EGAT to be sued in Chiang Mai Administrative Court
Coughing Mae Moh villagers say open the coffers
The villagers in Mae Moh district, Lampang, have filed a
lawsuit against the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EAGT) in
the Administrative Court in Chiang Mai.
August 30, many sick people from 16 villages gathered at the Administrative
Court file a lawsuit calling for 1.08 billion baht compensation for the
respiratory problems they claim are caused by the Mae Moh lignite power
The villagers from 16 villages in the district are suing
the Mae Moh lignite power plant operated by EGAT and are calling for 1.08
billion baht compensation for the respiratory problems they claim are caused
by the plant, and asked for the environment around Mae Moh area to be
The villagers also asked that the government spend 3.7
million baht to hire doctors from Rajavithee Hospital, Bangkok to work and
be stationed in the area.
Somboon Srikumdorkkae, the chairman of the Thai
occupationally affected patients network said that more than 2,000 people in
Mae Moh district had been experiencing health problems for more than 10
years since the power plant was built.
In the past, EGAT had sent doctors to take care of the
villagers but they were of the opinion that they could not solve any
problems and sometimes made mistakes in diagnosis. When the villagers went
to Rajavithee Hospital, it was found that more than 130 villagers had
inflamed lungs and respiratory problems caused by sulfur dioxide exposure
over a long period of time. Many people had died over the past 10 years.
Chiang Mai Zoo’s panda house given 5 star rating by Chinese delegation
Local bamboo also given Highly Recommended classification by panda diners
The much celebrated Chiang Mai Zoo panda cage is already
80% completed with the construction work allocated a budget of 39 million
baht by the Thai government.
To inspect the progress, Chinese officials led by Zhern
Run Zheng, the secretary of Wildlife Animals Association, China, looked at
the 3,000 sq. meter panda cage construction at Chiang Mai Zoo.
Montree Nawigphon, the chairman of the Zoological Park
Organization, said that after the Chinese officers had inspected the
construction work, they were very satisfied but asked that the barrier
between the area where the panda bears live to the public viewing area be
altered as they were afraid that the pandas could climb out. A panda bear
wandering loose amongst the visitors to the zoo, although exciting, would
not be a good thing.
On September 1-5, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chavalit
Yongchaiyudh and other delegates went to Sichuan, China to select the pandas
and will bring them to Thailand’s Chiang Mai Zoo in October this year,
after suitable travel documents have been issued.
Initially, Thai Airways International will bring the
pandas’ bamboo food from China. However, the Royal Project has grown
bamboo and sent this to China to allow the pandas a taste test, and the
Chinese officials said that the Thai bamboo received the panda good
housekeeping seal of approval.
American export expert points the way for Thai entrepreneurs
Chiraporn Tullayanond, the Director of Department of
Export Promotion (DEP), Northern Center, Chiang Mai arranged a seminar to
present new ideas for Thai businessmen looking to export Thai goods to the
Last year, US exports earned 570,000 million baht, but
this year the USA faced many problems like war and SARS. The DEP was
expected to expand the market in the world and try even harder to get in to
US markets during this time.
Tullayanond, the Director of DEP, Northern Center in Chiang Mai encouraged
Thai exporters to enter into the US market.
“We need to try harder and be more aware. Lately we
asked fashion experts from New York to explain to us their thoughts on cloth
products so that we could take part on the fashion stage of New York.
Northern Thai cloth is interesting, it’s beautiful and classic, and people
would like that. So the market there should open up for us,” Chiraporn
To assist the DEP and local entrepreneurs, marketing
expert Mary Storch was invited to address the seminar and give some
strategies to assist breaking into the big marketplace in the USA like
Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles, the director said.
However, she said that they did not aim only at the USA
but also the European market and the Middle East and further seminars would
cover these opportunities. Government was also fully supporting the export
push, with 53 provinces now having a Foreign Trade Department.
In the seminar, marketer Storch gave advice on the US
market and regional differences. The major market centers of gift and home
decor in each region are San Francisco, Los Angeles in the West, Chicago in
the Midwest, New York in the Northeast, Dallas, Atlanta, and High Point in
She also pointed out the color trends for 2004 for home
fashion which will begin a new focus on soft, fresh and elegant colors. The
trends will range from soothing tones to neon bright. The Thai entrepreneurs
left suitably dazzled.
Chiang Rai plans for the future
Commercial hub for the Greater Mekong Sub-region
More than 200 people including the directors of
Provincial Administration Organizations, district and tambon municipalities,
and other related officials participated in a seminar organized by the
Office of Public Works and City Planning, Chiang Rai province, aiming to
create a framework for developing Chiang Rai.
Samreuang Boonyopakorn, Chiang Rai Provincial Election
Committee chairman, presided over the opening ceremony at Mae Fa Luang
University, Chiang Rai of the seminar titled “Strategies for Developing
City and Rural Areas by City Planning Measurement.”
At the seminar, Yuanyong Prasittiprom, Chiang Rai Public
Works and City Planning official, notified that Chiang Rai would transfer
the provincial management and administration to the Chief Executive Officer
(CEO) system this October. Future development strategies must now be
organized not only for local government but also social and environmental
development as well. The strategies would be guided by city planning and
framework, which intended to make Chiang Rai a healthy city and to be the
hub in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).
Chiang Rai and Bor Kaew in Laos agree to build bridges
Literally and metaphorically
Thai-Lao relationships have been improving, with the local
provinces being very much involved in this process. On August 29, Narintre
Panitchkit, Chiang Rai Governor, and the Chiang Rai government sector met
with the local administrators of Laos, led by Buasorn Silipanya, Laos’ Bor
Kaew provincial governor.
The meeting was declared most successful and the parties
agreed to meet at least once a year to continue to work on better relations.
Boundaries and borders were discussed, with demarcation and environmental
issues foremost. The border check-points should be the responsibility of
both governments, was the feeling of the meeting.
Drug suppression was another topic with both sides
agreeing that increased surveillance is needed between the check-points.
Alien labour was also discussed and the problems experienced by both sides
Everyone agreed to set up a project to look at building a
bridge across Mekong River between Chiang Khong district, and Huai Sai and
Luang Namtha in Laos. Many bridges have been built with this improvement in
relationships between the two countries.
Prince Mahidol’s memory celebrated at CMU
Chiang Mai University students from six health science
faculties including Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, Nursing,
Dentistry, and Associated Medical Sciences, arranged Mahidol Day activities
at the end of August, with the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Science
organizing further Mahidol activities again in September.
Mahidol Day is to honour His Majesty the King’s Father
who is regarded as the Father of Thai Medicine. The CMU activity included a
seminar and quiz competition on health science, Cheerleader contest, singing
contest, a debate, and a ballroom dancing show.
There were also activities concerning health care and
exhibitions from the six health science faculties including basic rescue
demonstrations, home pharmaceutical suggestions, first aid demonstrations,
blood checks, and vaccinations.
Biomass power we can grow for ourselves
Agricultural waste products could be the way to cheaper
fuel in the future, according to a seminar promoted by the Engineering
Information Institute, Chiang Mai University entitled Optional Energy for
Pornchanatham, director of Biomass Electric Plants, spoke on the Roi Et
Green Power Plant.
Pornsak Pornchanatham, director of Biomass Electric
Plants, called attention to the Roi Et Green Power Plant in Roi Et province,
saying that at the moment, the Thai government was promoting the use of
renewable energy as a fuel in the electricity supply industry by allowing
Small Power Producers (SPP) to sell power to the Electricity Generating
Authority of Thailand (EGAT), and biomass has been playing an important role
as an optional energy.
Thailand as an agricultural country with many
agricultural wastes such as rice husks, bagasse, wood chips, and corncobs
could serve the power production inside the country, and importantly, it
would reduced dependence on fuel imports, said Pornsak.
However, Phataraphong Thapha, an EGAT official, mentioned
that the agricultural wastes, the raw material for generating biomass power
plants, would be dependant on each season’s crops, so that at present
biomass could not effectively serve the whole country’s electricity
generation needs. He agreed that biomass could be useful in the rural areas.
It could reduce the cost of transmitting electricity through the electric
cable lines, but at the same time, the cost for constructing the biomass
plant was quite high said Phataraphong.
Home schooling for handicapped children
Samai Sirithongthaworn, director of Rajnakarintr Children
Development Institute, said that home schooling in Thailand had been
established for ordinary children since 1999, and that Ministry of Public
Health initiative covered home schooling projects for handicapped children
Speaking at a Rajnakarintr Children Development Institute
seminar on home schooling for handicap children at the Suriwong Hotel on
August 28, she said that the project was intended to improve the potential
for home schooling and to assist parents, who planned to educate their
children by themselves.
The participants included parents, teachers, and public
health officers who all were given the opportunity to discuss home schooling
for handicapped children with special guest speakers from both Thailand and
The seminar was expected to strengthen the parents’
network and help these parents find effective and concrete strategies for
educating handicapped children through home schooling.
More water supplies with royal artificial rain making operations
Farmers have faced water shortages in the northern region
for several months. Now the Royal Rain-Making Center is in cooperation with
Flight Operations Unit of the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF). This operation
will provide royal artificial rain for agricultural sectors in need. The
RTAF and Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives have been launched with
over 7 aircrafts from the Royal Rainmaking Center, providing artificial rain
which supports agricultural production in the region.
Somchai Ruangsuthi-naritphab, director of the Royal
Rainmaking Center notified the request to Wing 46, Phitsanulok base,
supporting aircrafts to proceed with royal artificial rainmaking in the
The agricultural lands in many northern provinces have
faced drought for months, especially in the areas of Lampang, Lamphun, and
Phayao provinces. The large amount of agricultural products would have been
damaged if the drought problem had not been immediately solved, said Somchai.
More than 50,000 rai of sugar cane plantations in Sobprab,
Kao Kha, and Mae Ta districts in Lampang, and large areas of rice fields,
and fruit orchards in Phayao, Lamphun, and southern part of Chiang Mai have
faced drought problem.
Yok Dok for OTOP
Lamphun silk best in the North
The yok dok silk from Lamphun got the nod as the best Thai
silk product during the recent One Tambon One Product (OTOP) competitions in
The yok dok silk is sold through Lamphun’s Thai silk
shop Lamphun Pha Mai Thai, established in the Changkong community, Muang
district, Lamphun. In the past, people in the Changkong community
manufactured the silk cloth for household use only, however, in 1993,
housewives of the Changkong community group set up the Lamphun Thai silk
shops to be supplied by their 300 members.
The silk cloth, which won the award as the best silk of
the OTOP goods, was woven by Orasa Khunkamsaeng. She wove the yok dok silk
in the Suriyashai (sunshine) pattern. She got the idea of this pattern from
an ancient northern woven cloth and combined it with a currently popular
pattern, so it is the mixture of ancient and modern.
Each cloth is 1 meter wide, and 4 meters long. Each piece
takes over 2 months to complete and is suitable for party dresses, bride’s
dress, or Thai tradition suits for both men and women. Because of the
versatility of the cloth, the committee decided to grant best OTOP award to
the Changkong group.
The winner also received a shield and 200,000 baht from
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Orasa, the weaver, said proudly that she
was delighted to receive this reward as she had done her best with the
cloth. She also asked Thai people to wear Thai cloth which is uniquely Thai
Schools to be closed in remote areas
Children’s rights groups up in arms
22,000 small elementary schools around the country will
be closed this October according to the Ministry of Education. Small primary
schools with less than 60 students would be eliminated, decreasing the
number from 40,000 to 18,000 schools, with most of them located in the
Chiang Rai senator, Tuanjai Deethes, pointed out that the
deletion of small elementary schools would disrupt the educational
opportunities for children in the countryside. This was because they would
have to leave their families to go to study in a larger community, where
they were in danger of losing their own identities.
This decade was announced by UNESCO to be a “Decade of
Education,” to create sustainable development and to promote cultural
conservation, especially for ethnic groups all over the world. But why now
does Thailand, which retains cultural diversity of many ethnic groups in the
remote areas, set a policy to pull children away from their origins,
questioned Tuanjai. The decrease in the number of schools went against the
international convention on children rights, which states that the
government must provide basic education for every child.
“It is completely wrong to only consider the cost of
education because a large amount of the budget has to spent for human
resource development, and the Ministry of Education should provide literacy
for children in the countryside equal to those provided in the cities,”
Santiphong Moonfong, the secretary of Children’s Rights
Protection Center in Mae Hong Son, expressed concern that the decrease in
numbers of small elementary schools was bad for many provinces for example
Mae Hong Son. Many children in primary level had to cross rivers or
mountains or both to study in other villages, which was very tough for young
Even though Ministry of Education planned to provide a
transportation budget, it was not the solution, because in many villages in
the highland province like Mae Hong Son, vehicles were meaningless, said
Wide road project is proven a success
San Pa Fai Road entering into the Northern Region
Industrial Estate (NRIE) in Lamphun Province has daily chaotic traffic
amongst cluttered vendors adding up to about 50,000 people jammed together
creating aggravating situations, but now this has changed because of the new
wide road project.
parking in front of the Northern Region Industrial Estate are obviously in
order after Lamphun Provincial Authorities launched their “wide road
Lamphun Governor Tawat Satiennam said the original
thought of the wide road project had begun when he had taken a trip in
February and became stuck in traffic on San Pa Fai Road. He then realized
that immediate action must be taken concerning the systemization in front of
NRIE where traffic chaos is often created. Pol Lt Col Songsak Sawangprasert,
deputy superintendent of traffic police, Lamphun said the wide road project
was launched on March 1, 2003.
Now, while entering into NRIE 30 from 7 a.m. - 8 a.m. and
from 5 p.m. - 6 p.m., officers are enforcing laws while giving regulation
handbooks to all passing. People are giving much collaboration to keep their
town in order, making the project a full success. To date, all are following
the new and improved traffic rules and regulations.
The future of the Salween Dam
And there are five of them
Mae Yuam Local Organization Administration in Mae Hong
Son arranged the community discussion on the Salween dam construction
project, which mainly focused on the effect after the construction has been
More than 60 local people attended, most being community
leaders and members of the local administration organization. Good
participation followed the community discussion with the three main topics
being the effect of the Salween dam construction, the future plan for
developing the Salween basin, and the energy situation in Thailand.
Montri Intawong, an officer from Life and Nature
Restoration Foundation, stated that in fact there were five Salween Dam
construction projects; three located in Burma, and the rest sited along the
Thai-Burmese border in Mae Hong Son.
One of the two Thai based projects is located along
Salween River about 14 kilometers north from a checkpoint at Sob Ngae
village, Mae Sa Riang district. The top of the dam will be 570 meters wide,
and 168 meters high. This concrete dam could generate 2,000 megawatts of
The second dam project is situated about 15 kilometers
along the river in the area of Tha Ta Fang village, Sob Moei district. This
one is 379 meters wide, and 49 meters high, and could generate 476 megawatts
of electricity. The budget for construction is estimated to be 270,000
EGAT accelerates Environment Impact Assessment for Wiang Haeng lignite mine
With Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)
being subject to villagers demands over other mines, the Environment Impact
Assessment (EIA) study of the Wiang Haeng coal mine has been pushed forwards
but the results will still take two years.
Sanga Boonchom, assistant manager Wiang Haeng development
project, as a guest speaker at the seminar held in Mae Ai district said that
EGAT working in cooperation with Chiang Mai University have now been
studying its EIA and are studying how to protect the environment from
negative effects and plan for developing the quality of life for Wiang Haeng
He added that Wiang Haeng district is a small town and
would be able to make about 0.5 to 1 million tons of coal per year, if the
lignite mining becomes operational.
Hill Tribe leaders come back to be trained
Chiang Rai Provincial Administration has again organized
a training program for hill tribes at Little Duck Hotel, Chiang Rai, to
bring them up to date on Thai politics and local administration. The program
had the backing of Narintr Phanichkit, Chiang Rai governor, who said that
according to the Local Administration Department’s (LAD) policy on
decentralization, Chiang Rai Provincial Administration should organize the
training course for hill tribes in Chiang Rai each year.
178 participants at the training course included the hill
tribes’ community leaders and the permanent secretaries from 15 districts
and 2 sub-districts in the province.
The training aims to extend the concept of
decentralization by informing the hill tribes about the rules of law and the
role of local administration towards local community. In addition, the
training program included special lectures that focused on the functions of
the LAD and the position of highland people, the national security and drugs
problem, ongoing sustainable strategies against drugs, development of
occupation skills, and effective management of the village fund.
Chiang Mai welcomes the president of Indonesia
The Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra welcomed the
visiting president of Indonesia, Megawati Sukarnoputri and her spouse at
Wing 41 of the Royal Thai Air Force, in Chiang Mai.
The impressive welcoming party included many performances
from local people such as Fon Leb or fingernail dance, the local northern
Thai traditional performances, and Tung (long flag).
After arrival at the northern capital, PM Thaksin led the
group to the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden in Mae Rim district and in the
evening, the dinner party reception was held for the Indonesian president at
the Prime minister’s house in Mae Rim.
Several topics were discussed between the two leaders on
the following day, including the security pact, working in cooperation on
anti-terrorism in the Asean region, as well as on bilateral trade
agreements. Indonesia has agreed to maintain its rice imports from Thailand,
and continue to grant fishery concessions to Thai fleets. In return, it was
reported that Thailand would buy artificial rainmaking aircraft and train
bogies from Indonesia.
AIDS orphans show
A research project on the “Community and Affected
Children of HIV/AIDS” was led by Aphidech Chairacha, whose team has been
conducting research in various areas of Tambon Buak Khang, Chae Chang, and
Pu Kha, in San Kamphaeng district, Chiang Mai.
The research showed that not only were there the
educational problems that many AIDS orphans are facing, but also mental
problems as well.
Aphidech Chairacha, the research team leader, pointed out
that many AIDS orphans expressed their frustrations through aggressive
behaviour because they did not have any relationships with others,
especially with family members. “The children feel lonely. They think that
nobody wants to take care of them, so this is a reason why they do whatever
they want, ignore others, and become aggressive,” says Aphidech.
However, the community could play an important role to
change the children’s behaviour. Aphidech said that the research
strategies could be adapted to solve the problem of the children’s
behaviour by focusing more on community participation.
Aphidech also said that understanding was the most
important aspect for resolving the problems, and the community leaders
should be acting as the counsellors between children and local people in the
Truck accident on
The downhill section of the Chiang Mai-Lampang
Superhighway at Khun Tan Mountain slope area in Hang Chat District claimed
another victim last weekend. A 10-wheel truck crossed the dividing fence
after the driver apparently lost control of the vehicle while carrying
K-Line containers travelling from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. The driver,
Teeranun Wang-ngoen, died at the scene of the accident.
The truck had been seen passing traffic at high speed at
the Khun Tan Highways Information Center, on the way between Chiang Mai and
Lampang. On the notorious downhill section the truck was seen to veer across
the road and mount the central dividing fence and overturn, blocking the
Superhighway for two hours before police could clear the road. Locals report
that there were many accidents on this stretch of road, particularly during
the rainy season.
Three Pakistani men and two Burmese immigrants arrested
Police suspected they have links to terrorists
The Chiang Mai Immigration Police charged five men on
entering the country without carrying passports. The three Pakistani were
Bashira Ahmad, 29, Saif Jamal Shah, 32, and Jawaif Ahmaf, 45, while the
Burmese were Rasif, 20, and Kasim, 22.
“They were accused of illegal entry from India,
Pakistan and Burma while the country was in preparation for the APEC summit
in Bangkok,” said the police inspector. Some believe that their entry
might have been linked to terrorist groups, a theory which is being followed
up by the Thai officers.
The police force led by superintendent Pol. Col. Shinapat
Tansrisakul of Chiang Mai Immigration Police Office raided a house owned by
a local Thai villager named Satun Rakham, 29, in Ban Kiewnoi, Tambon Ban
Mae, San Patong district, Chiang Mai, after tip -offs from local people that
claimed there were suspicious foreigners hiding there.
Mr Ahmad failed to produce immigration papers while the
other two Pakistani men were carrying expired passports. Chiang Mai
immigration police said the three were suspected to have links with
international terrorist networks.
According to the police, they passed through the Sadao
border check-point in Songkhla Province in the South and hid in Thailand for
more than a year by living in Uttaradit Province, and then went into hiding
in Chiang Mai.
Workshop looks at problems encountered by Thai women seeking employment abroad
A networking workshop for Thai women living in foreign
countries was held in Lampang on August 15. Srinoi Khasemsanna Ayutthaya,
director of Women Affairs and Family Institute Affairs Office stated that at
present the problem of violence against children and women has increased,
with most of the victims being uneducated and forced to be dependent.
After the economic crisis an increasing number of Thai
women made a decision to go abroad in order to earn a living to support
their families, and expected to find high-paying jobs, even though most of
were being mistreated.
“Without a working understanding of the situation they
were being forced into, these women are easily suppressed, but they often
have to accept this fate because they have nowhere to go,” said the
director of Women Affairs and Family Institute. In order to solve this
problem the regional women networks were created to provide support and
education for women in every social class around the country.
Srinoi says, “Knowledge is the most important thing for
women. They will be able to protect, fight, and earn a living by themselves,
and most importantly, to be independent.”
However, Srinoi also said that at the moment Thai
national legislation on women’s issues is being highly reformed; for
example, the law concerning women and child trafficking and prostitution.
The director of the network replied, “But the legislation would be useless
if the law enforcement was imprecise.”