Vol. II No. 42 Saturday October 18 - October 24, 2003
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Sudarat to ban alcohol advertisements in the media

The 4th International SEAG symposium in Chiang Mai

Chiang Rai people agree with the PM’s suppression of public opinion?

Chiang Saen Port opens, but not without a few problems

What’s on the radio? Chiang Mai and “The people’s voice”

Chiang Mai’s economy is up says BOT Northern Region

Chiang Rai governor wants to revive local customs

Maekhajarn Church cleaning up the local environment

17,000 HIV/AIDS cases in Chiang Mai

It’s official - we are the aviation hub

Lamphun Municipality Development Plan underway

Third Army assures anti- drug measures are working

100,000 Thai born children lack citizenship

Chiang Mai looking for rain to ease drought

Tired truck says “Enough”

Fake gold rush in town

Police arrest illegal log lifter

Known drug dealer killed in police raid

Mae Sai Customs seize 500,000 baht in contraband

Fake ID gang caught in Chiang Rai

17 aliens arrested in Phrae

Sudarat to ban alcohol advertisements in the media

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

Minister of Public Health Sudarat Keyuraphan announced plans to ban all TV advertisements for alcohol, which she says create a false perception to Thai teenagers. The minister revealed that she has been preparing to ban all kinds of liquor commercials to change Thai teenagers’ attitudes toward drinking alcohol from thinking that it was ‘cool’ and gregarious.

Minister of Public Health Sudarat Keyuraphan announced that all advertisements for alcohol should be prohibited from airing on television.

“Thailand should be concerned, and take serious action on alcohol drinking before everything goes too far and gets worse. We have to quickly change the image of drinking alcohol and decrease the huge demand for alcohol,” she said.

This action aims to make Thai teenagers more aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol as well as campaigning to reduce alcohol consumption; however, it will be difficult not to go against the government policy promoting local manufacturing of liquor.

Minister Sudarat expressed concerns over the commercial advertisement ban because alcohol has been rooted in our society for a long time, which can be seen through many ceremonies, such as weddings and even funeral rites.


The 4th International SEAG symposium in Chiang Mai

Food security principal topic

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

The 4th International SEAG symposium on Food Security and Sustainable Resource Management in a Market Economy was held in Chiang Mai. The program was jointly organized by the South-East-Asia-Germany-Alumni-Network (SEAG) Gottingen, Kassel and Marburg Universities from Germany and Chiang Mai University to discuss the most advanced techniques and exchange knowledge on food security.

Many participants from South East Asia gathered at the Amari Rincome Hotel, Chiang Mai to participate in a workshop on ‘Food Security and Sustainable Resource Management in a Market Economy.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat and Honorary German Consul Hagen Dirksen presided over the opening ceremony, saying that they were excited about this event and hope that this will prove of benefit to Thailand as a leading agricultural country.

“I am so glad to see this symposium become reality as without good collaboration from each university, this conference could not take place. I believe that this is a most important topic,” the Chiang Mai governor added.

The workshop participants were from Cambodia, Germany, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, mostly from the fields of agriculture, forestry, fishery, food science, veterinary science, economics and agri-business and higher education.

Chiang Mai governor Suwat said that marketing systems, news and information are considered to be an important key to help people make decisions and fill in gaps of an uncertainty, which always occurs in agricultural exports.

The workshop was in line with the government’s plan to take serious action on food security in order to upgrade a standard of Thai agricultural products leading Thailand to be a number one in exporting agricultural products.

The seminar was held from October 13-17 at the Amari Rincome Hotel, Chiang Mai, sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DDAD) and the German Ministry for Economic cooperation and Development (BMZ).


Chiang Rai people agree with the PM’s suppression of public opinion?

It appears that many Chiang Rai people are against any public protests voiced during the APEC meeting being to be held in Bangkok from October 17 -22, following Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s call to protestors not to do this during the APEC because they created negative images of the country, and their actions probably affected the whole nation.

Sampan Maneewan, a Chiang Rai citizen called in to Radio Thailand’s station in Chiang Rai, saying that he did not agree with the groups who oppose the APEC summit in Bangkok and he encouraged the prime minister to ask them to stop because these actions could destroy the country’s reputation.

He said that it was worrying that while our nation was peaceful and the economy was growing, it was possible that there would be some people who wanted to make trouble during the summit.

Following the PM’s broadcast, the majority of callers expressed their agreement with current government policies.


Chiang Saen Port opens, but not without a few problems

Not long enough to accommodate Chinese vessels

Chiang Saen Port, which had a soft opening on October 1, was originally designed to accommodate eight vessels, but officials have now realized that the Chinese ships it was built for are longer than they expected, and they can only offer berthing for four Chinese ships.

Also, despite the fact that the China and Thai vegetable and fruit taxes are supposed to be zero percent, effective on October 1, the first day at the port was very quiet. It is thought that much of this comes back to the government, which has made no official announcement about the zero taxes. The fact that it is a rebate scheme is also unpopular, as traders do not want to put the entire sum up front and rely on tax returns later.

Wanchai Sarntoontad, director general of the Department of Maritime Transport and Commerce, said that in an attempt to increase the popularity of the port, the department has announced that after the official opening of Chiang Saen on November 7, boats cannot use alternative ports, because they will be closed. As a result, six or seven ports are being put out of service, only to be used with Chiang Saen runs out of berths.

Opinion is also that when the port becomes fully operational, they will need to build warehousing and clear an area to park trucks. The management has declared that this could be done on the 26 rai of land belonging to the tobacco factory in front of the port; however, many are saying that the location is too close to historical ruins and relics. More discussion is obviously necessary.

Chiang Saen Port is under the control of the Port Authority of Thailand. There will be a grand opening ceremony on November 7.

The duty free vegetable and fruit import/exports could also affect produce from the Royal Project, as it has the same kinds of fruit that are imported from China.

However, it appears that the government thinks it is necessary for the country to be more concerned about prices as the Chinese products are much cheaper than the products from the Royal Project. This in turn will produce more local problems. Perhaps the pandas could be used as fruit pickers?


What’s on the radio? Chiang Mai and “The people’s voice”

Headaches coming for the governor?

Chiang Mai people have their own channel to express their views about their government, through Radio Thailand’s ‘The people’s voice’ program.

Opinions have been very varied, but many local residents have bee in favour of government plans to make Thailand a leader in ASEAN.

Others suggested the government should talk to NGO leaders and compromise on the problem of on-going demonstrations. Hill tribe people in town was another topic, with callers suggesting they should be given knowledge of law, family planning and drugs.

Land ownership is another problem people have asked the government to clarify. Some people bought their land 10 years ago, but they cannot carry out their business because of official red tape.

Another topic for discussion included teenage gangs around Payap University, which is an ongoing concern. Residents asked the government to take serious action against law-breakers. Some reported that police came to accidents too late or some even reject the calls.

People also asked the government to solve the rubbish problem and reconsider building a garbage incinerator in Tambon Padaed, as well as looking at the encroachment of Mae Kha canal at the rear of Rajabhat Institute, Chiang Mai where a building was built over the canal, and draining polluted water.

People agreed that the government should cut down trees covering electric cables to prevent short circuits, but trees on roadsides should be carefully pruned to preserve Chiang Mai’s appearance.

Also, the Chiang Mai - Hot highway around km marker 58 needs to be repaired.

All these comments will be gathered by the Chiang Mai Public Relations Department and summarized before presenting to Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat to figure out the best solution.


Chiang Mai’s economy is up says BOT Northern Region

Unemployment expected to fall

Bank of Thailand (BOT) reports that Chiang Mai’s economic and financial sectors are expanding overall, showing good indicators for Chiang Mai’s economic status in the near future.

The manufacturing sector is continuing to grow, at a rate of 18.4 percent or about 111.7 million US dollars, especially in electronics, jewelry, transformers and motor products mainly exported to Japan, USA and Singapore.

Exports increased to 26.4 percent or 152.1 million US dollars, especially to Burma and China which have doubled, as well as tourism which has only slightly increased from last year due to a decline produced by SARS.

While the overall agricultural production of longans, corn, rice and red onion decreased by 3.1 percent due to bad weather, the returns increased by 13.8 percent following strong demand.

The BOT estimated that the number of unemployed will fall due to the strong growth in the industrial manufacturing sector and tourism, resulting in a high demand for employees in these areas of business.


Chiang Rai governor wants to revive local customs

But do people really want to go back in time?

Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panitchakit has asked Chiang Rai residents to wear local costumes and speak “kam muang” northern language to bring back Lanna customs as part of the new government CEO system.

He feels this could preserve all kinds of Lanna culture and tradition which is now gradually disappearing from Chiang Rai as the strong and rapid growth of modern civilization takes over, but he feels that the local people should remember how precious the old culture is.

Governor Narin has ordered government and private sectors to fly the Thai national flag in front of their offices as well as hoping to enforce a policy to encourage people to wear local costumes every Friday and purple shirts on every Tuesday.

He also said that he would like to hear Chiang Rai local language being spoken while doing business, such as answering telephone calls.

Chiang Rai is a very old province so there are many old customs that need to be preserved and helped to flourish for our next generations.


Maekhajarn Church cleaning up the local environment

Pichitpon Tongtuek

On Sundays, Christian people go to their churches to carry out religious ceremonies and attend to the tenets of the religion. In Thailand, there will often be missionaries from foreign countries that come to the churches to teach religion to the people, especially for the hill tribes in the mountain areas.

Last Sunday many children from Maekhajarn Church of Hope began cleaning up the area around the road in Maekhajarn district. This activity was led by Ms. Joan Collision, a missionary from America who had only been in Thailand for 10 days. She said that she will be here for about 4-5 years and will work at Maekhajarn Church of Hope. She added that she felt very happy that everyone was working together and she was looking forward to working with the local people herself.

Missionary Joan Collison with the members of Maekhajarn Church of Hope helped remove garbage from the side of the road in Maekhajarn district, Chiang Rai.

Young children took part in the cleanup efforts.


17,000 HIV/AIDS cases in Chiang Mai

Situation becoming more serious

The HIV situation in Chiang Mai is becoming more serious with 17,000 infected and 5,125 having died. Phan Wannamaethee, secretary general of Thai Red Cross Society, presided over the opening ceremony of the anonymous clinic at Chiang Mai Red Cross Station 3, providing advice about blood examinations including HIV/AIDS testing, viral hepatitis, syphilis, blood groups and CD4 checks.

The Chiang Mai Public Health Office’s survey has revealed that there are 17,120 infected, 7,504 serious cases, and 5,125 have died. Chiang Mai’s Muang district has the most cases (2,139) followed by Hang Dong district with 1,489 cases.


It’s official - we are the aviation hub

Of the Universe?

The cabinet has agreed in principle to promote Chiang Mai International Airport as the aviation hub of this region, by firstly improving all facilities to cope with a hoped for increasing number of visiting tourists.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat said that the government believes in the potential capability of Chiang Mai City to be the regional hub for the airlines. The Cabinet approved the budget for 2003-2006 to promote Chiang Mai International Airport under the supervision of the Thai government and the Airport Authority of Thailand.

The first step will deal with improving all facilities and examining the strength of the runways and improving car parking.

The Chiang Mai governor added that this project was relevant with the high tourist season in Chiang Mai normally beginning in October, expecting an increasing number of inbound and outgoing flights and perhaps even some giant pandas from China.


Lamphun Municipality Development Plan underway

Tourism and renovations high in the order

Lamphun Municipality has come up with a plan to develop the city through the Greater Mekong Sub region (GMS) promotional campaign, by renovating Mahawan Gate and launching the historical tourism plan.

Lamphun Mayor Praphat Phucharoen said that the 2004 Lamphun Development Plan for the municipality is the result of accumulating public opinion, which expressed the view that they wanted Lamphun to be a city with a beautiful environment, rich with old culture and have a high security.

This plan had five main projects, 20 major plans and 27 minor plans, with approximately 260 overall projects and require a budget worth about 695,543,770 baht. This government plan was subsidized by a development project for the city in the GMS of about 30 million baht.

Mayor Praphat added that the renovation of Mahawan Gate and other city gates were under careful supervision of the Fine Arts Department. Some moats around the inner Lamphun municipality will be connected with a bridge, with a pathway for pedestrians and bicycles, which will boost Lamphun tourism.


Third Army assures anti- drug measures are working

Will keep up the vigilance

Lt. Gen. Picharnmeth Muangmanee, the Third Army Region’s commander, recently visited the border areas to get to know at first hand the situation regarding drugs in Mae Hong Son. Whilst there, he said that the drug suppression operation of the Third Army Region in conjunction with Mae Hong Son provincial authorities, including soldiers, border patrol police and provincial police, had achieved excellent results, with a haul of 6 million methamphetamine pills and 86 kg of heroin.

The army commander expressed confidence in the drug suppression operations of the Third Army Region to control drugs along the border areas while the task force units were ordered to remain vigilant. The units were asked to build good understanding among residents along the borders of Thailand and stay alert after a tip off, saying that millions of pills were waiting to be smuggled into the country.

Even though the drug production sites in the neighboring countries were closed down due to decreased demands, the Army would continue suppressing drug smuggling into the country and would continue to search for drug hideouts.


100,000 Thai born children lack citizenship

Government asked to introduce measures to take care of basic needs

Registrants at the 3rd seminar on children with no citizenship were told that more than 100,000 children living along the border areas of Thailand were without citizenship, which blocks them from opportunities to obtain basic needs provided by the government.

The problem of children born in Thailand with no citizenship was the main topic of discussion at the seminar, which was organized by Payap University and other eleven other concerned organizations. Speakers expressed concerns, saying that the problem needs an urgent decisive solution from the government because it excludes children from the education system, travel activities, living conditions and occupations in Thailand.

Chiang Rai senator Tuanjai Deethes as the House Representative on the sub committee to study ways to solve the problem, pointed out that most cases are caused either by the parents’ ignorance of citizenship registration or by the parents’ frequent movements between Thailand and neighboring countries.

The citizenship act states that people who entered the country after 1985 are regarded as having no valid status to be granted Thai nationality, which has left more than 100,000 children with no citizenship, especially those living along the border areas of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, and Tak provinces in the northern region. Basic needs in terms of educational opportunities and medical services should be introduced by the government as a human rights concerns, she said.


Chiang Mai looking for rain to ease drought

We’ll make it, if it doesn’t come naturally, says governor

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat said that rain is urgently needed in Chiang Mai or some areas will face water shortages in the near future. The governor claimed that he was not ignoring this problem and had surveyed whether there is a chance of oncoming rain. If not, the government will rapidly move to make artificial rain while there are enough rain-bearing nimbus clouds and appropriate humidity to supply water for the drought.

Governor Suwat added that any place facing drought right now could call the upper north’s Royal Rain-making Operations Center, at 053-275051.


Tired truck says “Enough”

Pichitpon Tongtuek

A large truck ran backward off the road on the range up to Doi Nang Kaew, bordering the area between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. The driver said that he was going to Chiang Rai and when he reached this area, the road was quite steep and the truck eventually just ran out of power and could not make the climb. It then began rolling backwards and he was unable to stop the vehicle falling into the ditch at the side of the road.

The tired truck lies down beside the road on the way to Chiang Rai.

Rescue workers found it very difficult to winch the truck out of the accident scene because the truck was lying on one side. Kum Duangdee, the truck driver, said he was not as fortunate as his surname would suggest, because Duangdee means “lucky” in Thai. He also showed that despite the accident he had a well developed sense of humor, saying that it might be that the truck was very tired and wanted to lie down for a while.


Fake gold rush in town

Indonesian couple apprehended

A police team led by Pol. Maj. Gen. Jumnong Kaewsiri, the commander of Chiang Rai’s provincial police station, gave a press conference saying that the provincial police along with the tourist police had arrested Sofidan Saputa and Brecaded A-narenkari, an Indonesian couple who had been charged with defrauding residents in Chiang Rai, but he assured everyone that no evidence of terrorist activities was found.

The con-artists’ haul included 24 pairs of bronze bracelets with fake gold plating, 14,000 baht and other fraudulent documents, all found at the Wangcome Hotel in Chiang Rai following a complaint from Sumalee Limpakanjanarat, a gold shop owner, saying that the couple had cheated her when pawning their fake bracelets.

The commander repeated that there was no evidence related to terrorist activities against the couple and documentary evidence showed they had been traveling in Thailand since 2002. They claimed their fraudulent practices were aimed to cover travel expenses.

Others who consider they have been cheated by the couple should file a complaint with the provincial police station.


Police arrest illegal log lifter

Poacher found to be another police officer

An illegal logging operation was uncovered in Long district of Phrae province, with police apprehending a haul of 29 teakwood logs, power saws and two vehicles.

The police team, led by Pol. Lt. Col. Sathien Somrit, the superintendent of Long Police Station, stopped a pickup with Lampang registration, and a 6-wheel truck registered in Phrae at the police checkpoint, when the two suspected vehicles were seen traveling at high speeds.

The driver of the pickup was later identified as Pol. Sgt. Sena Krue-in, from Chalerm Phrakiart Police Station in Nan province, with his partner Arnant Kankar, being a truck driver.

The two suspects were charged with illegal logging after the team found 29 logs 3 meters in length and 30 centimeters in diameter hidden in the truck, plus another chain saw. Both men were sent to Pol. Maj. Surapet Kasetpaet, the investigating police officer, for further questioning.

Bail was denied for the accused policeman and appropriate comments were written into his police record. Probably something like “Wooden it be silly to get caught!”


Known drug dealer killed in police raid

38-year-old Hmong drug dealer, Ser Saeyang, of Tambon Yangmern, Samoeng district was shot dead by police in Chiang Mai Muang Mai project, Tambon Sunpakwan, Hang Dong district during a drug handover. The dealer was part of the Kokang drug ring and was gunned down with nearly 4,000 drug pills in his possession, according to the police report.

In addition to the methamphetamine pills, police confiscated a .38 mm pistol and a Chiang Mai registered vehicle, plus one million baht cash found at the scene.

During the police investigation, it was ascertained that the deceased worked as a jewelry seller at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar while his wife, a native Hmong on Doi Suthep Pui Mountain, had already been arrested twice on drug related charges. The couple were considered part of the Kokang drug network and were on the police blacklist.

Pol Lt. Gen Chalor Chuwong, commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, pointed out that the pills were from the Kokang Laowa network in Mae Chaem district that formerly owned the heroin refinery.


Mae Sai Customs seize 500,000 baht in contraband

Pachorn Sinswat, Mae Sai Customs chief officer, said that Mae Sai Customs has increased its working hours to cover 24 hours a day, resulting in a 90% increase in tax revenues compared to last August, estimated to be about 3 million baht.

However, smuggling is still going on, and officers recently found clothing worth 500,000 baht, which smugglers were attempting to smuggle in.

The officers added that they had not caught the ringleader but only a hired mule and would keep all the goods for 30 days before transferring them to the government.

Customs officers are considering this a serious case and it is one reason why they have stepped up their 24 hour surveillance.


Fake ID gang caught in Chiang Rai

But arrests were real

Chiang Rai police and Chiang Rai volunteers raided the premises of a fake ID gang in the heart of Chiang Rai and found many counterfeit documents. The mastermind was not apprehended in the raid, but a real warrant was issued for his arrest.

Chiang Rai District Chief Officer Sanit Phusangthong ordered Supak Sawaetvisuvat, permanent secretary of the Security Office, to bring 10 voluntary officers in cooperation with police led by Pol Maj Anandate Yavichai, investigative officer of Chiang Rai Police Station, to raid a house on Rajchabamrung Road, Soi 2, in Chiang Rai’s Muang District. The residence belonged to Ampai Suksanguan, a member of the fake ID gang.

A search team found only Thitima Sumanak, Ampai’s daughter and four other members, two of them hiding in a wardrobe. All of them initially denied being involved but later confessed when confronted with the police evidence.

Permanent Secretary Supak said that he had been on the trail of the gang for some time, but lacked convincing evidence until Adu Suemua was arrested with one of the fake IDs.

The police added that Thai officials were not involved with this gang but as this illegal process can affect Thai national security, they are asking anyone with information to please come forward.


17 aliens arrested in Phrae

Some for the second time

Police in Phrae arrested seventeen aliens on illegal entry charges. Some of them were identified as the same group who had been already repatriated one month ago.

The aliens, four men and thirteen women, were apprehended in a pick-up after a police chase led by Pol. Lt. Col. Veerachai Wichaithanapat, the inspector of Highway Police Station at the police checkpoint in Ban Mae Kam Mee, Muang Phrae district. The pickup was previously seen traveling at high speeds and ignored police checks.

When police found the

driver’s license in the pick-up, identifying him as Sumrit Srinimnual, a 33 year old resident of Phrae Phadaeng, they discovered that he was already on the wanted list.

The vehicle and aliens were held and sent to Muang Phrae District Police Station for further processing under Thai law.

The arrested aliens told police they had entered Thailand through Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai, aided by a broker who arranged transportation for them to Bangkok. Four of them had also been previously arrested on charges of illegal entry in Phrae, fined and deported last month.



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