HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Fighting the cold season in North

THAI flies high to Laos and Burma

THAI not worried about imminent low cost air services

Two days of Xmas shopping at Chiang Mai’s Gift Fair

New SME Center still on track

Chiang Mai real estate set to boom?

Southern China in trade and tourism promotion with Northern Thailand

HM the King’s initiative becomes reality

State visits to Chiang Rai

Ministry of Commerce gives marketing info for fermented alcohol producers

World AIDS Day in Chiang Mai

War on poverty in Chiang Rai underway

Pha Muang task force admits drug barons still survive

Fingerprint Collection Begins for Visa Applicants in Chiang Mai

Registration of stateless Mae Ai people continues

More drug arrests in Chiang Mai

Alien workers pursued by BPP

Drug courier gives up ya ba tablets, an M16, a motorcycle and his life

Chiang Mai looking at solving poverty and social problems

Fighting the cold season in North

Beer Chang warms the villagers’ hearts

Mae Hong Son province together with the private sector have combined to help the poor villagers get some warmth over winter.

Mae Hong Son Disaster Public Relief Foundation together with Por Tek Tueng rescue team brought 1,000 necessities including warm clothes, rice and dried food to distribute to people in 11 villages and 4 cottage areas in Ban Huay Poo Ling, Mae Hong Son.

Mae Hong Son Governor Supoj Laowanasiri said that he had received much support from government, the private sector and public organizations in helping 12,000 families survive the winter season.

Governor Supoj said, “Beer Chang offered 10,000 blankets for every remote area in the province, we also received another 1,000 blankets from Raja Kreetha athletics club and we will receive another 2,000 blankets with 500 student uniforms from Thai Airways International and Northern Women’s Association led by Laddawan Wongsriwong will give 2,200 blankets.”

It has already started to become very cold in the high regions, but at least the poor people in Mae Hong Son would be warm.

THAI flies high to Laos and Burma

Phitsanu Thepthong

Thai Airways International (THAI) has launched its new flights to Luang Prabang in Laos and to Rangoon in Burma.

Dr Chai-Anan Samudavanija and Laotian ambassador to Thailand Hiem Thommachan cut the ribbon with Chaiwat Chanapai, Vice President, Western Sales and Distribution (2nd from left), Suthep Seubsantiwongse, executive vice president for Commercial Department (4th from left), and Miss Prakaidao Hovatanakul, district sales manager upper - Northern Thailand (2nd right).

Dr Chai-Anan Samudavanija, and Laotian ambassador to Thailand Hiem Thommachan, jointly cut the ribbon, marking the official opening of the inaugural flight between Chiang Mai and Luang Phrabang at the Chiang Mai International Airport.

THAI says that they are adding to the reputation being built for Chiang Mai’s position as Thailand’s northern aviation hub.

THAI not worried about imminent low cost air services

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

At the inauguration of the new links between Chiang Mai and Luang Phrabang (Laos) and Rangoon (Burma), Thai Airways International (THAI) revealed that 60 percent of the total capacity for those two air routes was already taken up.

Vasing Kittikul, THAI Executive Vice President, Customer Services Department, at the grand opening of the Wonders of Three Cultures event held at Central Airport Plaza.

Vasing Kittikul, THAI executive vice president, Customer Services Department said, “After launching these two flights, I expect to see 10 percent growth in the number of tourists coming to Chiang Mai next year, boosting Chiang Mai economy about 8-10 percent.”

THAI aims to expand to more new destinations covering the Indo-China region and other areas with a two hour flight time from Chiang Mai such as Hanoi in Vietnam. “To make Chiang Mai a real aviation hub, we are looking forward to expanding our links to these two hour flight destinations,” the THAI executive vice president added.

Although there is going to be heavy competition in domestic flights when the low cost airlines come into operation, THAI showed no signs of concern, saying that it was business as usual, and confirmed that they did not expect to see any effect on their ticket sales. “Our sales during the New Year holidays are still the same and we think we do not have to be worried because we are confident that our service as a key factor to compete with the low cost airlines,” he said.

Two days of Xmas shopping at Chiang Mai’s Gift Fair

Buy your love a panda bear?

Natchawi Srirat

The Christmas and New Year festivals and celebrations are coming up. To make it all a little easier, you have till December 7 to attend the 13th Gift Fair at the Industrial Promotion Center (IPC), Region 1 Office where people who are looking for gifts can go shopping for unique items.

Beautiful dancers performed at the opening ceremony.

There are more than 400 booths, presenting products such as sa paper, costumes made from cotton and silk, herbal products and many varieties of gifts.

The Gift Fair opened on November 28, presided over by Suwat Rimpaporn, director-general of the Promotion Industrial Department (PID). The aim is to promote Thai handicraft markets and to encourage producers and suppliers to present their products to the nation and worldwide markets to stimulate a market demand.

Since much of the items are produced by cottage industries, the PID is trying to get the products on to the world stage.

All Thais hope that Thai products will become well known for quality. Perhaps one day we will see brand name Thai clothes in the department stores in France!

New SME Center still on track

Natchawi Srirat

The Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME) Center Project is still on target to be constructed on the 400 rai of land area of the Hong Hor Military Training Camp, 33rd Military Circle. Date for laying the foundation stone has not been set, but it is expected to be in 2004.

Two weeks ago there were plans on the table for three projects to be constructed in the same area but now plans have been changed. These included the International Convention Center which will be moved to Tambon Mae-Hia and the Distribution Agriculture Products Center for Northern Region, which new location is still undecided.

One of the main reasons for splitting up the construction projects was traffic problems in that area.

The exterior of the new SME center will be in Lanna cultural style and design, but the interior will be done out in a modern high technology style including saving energy systems built in.

The tendering process is now underway to build the center, since the government has approved the necessary budget.

Chiang Mai real estate set to boom?

30 percent growth this year

Chin Ratitamkul

A seminar on the direction of real estate development in Chiang Mai was held at the Empress Hotel, Chiang Mai with Deputy Governor Prinya Panthong giving the keynote address.

Watchara Tantranont, president of Northern Real Estate Association

Watchara Tantranont, president of the Northern Real Estate Association, said that all the signs were positive that Chiang Mai real estate projects had recovered since the 1997 crash as there was a 30 percent growth this year.

He expressed confidence that the investment in Chiang Mai would continue to escalate, with projects such as the IT Knowledge Park and the College of Arts Media and Culture to be set up. In addition, the government has also planned to construct a convention and exhibition hall. However, Watchara was worried that there might be lack of sustainable management.

Assoc. Prof Manop Phongtach said that big budgets would bring in the big successes, but Chiang Mai people should make sure they upgrade the culture to be up to international standards, otherwise Chiang Mai may be in a crisis again in some days ahead.

President of SC Asset group, Surathian Chakthranont said Chiang Mai had a biodiversity that people have never used as a benefit for this province, and uttered another note of caution. “When we expand the real estate and tourism business unthinkingly, we will be trapped in a sex and casino city,” Surathian explained.

Surathian believes that the modernization of Chiang Mai would certainly bring in problems such as the Bangkok has had. The real estate concept should be to develop the green environmental concept which was in the line with Chiang Mai environmental campaign.

Southern China in trade and tourism promotion with Northern Thailand

Delegates from South China visited Phayao province for talks to push the development on trade and tourism sectors between southern China and the upper northern provinces of Thailand.

During a short state visit, the Chinese delegates led by Yin Shin, the secretary-general of the Communist Party from China’s Sibsong Panna town with the governor of Yunnan province, arranged the meeting with the Phayao Governor Bovorn Rattanaprasit.

They said they were looking forward to boosting trade and tourism sectors linking Phayao province and Yunnan with goods travelling via waterways along the Mekong River from the Chiang Saen Port of Chiang Rai province and continue on road transportation to Phayao.

According to observers at the meeting, the obstacles in border crossing of each neighboring country was mentioned and will be further discussed at the Chambers of Commerce meeting among the four countries concerned. This meeting is scheduled to be held in Sibsong Panna in March next year.

Under the framework of the free trade area for the two countries, China still needs a large number of agricultural products from Thailand such as lychee, longan and Thai jasmine rice.

Phayao provincial governor Bovorn has proposed trading between Yunnan and Phayao in terms of agricultural products exchange and spoke on the mutual benefits to both countries. However, this matter will also be on the agenda at the next meeting in March.

Hopefully the Chinese delegates did not visit the Chiang Mai Zoo to visit the pandas. Double pricing could have come as a shock!

HM the King’s initiative becomes reality

PM Thaksin Opens Study Centre for Self-Sufficient Economy

Chin Ratitamkul and Phisut Itsaracheewawat

PM Thaksin Shinawatra presided over the grand opening of the Study Center for Self-Sufficient Economy, following His Majesty the King’s initiative.

PM Thaksin returns greetings from many local residents welcoming him at the Study Center.

Local residents and government staff gathered to welcome Prime Minister Thaksin and his wife, Khunying Potjaman Shinawatra. All prominent personalities were wearing a Thai traditional yellow silk, acknowledging HM the King’s birthday.

The new center is located on 108 rai of land and features an exhibition hall and demonstration fields, to help local farmers improve their knowledge, following the King’s initiative called “The New Theory”.

This New Theory and philosophy is a new way of agriculture emphasizing the emotional, social, economic, technology and natural resources and environment to help farmers become self-sufficient and self-reliant.

To follow the King’s concepts, farmers should spend 30 percent of their time on rice, 30 percent on water and 30 percent on plants, with the final 10 percent being devoted to construction.

In the future, the center could be developed as a home stay serving foreign tourists, but currently it would be fully used for improving the skills of local people.

State visits to Chiang Rai

Luxembourg to be followed by the Netherlands

Worachat Kongkaew, PRD Chiang Rai

Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg arrived in Chiang Rai to follow up the school contribution project to which she is attached. She was given a civic welcome by Chiang Rai Governor Narin Panitchkit, plus other dignitaries including the chief judge of Chiang Rai Provincial Court, the provincial police commander, the military commander and the president of Chiang Rai Provincial Red Cross.

After her welcome, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa went by car to Ban Pha Dua School in Tambon Mae Salong, Mae Fa Luang district to see the educational activities there and gave donations to 16 student representatives. Ban Pha Dua School is under an education project, where they are looking after nine hill tribe students.

Chiang Rai’s deputy governor, Sriprom Hormyok said they are now busy preparing for the state visit of Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands who will be visiting Chiang Rai shortly.

Ministry of Commerce gives marketing info for fermented alcohol producers

Lampang hosts spirited seminar

Chin Ratitamkul

The Department of Business Development, Ministry of Commerce, is holding seminars to educate fermented whisky entrepreneurs around the country.

The project has been launched initially in Lampang province, before expanding to cover 55 other provinces.

Vichit Phangsrikul, a consultant to the Minister of Commerce, presided over the seminar for local fermented alcohol entrepreneurs at Lampang’s Vieng Thong hotel. The seminar was in the line with the government policy which supports new SME businesses.

The department held this initial seminar for producers and owners at Lampang as this area has 462 entrepreneurs who are registered, making Lampang the number one province in this regard in Thailand. The seminar was aimed to impart knowledge about accounting systems, marketing strategies and effective business principles, administration and marketing management.

World AIDS Day in Chiang Mai

Candles lit in commemoration

Natchawi Srirat

World AIDS day is held on December 1 of every year. People all over the world join to help AIDS patients and people infected with HIV. Chiang Mai held “Candle Light for AIDS Patient” at Thapae Gate to stimulate people to realize the impact of the AIDS problem.

Ornnadda Tantipat, president of Provincial Red Cross, Chiang Mai Chapter presided over the opening ceremony and lit the candle to the denote the start of the event for all participants.

Chiang Mai’s World Aids Day was organized by Chiang Mai Public Health Office and Ornnadda Tantipat, president of Provincial Red Cross, Chiang Mai Chapter presided over the opening ceremony and lit the candle to the denote the start of the event for all participants.

The Candle Light for AIDS was designed to remind everyone of the deaths from AIDS and to encourage AIDS patient to fight on and never give up the struggle and to give encouragement for the people who work with AIDS patients.

Many people still do not understand AIDS, especially how to treat people who are infected with HIV and how the virus spreads. This year the campaign focused on acceptance of AIDS patients and the rights of these people.

Feelings of aversion to AIDS patients has a large impact on their mental state because AIDS patients always feel guilty and ashamed. However, AIDS patients are a part of society and just wish to contribute like every other person.

To make the campaign successful, Thais need to feel sympathetic towards AIDS patients and treat them like part of the family or friends. Social outlook needs to be changed since people want to separate AIDS patients from Thai society. There are many things that Thais still need to do to assist AIDS patients. Perhaps World AIDS Day will help them realize this fact.

War on poverty in Chiang Rai underway

Thaksin administration’s six year plan explained

Chiang Rai Governor Narin Phanitchakit said that following meetings in the province, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s views were that poverty among Thai citizens could be resolved by providing some opportunities and boosting the potential power of each person which would result in sustainable solutions and at the same time the people could be made self-reliant.

The Ministry of Interior has the responsibility to survey all the problems facing Thais such as land for cultivation, homeless people, illegal occupations, fraudulent practices and housing problems including plans to provide students with paid work so they can earn enough for living while still being in school.

To accomplish this government policy, all provinces are responsible for establishment of an Integrated Center for the war on poverty and social problems under control of the governor as the director and the deputy assistant as the committee and secretary.

The plans are divided into three steps: the survey process from Jan 5-March 31, 2004, the analysis from April 1-June 30, 2004 and the solution practices from July 1, 2004. Chiang Rai province is now at the stage to introduce the Center at the provincial, district and sub-district levels.

Pha Muang task force admits drug barons still survive

New refineries indicated in Burma

Intelligence Units of the Pha Muang Task Force said that there were still some drug traffickers trying to smuggle drugs into Thailand from neighboring countries through the Wiang Haeng and Mae Ai border district areas.

Lt. Gen Thanongsak Tuvinan, Superintendent of the National Defense College, brought 260 personnel consisting of teachers, 46th National Defense College students, 16th National Defense College students and other students to learn more and observe the situation in the upper north.

The visitors were welcomed by Prinya Parnthong, Chiang Mai’s deputy governor, together with many others involved with the study tours on the economics, politics, government and drug situation along the borders.

Intelligence units stated that drug barons were still manufacturing drugs along Thai-Burmese borders, waiting for the right moment to smuggle methamphetamines into Thailand and were forming new distribution networks as well as smuggling drugs from Laos into Thailand.

The drug refineries have moved deeper inside Burma around Tha, Jod, Han, Tung and Kan areas in Tachilek province and around the infamous Golden Triangle area.

Pa Muang Task Force source revealed that when compared with last year, the drug seizures were less; however, this still entailed 35 million amphetamines pills, 9 officers lost their lives and 10 were injured, while 136 drug dealers classified as extra juridical killings.

Fingerprint Collection Begins for Visa Applicants in Chiang Mai

On Wednesday, December 3, the U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai will begin collecting fingerprints from most applicants for nonimmigrant visas.

The collection of a “biometric identifier” was mandated in the U.S. Homeland Security Act of 2002. Fingerprints were chosen because they believe them to be the most effective and least intrusive biometric available.

Fingerprints will be used only by authorized officials and for official purposes. There are no plans or agreements to share fingerprints with any foreign government.

Registration of stateless Mae Ai people continues

Thai authorities have insisted that the minority group in Mae Ai district would be treated fairly in the registration process towards being granted Thai citizenship, but much will be depending on the legal documentation.

Sub Lt Sombat Chanjetsadakorn, the head of Protection and Elimination on False Registration Documentation and Citizen ID Cards Office, Bureau of Registration Administration, from the Local Administration Department (LAD), said that the registration documents of Mai Ai district’s residents were now undergoing further examination. Since this problem has been ongoing for the past two years, the organizations concerned would facilitate the documentation in compliance with the correct approval criteria.

The verification process being done at the Ministry of Interior would be completed by the middle of December. The Minister of Interior Ministry has the right to approve the presence of aliens in Thailand or grant Thai citizenship to any minority group, say the provincial authorities.

More drug arrests in Chiang Mai

Jails raided, but the drug runners were already inside

A combined force of police and soldiers confiscated 52 bars of compressed heroin (18 kg) and over 200,000 methamphetamine tablets during raids throughout the northern region.

It was part of the 60-day countdown against drugs as a part of the celebrations for His Majesty the King on his birthday.

At the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 press the haul of heroin and methamphetamine pills was mentioned, plus the capture of three drug couriers identified as Wasan Sae Mee and Mrs. Armeema Laoyeepa, both Lisu hill tribe natives, Wiroj I-Mang from Lamphun.

They confessed that the seized drugs belonged to the prominent drug dealers from the Wa minority group and Kokang network. The drugs were intended to be delivered to the major drug dealers in Nakhon Si Thammarat province in the South of Thailand.

In addition, the combined force of the police, soldiers, and defense volunteer forces with over 200 officers had raided Ban Kid Sam Sib, in Mae Hong Son, hoping to apprehend Arsapah Laoyeepa who was on the blacklist of the Drug Suppression task force unit in Mae Hong Son but he had fled the scene before the team’s arrival.

They did not return empty-handed as they bagged seven Burmese natives who were charged with possession of 5 gm of raw opium and their opium cultivation was also destroyed.

At the same time, police in conjunction with the soldiers from Pha Muang task force and the Correction Department officials launched a search operation for drugs and illegal items in the Chiang Mai Central Prison, 90 percent of whose inmates were convicted of drug charges, but nothing illegal was found inside the prison.

A similar search and destroy operation was held at the Lampang Correctional Institution which uncovered forbidden items such as cutters and sharp metal. This operation was also deployed in the Lamphun Prison but only a vegetable peeling knife and a modified fork were found.

The Phyao Provincial police along with the officers from the 33rd Border Patrol Police or Phaya Ngam Muang task force searched the Phayao Prison complete with drug sniffing dogs and explosive detectors but nothing illegal and no drugs were found.

Alien workers pursued by BPP

Meanwhile, Thai farmers enjoying cheap laborers

The 337th Border Patrol Police (BPP) Unit has been scouting around the countryside, looking to arrest those laborers who are illegal immigrants in Thailand.

The alien laborers came to Mae Sariang District, Mae Hong Son province, to be employed by villagers to help harvest their crops and produce. The authorities swooped, catching 54 laborers, while they were taking a rest in the field at the end of a hard day’s work.

The alien workers included men, women, and the aged. Some of them admitted they had run away from the refugee camps and had been employed as farm workers for over 1 month.

The investigation showed that all of the illegal immigrants had escaped from the (very) temporary holding center at Mae Kongka Sala, Mae Sariang district. Local farmers said that the refuges were needed by the villagers because their wages were lower than Thai laborers, and in addition they are industrious, and able to work hard in all kinds of farm work.

Drug courier gives up ya ba tablets, an M16, a motorcycle and his life

Another ‘extra judicial’ statistic

Pol Major General Kasem Rattanasunthorn, commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police announced an extra judicial killing in Wiang Haeng district area, Chiang Mai.

The police commander said that Pol Sub Lieutenant Rangsit Kaewchaiya and Wiang Haeng police set a checkpoint on Ban Jong-Ban Kae Noi Road in the Wiang Haeng district, Chiang Mai. Noticing suspicious behaviour, they stopped Charin Vongsathorn, on his motorcycle. After being ordered to stop, he jumped off the motorcycle grabbing his gun to fight the police. Defense was claimed by the police who then opened fire and the man was killed at the scene.

After a thorough investigation, police found 114,000 tablets of compounded orange and green methamphetamines in 57 plastic bags, an unregistered M16 assault weapon with ammunition, one grenade and one motorcycle.

Commander Kasem Rattanasunthorn estimated that now there were no more than five million methamphetamine tablets hidden along border areas in Wiang Haeng, Fang, Mae Ai, Chaiprakan and Chiang Dao border district areas, and police would continue to locate and destroy them.

Chiang Mai looking at solving poverty and social problems

Government counting the numbers

Chin Ratitamkul

Over 200 people from Tambon Huay Sai, San Kamphaeng district, attended a community seminar organized by the Chiang Mai Provincial Community Development Office.

Chaiyasit Hotrakit, the director-general of the Community Development Department, said that the government had divided social and poverty problems into seven main categories, such as agricultural and farming land, the homeless, illegal occupations, supporting student part-time work to make them self-sufficient, fraudulent practices, personal debt, and housing for the poor.

At the seminar, Chaiyasit explained that the definition of being “poor” covered all people who had an income lower than 20,000 baht per year. It is estimated that there were around 10 million people in this situation around the country. Chiang Mai has been selected to launch this survey and other provinces will become involved after December 6, 2003.