Vol. II No. 18 Saturday 3 May - 9 May 2003
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Kingdom of Thailand celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) May 5

SARS - a triumph for WHO’s Public Health initiatives

Tourism will recover after SARS ends

Stone axes found on Doi Phu Sang

Entertainment industry wants venues to stay open later

Food’s good, says Provincial Public Health Office

Water, water everywhere ... after Songkran

Transportation seminar in Chiang Rai this weekend

Ceramic producers in Lampang form cooperative

Should October 14th be a national holiday?

Charter flight company gaining from SARS

Chiang Mai to become ‘Wellness’ destination

One Tambon - One Product to be promoted overseas

Lao Airline pushing Luang Prabang

Royal artificial rain being used to combat forest fires

Chiang Mai Neurological Hospital opens new wards

Mae Hong Son’s forests are disappearing

ONCB seminar told small fry have been fried

Flood and drought problems to be overcome in Phrae

Government to wage war on illegal alien workers

20 Burmese illegal immigrants arrested

Kingdom of Thailand celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) May 5

Monday, May 5 marks the 53rd anniversary of the Coronation of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great. The day is celebrated as a national holiday, and all government offices and commercial banks will observe the day (close).

Whist being crowned King of Thailand, the 9th in the Chakri Dynasty (Rama IX), His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great took a sacred oath to rule with Righteousness, for the Benefit and Happiness of the Siamese People, which He has done magnificently, garnering tremendous respect from His people. King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, the longest reigning monarch in the world. Long Live the King!

Each year on the 5th of May, the Kingdom of Thailand commemorates the day when, in 1950, the Coronation Ceremony was held for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, the 9th in the Chakri Dynasty (Rama IX).

His Majesty the King, after studying in Europe, returned to Thailand and was crowned King during an elaborate and highly intricate ceremony that out lavished all previous coronations in Thailand.

A week prior to His being crowned King, on April 28, 1950, H.M. King Bhumibol and Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitayakara were married. Following the Coronation the King returned to Switzerland to continue studying.

The Coronation Ceremony reinforces the stature of the Kings of Thailand. The first such elaborate ceremony was performed when Pho Khun Phamuang succeeded Pho Khun Bangklangthao as the ruling King of Muang Sukhothai. Phaya Lithai, a former leader in Sukhothai, left a historical record in stone describing the coronation ceremony in Sukhothai at Wat Srikhum.

In the beginning of the Ratanakosin era, the first King in the Chakri Dynasty (King Buddha Yot Fa Chulalokmaharach) took the title of Rama I and moved the capital of Siam from Thonburi to the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, and constructed Krung Ratanakosin (Bangkok). In the process of building the Royal Palace and Wat Prakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) the first King in the House of Chakri refined the coronation ceremony, establishing important protocol that has lasted to this day. All Kings to follow not undergoing the coronation ceremony would be unable to assume the term "Phrabat" in front of the King’s title of "Somdej Phrachaoyuhua", and more significantly, the symbol of the nine-tiered umbrella would also not be permissible or officially recognized.

The elaborate coronation ceremony of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great included all the ancient rituals required for assuming the full title and the nine-tiered umbrella. King Bhumibol Adulyadej then bestowed the honor posthumously on His brother King Ananda Mahidol. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s benevolent act raised King Ananda Mahidol’s regal status from seven to a nine-tiered umbrella.

During the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV), Buddhist monks and Brahmin priests were incorporated into the coronation ceremony to conduct rituals to sanctify the auspicious occasion. Previously the ceremony was arranged and conducted by the Royal Palace staff and members of the Royal Household.

The annual coronation ceremony is currently a three -day affair, starting with a ritual "tham bun" ceremony on May 3 to honor the King’s ancestors. Later on the first day, another ceremony is performed, whereby flags of honor are issued to distinguish various military units.

The following day, Buddhist ceremonies continue with chanting rituals, prayers and Brahman priests announcing the auspicious occasion forthcoming the next day (May 5).

On the 5th of May, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX) conducts a merit making ceremony, presenting offerings to Buddhist monks, and leads a "Wienthien" ceremony, walking three times around sacred grounds at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

In the evening the King conducts another sacred ceremony: changing the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian symbol protecting the Thai people, which was transferred from Thonburi to Wat Phra Kaew by Rama I.

Many rooms in the Royal Palace are opened for public viewing on Coronation Day. Auspicious ceremonies are performed and displays depicting Royal achievements are exhibited to reconfirm the King’s stature.


SARS - a triumph for WHO’s Public Health initiatives

But a failure in responsible public information

by Dr Iain Corness

At a meeting with the media in Bangkok, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive director of Communicable Diseases Cluster, Dr. David Heymann, spoke on the containment measures that have seen the transmission of SARS decline world-wide, other than perhaps in China. Vietnam was cited as being the first country to be removed from the list of countries with local transmission of SARS. However, he also stated that, "The public has perceived a far greater risk than there actually is." In addition, Dr. Heymann said, "International travel should continue at its normal rate."

Unfortunately, following the Global Alert given by the WHO on March 15th this year, as much misinformation as factual reporting has been given to the general public. Concepts that flying in airplanes can give the SARS virus to travellers have been fuelled by reports of previously well travellers claiming to have caught the virus in flight. The actual number of these cases range between three to five to fifteen, depending upon whose reports one reads; however, as pointed out by Warren Gerig, the General Manager for Thailand and Indochina for United Airlines, since the initial SARS outbreak, over 200 million people have flown around the world. Even with the worst case scenario, 15 cases out of 200 million travellers is an infinitesimal risk. But the public are now too afraid to travel, with catastrophic results for the tourism industry.

Dr. Heymann admitted that there was a great deal of difference between the real and perceived risk, but said that the function of the WHO was to monitor and contain disease entities, rather than disseminate information to the public. At the meeting with the media held in Bangkok he did say that he had spoken on this incorrect perception with some US based media groups, but felt that it was the media that had to correct the public misconceptions, while agreeing that, "Individuals have a very low risk of this disease." This is in line with the reports from UK based Infectious Diseases specialist, Professor Roy Anderson, who has stated that SARS is not a very contagious form of influenza.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Heymann said, "The press has been responsible in its reporting (of SARS)" but as regards the public misconception of the disease, he was obviously less prepared to deal with this aspect. While Dr. Heymann may like to attempt to shift the responsibility back on to the media, it is the media’s function to report the happenings in the world, not to adjudicate or speculate upon the outcomes.

To bring the SARS outbreak into correct perspective, malaria claims more than one million people every year, but does not receive the same degree of public information saturation. It is the WHO that informs the media of world health problems. It is now time for the WHO to make some initiatives to inform the public of the low health risks and by doing so, resuscitate the very sick world tourism industry, a side effect of its treatment of the minor (in global terms) SARS disease, which has claimed fewer than 400 people.


Tourism will recover after SARS ends

Government position explained

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Permanent secretary of the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Chadej Insawang said tourism in Thailand would recover when the SARS epidemic stops spreading. "Although Thailand is SARS free as the government has announced, we have been affected in all sectors, especially in tourism. Numbers of inbound tourists have canceled their trips to Thailand indefinitely. All we can do is to assure them that Thailand is totally free of SARS," he said.

As to future projects to be launched after the ending of SARS, "There might be special discounts and promotions in each hotel to attract foreign tourists to return to Thailand" Chadej said.

"All tourism sectors should be prepared to handle the situation because we do not know when it will be over," he added. He was of the opinion that all the hotel campaigns and promotions will pull them out of the recession situation but it is hoped the SARS situations will be under control very soon.


Stone axes found on Doi Phu Sang

Dropped 4,000 years ago, but picked up now!

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Archeology Project at Thammasart University has found evidence of a stone axe industry more than 4,000 years old in Nan Province. The archaeology students and community representatives surveyed Doi Phu Sang in Tambon Na Sao, Muang District, Nan. They found historical and archaeological remains, including stone axes and unfinished materials.

Experts suspect that these are clues to the existence of human civilizations 4,000 years ago and that these ancient peoples created the equipment for hunting animals and agricultural activities.

Experts also think that in the past Doi Phu Sang may have been the center of a stone axe industry. Axe head stones can be found over more than 60 percent of the mountain area. Many of the historical stones are still in good condition.

The team also found volcanic stones, from which it can be assumed that Doi Phu Sang used to be a volcano one million years ago.

Local organizations plan to collect these historical stone axes and set up a museum as another tourist attraction.


Entertainment industry wants venues to stay open later

Government weighing up pros and cons, but don’t expect change to come soon

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The House Committee on Tourism inspected tourist nightspots in Chiang Mai City as part of a Thailand wide study on allowing for later closing times for the entertainment venues. Many provinces, Chiang Mai included, want to extend the nationally imposed closing time from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Suraphol Kiatchaiyakorn, chairman of the House Committee on Tourism, disclosed that this recent Chiang Mai visit was to follow up first hand information and look for possible problems in the sectors concerned. These facts would be collected for further study for both advantages and disadvantages on the proposed 4 a.m. closure.

For example, would it be good for tourism and the economy, but would it affect the social order?

Chiang Mai is the second province to be studied, after Phuket. The next on the list for the House Committee on Tourism are Pattaya and Hat Yai. After that, the information would be presented to the government within 90 days.


Food’s good, says Provincial Public Health Office

Only one case of contamination found

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office has taken up screening food for contaminants in all Chiang Mai markets.

Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook looks over some meat during his investigation for contaminated foods.

Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook this past week led his officials into the marketplaces around town to select items to examine, searching for prohibited substances used to make food look more attractive. These include salbutamol, sodium borate, sodium hydrosulfite, dithionite, and other toxic chemicals.

12 fresh markets and 9 department stores in Chiang Mai were visited, starting at Siriwatthana Market or Kad Thanin. Initial results found only one meatball in Om Koi District with traces of sodium borate.

Manorom Sinthapha-archakul, deputy chief of Chiang Mai Public Health Office’s Consumer Protection Committee, stated that the food in the Om Koi case would be sent for further examination, and that officials would seek more details as to where it was manufactured.

The office released figures showing that since 1999, contamination has fallen from 7.56 percent to only 1 percent this year. "We are going to continue to examine for contaminants and prohibited food additives in many places. If we find some poisoning or contaminated food, we will pursue the manufacturers," said Manorom.


Water, water everywhere ... after Songkran

But mainly from leaking pipes

Supatatt Dangkrueng

69 deteriorated water pipes are scheduled for repair following recent breakages, said Thammasak Tiensawat, director of Public Waterworks, Zone 9 Chiang Mai. This project is continuing from last year, and includes renewing old pipes in many areas. This year’s project started after Songkran and planners predict it will be finished by the end of September.

Thammasak said that the old cement pipes were very often breaking, and government has allocated a budget of 50 million baht to solve this problem.

During the restructuring there may be temporary inconvenience for people nearby the construction area.

More information can be obtained from Chiang Mai Waterworks at 053 233 479 and 1662.


Transportation seminar in Chiang Rai this weekend

Autsadaporn Kamthai

A strong roll-up of people in tourism-related businesses will take part in a seminar this weekend promoted by the Tourism Federation of Thailand. Chiang Rai will host the seminar with organizer Chulaphant Sittiwongse, the president of Chiang Rai Tourist Business Association, saying that interest has been very strong.

Chulaphant stated that the venue is the Rim Kok Resort Hotel (Chiang Rai) and the regional seminar on May 3 is titled Air Transportation Network and Regional Aviation Hub, with Vichit na Ranong, the president of the Tourism Federation of Thailand, being another of the organizers.

The seminar will be addressed by Sonthaya Khunpluem, Minister of Tourism and Sports, who will give a special lecture on the topic of "Aviation Policy and Tourism Promotion".


Ceramic producers in Lampang form cooperative

Fighting competition from China and Vietnam

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Anusit Phuwaseth, Lampang Chamber of Commerce president, said that Lampang ceramic producers have formed a cooperative called Lampang Ceramic Cluster Development Group (CCDG) since the ceramic industry in the province has to contend with other competitors in foreign markets.

In the cooperative, the members will give each other business assistance, exchange knowledge, techniques and technology in production of the ceramic products.

"The CCDG has been given a 5 million baht budget and support from the government and the Industrial Finance Corporation of Thailand (IFCT), and Lampang Province also provides ceramic specialists and operational techniques for training," Anusit said.

Lampang ceramics are exported to Europe, the United States, Asia and Japan. Last year, Lampang gained 4 billion baht from export trading and this year, he was sure that the province would increase this to 5 billion baht.

However, CCDG is concerned that Vietnam and China will become new competitors for Thailand’s producers, since the former have developed their products’ qualities to be accepted worldwide, and offer them at cheap prices.


Should October 14th be a national holiday?

Government under pressure from democracy groups

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Many private organizations are working to push the government into setting October 14th each year as a national holiday to remind the country of the brave students who ended up losing their lives in the name of freedom.

The organizations include the Democrat Organization, the Committee Fighting for Democracy, Federation of Thailand Students, October Network Organization and a group representing the students’ relatives. All these organizations recently participated in a meeting to organize the 30th anniversary of the October 14 uprising.

This event, held each year, has as its primary aims to remind the people of Thailand of the students who sacrificed themselves in an attempt to bring real democracy to the country.

One of the leaders of the Committee Fighting for Democracy, Suwinai Wankaew said, "At the meeting it was agreed to set up a new group of our representatives to work with government in holding the event marking the 30th anniversary of October 14. This year’s event will remind the new generation to think and thank those heroes and heroines who fought for democracy in Thailand."

Participants at the meeting also agreed to push for October 14th to become a national holiday of remembrance. "Many heroes and heroines died on October 14. They should not be forgotten," said Suwinai.

Other items discussed and agreed were that the events of October 14th, 1973 and October 6th, 1976 must be put in the school history books so that students have a chance to know what happened in the past.

The government claims that these events are of national importance but there is nothing to be seen to verify this. The feeling of the meeting was that it was only fitting that history should be written in the school curriculum and the date be designated as a national holiday.


Charter flight company gaining from SARS

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Jen Channarong, managing director of Siam G.E., a charter flight company, said that the spread of SARS has increased their business. Although the company has run operations for only 6 months, the number of clients during April increased 30% compared with the previous month.

Since the media hype began about SARS, people appear to prefer traveling on charter flights because it gives them privacy and they feel less at risk of catching SARS from other passengers, even though this mode of transfer is not very great.

Siam G.E. also says their passengers arrive at their destinations faster than regular commercial flights since the charter plane does not land at main airports so that their passengers do not have to wait in line for SARS checks at the airport. "People’s fear of being infected with SARS and terrorism has increased our business to 20 flight reservations per month."

Regular routes include Chiang Mai, Phuket, Kanchanaburi, Hua Hin, and industrial estates. Jen said that there is not much competition in the charter flight business, and most of their customers are foreigners, with 60% businessmen and 40% tourists.

Charters, including service charges, cost 30,000 baht per hour and the planes have 12-14 seat capacities.


Chiang Mai to become ‘Wellness’ destination

If it achieves healthy standards

Phitsanu Thepthong and Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Department of Health Services Support wants to develop health services and related businesses in this region, with Chiang Mai designated as the pilot project for Thailand’s Northern Wellness Destination, according to Director General Dr Narongsak Angkhasuwaphala.

Director-General of the Department of Public Services Support, Dr Narongsak Angkhasuwaphala.v

He told Chiangmai Mail that Chiang Mai should become ready to realize its high potential for health services, hospitals, clinics, resorts and spas, transportation, communications, tourist spots, golf course and other facilities, provided they reach world class levels.

The director general added that this government policy could really help boost health services related businesses with "tourism packages" to promote various health products.

The workshop, held at the Northern Heritage Resort and Spa, titled "Chiang Mai as Thailand’s Northern Wellness Destination" was about the promotional package. Director General Dr Narongsak chaired the workshop, and 70 representatives from government organizations and private sectors participated.

Dr Narongsak said that Northern Thailand has high tourism potential, incorporating spas, hospitals, medical checkups and other health related endeavors. "Chiang Mai City has several educational institutes, universities, and medical scientific centers to support this strategy," he said.

"If there are any products that are not up to standard, we have institutes, like Chiang Mai University, Scientific Services Center, Pharmacy faculty and other various academic and technical institutes that could help upgrading," he said.

This Chiang Mai integrated strategy was formulated by a working committee led by Chiang Mai Governor Pisit Khetphasook, and Dr Wuthikrai Mungmai, chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health, with representatives from the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Airways International, and tourism-related business operators.

Dr Wuthikrai Mungmai, chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, believes that tourist numbers would be increased if Chiang Mai had world standard health services.


One Tambon - One Product to be promoted overseas

20,000 million baht income predicted

Autsadaporn Kamthai

The Thai government is urging that products from the One Tambon - One Product scheme be sold in international markets, aiming to counter financial problems within poorer villagers.

Rachen Pojanasunthorn, director general of the Foreign Trade Department, stated that the government is pushing these products to foreign markets to serve a demand for locally produced Thai goods. About 700 categories of these products include personal items, ornaments and home utensils, with the main markets for the scheme’s products being Japan, Europe and the United States.

Within the first year, the scheme’s products have brought 1 billion baht in revenue into the country. In the future, it is hoped that the products will earn the country up to 20 billion baht.

The Foreign Trade Department has categorized the products into a Generalized System of Preference (GSP) from Asian markets, Japan, USA, and Europe. Thai herbal products have gained GSP from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, USA and Europe by becoming import tax exempt. Thai wooden products are also gaining tax exemption from Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and USA.


Lao Airline pushing Luang Prabang

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Lao Airline (formerly Lao Aviation) and the Villa Santi Hotel & Resort launched their Summer Package 2003 this week.

Chantara Sisounonh, the general manager of Lao Airline in Chiang Mai, said that they jointly organized the package to encourage tourists to travel to Laos during the low season from now to September 30.

Lao Aviation has changed its name to Lao Airline now that the company would begin to use the AirBus 320 planes on all international routes.

The Summer Package 2003 is a special joint promotion program and includes Lao Airline’s round trip air ticket fare, airport transfer in Luang Prabang and 2 nights accommodation at the deluxe room of Villa Santi Hotel and Resort said Pany Saignavongs, director of sales and marketing.

Miss Pany said the Villa Santi Hotel, located in the heart of Luang Prabang with its French colonial style mansion, has 23 deluxe and 2 suite rooms available for all visitors while the Villa Santi Resort, 6 km drive from Luang Prabang and on its soft opening period, provides 48 deluxe, 1 suite and 6 villas. The clients could choose between staying at the Villa Santi Hotel or Resort since both venues are offered at the same price.


Royal artificial rain being used to combat forest fires

Autsadaporn Kamthai

The Royal Artificial Rain Making Operations Office was set up in Mae Hong Son to combat the forest fires frequently occurring in this northern province, according Saneh Warid, advisor to the Royal Artificial Rain Making Operations Office based in Chiang Mai.

The branch office has already produced artificial rain 3 times in the Mae La Noi and Mae Sariang districts. The office has also found that Mooing, Pay and Pang Ma Phi districts are suitable for making artificial rain. However, to generate the rain in these 3 areas, the office has to wait for rain bearing clouds moving from Burma across the province.

Artificial rain falls in a 5-10 km. radius. It also takes 70,000-80,000 baht per day to make the artificial rain. Saneh also mentioned there are some problems associated with making artificial rain, particularly the province’s humidity sometimes not being suitable. However, at present, humidity in Mae Hong Son is at 40-50%, which is enough for production of the artificial rains.


Chiang Mai Neurological Hospital opens new wards

Stroke on the increase in the north

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Chiang Mai Neurological Hospital has opened an 8-storey wing to treat the increasing numbers of stroke victims in the region. Dr Saree Tuchinda, director general of the Medical Services Department, presided over the opening ceremony of the new building.

Dr. Saree said that the number of patients with neurological disease is increasing by at least 10% each year. Patients with burst blood vessels in the brain have increased by 50% to over 30,000 being treated in the hospital.

Dr Saree said that neurological hospitals in Thailand were researching the risk factors causing the blood vessel disease and are actively looking for answers for the resulting paralysis. It is felt that one reason for the increase in the North could be the consumption of foods containing high lipid and cholesterol, such as Hang Lay northern curry, and kaeb moo or pork skin crisps.


Mae Hong Son’s forests are disappearing

Can’t see the wood for the trees?

Autsadaporn Kamthai

There is only 78% of forest left in Mae Hong Son Province, according to Supoj Laowansiri, Mae Hong Son’s governor, after a forest inspection in Mae Hong Son areas. The reasons given include government officials, residents and investors employing villagers in the areas to poach the trees, then selling them for a hefty profit.

To counteract the logging problem, the province has launched a natural resources conservation policy to be followed by officials in all areas, with assistance from residents who will keep a lookout for poaching and smuggling in their areas and report back to officialdom.

Two villages in Mae Hong Son, Du La Per Village in Sob Moei District and Mae Ki in Khun Yuam District, have been notable in that they have been able to control and prevent deforestation in their areas.

Governor Supoj suggested that all villages in the province should use these two villages as models and overcome their illegal logging problems.


ONCB seminar told small fry have been fried

But only 20% of big fish have been landed

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Seree Thawilwang, the advisor to the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), presided over a seminar at Lanna Palace hotel, Chiang Mai looking at the results of the drug suppression. 103 high-ranking police and civil servants attended the seminar.

Seree stated that the seminar would enable the police to act more quickly on confiscation as previously police could only submit the case to the ONCB.

During the 3 months drug suppression, the office had set the confiscation goal at 2 billion baht and have now set a new target of 10 billion baht by December 2.

Pittaya Jinawat, ONCB Northern Region office director, declared that the latest developments and progress of drug suppression in 17 northern provinces were excellent, with 12,000 people arrested, 90% of the 13,000 people targeted.

15,000 drug dealers surrendered to officials and authorities. Surprisingly, 83,000 drug addicts voluntarily reported themselves to the officials when the target was only 80,000 people.

While the net has brought up the lesser players in the drug business, the result within government official sections is not so good. Only around 100 officials have been punished of the 487 officials suspected of being involved with drugs. This is only 20% of the officials under suspicion. The 200 remaining include village headmen, police, teachers, and other officials. The National Drug Suppression Operations Center has asked for assistance from head office to arrest these officials.


Flood and drought problems to be overcome in Phrae

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Dr. Tossaporn Serirak, Phrae Member of Parliament, believes he has the solution to the floods during rainy season. Although many government organizations have tried to solve these problems despite the Irrigation Department’s drainage canal and reservoir constructions plus the streets built by State Highway Department, the flooding continues unabated.

He said that floods are caused by the new estates blocking the waterways resulting in floods during winter season as the water could not drain easily in to irrigational canals. This drainage problem causes flash floods.

The solution is to build small reservoirs blocking the Yom River to produce irrigation water for agriculture during the dry season, as well as containing the water during the winter floods. "This solution can help prevent floods and fix drought problems in this province in the long term," said MP Dr. Tossaporn.


Government to wage war on illegal alien workers

New project after drug suppression?

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Thai government has launched a war on illegal alien workers. Deputy police chief of the National Thai Police Office, Pol Gen Thawatchai Pailee, acting president of the Sub-committee on Investigation and Suppression of Alien Workers said that the government operation would decrease the numbers of illegal workers. "The operation team will be strict on employers, entrepreneurs and persons who illegally smuggle them and accommodate those aliens in Thailand. Although this operation might not put down 100 percent or find all the illegal alien workers, at least the number will be decreased," said the deputy police chief.

Deputy Prime Minister Korn Dabbharangsri said during his recent visit to Chiang Mai that Thailand should bring all illegal alien employees under control. He added that illegal workers cause social problems including drugs, crimes and disease epidemics. "If necessary, employers should register their alien laborers with and report to authorities," he said.


20 Burmese illegal immigrants arrested

But what about the local agent?

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai Tourist Police arrested 20 illegal Burmese immigrants hiding in Chiang Mai City during the Songkran festival. Police said that 12 women and 8 men had been arrested in Tambon Mae Hia, Muang District, Chiang Mai.

During the festival, the aliens entered the country from Burma coming through Thailand’s Mae Sot border checkpoint in Tak Province. Following entry, they were hidden in the house of a Thai agent who sheltered them before they were to be sent to work in Bangkok, Phitsanulok and Rayong provinces.

All the aliens confessed that they paid 4,000 baht each to the agent for an opportunity to work in Thailand and they entered Thailand amongst the crowds of people visiting the district during the festival.

Pol Maj Archayon Kraithong, Chiang Mai tourist police inspector said that tightened screening at the border checkpoints, especially in Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai Province and Mae Sot in Tak Province had produced good results.



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