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A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

PM Thaksin pleased with anti-drug progress in the North

Librarians get ready for the e-information world

In the wake of the Iraq war don’t rely on international travel says TAT

Air Quality slogan and promotional cartoons needed

Tone down Songkran excesses, says municipality

Ngao police station in Lampang Province wins school anti-drug award

EGAT looking at joint Thai-Myanmar Salwin River hydroelectric project

Ban on alien laborers, says Ministry of Labor

US led Iraqi conflict puts pressure on consulate security

Thai-Cambodia relationships improving, says PM

Liquor protestors have their say

Two ya ba dealers killed and 150 thousand pills discovered

Young hoodlum gangs run riot

Expat horn player gets off on the wrong beat with local drummer boys

Omkoi District’s drug problem reduced by 50% through public cooperation

Authorities confiscate 5.9 million baht in Lamphun

Chiang Rai’s Wieng Pa Pao District ‘over target’ on drug suppression

Bulletproof vests being supplied by Chiang Mai PAO as drug war heats up

Chiang Mai police prepared for all Iraq war situations

A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

The Kingdom of Thailand on April 2 celebrates the most auspicious occasion of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s birthday. We at the Chiangmai Mail join in with our most humble wishes to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for a long, healthy and happy life.

The entire Chiangmai Mail staff joins the Kingdom of Thailand in humbly wishing HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn a long, healthy and happy life on this occasion of the Royal Anniversary of Her Birth.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was born on April 2, 1955, the third child of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand.

HRH studied from kindergarten to high school at Chitralada School in Bangkok. She ranked first in the National School Examinations in the primary level (grade 7) in 1967 and in upper secondary level (grade 12) in 1972.

Ranking fourth in the National University Entrance Examination HRH enrolled in the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, first class honor, and received a gold medal in History. Her graduate programs ran concurrently as she obtained an M.A. in Oriental Epigraphy (Sanskrit and Cambodian) from Silpakorn University in 1978, and an M.A. in Pali and Sanskrit from Chulalongkorn University in 1980. She enrolled in a doctoral program at Srinakharinwirot University (former College of Education) in 1981, and was awarded a doctoral degree in Development Education in 1987.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn uses education as a means of community and social development. Her methods were acquired during her studies and experiences in the field and provide a solid base for the many projects she supports that advance the quality of life for ordinary Thais.

HRH has also attended several training courses including computer, cartography, meteorology, survey and photo-grammetry, remote sensing and geographic information systems.

Acquiring first-hand experience by working for Their Majesties the King and Queen’s development projects in such fields as nutrition, health and hygiene, education, water agriculture and cottage industry has aided HRH in promoting much progress in these areas.

From these experiences HRH developed special interests in agricultural extensions to improve schoolchildren’s nutrition. She supports education from pre-school to tertiary levels and programs which focus on mother and child care. HRH has also made great improvements in the lives of handicapped persons through support of technology (IT) to develop independent living skills.

HRH runs several philanthropic organizations and foundations. She has been Executive Vice President of the Thai Red Cross Society since 1977; Executive Chairman of the Chaipattana Foundation (in charge of His Majesty’s development and environmental preservation projects), Ananda Mahidol Foundation (to promote higher education), the King Rama II Foundation (to conserve and promote Thai Culture); President of the Sai Jai Thai Foundation (to support disabled veterans), Prince Mahidol Award Foundation (to award prizes annually to members of the international community for health); and Adviser to the Committee of Thai Junior Encyclopedia Project by Royal Command of H.M. the King.

HRH began her teaching career in 1979, teaching the General Education Program at Chulalongkorn University. A year later, she joined the Department of Law Military Academy.

Presently she is Director of the Department of History, and has helped to revise its curriculum. She also supervises the Thai Music Club at the Academy.

In 1991, HRH was awarded the Magsaysay Award for Public Service.

HRH also represents Their Majesties in various royal functions and presides over social and charity functions throughout the year.

One of HRH’s favorite pastimes is writing articles, poetry and short stories. Proceeds from her written accounts of her overseas travels are the main source of income of the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Foundation. The Foundation was set up in 1979 to support needy students in schools, vocational colleges and universities.

HRH loves Thai and foreign literature. She paints, plays classical Thai instruments and practices Thai classical dancing. She is also keen on sports including jogging, swimming, biking and trekking, which gives her an opportunity to learn about plants, trees and geographical features of the areas.

In addition to her knowledge of Pali, Sanskrit and Cambodian, HRH is fluent in both English and French and has been learning Chinese, German and Latin.


PM Thaksin pleased with anti-drug progress in the North

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said at a meeting with high-ranking officials, governors and commanders held at the Empress Hotel Chiang Mai, that at this time he is satisfied with the results of drug suppression efforts in the north of Thailand, and hopes that shortly drugs will disappear from our country.

PM Thaksin was greeted with bouquets of flowers upon his arrival in Chiang Mai. While here, he said that at this time he is satisfied with the results of drug suppression efforts in the north of Thailand

However, the prime minister emphasized a need to speed up drug suppression, especially in the northern region, and said that the number of drug users must be reduced. He said he expects all agencies concerned to cooperate in eradicating drugs.

Provincial Public Health Officers and the communities should work together to provide treatment centers. It could well be that there are not enough centers, and communities should get together and help them to stay away from drugs, he said.

He was especially worried about drug abuse at schools. He told participants that there should be some action to cope with students using drugs, such as drug testing, and providing special activities. PM Thaksin suggested that both the government and private sector should cooperate and promote interests for young people to be part of, such as music activities, art exhibitions and sporting competitions.

Finally, he told the conference that if it has been found that some officials are blocking the operations, reports must be made directly to him and the Interior Minister, and the problem would be solved within 24 hours.


Librarians get ready for the e-information world

Autsadaporn Kamthai and
Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai

Hundreds of Asia Pacific librarians and information professionals participated in a March 20 and 21 conference covering library development in a digital world. Dr. Suraphong Suebwonglee, Minister of Information Communication Technology, or ICT, presided over the International Academic Conference (Asia-Pacific), which was held at the Lotus Pang Suan Keaw Hotel.

Dr. Suraphong said that the government has been promoting the concept of an ICT City in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Khon Kaen. Chiang Mai, currently on the brink of becoming the IT City of the North, will have high-speed Internet connections installed at places such as the airport, a number of hotels, and various department stores. The budget for this project in Chiang Mai is currently still being considered by the National Social and Economic Development Board.

Apart from these 3 target provinces, the government will also provide high-speed Internet connections to every province in Thailand. The so-called e-library, one part of the ICT City project, requires each province to have a center for information connection.

On the first day of the conference, many representatives from national libraries in the United States, Netherlands and China presented their academic papers. Conference attendees also visited and observed the administration systems of the Chiang Mai Rajamangkala National Library, as well as the Chiang Mai Art and Culture Museum.


In the wake of the Iraq war don’t rely on international travel says TAT

Promote travel within Thailand as well

Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai

The Tourism Authority of Thailand last week organized an exhibition at Chiang Mai’s Imperial Mae Ping Hotel to promote traveling in Petchburi. Silachai Surai, director of TAT regional office 2, said that the exhibition was arranged in response to the current crisis in Iraq, and he expects that the war will have a negative impact on world travel. American, Canadian and European tourists will possibly change their plans to visit Thailand because they are afraid of terrorist retaliation.

Silachai Surai introduced plans and projects to try and overcome any tourism fallout resulting from the war in Iraq. (Photo by Autsadaporn Kamthai)

Silachai has made alternative plans to promote local markets and tourism through this exhibition, and to hit new targets, especially within Asia.

Over 20 resorts, hotels and local businesses from Petchburi combined to show their services and products. They also offered special rates for accommodation, plus attractive special packages for golf enthusiasts.


Air Quality slogan and promotional cartoons needed

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Chiang Mai Municipality is organizing a contest for slogans and a cartoon symbol, promoting “Chiang Mai Air Quality Regulation and Vehicle Checking”. It is hoped that in this way, Chiang Mai people will be more aware of air pollution and will check their vehicle’s exhaust emissions.

All entries in the competition must show the contestant’s name, address, telephone, fax number, and email address. The results of the contest will be announced on May 2 on the public relations notice board, 1st floor of the Chiang Mai Municipality building.

For the slogan contest, the winner will receive 5,000 baht and a certificate, with the first runner up receiving 3,000 baht and a certificate, and the 2nd runner up 2,000 baht and a certificate.

The cartoon contest is even more rewarding, as the winner will receive 20,000 baht plus a certificate. In addition, 2 contestants having the most outstanding cartoons will receive 5,000 baht - and certificates, of course.

Students and all interested budding artists should contact the Environmental Promotion Organization at the Public Health and Environmental Bureau, 3rd floor Chiang Mai Municipality building, tel. 053 259 220, 053 256 221, 053 876 246, or www.chiangmaicity.org


Tone down Songkran excesses, says municipality

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that Songkran is a festival that Chiang Mai made famous, but nowadays some people have ignored the polite traditional behavior by wearing improper costumes, or carelessly throwing water onto others. Consequently, the municipality has asked Chiang Mai residents to participate in the true meaning of this festival by dressing in appropriate Lanna clothes, speaking politely in Lanna language, and throwing water carefully, with due regard to others.

The mayor said that the municipality and other government and private organizations would organize Songkran, regarded as Chiang Mai’s New Year Festival, between April 11-15 this year at Wat Pra Singha, Wat Loke Molee, Wat Jetlin, Tapae Gate, Buddha Sathan, Rajadamnern Road, and Tapae Road.

This year’s festival is aimed to promote the local traditions and Chiang Mai Tourism. Festivities would include parades of Buddha image from the temples, Lanna Thai Traditions, local markets, local beauty contest, folk song performances, and many other unique activities, including an international food festival.


Ngao police station in Lampang Province wins school anti-drug award

There are 123 stations under the supervision of the Provincial Police Region 5, Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Supervisory Unit, to take care of all 125 schools in the northern region. Those stations who have performed the best in getting the message across were rewarded recently in a prize giving ceremony which took place at the conference hall of Provincial Police Region 5.

First prize went to Ngao police station in Lampang Province where their project encouraged students to be core leaders and teachers were the advisors to establish a club within the school to promote anti-drug activity.

The first runner-up prize went to Rong Kwang police station with the Rong Kwang Anusorn School of Phrae Province using nurses and police as advisors to establish a clinic in school.

Mae Sai police station in Chiang Rai won the second runner-up with their project at Ban San Sai School.

Pol Lt Gen Inthadej Pornpeerapan, the commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5, said the projects were deemed a success and promoted drug free zones in the schools. He did counsel caution, as many drug users turn to be glue sniffers instead, as the price has mounted for amphetamines. Collaboration between teachers and parents to keep close watch on children is required.

The ONCB office will provide a budget to establish drug education centers for the schools that received awards this year.


EGAT looking at joint Thai-Myanmar Salwin River hydroelectric project

Sitthiporn Rattanopas, director of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), spoke at a conference in Chiang Rai, saying that a joint project on building a dam to produce low cost electricity was under consideration. They see benefits on constructing a dam to block the Salwin River in Myanmar and the Burmese are in agreement with this project.

More study is needed to look at the advantages and disadvantages, and it is not possible to speculate on the construction date at present. It is estimated that the proposed dam would produce 16,000 megawatts from the hydroelectric generators. This output could alleviate power demands in both Thailand and Myanmar and the Myanmar people are anxious to see the construction take place in their country.


Ban on alien laborers, says Ministry of Labor

Time to apply for work permits has expired

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The Ministry of Labor’s resolution not to grant work permits to unemployed alien laborers is firm, said the Chiang Mai Employment Service office.

Orachorn Rattanamanee, chief of the Chiang Mai Employment Service Office said that the Ministry of Labor launched a policy to organize the employment of alien labor by approving the Burmese, Laos, and Cambodian workers to work in the kingdom after registering and providing a 1 year extended work permit.

The last day for registration was January 15 this year, therefore, the time is up and the new immigrants cannot ask for permission, even though there are many employers who want to have more laborers to fill some empty positions.

The chief of the Chiang Mai Employment Service Office also said that this policy is to organize alien workers and provide understanding among the employers. Furthermore, the Immigrant Labor Administration Committee, presided over by deputy Prime Minister Korn Dabbaransri, has agreed to end the previous alien workers policy, especially for new jobs and work sites.


US led Iraqi conflict puts pressure on consulate security

Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai

Chiang Mai Provincial Police has arranged special patrol groups to watch and inspect all foreign consulates in Chiang Mai. This has been caused by the need for heightened security during the US led coalition war against Iraq.

Currently there are 22 consulates in the Chiang Mai area. In particular, organizations and consulates of American and Iraqi interests, including their tourists and visitors to Thailand are being concentrated on.

Pol Maj Gen Kasem Ratanasuntorn, police commander, said that security patrols had been in place for the last 12 months, but with the stand-off having escalated into armed aggression, he is ready for all eventualities and may even involve the frontier policeman who may have to come and support the city police.

Tourist police and police in the area will protect and take care of tourist security. The police from all 24 districts have called for a meeting on how to protect and give security to the tourists in this crisis, especially those from America and Iraq. Chiang Mai, however, has had no sign of terrorist intrusions.


Thai-Cambodia relationships improving, says PM

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said that the relationship between Thailand and Cambodia is improving, after the tension which occurred last month.

PM Thaksin explained that now the Cambodian leadership has assured Thai people that they will be safe when visiting his country. Cambodia has already started to broadcast Thai soap operas and regular television programs, as they had done before the civil violence erupted.

However, the prime minister insisted that he does not want to see Thai people going to Cambodia just to visit the casinos. Those who want to visit Cambodia must now have their personal identification documents with them at all times, and are requested to behave correctly in the neighboring country.

Thailand and Cambodia had a severe clash earlier this year, which caused the two countries to close the border checkpoints, and Cambodia had banned all Thai television programs in its country as part of the tensions.


Liquor protestors have their say

Sit-in has now ended

Autsadaporn Kamthai

The 5,000 members of the Northern Local Liquor Network, who had camped in front of the Chiang Mai City Hall for 6 days, went back home after the secretary of finance and the minister and director of the Excise Department accepted their proposals for further discussion.

The protesters gave the secretary of finance their proposal, and satisfied that it was accepted, they all went home.

In the Chiang Mai City Hall, Sutha Chunsang, the secretary of Finance; Sathit Limpongpun, director of the Excise Department; Bawon Rattanaprasit and Parinya Parnthong, Chiang Mai deputy governors, discussed the problems with 23 leaders and representatives of both Northern and Northeastern Local Liquor Networks.

Local Liquor Network representatives submitted proposals that ask the government to abolish certain resolutions, made on January 21st by the ministerial council, and to abolish the 4th announcement of the Ministry of Finance 2003, and to support liquor research and development.

The director of the Excise Department said that his department had a policy to support local liquor by allowing communities to independently produce liquors for the first time. Now there are thousands of people asking for permission to produce fermented liquors, and 500 of them wish to produce distilled liquors.

It was claimed that all of the protesters obey the law, pay taxes, and use products in accordance with the standards required by the Excise Department, the Ministry of Health, and other associated organizations. However, if there are any defects in the pronouncements of Ministry of Finance, the people have the right to ask for changes.

The protest ended with the secretary of the Finance Minister and his people accepting their proposals for discussion during the next cabinet conference, presided over by the Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, on April 1st.


Two ya ba dealers killed and 150 thousand pills discovered

The Pha Muang Special Task Force has informed the Chiangmai Mail that 2 ya ba dealers have been killed and 150 thousand amphetamine pills recovered in a raid at Pa Sang Ngam Village in Mae Sai.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Wut Vititanon, commander Chiang Rai Provincial Police, and Col. Nakhon Presertsook, the deputy commander of the 5th Calvary Regiment, Pha Muang Special Task Force said that the Pha Muang Special Task Force exchanged fire with drug dealers at Pa Sang Ngam village and 2 dealers were killed in the fire. They were later identified as alien laborers from Burma, known only as Ayee and Alao. The officers also seized the haul of amphetamine pills, 2 hand grenades, and a motorbike.

Police followed the case to the dealers’ employer and found 52,000 pills covered by melted bee wax and hidden in a pig farm. Police arrested the guard, Kamla, and confiscated the property, which included 50 rai of land, plus account books, fishponds, a pig farm, and other property totally around 10 million baht.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Wut said that the drug syndicates had complicated networks and had been trafficking in drugs for a long time, often using new methods for each delivery. He said the local people and drug suppression forces have to cooperate to stamp out the drug industry.


Young hoodlum gangs run riot

One innocent victim killed and two others injured

Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai

A well known restaurant on Phaholyothin Road in Muang District, Lampang was the venue for the latest young gangland shootout. Police were alerted of the situation and were present at the scene minutes after the fracas.

Apparently one gang was defeated, and so they ran off, to return with a firearm. Indiscriminate shooting occurred which resulted in three patrons of the restaurant being hit by bullets. The injured were Sumet Lekvaitool, 26 years old and Amerit Aunguen, 21 years old. Both were shot in the stomach, and their condition is described as serious.

The third victim, Mrs. Sawokemollawan Maneeyos was shot three times in the shoulder and chest and died later at the hospital.

Police investigation turned up Ram Latalu, 21 who was very quickly arrested after he confessed that he was the gunman.


Expat horn player gets off on the wrong beat with local drummer boys

A new version of “Battle of the Bands”?

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Thapae Walking Street is the center for all types of activities on any Sunday. Last weekend had an additional attraction with an expat horn blower having an altercation with some Thai percussionists, just to be sociable!

Horns and drums apparently don’t mix, especially if different styles of music are being played by people from different cultures. Can’t we all just get along?

The fracas was caused by the inability of the horn blower to get into the rhythm of the Northern Thai drums being played by the young lads in front of him. Or perhaps it was vice versa! Questions on the musical ability of either party on the horn, or the drum, were raised, as well as doubts as to whether the musicians’ parents were legally married. The conundrum was eventually solved by officers of the municipality. There were no reports of physical injures, although some passers by complained of ear pain.


Omkoi District’s drug problem reduced by 50% through public cooperation

District chief proud of achievement

By Nuttanee Thaveephol

Omkoi District’s drug problem has been reduced by 50%, much of this due to public unity and cooperation, said Omkoi District Chief Somchai Rungsakorn.

Somchai said that 66 out of 95 villages had been facing serious drug problems before the government’s war on drugs became effective. As a result of the anti-drug campaign, the drug problem in the district has now been reduced by 50 percent. The data shows that there are now 33 villages considered ‘clean’ and drug free. 34 dealers have already been arrested, which also exceeded the officials’ expectations.

The district chief said that this is a result of the local people’s awareness and cooperation with the drug suppression officers. In addition, more than 3,500 hill tribe villagers have declared war against drugs among their own people, also promising not to become involved themselves in any drug-related activity.

“Nowadays, each village has 20-25 anti-drug volunteers responsible for drug prevention and suppression, and 1 volunteer has been assigned to look after 10-20 houses. Although the officers have achieved a much better result than ever expected, we will strictly follow the drug suppression policy, to continue to apply pressure on the drug syndicates,” said Somchai.

The people in Omkoi District also collaborated well with the government officers, as local residents from more than 5 villages immediately destroyed opium fields found in their areas.


Authorities confiscate 5.9 million baht in Lamphun

Twice as many addicts turn themselves in as was expected

Ampai Kuntawong

Lamphun Governor Thawat Sateinnam released the latest results of the ongoing drug suppression campaign in his region. During the period 1st of January until 19th of March, the drug suppression operation center in Lamphun arrested 371 drug traders, from an estimated total of 555 suspected dealers.

According to the information received from the governor, 609 drug traders have voluntarily surrendered to the authorities, plus an additional 14 drug dealers have been killed. Suspected drug users on the blacklist number 2,777; however, the number of users voluntarily reporting themselves was in fact nearly twice as high as originally anticipated (4,585). Another 44 drug users were caught, and one has been killed.

Selected addicts who show their good will and come to the police voluntarily will be eligible to attend rehabilitation camps following the “Do merit for your country” objective.

The Lamphun Provincial Police also confiscated a number of items during the ongoing campaign, including 6 cars, 2 motorcycles, a cement mixer, 1 motor, 2 land titles, a number of mobile phones, guns, account books, gold necklaces, and cash. The total value of all goods was estimated to be 5.9 million baht.


Chiang Rai’s Wieng Pa Pao District ‘over target’ on drug suppression

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Wieng Pa Pao District has become the first area in Chiang Rai to achieve a success rate of over 100% in drug suppression, says Chamnarn Klinhom, Wieng Pa Pao District Public Health assistant officer.

He said that the cooperation from every organization involved made it possible to become the first area from all Chiang Rai’s 16 districts and 2 sub-districts to post 105% success figures.

Wisit Sittisombat, Wieng Pa Pao district chief, said that the district office opened 24-hour drug checkpoints at Baan Santisook and Baan Pong, to intercept any drugs delivered from the hills to the plains. This operation caused extreme difficulties for traffickers of amphetamines from the hill tribe villages to Mae Suay District, Chiang Rai and Fang District of Chiang Mai.

The district chief believes that the suppression of major drug syndicates will result in increased numbers of addicts requiring treatment. Wisit also presided over a drug treatment course by leading more than 100 addicts to join a treatment project at Wieng Pa Pao Wittayakom School.


Bulletproof vests being supplied by Chiang Mai PAO as drug war heats up

Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai

The Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) of Chiang Mai has allocated a budget of over 3 million baht to buy bulletproof jackets for Region 5 border police.

Udonpan Jantaraviroj, Chiang Mai PAO chief executive, said they have responded to the government’s ‘War on Drugs’ by fighting against, and publicizing the dangers of, drug abuse.

The chief executive said that he has asked for permission to provide 200 bulletproof jackets, at a cost of 16,000 baht each, with 3 jackets to be given to every police station. In special and particularly dangerous areas such as stations located near the border, 10 jackets will be provided.


Chiang Mai police prepared for all Iraq war situations

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Pol. Maj. Gen. Kasem Rattanasoontorn, the Chiang Mai Provincial Police Commissioner, said that provincial police officers have been prepared to cope with any scenario occurring as a side effect from the war in Iraq. 136 Chiang Mai police officers have had training on how to deal with all eventualities.

Security officers guarding the Chiang Mai American Consulate, Wang Singha Kam Road, where all traffic is prohibited between midnight and 6 a.m.

The security guards are divided into various sections, with the Tourist Police taking responsibility for the safety of tourists, and the “Disorder Suppression Officers” responding to the American Consulate here in Chiang Mai, where 30 officers from the Lamphun force have been requested to help with manning the team.

During the ongoing war in Iraq, no vehicles are allowed to pass in front of the American Consulate on Wang Singha Kam Road from midnight to 6 a.m., in order to maintain security.

The commissioner said that there are security guards covering 24 hours each day. If there is an unusual event too great for their resources, the police will ask the military for help.

24-hour security has also been instituted at Chiang Mai International Airport. Pol. Maj. Gen. Kasem insisted, however, that the police would be immediately able to cope with any unusual situation.