Whisky Distillers threaten to burn Thai Rak Thai membership cards
Unbottled anger at discriminatory tax laws
by staff reporters
20,000 members of Local Liquor Distillers Network stormed
Chiang Mai City Hall to protest against the Excise Department’s
prepare to burn their Thai Rak Thai membership cards and jackets. Over
20,000 Local Liquor Distillers Network protesters gathered in front of
Chiang Mai City Hall to protest the government’s new tax resolution
The protest group, led by Borisut Jaisard passed on the
letter to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra though Chiang Mai Governor Pisit
Khetphasook, opposing the Cabinet’s answer to their problems proposed on
January 21 this year.
The protest group said that they still could not accept
the Ministry of Finance proposals, especially the tax collection procedure
which is still a big problem for them because they are only small producers
and cannot compete on the same scale as the large distilleries.
Liquor Distillers Network protesters move on Chiang Mai City Hall.
Artit Javana, a committee member from the San Kamphaeng
District Local Liquor Network said the problem was not about the process of
production, but about the rules and regulation processes under the
supervision of the Excise Department and the liquor tax which is too high
for local producers.
Local producers have to bring their product for
registration at the Department of Internal Trade. Following this
registration, authorities send officials to check their quality of products,
which costs 4,000 baht each time. They have to do this many times to make
sure that the liquor quality is up to standard. The Local Liquor Network
also pays 4,600 baht each year for a permit from the Excise Department.
Other rules promulgated by the Excise Department include
the Local Liquor’s product having to be registered as a juristic entity,
which necessitates hiring accounting staff. On top of that, it becomes
necessary to have the accounts audited each year, which costs another 10,000
The Local Liquor Network in the North staged their
protest on the same day as The Local Liquor Network in the Northeast staged
a rally at the Buriram City Hall.
On March 17th, a protester asked Kwanchai Wongnitikorn,
permanent secretary for Chiang Mai Provincial Authority, for tents, water
and mobile toilets to be made available during the protest gathering. The
authorities agreed to provide 200 tents, if they moved out of the city hall
The protesters gathered in front of City Hall entrance to
make a bonfire of their Thai Rak Thai membership cards and jackets. Another
group of protesters moved to the Thai Rak Thai party office on Loi Kroh Road
to tell the party’s representatives to send their proposals to PM Thaksin
Shinawatra. They are insisting that they will stay 5 days awaiting a new
resolution from the government and the protests will continue if the result
is not satisfactory.
Controversial high-rise municipal offices in the news again
Will the mayor ever get it off the ground?
The Chiang Mai City Study Center strongly opposes the
municipality’s proposal to build its high-rise municipal offices and
further mounts a strong protest against any ongoing high-rise building
projects and will try to stop them.
According to a usually reliable source at the study
center, local residents also disagreed with the high-rise building plans in
Chiang Mai City. The source said that the Chiang Mai municipality should not
continue any high-rise projects near the Ping River, irrespective of whether
it is a 7, 8 or 12-storey - building because these buildings are not fitting
for Chiang Mai, an old heritage and tourism city.
“Chiang Mai City is famous as a historical and
beautiful destination, so any municipal projects should not be allowed to be
located near the riverbank as it would not be appropriate with the city’s
identity and heritage. Chiang Mai should be a model city of this country,”
said the spokesperson.
It is believed that Chiang Mai people do not need the
high rises as they could block the views of Doi Suthep Mountain, and
furthermore the high-rise building is very costly requiring a budget or loan
of 200 million baht to be allocated from the Ministry of Interior.
Initially, Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranapakorn had
planned to build a 12-storey building costing about 200 million baht near
the Mae Ping River, but Chiang Mai people disagreed with his idea.
Consequently, he decided to reduce the height from a 12-storey building to
an 8-storey building, including the basement.
This project is still a controversial issue. Some parties
have indicated they will continue to protest against his project. His term
as mayor finishes in December this year, but the mayor still wants to
continue his high-rise project.
Summer storm uproots tree, damages office and coffee shop
Do you want a lump of wood with your coffee?
The first summer storm on March 14 caused a large tree on
the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road to fall on an office and coffee shop in Tambon
Nong Phueng, Saraphi District. The office and coffee shop were destroyed.
The tree was estimated to be many hundreds of years old.
first summer storm on March 14 felled an old tree, which in turn destroyed
an office and coffee shop as well as tearing down power lines and poles.
The fallen 40-meter high tree also damaged electric poles
and telephone lines in the area, and the damage is considered to be many
millions of baht. The Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road in Saraphi District is covered
by large trees along both sides. Residents have complained that there are
always accidents from broken branches or fallen trees because of their age.
The Meteorological Center reported that the westerly
trough in Myanmar had moved through northern Thailand, resulting in
thundershowers with gusting winds and hail in some areas of northern
Malaysian government interested in the One Tambon - One Product concept
Following on from the last visit to Chiang Mai by
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad, where he expressed interest in
the One Tambon - One Product project, we were hosts to a two-day visit of
Malaysian government officials.
Malaysian delegation listens to the One Tambon One Product lecture at city
The 48 delegates from the Agricultural Department of
Malaysia, led by their assistant director, Flarida Mohammed, inspected the
best of Chiang Mai products. In the morning, they dropped by the Department
of Export Promotion center to see the products at the northern region’s
Afterwards they visited city hall to attend a special
lecture on the Chiang Mai brand name as it applies to the One Tambon - One
Product. Udom Maneekat, chief Chiang Mai Community Development officer, and
Wiphada Treesat, director of Commercial Affairs Chiang Mai were guest
Forty-seven of our best products were presented to the delegation,
including Teen Joke woven cloth, wickerwork, wood carvings, preserved foods,
snacks and bamboo umbrellas. At the conclusion, the delegation was taken to
visit the Huay Hong Krai Royal Development Study center.
Iraq conflict - EGAT has enough generating capacity says governor
The governor of the Electricity Generating Authority of
Thailand (EGAT) stated that the war between Iraq and the United States will
not affect electricity generation and there has already been a team on
standby to cover any fuel shortage.
Sittiporn Rattanopass, EGAT’s governor said in Chiang
Rai Province that despite any war, electricity supply would be maintained.
However, the day-to-day situation will be reported to the Integrated Energy
Center, but he felt that there was no cause for alarm.
Governor Sittiporn also said that there was no trading in
high voltage electricity between Thailand and Burma, and the lines connected
along the border were low voltage electricity provided by the Provincial
Storm damage in Nan results
in 2.5 million baht loss
Namuen District in Nan Province was hit last week by a
rogue summer storms. Residences, temples and government offices were damaged
with damages estimated to be about a 2.5 million baht.
The full extent has not yet been recorded, but so far
there have been 181 residences destroyed by the storm and 7 people injured.
Altogether there were 14 villages that suffered varying degrees of storm
The Namuen district chief organized assistance for local
people with the removal of wreckage, temporary repairs to houses and
emergency food and supplies. This involved over 100 police and volunteers in
Nan Governor Suwat Choksuwattanasakul was made aware of
the local predicament and the storm damage, and was satisfied that all that
could be done has been effected.
7 million baht earmarked for Denchai Railway Station improvements
The State Railways of Thailand and the Tourism Authority
of Thailand (TAT) are working together to improve Denchai Railway Station as
the gateway to improved tourism in the region.
Denchai District in Phrae has many tourist attractions
and is the transportation hub for the neighboring provinces of Nan, Phayao
and Chiang Rai. The director of Tourism Planning Division of TAT, Suraphol
Sawetseranee, is supporting the project and is setting maps of the
region’s tourist attractions at the railway station.
The government has set aside a budget of seven million
baht for the work planned this year and it is hoped that the standards in
the station will be improved to world levels. In addition, this project is
expected to also provide improvements to the railway route Denchai-Chiang
Rai, which will be linking up with neighboring countries in the very near
future, which should provide an economic boost for Phrae Province.
Electric school bus shuttle finally runs out of batteries
The US led Iraq conflict blamed
Chiang Mai Municipality has finally admitted that the
electric shuttles project is not going ahead because there are no imported
batteries from the US due to the expected war in the Gulf. Students are now
being told they have to wait for another project called Euro bus as a
Panyapol Mongkolcharoen, chief of the municipal commerce
bureau said that Chiang Mai Municipality has had to change the electric
school bus transportation plan again, a project that has been continually
postponed since October last year.
“We are back to the beginning of the transportation
development project after the electric shuttle struck lack of batteries
problems and high maintenance costs could not be overcome,” Panyapol said.
The municipality is trying to solve this conundrum by
initiating a new project, called Euro bus, which is much more energy
efficient than the usual buses. Panyapol informed Chiangmai Mail that
there would be one or two of the 17-seater Euro buses running in Charoen
Prathet Road instead and there might be some red minibuses that will join
the program during peak hours next semester.
After the big drug busts, provincial governors state their results
The governors and deputy governors from eight provincial
authorities jointly promised to suppress the drug trade. As witness to this,
they stated the figures from their areas of responsibility.
and deputy governors from 8 provinces with representatives from the 3rd Army
Region and Office of Narcotics Control Board announce the results of drug
Those who attended a joint meeting were Chiang Mai
Governor Pisit Khetphasook, Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panichkit, Lamphun
Governor Tawat Satiennam, Nan Governor Suwat Chokesuwatthanasakul, Phayao
Governor Somsak Boonplueng, Lampang Deputy Governor Direk Kongleeb, Phrae
Deputy Governor Nakorn Boonprasert, and Mae Hong Son Deputy Governor Chana
Focusing on Chiang Mai, Governor Pisit said that during
the period February 1 - March 9, the results of suppression were that 782
people surrendered; there were 5 extra judicial killings and 97 deaths from
unknown causes. The authorities confiscated 94,000 speed pills, 78
properties and assets valued at 16 million baht. In addition, they seized a
methamphetamine manufacturing machine, which could produce more than a
thousand pills a day.
In Chiang Rai, Governor Narin said, “Chiang Rai is
unfortunately well known for its ya ba marketplace.” There was intensive
suppression before the government launched the war against drugs and 36 ya
ba networks have been caught and goods confiscated to the value of more than
400 million baht. After February 1, the suppression was judged to be at 40
percent of the target, lower than that set by the Interior Ministry.
Governor Narin, however, insisted that the suppression in his province was
continuous with more intensive operations.
Lamphun Governor Tawat Satiennam said his provincial
authority has achieved the Minister of Interior ‘s evaluation, with 55
percent, including 608 traffickers surrendered and 4,269 drug users being
reported to the authorities.
In Nan Province, Governor Suwat Chokesuwatthanasakul
remarked that in Nan there were no extra judicial killings, but they had
arrested 554 dealers and 4,053 users. And he hoped that by the end of April,
90 percent of drugs in Nan would be wiped out.
In Phayao, an alleged transit route for drugs, Phayao
Governor Somsak Boonplueng said they are working hard to stem the drug flow
and are cracking down on drugs above the target at 60 percent of 1,057
dealers on the black list.
The deputy governor of Lampang, Direk Kongleeb said they
have arrested 208 dealers, 26 government officials and one person has been
killed. The war against drugs begins at school, where students will point
out drug users and dealers and keep watching for them.
Nakorn Boonprasert, the deputy Phrae governor, said he
was satisfied with the results of suppression. He predicts they will reach
50 percent suppression goal of drug dealers and 75 percent of drug users and
they had already seized assets valued at 27 million baht.
At Mae Hong Son Province, Deputy Governor Chana Naksuriya said there were
7 districts connected to 3 states of the neighboring Burma. They resisted
drug smuggling through Thailand by using night patrols using village
volunteers in all areas.
Chiang Mai City’s red minibuses stick a toe in the water
Agreement reached on fixed routes for rush hours
Nakhon Lanna Transportation Cooperatives Limited has just
agreed to introduce some red minibuses serving fixed routes during the peak
hours. Panyapol Mongkolcharoen, chief of the municipal commerce bureau said
that the municipality is reviewing the 19 new bus routes for the 30 red
minibuses that will shortly join the project.
The pilot busses will run on the fixed routes only 2
hours a day from 7-9 a.m. The municipality will pay 200 baht for each bus
daily as income assurance. That will cost the municipal coffers about
180,000 baht per month.
Previously, the red minibus cooperatives president
insisted that the municipality pay 600 baht for each bus per day if the
local administration wanted all the red minibus drivers to join the fixed
route scheme. However, the municipality would not accept the proposal
because it would cost more than a million baht every day.
Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said, “Actually,
if the red minibuses joined the project, they would certainly get enough
income because city people still need public transportation and running on
the fixed routes can make the buses get more customers.”
The project will be expanded if the minibuses find that
it is possible to earn suitable income by running on the fixed routes.
Dots cured me - it will cure you too
March 24 each year is designated Tuberculosis Day by the
World Health Organization (WHO). This year’s slogan for TB Day is ‘Dots
cured me - it will cure you too’ hoping to eradicate the disease from the
The Office of Communicable Disease Control, Region 10
Chiang Mai is launching a campaign to assist understanding and awareness of
TB, as well as prevention and eradication from Thailand.
Dr Songwut Hutamai, director of the office, remarked that
the situation regarding TB in 6 provinces in upper northern Thailand shows
patient numbers are still increasing.
The preferred treatment is called Dots: Directly Observed
Treatment, Short Course and has been used in Thailand since 1996. Patients
must receive treatment by taking continuous medication for six months.
Figures indicate that 58.2 percent have been cured but
22.4 percent have died. Most of the deaths are HIV/AIDS patients. It is
difficult to eradicate such a disease that is passed on by coughing, he
Anyone who has a cough for more than 3 weeks must go to
see a doctor to have a sputum test carried out. TB can be cured if you take
pills regularly and follow the doctor’s instructions.
Drug suppression efforts go online
The Government Public Relations Office, Region 3 Chiang
Mai (upper northern region) has set up a Joint (Pool) Information Center for
Drug Suppression in the Upper Northern Region, covering 8 provinces in the
north of Thailand.
R) Athichai Tonkanya, MC of the television program Everyday on TV Channel
11, Duan Intha and Pol Lt Col Viroj Kesaporn stay tuned to 93.25 Mhz every
Jintana Phanfak broadcast live on TV Channel 11 during the official opening
ceremony of the Joint Information Center for Drugs Suppression in the Upper
Miss Jintana Phanfak, the director, said that the office
has set up the center with cooperation from other government organizations,
private organizations and people in the region’s 8 provinces. Work
commenced on the center on February 18, and the official opening ceremony
was held on March 11.
The goal of the center is to gather any important
information and inform the public via television and radio, broadcasting
from 5.30 to 6.00 p.m. every day on radio 93.25 Mhz and 5.15 to 5.30 p.m. on
TV Channel 11.
There is also a website http://narcotics.prdnorth.in.th where you can see
up to the minute information on drug suppression. To contact the center or
pass on any important information regarding drugs, please call at the Joint
Information Center for Drugs Suppression in Upper Northern Region 053 284
178 and 053 284 179 and fax number 053 283 788 and 053 283 740.
Lampang provincial authorities finger drug tainted government officials
Autsadaporn Kamthai and Ampai Kuntawong
The hunt for drug rings continues, with Lampang
provincial authorities closing in. Lampang Governor Chalermpol Prateepanich
said that at present there are 26 government officials suspected of being
involved with drugs on the province’s blacklist. They have already found
enough evidence that 7 of these officials have been sufficiently involved
with drugs and have therefore been fired from their positions.
The other 19 officials will be closely watched, but as
yet there is insufficient evidence to prove their guilt.
The Lampang governor also mentioned that in Lampang,
about 1 million baht has already been confiscated from drug dealers who law
enforcement officials had clear proof of involvement in the drug trade,
information that was related to the Anti Money Laundry Office (AMLO).
Even though some drug dealers have surrendered, the
criminal cases against them will still proceed. The dealers’ property will
be confiscated and the individuals sued. After judgment in court, the person
who informed the police would be rewarded with 30% of the confiscated
Ya ba cost increases to 400 baht
Law of supply and demand pushes up price
The Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) stated that
the domestic price for ya ba is increasing up to 300-400 baht. Teerapat
Santimetaneedol, deputy secretary of the ONCB said that the war on drugs has
been quite successful, especially in the area of suppression of drug
production, dealers and users.
The ONCB also expects that drug related violence would
not escalate because most of the influential drug barons have already fled
from the North of Thailand.
The government, in conjunction with the police, the Anti
Money Laundering Office (AMLO), and the ONCB have located and confiscated
large amounts of property, but all concerned agencies and units will still
have to be watchful, especially at the borders.
A reliable source informed Chiangmai Mail that
there is a huge shipment of methamphetamine pills waiting to be imported and
transported through the country.
With the increase in ya ba prices, this has prompted an
increase in the number of ‘glue sniffers’, an unfortunate backlash, as
addiction to this substance is potentially even more dangerous.
Third Army ready to crack down on Thai-Burma border villages
Commander calls for AMLO to speed up its operations
Ampai Kantawong and Autsadaporn Kamthai
Lt. Gen. Udomchai Ongkasing, commander of the Third Army
Region said that the army has launched measures to investigate at least 46
border villages to weaken the power of drug dealers and to strengthen local
Initially, the army sent its soldiers to be stationed at
the targeted villages to obstruct drug dealers’ movements. Lt. Gen.
Udomchai said for the time being, there was no need to impose a curfew
because this could produce international criticism. Instead, the army would
send out thousands of troops into the borderlands.
Lt. Gen. Udomchai suggested that the money confiscated
from drug dealers should be used to pay for anti drug operations. He also
said that the Anti Money Laundering Office (AMLO) should be located in
Northern region to speed up the confiscation process since Chiang Rai
Province has done the best job in drug suppression.
However, the commander was concerned with the degree of
cooperation between the soldiers, police and government officials as with
insufficient information it makes the job of suppression not effective.
The government must negotiate an agreement with Burma
over controlling minority groups, especially the Red Wa. The Third Army
Region is insisting it will continue to carry on the drug suppression
measures, even though the government war on drugs campaign will be
officially ended this April.
Assistant village headman shot dead, another man injured
Assistant village headman, Boontham Pheamphun, from Song
Kwae Tai village in Koh Kha, Lampang, was shot and killed while having his
hair cut. The crime took place in the early morning of March 10 in Tambon Na
According to the Koh Kha police, one of the killers,
wearing a helmet, shot Boontham through the forehead, the right side of his
head and right cheek. With such massive head injuries, he died immediately.
The killer then jumped on the back of an accomplice’s motorcycle and they
made their escape.
When they arrived at a bridge to cross to Song Kwae
Pathana Village, Boonyean Satham, the former village headman of Song Kwae
Pathana village abused the two criminals because they were riding too fast
and making a loud noise. The criminals then turned on him and shot him three
times. Fortunately, the bullets did not hit any vital spot, hitting him in
the shoulder, injuring him but not seriously.
Police are assuming that the crime was the result of
personal or business conflicts; however, it is believed that both of the
victims never had any enemies or any problems with anyone in their villages
before. Investigation is still continuing.
100 million ya ba pills unable to cross into Thailand
Third Army Region commander-in-chief predicts influx into Laos
Lt. Gen. Udomchai Ongkasingha, the Third Army Region
commander-in-chief said that there are still more than 100 million
methamphetamine pills waiting to be delivered into Thailand, but due to the
concentrated supervision, the shipments have stalled.
Since the Third Army Region has now gone on the
offensive, putting pressure on the drug syndicates, this action will be
continued because Lt. Gen. Udomchai Ongkasingha believes the government’s
3 months is not sufficient to get rid of ya ba from all of Thailand.
Despite the volume of drugs dealers are attempting to
transfer across the border, the commander in chief does not believe that the
big drug syndicates will escape within Thailand. Lt. Gen. Udom said that the
frontier from Chiang Rai to Tak Province is being intensively supervised. He
said that the drug dealers might flee to Laos or Myanmar or other less
intensively overseen areas.
Lt. Gen. Udom has told Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
there was no change in the army’s policy because it had already proceeded
on the correct path. Military training can be used in many ways to put
pressure on the dealers.
Thailand, China and Myanmar join forces against drugs
Thailand and two neighboring countries adjacent to the
Golden Triangle, a notorious source of drugs production in the region, are
joining forces in tackling drugs problems.
Narintr Panitchkit, Governor of Chiang Rai announced that
representatives of Thailand, China and Myanmar attended a conference in this
northern resort province to jointly work out on strategies to address drugs
Narintr inaugurated and presided over the opening
ceremony of the conference on March 14. “The conference was aimed to seek
cooperation among the three neighboring countries in narcotic prevention and
suppression,” he said. “Ways and strategies to concretely tackle the
drugs problems were discussed,” he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra conceded he
was informed by intelligence sources that drug gangs outside the country had
set a cash reward of 80 million baht for anybody who successfully
“It’s risky for me, I know, to declare war against
drugs with decisive suppression. But I must go ahead with the policy to
create the drugs-free society for our younger generations. I’m getting old
already, whatever will be, will be,” Thaksin told reporters.
The Thai leader said, however, that he will use a
bulletproof car as part of security measures provided for him by authorities