HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Heavy rain causes flash floods in Chiang Rai

Teen gangs on robbery spree in Nan

Historical Railway tunnel re-opened in Lamphun

Fashion models to be anti-drug campaigners

TFB getting behind local SME’s

Highland development plans

Lampang ceramics getting organized

Environmental training sessions in Mae Hong Son

Chiang Mai’s young designers get display opportunity

Bureaucracy reform for the sake of people

Heavy rain causes flash floods in Chiang Rai

Chiang Mai vegetables to be non-toxic

1,000 year old Doi Tung pagoda to be restored

Local food stalls get the thumbs up from Public Health Office

Be careful of road accidents during this rainy season

Phrae Provincial Police on terrorist alert

Phayao continues drug control and prevention measures

Former drug baron’s home returned to the people

United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime Provides Multi-Nation Training

Youth, the key of change regarding HIV/AIDS

Heavy rain causes flash floods in Chiang Rai

One death, schools closed and arable land damaged

Heavy rain for consecutive days caused flash floods last week in many areas of Chiang Rai Province, and resulted in one death.

Into Kanthasaeng, 53, a Moo 3 Tambon Patueng villager, drowned when flash floods in the stream nearby his house in Mae Chan swept him away. He was allegedly intoxicated at the time.

A flash flood inundated many areas in Chiang Rai last week, including this area on the entrance road to Mae Fa Luang University on the afternoon of September 3. (Photo by Pichitpon Tongtuek)

The rain produced cascades from the mountain steams flowing into the residences and agricultural areas, causing Huay Kian, Mae Khao Tom, San Ton Kok, Huay Pu villages and the entranceway to Mae Fa Luang University to flood. Standing floodwaters reached 50 cm high, causing traffic jams on the route between Chiang Rai and Mae Chan.

In Tambon Nanglae at Ban Pa Ruak School in Saeng Wiwat Village, the flood reached 1 meter high. Parents had to rescue their children from school. Some areas of Den and Nanglae villages were also flooded.

In Mae Chan District, the 50 cm high floodwaters started from the front of Mae Chan Hospital and spread through the branch road to Mae Ai District and the nearby areas.

At last report, the flood had damaged schools and 500 houses, and 500 rai of farmlands had been inundated.

Teen gangs on robbery spree in Nan

Police believe morality training sessions required

Renu, a nineteen-year-old girl studying at Nan Technical College, was robbed at knife-point on her way home. She informed police at Nan police station that around 10 p.m., she was riding her motorbike on the way to Nam Lom Village, Tambon Naivieng, Muang District, Nan. She was accosted by three thieves aged between 20-23 years old, riding motorbikes. They stopped her, and then held her forcibly and used a knife to demand money, taking her 100 baht and riding off.

In Wiang Sa District there was a similar crime by a teenage gang, and Pol Maj Gen Teerasak Chukitkhun, commander of Nan provincial police has joined in the investigation of the robbery. He alleged the offenders were six teens, including Wirat or Rat Suanta, a 19-year-old gang leader, and five other gang members.

One of these motorcycle gangs intimidated Kongrid Juntipmongkol, a 14-year-old boy, by riding motorbikes, encircling their victim and forcing him to give them money.

Pol Maj Gen Teerasak Chukitkhun said that these acts by teenagers in these groups were mainly copycat offences, where gang members looked to other gangs for leadership. He continued by stating that this behavior could be rectified.

Nan provincial officers are collecting the names of teenage gang members to solve the problems. They will have discussions with them, teach them morality, and give them useful suggestions about careers and life.

Historical Railway tunnel re-opened in Lamphun

Hoped it will revive and develop the historical tunnel at Khun Tan railway station

The deputy governor of Lamphun, Surang Prabroke, presided over the (re) opening ceremony of the Khun Tan rail tunnel project. This will be a tourist spot, and it is hoped it will revive and develop the historical tunnel at Khun Tan railway station, in Lamphun.

The Tambon Administration Organization of Tha Pladuk at Doi Khun Tan National Park, the local kamnan or the headman of village, the Buddhist clergy, and local residents of Tha Pladuk, built a Khun Tan spirit house, giving importance to the Khun Tan tunnel as a place of travel.

On the same day, they held tree planting activities in the areas, using Christmas trees (Rachaphuek trees) with more than 4,000 trees planted around the Khun Tan Railways Station locality.

As well as planting flowers and trees, they had built a Khun Tan model to pay worship with photographs of the 1,352 meter long Khun Tan tunnel (which is as the longest historical rail tunnel), built in 1907.

Next year, Lumphun Provincial Administration Organization will launch a project of developing and landscaping Ban Khun Tan land, the Khun Tan rail tunnel, and landscaping a road near Khaotha Chompoo Bridge. As is the usual case with these local development projects, it is hoped that extra income will be brought into the area.

Fashion models to be anti-drug campaigners

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The Office of Narcotics Control Board, Northern Region (ONCB) in conjunction with Kad Suan Kaew 2545 Co., Ltd. are inviting young girls aged 18-25 who have never been involved with drug use, to enter the Anti Drug 2003 Model Contest on October 25 at Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Complex. Entries are open from now until October 10.

In the first round, all the girls have to participate in a special training course from ONCB. It is planned that the course will encourage the girls to avoid all drugs and teaches the beauty contestants how to remain drug-free for all their lives. This will be an ONCB certificated course.

(Front row) Pittaya Jinawat (left), director of ONCB, Northern Region, and Saranya Kongchak (center), project president, Nakin Chalaopak, deputy director of IMC2 of Kad Suan Kaew 2545 Co., Ltd, and five pretty girls at the press conference held at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel.

The semi finals will be held on October 18 and the final round will be in the week after. Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat will preside over the finale of the contest.

Project president, Saranya Kongchak, said this contest will strengthen women’s roles in working against drugs and will be encouraging women to realize the danger of drugs. All funds raised from the event will go to help Ban Gue Darun Foundation, homes for elderly, including nursing homes and King Kaew orphanage.

TFB getting behind local SME’s\

Details of support at seminars all over country

Pichitpon Tongtuek

Thai Farmers Bank (TFB) has continued their professional seminar project for the four country regions addressing the local SME’s entrepreneurs using the bank’s knowledge of the northern business arena. Focusing on the basic knowledge of good business, they have also set up the team to take care of the relationships with the customers in northern areas so as to promote business growth and prosperity as well as expanding the credit base.

Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Bovorn Rattanaprasit (center) presided over the opening ceremony of the TFB meeting held at Westin Riverside hotel, Chiang Mai on the topic of “omniscient knowledge around the northern businesses”. Attending the opening session were also TFB executive Pakorn Pattanapat (right), and other TFB staff and guests of honor.

Pakorn Pattanapat, a TFB executive, said that after setting up the first professional seminar in the Chonburi region in the East in August, it was very successful and many business owners joined in. “So this time, we have continued this similar project through this seminar in Chiang Mai to serve the local businesses in the northern area,” said Pakorn.

He added that the bank thought that now the economic crisis ended, they want the businessmen and entrepreneurs to adapt and develop their basic knowledge in the correct way of business management. Even in the investment market, using monetary and accounting analysis for business operators they can improve and apply stability in the long term.

For customer service in the locality, Pakorn said that now the bank has now set up business service centers in 13 areas around Thailand, consisting of nine centers in Bangkok and another four centers in the country covering Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Nakhon Rachasima and Laem Chabang. In Chiang Mai, the TFB service center is on Thapae road for those clients in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang provinces.

He added that following TFB policy and planning, the bank has clear cut directions, in providing a larger credit base among the SME business groups in the North, with a combined budget of 500 million baht, especially for the TFB clients in the fields of agriculture, agro industry and food processing industry, construction materials, and wood processing, mobile, auto parts as well as ceramic factories.

Highland development plans

A better life for the villagers is being promoted

The government is attempting to push forward the plan for highland development to cover one thousand villages in five provinces in the North, urging the communities to take part in development project. It uses the Royal Project as the model for this plan.

The Chiang Mai University Academic Service Center (Uniserv) arranged the seminar on the pilot operation plan and put the organization of the highland development plan under the leadership role of the Agricultural Development Plan (Upper Northern Region).

This plan for highland development was created jointly by Chiang Mai University and the Agricultural and Cooperative Ministry.

Pongsak Angkasith, vice president of Chiang Mai University, said that at present in five northern provinces there were many villages that had not been developed by the project. The highland development plan aims to help highlanders to develop their agricultural skills and make their life more comfortable.

Lampang ceramics getting organized

Current problems in the ceramics industry are caused by the lack of business information, including the details or information on business competitors. Many small ceramic companies faced the problems of human resources, and cost management as well as lacking expertise in some areas.

To counteract this, the Industrial Finance Corporation of Thailand (IFCT) in cooperation with the Center of Ceramics Industry Development, the Ceramics Association, and Lampang Provincial Industrial Federation, organized the “Lampang, the Asian Ceramics Center in 2012” seminar.

The seminar was aimed to develop a ceramics product standard and to create a cluster of ceramic industries in Lampang province that could reach the world markets.

The organizers expected that the seminar would help them create a network among the ceramics companies, and help create business strategies to increase the product’s value and improve export figures.

Environmental training sessions in Mae Hong Son

In response to call from HM Queen Sirikit

The Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Office, Mae Hong Son recently held a training course to promote and sustain natural resources and the environment following a call by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.

Supot Laowansiri, the Mae Hong Son Governor presided over the practical training in sustainability of natural resources, to educate heads of departments and local leaders. Chalorsak Makchoo, the chief of Natural Resources and Environment Office reported that the natural resources management in the past had not stopped the decline, due to the lack of real cooperation, particularly from the people in the local communities.

There were 100 local representatives including four government officials who attended the training sessions. These people will use the know ledge they received from the training to design and make sustainable natural resources projects and gaining cooperation from the people in the local communities.

Chiang Mai’s young designers get display opportunity

On September 23, the Empress Hotel, Chiang Mai will be the venue for the Chiang Mai Young Designer Contest 2003, with the Industrial Promotion Center (IPC), Region 1 together with Chiang Mai Provincial Industry Office, Chiang Mai Fabric Entrepreneurs and Exporters Association, and Northern Region Women Entrepreneurs Club jointly organizing the show.

The competition is intended to support local young designers to improve their artistic skills in terms of fabric design and assist them to reach the international market, and also to promote traditional clothes especially Thai silk.

The committees selected 20 patterns from 170 entries, and transferred them to dressmaking schools with Thai silk from Vocational Training Project under the Queen’s Patronage. The final designs will be evening dress and working clothes with the final round on September 23.

More information contact IPC, Region 1, tel. 0-5330-4346.

Bureaucracy reform for the sake of people

If it makes filling out forms easier, I’m for it!

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

The Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC) held a meeting on bureaucracy reform at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel in Chiang Mai. Deputy Prime Minister Visanu Krue-ngarm, the president committee of the OPDC, presided over the opening ceremony as well as giving the keynote address on Policy, Guideline, and Strategies for Bureaucracy Reform to both government officials and local administration organization officials from 17 northern provinces.

Deputy Prime Minister Visanu Krue-ngarm gave the keynote address to government officers and local administration organization officials from 17 northern provinces.

Visanu said that at the moment bureaucracy reform was proceeding into the second tier in terms of human resources reform, after the structural one had finished.

The reform of the entire bureaucratic system is aimed for efficiency and good governance. Efficiency emphasized outcomes and service quality. The government officials must change their roles from controllers and supervisors to directors and facilitators.

“The working cultural reform, especially CEO governor system would help get rid of poorly performing officials as only good governors could stay on and only the best people could be CEO governors under strict evaluation guidelines,” said Visanu.

Although the entire bureaucratic system is intended to help the people and the private sector earn their living more easily, the results of bureaucracy reform would directly affect many government officials in terms of work responsibility, rank, and salary, said Visanu. “However, on October 1, CEO governors will take up their jobs and we must minimally intervene in their life, but will facilitate their operations as much as we can,” said Visanu.

Heavy rain causes flash floods in Chiang Rai

Floodwaters caused heavy traffic jams on the Chiang Rai-Mae Sai road. (Photo by Pichitpon Tongtuek)

Floodwaters inundated homes and sois in the Tambon Nanglae area. (Photo by Pichitpon Tongtuek)

Chiang Mai vegetables to be non-toxic

Push to stop chemicals in produce

Lamaiporn Saithong, the chief of Institute of Agriculture Extension and Development Office, Chiang Mai stated that Chiang Mai would expand its agricultural areas to produce more chemical free vegetables by January 1 next year, in accordance with the government plan of exporting non-toxic vegetables. Thailand wants to be the world’s kitchen or the world’s food producer.

The main purposes of this agricultural project are to give farmers the information on chemical free vegetable planting and encourage more than 80% of them to join the project.

The province will also hold a forbidden chemicals week at the end of October this year to make the farmers aware they should not use forbidden chemicals with their plants. The province will also speed up related projects in the province such as organic agriculture.

The province will give agriculturists a guarantee certificate for their products and register all of them who produce non-toxic contaminated vegetables.

Lamaiporn said, “The province has examined the agriculturists who own longan plantations and do not use chemicals after this became urgent following problems that occurred when exporting longans to China.”

1,000 year old Doi Tung pagoda to be restored

Built by Kru Ba Sriwichai, a famous Lanna saint

Pichitpon Tongtuek.

Many people got together for the preparations to renovate Phra Thart Doi Tung (Doi Tung pagoda) in Huai Krai area, Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai. The pagoda, which had been build 1,092 years ago, will be restored, after having its cover removed.

Somdej Bhuddhajarn, the abbot of Wat Saket temple in Bangkok; Phra Dhepratnamunee, the head monk of the 6th Region; Phra Kru Pitak Patjuntaket Jantako, the abbot of Wat Noi Doi Tung together with Meechai Ruechuphan, the former deputy prime minister; Sukitchja Karunanon, Chiang Rai deputy governor and 1,000 people from this northernmost province attended the ceremony at Phra Thart Doi Tung. The ceremony was held to ask permission from the sprits that take care of the pagoda before taking off the pagoda cover and renovating the old pagoda inside.

Sukitchja Karunanon, Chiang Rai deputy governor said that the construction would start after the Buddhist lent ends in October. “It will take about one year to renovate because there are many things to do such as rebuilding the road on to the temple for about 5 kms and the budget for this project is about 4 million baht.”

Meechai Ruechuphan, deputy prime minister, said that he wanted to have the pagoda cover rebuilt under the supervision of the Fine Arts Department and the renovation work should use the construction workers in local area.

Local food stalls get the thumbs up from Public Health Office

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Dr. Rattawut Sukmee, chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office said that following the Food Safety Center’s campaign, “Food Safety Healthy Chiang Mai,” many fresh food stalls had been strictly checked according to international standards.

Dr. Rattawut Sukmee, chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office announced the results of the campaign “Food Safety Healthy Chiang Mai” during the press conference.

The results showed that chemical substances in food were right down from the 5.2% last year to only 0.36% in this year. Additionally, from 275 food stalls, the officers found only one dish with borax, while many kinds of chemical substances such as purifying substances, artificial colouring, formaldehyde, or pesticides had not been found.

The Food Safety Center has also launched a campaign, “Clean Fresh Market.” The 22 districts and sub-district committees would proceed with quality checking in every fresh market. Currently, 50% of the markets and food stalls had passed the quality check standard. But by the end of this year, every fresh market and food stalls would reach the food standard, said Dr. Rattawut.

Markets, shops and food stalls that passed the quality check will received certificates from the Food Safety Center, while those, where chemical substances were found, will be fined, noted Dr. Rattawut.

Be careful of road accidents during this rainy season

Along the Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai road, at around 8:10 p.m. on the night of September 2, there was an accident in the Mae Lao district area, Chiang Rai. The pick up truck skidded off the slippery road during heavy rain, slid and hit an electric pole. The pick up truck and the electric pole were damaged, but luckily the driver was only slightly injured and safe. (Photo by Pichitpon Tongtuek)

Phrae Provincial Police on terrorist alert

Following the terrorist strike and threats in the southern region with direct attacks on police, leaving many dead, the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 has urged officers who are positioned at every checkpoint to be alert and inspect all cars and passengers, especially on the drug smuggling routes, said Maj. Gen. Niyom Kanklinhom, the commander of Phrae Provincial Police

At this time, the Phrae provincial special task force unit had been trained to apply military tactics to use when they were on duty and the strategies used in all checkpoints had also been stepped up to increase security and safety for all the officers.

Although terrorist attacks in the northern region have not been as violent and serious as those in the south, the policy was now one of increased observation and readiness for the officers, especially on the drug transport routes between the border areas in the northern region.

Phayao continues drug control and prevention measures

Somsak Boonpluang, Phayao governor, said that even though Phayao had announced that it was declared as a “drug-free zone” on July 30, it will only be a permanent situation after everyone in the province cooperates to ensure that it remains drug-free.

The Phayao governor was speaking at a meeting late last month with other government officials concerned with how to solve the drug problems.

The meeting was also told that there were drug control and prevention measures which the Phayao officials were implementing to fight drugs, and they were getting rid of the influential persons in the drug trade, punishing the government officials who were involved with drugs, and ridding the province of hired gunmen.

Maj. Gen. Rakchat Radchakit, Phayao Provincial Police commander, said that during the “war on drug” campaign launched on August 1-20, police arrested one methamphetamine case with four suspects and a haul of 160 pills of methamphetamine, one suspect with opium, three suspects with marijuana and four influential persons.

Former drug baron’s home returned to the people

AMLO hands keys to Lampang authorities

Lampang will turn a Northern Thai style house once belonging to drug suspect Panom Sap-anek, into a new tourist attraction. This house will be used in the “Unseen in Thailand” promotional scheme. The highly valued property is located on 37 rai in Tambon Chompu, Muang district, Lampang.

Direk Klonkleeb, Deputy Governor of Lampang, said that the authorities were going to present this house as a new “unseen place” so as to allow general public to visit and experience traditional Thai arts in the residence.

The Anti Money Laundering Office (AMLO) had already assigned the provincial authorities to take responsibility for the house and the provincial authorities and Tourism Authority of Thailand have carried out the promotional campaign together. It was estimated that the house would be opened for tourists to visit in the upcoming October.

The previous owner, Panom Sap-anek, has been charged with drug trafficking and money laundering. The AMLO confiscated several of Panom’s properties including the house, buildings and ten of his ten-wheeled trucks worth about 800 million baht in all.

United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime Provides Multi-Nation Training

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently sponsored two classes of comprehensive intelligence training specifically designed for law enforcement officers. The training took place at the Royal Princess Hotel in downtown Chiang Mai and brought together law enforcement representatives from Thailand, China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Intelligence Coordinator Richard Rivers of Bangkok and Senior Intelligence Analyst Frank Weicks of Chiang Mai handed out certificates to the participants.

The training was organized by UNODC Project Coordinator Khun Songsatit Kittikhunwatchana, who stated that, “Training such as this is part of UNODC’s continuing effort to develop and improve cross border law enforcement cooperation in East Asia and is designed to forge working relationships between members of the participant countries.” Khun Songsatit has extensive experience and a long track record of notable successes with the United Nations. Khun Daeng, administrative assistant, provided staff support during the training.

Intelligence Coordinator Richard Rivers of Bangkok and Senior Intelligence Analyst Frank Weicks of Chiang Mai were the trainers, both with over 30 years of varied law enforcement experience and as trainers. They have taught as a team since being assigned to Thailand. Richard Rivers and Frank Weicks are both employed by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Classes consisted of both didactic training and practical exercises. In addition to the training, a number of formal and informal group meetings and plenary sessions were included in the curriculum. These were designed to allow the representatives of the six nations to share information and form new relationships.

One intended goal of this training was to increase the participant’s knowledge and understanding of the function of law enforcement intelligence in today’s world. A second and equally important goal was to provide a forum for continuing dialog between the representatives which will lead to mutual cooperation in addressing the enormous problems of drug trafficking and abuse.

Youth, the key of change regarding HIV/AIDS

But some youth groups unsure that others will listen

Nantanee Jedsadachaiyut

Around 40 participants from different regions of Thailand attended the Health and Development Networks (HDN) NGO Forum to discuss the topic; “Youth advocacy activities and lesson learned from the 9th National Seminar on AIDS experience”.

Many topics regarding sexuality and HIV/AIDS were discussed by the participants from Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Mae Hong Son, and Lampang, Chiang Mai and Tak provinces including the appropriate age to provide sex education and the need to understand that sexuality is much more than sexual intercourse.

According to Budsaya Kunakornsawat from Northern Child & Youth Network in Chiang Mai, “We should try to help adults understand our needs.” Sutthisa Sributtrawong, from AIDS Network Foundation Northeast in Khon Kaen, added that, “Young people have to stand up and be the key to change. Young people can do a good work, if they are supported,” she said.

The quote “Youth can do a good work if they are supported,” was one of the most repeated sentences originally spoken by Wassana Promsena, a member of the Takoppa Youth Group, from her presentation on the role of youth in the last Thai National AIDS Seminar.

Advocacy strategies were the focus of most of the debate. It was clear that it requires time to develop the necessary skills to advocate effectively. The role played by the youth groups at the National Seminar was very important. “Now we know a bit more about how to advocate and how to present the ideas,” said Budsaya.

The National Seminar was the first experience of a national level meeting of this scope for most of the young people attending. Many felt that they were unable to cope with the number and diversity of sessions and the amount of information available - they reported feeling overwhelmed.

The younger people also felt that they were not able to participate as much as they had hoped and access to those with whom they wished to communicate was difficult. “Will people at the top listen to us?” was a question asked openly by young members of the audience. However, discussion was very lively when some older members of the audience attended the youth activities during the National Seminar. Overall, it was reported to the Monthly NGO Forum that the outcomes of the activities organized at that Seminar were “extremely positive.”