HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Air-conditioned bus project launched in Chiang Mai

A most happy 46th birthday to HRH Princess Chulabhorn

Village tourism being promoted

Phayao wants a Tourism, Sports and Recreation Bureau

Chiang Mai and Phuket attempt to shore up their tourist numbers

Ping River needs a properly integrated water resource management plan

Cultural promotion center opens in Chiang Rai

Royal Project helps develop hilltribe villages as agro-tourism attractions

Chiang Mai aiming to become the northern educational hub of Thailand

TAT wants to see more South Korean newlyweds and golfers

Solar power for Mae Hong Son

Chiang Mai cracking down on the 90 day rule

Local NGO’s discuss the AIDS/HIV situation

Japan supports move to reduce agrochemicals in the North

Chiang Mai is prepared for floods and storms

100,000 baht offered for information leading to arrests of makers of deadly bogus La Sante wine

Crafty wood-smugglers caught

Two drug dealers killed in drug suppression skirmish

Let’s talk about drugs

US government to help develop three major municipalities in Thailand

Air-conditioned bus project launched in Chiang Mai

The plan is to help fight traffic jams

Surachai T. Bunditkul and Supatatt Dangkrueng

An air-conditioned bus route has been launched in Chiang Mai as a pilot project to ease traffic congestion. The trial began on June 28 with 80 bus stops planned for around the city.

Pink air-conditioned buses will now run routes around Chiang Mai City to hopefully alleviate traffic problems.

In a response to the government policy on improving Chiang Mai traffic, Chiang Mai Municipality and Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office has implemented this pilot project, starting from Kwan Wiang Housing estate and to go around the city.

Chiang Mai MP Yaowapa Wongsawas cuts the ribbon to launch the air-conditioned bus service.

The routes for the air-conditioned buses start from the housing estate to the inner old city via the city moats to Thapae Road, and then return via Hang Dong District as a round trip. The buses will also stop at tourist spots, apart from the other 80 bus stops.

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that he could solve the traffic jams in Chiang Mai City, but always has obstacles put in his way, but this one should work to help relieve the traffic problems in Chiang Mai. The mayor did not see bad consequences for the red mini-buses (song taews), since this air-conditioned bus project would be complementary with them.

This project is an investment by a private company, ACC Real Estate, with Amnarj Aksornvanich, chairman of ACC Real Estate, saying this project will cost one million baht a month and in the very near future it will need more support and cooperation from the government. “The bus fare is only 10 baht per person and only 5 five baht for students. There are five air-conditioned 31 seat buses coming along every 15 minutes running from 5.20 a.m. to 10 p.m. If we get positive feedback, there will be at least 10-20 buses running every 5 -10 minutes,” said Amnarj.

However, Chiang Mai MP Yaowapa Wongsawas added that Chiang Mai needs the routine buses to serve increasing numbers of tourists coming to Chiang Mai, so this pilot project can be said to be close to our goal of providing more convenient mass transportation for the public.

A most happy 46th birthday to HRH Princess Chulabhorn

Born on July 4, 1957, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn is the youngest child of Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit of Thailand.

The Chiangmai Mail joins the Kingdom in humbly wishing happy 46th birthday to a most remarkable person, HRH Princess Chulabhorn.

HRH Princess Chulabhorn has two daughters, Their Royal Highnesses Princess Siribhachudhabhorn and Princess Adityadornkitikhun.

Her Royal Highness graduated from the Faculty of Science and Arts at Kasetsart University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organic Chemistry, First Class Honors, in 1979. Her Royal Highness completed her doctorate work in organic chemistry in 1985, and received her Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Mahidol University in July of the same year, and has a supreme record of academic achievement.

She undertook postdoctoral studies in Germany in 1987 and has since been a visiting professor at universities in Japan, Germany, and the United States of America. She holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from no fewer than nine universities around the world. In 1986, she was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in London and was awarded the Einstein Gold Medal of UNESCO.

Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn is chairperson of the Working Group on the Chemistry of Natural Products collaborative program between the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and the National Research Council of Thailand.

HRH Princess Chulabhorn has received international recognition for her scientific accomplishments, in her appointment to various United Nations posts, namely special advisor to the United Nations Environment Program and member of the Special High-Level Council for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction of the United Nations.

As a result of her experience as a scientist Princess Chulabhorn became aware of the difficulties Thai researchers have in obtaining the necessary funding for their research. In 1987, she established the Chulabhorn Research Institute to provide a new fundraising agency. This institute now acts as a focal point for the exchange of intellectual and other resources in Thailand for the purpose of solving urgent problems confronting the country in areas of health, environment, and agriculture.

As president of the Chulabhorn Research Institute, the Princess currently directs five special research projects; the AIDS program, a program on restoration and integrated development of the flood-affected areas in Southern Thailand, seawater irrigation for cultivation of economic marine species and preservation of mangrove, the rabies eradication program and a special project for accelerated immunization in five southern provinces in Thailand. Through these programs the Princess plays an auspicious role in improving the environment and living standard of the villagers in a number of Thai provinces.

Village tourism being promoted

Government needs to get more involved so that people will get more involved

Supatatt Dangkrueng

A training course on village tourism was held on June 20 at the Empress Hotel to improve standards, run by the Tambon Administration Organizations (TAO) and their executive committees. Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Udom Puasakul chaired the opening.

The director-general of Tourism Development for the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Dr Sasithara Pichaichannarong, said this training course was aimed at bringing out ideas from TAO leaders and people at the grass -roots level and to improve the standard of village tourism.

This task is being done with close cooperation with Sukhothai Thammathiraj University to make the project feasible and submit a request for government budget approval in the next fiscal year.

It is planned that in 2004, local people should become more involved in the country’s tourism development. Because one of the most important roles of tourism can be fulfilled by the people who live and stay close to nature, as they are the best guides and can give real and accurate information.

To head in the right direction, there will be public relations and promotional campaigns to gain local cooperation, and there are plans to bring the local tourism system up to international standards. However, the government has to support this by providing more technical programs such as development of foreign language skills and training courses for guides to improve the abilities of people involved in local tourism.

Phayao wants a Tourism, Sports and Recreation Bureau

Officials would like to promote sustainable tourism

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Phayao Tourism Sports and Recreation Center organized a workshop to discuss the concept of setting up a Tourism Sports and Recreation Bureau in the region to help local administration organizations promote sustainable tourism management, which, it is hoped, would increase communities’ incomes, and improve the quality of local life.

According to the government’s policy, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is responsible for developing tourism and sports in the country. The government is trying to encourage local administration units to participate in this.

To this end, Phayao Tourism Sports and Recreation Center organized the workshop on June 23 at Gateway Hotel, Muang District, Phayao, to consider a way to establish tourism, sports, and recreation units. The participants at the workshop included Phayao Provincial Administration Organization, Phayao municipality, 11 Tambon municipalities, and 59 Tambon Administration Organizations.

The opening ceremony was presided over by Phayao Governor Somsak Boonpleung, who said that it would be advantageous for the local administration organizations to participate in the tourism scheme.

Chiang Mai and Phuket attempt to shore up their tourist numbers

Surachai T. Bunditkul

Chiang Mai and Phuket Chambers of Commerce have set up a Road Show to exchange trading and tourism between the two regions. Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities and Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce (CCC) in collaboration with Phuket Chamber of Commerce will start this pilot project to encourage travel between the two provinces, Chiang Mai in the North, and Phuket in the South.

(From right) Chowalit Sirinirun, Jumpol Chutima, and Ms. Saowalak Chimada announce the “Chao Doi Chom Lay” project.

CCC president, Jumpol Chutima said that tourism business over the country has really been badly affected by the SARS scare.

For the first project, Phuket Chamber of Commerce (PCC) in coordination with CCC will organize the “Chao Doi Chom Lay” program, which will take a hundred businessmen, dealers and government officials to fly directly from Phuket to Chiang Mai on July 4-6, flying with Thai Airways International. After the first trip finishes in Chiang Mai, PCC will take Chiang Mai tour groups to visit Phuket.

This exchange program aims to build confidence among the tourist business owners and stimulate Thai people traveling in their own country in response to the government policy on “Thais Tour Thailand”.

One of the activities in Phuket will be an educational trip to the important historical sites, tourist attractions, and cultural regions.

Ping River needs a properly integrated water resource management plan

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The Department of Water Resources organized a workshop on June 25 at Lanna Palace Hotel, on water resource management of the Upper Ping Water Catchment. Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Parinya Panthong gave the keynote address.

Chuwit Wacharasin, the project engineer, reports the result of the Ping River water resource management integrated plan.

The workshop discussed the necessity of a properly integrated water resource management plan. The demand and supply of the water catchment area were shown. The local organizations and communities and other concerned units were invited to participate in the integrated planning.

Parinya Panthong said that the water resource management of the Ping River is a very important issue because it affects many people who are consuming and utilizing water from the river. The upper Ping River water catchment area covers Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces, while the lower area covers Tak, Kamphaeng Petch, and Nakhon Sawan provinces.

Ping River rain water catchment area covers 34,865 square kilometers. Chuwit Wacharasin, the project engineer said that problems with water management in the area include water shortage for mass consumption and agricultural purposes, soil erosion and flood.

There is a budget of around 128 million baht for implementing the plan over the next 20 years.

Cultural promotion center opens in Chiang Rai

Integrating Lanna culture with community problem solving

Surachai T. Bunditkul

A new cultural promotion center was opened in Chiang Rai on June 23, with the deputy minister of culture, Peera Manatat presiding over the opening ceremony.

Peera said that Chiang Rai has good potential to be a northern cultural center because of its rich natural resources. It also has a remarkable Lanna cultural identity and has many tourist attractions.

The management and administration of the center “Sai Yai Chum Chon” (Community Links) will follow the philosophy and principles of His Majesty the King on “Self Sufficient Economy”, a scheme that brings morality, which in turn will strengthen the communities and help solve many local problems.

The Chiang Rai Provincial Public Relations Office said that Chiang Rai provincial authorities had selected Tambon Mae Khao Tom as the “Sai Yai Chum Chon” cultural promotion center, following a pilot project conducted by the Ministry of Culture to integrate Lanna culture with community problem solving.

Tambon Mae Khao Tom is complete in everything, including the potential of the Tambon Administration Organization leaders, Tambon Cultural Council, religion, monks, academic institutes and vocational development groups. The province also has good infrastructure for careers, natural resources, and arts and culture.

Royal Project helps develop hilltribe villages as agro-tourism attractions

Replacing opium with deciduous crops

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

The Royal Project Foundation’s Highlands Agricultural Development Office brought a group of press, tourism-related agents and entrepreneurs to the opening ceremony of the Royal Project Tourist Service Center at Nonghoy Station in Mae Rim, Chiang Mai.

The Royal Project’s Learning and Tourism Promotion Project conducts research on deciduous crops and supports hill tribes to grow fruits and vegetables instead of opium. Since then, the village has become one of the largest areas of deciduous crops cultivation, with the Royal Project Foundation providing marketing support under the Doi Kham brand.

To serve the increasing number of villagers and community expansion, the development plan would create extra jobs in the fields of tourism, agricultural products and handicrafts.

The village in the Royal Project Development center in Mae Sa, Tambon Pong Yaeng, Mae Rim has been developed into a tourist attraction as well.

Both villages are located in the highlands with beautiful scenery, cool weather all year, and unique Hmong hilltribe culture, which will draw both Thai and foreign tourists to visit the villages, and the Royal Project Agricultural Research Center in the same area.

Chiang Mai aiming to become the northern educational hub of Thailand

At this rate we’ll be the hub of the universe by next week!

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai is currently being promoted as the northern hub of aviation, exportation, agriculture and medical care service, and now, as Thailand’s northern educational hub.

To help promote this, on June 28 at the Royal Princess Hotel, Thai Airways International sponsored a conference titled “Chiang Mai, northern educational hub of Thailand”. Participants included Thai Airways International, Thailand International Schools Association, private university institutes and other government and private sector organizations.

Thai Airways will act as a “middleman” to link both private sectors and government organizations to make this project a reality. The company has opened more air routes to serve air transportation in this region, with links to Singapore, China, Myanmar, Chittagong, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, Pukam, Rangoon, Chiang Rung, Luang Phrabang, Hanoi, and Mandalay.

At present there are about 70 international schools in Thailand with approximately 20,000 students, of which 65% come from overseas.

TAT wants to see more South Korean newlyweds and golfers

TV crews invited to come and have a look

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office in South Korea has launched a tourism promotional campaign to persuade South Korean newlyweds and golf players to visit Thailand.

The Northern Business Women Operators Club in cooperation with TAT in South Korea recently brought a group of reporters from cable television companies and local newspapers from South Korea to Chiang Mai for a visit.

The Korean reporters were here to shoot films about Thai traditions, culture, and way of life in northern Thailand, including such unique activities as the ceremony for prolonging life, making merit, and giving food to the monks, and some old traditions that northern Thais preserve. These tourism films to be will be broadcast to many countries around Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Saichalee Wannapreuk, the director of TAT Office in South Korea, said that the press trip to Thailand was just one of the campaigns to promote the image and tourism to Thailand. TAT statistics show that 700,000 Korean tourists visit Thailand each year. At the moment, many provinces such as Phuket, Rayong, Phetchaburi, and Prachuap Khirikhan, are attracting Korean newlyweds and golfers.

Solar power for Mae Hong Son

Make hay while the sun shines

The largest solar power plant in Asia will commence construction at Mae Hong Son next month. Constructors expect to finish the plant by April 2004.

“It will be the largest solar cell station in Asia, and will provide clean energy for Mae Hong Son people ... (solar) will be the main power source for the province,” said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wittaya Masena, chairman of the Senate Committee on Science, Technology and Energy.

He said the two solar cell stations to be built in Mae Hong Son would help reduce power generating costs, a welcome benefit since power distributed from Chiang Mai is very expensive. Currently the power supply for Mae Hong Son is not enough, and 50% of the population is not connected to the electricity power grid.

He added that Mae Hong Son has appropriate topography for solar cell plants, and said that more will be constructed in 6 areas, including behind Mae Hong Son prison, Pha Bong Diesel power plant, Pai District, Pang Ma Pa, Khun Yuam, and Mae Sa Riang districts.

The first solar power station will be the Mae Hong Son 2 Station with a capacity of 500 kilowatts. This construction project will be built in Pha Bong Diesel power plant and will cost close to 200 million baht.

Chiang Mai cracking down on the 90 day rule

Regulations require your presence every three months

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Chiang Mai Immigration Office has reminded alien residents and foreigners who live in Chiang Mai to notify there whereabouts to the immigration office every 90 days. Pol Lt Col Kanokpan Roobkajorn, inspector of Chiang Mai Immigration Office said, “Many foreign people are confused and don’t understand the need to check in with Chang Mai’s Immigration Office every 90 days. Overstays will be fined 5,000 baht and 200 baht daily.”

To add to the confusion, there are now two immigration offices; one at the airport and another on Airport Road. There is a one-stop service at the airport that can deal with some visas, such as the over 55 year retirees, some business owners in Chiang Mai and foreign people who work as volunteers for Thai government.

“This center will help foreign people save time, rather than come to the main office,” added Pol Lt Col Kanokpan.

Fore more details please call Chiang Mai Immigration Office number 053 201 755.

Local NGO’s discuss the AIDS/HIV situation

Guest speakers present their findings - stimulate debate

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Health & Development Networks (HDN) held its monthly NGO Forum on HIV/AIDS and Development on June 24 in Chiang Mai. This event focused on community activities in preparation for both the 9th National Seminar on HIV/AIDS in July this year and the World AIDS Conference in Bangkok, July next year.

Speakers present their findings and stimulate debate at the Chiang Mai NGO Monthly Forum on HIV/AIDS and Development.

HDN invited eight special guest speakers from local NGOs who attacked eight different issues on HIV/AIDS, including Traditional Healers and Holistic Health Care by Wiroj Khantasook, the project coordinator of Holistic Health Care Project from North Net Foundation, Advocacy for Mobile Populations and HIV/AIDS Vulnerability by Jackie Pollock, the coordinator of MAP Foundation for the Health & Knowledge of Ethnic Labor, and Budsaya Kunakorn-Sawat from Northern Youth Network presented the Impact of HIV/AIDS on Young People and Active Movement.

HDN is an Irish non-profit organization that wishes to improve communication and the quality of debate, expand discourses and promote self-representation in the HIV/AIDS, health and development-related issues internationally.

The Ministry of Public Health released new figures showing that Thailand will be home to over 1.1 million AIDS sufferers in three year’s time. Prof. Pakdee Pothisiri, Deputy Permanent Secretary for Public Health, said that the Ministry of Public Health estimated that Thailand was already home to 1,033,500 AIDS patients in 2002, of whom 398,400 had already died.

Japan supports move to reduce agrochemicals in the North

Must show results quickly to gain good reputation

Surachai T. Bunditkul

Chiang Mai Provincial Agriculture Extension Office is receiving good cooperation from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) consulting with Thai government officials regarding a joint project titled “Appropriate Technology for Reduction of Agrochemicals in Northern Thailand.”

The director of the office, Kriengkrai Kanongdechachat, said that the project is in line with the office policy to reduce toxic chemicals in all vegetables, because much northern produce has residual chemical problems, especially in longan fruits.

In view of the fact that Thailand is aiming to be a player in the world market, this project will need to show results very quickly if this country is to gain a good reputation for its agricultural products.

Chiang Mai is prepared for floods and storms

Special task force operation center established at Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Office

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Wichien Noonrod, Chiang Mai Provincial Public Relations Office chief, said that Chiang Mai has already put together this year’s special plan for solving flood problems and taking care of storm victims in Chiang Mai’s 22 districts and 2 sub-districts.

During the May - November rainy season there is always a risk of floods and storms in many areas. Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat, as Civil Disaster Prevention Center director, has ordered every unit to prepare to assist victims, and has established a special task force operation center at Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Office.

Wichien added that this operation center is responsible for implementing the plan and being the communications center during any disaster situation. The center is also open to receive donations of aid and equipment that victims may need.

The center is divided into 5 units: the warning and emergency report unit, rescue unit, evacuation and security operations unit, first aid and donations unit, and recovery operation unit. All 5 units are ready now.

If you happen upon a disaster situation, please contact the Provincial Administration Office, 053 221 182 or 053 210 055.

100,000 baht offered for information leading to arrests of makers of deadly bogus La Sante wine

One man killed, 4 others injured after drinking the wine at birthday party

Phitsanu Thepthong and AP

Boonnak Sriya, 42, a gardener at the Siam Bay View Hotel in Pattaya took a sip of wine from a bottle purporting to be La Sante wine and suddenly felt dizzy, vomited and passed out. He was rushed to hospital where doctors pumped his stomach but failed to revive him. Doctors suspect he died of toxic poisoning.

The real La Sante wine.

The fake La Sante wine.

The man who died and four others who were hospitalized after drinking the liquid, labeled as La Sante wine, were all employees of the same hotel in Pattaya.

Relatives of the sick men handed over the remaining wine and the bottle for further testing at the police forensic institute.

“During their investigation, police poured some of the liquid from the wine bottle into a plastic cup, and it burned through the plastic,” Lt. Col. Supot Amnatmankong of the Pattaya police said.

Nirut Sukharoj (right), Chiang Rai Winery Co. Ltd. legal advisor, filed a complaint with Pol Lt Col Chatchawan Phisuthiwong, deputy superintendent of Pattaya Police Station, and asked him to help search for those who produce bogus La Sante wine and to bring them to justice. Nirut is holding a bottle of real La Sante wine - the killer bottle of wine sits at the center of the desk.

Tests revealed at least three highly toxic solvents in the wine: Tertrahydrofuran (THF), gamma butyrolcatone (GBL) and acetonitrile or methyl cyanide. THF is used for producing PVC pipes and cement, GBL is an industrial solvent used in the paint industry and for cleaning heavy machinery, and acetonitrile is used to make pharmaceuticals, pesticides, plastics, batteries and inorganic salts. A hospital spokesperson said that usually THF and GBL would smell strong enough to deter anyone from consuming it, but surmised that perhaps the partygoers were already too drunk to notice.

Nopparat Suwantemee, the factory manager, of Chiang Rai Winery Co., Ltd., the manufacturers of the real La Sante wines in Chiang Rai Province’s Tambon Sritoy, Mae Suai District, said the company is offering a reward to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the fake wine.

“There is no doubt that the liquid was not the true La Sante product, after testing procedures were carried out by the police and the Food and Drug Administration,” said Yothin Wimukdayon, the chief of Chonburi Provincial Excise Office, who oversees the whisky distillery and operation in Pattaya, confirming that he has inspected and compared the label of the La Sante wine bottled legally by the company with the fake one.

Nopparat said fruit and herbal wines produced by Chiang Rai Winery Co. are up to standard and experts supervise the winemaking process. Raw materials used for making the wine do not contain chemicals.

Suspicions continue to mount, with Wiroj Sabua, marketing manager of Chiang Rai Winery, which distributes the wine for the Chiang Rai Winery Group, believing the incident was an attempt to discredit its reputation as it had planned to sell the product overseas. “This case may spoil and discredit Thai La Sante wine, which is a good quality wine,” he added.

Nirut Sukharoj, the legal advisor to the Chiang Rai Winery Co., Ltd. has filed a complaint and asked Pol Lt Col Chatchawan Phisuthiwong, deputy superintendent of Pattaya Police Station, to help search for those who produce bogus La Sante wine and to bring them to justice.

Nopparat Suwantemee, the factory manager at Chiang Rai Winery said that the company has strict quality control systems, beginning with the cultivation of raw materials free from agro-chemicals, and the production is also under supervisions of academics and technicians with doctorates in the fields of food science.

For the actual wine production, there are experts from Thailand and abroad, together with three academics with bachelors degrees in food science to help supervise the distillery process. The company also uses high quality bottles, labels, other materials, and has a correct trademark.

Crafty wood-smugglers caught

Village headwoman arrested

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Charae Wongchaya, the chief of Phrae Forestry Office, together with forest officials from Denchai District received a police tip-off that frequent wood smuggling was going on using the highway between Phrae and Uttaradit provinces. The timber was allegedly being taken illegally from the forest at Huay Lark Phuen Village in Tambon Huay Rai, Denchai.

The officers set up a roadblock on the highway and noticed a pick-up truck with the Local Administration Department (LAD), Ministry of Interior logo stenciled on it. They followed the truck and stopped it at Tambon Mae Jua and on searching it found 10 portions of teakwood under a seat inside the truck. The driver, Phaksupaporn Kukong, the 45-year-old village headwoman of Ban Pong Village, Sung Men District, was immediately charged.

Phaksupaporn, the alleged offender, said that she often smuggled illegal wood, but has never been arrested. This was probably because her car had the LAD logo as a ‘pass through’ at each checkpoint. However, the officers seized the material evidence for further interrogation and law process.

Two drug dealers killed in drug suppression skirmish

Special forces ambush nets 100,000 speed pills and weapons

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Phamuang Task Force soldiers killed two Wa soldiers guarding a drug convoy from Burma during a skirmish in Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai District on June 27.

100,000 speed pills were discovered at the scene, along with weapons, after the predawn gunfight in the Thai border district.

After officials received a tip-off on June 25 that drug smuggling would be going on in the border area, Major-General Manus Paorig, Phamuang Task Force commander, assigned a special task force from the 133rd cavalry battalion to ambush the drug convoy.

During the operation, which took place north of Ban Huai San just one kilometer away from the border demarcation, Thai forces and smugglers exchanged gunfire for about 20 minutes.

The clash left two Wa soldiers dead; one was dressed in a military uniform. Nearby, about 100,000 speed pills, 1 AK-47 rifle, 1 pistol, 1 Chinese made grenade and 30 rounds of ammunition were recovered.

All was confiscated and transferred to Mae Ai Police Station to undergo further investigation.

Police believe that this smuggling convoy was from the Wa-controlled area inside Burma, and the drugs were being smuggled into Thailand.

Let’s talk about drugs

Probably better than extra-judicial killings

Nuttanee Thaveephol

“Let’s take moralizing out and put humanity in”, the Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN) published in its press release on June 26, the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illegal Trafficking.

Don McVinney of the Harm Reduction Coalition said that they have to accept the reality that there are people who use drugs. Due to the failure of drug eradication in societies, the AHRN said that because the popular moral theory dictates that addiction is a moral failure, intervention means moral redemption or punishment for being morally weak.

The publication noted that many school-based prevention programs have also proven ineffective for those who are already using drugs, since there is no significant difference in drug use between the school’s graduates and students never exposed to the curriculum.

“Rather than throwing students out of school for making a bad decision, let’s offer help, keep them busy, institute constructive punishment for rule-breaking within the school context, and try to increase their connection to teachers, administrators, and other students,” urges Marsha Roshenbaum, director of the Safety First program.

Drug addicts are also blamed for HIV/AIDS infection, as intertwined problems. Dr. Peter Poit, executive director of UNAIDS stated that the young people should be given life skills and provided preventive education so they would be able to protect themselves from using drugs or from HIV infection and ultimately escape the cycle of addiction.

The AHRN tries to meet the drug users and involve them in policy making and advocacy, and considers their opinions. The organization suggests that governments in any part of the world should face drug use as a public health issue instead of only upholding the old policies on drug repression.

US government to help develop three major municipalities in Thailand

Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Phuket to get help

Surachai T. Bunditkul

The US government will soon send experts to improve the municipalities of three major provinces in Thailand: Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Phuket.

Mayors from the three provinces gathered at the Chiang Mai Municipal Office on June 26 to attend a meeting with US Consul-General Eric Rubin.

During the meeting, US Consul-General Eric Rubin witnessed a Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony between Portland, USA, and the 3 municipalities. The MOU will set up cooperation to improve work procedures at Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, and Phuket municipalities.

Also during the meeting, all three mayors presented a “wish list” of things they would like help with achieving.

Chiang Mai’s Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn asked for cooperation from USA experts to help improve and recover land in the Ping River basin. He said that over the years, people have been encroaching on the riverbanks, especially residential housing, hotels and restaurants, and Mayor Boonlert feels that those that have should be punished. He would like to see the area from Pa Tan Bridge in the north of Chiang Mai City to the Provincial Police Region 5 landscaped and brought back to its original, natural beauty.

Peeraphon Pattanateeradet, the mayor of Khon Kaen Municipality, presented 2 projects to the meeting. For the first, he said that his municipality needs to create a plan for the city to open its tourist “Walking Street”, which he said would bring in maximum profits to the area and create business opportunities for people in the municipality.

For the second, Mayor Peeraphon said help would be appreciated in devising an administration and managing system for garbage disposal and wastewater treatment, and it would be really nice if this could be done within the municipality’s limited budget.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Phuket Municipality Lt. Phomsak Hongyok picked three major projects to help improve his city. Bang Yai moat development would the first on his list, he said, because the moat passes by the city and public parks area.

The second would be an Information Technology project dealing with public health for primary treatment of the public at Phuket Municipal Health Center. The last project he asked for was a software showcase to support IT and promote businessmen who want to invest in IT software writing programs.

The mayors are hopeful that all these proposed projects will take effect within the next 5 years, which they feel is enough time to develop the projects and cope with any problem that might arise.

If these projects prove successful, they will be used as pilot projects when extending the program to other municipalities throughout the country.