NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Townspeople take the anti-drug war to the streets

Doi Inthanon National Park forest fires declining

Chiang Mai invited to wish His Majesty the King a swift recovery

Orangutan fossil found in Phayao

Longan production up this year

Drink Sato and win half a million!

Confidential Chiang Mai AIDS clinic opens in April

Lampang train history is remembered

Lamphun gets its own Juvenile and Family Court

Another drive to get motorcyclists licensed

Chiang Mai tourism related organizations join ITB 2003 in Berlin

Are you employing aliens?

Democrats meet in Chiang Mai

SME entrepreneurs shown how in Chiang Rai

Forest fire danger high following the expected drought this summer

Wiang Haeng officials collect donations for the family of a soldier killed by drug dealers

Phrae gun factory application still not finalized

CMU deputy dean taken hostage but escapes

Townspeople take the anti-drug war to the streets

Ten thousand Chiang Mai people paraded along the main city streets to demonstrate their fight against drugs and then gathered at the Thapae Gate to swear an oath against drugs. Organized by the Chiang Mai Municipality and Chiang Mai Members of Parliament, the event was led by mayor Boonlert Buranapakorn and MP Pakorn Buranapakorn. Schools, educational institutes, police stations, and many concerned townspeople also took an oath not to be drug addicts. Shown here, Chai Mongkol Ban Nameng community from Chiang Mai is on the march against drugs.


Doi Inthanon National Park forest fires declining

Hill tribe curses appear to be working so far

By Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Hmong and Karen hill tribes gathered to weave a spell and curse forest arsonists (please see story page 16), and so far it appears to be working. The chief of Forest Fire Control Units, Pichit Piyachote said the expected forest fires are quite late this year, as normally there are reports of many fires during the first quarter the year.

Last year, the research unit of the Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University showed that there was 324 forest fires covering 3,342 rai in Doi Inthanon National Park, with resultant damage valued at 15,626,509 baht.

This year, until March 7th, there were only 44 fires that burned 356 rai of forest. Despite a promising start, the dangers will not be over until the end of May.

The major cause of the forest fires is from local people continuing to use slash and burn style farming methods which spreads and goes out of control. “Since local people in Doi Inthanon have combined to protect the forest and joined the fire fighters in 1998, fire damage has been decreased,” Chief Pichit said.

Local people from 12 villages in Doi Inthanon got together calling themselves the ‘Mae Klang Upper Basin Network Organization’ and they are working to protect their forest, which they call home.


Chiang Mai invited to wish His Majesty the King a swift recovery

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook has called on everyone to sign their names for blessing the King to have a long life and have a speedy recovery from his illness.

The Bureau of the Royal Household reported that HM the King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great was operated on for hernia treatment on March 4, in the Sayamindra building at Siriraj Hospital, Bangkok. The doctors reported that the operation was successful and there were no complications. King Bhumibol is recuperating at Siriraj Hospital’s 72 Years Anniversary building.

The Chiang Mai governor asked Chiang Mai people to sign their names to the blessing at Chiang Mai City Hall, Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Office, Chiang Mai Municipality, every district and sub-district office, district and sub-district police station, and tambon municipalities every day, including holidays.

The Chiangmai Mail, along with everyone in Thailand, joins with Chiang P in wishing His Majesty a full recovery.


Orangutan fossil found in Phayao

10 million year old fossilized teeth discovered

Teeth fossils of an orangutan have been found in Chiang Muan District, Phayao. Paleontologists believe that they belong to ancestors of the orangutan that lived in the area 10 to 13.5 million years ago.

Can I get out of the zoo to see what’s left of my great-great-great-great grandfather?

Ms Yaowalak Chaimanee, the paleontologist who discovered the fossil in a coalmine in Chiang Muan, said that the discovery could help people learn more about life in ancient times, especially about the origin and evolution of humans.

This new species of ape has been called Lufengpithecus chiangmuanensis, in respect of the area where the fossils were found. It is believed that it was related to the Indonesian orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra. The weight of this orangutan species is assumed to be between 50 - 70 kilograms.

Ms. Yaowalak is a paleontologist from the Mineral Resources Department. She found the ape fossils with her colleagues from the University of Montpellier in France. This team also discovered other animal fossils in Krabi Province in the south, and Chaiyaphum Province in the northeast.


Longan production up this year

But will the Chinese market be impressed?

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Kriengkrai Kanongdechachat, head of the Chiang Mai Agricultural Extension Office, said that he expects longan production this year will be up by 50%.

Last year Chiang Mai harvested 196,533 tons with a market value of 2,947 million baht, which is about average considering the local climate and land fertility.

Most farmers plant longan out of season and now, with an increase in planting, the crop is becoming one of the province’s major products.

In December last year farmers planted 10,700 rai producing 21,000 tons of longan. Since December last year, the first grade and second grade production is selling at 24-42 baht per kilogram. Longan can be harvested three times a year, in December-January, February-March and April-May, then the planting commences again in June.

With the import ban on longans by the Chinese last month, it is hoped that negotiations to overcome this have been successful, so that our farmers have a good marketplace for the product.


Drink Sato and win half a million!

Ceramic packaging needed for the fermented liquor

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Ministry of Science and Technology in cooperation with the Industrial Promotion Department, Excise Department, Federation of Thai Industry of Lampang Province and the Association of Fruit Wines and Local Thai Whisky are looking for a ceramic container for Sato (fermented local Thai whisky), and they are willing to make the winning designer 500,000 baht richer.

The contest opened on March 10 and will remain open for entries until April 3 this year. First prize is 500,000 baht and a shield from the prime minister, and the following three prizes are 200,000 baht, 100,000 baht and 10,000 baht.

The conditions and regulations are simple - the candidate must send their entry in Thai style and it must be totally original. The Sato container must be able to hold 600-750 cubic centimeters of fluid, and the artwork should be attached in A2 size (594x420 mm) only.

Final judging will take place at Boonyawat Wittayalai School in Lampang Province.

For further information contact the Medical Science Service Department; 75/7 Phra Ram 3, Rajthewi, Bangkok 10400, tel. 02 201 7367-8 and 02 201 7376-7, or Ceramic Industry Development Center in Lampang Province; 424 Moo 2 Phaholyothin Road, Tambon Thasala, Koh Kah District, Lampang, tel. 054 281 884 and 054 282 375-6.


Confidential Chiang Mai AIDS clinic opens in April

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The Thai Red Cross Society’s AIDS Research Center, which will be called the Chiang Mai Anonymous Clinic, will open at the beginning of April this year and will be offering consultation and treatment without requiring the names of the patients. Patients’ names and address are not used, but identification will be by a code instead. The result of the medical examination will only be given to the patients in person, keeping the result confidential.

The anonymous clinic will give information about AIDS or HIV positive disease as well as offering health checks for the virus. This project is supported by the US government, which is contributing the budget for AIDS prevention and supervision in developing countries all over the world. The American Red Cross launched the project in cooperation with Thai Red Cross through their AIDS Research Center.

The services include other tests as well, such as hepatitis-B, syphilis, blood group, and CD 4 levels.

The clinic is located at the Provincial Red Cross, Chiang Mai Chapter next to the municipality market, on Vitchayanond Road, Tambon Changmoi, Muang District, Chiang Mai. Interested people can contact them at 053 234 669, 053 234 670, 053 235 574, and 053 235 161.


Lampang train history is remembered

Celebration to be held March 31 - April 2

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Lampang Governor Chalermpol Prateepawanich said that Lampang provincial authorities and private organizations will host the 4th Lampang Train and Horse Carriage Remembrance March 31 - April 2 this year at Lampang Railway Station.

Horse carriages have been Lampang’s unique taxis since the State Railways of Thailand opened the first northern railroad line service.

This celebration will promote tourism to Lampang and revive the memories of trains and horse and carriages. Many activities will be on tap, such as a train history exhibition, One Tambon - One Product stalls, an old-fashioned market, and local stage performances.

The Lampang governor said that on April 1 at 7 a.m. Lampang people will dress in King Rama VI style to welcome the tourists traveling by Nakhon Ping express train. This train will stop to join the celebration for 30 minutes; the travelers will then ride on horse carriages to visit Lampang City, which is more than 1,322 years old, and ride in a small train to see the World War II historical sites as well.

The State Railway of Thailand opened the first northern railroad line service from Chiang Mai to Bangkok on April 1, 1916, so trains have been an important lifeline for Lampang for 87 years.


Lamphun gets its own Juvenile and Family Court

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Juvenile and Family Court of Lamphun has been inaugurated, with an office located on the Lamphun - Doi Ti Road, Muang District, Lamphun. The office is under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice and has been set up to watch over the rights of juveniles in Lamphun Province.

The official opening ceremony was presided over by the Chief Judge of the Central Court, Patcharawan Sawasditut. This has been carried out pursuant to the royal decree and is effective from April 1, 2003.

The main thrust of the court is to support and judge cases involving juveniles and families in Lamphun, and to give support and suggest suitable rehabilitation for abused youths. Since November last year, 92 criminal cases and 43 civil cases have been tried relating to people from the province.

The judicial system is watching proceedings and trying to help the young people by giving them education and training courses to allow them to eventually stand on their own feet in the society. It is expected that these children under Ministry of Justice supervision will have the opportunity for a new start in life.


Another drive to get motorcyclists licensed

Saturday testing being offered

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office, Autsathai Rattanadiloke na Phuket, said that the office is now providing service on Saturdays. This is following the government’s initiative to make life easier for people who do not have time during office hours on weekdays to sit the test for a driving license.

Autsathai Rattanadiloke na Phuket, Head of Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office.

The transport office is also cooperating with educational institutions to encourage their officers to have a driving license. The office is to hold meetings offering specific information on transport regulations and encourage motorcyclists to ride with safety. There will be a youth education system put in place, starting from primary school levels.

Autsathai said that any school or campus that is interested and concerned with road safety should contact him and he would send the officers to carry out lectures directly on the campus.

Interested people can visit Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office on Saturday during office hours and educational organizations can contact the office at Mae Hia 053 270 410 or 053 278 265.


Chiang Mai tourism related organizations join ITB 2003 in Berlin

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The International Tourism Bourse (ITB) 2003 was held March 7-11, 2003 in Berlin. It is regarded as the world’s largest tourism festival, which brings tourism and travel executives from more than 130 countries to Germany.

(From left) Jint Sukumaraphan, vice-president of the Thai Hotel Association (THA) Northern Chapter, Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor, Udom Puasakul, Chiang Mai deputy governor, Vorapong Moochaotai, president of THA, Chalermsak Suranant, director of TAT, Chiang Mai office and Boonlert Perera, president of Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association are shown here getting ready to be Chiang Mai’s tourism representatives at ITB this year.

This year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand rented a 504 sq meter booth for our Thai Tourism Exhibition. There were 113 tourist agencies, hotels, car rental companies and cruise lines sharing the exhibition area, which was arranged in the shape of a Thai pavilion. Chiang Mai organizers created a Lanna party in the pavilion as well.

Chalermsak Suranant, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Northern Region 1 director said that joining this festival is one of the best ways to increase tourist numbers to Chiang Mai.

A press conference was also regarding the cooperation between Thai and Chinese Tourism Authorities, promoting the concept of “Thailand and China - Combined Destinations” presented by Somkid Chatusripitak, the deputy prime minister. One of the highlights was the “Thailand Gala Dinner” presided over by HRH Princess Ubolratana.

Chiang Mai currently receives around 35 billion baht each year through tourism, but after the ITB, the provincial organizations are targeting 50 billion baht from the tourism section.


Are you employing aliens?

MOI regulations must be followed

The Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Office announced that earlier this month, all aliens have to have photographs ready for their registration documents and identity cards, according to Miss Orachorn Rattanamanee, the office chief.

She said the working committee on aliens immigration, on the registration process, and work permits for Burmese, Laotians and Cambodians in Thailand, had completed its work and this process has been approved by the Local Administration Department (LAD), Ministry of Interior.

The LAD has implemented the work registration and will begin printing and issuing the photocard licenses for their work permits around the beginning of this month.

However, the employment officials informed Chiangmai Mail that those aliens who have kept their documents and receipts issued by the Employment Department can use this as a temporary license while waiting for their new one. For more information, contact 053 222 865-6 ext 17 - 19 during office hours.


Democrats meet in Chiang Mai

The Democrat Party last week held a meeting for members at the Novotel Hotel, Chiang Mai. The opposition party, led by party leader Chuan Leekpai and his deputy, Banyat Bantadtan, plus Tarrin Nimmanhaeminda, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thuagsuban, Trairong Suwannakiri, met with other party officials from the north.

Chuan said, “Democrat Party members from 191 branches all over country number about three million, and of these, there are 35 local offices in the northern region. All of our members have joined with our party with their hearts, not by force like other parties.”

On April 20, there will be an internal election looking for a new administrative committee. Banyat, now the deputy party leader, is one of the party’s strongest assets as he prepares to stand for the position of Democrat leader next month. He was confident that most of the MPs and party branches in the North would back him. He also enjoys strong support among the party members here, despite the fact that he is originally from the South.


SME entrepreneurs shown how in Chiang Rai

A large number of new entrepreneurs in Chiang Rai attended a course to prepare them to step up into Small and Medium scaled Enterprises (SME’s). The course was provided by the Industrial Promotion Department.

The seminar in developing human resources to support their economic growth was held for the first time at Little Duck Hotel in Chiang Rai March 3 -10.

Nattaphol Pussathewa, a senior Industrial Finance Corporation of Thailand (IFCT) Northern Region branch manager said it is government policy to support and develop a new breed of entrepreneurs to create their own SME’s. This is an important basis to secure our own economy.

The Department of Industrial Promotional held this seminar at Chiang Rai, working with IFCT, Northern Region. Nattaphol said in the next six months there would be follow ups to see how they adapt and use their newly learned skills in their enterprises.

The organizers are confident that even the old hands at the game would benefit from the information given at these seminars.


Forest fire danger high following the expected drought this summer

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Due to the hot weather and dry season, the Northern Meteorological Center has warned people to be on the alert for the forest fires which occur every year during summer. Despite the fact that the weather is still cool in the morning it is quite hot in the daytime.

Forest fires are often caused by careless human actions.

In northern Thailand during March 6 - 12 this year, the Meteorological Center had forecast that there would be partly cloudy skies, with lows around 12-16 degrees C but the highs were 33-37 degrees C.

Forest fires are occurring in many places, especially in the deciduous forests in the mountains of the northern upper portion. According to the weather forecast, a drought will occur in many areas, so people should beware of this natural disaster and additionally follow the daily weather forecasts.

A forest fire burns along both sides of road to Phayao Province in Wang-Nua, Lampang.

Forest fires are natural disasters, but often result from human activities including slash and burn cultivation and sheer negligence with cooking fires and cigarettes.


Wiang Haeng officials collect donations for the family of a soldier killed by drug dealers

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Wiang Haeng District, Chiang Mai has invited the public to donate for the family of a soldier killed by drug dealers. Wichien Noonrod, Chiang Mai Provincial Public Relations Office Chief said that Sergeant Major Samai Songsri was killed in a fierce fight between government troops and drug traffickers, while besieging in Ban Pak Sam village of Tambon Piang Luang, Wiang Haeng. Officials say his poor family should have some aid from the public.

His needy family consists of 3 sons: 10 year old twins and a 3 year old boy. Sergeant Major Samai’s wife has a very small business.

Wiang Haeng District officials would like to help Sergeant Major Samai’s family because he sacrificed his life in the fight for drug suppression.

Anyone who wants to donate money for the soldier’s family could contact the Drug Suppression Operation Center of Wiang Haeng District, Chiang Mai, 053 477 061.


Phrae gun factory application still not finalized

District waits, anxious to fire the first shots

Phrae Governor Amornphan Nimanant has informed Chiangmai Mail that despite a statement from the managing director of JK Defense Industrial Company, Jeerapan Kongpan, that they wished to build a factory in the area, there has been no further contact from the company.

Job applicants have also heard nothing. The Phrae governor said that it was the provincial office’s hope that the factory would be built for the betterment of the local economy.

Eakachai Wongworakul, the deputy president of the Phrae Chamber of Commerce said that the chamber had directed enquiries to the company and was told that some of the applicant engineers were selected to be trainees in Germany and the factory construction would be started within this year, possibly around April after Songkran Festival.

The gun factory would be the first large firm in Phrae, expected to spend hundreds of thousands baht during the construction phase. The Chamber of Commerce deputy president said that he wanted Phrae people to be patient.

Phrae has 616 legally registered factories include 600 small factories and 16 medium factories but there are no large factories in the province.


CMU deputy dean taken hostage but escapes

Ransom plot fails

The deputy dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Chiang Mai University was kidnapped and his family asked for ransom, but he escaped from the bandit.

Dr Songkram Chaowasin, the deputy dean and his wife informed police that a thief robbed them and their children at gunpoint and then tied their hands and feet before taking their money and other valuables. The thief took Songkram with him as a hostage.

The crime took place on the night of March 5, and the thief demanded 400 thousand baht from Dr. Songkram’s family as a ransom the next morning.

Dr. Songkram’s wife alerted the police, but Dr Songkram escaped and took police to an abandoned condominium 2 kilometers from his house where he had been tied up with wire.

Despite claims that there might have been an accomplice involved, police believe that it was the work of one bandit. The criminal was disguised and had prepared copper wire and tapes before committing the crime and bringing the victim to the abandoned condominium on Chollaprathan Road.

The robber got away with more than 30 ornaments, such as gold necklaces and rings, and 36,000 baht in cash. The police have yet to make an arrest.