HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Where have all the CMU busses gone?

Fujitsu releases new notebook computers

Bangkok APEC schedule planned

Yarn spinning contest scheduled for Phayao on August 25

Akha hill tribe to celebrate traditional New Year in Chiang Rai September 3

Chi Chang IT Shop officially opened in Central Airport Plaza

APEC SME ministers call for greater networking between business, government, trade promotion authorities and banks

Officials meet to attempt to solve Chiang Mai’s water problems

Jurassic Era snails surface after 13 million years

Water vending machine service launched in Chiang Mai

US consul announces revision to non-immigrant visa application procedures

Thais to have e-passports next year

Where have all the CMU busses gone?

University bus system put on pause

Chiang Mai Municipality has suspended the recently launched air-con bus service running between Chiang Mai University’s (CMU) main campus and Suan Dok campus, offered for university use. Apparently city fathers want to “keep the peace” during the APEC summit, and are concerned that the red minibus drivers might cause a stir if the service continues to run.

Where have all the CMU buses gone? Worried about another major red minibus protest during the APEC conference, city fathers have parked the convenient new buses until a viable solution can be found.

The parody of all this is that the bus service was only just launched on August 1, and was already being touted as a success. Unfortunately, soon after its launch, red minibus drivers began crying to city hall that the service was cutting into their income.

Worried that another large protest was immanent, Chang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn put the project on pause to give his staff and CMU officials time to study the situation and find an appropriate solution agreeable to all concerned.

The municipality began running 24-seat buses between the CMU main campus and Suan Dok campus to ease traffic problems around CMU and assist students in getting around campus. After running for a week, this project was deemed a success, as many students, university officials and staff used the municipal buses instead of their own vehicles.

However, the bus route overlaps with a few red minibus routes. Concessions were granted to red minibus drivers to ply the CMU campus to Suthep Road to Mahajaj Hospital route, passing Chiang Mai Ram Hospital, Kad Suan Kaew and return. Consequently, the red bus drivers complained to the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transportation Office that the CMU bus route grabbed their passengers and this was affecting their income.

Concerned that the red minibus drivers would stage a protest during the APEC meeting in Chiang Mai, the municipality stopped running the service before the APEC meeting gets underway.

“The municipality is working hard to find the best resolution for all concerned ... asking Chiang Mai University to research and study the problem,” the mayor said.

Fujitsu releases new notebook computers

Smaller than a magazine

Fujitsu PC Asia Pacific officially launched two notebook models recently, facilitating the new generation lifestyle with magazine-size notebooks and small-office and home-office notebooks using the concept of, “The Power of Style”.

The P series, P5010, is smaller than a magazine.

The grand opening ceremony for the two newest Fujitsu notebook models was organized at Central Airport Plaza and presided over by Napop Nutsati, group manager of the PC Business Division of Fujitsu Systems Business (Thailand) Ltd.

Bangkok APEC schedule planned

Eleventh APEC Leader’s Meeting scheduled for October 20-21 in Bangkok

On October 20-21, the Eleventh APEC Leader’s Meeting (informal summit) is to be held in Bangkok.

The meeting is to be preceded by meetings of senior officials from member countries, a CEO summit of business leaders, and the APEC Business Advisory Council meeting.

The APEC summit is usually attended by the President, Secretary of State, U.S. Trade Representative, and sometimes the Secretary of Commerce.

The theme for APEC 2003 is “A World of Differences: Partnership for the Future” which is intended to bring together the best potential of all APEC economies to confront the challenges of the future, particularly in achieving the APEC goal of free and open trade and investment for developed APEC economies.

This central theme is amplified by a series of five sub-themes that are designed to guide APEC’s Working Groups and Forums in achieving their goals.

Topics to be covered include: APEC Institutional Development, APEC Structure and Activities, The 1994 Bogor Declaration, The 1995 Osaka Action Agenda, The 1996 Manila Action Plan, The 1997 Vancouver Meetings - the Manila Framework, The 1998 Malaysia Meetings - Sectoral Liberalization, The 1999 New Zealand Summit - End of Financial Crisis, The 2000 Brunei Summit - Toward Bilateral FTAs, The 2001 Shanghai Summit - Post 9/11, Policy Assessment and Implications.

Yarn spinning contest scheduled for Phayao on August 25

Come along and tell your tale

Metinee Chaikuna

The Phayao Public Health Office has arranged a Yarn Spinning Contest for August 25 in order to provide children with moral principles and submit merit to HM Queen Sirikit.

Petchsri Siriniran, Phayao provincial chief medical officer said that since the month of August is regarded as the month of mothers, and August 12 is Queen Sirikit’s birthday, the Phayao Public Health Office decided to organize the contest, which will be held in conference room 1 at the Phayao Public Health Office.

Competitors must be fathers or mothers who have 6 months - 10-year-old children. Narrators must bring their children along so that they can listen to them recite their tales. They have a choice of three tales to choose from: the Turtle and the Hare, the Wolf and the Sheep, and the Lion and the Rat.

Interested storytellers can apply at the Health Promotion Development, Nursing and Recovering Department, Phayao Public Health Office.

Akha hill tribe to celebrate traditional New Year in Chiang Rai September 3

Commemorating the late Princess Mother

Akha’s traditional New Year “rocking a swing” celebration will be organized next month in order to conserve hilltribe culture and commemorate the late Princess Mother.

Sutat Luangmul, the president of Mae Fa Luang District Culture Council said that Pha Hi village and the Akha Hilltribe Traditional Leader Club, made up of 17 villages in Doi Tung Development Project areas, will jointly arrange the Akha’s “rocking a swing” tradition to celebrate their New Year at Ban Pha Hi, Tambon Pong Ngam, Mae Sai, Chiang Rai.

The ceremony will begin at around 9 a.m. on September 3, and is receiving support from the Social Development Department of Doi Tung Development Project, Mae Fa Luang District Culture Council, and Chiang Rai Akha Club.

This festival is being held to show respect for the Akha tribe’s holy places, and to pass on the late Princess Mother’s wishes for the preservation of hill tribe traditions and to provide an opportunity for children to learn about the hilltribe cultures. Moreover, organizers hope this activity will help promote village tourism.

The president of Mae Fa Luang District Culture Council stated that since the celebration is in order to commemorate the late Princess Mother’s gratefulness, alcoholic beverages will be prohibited during the festival and celebration.

Chi Chang IT Shop officially opened in Central Airport Plaza

“Digital Lifestyle” on display

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Chi Chang Digital Lifestyle shop’s grand opening was held on August 9 on the third floor of Central Airport Plaza. The new shop is filled with new hi-tech products from Sony.

Chaitawat Sawapon, the director of Information Technology Service Institute, Chiang Mai University, presided over the grand opening.

Sumalee Luekuang, the marketing manager of Chi Chang presents flowers to Chaitawat Sawapon, the director of Information Technology Service Institute, Chiang Mai University.

Sumalee Luekuan, the marketing manager for Chi Chang Computer (Thailand) Company Limited remarked that Chi Chang Shop focuses on the “Digital Lifestyle” concept, and provides hi-technology materials and accessories to facilitate the lives of the new generation of customers.

“There are many IT-Digital products from Sony in our shop. Our IT experts will make suggestions and demonstrate how to use the equipment whilst the customers are allowed to try new products freely,” said Sumalee.

Chi Chang Shop also displayed Sony VAIO computer notebooks and Sony CLIE hand PCs, which were presented by ex-Miss Thailand, Patiporn Sitthipong and other Sony boy and girl models.

APEC SME ministers call for greater networking between business, government, trade promotion authorities and banks

Phitsanu Thepthong

The 10th Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Ministerial Meeting concluded in Chiang Mai on August 8, with ministers calling for member economies to strengthen networks between business owners, trade promotion agencies and SMEs focused on financial institutions.

In the Joint Ministerial Statement, “Strengthening an APEC Entrepreneurial Society,” ministers highlighted the courageous and critical role played by SMEs and Micro-enterprises.

“The definition of an entrepreneur goes beyond the conventional meaning of business owner and operator and that risk-taking individuals are the driving force behind entrepreneurship,” the statement noted.

“The development of a dynamic entrepreneurial society requires individuals who are innovative, visionary, and ready to take the risk of starting-up a new business.

“A vibrant entrepreneurial society is central to the growth of the APEC economies. Substantial entrepreneurial activity generates demand for new services, products, and jobs.”

Ministers also highlighted the challenges brought about by globalization and the role APEC member economies have to play in dealing with these pressures.

“To cope with the challenges of globalization, APEC economies should focus on developing networks among micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) and promotional agencies, MSME banks and MSME associations.

“The entrepreneurial environment is directly affected by regulatory and tax burdens, labor market legislation, competition policy and legal conditions. Each economy is encouraged to speed-up efforts towards the removal of barriers to entrepreneurial behavior and not to introduce regulations that overly penalize business failure.”

In the joint ministerial statement, ministers also highlighted the role of education in promoting business development and stressed the importance of members identifying and developing entrepreneurial potential in their economies.

Ministers made particular note of the difficulties that are often faced by MSMEs in accessing finance and encouraged APEC members to seek ways and means to expand financing facilities.

Ministers also encouraged APEC members to be proactive in developing capacity within their economies to build the capacity of SMEs to trade beyond their borders and explore export markets.

The ministers adopted the Micro-enterprise Action Plan that is designed to help the smallest businesses in the APEC region through expanding access to new technologies, improving access to finance and undertaking greater research into the challenges facing Micro-enterprises.

Ministers also expressed their ongoing support for the ongoing cooperation between the APEC SME Working Group and other APEC forums, such as the APEC Sub-committee on Standards and Conformance, the APEC Finance Ministerial Meeting, SME Financing Institutions, the OECD and business sector groups including the APEC Business Advisory Council and the APEC Women Leaders Network.

The next APEC SME Ministerial Meeting will take place on October 6 to 7 in Santiago, Chile. This will be preceded by an APEC SME Working Group meeting in Vancouver, Canada, on March 8 to 10 next year and the second SME Working Group meeting for 2004 in Santiago, on October 3 to 5.

Officials meet to attempt to solve Chiang Mai’s water problems

Water management seminar held in Chiang Mai

Supatatt Dangkrueng

During the dry season, there is not enough water for farmers to grow their crops. In the rainy season, flash floods inundate the area and wash away valuable land resources. Battling these extremes is a major undertaking, and trying to find a reasonable “middle ground” is a challenge.

Addressing the situation, Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat last week chaired a seminar on the topic of “Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)”, which took place at the Holiday Garden Hotel on August 14.

The aim was to create good understanding among provincial and district officials whilst working on water resource management in the northern region.

About a hundred provincial and district officials took part in the seminar, which was organized by the Water Resources Office Region 1 (Lampang).

Although no definitive answer came out of the seminar, a decision was made to prepare an action plan to follow. Once set, this will be presented to IWRM field workers at another meeting at the end of this month.

Since Thailand has many problems with water resources, including drought, flood, and polluted or contaminated water, on October 31, 2000, the cabinet agreed to try to find resolutions to the nation’s water problems.

The cabinet resolved to collaborate with the people most affected by the situation, who they feel can best help resolve it from the grassroots level.

Governor Suwat said since Chiang Mai is located in the upper Ping River Basin, we urgently need to solve problems such as shallowness, flooding and pollution using proper administrative and managing methods.

Suwat added that he hopes the IWRM working committees will launch their operational plans as soon as possible.

Jurassic Era snails surface after 13 million years

Shell fossils found in Lampang where once there was a lake

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Geologists in Lampang have unearthed snail fossils they believe to be from the Jurassic Period. The white fossils, found near the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand’s (EGAT) Mae Moh lignite mine area, were estimated to be 13 million years old, calculated from the layers of soil accumulated in the area.

Scientists have concluded that during the Jurassic Period about 13 million years ago, there was a big water source or a freshwater lake southwest of EGAT’s Mae Moh power plant, as many shells have been uncovered there.

During excavation at the lignite mine, workers found the strange looking white fossils under 180,000 cubic meters of earth and contacted their supervisor. Chuyot Sutharatanachaiporn, Mae Moh lignite mine’s director of planning and service, contacted geologists from the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Basic Industries and Mining Region 3, Chiang Mai, to survey the area where the shell fossils were found.

Chuyot said that he was told that the shells looked like freshwater snails from in the Jurassic Era. They had been accumulating at an average depth of 6 meters of soil over an area more than 30 thousands square meters, he said, totaling 180,000 cubic meters.

The Department of Mineral Resources will bring the fossils to their lab to study their origin and allotted time span.

Chuyot added that Mae Moh EGAT is preparing to establish a museum to keep the fossils, and all those found since 1954, which include carcasses, biomass, and fossils. The foundation stone laying ceremony will take place on September 23 this year.

Water vending machine service launched in Chiang Mai

Another 160 boxes will soon be installed in other areas of the province

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Are you thirsty? How about some nice, cool, clean water? For only 1 baht, you can soon quench your thirst at any of a number of water vending machines set up around the city in an ambitious new project launched by the government on August 7.

The first vending machine of its kind was set up last week at the Three Kings Monument. Interior Minister Wan Muhammad Nor Matha became the fist person to officially slide his one baht coin into the slot and receive a liter of water in return, thereby officially presiding over the opening ceremony.

Interior Minister Wan Muhammad Nor Matha became the first person to officially slide his one baht coin into the slot and receive a liter of water in return, thereby officially presiding over the opening ceremony. Another 160 boxes will soon be installed in other areas of the province.

The current government has launched a project to supply pure and clean drinking water to people everywhere in Thailand. 1,000 machines are being installed in Bangkok this September, and 4,000 more will be installed throughout the country, concentrating on communities that need them the most.

In Chiang Mai, the pilot part of the project calls for 8 vending machines to be installed in the municipal area, and 2 more in Chorm Thong District, Chiang Mai. Another 160 boxes will soon be installed in other areas of the province.

Wan Muhammad said, “This project will help people (acquire potable water) as they will only need to pay 1 baht per liter, which is ten times cheaper than the normal price of 10 baht a liter.”

It is important to note that the Public Health minister insists that water from these machines should be drinkable and uncontaminated.

Chiang Mai Waterworks director, Wanchai Kooprasert said, “This project is a good alternative for Chiang Mai people to have pure and clean drinking water.”

US consul announces revision to non-immigrant visa application procedures

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

The US Department of State has announced that, as of August 1, 2003, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas - with certain limited exceptions - must undergo a personal interview with a consular officer.

The United States Consular Section in Bangkok currently exempts a large proportion of applicants from interview. As of August 1, most applicants currently exempted will need to be interviewed.

This will likely mean longer delays for visa applicants. Applicants should apply at least six weeks in advance of intended travel. Interview appointments cannot be expedited, even if that means an applicant will miss his or her planned departure date. Applicants should plan accordingly.

Thais to have e-passports next year

Thai nationals will soon hold e-passports, thanks to the government’s plan to introduce the e-passports by mid 2004. Information and Communications Technology Minister M.D. Surapong Suebwonglee said that the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Information and Communications Technology had agreed to introduce electronic passports, or e-passports, for Thai citizens.

The move intends to facilitate traveling to the United States of Thai nationals, as Washington had required that all foreigners wanting to enter the United States must hold e-passports as of October 2004 to weed out fake passports.

With the e-passports, computer chips containing personal data and information of individual passport holders would be installed in each passport, making it difficult for cheaters to alter the data and information.

“The e-passports will be introduced in Thailand by mid 2004 at the latest to smooth the process for Thai nationals wanting to travel to the United States, and even to other countries which are expected to follow the US move in the future,” M.D. Surapong said. (TNA)