Chiang Mai Province inundated
Flashfloods damage homes and farms while Chiang Mai city mops up
The floodwaters from last week’s torrential downpour are
retreating, while thousands of people and businesses all over the province
get out the mops and begin to count their losses. Farmers have been amongst
the hardest hit, with thousands of rai of planted land submerged and
livestock swept away by flashfloods.
was “BYOS” (bring your own snorkel) on the terrace at the Riverside
Restaurant when the Ping River decided to pay them, and many other
businesses along the riverbanks, a visit last week. Much of the north was
under water when a low-pressure area passed across Northern Thailand,
bringing with it heavy downpours in northern districts of Chiang Mai. (Photo
by Michael Vogt)
Despite government warnings and plans, and the Northern
Meteorological Center in Chiang Mai advising residents living in the
low-lying areas and high-risk flood areas to prepare for a flashflood and
landslide, people were still caught unawares.
The floods were the result of a low-pressure area passing
across Northern Thailand, bringing with it heavy downpours in northern
districts of Chiang Mai.
Friday night September 12, it was soggy feet around Suriwongse Hotel near
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar on Changklan Road. (Photo by Phitsanu Thepthong)
The continuous rains for consecutive days created the
turbulent floodwaters that gushed and overflowed into Mae Ta Lop Dam and
then caused damage to several villages including Sri Dong Yen, Intraram, Lay
Fay, Huay Tag, Sai Kao and Chiang Man villages.
More than 200,000 rai of farming lands in the upper
North’s seven provinces were damaged, with about 100,000 rai in Phayao
Province receiving the most severe damage. Also affected were the provinces
of Phayao, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Nan and Lampang.
these streets or tributaries? It was difficult to tell at the Amari Rincome
Hotel intersection on Friday night. (Photo by Michael Vogt)
After being flooded during the past week, more than 400
households in Fang and Chai Prakarn districts were given food and necessary
consumer goods by the Chiang Mai Provincial Red Cross and other charity
Soldiers from the Army’s Pha Muang Division took charge
of the areas under their responsibility, which included having vehicles at
the ready to evacuate people to higher ground. Some schools were ordered to
close down until the situation returned to normal.
Ping River rose up to the Brasserie Restaurant, shown here on Saturday
September 13. (Photo by Michael Vogt)
In Mae Ai, the water inundated Tambon Mae Sao and San Ton
Mue with another 400 households flooded. Flat-bottom boats were needed to
evacuate property and cattle to the safety of higher ground.
As the Ping River rose to more than one meter above
normal, various areas in Chiang Mai City became impassible for vehicular
transport and rescues were carried out by boat through some of the streets
alongside the river.
In Chiang Mai, workers began pumping water from inundated
areas as soon as the waters began to recede, especially the roads leading to
the business centers and schools near the Ping River.
At the time of going to press, large areas, up to more
than 200,000 rai of land in the upper north, were still under water, with
several provinces still experiencing the aftermath of the rain.
In Chiang Mai, officials said nearly one hundred villages
in a dozen districts and sub-districts had been affected and 55,000 rai of
agricultural land damaged.
It was also reported that the government is working
urgently on a flood abatement plan, as well as arranging for fresh water
supplies to affected regions.
EGAT sale electrifies protests
Workers fear utility prices will rise
Hundreds of Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)
officials and staff are protesting the government’s decision to sell EGAT.
The main complaint stems from the fear that a sale will lead to an increase
in the cost of utilities.
Protest leaders took their forum to the Mae Moh lignite
mine power plant, taking turns making their points in front of the crowd.
They argued that the government was not being sincere enough in solving the
EGAT internal problems from being a government enterprise, particularly in
its decision to sell EGAT.
The protest leaders also stated that EGAT has been very
profitable for the government, unlike other state enterprises such as the
Express Transportation Organization of Thailand, and the State Railway of
Thailand, which always run at a loss. However, the government still wants to
keep them operating.
They also claim that state enterprises that had been
sold, such as the Communications Authority of Thailand and the Expressway
and Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand, resulted in an increase in the cost
of postage and the tollways became more expensive.
Further protests will be held at EGAT’s Bang Kruay
headquarters in Bangkok to keep putting pressure on the government not to
sell off this state enterprise.
TAT to concentrate on marketing
Local authorities to cover market development
The new direction for the Tourism Authority of Thailand
(TAT) has caused some confusion. To counter this, a seminar on the new roles
of TAT was held for local staff with Wanchai Thawornsuk, director of
Pacific-Asia Travel Association (PATA), as guest speaker.
Attendees were told that TAT used to take responsibility
in both tourism development and marketing but following the bureaucracy
reform being launched by the Thai government, TAT has been assigned to work
only on the marketing and planning of the Thai tourism industry while the
provincial authorities and local organizations would be responsible for
tourism development in their regions.
All 900 officials who work in 22 TAT offices around the
country would have to adjust to their duties and roles, said Wanchai. At the
beginning, the work might be delayed and confusing for them, but they soon
would be accustomed to their new duties.
The new main thrust of TAT included attracting tourists
from all around the world to travel or visit Thailand, making the tourist
destinations well known among foreigners and trying to push Thailand as the
tourism destination of Asia.
Until this year, tourist arrivals had increased annually
by 5-6%, but the recent SARS debacle had seen tourist numbers plummet by
20%. It is expected that by next year, the number of tourist arrivals will
be on the upscale again, with figures of 6-7% expected, provided there are
no more serious situations or economic crises affecting the Thai tourism
In the upcoming APEC meeting in Bangkok, the topic of
tourism will also be discussed among the leaders and this will help promote
the Thai tourism industry, claimed Wanchai.
Government ready to throw money at flood problem
But ultimately the problem’s ours
According to the permanent secretary of the prime
minister’s office, Pol. Maj. Yongyut Sarasombat, the government is doing
its best as far as flood mitigation is concerned. On September 14, he met
with local officials and discussed the plight of the people who had been
flooded in Chiang Rai.
Ping River overflowed its banks during the last deluge of rain this past
week. (Photo by Michael Vogt)
During his inspection in the north, he said that in every
fiscal year budget, the government sets aside 7 billion baht towards helping
solve problems from flooding. However, he stressed that every province must
manage its own problems. “In the long term, every province must have its
plan for the management of water usage to prevent flood and drought
problems,” he said.
He noted that even though Chiang Rai Province is not one
of the 15 provinces that have been flooded repeatedly, there should be a
master plan to prevent this problem recurring.
Government to build more cheap houses
Over a thousand units being made available
Low income workers will have more opportunities to own
their own houses when the Eua Arthorn low housing project 3 is built in San
Kamphaeng District, Chiang Mai, with more than a thousand units being made
Seama Wichaiyo, chief of Chiang Mai based National
Housing Authority (NHA) Office stated that the new housing project is going
ahead to provide for more residences. More homes will be built at Tambon San
Ton Pao, San Kamphaeng District, Chiang Mai.
1251 units are being built on 122 rai of land, which will
consist of 837 two-story single houses and 414 two-story duplexes.
Commencement date for the new projects will be December
this year and they should be finished in 12 months.
A family that has an income lower than 15,000 baht per
month can make a reservation at Chiang Mai Community Housing Authority
office on Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, Tambon Nong Hoy, Muang District, from now
Military’s role in rural areas examined
YMCA runs seminar for the military
Phanomwan Yoodee, associate general secretary of the
YMCA’s Northern Development Foundation, said that 100 soldiers from the
four provinces Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nan and Phayao participated in a
two-day seminar on the Thai Military’s roles in strengthening the process
for sustainable development. The seminar took place at the YMCA
International Hotel, Chiang Rai.
The seminar was jointly organized by the Senate Standing
Committee on Military Affairs, Third Army Region, Chiang Mai University, Mae
Fa Luang University, the YMCA of Chiang Mai and the YMCA Northern
Development Foundation (YNDF).
Major General Narit Srinet, the Third Army Region’s
deputy commander presided over the opening ceremony and spoke on the rural
development mission of the Third Army Region. He said most rural development
works are done under His Majesty the King’s initiatives and all of the
military are pleased to work on them.
The participants were made aware that the emphasis for
the military is moving away from only war to other involvements within the
Assistant Professor Sunantha Fabrau from Mae Fa Luang
University and Arnek Nakabutra, the director of Local Wisdom Management
Supportive Institute also gave their opinions on the effects of
globalization on military roles.
Four representatives from civilian life spoke on various
aspects, including the roles of Buddhist monks in recovering natural
resources, the role of the education sector in community development, the
cooperation between community and the military and the increasing importance
of women in strengthening the community.
The second day’s program included field visits to Mae
Fa Luang district’s Yao Lao Sib Village, the area coming under the Pha
Muang task forces. They promote self-sufficiency in agriculture following HM
the King’s initiatives, making bio-fertilizer, growing vegetables, raising
fish, raising domestic fowls and providing a sports area. The participants
saw that the soldiers from the Pha Muang task forces had very good
relationships with all villagers.
All of the participants understood more about the new
role of the military and that they have to integrate their military tasks
and be development facilitators in the name of national security.
Computer seminar held on video editing
Cut and paste with the electronic scissors
Home video editing has always been a daunting task. Edit
suites were expensive and you had to be very technically adept to be able to
do it. With the advent of modern computing, that is all changing.
To introduce the new technology to Chiang Mai, Chi Chang
Computer with the cooperation of SIS and Pinnacle System held a seminar and
training session at the Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel on the topic of how to
become a professional video editor.
In the seminar, the general public were shown the success
and behind the scenes of famous films by using the Pinnacle’s equipment.
The sessions also gave the participants more knowledge about buying computer
hardware, such as video cameras, editing cards and software that allows
people to professionally edit their own video.
Minority groups propose “road map” to Burmese government
Attempting to introduce democracy in Burma
Representatives of Burmese minorities in the area have
implemented a plan, which they call the “road map”, to try to introduce
democracy in Burma. They are attempting to produce a cooperation council for
the nation, and set their framework for the constitution and are calling on
other nations for assistance.
The road map includes proposals for regional human
rights, giving women and children priority, as well as exchanging ideas on
labor and trafficking. The Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation
Committee (ENSCC) in Brussels, Belgium, and other minority groups in Burma
made a joint declaration to the Burmese government regarding the road map.
The map has six main items, with two stages of
implementation. In the first two years there should be brought into
operation a National Cooperation Council that, in accordance with the
resolution of United Nations, includes representatives of the military, the
party that won the election and representatives of minority groups.
A representative of the minority groups said that their
proposals differed from those of the Burmese government, which did not
indicate exactly when it would be applied. According to the Burmese
government road map, the council cannot have input into the government plan
and the supreme command headquarters can seize power at anytime.
The claim is that the government does not support
democracy in Burma, so other nations should help Burma towards real
democratic policies, said the representative.
Historic flights and planes remembered
“Miss Siam” was the first Thai civilian aircraft involved in international travel
Group captain Veerayuth Disayasarin, president of the Thai
Aircraft Conservation and Development Foundation, spoke in Chiang Mai on an
aircraft called Nang Sao Siam (Miss Siam), the first Thai civilian aircraft
involved in international travel.
The celebration of the anniversary of that flight was
also shared with the respect for the 71st birthday anniversary of Her
Majesty the Queen and to celebrate the 71st anniversary of group captain
Lean Pongsophon who flew the airplane to China, Laos and Vietnam to promote
and strengthen relationships between Thailand and these neighboring
countries. Incidentally, they also celebrated the 100th anniversary of
flight in the world.
Group captain Veerayuth Disayasarin flew the historic
plane himself to Chiang Mai, with flights to Lampang and Bangkok. On
September 23-28, the aircraft will travel between Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima,
Khon Kaen, Nakhon Panom and Ubon Ratchatani. The public will be able to
inspect the plane at each destination.
Following the function in Chiang Mai, the Miss Siam
aircraft flew to Lampang.
Anyone interested in these historic aircraft can contact
the foundation on 02 534 5012-3. Income raised from these events will be
going to Her Majesty the Queen to support Her many royal charitable
Thailand and Burma hold joint conference on public health
Is lead poisoning in drug runners on the agenda?
Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panichkij stated that the Thai
Ministry of Public Health would host the 3rd public health conference on
Thailand-Burma cooperation September 28-29 at Dusit Island’s Resort Hotel
in Chiang Rai.
During the conference, both Thai and Burmese Public
Health Ministries will arrange exhibitions on the public health situation in
the Thai-Burmese border areas, from their different perspectives.
The Public Health Ministry of Burma will first present
its exhibition in Burma on September 27 and then the Thai ministry will
present its counterpart in Thailand on September 28 at the Chiang Rai
Sinthanee Complex building.
The Thai and Burmese ministers of public health are
expected to jointly preside over the opening of the exhibition in their own
countries on those days.
UNICEF/UNESCO meeting focuses on care and education for increasing numbers of children affected by HIV/AIDS in the Mekong Region
Chang Mai, September 16 - A
regional workshop on children and HIV/AIDS opened this week at the Imperial
Maeping Hotel in Chiang Mai. The meeting, jointly sponsored by UNICEF and
UNESCO, brings together representatives of governments, the United Nations,
non-governmental and religious organizations and HIV-positive community
leaders. It will look at the special needs of children affected by AIDS
throughout the region.
The numbers of children affected by AIDS is increasing as
HIV/AIDS epidemics in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam are reaching
a phase where more of the infected adult population dies. Thailand had a
cumulative number of 290,000 children orphaned by AIDS as of 2001; in
Cambodia, the number reached 55,000 and in Viet Nam, 22,000.
Many children have little or no access to preventive
education and children affected by HIV/AIDS are often not allowed to enter
or remain in schools due to fear among parents of non-infected children.
In an effort to tackle these and other related problems,
several organizations and communities in the Mekong Region are stepping up
their activities. New and innovative approaches to providing social services
for children affected by AIDS, as well as better preventive education for
those vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, have created hope for thousands affected by
AIDS in the region.
In an opening speech to the workshop, Robert Bennoun,
UNICEF’s regional advisor on HIV/AIDS, said that the complex nature of the
HIV/AIDS epidemic requires a coordinated response from health, education and
social welfare sections. He said that children affected by HIV/AIDS should
have equal access to shelter, good nutrition and health and social services.
The UNICEF/UNESCO workshop brings together a wide range
of agencies who are caring for children affected by HIV/AIDS in the Mekong
Sub-Region. They will share information about what efforts have been
successful in improving the situation for children.
The workshop aims to kick-start stronger coordination and
collaboration between education and social welfare ministries,
community-based groups and NGOs, the religious sector, and groups
representing people living with HIV/AIDS.
Orange growers to be screened
Worry re toxic chemical use
Research has been started on the dangers of toxic
substances used in orange orchards in Fang District, Chiang Mai. The
Research Institute for Health Sciences (RIHES) at Chiang Mai University will
spend eighteen months examining the toxic hazards involved.
Boonserm Jitjansuwan, Fang District chief officer said
that he had contacted Prof. Dr. Theera Sirisuntanon, the director of RIHES,
who has assigned ten researchers, along with research team leader Dr.
Tippawon Prapamonton to examine the community problem. The research team
would be selecting blood tests for orange growers in the Fang District
The district officer also said that if it were found that
the orange growers or any Fang people have absorbed toxic quantities of the
substances they would be taken care of by the RIHES.
Chiang Mai to be seen
as green and clean
Everyone comes out a winner
Following the edicts of Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra’s policy on developing Chiang Mai as a green and clean city,
the Green and Clean Project has been launched. Following the hoped for
success of this project, and Chiang Mai has been given two years to complete
it, the flow-on will go to similar projects in Lamphun and Mae Hong Son
Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Prinya Parnthong said the
Green and Clean City Project, which Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has
decreed for his Chiang Mai hometown, will include plenty of green trees,
maintenance of cleanliness, having a systematic management for city
environmental issues, and promoting and organizing city planning.
With this project, it is expected that the improvement
will be seen by tourists, heightening Chiang Mai in their minds. It is
believed that the target is achievable, because the communities can all
become involved and in the end, everyone profits, said the Chiang Mai deputy
Wing 41 wins
But the pupils are grounded
“Viwat Pollamuang” is a Chiang Mai school for people
with good behavior, especially for the development of inmates, and is a
project being run by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) in cooperation with the
students take part in group activities.
The RTAF project is about taking care of, and the
probation of prisoners who are soon to be released after taking a training
course at the air force bases.
The project at Wing 41, Chiang Mai takes around 140 days
to complete and keeps 120 prisoners from Nan, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son’s Mae
Sariang District, and Chiang Mai’s Fang District, all prisons that joined
in this project.
During the 140 days, the prisoners learn about military
life and receive educational development in both health and mind as well as
learning about agricultural occupational training, feeding chickens, ducks,
catfish and frogs, as well as growing vegetables.
of the students learn how to grow vegetables.
At the beginning of September, the Viwat Pollamuang
School, under the supervision of Wing 41 was awarded the first prize for the
most outstanding rehabilitation performance, selected from 89 entries from
throughout the country.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra presented the award to
plenty of time on their hands, some of the more artistic students can
produce beautiful woodcarvings.
listen to the instructor from Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Service
the students teaches his friends, who cannot write, to write their names.
who can cook teach their friends to cook “pa tong ko”.
Thai-Laos cooperation promised on border problems
Borderlines, drugs, illegal aliens all fixed!
Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panichkij, together with
high-ranking provincial officials, attended a joint conference with Buasorn
Siliphunya, Bor Keo provincial governor to discuss cooperation between the
two countries on Thai-Laos Border Security.
This conference is to become an annual event, with
Thailand and Laos taking turns being the hosts. Both countries will watch
over the Thai-Lao borders and outposts, and all the natural resources around
those areas. They will also finish delineation of the (sometimes disputed)
The two provinces have also agreed to keep their own
residents apprised of the border regulations and how they apply to them as
During the conference, they also agreed to work together
on border drug suppression, and prevention of illegal laboring.
There was agreement in principle on constructing a bridge
over the Mekong River to link the routes between Chiang Rai’s Chiang Khong
District to Ban Huay Sai, Bor Keo and Luang Namtha provinces inside Laos. At
this stage this is a feasibility study only.
Extra-judicial killing nails top dealer
Caught by police sting operation
The drug suppression police killed a drug network member
after he tried to resist police arrest when he was trapped in a sting
operation. The dead man is reputed to be the nephew of Wei Hsueh-kang, a
feared drug warlord heading one faction of Burma’s ethnic United Wa State
Maj. Gen. Adithep Panjamanont, drug suppression police
force commander, was tipped off that the drug dealer would smuggle 10,000 ya
ba pills from the Wa factory in Burma into Thailand and deliver the drugs to
a Thai agent. Police set up their decoy, using a plainclothes police officer
who arranged to meet the drug dealer at a deserted village in Mae Sai
district in Chiang Rai. When the dealer was asked to show the undercover
agent the drugs, he became suspicious and opened fire, but was then
surrounded by the police and died in the shoot-out.
The police searched the dead man’s car and found 10,000
ya ba pills, a list of his drug agents and many high-ranking government
officers’ name cards.
The dead man was identified as Yuttachai Sasin, a Chinese
Haw managing director of Rian Fong Co. Ltd., in Chiang Saen district, Chiang
Rai, who was running a business importing and exporting steel and tea with
Maj. Gen. Adithep said that the dead man was one of the
country’s most important drug agents and was the adopted child of Wei
Hsueh-Fong, the brother of Wei Hsueh Kang, the most important drug
“Yuttachai ran many businesses in Chiang Rai as a
front” said Maj. Gen. Adithep. He also built up a close relationship with
many high-ranking officers in Chiang Rai to prevent them from getting in the
way of his illegal trading.
Police had him under surveillance for some time, and
since he had been forced to act as the drug courier himself, after his
subordinates had been apprehended or killed, police knew it was only a
matter of time before they could make an arrest.
Appropriation of property and the factory in Chiang Saen
district, Chiang Rai was made, as well as his tea garden in Mae Chan
district, which he had been renting from a former important politician.