Vol. II No. 9 Saturday 1 March - 7 March 2003
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Prem Center Grade Nine heads into the jungle for an outdoor expedition

821 found guilty, 146,500 speed pills confiscated during first 21 days of drug suppression in Chiang Mai

Yee hah better than ya ba says RTAF

Ministry of Commerce to choose items from One Tambon - One Product for Ministry Fair

Phayao Province displays industrial jewelry and provincial products

Foundation stone laid for zoo’s new Panda House

Is your dog barking mad?

Central Chiang Mai warehouse goes up in flames

Lampang governor defends province’s drug suppression efforts

Mae Sa Camp to hold their 4th Thai Elephant Day

Get a tax invoice and enter the lucky draw

Asia-Pacific economic development gets the nod from APEC leaders

Another elephant injured by landmines

Japanese man dies mysteriously in Tak

Government’s anti-drug push brings 3,734 addicts out into the open

Assessing the drug suppression success

Pai District Police, Mae Hong Son confiscate Wei Sia-Kang network properties

Brave American girl stabbed by two assailants

Prem Center Grade Nine heads into the jungle for an outdoor expedition

This type of education just isn’t available in the West

By Kylie Nealis &
Anita Witbooi
Grade 9 students
Prem Center Chiang Mai

On the morning of February 11th, the Grade 9 class of Prem Tinsulanonda International School departed for a 4-day expedition in Mae Tang. It was here, away from the comforts of our everyday homes, that we found ourselves having to trust and rely on each other.

Bamboo river rafting was one of the highlights of the expedition when grade 9 students from Prem Tinsulanonda International School headed into the Mae Tang jungle for 4-days.

Our trip (with “Chiang Mai Adventure”) included camping, rafting, elephant riding, abseiling, and trekking. Most of us thought the 14-km trek in the mountains was extremely challenging. However, we did manage to pull it off in about four hours! Our campsite that night was far from rugged. In fact, we stayed in a Karen village house with proper facilities and even got a Thai massage.

The next day was less strenuous. It consisted of cruising down the river on bamboo rafts. We even had the opportunity of helping to row them. The scenery was enough to enjoy in itself; and we felt fortunate in having this wonderful experience and were looking forward to writing our friends in other countries all about it.

No wonder they were hungry after so many activities.

Grade 9 having a break, and getting ready for more action.

On our final day, we spent the morning learning how to abseil, leading up to our repel down a 50-m mountainside. However, we felt that going down only once did not give us the full measure of fun.

Our last activity before departing for Prem Center was rubber rafting, which was most enjoyable, but way too short. Our guides tried to frighten us by warning us that there were waterfalls up ahead.

When it came to the time to say goodbye, we found that we had a closer relationship with each other and there are many moments to be remembered.


821 found guilty, 146,500 speed pills confiscated during first 21 days of drug suppression in Chiang Mai

Small rats are running, but where are the large ones?

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Provincial Police Region 5 has been working hard to control drug situation in this area. The statistics, on paper, look impressive - 821 people been found guilty, 146,500 speed pills confiscated, 110 grams of heroin, 58.8 kilograms of opium, 62 kilograms of marijuana, and 12 ecstasy pills. The value of goods confiscated is 71 million baht.

In the local Chiang Mai Provincial region, Governor Pisit Khetphasook also released numbers showing that in 21 days there have been 347 arrests with 68,431 ya ba pills confiscated. 914 dealers have surrendered and 4,972 drug users have been reported to the authorities.

Some of the blacklisted have come to surrender to police because they are afraid of gangland killings and believe that protective custody would be better than the alternative.

Due to the hard work of the officers, the movement of drug trafficking has now come to a sudden stop. Ya ba prices are getting higher, now up to 250- 300 baht a pill, which is three times higher than a few months ago.

Pol Lt Gen Chalermdej Chompoonut, commander of the Drug Suppression Police Division said that the results achieved so far in the suppression effort are satisfactory. At present, all officers are working hard, so he is asking for continued cooperation from the people to send any additional information to PO Box 1234 that could help the success of the suppression.


Yee hah better than ya ba says RTAF

Americans and Thais demonstrate parachute jumping

The Royal Thai Air Force Parachute Competition, an innovative program to prevent school children from using drugs, was held at Wing 2 in Lopburi Province on Saturday, February 22.

Washington State and JUSMAG Thai supported the travel of over 60 schoolchildren to witness the Royal Thai Air Force leap from airplanes in Lopburi during the parachute competition in the hope the experience would make the children think twice before they do drugs.

The event, part of a new program to motivate children in both the U.S. and Thailand to stay away from drugs and engage in more positive alternative activities instead, was a team effort between the RTAF and Washington State National Guard’s Drug Demand Reduction Team. During a seminar held February 19-20, RTAF Drug Demand Reduction experts and members of the RTAF Special Operations Regiment Jump Team exchanged ideas and techniques with experts from Washington State Army National Guard.

The purpose of the seminar was to learn from each other how best to motivate school children to stay away from narcotics. On Friday, February 21, a Thai-U.S. team traveled to the Rittayawanalai School in Don Muang and to the Duang Prateep Foundation School in Klong Toei to meet school children to present a key message: “Hey kids, resist drugs and focus on productive long-term goals.” An RTAF officer told a group of children during the visit that no matter what they wanted to be in life - a world champion skydiver, a top-gun fighter pilot, a lawyer, or a businessman - they need to study hard and not give up. To get involved in narcotics was like giving up, he said.

That day, to cap off the event, the Thai-U.S. team escorted over 60 schoolchildren from the two schools to observe the RTAF parachute competition in Lopburi. It was a part of the “State Partnership Program” funded by Washington State and Thai agencies. The program focuses on exchanges of expertise in the areas of drug demand reduction and emergency response.


Ministry of Commerce to choose items from One Tambon - One Product for Ministry Fair

The Ministry of Commerce is selecting from more than 120 products in the One Tambon - One Product project to showcase and publicize products from the 8 provinces in the northern region. This will be done through a fair, similar to the Made in Thailand Fair or the Beauty and Health Fair.

Wisitsri Jintana, the deputy general director of Business Development at the ministry said the department will divide the products into 3 categories: those with a potential for local markets, internal markets and finally external markets. Commerce Ministry officials will select the products sometime this month.

Miss Wisitsri also said that product designers will participate in the communities to advise local people how to maximize the outstanding characteristics of their products. They will also be involved in marketing the goods to international standards.


Phayao Province displays industrial jewelry and provincial products

Over 50 exhibitors at this third annual fair

Phayao provincial authority, in collaboration with the Tourist Authority of Thailand, Industrial Promotion Center, arranged the 3rd Industrial Jewelry and Provincial Product Fair at the Jewelry Industrial Office in the northern province February 14-18.

Ladawan Wongsriwong, an advisor to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, presided over the opening ceremony of the fair and along with Phayao Governor Somsak Boonpleung, gave a welcome speech.

The Industry Minister’s permanent secretary, Samruay Harinnasut said that the fair was aimed at promoting the jewelry industry and provincial products in Phayao, and to make them well known among tourists and foreign business people, and to support the employment of local people.

There were over 50 exhibits from the business firms in the jewelry industry. The fair also provided a venue for showcasing fashion clothing and jewelry, jewelry examinations, cleaning jewelry by ultrasonics, a clothing and jewelry workshop conference, and many products from One Tambon - One Product in Phayao.


Foundation stone laid for zoo’s new Panda House

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Lt Gen Lertrat Rattanavanich, deputy chairman of the Zoological Park Organization working committee, last week laid the foundation stone for the Panda House, part of the Panda Research Project.

The sign says that Pandas are coming to Chiang Mai.

A scale model of the Panda House.

The director of the Zoological Park, Sophon Damnui, remarked that this project was given 40 million baht by the government to build the panda’s home in Chiang Mai Zoo. He also said he expects the project will be completed within the next 210 days.

According to Lt Gen Lertrat, this project began two years ago under the auspices of Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyuth. Pandas signify Thailand’s good relationship with China, and there will be more missions into China for the delivery of the pandas in October.


Is your dog barking mad?

Rabies vaccine available

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Head of Chiang Mai Livestock Development Office, Teera Ananworapanya, said the Chiang Mai office has begun a campaign to provide rabies vaccine for both cats and dogs during March. This project is to be held through all provinces to prevent rabies outbreaks.

During summer season, it is a time for rabies, a contagious disease that can be passed on from pets to humans. The statistics from Chiang Mai Provincial Health Office showed that last year 4,101 patients in Chiang Mai Province received emergency rabies vaccination and 3 people died. This figure has been continually increasing from 3,003 people in 2000, to 3,688 people in 2001, and 4,101 people last year.

Giving vaccine to patients is expensive, and it makes more sense to vaccinate the animals. On March 8th at Thapae Gate, Chiang Mai Livestock Development Office will provide a service center for the residents’ pets. Bring your cats and dogs aged over 2 months to have the vaccine there that day or bring them to the office during this month. For further information call Chiang Mai Livestock Development Office telephone number 053 892 624. People in other areas please contact the Provincial Livestock Development Office.


Central Chiang Mai warehouse goes up in flames

5 million baht damage at first estimate

A warehouse in the center of Chiang Mai turned into a fireball on the evening of February 22, with damage estimated at 5 million baht. The cause of the fire is not yet known. The warehouse was located on Charoen Prathet Rd, Muang, Chiang Mai, and is rented by the Northern Air Company to keep air-conditioners and the spares.

The fire spread very quickly because some air-conditioner fluids are flammable materials, and it took the Chiang Mai Municipality fire trucks over two hours to bring it under control.

Eye-witnesses said that before the warehouse turned into an inferno, they heard a sound like a bomb blast from the warehouse, and then many spray cans began flying out of the warehouse.

Police assume that the cause might be from air-conditioner compressors and other flammable materials.


Lampang governor defends province’s drug suppression efforts

Says Interior Ministry released incorrect statistics

Lampang Governor Chalermpon Prateepawanich indicated the reason Lampang is one of 23 provinces which does not appear to have done well as regards drug suppression is that there was confusion on the figures reported from the local 3 offices, including the Interior Ministry’s Lampang Provincial Authority, the Royal Thai Police Department’s Lampang Provincial Police, and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board.

The example given was that the figure from the provincial authorities was 4 arrests, but the provincial police could account for 64 cases. The governor also said there were 1,136 drug dealers, while the Interior Office claimed there were only 656 drug traders in Lampang.

Governor Chalermpon set the goal that at least 164 drug traders would be arrested in February. In March the officials needed to arrest 394 cases, and 591 cases for April. At the moment, 83 drug dealers were arrested and 21 drug dealers had been the victims of gangland killings. In that list, there were 26 government officials in the drug network group.

On February 21, another man was killed in front of the Government Savings Bank, Ngao District, Lampang. The police have assumed that he was also killed by the drug network group.


Mae Sa Camp to hold their 4th Thai Elephant Day

Everyone’s invited!

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The 4th Thai Elephant Day will be held at the Mae Sa Elephant Camp on March 13 this year from noon to 4.30 p.m. Visitors can join the party for free, see many elephant activities, and get a chance to name a newborn elephant.

“Satoke Chang”, providing a Lanna-style lunch for the elephants.

The celebration will be presided over by Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook before the highlight activity, “Satoke Chang” begins. This ceremony provides lunch for the elephants in a type of Lanna-style food container.

There will also be a “Baai Sri Soo Kwan” blessing ceremony for the elephants and a baby elephants show. During the festival, guests are invited to provide a name for a baby elephant, born on February 7th. The best name will win a prize.

The Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chiang Mai University, will arrange the elephant exhibition to spread knowledge about elephants and a lecture will be given by a professor from the elephant and wildlife clinic.

Mae Sa Elephant Camp has been continually promoting Thai elephant breeding since 1995. There have been 9 elephants born in this project. 5 baby elephants, Laan, Kam, Duanpen, Wanpen, and Kongkam have become famous with tourists because of their painting skill. The camp is located in Mae Rim district, Chiang Mai. For further information, call 053 206 247-8.


Get a tax invoice and enter the lucky draw

You could even get your money back!

Deputy Minister of Commerce Wattana Muangsuk has suggested that if the public send tax invoices to the department with the chance of a lucky dip and drawing a prize from the government, it would help tax collection to reach at least sixty billion baht a year.

The government is looking at inviting people to send their tax invoices in for the lucky draw. According to finance circles within government, there are many stores and enterprises that avoid paying tax because people do not ask for tax invoices after purchasing goods and services.

Deputy Minister Wattana said this project would increase government revenue. It is not making people pay new taxes but it is the way to bring all the taxes back into system.


Asia-Pacific economic development gets the nod from APEC leaders

The 1st Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) senior authorities meeting in Chiang Rai has been completed, with the member countries of APEC agreeing to support economic development in the Asia-Pacific region.

Dej Boonnag, the Deputy of Minister of Foreign Affairs, reported the results of the meeting held at the Dusit Island Resort Hotel, Chiang Rai. The members would support the negotiations under the authority of the World Trade Organization, and resolved to hold the 5th meeting of the ministers of WTO in Mexico.

The members agreed to use the APEC stage to build a network between APEC and WTO. The meeting appointed Thailand as the president of APEC 2003. The meeting also agreed to organize a fixed plan against terrorists, and draft a table document on the criterion of terrorist suppression. The plan will be completed during the 3rd APEC senior authorities meeting, which will be held at Phuket in August. Other ongoing issues and concerns will be discussed at the APEC meeting in Bangkok in October.


Another elephant injured by landmines

Joins 5 others with landmine injuries

Metinee Chaikuna,

The Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation received an injured pachyderm at the elephant hospital in Hang Chat District, Lampang for treatment to its left foreleg, after it had inadvertently stood on a landmine.

The mahout had taken the 26-year-old female Pang Ma Nguai Loe logging at Mae Ramart District, Tak which is on the Thai-Burma border. After the elephant had finished its work, it was released to forage in the forest. Pang Ma Nguai Loe had wandered into the Burmese area, when the landmine exploded.

Pang Ma Nguai Loe had a severe wound on the base of its foot, and 2 nails had been lost. It could not stand on its left leg and its ankle was swollen and bleeding. The general health of the new elephant patient is good, the veterinarians have reported, and initially they are treating the wounds by washing and spraying with antibiotics.

Pang Ma Nguai Loe is the sixth elephant injured by landmines. The last elephant case reported was that of Pang Jum Pen who was taken to the animal hospital on January 22.


Japanese man dies mysteriously in Tak

Metinee Chaikuna

The body of a Japanese man was found in a river channel near kilometer marker 6 on the Mae Sot-Mae Ramad Road in Tak Province. The body was found under a bamboo thicket, with a shoelace tightly knotted around the neck and a stab wound evident on the left side of the chest.

Police from Mae Sot Police Station found many items near the body and were able to identify the corpse as being Keizo Yoshida. They also recovered a packet of medicine, 43,000 yen and 870 baht, a pair of slippers, a handwritten note, a key, and a pocket knife.

After the post-mortem, the doctor from the Mae Sot hospital said that the man died because of asphyxiation, and noted the knife wound on the left side of the chest. The doctor presumed that the man had died 10-12 hours before the police found the body.

Pol. Lt. Ampont Wongyai, the deputy superintendent of Mae Sot police station, said that police first assumed that he committed suicide. “He is a very big person and quite young so it would be difficult to drag him or move him deep in the bamboo woods. The doctor said that he died because he was unable to breath, and we found the shoelace around his neck tied to a tree that looked as if he had bound himself. We also noted the wound on his left chest and a pocket knife nearby. It would have been easy to pierce himself on that side. However this is only our first assumption, and we still need to investigate this case further,” Pol. Lt. Ampont said.

The man’s relatives from Japan came to receive Keizo’s body on February 25. The police will continue to follow up the case.


Government’s anti-drug push brings 3,734 addicts out into the open

Dr. Wuttikrai Moongmai, Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office chief, said that in Chiang Mai, over 10,000 people have been named in the list of drug addicts, with 3,734 admitting to their problem in the first 20 days of the anti-drug push.

The Public Health Office and other government offices are arranging a camp for therapy and rehabilitation of these drug addicts. The drug addicts, however, have to be registered to receive the treatment. Each district office will record and submit the names to the Ministry of Public Health.

On the rehabilitation process, the government offices under the Ministry of Public Health will cooperate with the Ministry of Interior, the Provincial Education Office and other agencies concerned with rehabilitation projects.

The doctor said that the project will be successful if everybody involved helps each other. The community can help by giving drug addicts encouragement. Drug addicts are not criminals but patients, and everybody in society needs to sympathize with them, not insult them. The project will also ask the families of drug addicts to become involved in the rehabilitation process.

The doctor did add that heroin and opium addicts need to get treatment by taking medicine as well. For those who are addicted to ya ba pills, they did not need any medicine to help them; they need to be patient and strong and their family needs to take care of them very closely. After rehabilitation, the project will observe and follow up the patients for 1 year and then evaluate the results.


Assessing the drug suppression success

Ministry of Interior figures questioned again

Metinee Chaikuna

Pol. Maj. Wut Withitanont, the commissioner of Chiang Rai Provincial Police Station said that the evaluation of the drug suppression work by the Ministry of Interior is not correct. The efforts in some provinces that have high numbers of drug addicts, like Chiang Rai, seem unsuccessful compared with other provinces that have fewer numbers of drug addicts.

Chiang Rai police have been suppressing the drug networks for a long time, not just during this 3 months of well publicized crack-down, so Chiang Rai’s results do not appear so dramatic. The local figure for drug traders was over 5,000, but the police only had arrest warrants for 200 of them. Most of these drug dealers had run away to other provinces or countries after the police received the arrest warrants, so it is difficult to suppress them if they are not there to be detained.

Pol. Maj. Wut Withitanont said officers at the police station asked the Ministry of Interior to find a new way of evaluation because if the current method of evaluation is used he might be one of those who will be moved. However, the Ministry of Interior insisted that the next evaluation would not depend on merely the figures, but local issues would be taken into consideration. The general result on the war on drugs is that currently there are 25 provinces that have suppressed less than 5%, and those who cannot reach the target will be moved out of their offices.

According to Patchara Warisawan, the customs officer in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, at the Mae Sai checkpoint, “The officials are strict, and check all details no matter what they bring in and out. We also have police sniffer dogs helping to search for drugs. Many people believe that most drugs are smuggled in Mae Sai checkpoint. But I insist that we have always been controlling everything and since the beginning of the year there has not been any smuggling through the Mae Sai checkpoint at all.”


Pai District Police, Mae Hong Son confiscate Wei Sia-Kang network properties

More than 5 million baht collected

One of the big names in the drug network is Wei Sia Kang (AKA Prasith Cheewinnitipanya), a well known drug figure in the Golden Triangle which straddles parts of Burma, Laos and Thailand.

Police of Pai Police Station, the 336th Border Patrol Police Unit, and the provincial authorities recently confiscated properties under Wei Sia Kang’s control. These included cars, houses, and a title deed to a piece of land with a value of over 5 million baht.

Pol. Col. Thanayin Thepraksa, the Superintendent of Pai Police Station, Pol. Col. Noppakao Kokilawatee, the head of the 336th BPP Unit in Mae Hong Son, and Boonkua Kunatharnkul, Pai’s deputy district chief officer led officials to search a house belonging to 40-year-old Boonlert Laoyeepa, and found around 700 ya ba pills concealed under the stairs in the house, plus more in the spare tire of a car parked by the house.

They also found a Krung Thai bank cheque, a title deed to a piece of land and a list of drug traders with 10 names. The police also received a search warrant from the Mae Hong Son Provincial Court and broke into a house belonging to Ameema Yeepa. Police found 143 ya ba pills concealed under the bed, plus guns and ammunition. Police also confiscated two cars.


Brave American girl stabbed by two assailants

Robbery attempt failed - one arrested, another escapes

Metinee Chaikuna

An American student visiting Chiang Mai had the harrowing experience of being attacked in her hotel room by knife wielding thieves. 19-year-old Claudia Butler, a tourist who had been staying in Chiang Mai for 3 weeks, ended up in hospital with stab wounds to the stomach, back and right wrist following the attack.

Pol. Maj. Daronpop Sirichai told Chiangmai Mail that the two thugs were a man and a woman who were staying next door to Claudia. They broke into her room and demanded that she hand over any valuables, threatening her with the knife, but the plucky American girl fought back and was stabbed during the altercation. During the robbery attempt, the police were called and the thieves attempted to escape, with the female assailant jumping from the second floor of the hotel and injuring her ankle. She was easily caught by police.

“It was lucky that the hotel staff called us while our officer was patrolling nearby. He was able to arrest one of the thugs immediately, but the other escaped. We are currently following up leads and hope to detain him shortly,” he said.

The arrested 18-year-old female, Sirapatra Poomee confessed that she stayed with the other thief who stabbed the American girl. She has been charged and detained while the police continue investigations and searches.



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