HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Old farming methods being partly blamed for deforestation

Nine killed in border drug shootout

Nearly 1,000 people stricken with hemorrhagic fever this year in Chiang Mai

Businesses being asked not to sell putrid food as alms for monks

Free sterility scheme underway to reduce stray animals

Thai delegates heading to China to pick out 10 million baht pandas for Chiang Mai Zoo

Tight security deployed around McCormick Hospital to protect senator’s brother

Mae Hong Son governor says that government officials are invading forestry lands

Government backs funds for disabled

Northern provinces prepare to cope with floods

75 old rubber trees lost, 936 trees left along Lamphun-Chiang Mai Road

Nine northern provinces sign agreement against human trafficking

Home Sweet Home

Drug syndicates change smuggling route to Thai-Lao borders

DJ arrested for selling drugs to teenagers

Deputy supreme prosecutor calls for drug law reform

Old farming methods being partly blamed for deforestation

National Parks Department trying to discourage slash-and-burn farming in remote areas

Nuttanee Thaveephol

A debate is on in the north as to whether a farming technique used by some hill tribes is causing deforestation, and if it is, which is more important, indigenous farming techniques passed down through generations or preserving the rainforest?

As can be seen in this photo taken alongside a mountain near the Mae Chaem River, remote areas in Chiang Mai are quite fertile. The National Parks Department is trying to keep them that way, and to help this effort an attempt is being made to discourage slash-and-burn farming techniques.

Government officials are encouraging hill tribe farmers in Mae Chaem to change the way they cultivate the land, but are receiving some resistance from unnamed experts who say that these farming techniques are indigenous knowledge and therefore should themselves be protected.

Boonsak Jirawuttiwongchai, director of Forest Resource Protection and Conservation for the National Parks Department, says that the deforestation problem in Mae Chaem district is in part due to slash and burn farming techniques used by hill tribes.

Because of this, since May this year the National Parks Department has been trying to keep farmers from destroying the forest, and have been setting up a special plan to cope with the problem in Mae Chaem and Hot districts in Chiang Mai and Mae Sariang and Mae La Noi districts in Mae Hong Son.

Boonsak talked of two obstacles to the process: inaccessible land and resistance from experts who say the slash-and-burn farming culture is indigenous knowledge that should be conserved.

This particular farming method has been used for many hill tribe generations, and involves cultivating an area for farming, growing crops, then eventually moving on to a new area to allow the first area to rejuvenate and become fertile again. It also means that a very large area is needed for farming.

Experts say that research has proven that this type of farming does not cause deforestation, and in fact is a way to conserve the forest.

“However, we will try to create understanding among villagers to quit the system ... modern agricultural methods could be applied which would mean this type of farming could be reduced or given up completely,” Boonsak said.

An operation team has been sent out to publicize the plan in Mae Chaem, explain the project’s objectives, exchange opinions with the villagers, and ask villagers what their basic needs are.

Village representatives have responded by saying they need cadastral surveying, an increasing amount of the forest, the government’s permission for them to earn a living in forest areas, promotion of sustainable agriculture and promotion of non-agricultural jobs.

The villagers also say that they are ready to reduce their old ways of farming if the government could prove that cultivating in only one area could increase or at least provide the same amount of crops.

The current special task plan expires on September 30 this year, but the National Parks Department will extend the plan for another 5-years, from 2004-2009.

This plan is also being used as a model deforestation prevention and suppression plan for another 7 northern provinces, including Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Lampang, Nan, and Tak.

Nine killed in border drug shootout

PM instructs police to use deadly force to eliminate drug caravans

Metinee Chaikuna

A shootout last week between Wa drug dealers and Thai police on the Thai-Burmese border left nine drug smugglers dead and resulted in half a million methamphetamine pills confiscated.

The event prompted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to call for a step-up in the border drug war. The PM told police that there is no need to arrest drug caravans crossing into Thailand from the Burmese border, and instructed police to shoot to kill instead.

The early morning, bloody gun battle erupted between combined forces of Thai drug suppression / border patrol police and Wa drug traffickers in Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai district on August 20.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra reacted with anger over Burma’s apparent lack of action against the cross-border drug flow and said Thailand would suppress Wa drug traffickers itself if Burma did not. The Thai government announced it is determined to wipe out drugs, and that it is frustrated by drug smuggling from Burma.

The Thai government announced a resolve to get rid of ya ba caravans from Burma, and an order came down through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask the Burmese government to help manage the issue.

According to sources, drug suppression police led by Pol. Lt. Col. Noppadon Nimmanond, in cooperation with the 334th Border Patrol Police Unit based in Mae Ai district, set up a blockade to halt drug smuggling through Thailand from Burma.

The combined Thai forces tried to stop a caravan of drug dealers walking along the Thai-Burmese border ridge at Huai Sala village, Group 15, Tambon Thaton, Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai, after they received a tip-off that there would be a big drug smuggling caravan from the drug factory outside Thailand which would be crossing into Thailand.

The BPP located a caravan of 20 people carrying backpacks, walking through the border ridge, entering the Thai countryside. The combined police forces ordered them to stop, but the caravan refused, ran for cover and opened fire with AK-47 sub-machine guns.

After 30 minutes of fighting, police detonated a planted bomb which they had set as a trap. The explosion caused the surviving members of the caravan to retreat, leaving nine dead comrades behind.

Near the bodies, police found five backpacks, each containing 100,000 ya ba pills, for a total of 500,000 pills. Police also confiscated five AK-47 machine guns, 10 grenades, two M 26 grenades, two walkie-talkie radios, one pistol and one set of binoculars.

Autopsies on the dead bodies were carried out in Mae Ai.

Authorities disclosed that the drug caravan was made up of members of a Red Wa minority group. Eleven of the 20 managed to escape into the jungle. Police surmise that at least some of the survivors were injured, as there was a blood trail through the forest.

Meanwhile, it was reported on the same day that Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra received a report from Pol. Lt. Gen. Preowpan Damapong about the gun battle. The report emphasized that the Red Wa has not stopped producing ya ba pills.

PM Thaksin said that as far as he knows, the Red Wa have a ya ba factory 20 km from the border ridge, and that Thai police have already reported this to the Burmese government, and even provided them with a map indicating the spot where this factory is operating.

Prime Minister Thaksin ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs to cooperate with the Burmese government to manage the Red Wa case.

Nearly 1,000 people stricken with hemorrhagic fever this year in Chiang Mai

Thus far, no recorded deaths

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Recent figures released by the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office show hemorrhagic fever is on the rise, as nearly 1,000 cases were recorded from January 1 to August 8 this year. Thus far, none have been fatal.

Of the 992 cases reported from the beginning of the year through August 8, the heaviest hit area was Chai Prakan district, followed by Muang district and Mae Chaem district.

Nuttawut Sukmee, head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, released figures of hemorrhagic fever showing that almost 1,000 have been recorded so far this year.

Nattawut Sukmee, head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, said hemorrhagic fever has become a problem in Chiang Mai, as locally, there are many risky areas, especially in large communities where it has been difficult for officials to get to and work on controlling the birth of mosquitoes.

Although the municipality has initiated a project to blow swing fog (a chemical smog) through high risk areas to kill off mosquitoes, people have been shutting their doors and windows, preventing the fog from entering their homes, and therefore the mosquitoes inside are not affected by the process.

Suthep Fongsri, disease control technician for Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, is asking people to help prevent the spread of mosquitoes by checking water containers every week. “Because the mosquito larvae’s life cycle is about a week, if we could reduce this, we could control the hemorrhagic fever situation,” he stressed.

Businesses being asked not to sell putrid food as alms for monks

Monks filing complaints with local authorities

Evidently some unscrupulous vendors are putting putrid food into nice looking packaging and selling it as alms to give to monks for making merit.

This sacrilegious practice seems to be concentrated around the Somphet market area, but evidently this is not the only place this is happening.

The matter was brought to the attention of local authorities, and Chiang Mai’s Consumer Protection Association (CPA) has sprung into action in cooperation with the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office and Chiang Mai Municipality.

Supasarat Sutheepornwiroj, CPA coordinator, said the association has received many complaints that stalls in front of Somphet market are selling these packaged bad foods for people to put in Buddhist monk’s bowls during alms making.

The complaints are being lodged by the monks who receive the food from in front of the markets every morning. Most of the bad foods are packaged foods sold from the stalls, not foods for household cooking.

Supasarat added that there were many complaints from many areas, not only at the Somphet market.

Supasarat said that the CPA and the two government sectors mentioned above will seriously take action. He said first they will hold meetings to try and figure out what to do to solve this problem, and he hopes they will find solutions very soon. He said this could include a training course for packed food sellers, inspections of food vendors, and taking legal action against those who are using this demerit making practice.

Free sterility scheme underway to reduce stray animals

Provincial Livestock Office offering free chop shop

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Chiang Mai Provincial Livestock Office is performing free sterilization on stray cats and dogs, hoping to reduce their numbers.

Office director, Trianam Worapanya said that workers at the livestock office operate on Wednesdays, and that they have sent out letters to temple committees in the area to announce the service and invite them to bring in temple cats and dogs for surgical birth control, stressing that they will do this free of charge.

Trianam said that the number of stray cats and dogs living in the streets and at temples is on the increase, and that the livestock office wants to control the birth rate of these wandering animals. He said that the number of strays is increasing because more people are neglecting their pets and/or dropping off unwanted pets at local temples.

The livestock office previously sent their workers out to the temples where they performed the operations on site, and this project was working quite well. But it became too time consuming, so they have changed their strategy and are now asking people to bring these strays into the office instead.

Along with sterilization, the livestock office is also offering free health checks and treatment for strays.

This project will continue until the end of September.

So, if there is one or more overly prolific strays in your temple, bring it in to the livestock office on Wednesday so that their workers can exorcize said stray’s libido - for free.

Thai delegates heading to China to pick out 10 million baht pandas for Chiang Mai Zoo

Pandas scheduled to arrive in October

Phitsanu Thepthong

Chiang Mai Zoo director Thanong Nathipitak told Chiangmai Mail that a Thai delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Prapat Panyachartraks, and other high ranking officials of the Zoological Park Organization, will travel to China next month to pick out two pandas to bring back to Chiang Mai Zoo in October.

They will choose the two animals from 40 giant pandas being raised at the Wulong Nature Reserve in China’s western province of Sichuan.

The two young animals, one male and one female, will be housed in a special compound and research facility being built at Chiang Mai Zoo. The facility, which is being built with a 39-million baht budget allocated by the Thai government Budget Bureau, should be completed by September 15.

Thanong added that officials at Chiang Mai Zoo will jointly conduct research with Chinese officials during the 10 year-contract, and during this period, the Thai government must pay $25,000 a year to China’s wildlife fund to rent the pandas and for further research. The money will also be used to fund research on pandas in China.

China will send two staff to take care of the pandas during the joint research, according to Thai government spokesman Sita Divari. Thailand will pay their salaries, about 43,000 baht each per month.

Under the agreement, Thailand will pay China US$250,000 for the loan of two rare giant pandas for 10 years under a draft agreement approved by the cabinet.

“Other foreign countries must pay more than 40 million baht a year to China for the loan of rare giant pandas, while Thailand will pay only 10 million baht per year,” the zoo director remarked.

Tight security deployed around McCormick Hospital to protect senator’s brother

Shot on his way to see fortuneteller, he remains in intensive care

Phitsanu Thepthong

Payoongsak Yodbangtoey, 57, was driving past Pinkarat kindergarten on Montri Road in Muang district, Chiang Mai, when he was shot by the pillion rider on a motorcycle.

Payoongsak, the younger brother of Chiang Mai Senator Maj.-Gen Intharat Yodbangtoey, was shot in the head on Sunday, just before a visit with his fortuneteller.

Although hit in the right temple by a .38 caliber bullet, Payoongsak managed to phone his wife, Daranee Yodbangtoey and tell her what had happened. He was also able to drive a few kilometers further on to McCormick hospital on Kaew Navarat Road. He collapsed unconscious upon reaching the hospital, and was subsequently rushed into surgery.

In 2001, crime suppression police arrested Payoongsak at Chiang Mai International Airport on a charge of supplying weapons to the United Wa State Army in Burma, and he reportedly accused a local police officer of being involved in the illegal business.

Payoongsak was released on bail pending prosecution, and planned to be in court on August 30.

His brother, Senator Maj.-Gen Intharat said during a visit to Payoongsak’s room at the hospital, that he is offering 100,000 baht for information leading to the arrest of the assailants.

He said the shooting in the city center was very frightening, and he plans to submit a compliant to the authorities over the procedures being used to tackle the influential persons and dark influences problems. He said his brother Payoongsak was not involved with the supplying of weapons to minority groups in Burma.

Senator Intharat urged Chiang Mai police to speed up their investigation to find the gunman. Pol Col Prasert Chantrapipat, deputy commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police, has been appointed to head the investigation.

Payoongsak’s businesses include a petrol station, real estate firm, property holding, and creditors. Police surmise that the motivation behind the murder attempt was a business conflict.

Mae Hong Son governor says that government officials are invading forestry lands

He says the law gives local kamnan the right to arrest them

Mae Hong Son Governor Supot Laowansiri said that state officials, forestry officials, police, and administration officers are forest intruders.

The governor said that he has followed up forest encroachment in Mae Hong Son and found out that authorities, police, and forestry officials are involved in 90% of forest invasions and forest clearing.

He said he found out that whenever parts of the forest were destroyed, the accused were never arrested. He believes that local politicians also took part in encroaching upon and destroying the forest area nearby the Mae Hong Son Drug Rehabilitation Center.

The provincial governor reasoned that local people could not commit something illegal like this so near a state office, and said he was sure that this case must be the work of state officials.

The governor recently told local kamnan, village headman of every tambon and the tambon administration organization’s president that according to ministerial law and the National Park Bill, kamnan, village headman, and TAO presidents have authority to arrest anyone who commits illegal missions into the forest.

The governor said that much of Mae Hong Son’s forest has been destroyed, and only 78% has been left in tact. In Mae Sariang district, 1,000 rai of forest has been destroyed, another 8-rai in Muang Mae Hong Son District, and along the Mae Hong Son roadsides the destruction has also been severe. He said that fences have even been erected, dividing the land into many plots and announcing that the land is for sale.

The governor has asked local community leaders to use their right to help protect their local forest without fear of retribution from authorities.

Government backs funds for disabled

Working towards an improvement in their quality of life

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security has asked for government budget approval to support the disabled and help improve their quality of life.

Choosak Chantayanon, advisory to Minister of Social Development and Human Security, said during a recent academic conference in Chiang Mai that the ministry plans to improve disabled people’s quality of life and is asking the government for two funds to help the cause, an educational fund and an efficiency recovery fund.

The budget for the educational fund has already been approved in the amount of 200 million baht, which will be distributed to disabled students so that they may buy helpful equipment at educational institutes. Each disabled student will be given 2,000 baht a year to purchase helpful equipment like a walking stick or headphones.

Choosak added that the second budget will be used to improve efficiency, and at present it is in the process of gaining approval. Choosak said he hopes this fund will help disabled people become more efficient, as well as encourage private organizations to employ disabled people.

This project is expected to be tangible within five years. The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security is currently creating a bill to go before Parliament for consideration.

Northern provinces prepare to cope with floods

Meanwhile, Lamphun dealing with drought

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Many northern provinces are preparing to cope with flood situations, as some communities in Chiang Mai are faced with increasing water levels. Meanwhile, agricultural plantations in Lamphun are suffering from a lack of water.

Due to a low-pressure system passing through upper northern Thailand, and southwest monsoons covering the country, there has been heavy rain in many areas in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Nan provinces.

Phrae governor, Amornpan Nimanan has commanded every involved unit to make an integrated plan to prevent flash floods and provide help for the victims to get through the first 24 hours of any flood situation.

There was also heavy rain for the whole night of August 19, which caused flash floods in the Chiang Mai Gate community area and left over a thousand families in trouble, as water swelled 2-3 feet high and rushed into their homes.

About 50 victims submitted a complaint letter to the authorities to inform them that they have to face these flood problems several times a year because the drainage system is too narrow.

The rushing water that flowed into their houses always becomes tainted and causes infections. Therefore, government units are asked to take responsibility for preventing and coping with these problems.

Meanwhile, Lamphun is encountering a water shortage for agricultural purposes. The Upper Northern Region Royal Artificial Rain-Making Operation Center has made artificial rain to increase the amount of water in the Mae Ping Watershed. At present, agricultural products in Li district, Lamphun have been damaged by the drought.

75 old rubber trees lost, 936 trees left along Lamphun-Chiang Mai Road

Beautiful trees provide shade, make the trip pleasurable

Metinee Chaikuna

The trip from Chiang Mai to Lamphun along Route #106 is made beautiful by the hundreds of old yang (rubber) trees that line both sides of the road.

One hundred and twenty one years ago, 1,011 of these trees were planted along the route. The Highways Department Bureau #2 reported on August 19 that 936 yang (rubber) trees are left, meaning that only 75 have been lost.

Lamphun-Chiang Mai Road is beautiful because of the Yang trees along the roadside.

From 1994 to 2003, some of the trees died, some were struck by lightening or were blown over during storms, and the Public Works Department had to cut down three yang trees to construct the ring road around Chiang Mai City.

A recent survey showed that an additional 15 yang trees had died and the Highway Bureau is considering asking for permission to cut them down.

The Highway Bureau has been cutting off dried branches and putting reflectors and lighting signs to mark the trees so that travelers will not crash into the trees at night. The Highway Bureau has also been painting the trees with calcium oxide to prevent fungus, termites, and other insects from damaging the trees. The bureau has also used a budget of 10.191 million baht to improve the road to prevent flooding.

The yang trees planted along both sides of the road between kilometer markers 170 & 181 in Saraphi and Muang districts are the symbol of Saraphi district. These trees are soft wood, and the branches are fragile and easily broken. Their height ranges from 20 to 50 meters.

Yang tree flowers bloom from November to May. The fruit is ripe from March to February. Since yang trees are protected by Forestry Bill, B.E. 2484, by law, they cannot be cut down unless prior approval is gained from authorities.

Chao Intawichaiyanond, Chiang Mai City’s 7th ruler, who reigned over the city for 24 years, 1873-1897, had the yang trees planted.

During this period, Mahammarttho Chao Phraya Suraseewisitsak, lord lieutenant of the archaic provincial governor of the north initiated the planting along the road from Kuayan, Muang district, Chiang Mai to Muang district, Lamphun on October 20, 1882. He asked people who’s homes the Yang trees were planted in front of, to erect a fence to prevent cows and buffaloes from destroying them, and to take care of the trees.

Now the Yang trees are 121 years old.

In 1997, the mayor of Tambon Yannerng asked for cooperation from local people in Saraphi to donate 6,000 local orchids to plant amongst the Yang trees to make the road more beautiful.

Nowadays, the main causes of death for yang trees are local people who like to attach advertising signs to the trees, or pour cement around them, or discard rubbish around the trees, and some people burn them in commercial shops along the road sides.

Nine northern provinces sign agreement against human trafficking

Nuttanee Thaveephol

Government and private sectors from 9 upper northern provinces signed an agreement to cooperate in the suppression of trafficking in women and children. The signing ceremony was performed on August 21 at Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel.

The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security cooperated with both government and private sectors to arrange the signing ceremony.

Representatives from 65 organizations and 19 observers joined the signing ceremony, including the governors from 9 upper northern provinces, police agents, government and non-government organizations. (Photo by Metinee Chaikuna)

Representatives from 65 organizations and 19 observers joined in the signing ceremony. There was good attendance among the many involved units, and those attending included the governors of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phrae, Nan, Phayao, Lamphun, Lampang, and Tak, plus American, British, and Japanese consuls, police, and non-government organizations.

Weerasak Kowsurat, deputy minister of social development and human security, as the president of the ceremony noted that prostitution and child labor are violent problems that have spread out within the Mekong River Basin countries.

“Our country is both the gateway, bypass, and destination of these complicated problems, which have been ignored for a long time. We have to integrate the help of many organizations to find a multidisciplinary way to solve the problems. The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security will be the host for coordinating with all units for more effective operations,” remarked Weerasak.

National Thai Police Bureau deputy police chief, Pol. Gen. Amnuay Petchsiri, stated that the agreements would be beneficial to police, as officers would be able to coordinate with private organizations during their investigations.

“I would like to ask for cooperation from the provincial police bureaus and region 5 and region 6 commissioners,” said the deputy police chief.

At present, an estimated 50,000 or more Thai girls from the northern region and highland areas have been procured for prostitution in Japan and other European countries. The victims of human trafficking can be divided into 2 groups: those who were lured into prostitution and those who procure prostitutes to sell sex in other countries.

This agreement is aimed at changing opinions to see prostitutes as victims instead of criminals. Prostitutes will be asked to become witnesses, to undergo treatment, and identify the culprits.

Home Sweet Home

Chiang Mai prisoners allowed to receive families

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

August 18 was a special day for well-behaved prisoners at Chiang Mai Central Prison, as it was the first day for over 3,000 of them to receive extended visits from their families.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat greets prisoners and their relatives at Chiang Mai Central Prison.

Chiang Mai Central Prison commander, Chan Srikong said that the Corrections Department has set a policy they hope will strengthen relationships between prisoners and their families. By doing this, the Corrections Department hopes the prisoners would improve themselves to be able to cope with others in society.

Commander Chan also said that this activity would directly affect the mental condition of the prisoners, “They are (a part of) society. In the past, they just walked in the wrong direction, but now they are trying to adjust to the right way again.”

A warm relationship remains between a father and his child.

During the event, 3,087 well-behaved prisoners were allowed to participate in the activities, and about 2,200 people had stated their intention to visit the prisoners.

Chiang Mai Central Prison arranged the daily event from August 18-22, and held the activities again August 25-29. The prisoners received the opportunity to spend time with family and relatives in the areas provided for 2 hours.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat presided over the opening ceremonies on August 18.

Drug syndicates change smuggling route to Thai-Lao borders

Soldiers instructed to intercept the routes

Nuttanee Thaveephol

The heavy crackdown on cross-border drug trafficking along the Burmese border has had an unwanted side-effect for other areas in the north, as the Thai-Laos border, especially in the areas of Chiang Rai, Nan, and Phayao, has become a primary target for drug syndicates.

Army Lt. Gen. Pathompong Kesornsook has been following the situation and monitoring progress in the suppression of drugs, influential people, and alien labor in the Nan area, and said that the spread of drugs in Nan has been reduced, but drug syndicates are now trying to smuggle drugs through the Thai-Laos border.

Lt. Gen. Pathompong went to border at Huay Kroan checkpoint, Chalermprakiat district on August 15-16. He reported that there are millions methamphetamine pills waiting to be delivered to Thailand, and therefore the Lt. Gen. commanded soldiers in the area to coordinate with other involved units to follow drug dealers’ movements and intercept the routes.

The drug syndicates are also expected to be concerned with the influential groups, hired gunmen, and other dishonest government officers. Also, most alien laborers coming from Laos try to use Nan to pass into other regions of Thailand.

DJ arrested for selling drugs to teenagers

Police raid makeshift entertainment places, recommend they be shut down

On the night of August 22, over 100 Chiang Mai policemen patrolled a new hangout for youngsters in Tambon Chang Puek, nearby Wat Pa Paeng temple, and Im-boon Housing Estate, Muang District, Chiang Mai.

Over 30 entertainment places, pubs, bars, food and drink shops, and karaoke bars have opened in the area, and over a hundred youngsters gather there nightly to drink and allegedly buy drugs.

While the police were searching the shops, Preechapong Yawichai, a 21-year-old DJ at Jiamjiam Pub, tried to flee the scene on his motorcycle, but doughty police managed to catch him, and found 10 ya ba pills and a bottle of K drug inside his motorcycle seat.

Police said that they had followed Preechapong for a long time, as it had been reported that he was a ya ba agent for teenagers in the area. He allegedly normally had 2 girls with him who sold the drugs to teenagers.

Police also found 22 youngsters who were under 20 years old in the entertainment area, and these youngsters were fined 50 baht each.

Police are asking Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat to close these pubs, and police are confident that the governor would do so.

Deputy supreme prosecutor calls for drug law reform

More focus on rehabilitation than punishment

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Deputy supreme prosecutor, Rewat Chum-chalerm said that Thailand’s drug laws are about due for reform.

Speaking at a seminar he presided over last week about the “Drug Addict Rehabilitation 2002” act of legislature, the deputy supreme prosecutor said more focus should be put on rehabilitation rather than punishment.

“Enforcing (the act of legislation) would decrease the number of drug prisoners, because it is a prolonged accusation theory,” said Rewat.

The legislative act provides the public prosecutors with judicial power to set up a time frame to receive medical determination to see if alleged drug offenders are being reformed or need incarceration. The strategy would help reduce the number of prisoners in jails, which are already overcrowded.

However, Rewat said that this would mean reforming the judicial system, for lengthening the jurisdiction processes would cause an even bigger backlog, as there are so many criminal cases. One way to help this, Rewat said, would be to reduce penalties for minor cases, using fines and probation instead of imprisonment.

Rewat also said that most importantly, the system should pay much more attention to juvenile cases. He said that in the past, the law process focused more on jailing youths rather than providing solutions and/or support.

“Acts of legislation involving juveniles have not been strictly enforced, and they should be in order to redirect these wayward juveniles to become productive members of society,” added the deputy of state prosecutor.