HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

PM Thaksin says he will retire before he is 60

Chiang Mai air pollution critical

Chiang Mai International Airport gets boost from cut-price domestic flights

Chiang Mai to host Inventors’ Day 2004 for the first time

China-Thailand FTA has problems

Chiang Mai’s International Convention Center underway

10 degrees C means winter woollies time again

Opium eradication continues

Two boys found drowned

30,000 people expected to enlist in the War on Poverty

Chiang Mai Immigration Office near Chiang Mai International Airport will be closed for the holidays

Musical treatment for drug addicts

Water in short supply

Mae Moh villagers protest relocation of Hmong addicts

Winter Rose Day 2003

Future of industrial estate in Chiang Saen looking promising

Recycling glasses is worthwhile

Socket Making Apparatus could mean low cost prostheses

TAT ready for expected tourist influx

Road safety push for New Year

Sai Num Phueng oranges certified safe

Emergency road center for festive season

Elections for Chiang Mai’s TAO chairman

In Tech ’03 held at Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel

THA President Vorapong Muchaotai welcomes big chain hotels

Burmese refugees found returning to Burma

Chiang Mai launches beautiful homes campaign

PM Thaksin says he will retire before he is 60

Predicts great changes for Chiang Mai

Phitsanu Thepthong

PM Thaksin Shinawatra was the guest of honor at the 20 year anniversary of the Federation of Thai Industries, Chiang Mai and neighboring provinces, held at the Sheraton Hotel. He expressed extreme confidence in Thai economic stability and that Chiang Mai will be a beneficiary of his government’s policies, predicting that when he retires in five years time, Chiang Mai will be the city of the future.

PM Thaksin Shinawatra (2nd left) presided over the 20 year anniversary of the Federation of Thai Industries, Chiang Mai and neighboring provinces. With him is Chiang Mai governor Suwat Tantipat (2nd right) and FTI Chiang Mai president Yuthaphong Jirapraphaphong (center), Damkerng Jiraphitayangoon (left) and Nit Wangviwat (right), honorary advisers to the FTI executive board.

Gazing into his crystal ball, PM Thaksin said that the poverty problem can be solved within the time-frame of 5-6 years and after that there will be no more poor people in Thailand.

He said that his policy of decentralization would benefit the country, saying, “I want to see many cities becoming big and growing up like Bangkok, and Chiang Mai city has a very high potential and top priority.”

He said that CEO governors will have take more active roles in strengthening the provinces, and mobilizing more ideas.

He mentioned Thailand and the US, predicting that the association between the two countries will be stronger in terms of monetary stability. He also said that for national exports, the Thai sales team approach must be intensive and progressive, to hit the main markets like China and India. “With help from Board of Investment, we will promote the production of products that will be able to help reduce imports into Thailand and substitute them with Thai exports,” he said. He anticipated that Thailand will be the second largest country in Asia for economic development, after China.

Chiang Mai is certainly the aviation hub in this region for trade and tourism, as by its strategic location is easily links air routes with Hanoi (Vietnam), Kunming (South China), Chittagong (Bangladesh), Luang Phrabang (Laos), Pukarma and Rangoon (Burma).

More low cost airlines will be present in the domestic air services market, resulting in more travelers. “The number of passengers will be increased from 7 million passengers to more than 20 million,” he said.

He spent some time in the address to dwell on the Thai stock market, saying that the first branch of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) will be opened in Chiang Mai. “Chiang Mai people will be the nouveau riche (new millionaires), and now we must work for the big change. People will be rich by joining hands and ideas to work together,” he said.

He said he had assigned Chiang Mai governor Suwat Tantipat and Thai Rak Thai party deputy Yaowapha Wongsawas, to do more home work, as this northern capital has many things thing to do, with Chiang Mai traffic jams becoming critical.

“We are more than 100 percent confident of the economic stability for Thailand, as forecast by the National Economic and Social Development Board,” he said.

“We will not any more ask for help or loans from others, but we will request them to enter a partnership. Thailand has given 3,000 million baht to Burma, and 2,000 million baht each to both Laos and Cambodia. These are all our neighboring countries, and some grants have been provided to help assist road construction projects in these countries, in the Great Mekong Sub-region,” he said.

“At present, Thailand is really strong in term of both politics and finance, and I have planned to stay in office (as PM), but I will retire early, at the age of 59, and then I will have more time to rest, relax and spend more time and money. Anyhow, for the next five years, during my term as PM, I will do my best to create more opportunities for the Thai people,” he promised.

Chiang Mai air pollution critical

200 points in Chiang Mai City at danger levels

Dr. Duangchan Aphawatcharuth Charoenmuang, the head of the research team on air pollution control for Chiang Mai City, has said that Chiang Mai people always burn fallen leaves, causing polluted air in wide areas, in addition to the already polluted air from the vehicle exhausts during traffic jams, and exacerbated by the low pressure area from China. As a result, the polluted air could not dissipate so it is still in the Chiang Mai-Lumphun basin.

The air quality detection department of the Pollution Control Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, found that at the Weather Measurement Station at Yupparaj Wittayalai School during last January, the pollution level was 155.9 micrograms per cubic meter. In the area of Chiang Mai City Hall, 144.0 micrograms per one cubic meter in 24 hours was recorded in April 2002. These are above the recommended limit of 120 micrograms per cubic meter.

The weather condition in Chiang Mai is now in the critical period after 200 points in Chiang Mai Municipality areas showed the air pollution to be at very dangerous levels and a respiratory health hazard.

Chiang Mai International Airport gets boost from cut-price domestic flights

Needs to enlarge - quickly

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

A budget of 2.1 million baht was approved by the Thaksin government for the renovating of Chiang Mai International Airport, to provide more services and facilities in the Indo-China region, and to draw more visitors and tourists to Chiang Mai.

F.O. Suthara Huangsuwan, general manager of Chiang Mai International Airport, confirmed that Chiang Mai is getting ready to become the aviation hub of the north.

Airport authorities plan to improve both domestic and international passenger lounges, enlarge the runways to serve wide bodied aircraft, and expand the parking lot and cargo building, all to be completed by the end of 2006.

Flying Officer Suthara Huangsuwan, general manager of Chiang Mai International Airport, said that he expects to increase the capacity of the international passenger lounge to 1,000, and increase parking space for 200 additional cars.

GM Suthara admitted that the introduction of low-cost airline services would increase the number of flights and passengers, but said, “The more competition, the more benefits we gain for passengers.”

There are about 2 million visitors arriving at the airport annually, but last year with the numbers down, visitors spent only about 2.57 billion baht, a very sharp drop compared to last year’s revenue of about 12 billion baht.

He forewarned that there would be increased service charges in two years or even in 2005, with the international airport fee increased to 800 baht and domestic fee will be 100 baht per person.

“Although Chiang Mai is getting ready to become the aviation hub, this alone cannot guarantee that there will be more tourists visiting Chiang Mai because what inspires tourists to come back here depends on how nice Chiang Mai people are to the visitors,” he explained.

Chiang Mai to host Inventors’ Day 2004 for the first time

Honoring HM the King, Thailand’s Father of Invention

Chin Ratitamkul

The National Research Council of Thailand, Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities, and Chiang Mai University (CMU) is preparing for the upcoming Inventors’ Day 2004, to be held during January 8 - 9 for the first time in the northern region.

(From left) Deputy governor Thongchai Wongrianthong; secretary of National Research Council of Thailand, Jirapan Atthajinda; and CMU president, Assist Prof Dr. Nipon Tuwanon, at the press conference at Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel.

Chiang Mai deputy governor, Thongchai Wongrianthong, said at a press conference held at Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel that Chiang Mai would host Inventors’ Day 2004 to honor his Majesty the King who has been named “Thailand’s father of Invention”.

Secretary of the National Research Council of Thailand, Jirapan Atthajinda, said that February 2 of each year was deemed to be Inventors’ Day, to commemorate the patents registered by His Majesty the King for inventing the “Chaipattana Aerator” used to treat polluted water.

Similar activities will also be held around the country. The one event will be held in Chiang Mai at the CMU Convention Center next month, another at the Fifth Year anniversary convention hall, Khon Kaen University on January 23-25, 2004; a third at the Bangkok Convention Center, Central Plaza Hotel, Bangkok on February 2-3, 2004 and the last one will be held at the Convention Hall, Rajabhat Institute Phuket on February 13-14, 2004.

Inventors’ Day in the North will include exhibitions of His Majesty King Bhumibol and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s works, many prizes for inventions will be awarded by the National Research Council of Thailand.

The president of CMU, Assist Prof Dr. Nipon Tuwanon said activities were aimed to stimulate people and students to create more useful inventions and develop equipment to push the Thai education system forward and assist the population to become a knowledge-based society.

China-Thailand FTA has problems

An agriculture strategy to deal with Thai-Chinese Free Trade Area (FTA) was discussed at a recent seminar conducted by the Agriculture Economic Office, Agriculture and Cooperative Department.

The Thai and Chinese governments agreed to use a no tariff policy on fruit and vegetable products beginning October 1, 2003, resulting in both advantages and disadvantages for Thai producers because Thailand and China were both potential agricultural producers and exporters.

Kanchana Singhamphai, international agricultural economic specialist at the Agriculture Economic Office, said that Thai vegetable products brought in 4 billion baht in trade, but fruit products face a deficit or loss in its trade balance of about a billion baht. However, the overall viewpoint is that Thais still have the advantage.

Thai products needing attention are garlic, potato, onion and cold fruits which Thailand needs to reduce harvesting areas and improve their quality.

The Agriculture and Cooperative Department has assigned agriculture economic officers to gather all information about good imports along the border areas and make a weekly report to the department to plan the defense strategy.

Chiang Mai’s International Convention Center underway

Site finally agreed upon

Many parties in Chiang Mai, including the people, government organizations and private sectors, were recently in dispute over the location for the Chiang Mai International Convention Center project, citing traffic problems on the roads behind the Chiang Mai City Hall.

The permanent secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office therefore followed up the progress of the International Convention Center, the Exhibition Hall and the Agricultural Products Distribution Center plans.

The chiefs of government offices concerned with the construction projects participated in the meeting, and provided progress reports about each project. Academics from Chiang Mai University also presented a Chiang Mai traffic system analysis with a model of the project.

The proposed locations for these three projects, which have now been approved by the Cabinet, would see the International Convention Hall being built at Nong Hor military training camp, nearby Chiang Mai City Hall. The Exhibition Hall and Agricultural Products Distribution Center construction will be moved to land in Tambon Mae Hia near the Chiang Mai Safari Night Zoo.

10 degrees C means winter woollies time again

But it was 3.7 degrees C 30 years ago

Natchawi Srirat

The Meteorological Center has reported that the coldest weather is yet to come. The high pressure areas from China will cover the upper north of Thailand, bringing in very cold weather, with possible temperatures between 10-13.

The lowest temperature on record in Chiang Mai province was measured on January 2, 1974, at 3.7C, so it will not be quite that freezing this year.

Tourists who want to celebrate the New Year in Chiang Mai and in other northern provinces need to be more alert while driving, because there will be thick fog along the way up to Chiang Mai during the early morning and at night.

Warm clothes and woollies are necessary, especially in the morning and the evening. The cold season will probably end in January for the northern part; but around mid January, the center also predicts that there will be thunderstorms and scattered rain from a low pressure front moving in from south China.

Opium eradication continues

US Ambassador lauds Thailand’s efforts

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

The Chiang Mai-based 7th Artillery Battalion, with cooperation from the US government, has shown a positive will to eradicate drugs from Thailand.

Thai and US governments have worked together for 30 years to get rid of drugs from the country and make hill tribe people change from planting and using it.

US ambassador Darryl Johnson and Thai officials during the salute. (Photo by Natchawi Srirat)

Lieutenant General Picharnmeth Muangmanee, Commander of the 3rd Army Region, said that opium destruction was successful because of good support from the Thai government and financial support from the US government. “The number of opium fields along the northern border has decreased from 5,000 rai last year to 500 rai this year,” he added.

US Ambassador to Thailand, Darryl N. Johnson said that in 1999 Thailand was considered to be one of the high-risk areas of drug harvesting but now he confirmed that Thailand was no longer mentioned. “Thailand has proved successful in handling the drug problem showing that opium is no longer significant in Thailand, but drug problems still remain, that I hope will be cured soon,” the US Ambassador said.

Both parties announced that they would pursue an opium destruction plan continuing until next year, aiming to educate hill tribe people on the dangers of opium, motivate them to plant other crops, with a crop replacement program.

Two boys found drowned

The first boy’s body was found in the Chiang Mai City canal, and the second in the district canal in Hang Dong. Police suspected that both of the boys went swimming in the canal, and had cramps because of the cold water, and drowned.

The rescue team dragged the first body from the canal in front of 700 Year Anniversary Sports Complex, after a worker spotted the body. The body was reported as being that of a boy, aged between 6-8 years old, wearing no clothes and bleeding from his nose. The other body of a boy of similar age was found in the district canal in Hang Dong district.

Police have assumed that two boys went swimming together, but with the amount of water in the canal which is very high at the moment this has produced a very swift current.

The bodies of the two boys were taken to Chiang Mai Maharaja Hospital’s Forensic Medicine Department for autopsy.

30,000 people expected to enlist in the War on Poverty

Hands up for government handouts

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat said that Chiang Mai began the fight against poverty on December 4, and that 25,567 people had already registered. Males registering for the program are outnumbering females 2:1.

The main reasons given by the registrants were: not enough land for growing crops (over 14,000 people), followed by too many debts (13,000), and finally lack of housing (about 5,000 people).

Governor Suwat suggested that people be should be truthful when coming to register, and they can register any day except Sunday, at the District Administration Office.

Registration will carry on until the end of March 2004, hoping to cover everyone eligible. Once this is done, all information will be submitted to the Interior Ministry for further action.

Chiang Mai Immigration Office near Chiang Mai International Airport will be closed for the holidays

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

Foreigners wishing to extend their visa to stay in Thailand might have to wait until next year because the immigration office will be closed during New Year holidays.

As per the central Thai government mandate, the national New Year holiday will run from January 1 to 4, 2004, and Chiang Mai Immigration office will be officially closed on these days.

All documents and office work will be stopped during the holiday, but visa-checking procedures for incoming foreign tourists at Chiang Mai International Airport will continue without interruption.

Musical treatment for drug addicts

Royal Thai Army organizes the Carabao Band

The Royal Thai Army, together with the Carabao Band, will organize musical treatment and entertainment for drug addicts confined in Wiwat Pollamuang School, to encourage the prisoners to stay away from drugs, and then hopefully return them to society to become good citizens.

The famous Carabao band will give a mini-concert at Wiwat Pollamuang Center, Pack Squadron, in Mae Rim district, as part of this radical drug rehabilitation plan.

Yuenyong O-pakul (aka Add Carabao) said that musical treatment activity would be held for the first time in Chiang Mai, after which the band would perform at concerts in every Wiwat Pollamuang School throughout the country.

Wiwat Pollamuang School, Pack Squadron, Chiang Mai province, began to treat drug addicts almost two years ago. There were approximately 250 drug addicts there, with 80 of them under treatment and more than 100 drug addicts were already back in society.

Water in short supply

Warning to conserve or suffer drought

Vinai Laothedpong, Chiang Mai Agricultural Extension Office, said that the quantity of water in the local dams is down compared to last year. His department is issuing official confirmation and he advises that if water is not conserved, a drought situation will eventuate.

Vinai has advised farmers that they should plan their water consumption in the rice fields and their farms. He said water rationing for agricultural purposes will be also considered and calculated by the planted area, the areas that surround the water distribution, the farms and field crops areas, and poor grade paddy field areas. “The water supply and allocation, will be properly arranged and distributed for public consumption and for agricultural purposes,” Vinai concluded.

Mae Moh villagers protest relocation of Hmong addicts

Crime, drugs and deforestation claimed

Mae Moh district people are against relocation of Hmong addicts to the area. 700 villagers from eight villages in Tambon Ban Dong, Mae Moh district protested when they heard about the proposed relocation of Hmong addicts from Wat Tham Krabok in Saraburi province saying it would destroy the environment and cause troubles into the area.

Mongkol Meepien, Chief of Tambon Ban Tong Administration Organization together with village headmen congregated at Regional Office of Hill tribes Development, Ban Huay Tard which has 45,000 rai constructed as a Hmong Hill tribes Holding Center for Hmong addicts.

Surachai Maneeprakorn, Lampang Provincial Defense Office and Montree Boophatree, District Chief of Mae Moh went to clarify the situation and receive the petition from the protestors to submit to Amorntut Niratsayakul, Lampang Governor to find the solutions for the problem.

In the past, there were some Hmong hill tribes moved into the area, but the protestors claimed they destroyed the natural resources and would cause crime to rise and bring in drugs.

Winter Rose Day 2003

Everyone rose to the occasion

Chin Ratitamkul

Chiang Mai provincial authorities, in cooperation with rose growers groups and the private sector, held the Winter Rose Day 2003 in Chiang Mai at Khamthieng flower and plant markets.

Beautiful Miss Rose rose for her rows of beautiful roses.

There were rose exhibitions, a rose clinic, and a rose flower show from Thailand and overseas. During the festival, there was also a demonstration of how to prepare dry roses with microwave, a rose decoration contest, and a rose art competition for students, and even a rose clinic providing consultation for rose planters by rose experts. “There, there Petal, you’ll be feeling better tomorrow.”

In addition, there were rose garden decorations and a rose exhibition from Phuping Palace. The activity was aimed to present and give information for people interested in roses, rather than promoting business.

Future of industrial estate in Chiang Saen looking promising

Interest from China, Korea and the Middle East

Chinese traders, businessmen and investors will flow into the industrial estate to be set up by Thailand’s Industrial Estate Authority in Chiang Saen Chiang Rai. Chinese entrepreneurs have shown interest in establishing their businesses in the industrial estate, to be the center for distributing Chinese products and exports into Thailand then on to the world markets.

Anchalee Chawanit, director of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), said that not only was there interest from Chinese traders but also other investors from South Korea and Middle Eastern countries want to establish factories in Chiang Saen industrial estate. “Representatives from South Korea and Middle East are involved in feasibility studies, with the first group targeting electronic devices, while the latter is focusing on herbal food industry,” she explained.

From the beginning of next year, IEAT will start aggressive marketing to attract international investors to establish businesses in Thailand.

Anchalee added that the government had assigned IEAT to negotiate with neighboring Burma, Cambodia and Laos to use the industrial district.

IEAT has also foreseen possibilities in founding industrial estates in Kong Island, Cambodia, giving special privileges such as tax-free holiday for an initial period. Industries they wish to attract are textiles, wood processed products and silica-related industries. “We are in the process of negotiating with Burma, to open an industrial estate in Mae sot, Tak border province, as well,” she said.

Recycling glasses is worthwhile

But will it make a good spectacle?

Chin Ratitamkul

Bangsai Arts and Crafts Centre under the Foundation of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques (SUPPORT), and royally initiated by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, aims to create more handicraft work and careers for Thai people through a recycling project.

People gather to take a good look at the new products.

Transforming and recycling glass is one of the project’s works under the foundation. Old glass is easy to find, and can be re-used for many purposes, as well as decorative items in houses or buildings.

Pisutti Dararutana, the head of Research and Development section of the Chemistry Department of the Royal Thai Army, said that the Bangsai Centre has taken part in this glass project in conjunction with the Chiang Mai University (CMU), to develop reworking glasses to be of high standard and quality. In addition, the foundation has opened more training courses for interested people to further practice their skills.

Beautiful glass as decorative items made at the Bangsai Center will be shown and displayed on Inventors Day at CMU’s Convention Hall.

“Nowadays, we can recycle glass such as broken beer bottles, to become beautiful decorative items,” said Pisutti. The Bangsai Center’s works will be displayed at CMU’s Convention Hall on February 2-3, next year at the Inventors’ Day exhibition for the northern region.

Socket Making Apparatus could mean low cost prostheses

New hope for the limbless

Chin Ratitamkul

H.R.H. Princess Mother’s Prostheses Foundation assists limbless people lead an ordinary life. The artificial leg is the key to this but it is very costly for disabled people.

The 10,000 baht Stump Copying equipment.

One very expensive factor in the production is copying the stump to make a well fitting socket, and the foundation set up a research team to look into production of these in Thailand.

Dr. Therdchai Cheewaket has now invented the Stump Copying machine which can produce a perfectly fitting stump at low cost but high quality. He said the method is by making a vacuum mold of the stump. This is similar technology to one used in the USA which costs 5 million baht. The locally produced equipment does the same job and costs 10,000 baht.

The vacuum process to mold the socket.

This technological invention would be presented at the invention competition of the National Research Council of Thailand. It is in the process of registering the patent and in the future, Thailand will be able to export this equipment abroad.

The cost of making an artificial leg in hospital is around 3,000-4,000 baht ,but by using the local stump copying equipment, it will cost only 700 baht said Dr. Therdchai.

TAT ready for expected tourist influx

Natchawi Srirat

Tourism high season in the Northern Region is here. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Northern Office, Region 1, says it is ready to welcome large numbers of arrivals.

At present, the occupancy rate for hotels, resorts and guest houses was about 85 percent, said Chalermsak Suranant, the regional Director. He also suggested that people who have not made any booking for accommodation but have planned to visit Chiang Mai, should make reservations as soon as possible, as otherwise there would not be any rooms available.

Chalermsak Suranant, Tourism Authority of Thailand Northern Office Region 1 director.

TAT has been involved in promotion of the region. “As it is our responsibility, our office needs to create great sales promotions and publicize tourism activities and events being held in the Northern Region. The main goal for us is how to persuade tourists to come to visit the Northern Region. Last year tourism industry for the North alone as high as 37,000 million baht, and we expect to get more for this year, “ said TAT’s Chalermsak.

Tourist Information Kiosks will be also be set up in Bangkok to serve tourists, both Thai and foreigners, 24 hours a day. All the tourist information will be updated to the current situation such as the number of hotels, guest houses and resorts, tourist attractions, restaurants, and city maps will be available for tourists.

Unfortunately, these are only in the capital, but for Chiang Mai and the Northern Region, the TAT office is still available and open daily from 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. until early January 2004. Tel: 053-248604, 248607 or E-mail: [email protected]

Road safety push for New Year

Too little - too late?

Natchawi Srirat

As Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office gets ready to cope with the road accidents, a “Drive safe, and don’t drive when drunk” promotional campaign is to be launched during the New Year celebrations.

Every year, thousands of people die or are injured in road accidents. This year, the Health Office is prepared for accidents which may occur in that period from drunk drivers and careless driving.

Last year, the road accident situation in Chiang Mai during the New Year were found mostly on Super Highway Rd., Chiang Mai-Hang Dong Road and Chiang Mai-Doi Saket-Maejo. There were also accidents occurring on every intersection in Chiang Mai Municipality.

The preparation by the Public Health Service include preparing staff, ambulances and the medical equipment which will be ready to service people 24 hours a day.

The Viengping Rescue Center will be the coordinating point, and anyone who witnesses or is involved in an accident please call 1669.

However, it is always better to have a fence at the top of the cliff, rather than an ambulance at the bottom. Since the majority of fatalities are motorcycle riders who die from head injuries, an intense helmet wearing promotion would produce better results.

Sai Num Phueng oranges certified safe

The district officer said so!

Fang district officials together with Fang district Agricultural Extension Office, and Fang, Mae Ai, Chai Prakan Orange Growers Club organized a meeting to discuss whether Sai Num Phueng oranges were poisonous.

Many representatives from various organizations such as from Fang, Mae Ai, Chai Prakan Agriculture Offices of Agricultural Research and Development, Regional 1, Public Health office, farmers and NGO’s attended the meeting.

Boonserm Jitjainsuwan, District Chief of Fang , Chiang Mai said that the meeting was aimed to give an opportunity for people to get involved with agriculture discussions and conclude with the correct information. He also warned the mass media to publicize the correct information to people regarding consuming Sai Num Phueng orange from Fang orchards. Wrong information from the mass media could harm the country’s orange reputation, as Sai Nam Phueng was one of the OTOP export products to both Asia and Middle Eastern countries.

Boonserm added that in the future, there would be a certificate of guarantee for Sai Num Phueng orange production as produced from Fang, Mae Ai, Chai Prakan districts indicating they were free from any chemical pollution.

Emergency road center for festive season

Highway District ready for all problems, including stray reindeer

Wichien Noonrod, chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Relations Office said that the 1st Chiang Mai Highway District Office has established a center to assist people who travel along the highways on New Year, as a safety measure.

The call center is in response to the government’s policy to process information and solve the highways problems during the long holidays. This service operation would start from 24 December 2003 until January 4, 2004.

He added that everyone who faces problems while traveling along the highway, will be receiving help from the officers at the centers. Accidents, especially in the districts of Chiang Mai, Hang Dong, Mae Wang, Chormthong or near these areas, should immediately report to the officers at 053-280 900 for help and information.

Elections for Chiang Mai’s TAO chairman

First time the post of chairman goes to the people

Chin Ratitamkul

Narin Khasemanan, director of Chiang Mai Provincial Election Commission Office said that a draft of the Municipality Act which is being considered for approval and process by the Cabinet would be law by the end of this year.

Narin Khasemanan, director of Chiang Mai Provincial Election Commission Office.

When it comes into effect, there would be an election within 60 days in the six Tambon Administration Organization (TAO) including Cherng Doi, Mae Rim, Chiang Dao, Hang Dong, and Wiang Fang.

Narin said it was the first time that Chiang Mai TAO had an election for the chairman of the TAO executive board. The election would be held before the end of January.

The TAO election may be confusing for the people in those areas, so there were different methods of voting in each area. The election, he said, would include color cards for selecting the chairman, and the committee and the number of committees would be different in each TAO area.

In Tech ’03 held at Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel

Fuzzy logic trying to become intelligent

Natchawi Srirat

In Tech is a specialized conference emphasizing growing technologies that make man-made systems more intelligent. The theme of the In Tech ’03 Conference was implementing intelligent and fuzzy technologies in a real-world environment.

CMU president, Assistant Professor Nipon Tuwanon, at the opening ceremony.

This was jointly organized by Institute for Science and Technology Research and Development (IST), Chiang Mai University (CMU), Assumption University, Fuzzy System and Intelligent Technologies Research Society of Thailand (FIRST) and Japan Society of Fuzzy Theory and Intelligent Informatics (SOFT).

Kaoru Hirota, Honorary Chair of the conference presenting information on color instance-based reasoning and its applications.

Topics of In Tech ’03 included Color Instance-Based Reasoning and Its Applications to Color Restoration Algorithm for Low-Illuminated Images, Deep Space Technology Challenges of the New Millennium, Formal Fuzzy Logic and Its Use in Fuzzy Modeling and Software Warehouse and Software Mining: The Impact of Data Mining to Software Engineering.

Assist Prof Dr Nipon Tuwanon, the President of CMU, presided over the opening ceremony. He said in his opening remarks that currently we stand at the dawn of a new century in the heart of the new economy.

The next International Conference on Intelligent Technologies will be held at the University of Houston-Downtown, Texas, USA, in December 2004.

THA President Vorapong Muchaotai welcomes big chain hotels

A wake-up call for Chiang Mai hotels

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

Vorapong Muchaotai, President of Thai Hotels Association (THA), Northern Chapter, said that the advent of big chains was good for Chiang Mai hotels. Chiang Mai has never had a five-star hotel, except one resort-style Four Seasons property and that Chiang Mai hotel owners should not feel threatened. “Their hotels and our hotels have different rates and services, so it will not affect each other because we have distinctly different target groups,” the THA Northern Chapter president insisted.

Vorapong Muchaotai, THA Northern Chapter, welcomes the big chain hotels in Chiang Mai.

It was speculated that local hotels would increase their rate about 10-15 percent as big five-star hotels would offer a high rate of around USD 400-650 per night (10,000-25,000 baht), while local hotels offer a rate of around 2,000 baht per night.

Chiang Mai hotel business had been neglected for a long time so incoming five-star hotels would bring attention to Chiang Mai as well as all bringing well-trained staff that Chiang Mai seriously wanted.

THA president Vorapong added that the opening of these big chain hotels would wake the sleeping Chiang Mai hotel business which has always ranked behind Bangkok, Cha-am, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Phuket destinations.

Burmese refugees found returning to Burma

Disliked new camp site

Prakrasit Mahasingh, Mae Sariang District Chief Officer, has been looking at a plan to remove refugees from Mae Kong Kha-Sala center, located in Mae Sariang District, and send them to a holding center at Mae Luan House, Sob Moei District, Mae Hong Son. Many refugees have asked to return to their old center, insisting that the new site was dangerous being too close to the Thai-Burmese borders.

There are 16,300 people from 2,617 families and 13 clusters, which will be moved. 12,677 people, 2,603 families, to the new site at Mae Luan forest while the remaining 3,628 people, 608 families, would be transferred to Mae La Ma Luang holding center, 10 kilometers away from Mae Luan site.

The reason that refugees would be split into two groups and living in two centers was due to a new policy from Forestry Department allowing the use of no more than 800 rai of forest area.

However, 1031 people, 159 families, had escaped from fighting near the Mae Kong Kha-Sala holding center, sneaking back to Burma, saying that the new site was not safe.

Thai Authorities have said that the absconders would be removed from the refugee list and were not allowed to cross the border in to Thailand again.

Chiang Mai launches beautiful homes campaign

Paintbrushes out, says provincial authorities

Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities is asking everyone to participate in a project to let people clean and make their houses more beautiful - which is part of the Green & Clean project.

Wichien Noonrod, the chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Relations Office said that the above project was to create good images for Chiang Mai and to promote tourism. To make the city green and clean with a good atmosphere with fresh air, plants and trees need to be grown and put into every part of the city.

To make the project successful, Chiang Mai people needed to do many activities around their houses and offices. For example, improving buildings by repainting, and putting decorative items in front of them, as well as flying national flags.

He added that the provincial authorities have asked for cooperation from the people of Chiang Mai to do this now, to be able to celebrate New Year with Green & Clean.

Anyone with shares in the flag and paint industry?