TAT admits Tourist
numbers down 40%
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Northern Region 1
says perceptions of a SARS threat have affected northern tourism, reducing
the number of foreign tourists by 40%. Chalermsak Suranan, TAT director,
said that the TAT has turned its focus to tourists from other countries such
as Japan, Australia, European countries, and America that are not directly
affected by SARS.
Inthanon, one of the most famous tourism sites in Chiang Mai used to attract
many tourists before the SARS scare.
To attempt to counteract the downturn, the TAT has
launched the “Unseen in Thailand” project, which includes Unseen Prize,
Unseen Guidebook, and Amazing Thailand Grand Sale as tourist attractions.
Chalermsak also said that Chiang Mai’s tourism income is usually 37
billion baht per year. This amount comes from 3.4 million foreign tourists
and 1.9 million domestic tourists.
Mae Moh villagers demanding over 1 billion baht compensation
Class action suit against EGAT
Phitsanu Thepthong and Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)
is being sued by Mae Moh villagers, who are demanding 1.086 billion baht in
compensation. The Lawyers Council of Thailand has filed the lawsuit on
behalf of the villagers, accusing EGAT of releasing toxic chemicals in Mae
Moh District, Lampang Province, which has affected the villagers’ health.
At Lampang Provincial Court on May 28, Theerasak
Sukhuntot, the chairman of the sub-committee on Environmental Protection,
from the Lawyers Council of Thailand, represented 130 Mae Moh villagers,
accusing EGAT’s lignite mine power plant that it had caused damage to the
environment by creating air pollution with dust, flying ash, sulfur dioxide
and nitrous oxide emissions from the state-run power plant.
It is being claimed that the atmospheric contamination
levels were higher than the accepted maximum standards allowed and these
chemicals endanger human life and plants. Excessive amounts of sulfur
dioxide and dust could cause diseases of the respiratory system.
The villagers had asked EGAT to stop polluting the
environment and producing a health hazard. Theesarak said that this was a
case in which the Lawyers Council of Thailand became involved as a
representative of the people to help assist these poor villagers.
“Although EGAT is a big organization, we are confident that we have enough
evidence to win this case,” he said. “EGAT should pay compensation to
those people, and 1,086 million baht including 7.5% interest is our
demand,” said Theerasak.
However, he noted that the case might take a long time to
come to trial as this was a pauper’s lawsuit, and the court had to prove
whether all the 130 villagers were really poor, said Theerasak. However,
Suphot Hormchuen, the district chief of Mae Moh Government Office told Chiangmai
Mail that the first court hearing has been set for August 4 this year.
It is claimed that EGAT in Mae Moh District used lignite
as fuel to generate electricity and there was no adequate system to filter
out pollutants and clean any emissions released from the plant.
Special Border Economic Zone development continues
However, it’s still facing some problems and obstacles
The Special Border Economic Zone should be further
developed, says the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).
Pornchai Rujiprapa, the deputy secretary-general of NESDB has surveyed Mae
Sai and Chiang Saen districts in Chiang Rai, both of which are important for
Special Border Economic Zone development.
ships in the Mekong River prepare to sail to China.
Rai’s Chiang Saen River port’s new quayside and warehouse is under
While it was also found that the work on this project was
well underway, Pornchai said this should be accelerated, particularly the
Chiang Saen River port, which should be completed this year.
Pachara Sinsawas, Mae Sai Customs Office chief said that
this special economic zone development is still facing some problems and
obstacles. One example of this is the second bridge being built across the
Sai River is too small to serve future commerce and trade in the region.
Sermchai Kittiratanapaiboon, Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce (CRCC)
president said that the government should set up a coordination team with
the aim of attracting more local administrative organizations to participate
in the project. Anan Laodharmatat, a consultant at the CRCC said that if
this Special Economic Zone has few incentives, there will be fewer
businesses prepared to move to this region.
ASEAN and UNESCO promote ASEAN handicrafts
3rd “Best of ASEAN Handicrafts” contest underway
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)
member countries are joining with the United Nations Educational,
Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to hold the 3rd “Best of
ASEAN Handicrafts” contest. The concept is to push Asian handicraft
products to become better known in the global marketplace.
Proponents of this program expect that Asian handicraft
products will be upgraded to the very best production standard while at the
same time considering environmental impact and cultural conservation.
The competitive items must utilize local materials found
or originating in the 10 ASEAN countries. The contest will be divided into
sections covering household equipment, clothes, general utensils, ornaments,
decorations, gifts, and toys.
Winners will receive certificates from UNESCO. Many
interested persons or groups have already sent their entries to the
Industrial Promotion Center Region 1 Office, Chiang Mai during May this
Speeding up government processes
Budgets and projects currently clogged in red tape
A conference on how to speed up government processes was
held at Chiang Mai Hills Hotel last week for 300 local administration
officials. Permanent secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, Pol Maj
Yongyuth Sarasombat chaired the conference whilst expressing concerns over
the project to speed up government processes in transferring missions,
making budgets, and transferring personnel.
The meeting aimed to make the local administration
understand the details and operational process and how the system can get
clogged. Pol Maj Yongyuth added that at present there are several problems
in the process, especially with the system to appropriate government
budgets. The system has now changed with some regulations aiming to make it
faster and more comfortable.
“So far, less than 4% has been withdrawn to spend on
the community development,” said Pol Maj Yongyuth. As the system was
previously very complicated, it slowed down work and development in the
The conference will be held all over the country to give
a better understanding among the local administrative officials.
ONCB looks for media assistance in ongoing drug suppression
Wants to rid the community of drug barons
The Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Northern
Region, invited the mass media in eight upper northern provinces, composed
of television, radio and newspapers, to participate in a drug fighting
seminar at the ONCB building, Chiang Mai.
The director of the Northern ONCB, Pittaya Jinawat
informed the media representatives that in the period that the government
had declared the war on drugs, they had apprehended more than 30,000
sellers, especially in the hill tribes. The drugs were produced mainly along
the borders outside Thailand.
The ONCB is afraid that with the supplies of ya ba now
being limited, that the addicts will turn to other drugs such as cocaine,
Ecstasy (E) and K pills. It is claimed that the current source of supply can
be found at entertainment outlets. To continue to fight drugs, the
government has begun a new policy to rid the community of drug barons, added
Buddhist training in
Yes, but no, says curriculum officer
Following the government’s education reform policy,
which reduced the Buddhist study period in schools from twice a week to once
a week, the Chiang Mai Buddhist Association sent a letter to the Minister of
Education, Dr. Sirikorn Maneerin to show their disagreement on this issue.
Further to this, a seminar was held on May 28 bringing
together the Chiang Mai Monk Association, Monk University, and other
Buddhist organizations in Chiang Mai to discuss this at Buddha Sathan, a
religious place in Chiang Mai.
Dr. Somnuek Thatthong, chief of the curriculum
development center said that actually the Buddhist lessons were not really
reduced because every academic institution can arrange their own study
periods. “The educational Institute can provide Buddhist lessons by
separating their contents from other subjects or integrate them with any
activities or any subject groups. Therefore, students will still have the
Buddhist period twice a week or more,” said Dr. Somnuek, with a fine
example of circumlocution.
However, the local Monk Association is still not
convinced and believe their demand of the Ministry of Education to revert to
the previous number of Buddhist teaching periods should be applied in every
Nakorn Ping launches “Quit to win in the office” plan
Trying to encourage smokers to quit within six months
The Nakorn Ping Hospital has launched a project called
‘Quit to Win in the Office’ to encourage smokers, especially in offices,
to quit smoking within six months.
Organizers hope the campaign will reduce the numbers of
smokers in offices. Cigarette smoke causes a bad atmosphere and bothers
non-smoking staff and affects staff efficiency. In addition, second hand
smoke causes medical problems for other office workers, called “passive
The Chiang Mai Public Relations Office released
statistical figures from the Public Health Ministry showing that 42,000
patients die annually due to smoking. Most have lung cancer, heart disease
and/or blood vessel disease.
This campaign provides treatment with doctor’s
consultations and evaluation from Nakorn Ping Hospital. It is especially
organized to encourage the staff in both government organizations and
private sectors to participate.
Interested people can phone the Psychiatry Department,
Room Number 19, Nakorn Ping Hospital, telephone 053 890 755-64 ext 125.
One District One School Project receives budget
12 million baht earmarked for 24 secondary schools
Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO)
has provided a budget for the One District - One School Project. According
to the Local Basic Education Development Project in Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai
PAO provided 12 million baht for 24 secondary schools in each district for
developing an educational system. Each school would receive 500,000 baht to
improve the education system and teaching skills.
The schools in this project were selected by the General
Education Department to be networking center schools to improve the
educational system in country schools, and to offer the same quality of
education as schools in the city, so that students would not have to
overload the city schools.
This project would bring teachers from Chiang Mai
University, Mae Jo University, Payap University, Rajamangala Institute of
Technology, Northern campus, and Rajabhat Institute of Chiang Mai to set up
an educational cooperative, teacher training, and hold special lectures.
Chiang Mai launches World Environment Day activities
Everyone must help implement solutions
Surachai T. Bunditkul
June 5 is designated as World Environment Day, and Chiang
Mai authorities and its people responded in earnest to encourage everyone to
do their part for environmental awareness.
left: Dr Watson Chompakdee, Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang
Mai MP Pakorn Buranupakorn, and Manus Sirimaharaj played leading roles at
Getting the festivities underway a bit ahead of time,
Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn and his team participated in a
function organized at the Thapae Gate grounds on June 1.
Chiang Mai Municipality collaborated with public and
private organizations to highlight World Environment Day and to remind our
townspeople of the international environmental cooperation needed for saving
the earth and our own surroundings.
Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn, who presided over the
opening ceremony said, “At present, many environmental problems come in
the way of our life, and have effects on our health, both directly and
indirectly. Improvement measures cannot succeed through just one person or
one organization, but must be a collaboration by everyone to help protect
Chiang Mai’s environment and develop it in the best direction.”
Mayor Boonlert continued, “Chiang Mai also has large
billboards to indicate the city’s air pollution levels, to make people pay
attention and help by reducing the number of cars and motorcycles. We hope
Chiang Mai will cope with all environment problems and find solutions.”
Chiang Mai MP Pakorn Buranupakorn added, “I would like to see all sides
realize the importance of environment problems. Today is a good day for all
Chiang Mai people to be alert and interested in the problems of the
environment in Chiang Mai, and find the ways to make Chiang Mai a pleasant
Over 600 million to be spent on Lamphun’s transportation infrastructure
Plans to reduce traffic jams, speed up travel
Lamphun is planning to spend 601 million baht in
infrastructure improvements. Lamphun Governor Tawach Satiennam said that
according to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s project “Twin City
Development”, they have considered public utilities, transportation
systems, water source improvements, disaster prevention, arts and culture
promotion, and education as part of the overview.
will soon able to travel between Chiang Mai and Lamphun on new suburban
Chiang Mai MP Yaowapa Wongsawas has proposed many
important projects for Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Mae Hong Son, including
upgrading the local road that will cost an estimated 279 million baht, but
should reduce traffic jams on Superhighway No. 11 and highways 106, 108, and
116. He also said that to solve traffic problems on San Pa Tong - Hang Dong
- Chiang Mai roads there should be a Chiang Mai by-pass to speed up travel
from Mae Hong Son to Bangkok, which would cost 270 million baht.
Another 300 million baht will be put into the Chiang Mai
- Lamphun suburban railway construction, 86 million baht into the overpass
construction project at the Northern Industrial Estate, and the container
yard on the Thai Railway Station’s area.
Lamphun Province has already been granted the go ahead for Lee River
improvements. The river dredging will be done along 34 kilometers from
Chiang Mai to the Pa Sang District, Lamphun. Lee District has received
24,052,615 baht and Tung Hua Chang District received 25,729,298 baht for
300 ex-bootleggers protesting again
“Stop arresting us”
Members of the Chiang Mai Local Liquor Network protested
again at city hall, submitting a letter to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
complaining that they could not produce their liquor under the regulations
promulgated by the Excise Department.
from the northern region congregated at city hall several times to call for
The group said that the small village producers could not
follow the Excise Department’s regulations because of the complex rules,
such as liquor factory location, community liquor producer quality, while at
the same time, paying the same tax rate as other business investors.
The local producers also demanded that the government
hire accountants for the factory’s accounting as they actually cannot
follow this regulation because of the high expenses in employment of such
Somchai Sirichai, leader of the protesters, said that
they wanted the government to revise the regulations. The protesters
proposed the Excise Department should change the regulations to allow
natural liquor producers who are qualified to produce community liquor to
pay liquor taxes directly at the Local Administration Department. They also
wanted excise officers to stop arresting liquor network members.
Parinya Panthong, Chiang Mai deputy governor received the letter to be
forwarded to the Chiang Mai governor and prime minister.
Police confiscate 2,800 amphetamine pills and 12 million baht
Could be close to breaking major drug network
Chiang Rai Provincial Police Commander, Pol. Maj Gen Wuth
Withitanont said last week that Mae Lao police in Chiang Rai discovered
2,800 amphetamine pills in a truck parked along Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai
highway. The truck was owned by Pat Suthjaidee.
Chiang Mai Police arrested Pat and confiscated more than
12 million baht from him. Police also arrested his illegal business partner,
Phanom Sup-anek, an ex- member of Lampang Provincial Council.
Moreover, the police also received information of an
expanded drugs network in Lampang, Tak, and in the central region.
The police commander assigned Pol. Col. Chirud Prommobol,
deputy commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police, and Pol. Col. Thanakrit
Reonkeaw, the superintendent of Muang Chiang Rai police station to
investigate and inspect Pat’s house in Chommokkeaw sub-district, Mae Lao
District, and they found more 350 amphetamine pills there. The officers
seized property, which might be involved with drugs dealing, but Pat escaped
to his wife’s house in Mae Sot, Tak Province.
Pol. Col. Charin Insuwanno continued the investigation,
attempting to destroy the network, and inspected Pat’s 4 houses in Tak.
They confiscated cars, land with documents of ownership, and bank accounts
containing about 12 million baht, but Pat escaped again.
Police officer arrested transporting illegal aliens
An expensive taxi ride for all concerned
A team of police officers from Rong Kwang Police Station
intercepted Pol. Capt. Anan Nitipeeranan, a police inspector from Thung
Chang Police Station in Nan Province, while he was driving a pick up truck
to Bangkok. The truck was fine, it was the cargo that was the problem,
consisting of 15 illegal immigrant workers who had come from the border
district of Tachilek Province, Burma on their way to promised work in
According to the Phrae police, the aliens had paid 3,500
baht each to the accused police captain as commission. The Phrae provincial
governor, Amornphan Nimanan said that the government and police officers had
already set the rules to deal with any influential people, including
government officers, who had illegal or shadowy businesses.
The fate of the police ‘taxi’ driver and his cargo had not been
determined by time of publication.
Fewer drugs at the
borders these days
International cooperation is the key
The director of the Office of Narcotics Control Board
Northern Region, Pittaya Jinawat said that border drug problems at the
present time are less serious than before since neighboring countries are
showing a willingness to cooperate with Thai authorities.
Pittaya told a press conference held at Chiang Mai City
Hall that the amount of drugs getting across the Thai borders was also less,
as local police are now working jointly with Lao and Burmese authorities.
The director said that drug sellers have developed new
strategies in trafficking, which include smuggling drugs mixed with
agricultural products that make it very difficult to inspect and search.
“It should be easier if in the future we use x-ray equipment to check all
agricultural products being transported,” he said.
It has been suggested in some quarters that police should
check erratically behaved plants after fertilizer application, as this may
indicate ya ba contamination.
Lists of ‘dark influences’ being prepared
Lists must be submitted by June 10
There are 14 influential figures, including 12 gunmen, on
Provincial Police Region 5’s black list, says Pol Lt. Gen. Prung
Boonpadung, the commissioner of Provincial Police Region 5.
According to the 15 basic categories indicated by the
government, the influential persons must show an intent to break the law,
for example, by assembling men for illegal purposes, possessing weapons,
persecuting others for their own benefit, or destroying public property.
The commissioner has assigned the eight provincial police
commanders to prepare the lists. There will be weekly investigations
starting on Wednesday June 4. However, it has been noted that among the 14
dark influences there were no police officers.
Pol Lt. Gen. Prung said that the investigations will be
carried out at three levels - district, provincial, and national. If the
local level units cannot deal with any cases, the higher level units will
proceed with the investigation instead.
In Lamphun, Tawach Satiennam, the provincial governor has
emphasized every district has to hand in their lists by June 10 this year.
He believes that there are evil influences in every district, such as
organizers of hired motorcycle riders, hired gunmen, bootleg whisky
producers, and squatters on public land.
Baby elephant receives acupuncture treatment for injured spine
It has worked on a horse, so why not try an elephant?
A one year old baby elephant has been treated by the Thai
Elephant Conservation Center in Hangchat, Lampang after having fallen into a
ravine in the forest and injuring its spine, resulting in partial paralysis.
A veterinarian at the Thai elephant conservation center
decided to treat the little elephant, named Pri Boon Rot, using Chinese
acupuncture and hydrotherapy, believing it was the only chance to avoid
leaving the baby as a cripple.
The veterinarian, Sittidet Mahasawangkol, the head of the
Center said, “The elephant was injured around the pelvic bones up to its
spinal cord and it could not move its back legs or tail.” Remembering that
acupuncture treatment carried out by the faculty of Medicine at Chiang Mai
University succeeded with a horse, he decided to try with the elephant.
“This is the first time we have used this therapy on an elephant,” he
The center also prepared a hydrotherapy treatment pond
for the elephant so that it could to move its body whilst being supported by
the water. Currently the baby patient is progressing well, but there are
still some worries about wound infection.
Parents in liposuction accidental death case demand 10 million baht compensation
Accused doctor expresses shame, but cannot pay that amount
The parents of deceased schoolgirl, Siriporn Muima, or
Nong Kung, who died while undergoing liposuction last year, are asking for
10 million baht compensation from Dr. Charlie Karnchanarak, the accused
The initial stages of the trial are continuing at the
Chiang Mai Provincial Court, and the parents of the dead schoolgirl, Kamol
and Mrs. Bang-earn Muima; M.R. Charoensuk Suksawas, the representative from
Provincial Attorney Council Region 5, Wichit Makkhasunthon, the lawyer for
the accused and the defendant Dr. Charlie Karnchanarak were all present at a
hearing last week.
Defending lawyer Wichit told the press that Dr. Charlie
would plead not guilty to all accusations, and he is prepared to give his
testimony in court. However, Dr. Charlie is reported to have said, “Since
this case happened, I feel guilty and very sorry for causing Nong Kung’s
death. I wish it never happened ... I am willing to pay compensation to Nong
Kung’s parents for what they have lost.”
Nong Kung’s parents have set a figure of 10 million
baht compensation from Dr Charlie but he says he cannot pay that amount. He
did say he is willing to negotiate.
Lawyer Wichit asks the public not to prejudge Dr Charlie
as being guilty because he feels shame and cannot face people when he goes
The public prosecutor has asked the Attorney Council
Region 5 to file a lawsuit against Dr Charlie in addition to the Kamol and
Bang-earn Muima civil case. There will be testimony from 15 witnesses at
this proposed trial, so quite some time will have to be set aside for the
court to hear the lawsuit.