HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Agricultural Office launches Agricultural Development Plan

Thailand praised at international TVET seminar

TAT invites children to coin Thai names for the pandas

Chiang Mai governor wants people’s opinions

Anti-US protest timed to coincide with APEC

Public Health Minister pushes quality standards for Thai food

TAT wants us to clean up our act

Thai Public Health Ministry hosts 6th Board Meeting Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

Illegal loggers leave loot

New home for refugees

Looking for Miss Teen Thailand 2003

Chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Agricultural Office launches Agricultural Development Plan

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

Vinai Laowterdvong, the chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Agricultural Office, pointed out that it is necessary to pay attention to food purity, reducing any toxic contamination used in agricultural methods to promote non-toxic agriculture in the future.

Vinai Laowterdvong, chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Agricultural Office, says food purity should be the first concern for agricultural products.

“Chiang Mai potentially has the capability of being a great distributor of agriculture produce. In the future, it could be the world’s kitchen, so to achieve this dream, we must have a carefully planned strategy to make this dream come true,” he said.

The plan’s aim is to increase the amount of Thai agricultural exports to meet the standards of both domestic and international markets, including solving the ongoing problem of using agricultural chemicals. There will also be a campaign aimed at farmers to try to get them to stop using any kinds of toxic chemicals and grow their products using organic methods.

Thailand praised at international TVET seminar

Mind you, we were the host!

Phitsanu Thepthong

Veerasak Wongsombut, secretary-general, Office of the Vocational Education Commission, Ministry of Education said most member countries at the Sub-regional Seminar on Improving Access, Equity and Relevance in Technological and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) agreed that Thailand sets a good example in this area.

Dr Adrian R Haas, resource person and facilitator, spoke about conceptual clarification and reported on country experiences.

The seminar was held at Pornping Tower Hotel, from October 13-15, and was organized by Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau of Education, APEID, UNESCO Bangkok, and was assisted by the Office of the Vocational Education Commission, Ministry of Education, Thailand.

Around 30 representatives from Bhutan, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand attended.

Thailand’s One Tambon One Product (OTOP) development campaign impressed UNESCO’s country members, it was claimed. Most of the 10 member countries took a close look at the OTOP scheme, including innovations in farming tools and equipment, the importance of Thai methods, particularly in the field of technical study, as well as other forms of various training courses.

The study tour in the field of OTOP development was also arranged for seminar participants to see things at first hand in the Chiang Mai areas, including the “One Product One Institute” project regarding the work of vocational students at Chiang Mai Technical College.

Dr Siripan Choomnoon, advisor for the Vocational Education Standards Office, Ministry of Education reported that the stimulus for this seminar came from the need for cooperation among everyone involved in the TVET Development project, which should be improved and access given to all learners, especially in rural areas.

“All of us are realizing that TVET institutions play an important role in each country to build up a skilled workforce for the economic development of the country. It is very important that TVET should be provided to people all over the country following the industry’s needs and the institutions’ collaboration.

TAT invites children to coin Thai names for the pandas

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) invites children aged 6-12 years old to enter the Thai Naming Contest for Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui.

It was not made clear, but apparently the names Chiang Mai children previously gave the 2-year-old female and 3-year-old male, Kham Ai and Kham Oey, are either not good enough or are not considered “permanent”.

Thanya Nichrotranont, director of TAT, Northern Office, Region 2, Chiang Rai together with MK Restaurants are holding the naming contest for the pair of giant pandas. Organizers say the names should be true Thai names, short, meaningful and relevant to each other.

The winner will receive a scholarship of 25,000 baht with a cup from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, 4 tickets for 2 day and 1 night tour packages to Chiang Mai, a year subscription to Or Sor Tor magazine and an annual pass for Chiang Mai Zoo.

The first runner-up will get a 4,000 baht scholarship, 4 tickets for a 2 day and 1 night tour package to Chiang Mai, an annual pass for Chiang Mai Zoo and a cup from Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh or Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Praphat Panyachartrak. Entries have to be in by November 30.

Perhaps “Emm” and “Kay” would do well in the MK restaurant competition?

Chiang Mai governor wants people’s opinions

“Let me hear the people’s voice and help the provincial government to quickly and directly respond what local people want,” Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat said.

He added that he would appreciate local people becoming involved in the CEO plan, sharing their comments and examining government performance so he could fully supply genuine public need.

He gave an example of reports of dredging along the Ping River, affecting residences and temples along both banks, after which he sent officials to examine the facts and dredging was ceased immediately.

If you have any comments, opinions or problems, sent them to P.O. Box 55 Mae Rim Post Office or

Be sure that all relevant suggestions will be fully and immediately acted upon, says the new CEO governor. We wish him the best of luck.

Anti-US protest timed to coincide with APEC

Northern Peasants Federation ignores PM’s requests

The Northern Peasants Federation (NPF) led a march to the US Consulate where they delivered a letter to US President George Bush which stated (in part) “APEC is being used as a tool to garner support for agendas geared toward serving the interests of the US government.”

With much of the world focusing on Thailand for the APEC meeting, many protest groups took the opportunity to voice their grievances with the state of world affairs. And since they were unable to do this in Bangkok, they chose Chiang Mai as their stage.

As government officials with their entourage arrived in Bangkok, and talked about free trade and regional security, some 100 peasants and hill tribes people from the North staged a protest march to expose what they say is the real agenda of APEC.

According to NPF, agreements on TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Properties) and GMOs were high on the agenda of the Thai-US meetings. A quotation from the letter given to Chiangmai Mail said, “In particular, patenting has been imposed on other countries unfairly and immorally. Countries in need of certain medicines have been prevented from producing their drugs as a result of the patenting pressure from your (i.e. US) government. It results in unaffordable prices of certain basic medicines, as high as 1-2,000% from normal prices. The issues surrounding GMOs and liberalization of such plants and animals shall serve vested interests of the US’s multinational corporations, which are working toward the absolute control of seeds including cotton, soy, potato and even rice.”

After delivering the letter to a representative at the US Consulate, the group floated a figure of US President Bush in the Mae Ping River as part of the Thai practice called “phi sat tuang nam”. This is a practice where an evil spirit is sealed in a pot and set afloat in the river, so that it will never come back. “Today, we set Bush afloat to free us from the world’s greatest evil,” said Kingkorn Narintarakul Ayuttaya, of Thai Action on Globalization, one of the leaders of the protest march.

Members of the Lisu Tribe who participated in the march performed their own ritual. Two chickens were killed as part of Ee Do Mo Halua, an invocation of the collective guardian spirits who protect the Lisu people. “We ask for ee do mo’s blessing for the people and an end to their suffering. With this ritual, a curse is put on people who would cause evil doing after today,” according to a member of Assembly of the Indigenous and Tribal People of Thailand (AITT).

The Lisu people, along with the other indigenous and hill tribe peoples say they are continuously experiencing threats to their mobility and even life, as the war against terrorism policy in Thailand has intensified. “All legal and official avenues for struggle have been closed to us. We are now left with nothing but to make use of whatever avenues our culture has to offer,” said an AITT representative.

The protesting groups claim that war on trade and terror are the main agenda of APEC. “The US push for trade liberalization is as equally aggressive as its push for an increased military presence in the region. And APEC responds to Bush interests rather than to its own people,” said a United for Peace-Chiangmai spokesperson, as they joined the peasant march. (United for Peace-Chiangmai claims it is a coalition of organizations and individuals working for peace and democracy.)

“As the economic leaders gather for the APEC meeting in Bangkok, let us expose what APEC really is - a conspiracy among US and transnational corporations, who are using both military and trade agreements to push our governments to trade us, the people, for profits,” was another statement from the protesting group.

Chiangmai Mail contacted the US Consulate for an official statement, and we were told that the US Consulate had no problems with the protest or the protesters. The letter was presented and accepted. No further explanation was deemed necessary.

While the United for Peace-Chiangmai may claim APEC is being used as a front by the US, there are those who would see United for Peace-Chiangmai’s use of the National Peasants Federation to lead the protest as also being a front. And while APEC is seen by some people as the Thai PM’s opportunity to bask in the limelight, other groups are obviously trying to do the same.

Public Health Minister pushes quality standards for Thai food

Illegal slaughterhouses under scrutiny

Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan confirmed that all Thai food should be upgraded to reach standard quality, while illegal slaughterhouses would be ordered closed.

Minister Sudarat said that there are almost four thousand slaughterhouses in Thailand, and with not all reaching correct standards, he claims that this is causing 50,000 Thai people to suffer from cancer each year.

The government has taken serious action on this problem since May this year, resulting in a dramatic decrease in food contamination, as well as targeting all food to comply with published standards by next year.

10,000 food shops and restaurants have been granted guarantee certificates from the Public Health Ministry, and they will be re-examined every year to maintain high quality. To be safe, tourists are asked to go to those restaurants with the certificate.

The Public Health Minister added that she was satisfied with the good response from hotels and restaurants in adhering to the food safety campaign, which is a cooperative plan between the Ministry of Agricultural and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Public Health.

TAT wants us to clean up our act

Clean up the world - clean up Thailand and then clean up Chiang Mai

Pichitpon Tongtuek

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), in cooperation with Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, Tambon Suthep local administration organization, Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT), Maejo University, Rajamankala Institute of Technology and Payap University began a project they called “Clean Up the World - Clean Up Thailand 2003” at Huay Keaw waterfall and Kru Ba Sri Wichai monument areas, at the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain in Chiang Mai.

Various organizations, both government and private, join together to clean up tourist attractions.

Chalermsak Suranant, director of TAT Northern Office, Region 1 said that this project was held to develop, adjust and improve the environment at tourist attractions. In the past, TAT has set up many activities to promote and persuade people to take care of the environment.

Samiti Panitcharoen, a 3rd year student at Payap University, said that having heard about it from a friend in the TAT, he told other friends to join this activity. About 10 students from Payap University participated in the day’s activity.

Supitcha Chuekunta, a 4th year student from Rajamankala Institute of Technology, Chiang Mai said that this was her first visit to Huay Kaew waterfall, and she was very impressed because she loves nature. She added that she wants everything to be just as nature provided, do not bring any technology because it will not be natural anymore.

Thai Public Health Ministry hosts 6th Board Meeting Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

Previously only held in G8 countries

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

Thailand (and Chiang Mai) was chosen as the first developing country to host the 6th Board Meeting Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. This event was participated in by some 200 delegates from all over the world. Up till this meeting, it had only been held in G8 countries.

Sudarat (2nd from left), Tommy Thompson (2nd from right), and Dr. Jong Wook Lee (right), the director of World Health Organization, at the function.

Thailand was chosen as a trial for further development to help solve and combat AIDS problems in other developing countries. People at the meeting discussed budget approval as a long-term policy from 2006-2020 and the approval for a Thai project worth 25 billion baht.

The opening ceremony was presided over by Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan and US Public Health Secretary and chairman of the Board of Global Fund, Tommy G. Thompson. Both said they were very honored to be here and to oversee the success of this meeting.

Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan (center) chats with VIPs including Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat (left) and Consul General of the USA in Chiang Mai Eric Rubin (right) during the grand opening ceremony in Mae Rim district, Chiang Mai.

“I would like to thank the Thai government for organizing site visits for Global Fund officials so we could see firsthand how important it is for us to move forward and use global fund donations as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Secretary Thompson added.

Minister Sudarat also added that there is less need to talk about the problems; what the world needs now is to act seriously, and with partial support from the Global Fund, close the gap of social differences and bring the world closer to peace, wealth and health for all.

The six northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao and Mae Hong Son showed an incredible decline in the number of people living with HIV, from 31 percent last year, down to 15 percent of total number of people who are HIV infected.

“After a site visit to some community hospitals, many delegates were amazed with our performance in helping the infected, supporting them to become leaders of many communities and treating them as normal people. All delegates saw this is as an effective way to prevent problems,” the Thai public minister revealed.

Secretary Thompson was impressed with a young man’s words at the site visit saying, “We don’t want just money, we want respect and responsibility as well, and that is a very precise point. We are working for a greater cause than raising money. We are here to save lives and improve lives, while engaging communities around the world in our efforts. We must never lose sight of that,” he said in his opening speech.

Thailand has received 8.4 billion baht from the Global Fund, used for 5 years, which is considered the most in Asia and ranks third in the world behind Malawi and Ethiopia

Illegal loggers leave loot

Phayao border patrol police seize golden teak trees left behind

The Border Patrol Police (BPP), Unit 32nd, in Phayao province confiscated golden teak trees left by loggers in Doi Phu Nang National Park. They may have captured the trees, but the officers could not arrest the loggers.

The police unit, together with forestry officers from Doi Phu Nang National Park seized more than 30 teak logs, each with diameters of about 50-150 cm. The estimated value of these logs was about 200,000 baht.

In the area of Doi Phu Nang National Park, there are many people who enter the reserve and cut down the trees, but the officers could not arrest any of them because access into the area is too difficult, because there are still so many trees. However police are still looking at some of the influential persons in the local area.

The seized teak logs will be kept at the Forest Industry Organization in Lampang province under police supervision, just in case any of them try to escape.

New home for refugees

17,000 to be moved

Thai authorities have decided to shut down the old refugee camp at Ban Kong Kor-Ban Sala in Mae Sariang district, Mae Hong Son and relocate the refugees to a new site at Ban Mae La Un in Sob Moei district before the end of December.

According to Mae Hong Son governor, Supoj Laowansiri, who acts as the chairman of the committees to accommodate the refugees, a meeting was called between Forest Department’s officials, administrative officials, field army and border patrol police, and representatives from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to consider a plan to relocate the refugee camp.

The consideration to take the 17,062 refugees from the camp at Ban Mae Kong Kor-Ban Sala to the new shelter was made after it was agreed that some of the refuges might have been involved in the deforestation of areas in the Salween River basin.

The Forestry Department have chosen 800 rai of land in Ban Mae La Un for the new location, which is only 4 km from the border, but representatives of UNHCR are expressing concern over the security and safety of the refugees.

Meanwhile, the military taskforce and the border patrol police are established along with the volunteer security guards to ensure the safety of the campsite. However, the refugees are still under strict controls until the move to the new site has been completed. The migration of refugee flocks is due to finish sometime in December.

Looking for Miss Teen Thailand 2003

Phitsanu Thepthong and Pichitpon Tongtuek

Yet another beauty contest! So it is fortunate that Thailand has just so many beautiful ladies to enter all the competitions. Miss Teen Thailand was looking for young women, aged 15-18 years, beautiful, cute, self confident, good personality and talented, and 38 aspirants with all those attributes arrived in Chiang Mai to vie for the title.

This beauty contest has been held annually since 1989, with the titleholders entering the entrainment world as artists and actresses, like the past Miss Teen Thailand 2002, Tikamporn Rittha-apinant, who is now an actress in TV dramas, or Yaowalak Traisurat, a former Miss Teen who also was the winner of Miss Thailand Universe 2003.

The 2003 beauty contest was organized by the Inspire Entertainment and the troupe was in Chiang Mai for public relations and promotions exercises. A group of Miss Teen Thailand beauties arrived by train and were taken to stay at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel.

All of them said that it was a challenge in joining the contest. They came from many places around Thailand, with one of them being the daughter of Jaturong Mokjok, the famous Thai comedian.

They visited Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep, Phuping Palace, and other attraction places in Chiang Mai. They also visited the elephant camp, the home for boys, Borsang Handicraft Center and hilltribe village.

The final round will be held October 31, in Bangkok. The winner will receive a cheque for 120,000 baht, a diamond crown, a diamond pin, a sash, a trophy, a Panasonic G-70 from I-mobile and a scooter-strom from JRD. Meanwhile, the four runner-ups will receive a cheque for 50,000 baht, a diamond pin, a sash, a trophy and the same model of Panasonic cell phone.

The group in action at the Chiang Mai Railway Station.

The contestants dressed up in hilltribe costumes.

Everyone was still very fresh even though they had been on the long overnight trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

The contestants and their train - their home for 13 hours.

More action in front of the train station.

Some of the contestants pose in front of Chiang Mai Railway Station.

October 17, the finalists from Miss Teen Thailand contest took a site visit to Mae Sa Elephant Camp to make a video of all activities done while living in Chiang Mai.

For some, contestant No. 7 was the hot favorite.

The preparations for the contest got underway when the organizing committee organized the soft opening for the contestants.