Lampang officials arrested
on drug charges
Bail application opposed by police
Police have arrested Phanom Supanek and his assistants,
who were charged with drug dealing and highway tax sticker fraud, at a
resort in Hang Dong District, Chiang Mai, May 19.
have arrested Phanom Supanek (right) and his assistants, who were charged
with drug dealing and highway tax sticker fraud, at a Resort in Hang Dong
district, Chiang Mai, May 19.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Preawphan Damaphong, the assistant
commissioner of the Royal Thai Police Department, together with Pol. Col.
Perapan Premaputi, the general secretary of the Anti Money Laundering
Office, announced the arrest of Phanom Supanek, a member of Lampang
Provincial Council, and his assistants Tiwa Prompong and Paiboon Mahatham.
"He is an important and influential person, and at this moment I can’t
mention just how far his network expands," said Pol. Lt. Gen Preawphan.
The officers also found 2 shotguns with shells, 2 armored
vests, a car, and cash amounting to 60,000 baht during the arrest.
Phanom’s brother Mana Supanek, along with his lawyer,
intend to apply for bail, rejecting all accusations, and said he would give
testimony in court. In addition, Mana claimed that his brother was in
contact with the commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5 indicating he
"Phanom planned to go to Bangkok and came back with
his lawyer to surrender, but it was too late," Mana said. However,
police have opposed bail for the alleged offenders because it was an
important case, and some material evidence might be removed.
WHO addresses AIDS
in the Asia-Pacific region
The World Health Organization (WHO) held its meeting in
Chiang Mai on HIV/AIDS care from May 12-15, participated in by the country
teams, government organizations (GOs), non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), people living with HIV/AIDS groups and international organizations
from throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The participants met and discussed the issues regarding
the HIV/AIDS policy in the region and new AIDS treatment strategies emerging
for Asian countries, as well as how to include Antiretrovirals (ARV) in
basic HIV care packages in this region.
The goal of the meeting was to develop new strategies to
address the needs of the nearly 7 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the
region - about one sixth of all people living with HIV and AIDS globally.
WHO stated unequivocally that this meeting was
"intended to revisit and build upon strategies discussed at the United
Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS), held in June
2001." At that time, 180 governments and a diverse group of NGO’s
made a collective commitment to address urgent issues of care and treatment
for people living with HIV and AIDS.
All segments of society should be engaged, together with
the international community, to develop national strategies that
"Strengthen health-care systems and address factors regarding the
provision of HIV-related drugs, including antiretroviral treatments."
The governments that signed on the 2001 UNGASS Declaration are now being
held accountable for those commitments
Antiretroviral treatments have turned HIV/AIDS into a
manageable chronic condition in richer countries in recent years, and even
in the developing world, scaling up access to ARVs has been shown to be a
feasible option. In Brazil, 115,000 people were on ARV treatment by
It was estimated that between 1994-2002, 90,962 deaths
have been averted (a 50% decrease in mortality). Median survival of
participants with AIDS increased from 18 months in 1995 to 58 months after
the introduction of antiretroviral treatment. As one of the first countries
in Asia to provide ARVs as part of the standard care package, Thailand’s
current strategy also provides an excellent case study for the process of
scaling-up HIV/AIDS care in the Asia-Pacific.
An increasing number of generic HIV drug manufacturers
are making ARV’s every year, decreasing the yearly costs of the drugs to
around US $300 per person, from previous costs that were more than ten times
higher. Falling drug costs have allowed the Thai Ministry of Public Health
to support 13,000 people with ARV treatment in 2002. The government aims to
support 50,000 people living with HIV/AIDS on treatment by the end of 2004.
Despite falling drug prices, and the availability of ARV’s
in the private medical services of most countries in Asia, effective
treatments still remain beyond the reach of most people who need them. WHO
aims to collaborate with governments and non-governmental groups to make
these drugs more accessible to people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the
Dr. Uton Muchtar Rafei, the regional director for WHO’s
South-East Asia Regional Office in New Delhi, foresees a major challenge
being strengthening the capacity of health care systems in the region’s
most affected countries. He noted that, "WHO advocates including
HIV/AIDS care, including antiretroviral treatment, into national HIV/AIDS
prevention and control policies."
Dr. Shigeru Omi, the regional director for WHO’s
Western Pacific Regional Office added said, "In order to develop
effective and sustainable HIV/AIDS care including antiretroviral treatment,
it is crucial to establish partnerships between public health and medical
services, people living with HIV/AIDS, NGOs and the community at all
This combined stance marks a firm direction for HIV/AIDS
care-related policies, which are now likely to encompass the entire
continuum of care, including services as counseling for people being tested
for HIV infection, established treatments for so-called ‘opportunistic
infections’ that people living with HIV are prone to - as well as
treatment with ARV drugs that attack HIV directly.
Participants arriving for the meeting commented on the
importance of including people affected by HIV/AIDS in this kind of
dialogue. "Having seen so many people in the region - friends,
colleagues and partners - die from lack of adequate treatment, today’s
discussions must translate into action immediately," said Greg Gray,
regional coordinator of the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with
"While inviting affected communities to take part is
an essential step, it is also crucial that we come to the table as equal
partners," he added. Stigma, legal issues, and other humanitarian
concerns remain important topics for discussion within this AIDS care
framework. With respect to all of these critical issues, the regional WHO
consultation will propose concrete recommendations and strategies for the
advancement of HIV policy at national and regional levels.
Thailand to hold 2nd ACD conference in Chiang Mai this June
Thailand is ready to host the Asian Cooperation Dialogue
(ACD) in Chiang Mai June 21-22, says Wittawas Sriwihok, director of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Planning and Policy Office.
The office director said that the 2nd ACD meeting is to
follow up on the work in progress for Asian cooperation among the 18 ACD
The follow-up meeting will be looking at many topics
including the cooperative dimensions of solutions to poverty, energy
stability, agriculture, biotechnology, communication links, environmental
issues, and information technology development.
Thailand has been assigned to be the leader for tourism
cooperation and finance. There is an ACD Tourism Business Forum during May
22-24 this year in Phuket to look at methods of tourism cooperation in Asia.
The tourism issues to be discussed are regional tourism promotions and the
medium and small-scale tourism business after the SARS crisis.
The ACD’s aim is to create unity among the Asian
countries by utilizing the best from each country to strengthen Asian power
in the international arena. ACD countries include 10 ASEAN member countries
and China, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bahrain, and
Saa paper making money for everyone
Saa paper and Saa product manufacturing are projects of
the One Tambon - One Product, in Tambon Suthep Muang, Chiang Mai. The
permanent secretary for the Prime Minister’s Office, Pol. Maj. Gen.
Yongyut Sarasombat, recently visited Chiang Mai to observe the process.
There are 18 members in the manufacturing group and all
of them are wives of airmen in Wing 41. Sommai Choocham, who was trained in
artificial flower making at Suan Chitrladda Occupational Training Center
(Royal Folks Arts and Crafts Center), is the group leader and teaches all
members how to make flowers from Saa paper.
Each member earns 5,000 baht a month from her Saa paper
and products and the group’s products are distributed for sale both
locally and abroad.
Pol. Maj. Gen Yongyut said during his visit that the
government is searching for ways to improve our products’ standards and
find more domestic market outlets, such as petrol stations. Foreign markets
for the One Tambon - One Product scheme, such as the JETRO Organization in
Japan, is also showing great interest in these local products.
Last year, products from the scheme earned the country 12
billion baht and the government has indicated a 20 billion baht target for
this year. The target looks to be obtainable, as during the past 5 months 12
billion baht of the products have been sold already.
Chiang Rai busses in the tourists
Deputy governor says more buses mean more tourists
To promote the province’s tourism, Chiang Rai has
provided more air-conditioned buses to serve tourists traveling between
Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. Sukijja Karunanon, deputy Chiang Rai governor
said that Chiang Rai Provincial Authority has cooperated with Thai
Pattanakij Transportation Company to provide more buses, with the fare set
at 240 baht per person, between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. This service will
commence late May.
Golden Triangle in Chiang Saen District is one of the famous symbols of
"Every year, there are about 1,200,000 passengers to Chiang Rai;
however, if there are facilities provided for the travelers to move between
the two centers, there will be more tourists coming to this country’s
northernmost province," said the deputy governor.
Sato to have national tasting competition
Fermented liquors increasing in popularity
Ekkasak O-charoen, Excise Office Region 5 director,
stated that the Excise Department is organizing national tasting contests
for locally produced fermented Sato.
The first round of the contest was held last month, and
the second will be held in June in Ayutthaya, the third in August in Khon
Kaen and the fourth in September in Chiang Mai.
Collective scores will be taken with the overall result
being announced in Bangkok in November this year. Certificates will be
issued and the Minister of Finance will reward the top 3 winners with
special trophies and certificates.
Ekkasak also said that following the government’s
resolution to allow people to legally produce local liquor, there are now
1,112 people licensed to produce fermented liquors and 495 for distilling
Chiang Mai prepares for APEC
Women gear up to address gender issues
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference (APEC)
on Women’s Leaders’ Network (WLN) will be held July 30 - August 3 this
year at Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel. The topic is "Women Make the World of
Difference: Partnerships for Gender and Development".
Parinya Panthong, Chiang Mai deputy governor and
Associate Prof. Juree Vijitwatakarn, the president of the Public Benefit and
Society Center, participated in the steering committee meeting for the WLN
conference preparation. The topic is aimed at encouraging women leaders, at
any level, to exchange opinions and experiences and cooperate in solving the
problems that come with globalization and free trade.
80 percent of participants are the small and medium sized
entrepreneurs. Assoc. Prof. Juree said that the preparation is well in hand.
Thailand will present issues on women’s lives, domestic and international
cooperation, women’s aid and provide a forum to let the women who have
been successful in business relate their experiences to others.
There will be 500 participants including women leaders
from government, private, academic, and public sectors in 21 economic zones.
Low price Lanna goods at the 9 Weeks Lanna Trend Fair
Featuring: from animal lovers to extravaganza sale
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will arrange the
"9 Weeks Lanna Trend Fair" beginning May 30. It will only be held
between 4-11 p.m. at Kad Choeng Doi fairgrounds each Friday, Saturday, and
Sunday of the 9-week period.
It is hoped the fair will promote Chiang Mai as the
commercial and tourism hub to international markets. Exhibitors will be
encouraged to show new products at the fair, and groups or clubs will have
space to display low priced items.
This fair is expected to attract new small and medium
entrepreneurs that will bring economic development to the region. The local
communities will also gain more sustainable income whilst the products are
distributed to customers.
The first week of the 9 Weeks Lanna Trend Fair has the
theme: animal lovers. The second week is old vehicle lovers and then woven
textiles for the third week, Thai folk song, occidental music, Lanna music
and fruits, and short-movie lovers are for the next weeks. The final week of
the fair will be on July 25-27 with an extravaganza sale and Tiffany
Kad Choeng Doi is located near Chiang Mai University’s
eastern entrance. Interested people can contact the Kad Choeng Doi Office,
Chiang Mai, 053 400 167 or 06 990-3990 for further information.
Cobra Gold 2003 opens at Mae Rim
The Thai and U.S. special armed forces are participating
in Cobra Gold maneuvers, exchanging experience, military tactics, and
maintaining a good relationship between the 2 national armies.
Eric S. Rubin, the U.S. consul-general of Chiang Mai, was
the chairman of the opening ceremony of Cobra Gold 03, on May 16, at the 5th
special force regiment, Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai.
In this training exercise, there were 550 soldiers
participating, 150 from the U.S. special armed force, and 400 Thais.
The field training, running May 1-29, is being held at
the 5th special force regiment in Mae Rim District, at the artillery field
of the 33rd Military Circle, at Chorm Thong District, Chiang Mai, and the
Pra Tupa special field training in Mae Mao District, Lampang.
The two national special armed forces will have a chance
to exchange experiences in military tactics and fighting materials, to
improve their fighting skills, and maintain national relationships.
Restaurant censured for
inappropriate use of Buddha image
The Chiang Mai Buddhist Organization found a Buddha image
being used as a decorative item in a restaurant, and weren’t happy about
it. Wanlop Namwongprom, director of the Chiang Mai Cultural Council and the
vice-president of Chiang Mai Sahatham Association investigated the Kum Nam
Ping Restaurant in Charoenprathet Rd., Tambon Changklan, Muang District,
Chiang Mai and found a Buddha image statue used as a decorative antique and
put inappropriately on the floor.
Buddha image statue, being used as a decorative antique in Kum Nam Ping
Restaurant, was apparently placed in an inappropriate place, raising the ire
of the Chiang Mai Cultural Council director.
Somphong Santisuk, who built the restaurant, said that
the owner of the restaurant, a Mr Aserting, a German businessman, had bought
this statue from Kham Tiang Market, but currently he was abroad.
"It’s a great insult. It’s not in the Buddhist tradition and the
owner shouldn’t say he didn’t know Thai culture," said Wanlop. The
owner has been informed he has seven days to put the statue in an
appropriate area, and he must send a letter of apology to the Buddhist
Elephant camp at Huay Kaew Waterfall meets opposition
A private enterprise plan to set up an elephant camp
business around Huay Kaew Waterfall, close by the most respected and revered
Kruba Sri Vichai statue, has raised some public concerns.
Karun Klaiklung, the chairman of Suthep Tambon
Administration Organization (TAO), Muang District, Chiang Mai said that the
owner of the Elephant Camp, Paitoon Muenthaisong, who used to run an
elephant business in Chiang Mai, was clearing 4 rai of land near the statue,
which is private area.
National Parks officials have inspected the area and
although Paitoon has verbally asked for permission from the Suthep TAO, he
still has not submitted an official letter to the authorities. The TAO is
now temporarily suspending the construction work and process.
On the possibility of running an elephant camp, Karun
said that although the entrepreneur has his rights in the area; he still
needs to be aware of the impacts on community and environment.
The TAO officers have also inspected the area, and are
still concerned over the elimination of elephant dung. Though Paitoon was
convinced that there would not be any negative impacts, the local people
still did not agree with his business project.
Chumporn Sangmanee, Chiang Mai district chief said that
he has been informed, but has not received any letter seeking permission.
"Although there is a legal process for the project and the businessman
has rights in the area, the government would not approve the plan anyway
because of its negative affect on the local communities," said Chumporn.
Second Sai River Bridge going ahead
Construction of the Thai-Burmese Bridge, to be built
across the Sai River, started this week after Thailand and Burma signed a
contract to construct the second Sai River Bridge in Mae Sai bordering
Thachilek Province, Burma.
Charndej Wongcharoen, Chiang Rai Highway District
Engineering chief, said that Thai and Burmese government authorities had
already signed the memorandum of understanding for the 2nd Sai River Bridge,
located in Ban San Pak Hee, Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai.
Charndej said that this construction project is one of
the Thai-Burmese Government Cooperation Projects. The objectives are to join
the transportation route between the two countries, support the borderline
towns development, and promote commerce and tourism. This project will also
foster international relations and bilateral cooperation.
The Chiang Rai Provincial Authority is improving the Thai
border road, to include a parking area and a 2 lane access. 38 million baht
is earmarked for the construction.
The giraffes have been
at it again
Chiang Mai Zoo gets another new baby giraffe
Chiang Mai Zoo was proud grandparents to a baby male
giraffe born on the morning of May 15. The newborn baby is the 6th African
giraffe in Chiang Mai Zoo, and is yet un-named, waiting for its name from
the children who come to the zoo.
The zoo’s new member weighs around 50 kg. Its parents
are Kwanwiang, the only male African giraffe, and mother giraffe, Euang
Phueng. Chan Pha, the baby’s elder brother was sent to Dusit Zoo at the
beginning of the year.
Tanong Nateepitak, the director of Chiang Mai Zoo said
that the little giraffe is the third one born in Chiang Mai and there will
be a fourth one next year. This new baby is especially important, after the
zoo lost the previous baby on December 10 last year.
Chiang Mai police confiscated yet more ya ba plus 5 suspects
Will they never learn?
Drug Suppression Police from Provincial Police Region 5
and the Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division surrounded 5 ya ba dealers at
Makro Superstore and came away with a haul of 344,000 amphetamine pills (ya
Pol. Col. Suthep Dechraksa, deputy commander of Chiang
Mai Provincial Police Division led more than 30 police officers to the scene
after receiving a police tip-off that there would be a drug delivery to
Makro Superstore’s parking area.
The police arrested two Lisu hilltribe persons, Ekapoj
Sirinkulda, 22 years old and Phamorn Hipa, 38 years old. The 2 suspects were
forced to show where they had hidden the stash. In a warehouse, police found
the pills buried in sand.
Following this discovery, police arrested three other
suspects, including Charoen Chairakprangbuddha, 35 years old and his wife
Saisunee, 34. The couple claimed that they were Chinese Haw people living in
Tambon Mae Ngon in Fang district. Pin Pinya, a 33-year-old Thai Yai who was
the warehouse keeper, was also arrested.
Furthermore, police discovered 2 bank accounts containing
230,000 baht, and more than a million baht circulating that belonged to
Mafia bosses watch out
The Northern Provincial Police are watching you
The commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5 has
ordered the eight commanders of the Northern Provincial Police to update
their lists of felons, including those who misappropriate power and water.
Police Region 5 commissioner, Pol Lt. Gen. Prung Boonpadung
Included in these lists are those who control motorcycle
taxis, which in turn are keeping the poor in poverty, and those who hold
mock auctions, domestic robbers and other petty criminals.
The commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5, Pol Lt. Gen. Prung
Boonpadung said that police officers must review their lists of Mafiosi to
present to the National Police Office during May this year. Currently there
are over 100 names on the list.
Alien immigrants agents arrested in Mae Hong Son
No, MIB not involved
Two Thais were arrested, charged with smuggling three
alien immigrants into Mae Hong Son. Pol. Lt. Col. Jetsada Jutopama,
inspector at the Mae Hong Son Immigration Office reported that his
operations team apprehended the two men riding at high speed to the
checkpoint in Ban Pha Bong.
The two Thais were Kwankaew Damrongdhammakeeree and Vinai
Kantima who had brought three Burmese immigrants known as Mon, Mong and Mrs.
Lee into Mae Hong Son.
Kwankaew and Vinai admitted that they were smuggling
Burmese laborers to Khun Yuam District for a fee of 1,500 baht each. This
was the third time they had carried out the illegal ferry run.
The Provincial Immigration Office also confiscated their
two unregistered motorcycles.
Stateless people in Mae Ai still protesting
Reinstatement of Thai citizenship being refused
Following conflicts since December last year between
local people and government officers, 1,143 people in Mae-Ai District in
Chiang Mai have become stateless. Representatives of these people filed a
lawsuit against the Mae Ai district chief who caused them to lose their
rights of citizenship.
The district chief has refused to reinstate Thai
citizenship to these families despite having been told to do so by the Local
Administration Department (LAD).
In December last year about a hundred stateless people
came to Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Court to sue a district chief
of Mae Ai, Thongchai Setthapat, and wanted their rights and citizenship
back. Since then only 10 of the 1,143 people have had their Thai nationality
Parinya Udomsap, from the LAD, said that the special
operation committee assigned the Mae Ai district chief to investigate
stateless people and look for evidence of this fact, and to show they are
Since there has been no progress, the provincial
authorities and the LAD would send their officials to help in the
investigation and to check Thongchai’s work in this case.
Thongchai claimed that the proceedings are not
progressing because the people have insufficient evidence to verify their
nationality. Most of them have only oral evidence that they cannot prove.
Thongchai said there is no persecution with the check;
however the district office is still receiving people’s petitions. If the
stateless people have enough weight of evidence, the Mae Ai District Office
could help them get their Thai nationality back.