PTT oil tanker inferno claims life of driver
Police believe driver fell asleep
Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut and Surachai T. Bunditkul
A PTT oil tanker with 32,000 liters of diesel on board
ran off the road at the Don Chan crossroad in front of Big C Superstore and
burst into flames. The driver succumbed to very serious burns.
oil tanker ran off the road at the Don Chan crossroad in front of Big C
Superstore and burst into flames. The driver succumbed to very serious
burns. Traffic was backed up for more than 3 hours. (Below right) burning
oil leaked into the sewers, causing flames and smoke to billow out of the
vents down the road. (Photos by Michael Vogt)
Pol Col Prasert Chantrapitak, deputy commander of the
Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division, said that following initial
investigations, it was presumed that the driver had fallen asleep.
sprayed foam into the underground sewers to extinguish the burning oil.
(Photo by Michael Vogt)
Sutatt Buayen, the gas station’s owner in Lamphun, said
that the driver, Thongsuk Funnimit, from Chiang Rai, was a regular tanker
driver and had left the oil tank depot near the Chiang Mai Railway Station
to return to his gas station when the accident occurred.
Responsibility for the costs borne by the fire brigade in
applying foam to the area and the recovery of diesel oil from the
underground sewers will be directed to the gas station owner.
The ignited fuel caused massive clouds of smoke, in
addition to causing severe damage to the surrounding environment.
Fortunately, the highway police station is located less than 100 meters
from the scene of the accident, so that emergency teams, 10 fire engines,
and SWAT teams could respond very quickly. However, it took more than three
hours before the traffic flow returned to normal.
New governor arrives promising to clean up the province
Hope he has a large broom
Surachai T. Bunditkul
The new Chiang Mai governor has arrived, succeeding Pisit
Khetphasook who has been transferred to Chonburi. After arrival, Governor
Suwat Tantipat, accompanied by his wife Ornadda Tantipat, went to pay
respects to several of Chiang Mai’s most sacred and revered places.
Mai’s new governor, Suwat Tantipat.
In Chiang Mai, the governor and his wife got a warm
welcome from the Chiang Mai people and government officers during his trips
to Wat Chiang Man, Chang Puak Gate and the Three Kings monument representing
the three kings who were the founders of the old Chiang Mai city.
He said he is ready to continue and back up the
government policies to help develop Chiang Mai Province to full capacity and
so promote this northern capital for growth and good prospects.
The new governor also said that he is completely ready to clean up the
“influential people” problems, corruption and graft and try to improve
the conditions of those living in poverty. He also promised that he would
help develop Chiang Mai into the “hub” for government development and
CCC looks at the SARS problems
Chiang Mai tourism operators severely affected
Surachai T. Bunditkul
Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce together with Chiang Mai
tourism operators held a meeting at the Empress Hotel on the impact SARS is
having on Chiang Mai tourism industries. Following the SARS crisis, several
companies, especially hotels and tourist-related businesses, have been
forced to survive by laying-off their employees, or having them take
vacation without pay, and other cost cutting measures.
Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son Members of Parliament Pakorn
Buranupakorn, Somboon Thaiwan, Noppakun Laktapathai, Pornchai Arttapayakul,
and Wittaya Songtham will submit the meeting’s conclusions to Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on June 20.
Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association President
Boonlert Perera said, “Many tourism-related companies and businesses in
Chiang Mai have seriously suffered from the events that have occurred in the
tourist low season, such as the Gulf War in Iraq and the SARS outbreak.”
Chiang Mai tourism operators expressed concerns over the
SARS impact that they say has resulted in tourist numbers being down more
than 30% compared to the same period last year. They also want the
government to help with budgets to support their marketing and promotion,
and the deadline for tax payment extended until the tourism situation is
back to normal.
Best products from One Tambon -
One Product to be shown during APEC
Finalists must be whittle down from 15 thousand products
Surachai T. Bunditkul
Provincial governors, deputy governors, district
officers, government officials, and other working committees from 17
northern provinces met in Chiang Mai last week to pick out the best One
Tambon - One Product items to display at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) forum. The One Tambon - One Product scheme is one
governmental effort to expand Thai markets worldwide.
Deputy Minister of Interior Pracha Maleenont assigned
Sermsak Pongpanitch, Ministry of Interior permanent secretary, to be
chairman of the organizing and working committee for the workshop, which was
held at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel on June 3.
Permanent Secretary Sermsak said that since the project
has been going two years, it was time to choose the best products, which
would be displayed and sold during the APEC meeting.
The One Tambon - One Product items are in 6 categories:
food, beverage, textiles, decorative items, souvenirs and non-medicinal
herbs. Each selected product must pass five standards of criteria:
production, marketing, product development, product history and accepted
Currently, more than 15 thousand products have been
chosen from each region, so the adjudicators have their work cut out for
Jewelry Art Exhibition now on at Central Airport Plaza
Each piece individually created with one person in mind
Jewelry designer Anchalee In-Udom has put together a
beautiful jewelry art exhibition which is now on display at Central Airport
Plaza. The exhibition began June 4 and runs through June 20.
Sapphire on display as a part of the jewelry collections. (Photo by Nuttanee
Assistant Minister of Culture Pheera Manatat presided
over the opening ceremony.
Anchalee In-Udom, a female jewelry designer from Lampang,
created her jewelry collection under the concept of combining local beliefs
about the past and the present.
Anchalee selected silver as the main material of the
collection, designed in classical style and decorated with various kinds of
gems, such as blue sapphire, amethyst, ruby, and topaz.
Every piece of jewelry combines traditional Lanna-Thai
belief according to the meaning of each gem, which would bring happiness,
richness, and powerfulness to the owner, said Anchalee.
“Each piece was created with one idea for only one person,” noted
Anchalee. She started her first creation because she wanted to have a unique
ornament when she was in Lampang. The inspiration has now brought Thailand a
very skillful artist who always creates masterpieces for our modern Lanna
Chiang Mai to be represented at Thailand Travel Mart
TAT Northern region leads the way
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Northern Office
Region 1 (Chiang Mai) is planning to take part in the upcoming Thailand
Travel Mart 2003 from September 10-18 at BITEC Convention Center in Bangkok.
TAT, in cooperation with Thai Airways International, Thai
Tourism Business Associations, and Thai Hotels Association have worked out a
promotional campaign plus the Amazing Gateway to Mekong, aiming to promote
various tourism products in Thailand and the countries located in the
greater Mekong sub-region basin as well.
During the promotion, more than 300 tourism sellers will
have a chance to present tourism products to around 250 worldwide buyers.
This operational strategy will be held in the form of face-to-face sales
with the travel agents by pre-matching appointment and on-site appointments.
Tourism entrepreneurs covering airlines, eco and agro
tourism, education, entertainment, health and spas, hotels and resorts,
sport and adventure, tour operations, and other services in Thailand who are
interested in participating in the fair as a seller can contact TAT Northern
Office Region 1 or send an application directly to the Marketing Development
Department, TAT Head Office Tel. 02 250-5500 extensions 1335-1559. The
administration fee will be 25,000 baht per booth.
Safety in the workplace being addressed in month-long project
Health and efficiency checks for everyone
Surachai T. Bunditkul
Chiang Mai Social Welfare and Protection Office (SWPO)
and business enterprises collaborated to organize a month-long promotion of
safety in the workplace to motivate employers and employees to embrace the
advantages of safe working practices.
Ms. Tipakorn Udommaneesuwan, an official with the SWPO
said that response between public and private organizations had been
promising. The idea is to respond to a government policy to reduce accidents
in the workplace, as well as stimulate employers who had been lax in this
As part of the project, several safety measures and
activities in workplaces are being organized from June to July, and on
August 8-9, there will be a seminar on the topic dealing with working with
safety. At that time, outstanding enterprises with good records for safety,
healthy environments will be announced.
Workplaces that have gone more than 150 days without an
industrial accident will be recognized as well. There will also be an
exhibition of working safely plus health and efficiency checks for everyone.
Agriculture awards presented
Even the agricultural housewives group got a gong
Surachai T. Bunditkul
Chiang Mai Provincial Agriculture Extension Office
nominated their awards, categorized into three sections. These were the
best-integrated farmer, the best agricultural group, and the best
agricultural housewives group. The head of the Agriculture Extension Office,
Supot Nimanon, said that they were proud to be able to give out such
accolades to the farming community.
The winner of the best-integrated farmer was Prapun
Boontawong from San Sai District. The best agricultural group award went to
the paddy-field agricultural group of Ban Kad, San Pa Tong District, Chiang
Mai, with the first runner-up award being the Don Pao Group from Mae Wang
District, and the Mae Faeg Group from San Sai District received the second
The best agricultural housewives group award went to the
San Kor Keg agricultural housewives group, San Pa Tong. The first runner-up
was the agricultural housewives group of Mae Gag Noi from San Sai, and the
second runner-up was the Huay Sai agricultural housewives group from Mae
Five countries look at
rehabilitation for the disabled
Experts pass on their experiences to local disabled
Surachai T. Bunditkul
A workshop on Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) was
held to stimulate rehabilitation movements for disabled people.
Organizations from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand attended
the workshop held at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel Chiang Mai.
made by disabled students were on display.
Promoted by the Ministry of Social Development and Human
Security, Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), the Office
of Child, Youth, Disadvantaged, Disabled and Elders Social Welfare Promotion
and Protection, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) the
workshop ran from June 3-12. Speakers from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh,
Japan and Thailand passed on their experiences to the participants.
Ms. Surapee Wasrinon, the director of the Office of Child, Youth,
Disadvantaged, Disabled and Elders Social Welfare Promotion and Protection
said that disability rehabilitation is an important strategy under the
action plan of UNESCAP.
8th Women Leaders Network APEC
meeting next month
“Women Make a World of Difference”
“Women Make a World of Difference: Partnerships of
Gender and Development” will be the highlight of the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) meeting of the 8th Women Leaders’ Network (WLN) to be
held in Chiang Mai from July 30 - August 3.
The WLN 2003, being organized by the Office of Women’s
Affairs and Family Institute, Ministry of Social Development and Human
Security, will also focus on women’s roles, energy, commitment and real
contributions to development projects.
WLN leaders feel that when women, especially the poor and
the marginalized, can become partners to participate fully in all spheres of
the development process, “we will find that women will make a difference
to the quality of life and to the enrichment of the economy,” said the
About 400 women, mostly housewives, organization
executives and management, are expected to take part in the upcoming APEC
One of the agendas will be concerned with businesses,
like SMEs, including One Tambon - One Products and suitable marketing
Charnyuth Kosirinont, deputy director of the Women
Affairs and Family Institute, said there will be nine working groups set up
to facilitate the meeting, particularly on the agendas that include the
creation of knowledge, sharing and management through partnerships,
promotion of human security for women, and women’s entrepreneurship
through creative partnerships.
Last year, the 7th WLN meeting was held at Acapulco,
Mexico and focused on sustainable economic development with gender
ACD and APEC get the full PR coverage
Dedicated Public Relations Center being set up
Surachai T. Bunditkul
Organizers of the 2nd Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) and
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conferences have set up a dedicated
Public Relations Center to disseminate all information from these meetings
to the media.
The director of Chiang Mai Public Relations Department
Office, Region 3, Ms. Jintana Phuntufack said that the second ACD meeting
and APEC conferences should be well publicized, so the center will be the
hub for the mass media.
The ACD meeting, to be held June 21-22, is to follow up
progress from the 18 member countries that met last year. This year, 21
member countries will participate in the APEC meeting July 30 - August 3.
Both the APEC meeting and ACD meeting will receive
blanket coverage from the media.
Events will also reported on the internet at the website
www.prdnorth.in.th and on the hotline 053-284 178-9.
More rubber trees for Lamphun
An alternative to slash and burn agriculture
Lamphun Governor Thawat Satiennam announced his support
of the government project on planting more rubber trees in northern and
northeastern regions, which already has over 12 million rai under
cultivation. The rubber tree plantations have been deemed to be successful
in Phayao, Nan, Chiang Rai and Lamphun provinces in the north.
Lamphun Governor Thawat disclosed that he has had talks
with some high-ranking officials on the possibilities of planting the rubber
trees, especially in slash and burn cultivation areas. The concept will be
for each family to get government support to plant the rubber trees in their
farms, and will be provided with 12 rai and 4,500 baht per rai.
Research results show that market demand for rubber is
doubling every ten years, and Thailand should be prepared to satisfy market
demand for rubber.
Warnings given on serious
Private, public and government officials being called
upon to immediately reverse the situation
Chiang Mai is facing serious pollution problems,
according to Dr. Wasan Chomphakdi of the coordinating committee for the Ping
River and Environment Preservation group. He says that Chiang Mai is
encountering deterioration of soil quality, an inefficient water treatment
system, deforestation, and air pollution caused by forest fires, the
incineration of rubbish and emissions from car engines, smoke and dust from
In terms of its topography, Chiang Mai is shaped like a
basin, which also has an effect on the quality of air because of poor macro
ventilation, added Dr. Wasan.
Air quality tests in Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces
found that air pollution increases in summer when dust and nitrogen oxides
exceed acceptable limits.
Dr. Wasan was also critical of the water pollution
problems, calling upon private, public and government officials to
immediately reverse water pollution and soil deterioration, which adversely
affects the river and its water quality.
Now SARS hits the elephants
Unemployed pachyderms say they will work for peanuts
The impact of SARS on the world has hit more than the few
thousand people who contracted the disease. The latest group to feel the
impact is our own elephants.
caused my mom to lose her income.
Maesa Elephant Camp’s director of operations, Anchalee
Kulmapijit said the SARS scare has caused about an 80% drop in tourists to
the elephant facility, and with the opening of the new school terms,
domestic tourists have also decreased. This reduction is then obviously felt
as a reduction in the incomes generated by the elephants for their mahouts.
The government is conversant with the problem and has
stepped in to help. The government is spending approximately 20 million baht
to assist the 200 pairs of elephants and their mahouts in the national park
with six months short-term employment.
Another group of 40 elephants in the north of Thailand
are also unemployed, so their mahouts have applied to be government
officials working as staff of the Livestock Development Department. The
salary for both the elephant and mahout is 10,100 baht per month.
Ms Anchalee said that this amount of income is enough for the elephants
and mahouts. At present the Maesa Elephant Camp is the northern center to
coordinate the northern elephants and mahouts in applying to be the
Cable cars for Doi Luang?
No agreement yet
Surachai T. Bunditkul
Doi Luang is another tourist destination, being the third
highest mountain in Thailand, 2,225 meters above sea level. It is also part
of the “Unseen Thailand” tourism promotional campaign being promoted by
A meeting was recently held at Chiang Mai University to
discuss Doi Luang’s suitability for cable-cars, promoted by the Wildlife
and Plants Fund Foundation of Thailand under Her Royal Majesty The Queen’s
Patronage, and the Ping River management project.
Many opinions were put forward, including that of the
director-general of Botanical Garden Organization, Dr Veerachai na Nakorn,
who said, “Doi Luang is of high value, as is its importance on the
ecology, as it is a limestone mountain supporting many alpine plants. There
are rare species there that should be conserved and studied, including some
from Nepal that are growing naturally here in Doi Luang.”
Nikom Bhuata, representative of the foundation said that
the main objective of the meeting was to discuss the pros and cons of cable
cars, but they believed there could be hidden agendas. The site for the
proposed cable cars, called Piang Dao, is rich with limestone and has
prosperous watershed areas as well.
The area is also in the Chiang Dao wildlife sanctuary, so
the foundation spokesman said that the cable car plan must be agreed upon
and approved by the Cabinet.
Chiang Mai PAO president denies ‘dark influence’ tag
“Show me the evidence,” he says
Since the Thai government launched a war on ‘dark
influence’, rumors have been spreading that Chiang Mai Provincial
Administration Organization (PAO) President Udornphan Chantaraviroj was one
amongst them. However, these have all been unconfirmed reports.
Mai PAO President Udornphan Chantaraviroj denies he is a “dark
Udornphan appeared last week to face the rumors and
innuendo, saying that he was not involved with and was not one of the dark
influential figures as claimed by the public. “Please show me if there is
any evidence indicating that I am one in the list of influential people in
Chiang Mai province,” he said.
He told reporters that a groundless report saying that he
was involved was an attempt to damage to his image and reputation. He felt
this rumor may have begun from ill-considered assumption because he is
always protected by his bodyguards around him wherever he goes out.
He said that Chiang Mai PAO supports all government policies, especially
the “war on drugs” campaign, and he personally backs up government
policies and officers all the time. “If there is any evidence or proof
that some officials are involved with dark influences, I am willing to give
cooperation to bring them to surrender to the authorities and let justice be
Employment agency has license revoked
8 million baht extracted under false pretenses
P.A.A. Agency Company Limited had its license revoked
after being charged with deceiving 237 job seekers and receiving 8,530,000
baht, promising to find positions for working abroad. The company did not
give any receipts and did not send any workers to any destination.
Orachon Rattanamanee, head of Chiang Mai Employment
Service Office said the P.A.A. Company, located in Thanyaburi District,
Prathum Thani Province was sued on the charge of cheating job seekers by
Thanabhat Sarathee and other job applicants.
All the job seekers had to pay an application fee of
between 10,000-170,000 baht for positions supposedly in Israel, Malaysia,
Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Seychelles and Libya, as farmers, general laborers
and hotel staff. However, the company, headed by Anong Phongsai, did not
send the applicants abroad.
This company’s performance violated the Employment
Service and Protection Bills (1985) in that it did not make employment
registrations with the registrar, did not give receipts, called for the
service fee from the job seekers more than 30 days before departure, and did
not send the workers abroad without an appropriate reason not to do so.
Excise Office planning to boot out bootleggers
Bootleg prohibition began June 1
The Chiang Mai Provincial Excise Office has regulations
showing proscribed punishments for illegal liquor producers. Those in
violation will be imprisoned for 6 months or fined a maximum of 5,000 baht,
and all production equipment must be confiscated, said Nopporn Yodpayung,
Chiang Mai Provincial Excise Office head.
Nopporn disclosed that according to the government’s
community economic promotion policy, liquor producers could apply for and
receive production permits after January 21 this year. Up until May 28, 130
producers asked for permits and 10 have already paid the tax, whilst others
are constructing their factories or waiting for the result of the Excise
While waiting, those who have already asked for
permission can apply for the “Liquor Production in the Level of Community
Industry” training course by sending an application form and the
registration fee to their local Excise Office or Faculty of Agro-Industry,
Chiang Mai University.
The head of the Chiang Mai Excise Office stated that any
production of illegal liquor will be suppressed, starting from June 1.
The Excise Office also noted that the public should not
buy non-stamped liquor because it is not only supporting an illicit
industry, but consumers can go blind if the moonshine liquor was produced by
incorrect processes that have not passed the government standard test.
Anyone finding illegal production or the people behind it
are asked to send notification to Post Box 222, Phra Singha, Chiang Mai
50205 or call 053 221 077 or telephone 053 224 793 during office hours.
Blacklist of dark influences being prepared in Phrae
List to be sent to government on June 21
The Phrae provincial governor, Amornphan Nimanant has
resolved to uncover corrupt government officials and prepare blacklists by
June 21. The Phrae governor said this was an anti-mafia campaign, with the
governor of each province acting as a chief executive officer to control and
follow the government’s policy, and the commanders of the provincial
police divisions would also be like a CEO to support any actions of the
The first target of the anti-mafia campaign is corrupt
government. This includes government officials, police officers and forestry
officials, said Amornphan. Investigation of the first group would come under
the assistant governor, Thongchai Wongrienthong, the commander of the
provincial police would control police, and the forestry officials would
have to talk with the governor himself.
The district chiefs and the superintendents of police
stations in each district were ordered to make lists of people of bad
influence and send the lists to the governor by June 10, to later be sent to
the government on June 21.
In Phrae, there are 7 groups of influential people, one
each running taxi businesses, gambling, human trafficking, cheats, hired
gunmen, illegal work agencies, and groups involved in illegal auctions.
“At the moment, I can’t say how many ‘dark influence’ people are in
Phrae, and who they are. We have to investigate seriously to find the major
players in the mafia business,” said the Phrae governor.
ONCB targets eradication of opium poppy within 5 years
Cultivation in Thailand will have ceased by 2008
“Thailand will be a drug-free zone within next 5
years,” said Pittaya Jinawat, Office Narcotics Control Board (ONCB)
Northern Region director at a press conference last week after accusations
by foreign organizations that Thailand has not seriously tackled the
will be a drug-free zone in 5 years,” says Pittaya Jinawat, ONCB Northern
He insisted that the ONCB has been reducing the area of
opium cultivation from 112,000 rai in 1963 to only 7,000 rai last year. It
is expected that another 2,000 rai will be eradicated in 2006, and
cultivation in Thailand will have ceased by 2008. Much of this is being done
with cooperation from the Third Army.
However, satellite photographs show that the hill tribe
people who grow the opium poppy have moved their cultivation to deeper areas
which makes the operation more difficult for the officials to control.
Director Pittaya said that the ONCB has cooperated with neighboring
countries such as Myanmar and Laos. The ONCB will also organize a media tour
to display improvements in the ex-opium cultivation areas where people are
now growing other cash crops instead.
Two UN boats to patrol the Mekong for drug smugglers
Good idea, but only twice a week?
Thailand and Laos are working in close cooperation to
block drug flow along common borders, particularly along the river boundary.
Following the Thai government’s “war on drugs” making land transfer
difficult, the smugglers are using new ways, including shifting drugs by
boat. With the common waterway between the two countries, drug runners can
drop off drugs in the northern areas of Chiang Rai, Phayao, Nan and some
northeastern provinces as well.
The length and breadth of the Mekong River flowing along
Thailand and Laos boundaries is proving to be difficult for officers to
police illegal drug movements.
Thailand and Lao authorities have agreed to a joint
reconnoiter twice a week along 85 kilometers of the Mekong River. The United
Nations will provide two boats to patrol the waterway. Any criminal drug
charges will be based on the river territory and cases will proceed under
the enforcement of international laws.
The official launch of the river patrol took place on
June 10 at the Huay Sai river port in Laos and was jointly presided over by
Chiang Rai Governor Dr Narin Panichkit and his Laotian counterpart.
Arms supplies intercepted at Chiang Dao
Suspects include police officers
Three weapons dealers were arrested in Chiang Dao
District, Chiang Mai while delivering arms to a Lisu hill tribe village in
Ban Khun Kong, Tambon Tung Khao Puang.
Pol. Lt. Gen Prung Boonpadung, Provincial Police Region 5
commissioner said that three suspects were arrested, including Pol. Senior
Sergeant Major Somboon Jeetaboon, Somjit Jitsakulchai, and Pol. Sergeant
The Provincial Police Region 5, led by Pol. Col. Dinai
Boonrueng, stopped a suspicious looking pick-up truck and a car at a
checkpoint near Ban Ping Kong police box, Chiang Dao. The officers searched
the carriages and found a 9 mm handgun, an M 16 assault rifle, and an AK47
sub-machine gun hidden in the vehicles, with more than 1,600 rounds of
ammunition, 3 mobile phones, and a walkie-talkie. The arms and the two
vehicles were confiscated.
Commissioner Pol. Lt. Gen. Prung said that syndicates
delivering weapons to minorities at the border are being supported by
influential groups in the northern region.