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Japanese soldiers remembered during WW II commemoration day held last week in Chiang Mai

Dilemmas in anti-trafficking operations Part 2

CMU encouraging students to help save energy and preserve the environment

CMU opened Sirindhorn observatory to public on August 27

Livestock Department announces new livestock product standards

All markets in Chiang Mai plan to be “safe foods and good taste” markets by November 30

Japanese soldiers remembered during WW II commemoration day held last week in Chiang Mai

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Since World War II ended in 1945, nobody can deny that the lost and tears were left in any part of the world. Even a country like Thailand, which should not have been involved, was also forced to participate in the war, creating war stories that are recounted up to the present day.

The exhibition in Wat Muen Sarn displays various kinds of Japanese items left by soldiers during WWII.

On August 15, 1945, the Japanese Emperor declared the end of the war and admitted that Japan was defeated after the country had sacrificed many soldiers. During wartime, Thailand was used as a military base for Japanese forces and Chiang Mai was one of the soldiers’ residences.

This picture shows Japanese soldiers who once stayed in and around Chiang Mai.

On the occasion of the 58th anniversary of the end of World War II, a commemoration day was organized here in Chiang Mai. Japanese businessmen, non-government organizations’ representatives, companions, and some Thai residents made merit for Japanese soldiers who died in the province and northern region areas during World War II.

Metal canteens were necessary for the warriors.

The ritual took place at Wat Muen Sarn, Wua Lai Rd, Tambon Hai Ya, Muang District, Chiang Mai on August 15.

A historian narrated that Wat Muen Sarn was once a residence and field hospital for the soldiers. The place once contained many injured and dead. The area behind the wat also housed a Japanese banknote printing office, so a variety of Japanese banknotes were found and put on display as a part of the ceremony exhibition.

“Wat Muen Sarn used to be a residence and field hospital for the soldiers. The place once contained many injured and dead,” said a historian.

Pol. Lt. Col. Chertchai Chomthawat, a former deputy superintendent at Khun Yuam Police Station, Mae Hong Son, the person who established the World War II museum in Khun Yuam District, also organized a seminar to recount events that happened during World War II.

Pol. Lt. Col. Chertchai Chomthawat, former deputy superintendent of Khun Yuam Police Station, Mae Hong Son established the World War II museum in Khun Yuam District.

Dr. Masanow Umebeyashi, a famous Japanese NGO, said that this ceremony was an occasion for Japanese people living in northern Thailand to gather and recall the incidents that took place in wartime. Many Japanese soldiers performed their duties in northern provinces such as Tak, Lampang, Lamphun, Chiang Mai, and Mae Hong Son.

Japanese people show interest in Japanese language books and diaries the soldiers left after the war was over.

“Many Japanese soldiers died or vanished in the area. (Officials) have been scouting for the rest who are still alive, and have found some soldiers living. The ones who passed away left some of their belongings with Thai people, which have ended up in their collections; therefore, we regard those things as evidence to hold a merit making ritual in order to devote merit for the soldiers’ souls every year,” remarked Dr. Masanow.

Dr. Masanow Umebeyashi, a famous Japanese NGO, leads the participants to show respect to the soldiers’ souls.

The ritual was held in both Japanese and Thai style. The participants could see the belongings the soldiers left, such as metal water bottles, clothes, banknotes, and even the letter the Japanese government sent to order Thai people to follow its regulations during the war.

During the ceremony, it was evident to everyone who participated that there is no longer a feud or enmity among Thai and Japanese people, although the Thais were once forced by the unfamiliar military army and had lost their independence beneath the fatal battle. On the contrary, the two nationalities pray together for peace, so that never again will any teardrops be brought to anyone’s heart after this nightmare has ended.

The area behind Wat Muen Sarn once housed a Japanese banknote printing office, so a variety of colorful Japanese banknotes were found and put on display as a part of the ceremony exhibition.


Dilemmas in anti-trafficking operations Part 2

Rescuing the right people - and respecting their rights

Constanze Ruprecht

A raid took place in Chiang Mai almost three months ago. The target was the Baan Rom Yen karaoke bar, where a large number of women were employed as sex workers, apparently including trafficked women and minors. As usual, the local media reported the event from the perspective of the “raiders.” The women and girls were portrayed as law-breakers or hapless victims.

The list of conflicting accounts of the raid is long. The following is only a selection of issues, contrasting ideal expectations with the realities of implementation.

Overall

The EMPOWER report: The raid was poorly prepared and executed. The target group, supposedly to be brought to greater safety, did not receive the highest degree of support. TRAFCORD did not do enough to ensure the protection and respect of the women’s human rights.

TRAFCORD: The unit launched twenty-four hour surveillance of the bar after receiving word from its affiliate NGO. In the following two months of deliberations, TRAFCORD initially deemed a raid out of the question. As only one minor was involved, a raid would negatively affect all non-trafficked women. (Since these entered the country aiming to engage in sex work, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Immigration Bureau. In the event of a raid, TRAFCORD would be unable to protect them.) Only when two other trafficked minors were mentioned did TRAFCORD decide to act. The team chose a suitable date and time, and in order to prevent leaks, did not inform affiliate organisations and police until one hour prior to the raid.

Minors and working conditions

EMPOWER: The women reported no minors working at the bar. All employees worked there willingly. The girl, already deceived by the “fake” client, may have been coerced into saying that she wanted to leave. Public welfare staff had also confirmed the age of the youngest employee at 19. The women furthermore stated that the working conditions were fair and that the owner treated them well. They earned above minimum wage and the owner never withheld their money. They were free to move around Chiang Mai.

TRAFCORD: Medical testing identified six of the 29 women as underage (all lacked reliable identification). A total of 17 women and girls admitted to being trafficked into Thailand, while 12 came willingly. Some of the women told TRAFCORD that the owner occasionally hit them, they were afraid of him and could not leave the bar and move around the city.

Journalists

Both organisations lament the fact that photographers took pictures of the women without obtaining prior consent.

Apparently, CCPCR had previously collaborated with several journalists. They had received training in appropriate behavior during operations, especially with regard to respecting the women’s privacy. The unit expressed strong disappointment over the fact that the journalists ignored their training, taking photos without permission and even calling fellow reporters to the scene.

Place of holding and freedom of action

EMPOWER considered the Chiang Mai Public Welfare Boys Home, where the women were taken and padlocked in after the raid, an inappropriate place to keep women. Telephone restrictions violated the women’s rights. A number of women could only contact EMPOWER secretly and some women said they felt like prisoners.

According to TRAFCORD, the women/girls were not held in the Boys’ Home itself but in a specially designated facility on the grounds of the Home, separated from the boys’ houses. The highest priority throughout was the safety of the women/girls. Access by family members was restricted to avoid agents, traffickers or pimps posing as relatives, thus endangering the women’s safety. They were not allowed to freely use phone services for the same reason. However, had aid organisations like EMPOWER asked to visit the women, they would have been welcome.

Speed of process

EMPOWER: The length of time the women have been held was unacceptable. It appears that even after four months the situation is still not resolved. The women can neither return home nor go back to work.

TRAFCORD admits the process is taking overly long, the unit itself had protested against police regulations that the women appear in court. The 17 trafficking victims, especially the underage girls, should have been able to return to Burma as soon as the rehabilitation process was completed.

To be continued...


CMU encouraging students to help save energy and preserve the environment

Celebrates funding with gala kick off

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai University has begun a project to reduce electricity and energy usage, create an unpolluted environment around campus, encourage students and CMU officials to realize energy savings, promote environmental preservation and awareness, and make CMU a good model.

CMU President Niphon Tuwanont sounds the gong to announce the project is underway.

Lofty goals, but CMU just received part of a 10 million baht budget from the Energy Planning and Policy Office to help accomplish this. The budget will also be going to six other university campuses around the country: Kasetsart University, Thammasart University, King Mongkut Institute of Technology, Lad Krabang campus, Burapha University, and Khon Kaen University. The budget is to fund a two-year project using the educational institutes as centers of environmental care.

Pretty dancing girls let it be known that the CMU Harn Song (energy saving project) has officially been launched.

CMU officials and students celebrated the start of the project with five days of festivities starting on August 18 and continuing until August 22. CMU’s president, Assist Prof Dr Niphon Tuwanont presided over the opening ceremonies, but the highlights of the event were held on August 22, and included a model contest titled “CMU Energy Star”, a talk show hosted by Dr. Seri Wongmontha, a walking street and musical concert from Armchair and the Peach Band.

CMU Veterinary students joined the energy saving parade and displayed a banner with a list of names of students giving their support to the program.

Officials hope that by running the project, garbage will be reduced by at least 10 percent, people will use 15 percent less gasoline in their cars and 25 percent less in their motorcycles, and electricity usage will be reduced by 5 percent.

More activities are planned for the next two years.

Architecture students are ready to take part in the CMU energy saving project for the next two years.


CMU opened Sirindhorn observatory to public on August 27

Gave everyone a chance to see Mars at its closest

Chiang Mai University on Wednesday August 27 opened its Sirindhorn observatory tower on Doi Suthep Mountain for the public to look at Mars, free of charge.

Asst. Prof. Boonraksa Sunthornthum, Dean of the Science Faculty at Chiang Mai University, said that Mars’ oval orbit has brought the red planet closer to Earth than it has been for maybe the past 60,000 years. The distance between Mars and Earth on August 27 was only about 56 million kilometers.

Asst. Prof. Boonraksa said CMU seized the opportunity to get people interested in astronomy and opened its observatory doors to the public at about 7 p.m. on August 27.

He added, “At 7 p.m. everyone can see Mars in the south-eastern part of the sky ... at midnight, Mars is in the high southern part of the sky, and in the early morning in the south-west.”

The phenomenon can still be observed well into next month (September). As Earth and Mars converge, the encounter will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.

“Due to the way Jupiter’s gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years.”

Mars should be easy to spot, as during this time it is the second brightest object in the night sky, with only the moon being brighter. At the beginning of August, Mars rose in the east at 10 p.m. and reached its azimuth at about 3 a.m. By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars rises at nightfall and reaches its highest point in the sky just after midnight at about 12:30 a.m.

No one alive today will ever see this again.


Livestock Department announces new livestock product standards

Metinee Chaikuna

The Livestock Department disclosed that eventually every livestock farm in Thailand will be required to produce good standard pork, chicken, and beef. As of October 1 this year, every farm in the country should be operating under the same set of standards according to new government policy.

The Health Science chief announced the Livestock Department’s new policy.

In the future, the government hopes that Thailand will become the world’s chicken producer. So the government plans to announce the year 2004 as the year of food safety, and requires that agricultural products be improved so that they meet high quality standards and prices.

The government believes that this will eventually lead to a better life for farmers, which would also mean the country will become better because the agricultural sector provides the country’s main source of income.

The main standard for abattoirs is to be clean.

The European Union’s bilateral trading agreement also has agricultural trade conditions requiring that animal welfare should be looked after in the process, that livestock farming should have no negative affect on the environment, and that the animals should not be tortured during the slaughtering process. Livestock products should also be controlled from farm to table.

Since there are also future plans for a free trade zone in South East Asia, the new Livestock Department standards should be able to prevent cheaper livestock products imported from neighboring countries from pushing Thai products off the shelves.

The Livestock Department will keep a close watch during both pre-harvest and post-harvest processes.

During the pre-harvest process, the Livestock Department will check animal breeds, farm management, animal welfare and environment, animal food quality, disease control, and animal transport.

During the post-harvest process, the Livestock Department will check the slaughterhouse, quality control laboratory, product-packaging quality, transporting to the table, and the standard of the marketplace.

The new Livestock Department policy started in August.

Pig farmers need to register their names with the Provincial Livestock Office by August 31. Farms will need to be improved to acceptable standards by December 31. Farmers will need to obtain a certificate from the farm’s veterinarian to acknowledge the condition of pigs sent to the abattoir.

The abattoir should start accepting pigs from farms that have registered with the Livestock Department by September 1. The slaughterhouses will need to obtain proper certification from the Livestock Department beginning January 1, 2004.


All markets in Chiang Mai plan to be “safe foods and good taste” markets by November 30

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office has begun to check fresh markets for safety so as to be in line with government policy before the end of this year.

Nattawut Sukmee, head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, said that the office has begun checking local fresh markets in preparation to announce Thailand as a safe food country by the beginning of next year. However, Chiang Mai markets plan to get qualified before November 30.

Officials in each district public health office and hospital staff involved in consumer protection are working together to examine the safety of fresh foods. By regulation, food must not have been contaminated by any prohibited chemical substances.

The regulations also encompass canned foods and cooked foods, which are being checked as well, so that they may receive the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Clean Food, Good Taste label and signage.

Fresh foods, however, must pass stricter regulations, which cover the “atmosphere and circumstances”, including the pathway, wastewater drainage, garbage disposal and pesticides.

“Waroros Market in Tambon Chang Phuek is going to be the first fresh market to complete the process, followed by the Chiang Dao Market,” said Nattawut.

Officials hope that all Chiang Mai markets will serve only safe and clean food to consumers and the country would be ready to be “the kitchen of the world.”