perform every evening from 7 pm.

The grand opening was held on February 7 at Thapae Gate at 9 a.m. and featured a parade with many decorated floats. It began with the Northern shows before the parade moved along the roadway, which was telecast live on TV 11.

The International Flower Beauty Contest will be held on February 8 at the Buak Haad Public Park beginning at 7 p.m.

In addition, there is an orchid display and international food stalls opposite Wattanothai Payap School, supplied by 60 restaurants in Chiang Mai. This year the fair has been expanded with the addition of One Tambon - One Products.


Chiang Mai city center to be developed, but into what?

People to be asked for their opinion

Metinee Chaikuna

The Urban Development Institute Foundation (UDIF) and Lanna Environment Fund are discussing the future of the city center, around the Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute and public prosecutor’s house, which is proposed to become a historical site and public area.

The Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute will be moved out to Mae Taeng District, and Chiang Mai Municipality has a project in mind to develop this area into a museum and public park. However, experts and professors, including Thanet Chroenmuang and Dr. Pisit Charoenwong, have an opposing point of view and asked municipality officials to reconsider the project.

These experts point out that the area is considered a “public open space” where people can get involved in activities such as holding ceremonies and cultural performances, but that currently this cannot happen as the area is too small.

In addition, King Mengrai’s palace, or ‘Hor Kam’, was located there more than 700 years ago. The Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute has only been there for 70 years, so the experts argue that conserving it was not a good idea.

Chao Duangduen na Chiang Mai said that she supported the policy of developing the Chiang Mai Women’s Correction Institute into a “Kuang Muang” (public open space); however, it can’t be avoided that this area was once a correctional institute. She suggested building a monument to remind Chiang Mai of the former use of the area as a correction institute.

Lastly, this past October Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn and the deputy director of the Corrections Department, plus the deputy director of the Prosecutor’s Office Region 5, and Chiang Mai MP’s announced that this area of Chiang Mai City would be developed as an eco-tourism center.

With disagreement being the main consensus, the summary of this seminar was that there should be a poll taken of the local people on this issue.


A college for hopeful entrepreneurs

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai Commercial College (CCC) has announced itself to be the college for entrepreneurs. The director, Chattip Suwannachin, said that following revamping of the education system within the college, the business management center would be opened as a college for entrepreneurs. This project will be launched shortly with business plan management courses for both vocational and higher vocational students. It is expected that graduate students could begin their own small or medium enterprise.

The official opening ceremony was held at the end of January. All projects will begin in the next semester of 2003.

Chattip believes that students will learn and experience business in the campus as if they were in the business world itself. During the courses, students will create their own businesses and there will be a budget to support students with low interest loans to get them up and running. All entrepreneurs’ projects will be responsible to director Chattip, himself a graduate of Illinois State University.


Charity shoot-out to support cancer patients

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Dr. Rak Tananurat, the vice-president of Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital has informed the Chiangmai Mail that the Cancer Foundation of Northern Thailand, Montfort School Alliance Alumni, and the Chiang Mai Sport Association Shooting Club has arranged a charity shooting competition to support the cancer foundation. Competitors will be vying for the HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Cup. The contest will be held on Sunday, February 9 at the 700 Years Anniversary Sport Complex shooting range from 8 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.

Dr Rak said, “The foundation has arranged a charity sporting competition every year to raise funds for the patients’ activities and accommodation. Now, we have to raise some more as the in-patients building needs urgent repairs and improvements.”

He also said that last year, the foundation held a charity golf tournament but the moneys received were not enough for building construction or even improvements. He said that in addition, the number of cancer patients are increasing annually.

The Cancer Foundation of Northern Thailand has been set up since 1976, to take care of and arrange activities for the sufferers as well as providing a residence for cancer patients during their treatment. With escalating costs, the Cancer Foundation relies on charity to assist them to continue their good work.

Anyone who wishes to enter the competition or make a donation should contact the Division of Radiotherapy, Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital, 0-5394-5456 or Dr. Rak Tananurat, 0-1681-3413.


EXPOMAP receives Royal opening

67 countries represented at world congress

Supatatt Dangkrueng
and Metinee Chaikuna

The 3rd world EXPOMAP was held February 3-7 at the Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn graciously presided over the opening ceremony.

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn graciously presided over the opening ceremony of EXPOMAP.

The International Council for Medicinal Aromatic Plant (ICMAP) in collaboration with the International Society Horticultural Science (ISHS) and the Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University hosted EXPOMAP in Chiang Mai, with the main topic dealing with the diversity of global herbs for sustainable uses in science, technology, trade, and industry applications.

EXPOMAP is held every 5 years on each continent. The first was held in Europe, and Holland took responsibility as a host. The second took place in Argentina, South America. It was agreed that the third would be held in Asia, with both India and Thailand bidding for the honor. With Thailand winning the bid, Chiang Mai was named the host city.

The local Chamber of Commerce was also involved with Chiang Mai University, and ICMAP with plans to involve the Chambers of Commerce of China, Burma, and Laos.

The expo format covered the conference and exhibition. The academic meeting had representatives involved with the medicinal and aromatic plants from 67 countries all over the world. There were medicinal and aromatic plants exhibitions, with many coming from shops in Chiang Mai.

In addition, cosmetics, supplement foods, and useful plants were shown at the fair. The Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University said that this fair was promoted all over the world, stirring up interest from nearby countries as well as within Thailand.


200 disabled people protest expensive lottery tickets

Middlemen make more than the sellers

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Around 200 disabled people from all over the northern region gathered at Thapae Gate to call for fair lottery quotas from the government and bypassing middlemen.

One-legged Singkhon Songsawatwong can earn only 3.2 baht from each pair of lottery tickets he sells.

The group submitted a demand letter addressed to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and delivered it to the Thai Rak Thai Party’s Chiang Mai Office.

The protesters claimed that they did not receive enough lottery tickets to sell in their area and found that the government gives most of the quota to wholesalers in Bangkok.

Disabled lottery dealers from 14 clubs at the gathering were also protesting against middlemen taking advantage of them by marking up the price of lottery tickets. The protesters also demand that the government gives them 5,000 more lottery books, bypassing the middlemen.

Sanit Suveera, the president of Chiang Mai Disabilities Council said that the last time they had to buy lottery tickets from wholesalers they were charged 43.40 baht and could only sell at 45 baht, even though the real price from the government is only 36.40 baht (lottery tickets are always sold in pairs at 90 baht).

Singkhon Songsawatwong, a member of the Chiang Mai Disability Career Promotion Association said that he and his wife have been lottery dealers for 8 years, but receive no lottery quota from the government although there has been a quota demand from the dealers many times.

“We have been calling for a larger quota for years, but never received it. The ones who have the quota can earn more than 100,000 per month because of the lower purchase price, but the wholesalers have cornered the market and sell the lottery tickets at a very high price,” said Singkhon.

It is believed there are now 5 middlemen in Chiang Mai whilst there are 520 disabled lottery dealers.


Chiang Mai - Lamphun Twin City project to be reviewed

Mae Hong Son to climb aboard too?

Supatatt Dangkrueng

During Deputy Minister of Interior Pramuan Ruchanaseree’s recent visit to northern provinces, the project to build up Chiang Mai and Lamphun as twin cities was once again brought up and discussed.

Requests have been made to study the twin city project again, and this time project planners might consider developing Mae Hong Son into the scheme at the same time.

Project planners hope to develop Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son into becoming a hub of regional cooperation, in terms of economic, historical and society values.

Pramuan said that all parties concerned from the 3 provinces should get together and devise a working plan of what, when and how to do this.

This idea was first discussed in 1996, with a 50 million baht budget, but the project had stalled.

Deputy Minister of Interior Pramuan has assigned Public Works and City and Town Planning Departments to look at the plans and give their full support to getting this project completed.


Chiang Mai targets 20% garbage reduction in 1 year

Reduce, recycle, re-use, says Environment Dept.

Nuttanee Thaveephol

An Integrated Garbage Management Project, starting in local communities throughout 6 regions in Thailand, from the Northern Region, Central, Eastern, Western, Northeastern, and to the Southern region, is being supported by the Department of Environment Quality Promotion.

The project is to encourage the localities to correctly manage the community’s garbage, working in cooperation with the local people in managing their garbage efficiently, reducing management costs borne by local government and increasing the communities’ incomes.

The target of this program is to decrease the quantity of garbage in the pilot communities by 20 percent within one year, and then extend it to nearby areas.

In the Northern area, the Environment Office Region 1 and the Environment Quality Promotion Department have selected 2 pilot communities in Chiang Mai, Sri Supan and Tambon Ta Wang Tan Administration Office, Saraphi District, Chiang Mai.

Prapat Panyachartirak, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment officially commissioned the project on January 19 at Thapae Gate. The activity will be proceeded by advice on garbage and plastic reduction in households and communities, changing sellers and consumers behavior, making fertilizer from garbage and institute a recycle and re-use campaign.

Apiwat Kunanurak, director of Environment Office Region 1 said that if there is enough participation, it could lead to sustainable garbage management in their own community.


Mae Hong Son ready for drug trade suppression

Hospitals on 24-hour alert

Mae Hong Son Governor Supoj Laowanasiri, acting as the director of Mae Hong Son Drugs Control and Suppression Center, said that this northern province is ready to act on drug suppression.

Governor Supoj has assigned Chana Nagsuriya, Mae Hong Son’s deputy governor, to be in charge of border affairs and has ordered Srisangwal Mae Hong Son Hospital to be on 24-hour call to receive any injured soldiers, policemen or other authorities who might be involved in skirmishes with drug dealers.

Pittaya Jinawat, director of the Northern Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) believes there will be an improvement, since PM Thaksin Shinawatra officially visited Burma and the Burmese government agreed to decrease the drug problem by 50 % in this year.

The Burmese government claims it will insist the minority groups in the border areas not produce drugs and decrease the opium crop from 800 tons to 400 tons. The Burmese government will push these minorities back to their former areas. The Thai government is confident that its counterpart in Burma will be able to control them.

Pittaya Jinawat also said that the ONCB will control drug transportation at the borders and will cooperate with soldiers and policeman on drug suppression in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Tak provinces. However, he did say that we need to accept that drug dealers could find new ways to transport drugs into Thailand, and ya ba traders always have new forms of producing and smuggling ya ba.


Chiang Rai drug center opened

Built on drug dealer’s confiscated land

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Rai Province has opened its treatment and rehabilitation center, located at 257 Tambon Mae Khao Tom, Muang District, Chiang Rai, for drug addicts in the Golden Triangle area.

Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panichkit officially opened the treatment center, which was built on 400 rai of land that had been confiscated from a convicted drug dealer.

On the 400 rai, there are orange orchards, longan orchards and a hatchery, so the addicts will receive job training while getting treatment at this center. It is hoped that this will be advantageous for all the addicts after they leave the center.

Governor Narin said that as well as suppression, it is very important to stop and cut off the drug supply. Currently in Chiang Rai Province, drugs come across the borders from Burma and Laos.


Chiang Mai students condemn Cambodian violence

Urge peaceful approach to negotiations and reparations

Chiang Mai students condemned the riot that erupted in Cambodia last week. Representatives of Chiang Mai University, Maejo University, and Payap University students have gone on record, officially condemning the act of attacking the Thai Embassy by Cambodian groups confronting and affronting Thais, private business and people in Cambodia.

Rioters in Phnom Penh left the Thai embassy in shambles.

The student organization representatives stated that the rioting in Cambodia was considered as insulting the Thai nation and its sovereignty. However, the students expressed their willingness to urge the governments of the two countries to try to solve the problem quickly by peaceful negotiation and without violence.

Minister of Industry Somsak Thepsutin pointed out that the violence in Cambodia would not affect Thai industry because most Thai investors in Cambodia were involved with tourism and hotels and not the manufacturing industry.

Minister Somsak also said that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra gave the greatest importance to the safety of the Thai people above all else, and that damage costs were secondary only. Cambodia now needs to answer the question how and why the violence happened.

The minister said that Cambodia used to be on friendly terms with Thailand and must now explain and compensate what happened to the Thai people in Cambodia. He believes that Cambodia might have some internal problems that need to be resolved, and we should remain calm.


Cambodian attack on Thai Embassy condemned by the US

Calls on strong measures by Cambodian government

The U.S. State Department has called on the Cambodian government to restore order, following the attack on the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh. Richard A. Boucher, a spokesman said, “We condemn the vicious attacks against the Thai embassy, business establishments, and individuals in Phnom Penh on January 29. We call on the Cambodian government to take all necessary steps to restore order and to investigate the incidents. Diplomatic facilities are inviolable under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations; it is important that the Cambodian government take all steps necessary to respect this international obligation.”

While it is perhaps of some comfort that the US is prepared to stand up and be counted over this issue, there still remains the more important question not officially answered by Phnom Penh. That is simply - Why?


Burmese police arrest a Thai drug trafficker with 10,000 ya ba pills

Thai police act quickly to confiscate property

Pol. Maj. Gen. Wut Wititanon, commander of the Chiang Rai provincial police said that Burmese police officers captured a drug dealer, Teerawit Chanpirom, with 10,000 ya ba pills in his possession, and informed the Joint Thai-Burmese Border Committee. Following the notification, Thai police confiscated all of the drug runner’s properties in Chiang Rai, Nakhon Pathom and Bangkok.

Chiang Rai police investigators found that Teerawit was a construction contractor both in Chiang Rai and Burma, and he has a wife and a son in Tambon Sansai, Muang District, Chiang Rai.

The police searched his house for additional evidence and extended the investigation to Nakhon Pathom and Bangkok. Police confiscated 5 large construction machines, a pushcart, a trailer, 2 pickups, and a handgun totaling millions of baht.

The Chiang Rai commander said that Teerawit would be tried under both Burmese and Thai law and he has been charged with trying to smuggle drugs into the country, an offence that can carry the death sentence.


The three-month drug war has commenced

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Public and private organizations in northern Thailand, led by high-ranking officials, gathered in Chiang Mai to make a declaration regarding combating drugs. At the Chiang Mai city hall, Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook led officials and people to make a promise to stay away from, and not to be involved with drugs.

The program is receiving collaboration from private and government organizations, student groups and the Buddhist priests. All are joining forces to wipe out drugs within 3 months, having been given a national agenda by the nation’s PM.

Chiang Mai Province has its own local problems, as there are 5 districts that have borders with neighboring countries. This puts Chiang Mai on the main drug transport routes from the north to other regions.

Currently, 336 villages have affirmed themselves to be Drug Free Zone villages, but there are at least 2,000 more villages. In addition, there are 2,700 drug dealers and 47 networks on the suspect blacklist.

Governor Pisit stated that drug eradication operations are already underway, and in the next ten days progress reports will be issued.

In Chiang Rai, Governor Narin Panichkit led the affirmations at the 50th year anniversary ground to promise to do whatever is necessary to control the drug situation in Chiang Rai.

Lampang Governor Chalermphol Pratheepawanich joined a thousand people to make a declaration against drugs. Governor Chalermphol also stated there are more than 300 dealers on the blacklist and he would follow up the results within 90 days.

In Mae Hong Son, Governor Supoj Laowansiri declared that 234 villages, 1,395 addicts and 198 dealers would be investigated, and that the government there would stop drugs flowing across the border.

In Phayao, Governor Peerasawai Rattanaeakwatee said the government campaign of combating drugs began on the 1st of February and they were investigating 543 supposed dealers and 2,874 addicts.

The plan is to control the drug situation within the next 3 months.