HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Deputy PM Purachai Piumsomboon opens 8th APEC Women Leaders Network Meeting

Gorals in Doi Inthanon National Park are at risk of becoming extinct

History being rewritten

More ideas to combat the low season

Chiang Mai Municipality sues the Regional Waterworks Office

New Job opportunities for displaced pachyderms

Five nations agree to battle drug problems

Air-con buses running for CMU students

Angkhang Royal Agricultural Station future discussed

Chiang Mai Municipality looking again at mass transit systems

Happenings on Mothers Day (August 12)

8th APEC WLN produces fruitful results

Mae Moh declared a drug-free district

Transformer explosion destroys 10 motorcycles and 2 cars

Three influential masterminds arrested for hiring to murder

Unruly teenage behavior examined

Deputy PM Purachai Piumsomboon opens 8th APEC Women Leaders Network Meeting

Leaders should stimulate women to be confident of change

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Deputy PM Purachai Piumsomboon last week presided over the opening ceremony of the Women Leaders Network Meeting (WLN). In his address he told the assembled women leaders from 21 economic zones, that this conference was a significant stage for them to step forward to the future perspective of women.

The deputy PM said, “Women not only comprise an important share of our population, but also a significant portion of the economic activity in the APEC region. In Thailand, for instance, women account for over 70 percent of the labor force, a level reached in several other APEC economies.”

Janistar Lewchalermwong, advisor for the Minister of Social Development and Human Security, gave a powerful address at the meeting.

Janistar Lewchalermwong, advisor for the Minister of Social Development and Human Security, in her address said, “The important issue is the political empowerment of women in which Thailand has also seen some progress. There has been an increasing number of women in national administration positions, therefore, any policy concerning women can be launched more easily. However, there must be leaders who can stimulate women to be confident of this change.”

She added that there were two significant women’s problems, a lack of education in rural areas and the more serious problem of social values and perspective that still judge women to possess inadequate leadership. The second case is rather difficult to solve within the confines of Thai society.

Yaowares Shinawatra, the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Association of Thailand, Chiang Mai branch, said that this Chiang Mai meeting was a good opportunity for Thailand to promote the country’s products to the international market and develop a high standard for Thai commodities. “We participate in this APEC meeting by publicizing and introducing ways for further international cooperation of Thai women’s organization,” she added.

Three critical regional issues were identified as sub-themes for the seminar, including Knowledge Creation, which tried to move beyond mere education and focus on processes geared towards research and applying knowledge. The participants could share their knowledge and experiences with others.

Human Security was the second sub-theme which identified gender-based violence against women and children as national social problems for everyone.

The third issue was Entrepreneurship on which Thailand presented the government’s project for stimulating the economy at the grassroots levels such as a Revolving Fund of Villages and Urban Communities and One Tambon, One Product.

Gorals in Doi Inthanon National Park are at risk of becoming extinct

Mind your morals and preserve the gorals

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Doi Inthanon National Park is asking villagers in Mae Chaem to preserve gorals, a rare animal scene in only a few areas of northern Thailand. The animals are among 15 types on the endangered list.

Gorals, a type of stag, are now rarely found in the northern provinces.

Raweewan Sirisaiyas, a forestry scientist and the assistant chief of Doi Inthanon National Park, stated that the gorals there are at risk of becoming extinct due to the villagers continually hunting them. The national park is unable to stop the killing of these animals. “The number of gorals is reducing because of forest fires, destruction of the forests and hunting. The solution lies in the hands of the forest communities.”

Officials at the national park have cooperated with four nearby communities to research the topic, “The People’s Participation in Gorals Conservation” supported by Thai Research Funds (TRF). Raweewan said that most of the villagers and the local administration organizations are happy to participate in the research.

History being rewritten

New evidence leads to revision of King Naresuan’s story

Metinee Chaikuna

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

New testimony has been discovered about King Naresuan the Great and an ancient army route that will change the way we look at this particular period of history.

The statue of King Naresuan the Great - a hero to Siamese people who gave him the utmost respect and praised him as a warrior king.

Burmese historical information being researched at Silapakorn University with local historians discovered recently that King Naresuan the Great, who fearlessly marched his troop through the areas of Muang Ngai and Wiang Haeng to attack the Kingdom of Burma, had later returned to Wiang Haeng and it is there that he died and not at Tambon Thung Kaew in Muang Hang as mentioned in the chronicle of Prince Dhamrong Rachanuphap.

“The new historical information will have a grand effect on the Kingdom of Thailand,” said Phongsatorn Theerabodi, the assistant district chief officer of Wiang Haeng. Archeologists and historians are currently working together to revise the history books.

Phongsatorn Theerabodi, the assistant district chief officer of Wiang Haeng, noted that the Wiang Haeng Cultural Federation and a club named “We love Wiang Haeng” plans to organize a historical seminar to discuss Wiang Haeng history and the new information about the death place of King Naresuan the Great.

King Naresuan the Great was a hero to Siamese people who gave him the utmost respect and praised him as a warrior king. While he was only a 9-year-old prince, he had been taken hostage and grew up in Burma. He became well acquainted with Burmese ways including sword fighting. The King of Burma also had a son, named Phra Maha Uparat, that was the same age as King Naresuan. They became both friends and competitors.

One day they played cock fighting and the fighting cock of King Naresuan won. Then he informed Phra Maha Uparat that one day he would declare independence for Siam from Burma. When he was 15 years old in 1569, he was sent back to Ayutthaya while his elder sister, Phra Supan Kanlayanee would go to Burma. However, the Prince ascended the Siamese throne as King Naresuan, at the age of 35.

During the fourth and fifth invasions, the Burmese troops were led by the Burmese Crown Prince, Phra Maha Uparat, King Naresuan’s old friend, and because of the destruction of the last campaign on Ayutthaya, King Naresuan and his younger brother, Prince Egatosrot did not wait until the Burmese reached Ayutthaya, instead both brothers advanced at Nong Sarai in Suphanburi and prepared an ambush for the Burmese.

On January 25, 1592, with confusion caused by a large number of Burmese troops and Siamese elephants, both brothers were surrounded by the enemy. But King Naresuan recognized his enemy from his childhood and immediately challenged him. He made the stratagem that he and Phra Maha Uparat would fight together on an elephant using a long pike, which was considered as one of the most honorable fighting tactics in that era. They fought very seriously, and finally King Naresuan beat Phra Maha Uparat. It was then that Prince Phra Maha Uparat died. To this day that date is regarded as Thailand’s National Armed Forces Day.

After the fight, a pagoda was built in Suphanburi Province to commemorate a most glorious battle earning King Naresuan the victory, which deterred Burmese invasions. King Naresuan waged wars with many countries and made the Ayutthaya Kingdom independent and more expansive.

Nevertheless, in 1605 while campaigning against the enemy in the northern region, King Naresuan was taken ill with a boil on his cheek. It turned septic, causing blood poisoning, from which he later died. King Naresuan the Great, one of Siam’s notable warrior kings, died at the age of 50 having reigned for only 15 years. To the Thai people, King Naresuan the Great is always the hero whom the entire nation holds in high regard.

More ideas to combat the low season

August is Happy Family Month

Nuttanee Thaveephol

An “Amazing Thai Wisdom Products” fair will be held at Thapae Gate and Thapae Road Chiang Mai, during August 8-10 this year. This fits in with the APEC SMEs forum, and is also a good chance for tourism promotion during this low tourist season.

Jutamas Siriwan, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand remarked that tourists should start coming back to Chiang Mai now the SARS crisis is fading away. To assist tourism related businesses, this Thai handicrafts presentation should help the producers.

The “Amazing Thai Wisdom Products” fair runs from 2 p.m. - 10 p.m. with many cultural activities covering local food, Thai handicrafts, OTOP product display, and cultural performances.

On Sunday, August 10, it will be extended to Thapae Walking Street in front of Wat Mahawan and in front of Siam Commercial Bank.

There will also be a special activity called “Happy Family” with the winners receiving domestic travel packages.

“TAT has set August to be Happy Family Month and on Sunday, August 10 this year there will be a family costume contest to be held at Thapae Gate. The winner will receive a package tour to Phuket. The TAT booth will be distributing Unseen in Thailand postcards for anyone to request Unseen in Thailand information on places to visit. A lucky winner will receive a package tour to Krabi,” said Jutamas.

Chiang Mai Municipality sues the Regional Waterworks Office

Mayor not going to let it be water under the bridge

Chiang Mai Municipality is suing the Chiang Mai Waterworks for breach of contract over the re-laying of underground water pipes. Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai Mayor said Chiang Mai Waterworks were responsible for the work that was done, and the damage that was done, to the Chiang Mai road system.

The mayor claims that Chiang Mai Waterworks haphazardly left the expensive road construction in damaged condition. He made an example of Chang Klan Road, which was totally renewed, costing more than 10 million baht; however, after the waterworks dug it up and installed the new water pipe, the road and footpath were destroyed and could not be used.

Chiang Mai Municipality has conferred with Chiang Mai Waterworks but nothing has been resolved yet, so, the municipality decided to sue for damages. The legal issue is that the construction and resetting the water pipe in the municipality has not followed the contract, and the damage is at least 50 million baht.

The Chiang Mai Mayor said that according to Article 56 of the Municipality Bill, B.E. 2496, the municipality needs to sue to protect their rights at law otherwise the municipality could be sued by either local people or one of the local politicians claiming the municipality neglected their responsibilities.

New Job opportunities for displaced pachyderms

Elephants wanted for Elephant Patrol

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

The government has provided work for more than 200 elephants to patrol the forest areas around Chiang Mai. Prapat Panyachartrak, minister of Natural Resources and Environment presided over the ceremony marking the Elephant Patrol project at Mae Takrai National Park in Doi Saket.

Prapat said that the government has approved a 24 million baht budget to employ more than 200 elephants and their mahouts to patrol the national parks and wildlife conservation areas around the country. The newly employed elephants would be assistants for the forest officers who work in the remote areas.

The Elephants Patrol project is intended to solve the problems of elephants wandering in the cities and is expected to run for six months. Elephants and their mahouts who participate in the project will receive 10,000 baht a month.

The news source did not indicate if this was 10,000 baht each, or as a couple. It was also not confirmed whether the elephants would have to wear National Parks and Wildlife Conservation uniforms and hats.

Five nations agree to battle drug problems

Ministerial meeting held on drug control

Phitsanu Thepthong

A ministerial meeting on drug control, organized by the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), was held at Pentalateral Cooperation in Chiang Rai July 22-24. Strengthening cooperation among the five-nation member countries are China, India, Laos, Burma and Thailand. In response to the Thai government policy with war on drugs campaign, the meeting ended with great success.

Thai Minister of Justice Pongthep Thepkanchana, who oversees the work on drug prevention and suppression, led the meeting together with the deputy minister of security, China; minister of interior, India; minister of the office of the Laos president, Laos, and minister of interior, Burma.

Answers to drug concerns are to control all chemicals used for production including their alternatives. All countries involved have agreed to unite and are immediately blocking trafficking routes found in Thailand while preventing the smuggling of precursor chemicals from China and India via Thailand and Laos to drug refineries in Burma’s Shan State.

Important precursors and chemicals now under strict control in the chemical name list are ephedrine, pseudo ephedrine, acetic anhydride, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, toluene and acetone. Severe penalties for violations are in order.

All countries agreed that income distribution using the “alternative development” is a way to eliminate opium poppy growth with participation from the people at grassroots levels, as market access of products will be an important factor for the sustainable development being achieved.

Thailand and China jointly promote marketing for agricultural products that have been produced from the alternative development of neighboring countries, India is urged to help explore the markets of those products.

Meetings at ministerial and senior levels will be held regularly with special tasks recognizing the “Chiang Rai Declaration” on drug control. China, India, Laos, Burma and Thailand all agreed to meet again in Thailand at the senior official level meeting under the framework of Pentalateral Cooperation on Drug Control.

Air-con buses running for CMU students

Return trips from CMU main campus to Suan Dok

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The joint project between the Municipality and Chiang Mai University (CMU), supplying students with three air-conditioned buses running between CMU main campus and Suan Dok campus, has been launched. This is a free service for students, university officials and staff.

This project was delayed due to the recent protests by red mini-bus drivers, but pleas by the representatives of the CMU Student Union, led by its president, Sarawut Kantaja, saw the project for serving students get the go-ahead. The municipality says the bus service should ease traffic problems around CMU campus and assist the students in getting around campus.

At present, there are three buses running from CMU campus to Suan Dok campus or Maharaj Hospital, passing Chiang Mai Ram Hospital, Kad Suan Kaew and return as one round trip, running from 7.30 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Sunday.

Mayor Boonlert said this service is a trial project for three months. The municipality is currently absorbing the expenses for the bus rental charges, which amount to 2,000 baht per day. He also said that they were prepared for dissent from the red mini-bus group.

Angkhang Royal Agricultural Station future discussed

All villages to receive electricity by 2004

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Angkhang Royal Agricultural Station held its annual meeting at the station in Fang to discuss options for their future projects. Deputy Prime Minister Suwit Kunkitti chaired the meeting, which was attended by His Serene Highness Prince Bhisadej Rajanee, Royal Project Foundation chairman, along with other representatives from government and public organizations, totaling 77 members at this annual conference.

His Serene Highness Prince Bhisadej Rajanee shows the ‘pre-cooling’ packaging process.

The meeting discussed various topics including the establishment of highland development and research projects, organizing the international conference, zoning useable areas and supply of electricity in all villages under the patronage of the Royal Project.

Representatives from the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry presented the planning for the international seminars, which will be held in September this year and January and November next year to showcase the successful project of His Majesty the King in reducing the opium areas and improving the quality of hill tribe people’s life.

The committee also discussed the process of providing electricity to all villages in the Royal Project area in line with the government policy of supplying every household with electricity by 2004.

Following the successful conclusion of the meeting, the deputy PM visited the ‘pre-cooling’ area of the station, which is part of the Royal Project’s production packaging system, and visited the flower garden in Angkhang Royal Agricultural Station.

Chiang Mai Municipality looking again at mass transit systems

But will certain bus drivers see red?

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Boonlert Buranupakorn, the mayor of Chiang Mai Municipality has approved a government budget for research on mass transportation systems in Chiang Mai.

To this end, a seminar on mass transit system development was held at the Information Technology Service Institute, Chiang Mai University. More than 100 participants included scientists, technicians, researchers, and others who were concerned about the prolonged traffic problem.

Chiang Mai University has been providing free electric shuttles for its students.

Boonlert said that the municipality would provide the 1.3 million baht budget for the Information Technology Service Institute to research Chiang Mai’s mass transportation system.

The old plan, created by the Express and Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (ERTA) in 1995, proposed a 27 km small electric railway transport system. However, according to Mayor Boonlert, due to economic restraints it would be difficult to complete this project within the next 10 years.

Currently the municipality has been providing air-conditioned bus service and school buses to try to abate the transportation problem, but not without much resistance from some quarters.

Happenings on Mothers Day (August 12)

7.00 a.m. at Thapae Gate, the governor of Chiangmai and other officials will present food to 68 monks.

08.15 a.m. at the air-conditioned gymnasium at the 700 Years Stadium (near the Provincial Hall), people can sign their names to wish Her Majesty a Happy Birthday. Invited dignitaries will include Royal Family members staying or living in the north, government officers, consuls stationed in Chiangmai, municipal officials, students and representatives of clubs and associations.

09.00 a.m. the governor of Chiangmai will light candles to pay respect to the Lord Buddha, and will then offer a blessing to Her Majesty the Queen.

5.00 p.m. will be the opening of the Lanna Prueksachart Fair at the playground behind the Provincial Hall.

8th APEC WLN produces fruitful results

Women pursue gender development

Phitsanu Thepthong

The conclusions from the three-day Women’s Leaders Network (WLN) were announced at a press conference after the closing of the meeting. The three days had seen much debate on the creation of knowledge, sharing, and management through partnership, promotion of human security for women and women entrepreneurship through creative partnerships.

Panit Nitithanprapas (center), permanent secretary of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security presided at the closing ceremony of the Women Leaders’ Network Meeting at Chiang Mai Plaza on August 2.

The press conference was chaired by Dr Juree Vichit-Vadakarn, chairwoman of the organizing committee. The recommendations included the implementation of family friendly policies such as affordable daycare options, flexible hours and helping women and men balance family life and careers.

Dr Juree said they met and emphasized aiming to create stronger relationships among the member countries as well as close cooperation between WLN members and others. Fruitful results were produced from the meeting, especially the integration of women affairs to be part of the APEC agendas.

The forum also called for the recognition of women in care services and homemakers in terms of social benefits, higher levels of professional training and the reinforcement of indigenous people’s contribution to the development.

Dr Juree added that WLN recommendations included abolishment of gender discrimination and suggested that more research and data be gathered in this region.

APEC women leaders, especially from Hong Kong, Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines, Canada, and Vietnam promised to take recommendations to their leaders and ministries in pursuit of gender development in their countries.

Mae Moh declared a drug-free district

Still keeping a watchful eye, however

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Mae Moh in Lampang is the first district in this northern province declared to be 100% drug free. On July 29 at Mae Moh Wittaya School, Direk Konkleep, deputy Lampang governor officially displayed the sign announcing the drug-free status of Mae Moh.

The declaration ceremony was witnessed by thousands of people from 5 tambons and 39 villages in Mae Moh. It included the presentation of certificates to all tambon and village headmen who have helped wipe out drugs from their areas. Finally, there were mass pledges when people promised they would never get involved with drugs in the future.

Mae Moh gained drug-free status through assistance from local people, government and public organizations. They launched anti-drug operations, suppression, drug prevention and rehabilitation as part of the government launched “war on drugs”.

Mae Moh District was set up as the command center to keep watch and monitor the movement of drug users and dealers in the areas. Even though the three month “War on Drugs” campaign ended, the district still continues with prevention measures and follow-up. Mae Moh is a strong community and major force in Lampang.

Transformer explosion destroys 10 motorcycles and 2 cars

Transformed to scrap in 5 minutes

Metinee Chaikuna

An electricity transformer inside the Physical Education College exploded, destroying 10 motorcycles and 2 vehicles, but with no loss of life or injury.

Firefighters attempt to extinguish a burning transformer at the Physical Education College gate. (Photo by Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut)

Eye-witness Rewat Nawajack, a teacher at the Physical Education College, told reporters that at around 9.50, electricity in the college went off so the Provincial Electricity Authority were called to repair it.

At 10.30 a.m. the electricity technicians were working on the transformer at the gate of the college when it exploded. Rewat said that the transformer exploded 3 times and set alight to the truck parked under the electricity pole, followed by 2 cars and 10 motorcycles parked nearby.

The sign on the car reads, “New Generation Power” - unfortunately, old-fashioned electricity did in the car. (Photo by Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut)

Police from Chang Puek Police Station said that they need to investigate from the Provincial Electricity Authority how this explosion occurred and how much it would cost in reparations. Police said that it was expected that this would be in the millions of baht because the transformer was valued at more than a million, each car at least 100,000 baht, and each motorcycle around 20,000 baht.

10 motorcycles and some bicycles were destroyed in the blaze. (Photo by Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut)

“The Provincial Electricity Authority needs to compensate for the damage to the students’ property, and we need to investigate to see if the technician was to blame for the incident,” said Pol. Capt. Pairat.

Three influential masterminds arrested for hiring to murder

Seven year old case finally receives a break

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Conflicts with local affairs and politics in Lamphun led police to three masterminds for the May 19, 1996 premeditated murder of Lamduan Panyakosa, chairwomen of the Villages Women Club of Ban Nam Dib, Pa Sang District, Lamphun.

(Seated L to R) Santisuk Chaiwong, Tambon headman, Jirasak Waneesorn, a member of Lamphun provincial council and Natthawut Maneesorn, of Tambon Administration Organization are charged with hiring three gunmen to murder Lamduan Panyakosa, chairwomen of the Villages Women Club of Ban Nam Dib.

Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 issued arrest warrants for three men, Santisuk Chaiwong, a headman of Tambon, Natthawut Maneesorn, a member of Tambon Administration Organization and Jirasak Waneesorn, a member of Lamphun provincial council. All were charged for hiring gunmen to kill Lamduan.

Police officers confiscated the syndicate’s weapons including two .38mm guns, a .357mm gun, a shotgun and 78 rounds of ammunition. After further in-depth investigations, the police arrested the three gunmen, names withheld, who were hired by the influential figures to shoot Lamduan.

Unruly teenage behavior examined

TRF hoping to find solution

Teenage violence is increasing in Chiang Mai. Teenage gangsters such as the well-known Samurai gang are a problem and a menace to Thai society.

The Thai Research Fund (TRF) has presented the results of their research project on the drug problem among youth groups which was participated in by Maejo University, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Hot-line Center Foundation, Chiang Mai and Children Development Organizations.

Dr. Sombat Tapanya of the Psychiatry Department, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University said that according to the information from the research project, it was found that household violence, and the parents’ behavior affected children’s behavior. It pushes children to also act aggressively and this then goes out into the community.

“The aggression in teenagers is the illness of today’s society. Children nowadays are ignored by society, so they try to find a way to draw society’s attention to them, but in negative way. However, it does not mean that we don’t have the way out. We do, but families and communities need to cooperate with each other to take care of children more than ever,” he said.

Dr. Sombat proposed a solution in that children could be divided in to 3 groups. “The first group is children who do not have problems. The second group included the children who are at risk of being violent like those in broken homes but they do not congregate in gangs. The third group is one of violent and aggressive children who are making problems. The way to act with these 3 groups should not be the same.”

“For the third group, if they are guilty of misconduct or commit crimes, they need to be arrested and sent for treatment from psychologists. For the second group, we need to arrange activities for them so that they will not join the third group. For the first group that does not have any problem, we should prevent them joining the trouble makers by providing them with activities sponsored by school, family, and community,” he said.

Teerarat Boripantakul, Medical Science Department, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University added, “The power of teenage groups should be used in positive ways. We can find the way to encourage them in working for the public. That will make them feel useful and successful. Actually, every child wants to feel successful in life and wants to gain self-esteem from society. Children feel successful especially when they join in groups or become important persons in the group. Activities arranged for them should be like camping, or public work. I think the problem will be decreased in one level by this.”

Prasong Yuesuksamran, the researcher from Leader Development and its network in Chiang Mai said that the problems of Chiang Mai teenagers have become chronic and are not managed seriously. “The way to solve these problems starts in the family and then in the community.”

“There’s no one or any organization to give a hand or try to take on the responsibility on this issue straight way. Nobody is clearly in charge of these problems. In the past, we emphasized arresting them but we did not have any clear aim or strategy on solving the problem to prevent these teenagers from gathering and becoming gangs in the city,” he added.