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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Tight security planned during APEC Conference

Country areas to get TV 11

Northern Region Work Safety Week August 7-9 at Kad Suan Kaew

Tourism promotion launched for Om Koi

Belta releases new up-market computers

Chiang Mai to host World Horticulture Festival in 2006

Lamphun expects 75,000 tons of lamyai this season

Natural Healing for chronic ailments?

Technology Seminar for Northern Industry

CMU students want busses

Only 30 items selected from 132 entries in Chiang Mai’s OTOP contest

Women in crisis in Thailand

Inexpensive government sponsored computers arrive by snail mail

Mae Hong Son - Samoeng shortcut proposed

Mae Hong Son prepares to cope with floods

Laos asks for assistance in road improvement to Nan border

Lampang’s influential figures are protected by government officials, says governor

Social order operational center set up in Lampang

Relocation of Klong Ngoen Community meeting obstacles

633 people committed suicide in Chiang Mai last year

Teenage gangs targeted by police

Illegal logging and saw milling operator arrested

Tight security planned during APEC Conference

Local police on the ready

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Pol. Lt. Col. Chawalit Kochahiran, deputy commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police has assured that the security during the APEC Conference in Chiang Mai from July 30 - August 8 this year will be intense, with special operation teams from both Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

Pol. Lt. Col. Chawalit said that Chiang Mai police has a security team responsible for checking personal and location safety plus facilitating traffic flow. The National Police Office will take on the main task in maintaining security and will set up the operation control center.

For the VIP’s, special security police will be taking care of them from their first step in Chiang Mai until their leaving. Tight security will include a special entrance to the airport for the APEC ministers. Special police will be standing by in hotels.

There will also be X-ray scanners at hotel entrances, looking for weapons. Police officers will patrol and inspect around the buildings used in the conference. All hotel staff will be subject to security checks. Police dogs will check for bombs, grenades and explosive objects in the hotel rooms, conference rooms, and banquet rooms before the ministers arrive. Likewise, the APEC Ministers and VIP’s will have police escorts when traveling.

“In the case of terrorism, special forces from Chiang Mai and nearby provinces will be mobilized to maintain security. Operators from Naresuan 261 task force from Bangkok will also control the situation,” said Pol. Lt. Col. Chawalit.

The APEC Conference will be held in Chiang Mai on 3 topics including Women Leadership Network Forum at Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel on July 30 - August 3, Business Forum Meeting at Westin Hotel on August 4-7, and SME’s business on August 4-8 at Imperial Mae Ping Hotel.


Country areas to get TV 11

Government spending 820 million on ‘soaps’

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Somsak Sawangcharoen, deputy director-general of the Public Relations Department, said the government has provided a budget of 820 million baht to increase the cover given by 50 TV stations all over the country.

This project has been granted a concession by Loxley Co. Previously, there were 34 stations under supervision of TV Channel 11, and another 16 stations under TV Channel 9 and ITV sharing the same transmission towers.

Loxley Co would also improve the broadcasting signal of all 50 stations by changing transmitters and checking the coverage. Currently 35 stations have been tested and passed.

Signal will be improved in Ubon Ratchathani Province and some areas in the central plains region.

Somsak said that he expects this year about 93 percent of the people in the country will be able to watch TV Channel 11 with clear and sharp picture and sound. This is part of the government service to provide for people in remote villages.


Northern Region Work Safety Week August 7-9 at Kad Suan Kaew

Learn how to work safely

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Northern Provincial Labor Protection and Welfare Offices and Work Safety Center have organized the Northern Region Work Safety Week 2003 in Chiang Mai from August 7-9 at Kad Suan Kaew.

The principal objective of the fair is to be the center for exchanging work experiences and safety technologies. The activities include seminars on the technique of minimizing harm, fire-fighting and safe working practices.

There will also be sale and demonstrations of safety protection equipment and job demonstration and training. The participants can also have a free health check, physical efficiency, and mental and physical health counseling.

There is also a Safety Bowling competition with 25,000 baht up for grabs. For additional information, contact Chiang Mai Provincial Labor Protection and Welfare, 053 890 472-3.


Tourism promotion launched for Om Koi

Wild flora and fauna are the attractions

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Somchai Rungsakorn, the district chief of Om Koi Office in Chiang Mai has launched a tourism promotion campaign for those who are visiting the Royal Project (under Her Majesty the Queen’s Royal Patronage), including other cultural and natural attractions.

Om Koi District is about 200 kilometers south of Chiang Mai City and has many natural attractions, currently being promoted in the Unseen in Thailand guidebook from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Amongst these is Mon Jong Hill, inhabited by gorals, one of 16 protected species of wildlife, as well as the area for Tao Rang or giant Caryota Urens, a type of rare palm, mostly found at the steep slopes.

The Royal Project Nang Non Agricultural Center is also located in Tambon Mae Tuen, and is the breeding center for barking deer, bears, and some wild orchid plants. Chom Chang temple and Karen hill-tribe villages are being promoted as cultural attractions as well.


Belta releases new up-market computers

Expect to sell 100,000 by year’s end

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Following the success of its economy models, Sri Thanonchai and Tossakan, Belta Computer Company has launched new models for higher target groups with a new 900 grams pocket PC Belta Indy Pad for Microsoft Office Presentation, Belta Mollis Series 3 Notebook for high quality graphics and multimedia in-the-future 3 dimensional graphic technology, and Belta Infinity S 300 for home entertainment.

(From left) Sumalee Luekuan, marketing manager at Chi Chang, Pannee Chompuchaikerd, marketing manager and Eakkapop Suwan, product manager of Belta Company present the new models.

If you know what all of that means, then you should think about giving them a visit.

Pannee Chompuchaikerd, the marketing manager, said that Belta predicted this year’s sales target would be 80,000 units, but despite being a local brand, for the first half year the sales volume was nearly 50,000 units, so Belta used their new computers to do the math and now expect to sell 100,000 units by the end of 2003.

In Chiang Mai, Belta has selected Chi Chang Computer Company as its sales outlet. Sumalee Luekuan, the marketing manager at Chi Chang said that Chi Chang Computers has 2 branches, one in Chiang Mai Land Housing Estates and another at Central Airport Plaza Department Store.


Chiang Mai to host World Horticulture Festival in 2006

Time to start sowing the seeds

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The Cabinet has approved in principle Chiang Mai to host the World Horticulture Festival in 2006 with a budget of 1.955 billion baht earmarked for the event.

Sora-art Klinprathum, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives presided over a meeting discussing preparations for the world festival at the Office of Agriculture Development and Research Region 1, Chiang Mai on July 8. The Cabinet has already agreed to organize the festival at the Royal Agriculture Research Station, Chiang Mai in Hang Dong District.

The festival will be held on 500 rai of land with part of the budget for the improvement of communications and transportation systems, water supply, plants watering systems, and public utilities. The pattern of the festivity will follow that of the last festival held in Kunming, China.

The festival will be a way to publicize Thailand’s horticulture production technology and bring world trends in agricultural technology to Thai farmers.


Lamphun expects 75,000 tons of lamyai this season

Lamyai surplus in Lamphun

By Surachai T. Bunditkul

Lamphun is expecting increased tonnage of lamyai fruits this year and the committee on farmers’ assistance has allocated 600 million baht to help boost the product’s distribution in other provinces, plus another 50 million baht for promotion of lamyai processed fruit products, interest free, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

Tawat Satiannam, the Lamphun governor said there is a problem of a lamyai surplus in Lamphun and has proposed assistance measures to the committee to help solve the low prices caused by lamyai oversupply.

The lamyai fruit promotion projects are to be launched for the overseas and domestic markets with a government budget of 5 million baht for a lamyai fruit fair.


Natural Healing for chronic ailments?

Relies on mind over body

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

A physician from Kerala state, India, who uses natural healing, held a seminar on “The Indian Method of Natural Healing” on July 7 at the Women’s Studies Center, Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University.

After finishing 15 days of natural healing workshop at Wongsanit Ashram in Nakhon Nayok Province, Jacob Vatakkanseri, an Indian physician gave the one day seminar on natural healing. He said that natural healing is a self-treatment practice based on the principle that body and mind could cure any disease if the body was in good condition. Moreover, learning and practicing self-healing was suitable for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer (in the first or second stage), asthma, heart problems, and a weak immune system.

“The most important aspect of self-healing is care of our diet, and we may do this by decreasing our food intake and washing poisons out of our bodies. We may choose food that is not only suitable for the body but also washes away harmful substances and strengthens the elemental balance of the body as well,” he said.

He added that according to the principal of natural healing, if a patient ran a fever, he would feel happy because that was the way of self-healing. The high body temperature showed that the germs were killed, was another of his claims. When people had diarrhoea, they took medicine to stop it, but this was a natural body process of cleansing. “Diseases are the blessing of God, they are not the body’s enemy,” said Jacob Vatakkanseri.

He said he has many years of experience and knowledge, and has built up confidence in the self-healing of chronic illnesses. He established the Navasiwan Center in Kerala state as well as four other natural healing centers in southern India with the motto “When you come, you are a patient, when you leave, you are a doctor.”


Technology Seminar for Northern Industry

Thai entrepreneurs should pay attention to global picture

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Thailand Institute of Science and Technology Research (TISTR) organized a technology road show on July 9 at the Empress Hotel in Chiang Mai to strengthen the industrial section in northern Thailand.

Dr. Ladawan Chodmonkol, the deputy director of TISTR service section, said that with the high competition for business around the world, the industrial entrepreneurs in Thailand should pay much concern to the global picture. At the same time, they should develop the manufacturing process of products to reach a global standard.

To support the efficiency of Thai industry, the TISTR as one of the government sectors tries to provide business information about the demand for quality products, and provide an opportunity for the entrepreneurs to share opinions.

Dr. Ladawan added that the applied technology would play an important role in the manufacturing process because it was then easy for the entrepreneurs to control the quality of their production.


CMU students want busses

Plan delayed after minibus protest

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai University (CMU) students want the municipality to launch bus routes running between the main campus to Suan Dok campus. CMU Student Union, led by it president, Sarawut Kantaja, asked to meet Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn, and presented a letter demanding continuation of this project.

Sarawut Kantaja (right) president of CMU Student Union, presents the students’ demand to Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn (left).

The municipality had a project for running buses serving CMU students, but after the red minibus protest this project has been delayed. CMU Student Union wants the municipality to continue the project, which could ease traffic problems around campus and facilitate the students’ getting around, especially first year students. “The student union agreed that this project could help first year students from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Associated Medical Sciences, and cure traffic problems as well,” said Sarawut.

Boonlert said that this project would provide 4 buses running between main campus and Suan Dok campus running from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. This is the third project in providing mass transportation for students, firstly in Prince’s Royal College - Dara route and the second in Regina - Sacred Heart - Monfort - Chairoj route.

The municipality would review and make a decision regarding the CMU bus route within two weeks, he said.


Only 30 items selected from 132 entries in Chiang Mai’s OTOP contest

27 food products, 2 non-alcoholic beverages, and 1 herb

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office’s judging committee has judged the 3 categories of Chiang Mai’s One Tambon - One Product (OTOP) entries: food processed products, non-alcoholic beverages, and herbs.

From the 132 entries, there were only 30 items selected, 27 items from the 103 food processed products, 2 from 16 items of non-alcoholic beverages, and 1 from the 13 entries for herbs.

Dr. Rattawut Sukmee, Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office chief said that the OTOP contest is being held in response to the government’s policy on promoting local products.

The OTOP project is aimed at creating a good business opportunities for people in each local community to earn more income. The project encourages people and helps them improve the standard of local products up to export levels.


Women in crisis in Thailand

Suffragettes on the streets again?

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

A special discourse, which was open to the public, was held at the Women’s Studies Center, Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University on July 10. The topic was Women’s Crisis in Thailand with the address given by Prof. Peter Bell from the State University of New York.

Prof. Peter Bell at Women’s Studies Center, CMU.

This talk was intended to provide a framework for analyzing the roles of women in Thailand, their power, and their on-going struggles to change Thai society.

According to the speakers, after the economic crisis in 1997, Thailand’s day to day living was controlled by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity programs, recession, unemployment, and cuts in social benefits. Women always suffered in this phase of the crisis due to their need to maintain the family.

Much was asserted that patriarchy in Thailand functioned through the mediation of the so-called “traditional” forms of male dominance exercised through the family, religion, and ideology. Furthermore, patriarchy was global, and patriarchal capitalism was superimposed on the traditional forms, Prof. Bell propounded.

However, Prof. Bell said that women had the power to provide a new vision of society, to redefine the narrow visions of patriarchal capitalism by linking their struggles with global anti-capitalist movements.


Inexpensive government sponsored computers arrive by snail mail

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The first “Sinsamut” PC’s arrived in Chiang Mai and were delivered to the lucky recipients at San Pa Koi Postal Office on July 8.

Jeerakarn Kraikruan (left), assistant director of Regional Postal Bureau, Region 5, delivers the first ICT computers to the happy recipients. (Photo by Surachai T. Bunditkul)

Jeerakarn Kraikruan, assistant director of Regional Postal Bureau, Region 5, said there were 22,858 people who had booked ICT computers in the northern region, and Chiang Mai ranked second, after Bangkok, with 7,210 people booking.

Delivery of the reserved computers has been done through 106 centers. For the North, there are 3: the San Pa Koi Postal Office, Lamphun Postal Office and Denchai Postal Office in Phrae.

The government’s PCs project was launched to provide low cost PCs for low-income earners at 10,900 baht excluding VAT. The second phase of this successful project is to offer a notebook computer priced at 22,000 baht excluding VAT with interest-free terms for government officials.


Mae Hong Son - Samoeng shortcut proposed

Will save four hours traveling time

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Mae Hong Son Province is supporting a project for construction of a road from its Thai-Burma border to Samoeng District, Chiang Mai Province, a distance of 185 km. This is expected to boost economy and tourism between the two provinces.

The Mae Hong Son community has discussed the economic aspects and environmental impacts from the proposed road. The meeting drew much interest from the community and was attended by villagers, headmen, and engineering staff, as well as interested residents.

Tara Construction Co has been assigned to conduct the feasibility study for the Highways Department. The results will be studied and if given the go-ahead, the project will be sent to the Transportation Ministry for budget approval and support.

Mae Hong Son Governor Supoj Laowanasiri said at present there are two ways to travel from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son, one through Mae Sariang District and the other through one Pai District. These are both very tortuous roads and make travel very slow between the two provinces.

If approved, the proposed new shortcut would take only 2 or 3 hours instead of 6-7 hours for the 185 km journey. It is hoped that the new road would facilitate trade, business and tourism between the two provinces.


Mae Hong Son prepares to cope with floods

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Suphot Laowansiri, Mae Hong Son provincial governor, has ordered his staff to be on 24 hour alert and be ready to handle all natural disasters during this rainy season.

According to the weather forecast from the Northern Region Meteorological Center, it is predicted that following the rains of the past few weeks, flash floods are likely in many areas.

The Mae Hong Son governor noted that he has operational plans with other rescue teams and clubs, along with volunteers, and has equipment ready including life-vests, flotation aids, medical kits and necessary food supplies with 24 hour availability, to cope with the expected floods.

Following last year’s loss of lives and property in flash floods, the governor warned his people to frequently check weather forecasts and flood alerts.

The Civil Disaster Prevention Center in Mae Hong Son has also launched public information bulletins for people who live in the flood risk areas, such as the low plains and the areas along the riverbanks, to be ready to evacuate, taking belongings and cattle to safer high ground.


Laos asks for assistance in road improvement to Nan border

Old Cold War route to be repaired

By Nuttanee Thaveephol

Laos has asked Thailand for cooperation on road improvements to connect up with the Nan borderline. The road construction will go from Ban Huay Kroan in Nan Province to connect with northern Laos and then up to southern China.

Thada Sathienrurk, advisor for the Northern Chamber of Commerce Region 10 said that the Cabinet had approved in principle the Ministry of Foreign Affairs giving a financial contribution to the Laos government for improving the 55 km route joining Nguen and Pak Baeng village of Laos with Ban Huay Kroan, in Nan.

Though the road still cannot be used, after the improvements are finished it will be the connecting route between Nan Province and Pak Bang - Udomxai - Boa Ten in Laos and then up to Boa Han in south China, which used to be a strategic road during the Cold War.

Thada added that this development scheme would give more opportunity for the country to use Nan as a gateway to other countries in this region.

All the appropriate Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies have been completed, and the route would have benefits for all linked countries. This project will also show Thailand’s sincerity in helping Laos to gain more economic stability and demonstrate the bilateral cooperation of Laos and Thailand under the ASEAN framework.


Lampang’s influential figures are protected by government officials, says governor

He is nonetheless prepared to hunt them down

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Lampang Governor Chalermpol Prateepawanich said that he had already submitted a list of all the influential figures in his jurisdiction to the Ministry of Interior, prior to waiting for permission to apprehend these dark forces.

Lampang has divided the list into 3 groups, with category A being the most urgent cases, B needing close follow up, and C covering those who need to be watched. Unfortunately, the Lampang governor said that most of the figures were protected by government officers, but he is nonetheless prepared to hunt down the miscreants.

In this northern province, illegal lottery dealers still proceed unchecked. There are also illegal loggers, underhanded bidding, job placement scams, and gunmen that the provincial authorities have started to suppress.


Social order operational center set up in Lampang

Seven teams, working in shifts, to cover 24 hours

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Lampang provincial authority has set up a police box at Lampang five-junction clock tower as the center for a social order operation to ensure security for Lampang people. Lampang Deputy Governor Derek Gonkleep is the director of the center.

The opening ceremony to officially launch this project was held at the police box in front of the city municipality building, presided over by Chalermphol Prateepawanich, Lampang governor on July 1.

This project was initiated because of the problems with criminals destroying private and public properties. The situation has been getting worse recently with young hooligans racing noisy motorcycles on the superhighway at night.

There will be seven operational teams working in shifts over the entire 24 hours, watching out for the troublemakers as well as drugs or dark influences.


Relocation of Klong Ngoen Community meeting obstacles

Some welcome change, others fear problems will arise

Supatatt Dangkrueng

145 families making up the Klong Ngoen Community, who have squatted along the Mae Kha riverbanks, have been told they have to move as the Mae Kha canal is going to be dredged and work done along the edges. The Klong Ngoen Community had previously agreed to resettlement at Ban Khao Tan Luang, Tambon San Sai Luang, San Sai District as it is convenient for transport and travel to town.

However, the local residents were not so enthralled with this concept because they are afraid of possible problems such as congestion in their community, pollution and crime. But this was not universal as some thought that relocating would be accepted and they would be welcomed as new members of the community.

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said there is a budget of 14.5 million baht from National Housing Authority to construct public utilities for the new community. A promised relocation budget from the government has not yet been made available, but Mayor Boonlert added that the San Sai Luang Municipality has proposed to lend this money while the budget is on the way.

However, there was a community forum of 200 local residents held at Ban Tan Khao Luang to discuss this topic led by San Sai Luang Mayor Natee Damrong in his position as the representative from the Municipality, Town and Urban Planning Department. There was no real outcome from the meeting with no concord from both sides.

Mayor Natee said that Klong Ngeon Community relocation must proceed and local representatives will be asked to sit in meetings until this is resolved. We hope the chairs have cushions.


633 people committed suicide in Chiang Mai last year

Samaritans Center reveals dreadful statistics

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Suicides in Chiang Mai rose to 633 people last year, according to Dr. Preab Kuramarohit, deputy director of Chiang Mai Samaritans Center.

Dr. Preab stated that the groups at risk are unemployed workers and farmers aged between 25-40 years old. The primary causes of suicide are divorce, loss of a partner, depression, drug addiction, severe debilitating disease, and being old.

The most popular method of committing suicide is hanging, the second is taking an overdose of medication, followed by shooting oneself and jumping from a high building. Dr. Preab said that unsuccessful suicides should have psychiatric treatment and not given sympathy from others.

“We can identify the signs and symptoms in suicidal people such as insomnia, headache, worrying, lonesome, feeling lost and being depressed.”

The Samaritans Center gives advice to those people who feel discouraged and want to commit suicide, and there will be a workshop on telephone counseling for people in crisis.

Interested persons can apply to join the workshops at Suan Prung Psychiatry Hospital which are held on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 6-10 p.m. or contact 01-531633, 09-5127350, and 01-8819165. The workshop will be arranged later in July this year. The tuition fee is 200 baht.


Teenage gangs targeted by police

135 police to SWAT teenagers

Nuttanee Thaveephol

135 Chiang Mai police have been assigned as a special operation team to counteract teenage gangsters. Parents and teachers are also asked for their cooperation. Pol. Lt. Col. Chawalit Kochahiran, deputy commissioner of Chiang Mai Provincial Police Office said that in line with the intensive social order policy, with suppression of drugs and influential figures, now was the time to stamp out teenage toughs.

135 police officers have been divided into 3 groups responsible for covering teenagers’ meeting places from 9 p.m. - 3 a.m. The strategies for overcoming this teenage threat to society covers a three pronged approach, including the offensive method such as arrest and suppression, defensive method such as inspection, and public relations method such as publicizing the problem and solutions to parents and teachers.

After the suspects are apprehended, they will be checked for any type of illegal activity, then brought to the police station to wait for their parents. The police will discuss the problems with the teenagers and their parents.

“The teenage gangsters are a social problem which the police alone cannot solve. The police units have to cooperate in coping with the problem,” said Chiang Mai Provincial Police deputy commissioner.

Pol. Lt. Col. Chawalit said that there are 23 gangs in the city area whilst 10 are in San Kamphaeng, 3 are in San Sai, 2 are in Hang Dong, and 5 are in Saraphi District, Chiang Mai.


Illegal logging and saw milling operator arrested

Small axe men caught, large ringleaders still at large

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Prasit Kingsoi, a 53 year old villager from Ban Pong Hua Had Village, in Phrae Province, was charged with possession of 18 portions of teak wood, 2 meters in length and 300 mm diameter, plus 84 pieces of milled wood. 6 motorcycles were also impounded.

Charae Wongchaya, the chief of Phrae Provincial Forestry Office, with Manop Sai-Unjai, the forestry managing officials of Mae Yae Mae Sang Forest Conservative Unit and a group of forestry officials surrounded the illegal saw milling factory in the Mae Yae Mae Sang forest park on July 7.

Prasit, the alleged offender confessed that he and his workers had smuggled the teakwood from the forest park, and processed it, before transporting it to a furniture factory in Sung Men District.

Although officials have tried to crack down on the illegal loggers, illegal tree felling businesses are still operating. Officials say that this is because they have not been able to arrest the ringleaders and are only catching the small axe men. However, they are continuing to hunt down those who are denuding the teak forests.