Protest at the Water Forum in Chiang Mai
Damn the dams! was the cry
A protest group representing the Northern Farmers Union
Community under the Northern River Basin Organization Network gathered at
the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel on November 21 to express their concerns over
water management issues. The protest leader also presented the group’s
petition to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Prapat
Panyachatraksa, who was attending the Water Forum.
Chailangkha, representing the Northern Farmers Union Community protest
group, presented a petition to Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
Prapat Panyachatraksa, demanding that the minister stop constructing those
In the petition, they ask the ministry to stop
constructing dams, and abandon the water management project because many
people would suffer from water shortages in areas such as the Yom River
Basin (following the Kaeng Sua Ten Dam construction), Kharn River Basin (Mae
Kharn Dam), Mae Kuang Dam Management, and the Yang Weir Construction.
that everyone likes a good protest, a crowd gathers as a protest leader
stands in the back of his pickup truck and, using a PA and loudspeaker
system set up for the occasion, outlines the group’s problems.
The protestors have demanded that Minister Prapat do
something to stop the dam construction projects before they are given
Cabinet approval. Many people living in those river basin areas would suffer
from alternating water shortages and floods, as well as a lack of potable
“We hope that in the new draft water resource law, people from every
river basin and farmers’ networks would be allowed to participate (which
would) demonstrate the overall transparency of the process,” said Sonthong
Chailangkha, the leader of the group.
Young man throws
Molotov cocktail at US Consulate in Chiang Mai
Goes beyond being a prank
On Wednesday night, November 19, a young Chiang Mai man
threw a Molotov cocktail at the US Consulate, allegedly challenging the
power of police and law, and trying to prove that he was “cool”. The
devise failed to explode.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters that the
attack was not linked to terrorism, and was probably a prank.
Although there have been many teenage daredevil pranks
pulled lately in Chiang Mai, this was perhaps the worse case ever.
Although earlier reports had said that more than one
person took part in the attack, chief investigator, Pol. Capt. Boontham
Kamlai said witnesses spoke of seeing only one man in his 20s. “Police are
hunting for him. We do not yet know his motive,” Boontham said.
Witnesses reported that the young man arrived on a
motorcycle with a burning two-liter bottle of fuel that he threw at the US
consulate gate, but luckily it failed to explode.
A special investigator from the consulate said that he
was cooperating with the police to investigate the matter and uncover the
identity of the assailant. He confirmed that this attack was not linked to
“Police are gathering all information needed to capture
this juvenile delinquent ... He will be accused of arson and destroying
public property. I think this daredevil action might have happened because
many teenagers are bored,” he surmised.
No alarm has been announced, “Everything is still
proceeding normally ... the security staff is working as usual but might be
beefed up with cooperation and support from (local) police,” the special
Chiang Mai Red Cross and Winter Fair 2004 coming next month
No parking problems this time, and yes, another beauty contest
The annual Chiang Mai Red Cross and Winter Fair 2004 will
be held from December 30 to January 11 at the field behind the Chiang Mai
City Hall. The fair is an opportunity to show off local products and to
celebrate the New Year festive season.
This year, Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat wants each
government organization to present their achievements and promote any of
their products to the public.
The Miss Chiang Mai Beauty Contest will be promoted by
the Tossapak Company who say the ladies will be bigger, brighter and more
beautiful than ever before.
Chiang Mai has invited well-known singers to be the
guests of honor every night including Palmmy, Ai-Nam, Kala, Bang Kaew,
Clash, Taxi, Micro, Carabao, Hyper, Jintara Poonlap, Mike Piromporn, Pamela
Bowden, and Apaporn Nakhon Sawan.
Chiang Mai will also promote OTOP and hi-tech products to
the fairgoers. The National Science Museum will show its scientific
successes for anyone who wants to unravel the mysteries of science, and the
Ministry of Justice led by Pongthep Thepkanchana, justice minister, will
present the Justice Tour Project to provide people with knowledge on the
Last year there were some problems with parking, amongst
other things, so this year Chiang Mai provincial authorities have prepared
for the crowds by expanding the parking lots and placing the fairgrounds on
the grassy areas to decrease dust problems.
THAI announces new flights to Luang Phabang and Rangoon
New air routes take off today
Thai Airways International (THAI) has inaugurated new air
links from Chiang Mai to Luang Phabang, Laos and to Rangoon in Burma adding
to Chiang Mai’s position as Thailand’s northern aviation hub. The new
flights will commence at the end of November.
Prakaidao Horwattanakul, THAI’s district sales manager for the north
announces the new air routes to be launched today.
Chiang Mai to Luang Phabang flights will be twice daily
on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, using 66-seat ATR 72 aircraft. Designated
as flight No. TG 688, departure will be at 10.40 a.m. arriving at 11.50 a.m.
and flight No. TG 689 will leave at 12.20 p.m. arriving at 1.35 p.m. Cost
will be 3,000 baht for one way or 5,000 baht return.
It is hoped the new air links will be very useful for
tourism and business in both countries as both cities are centers of tourism
and economic development.
The new Chiang Mai to Rangoon air link will be operated
four days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) and twice daily.
The first flight from Chiang Mai will depart at 8.40 a.m. by TG 301 arriving
at 9.25 a.m. and the second will leave at 9.55 by TG 302 arriving at 11.35
a.m. Costs one way are 3,300 baht and 5,500 baht return.
Additional information on these flights can be obtained at Thai Airways
International offices, or at Chiang Mai International Airport or visit the
Life and Sexual Health Festival
“Sex” on stage for Thai youth
The Youth Family and Community Development Project (YFCD)
of the Chiang Mai University Nursing Faculty and The Youth Love Health Club,
which is supported by the Foundation for Health Organization, promoted a
“Life and Sexual Health Festival” November 21-22 at Chiang Mai
University Convention Center. The festival was presided over by Chiang Mai
Deputy Governor Udom Poursakul.
Suwat Tantipat participated in aerobic dance with the students at the event.
The objective of this festival was not a sexual
free-for-all, but an attempt to make teenagers realize the importance of
their bodies and to take care of their health, especially their sexual
Addresses were given by many speakers, with one titled
Love and Sex...XXX given by nun Sunsanee Satainrasud, a panel discussion
concerning Love and Sex of Teenagers, plus others of relevance for the young
Finally there was one topic that everyone could experience - a dance
contest, which after all the lectures was held very healthily!
Thailand warmly embraces Pandas
Greatest money machine since the ATM
A huge stream of tourists has been visiting Chiang Mai
Zoo to see the two Chinese friendship ambassadors Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui.
The furry pair are earning approximately 100,000 baht per day and selling
more than 100,000 baht worth of souvenirs.
Chuang and Lin Hui, the new stars of Chiang Mai Zoo, wonder why, since they
are friendship ambassadors promoting goodwill towards friends from other
countries, officials have decided to spoil this gesture by charging foreign
visitors twice as much. (Photo by Phisut Itsaracheewawat)
Rossukhon Chuicomwong, a public relations officer at
Chiang Mai Zoo, revealed that last weekend the zoo welcomed almost 5,000
domestic and international tourists, bringing in 240,000 baht per day.
The zoo says that during the long holiday for the His
Majesty the King’s birthday, they predict 10,000 visitors a day and expect
to make about 500,000 baht a day. They have already prepared a special
promotion to reward tourists planning to visit on the most auspicious day
during the weekend.
The first public visit not only brought more tourists,
but also boosted sales of souvenirs. Apex Toys, a major manufacturer of
Chiang Mai Zoo souvenirs, said that after November 26, their sales increased
70 percent, hitting 100,000 baht per day with the two leading products being
panda dolls and electronic pandas.
With the gate sales being so high, perhaps Chiang Mai Zoo might consider
dropping the double pricing as a sort of ‘friendship ambassador’ gesture
towards foreign tourists, both western and Chinese.
Tomorrow I will be an artist
The artistic endeavours of one woman
The Education Ministry’s former deputy permanent
secretary, Savitri Suwansathit, wanted to use her artistic skills to present
to other people her experiences from many places.
Suwansathit (R) explains the meaning of each painting to Chao Duangduan na
Chiang Mai (L).
She had no artistic background, but starting painting
because she wanted to draw - that’s it. She said that she had worked hard,
travelled to many places, and met many people. She wanted to pass on these
things that other people have had no chance to see or meet, but she had.
Savitri started painting 4 years ago and has always said,
“Tomorrow I will be an artist,” because she thinks that she was not
ready to be an artist for today. As opposed to just bringing back
photographs, her paintings come from her feelings and emotions which were
stimulated at the time.
She has painted 500 canvases but in this exhibition she chose only 60 to
exhibit. She said that the two important elements in her life are People and
Places, which then became the title of this exhibition held at the AUA
Auditorium this month.
International Day for Disabled held at Rajabhat Institute
Administrators should provide them the same opportunities and rights as other students
Chiang Mai Disabled Association last week held its
International Day for disabled people at the Rajabhat Institute of Chiang
Mai. Thongchai Wongrianthong, deputy Chiang Mai governor presided over the
performed a wheelchair dance during the festivities.
Sanit Suweera, the president of Chiang Mai Disabled
Association, said the objective of this event was to provide opportunities
for the disabled to show their abilities.
Sanit said that over 2,000 people attended and more than
26 organizations from the government and private sectors cooperated in
setting up booths and stalls at the institute.
Chiang Mai people have changed their attitudes towards
disabled people. President Sanit said, “Society has accepted that disabled
people still have abilities that they could use in many jobs. Blind people
can earn their living by foot massage, crippled people can use computers.”
However, he explained that he was worried about their
education. “Most government schools have accepted disabled students but
there is a lot of resistance from private schools,” Sanit said.
“School administrators have to change their minds and give the same
opportunities and rights as normal students. If the academics pushed for
more education for these disabled people, their lives would become better
and they could become self sufficient,” Sanit concluded.
Chiang Mai traffic strangled
by its own exhaust pipe?
Public transportation should be high priority
The Chiang Mai transportation system is in critical
condition as the number of vehicles on the roads has risen. Figures released
by the Department of Land Transport showed that in 2002 there were 870,000
vehicles, whereas in 1998, there were only 403,876 vehicles in Chiang Mai.
This is more than double in four years.
development of transportation in Chiang Mai. (Graphic by Chin Ratitamkul)
Road construction has not kept pace with this growth,
consequently the traffic system is clogging up, making people look again at
Wallop Saetieo, ex-managing director of Chiang Mai Thai
Transport Limited, said that the company used to have four “yellow bus”
lines, but claimed they could not survive in Chiang Mai because there were
not enough passengers, insurance premiums were too high, there were no bus
lanes and no support from the government sector. However, he believes that
if government supports a public transport system, this business would still
be a viable public service.
Today the main modes of Chiang Mai transportation are red
mini-bus (song taew) and tuk-tuks. The most important in Chiang Mai is
currently the red mini-busses from Nakhon Lanna Transport Cooperative, which
has 2,791 mini-busses on 32 city routes.
Drivers of these mini-busses have a bad reputation for
overcharging and an unprofessional attitude; however, Singkom Nanti, the
president of Nakhon Lanna Transport Cooperatives, explained that there are
only some drivers at fault.
Another alternative is the Kwan Vieng bus which is
bringing about reform in Chiang Mai transportation. The latest research
involved dividing mini-bus routes into 19 lines.
Nikorn Jumnong, deputy minister of transport who chaired a recent
transportation system seminar titled, “The direction for survival of
transport entrepreneurs in Chiang Mai” at the Empress Hotel, said that now
the government needs to support this business to develop the region. Next
year, Chiang Mai would receive a 72 million baht budget to reform the
Chiang Mai Railway Station receiving a facelift
Bandages off in 90 days
Train travelers are wondering what is going on in the
Chiang Mai railway station area, with bricks and construction equipment all
over the place. People have been wondering whether it will be a shopping
center or a spa or a five star hotel or all of these?
railway station makeover will include a food center, souvenir shops, parlor
for guests, new ticket offices and an information area.
The notice board says it all, however. Aek Pra Jim
Engineering is the contractor for this construction project and the contract
was signed on July 23, 2003 with 9,250,000 baht as the budget for this
project. The period allowed under the contract is 90 days for completion.
Construction began on September 24, and will be (should be?) completely
finished on December 28, 2003.
The budget was made available to support and promote
tourism in Chiang Mai. The makeover includes a food center, souvenir shops,
parlor for guests, new ticket offices and information area.
It was necessary for the budget to come from the
government as the railway is not self-funding, and has actually been running
at a loss
. “The Railway Station never makes any profit, we have
made a loss every year. However, we have to stay on our feet,” said Suthep
Suphanpayak, head of Chiang Mai Railway Station.
The information office will be larger and more
comfortable, the ticket office will be more organized, and there will be
more seats for passengers waiting for trains. There will also be a small
park to relax in as another waiting area, in case, heaven forbid, the train
happens to be a little late.
After the construction is completed, we will find out
whether this project has helped increase the number of tourists.
Chiang Mai is being considered the aviation hub, but we
should not forget our Chiang Mai Railway Station.
Chiang Rai on target to
eradicate dark influences
12 caught, another 8 charged - only 8 to go
Following the government’s war on dark
influential persons, Pol. Maj. Gen. Wut Withitanon the assistant
commissioner of the Bureau, Region 5 said that deputy prime minister, Gen
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, had assigned his subordinates to solve the dark
influence problems in Chiang Rai, the pilot province for the scheme.
The police have destroyed some of the influential
networks, but in fact there were less influential people in Chiang Rai than
there initially appeared to be, because many people came in from the other
provinces making Chiang Rai just a meeting place.
Some pleasant dark alleyways for the dark influences!
The deadline is December 2, and Pol. Maj. Gen Chamnong
Kaewsiri, the commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police, said they have to
speed up their apprehending of the remaining people.
The current situation sees one influential person has
escaped to Laos and of the total influential persons in Chiang Rai of 28
persons, 12 have been caught, eight have been charged and the other eight
are being closely watched by police officers.
17,000 refugees on the move
Concerns over border proximity
Mae Hong Son province has been preparing
to move 17,000 refugees in the Ban Gongka Sala Holding Center in Mae Sariang
district to a new location at Ban Mae La -uon in Sobmoei district. The move
is expected to be completed this December.
Sittichai Prasertsri, deputy governor of Mae Hong Son
province said the relocation of the refugee camp was well underway,
especially the road improvement plan, which is expected to be finished for
The Ban Mae Gongka Sa-la camp is situated in the middle
of Salween National Park where some of the refugees in the holding center
have created problems with logging and smuggling trees from the Salween
Flooding of the camp area has also caused 20 deaths.
The new location at Ban Mae La-uon covers 800 rai, which
the Forestry Department has provided, but is only 4 km from the border.
Concerns over the border situation were dismissed by
deputy governor Sittichai who insisted that provincial authorities had
already prepared the location and alerted the military force and border
patrol police to take care of this area. There are also some territory
security volunteers in the center to protect the occupants of the camp.
Could poverty and social problems in Thailand be solved soon?
PM Thaksin gives 6-year time frame
The Thaksin Shinawatra Administration has announced that
it is their policy to solve social problems and poverty in Thailand within 6
years. Chiang Mai has been selected as one of the eight pilot provinces.
Udom Maneekhat from the Chiang Mai Provincial Community
Development Office, declared that the Thai government requires data
surveying to find the correct solutions for social and poverty problems.
The Local Administration Department (LAD) is also
responsible for registering the seven main problems which the government has
indicated. These are agriculture and farming, homeless people, illegal
employment, supporting students into more appropriate jobs, being defrauded,
people in debt and housing the poor.
Chiang Mai has to process the surveys being done from now
until December 4 this year. All the surveyed data will be verified and
registered by the LAD by March 31 next year.
The Chiang Mai Provincial Community Development Official
also said that they would require good cooperation from everyone to be able
to complete the registration in time.
Kritsadaporn Siempakdee, permanent secretary for Chiang
Mai Provincial Authorities said, “There are only three steps for the whole
project. They are compiling data, analyzing it and then solving the
problems. However, we cannot solve the problems in two or three days after
getting your questionnaires. We hope that people will understand this,” he
Stateless people in Mae Ai appeal to senators
A testing suggested. “Did Not Allow” citizenship?
Senators led by Maj Gen Manoonkrit Roobkajorn, House
senate chairman (speaker), joined in meeting the people on Sunday at Chiang
Mai University (CMU) to listen to the people’s voices about their
problems. They were welcomed by Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai Governor, and
Asst Prof Dr. Nipon Tuwanon, CMU.
Vichai Krongying promised to help solve the stateless people problem as soon
500 people attended, including Prommin Intralavichai, a
representative from Mae Ai district, who complained to the senators that
1,043 Mae Ai people had been stripped of their Thai nationality without any
real investigation. He said that all of them and their families had stayed
in Thailand for over 100 years, but the government officials didn’t survey
or seriously investigate the plight of these now stateless people. Prommin
said the problem was in Mae Ai district area only, a sensitive area between
Thailand and Burma.
Intralavichai from Mae Ai questioned the senators about the stateless people
problem in Mae Ai.
Senator Vichai Krongying said they had received news of
the Mae Ai case in the parliament and the government would form a committee
to investigate as soon as possible. “However, the authority to follow the
government procedures must be also approved by Chiang Mai’s governor. It
will take a long time to examine the facts. Though we could verify the
nationality by DNA testing, we couldn’t find the DNA from their
ancestors,” he explained.