HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Youth gang violence erupts in Chiang Mai

35 lucky dogs rescued from a horrible death

Pandas in good health and ready for New Year visitors

Rehabilitation of Ping River continues

Poor in Chiang Mai province still flocking to register

Chiang Mai air pollution still critical

New construction projects booming in Chiang Mai

A “new” Chiang Mai in 2 Years

Blankets needed again in rural areas

Chiang Rai readies itself for New Year holiday road accidents

23 percent more property and assets seized in 2003

Lion Clubs District 310 Convention in Chiang Mai in March

“Nihonsai” Japanese Exhibition

Forestry Police cutting down crime

Industrial Promotion Center to host entrepreneur workshop

PM Thaksin presides over San Kamphaeng Walking Street fair

A romp in the goo

A meditation workshop in Chiang Mai

Government pushing farmers into GAP and GMP

Youth gang violence erupts in Chiang Mai

One bomb, many gunshots ring out over holidays

Phitsanu Thepthong

At least two people were injured over the Christmas holiday during separate rival youth gang related attacks in Chiang Mai, as youth gang violence has begun to escalate.

Some residents Im-boon Housing Estate awoke Christmas Day to find windows broken from an explosive devise detonated the previous night during rival youth gang fights nearby.

Late Christmas Eve, a bomb was detonated close to the Chiangmai Mail offices, and the Chiangmai Mail editor’s residence, in the Im-boon Housing Estate, Muang District. Apparently rival youths gangs began brawling during their holiday party at the new entertainment outlets in the area, which spilled over into the housing estate nearby.

Witnesses reported that after the bomb exploded, “things became real quiet,” and that a tuk-tuk drove up and collected a body and drove off. At the time of going to press, it is unknown the extent of the injuries the person suffered. However, within five minutes after the blast, no one connected with the attack, victims or perpetrators, were left at the scene.

The following morning, when residents dared to venture out to inspect the damage, some found that one or more of their windows had been broken by debris from the previous night’s explosion.

Late the next night, at about 2:50 a.m., the silence was broken when shots rang out at the same entertainment complex. Witnesses counted 11 shots being fired.

One young man was shot twice and taken to the hospital. At the time of going to press, the identity of the victim and the extent of his injuries were also unknown.

Witnesses closer to the scene, including Chiangmai Mail’s security guard, said that the other 7-9 shots were fired indiscriminately and meant as a warning for rival gang members.

Two motorcycles carrying 3 young men each were seen fleeing from the scene, past the Chiangmai Mail offices and into the night.

The makeshift entertainment complexes in this area have become notorious for gang violence and allegedly selling drugs to teenagers. Residents have asked police to do something about it, and police, in turn, have petitioned the governor to have these places closed permanently.

35 lucky dogs rescued from a horrible death

Lucky Dogs Club, Chiang Mai, seeks help

Last week, 35 dogs meant for the cooking pot were saved from a horrible death by Sanya Sukrasorn (a lawyer and member of the Thai Animal Guardian Association).

A pick-up carrying the poor creatures, was stopped, and the dogs were spared by buying them for 5000 baht. Police General, Samnient Wonghingh and his wife, kindly offered their land as temporary shelter.

The dogs are now housed behind the Chiang Mai Ram I Hospital, kindly provided by the owner of the hospital, and the Ban Mha ka Meaw Animal Hospital has given them medical treatment and vaccinations, free of charge.

The Lucky Dogs Club, a newly established animal protection group in Chiang Mai support Sanya Sukrasorn in providing food and care and finding homes. The club is appealing from help from the Chiang Mai people. Any donation is welcome, or if you are interested or know somebody who is interested to adopt one or more dogs, you can contact them at tel. 0 5334 2362 (daytime) or 0 9997 8146 or contact Sanya directly: tel. 0 5381 8749, email: sanya [email protected]

Pandas in good health and ready for New Year visitors

Happy and 10 kg heavier

Chin Ratitamkul

Prasertsak Buntragulpoontawee, project manager for panda research said the Chiang Mai Zoo is ready to welcome visitors during the New Year Festival, though admitted that if there are too many, they will have to separate visitors into groups, allowing each only 15 minutes in the viewing enclosure.

Pandas in a comfortable mood.

Dr. Chakorn Kunkaew, the panda veterinarian said the ywo giant pandas were very healthy after their health check-up. Now they were 115 kilograms in weight, an increase of 10 kilograms over their arrival weight. Dr. Chakorn explained that panda’s weights were variable around 5 kilograms. It also showed that Chuang Chuang and Lin Hin could completely adjust to the weather in Thailand.

Rehabilitation of Ping River continues

Out of ICU in three years, says government

Chin Ratitamkul

Many Ping River organizations attended the ceremony to launch the Ping River Basin Rehabilitation Plan in Chiang Mai, with PM Thaksin Shinawatra presiding accompanied by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Prapat Panyachartrak.

Praphat Panyachartrak, minister for Natural Resources and Environment launches the rehabilitation project.

It is obvious that the Ping River is in a critical condition, due to toxic chemicals and contamination from farms as well as wastewater discharge from hotels and factories.

The Ping river’s course has narrowed from 200 meters to 50 meters as land reclamation has been implemented. Conflicts over water use among hill tribe people, farmers and urban residents, and forest degradation in the river basin also need solutions.

PM Thaksin Shinawatra (rear from L), with Praphat Payachartrak, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Plodprasop Suratsawadee, the director-general of Department of Forestry and Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai Governor.

The Ping River has been chosen as the pilot river for the government’s natural resources rehabilitation scheme because its river basin covers more than 10 million rai of land in six provinces, said Praphat Payachartrak, Natural Resources and Environment Minister. Prapat confirmed that people would see the results of the solutions for this river’s problems in 3 years. “Ping River would be revived again, if everyone seriously participates in its recovery,” he said.

Praphat Panyachartrak, Natural Resources and Environment Minister lights the ceremonial candle heralding the new era in Ping River basin development.

PM Thaksin said, “The Cabinet has approved more authority to be given to the provincial governors to allow their people live safely along the Ping river basin, and they can dredge out the river to let it flow more easily and smoothly,” he said.

PM Thaksin added, “Today the government has a policy to let the people participate more in preserving our environment and in the solutions that are needed.”

The grand parade marking the launch of the rehabilitation scheme for Ping River basin development

Poor in Chiang Mai province still flocking to register

More than 60,000 claiming poverty

Kritsada Siempakdee, Chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Offices concluded the registration of poor in 22 districts, and 2 sub district and found more than 60,000 claiming eligibility under the government’s guidelines.

The main reason stated (66 percent) referred to not having land to be able to eke out a living from the land.

Loan problems were the second ranked 56 percent, accommodation or lack of housing and being left destitute from fraud made up the rest.

People in Mae Rim district registered poverty and social problems in the greatest numbers followed by Fang and Mae On sub-district. Sa Moeng, Wiang Haeng, and Doi Lor district had the smallest number of registrants.

The Chief warned people to give correct information and facts to the officials to be able to effectively resolve the problems in the future.

Chiang Mai air pollution still critical

The pollution ‘hub’ of the north?

Chin Ratitamkul

According to a workshop held at the Social Research Institute (SRI) of Chiang Mai University (CMU) Chiang Mai air pollution is getting worse.

Air pollution from vehicle emissions in Chiang Mai City

Dr. Ratthavut Sukmee, a medical doctor and director of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, said that the air in Chiang Mai city area was in a crisis condition, due to the increasing amount of dust particles, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulphur dioxide.

Dr. Sumittra Thongprasert, from the Medical Ecology Department, Chiang Mai University

The survey conducted recently has found that in the Chiang Mai municipal areas there were 83 severely polluted areas. The main causes of the air pollution in Chiang Mai were combustion products, vehicle emissions, construction dusts, and bush fires.

Dr. Sumittra Thongprasert, from the Medical Ecology Department, Chiang Mai University, revealed that Chiang Mai had an incidence of lung cancer higher than every other region in Thailand. The number of patients with respiratory diseases was greater than 600,000 patients last year.

New construction projects booming in Chiang Mai

20 percent increase in 2003

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

New construction is being seen along both sides of the roads and highways in Chiang Mai to cope with a hoped for influx of tourists and new settlers. An overall assessment of the construction climate showed a positive sign with a 20 percent increase compared with last year.

Nopadol Arnontavilas, Senior Advisor of Chiang Mai Construction Material Traders Club said that although PM Thaksin Shinawatra expects 8 percent growth in GDP next year, 6 percent growth in Chiang Mai was proved possible.

Nopadol Arnontavilas, Senior Advisor of the Chiang Mai Construction Material Traders Club, told Chiangmai Mail that Chiang Mai still had many empty areas, which would appreciate enormously in value.

Another factor influencing a strong growth in the construction business was the number of job opportunities both in government and private sectors in Chiang Mai. “If we have high employment it will boost the Chiang Mai economy, drawing many big projects to Chiang Mai bringing more than 10 million baht into the local circulation,” he added.

However, Nopadol is concerned that although there is a strong upward trend in the construction business, skilled labour is not as plentiful as he would like to see.

A “new” Chiang Mai in 2 Years

Clean, green and beautiful

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

The Green and Clean project was set to return Chiang Mai’s beauty, focusing on three main items; tourist attractions, government offices and along the roadsides.

Prinya Parnthong, Deputy Chiang Mai Governor, says that Chiang Mai’s beauty will be revitalized within two years.

53 organizations, 31 projects, 14 districts and 11 municipalities have been encouraged to participate fully in this project to bring green areas back to Chiang Mai.

Prinya Parnthong, Deputy Chiang Mai Governor, said that many plants had been grown around Chiang Mai city as well as along both sides of the roads leading to Chiang Mai’s rural areas. Many government offices would be redecorated, growing more green plants and repainting. “We have an approved budget of 45 million baht to implement this project and I am confident that within two years Chiang Mai be renewed,” he added.

The Deputy Chiang Mai Governor said that he would ask the private sectors to remove unsightly billboards blocking the views of Chiang Mai’s beautiful scenery. “If they give me cooperation, there will be no problems but if they refuse to remove them, they might be faced with a big problem,” he said.

Blankets needed again in rural areas

80,000 people complaining of the cold

Natchawi Srirat

Since the winter temperatures in the North have dropped dramatically, people in rural areas and villages, especially those who live up on the mountains are suffering in the cold weather without any protection.

Siripannee Boonyamalik, Chief of the Public Welfare Division showing how important it is to help people in rural area to get over the cold snap.

Public Disaster Prevention and Relief Operation Department has implored the public to make a donation for those people in rural areas, especially of blankets which are most necessary during this cold season. 102,143 blankets are needed for rural areas, but only 21,808 blankets have been donated.

The Department has already provided money to Chiang Mai provincial authorities to purchase blankets in 2004. Mae Chaem district needed the most blankets with 18,293 required, Mae Rim district 11,069 and Om Koi 10,211. “On this occasion, the Department would like to ask people from government organization and private agencies to donate more blankets for people to keep the cold away with warm blankets. We are also Thais who live in the same country as these people so we need to help one another,” said Siripannee Boonyamalik, Chief of the Public Welfare Division.

Chiang Rai readies itself for New Year holiday road accidents

Chiang Rai provincial authorities have had government offices and departments to practices measures to be carried out in emergencies following road accidents.

The practice situation was a crash between a bus and a car which with 50 injured people.

Pol Col Montree Samboonnanon, Chiang Rai Police Station superintendent, said the training course was held to prepare for severe accidents that could happen during the New Year holidays.

Police asked for cooperation from all involved organizations, including the hospitals in Chiang Rai, Public Disaster Relief Operations Units, Provincial Electricity Authority, traffic police, and the military.

The simulated crash drill showed that first aid could assist in the case of accident emergencies. One problem was onlookers at the scene stopping the relief units work effectively, however the operation team had set up a task force to clear people away.

Pol Col Montree said Chiang Rai is ready to look after the safety of tourists and travelers who visit to Chiang Rai during the New Year festival.

Pol Col Vuttichai Itsara, the director of Mengrai Maharaj Camp Hospital, said the medical aid team can be at the accident scene in 15 minutes. Colonel Vuttichai Itsara also warned that people should limit their drinking as it is the cause of most road tragedies.

23 percent more property and assets seized in 2003

4.5 billion baht wanted from auction in 2004

Saksit Meesupkwang

Somboon Mahakseuk, the head of Chiang Mai Provincial Legal Office said that in 2003, prosecutions had resulted in 1.7 billion baht in assets had been appropriated by the government.

A resort restaurant on Mae Kok River.

Many of these were to be sold in 2004 including real estate with undeveloped land, land with housing, buildings structures and furniture and household appliances.

The auctions of the seized goods will be organized via various channels including Teleconference which will be focused on Bangkok investors. The director added that the goal for this auction in 2004, is to sell the properties and assets at not less than 60 percent of the target, valued at 4.573 billion baht.

At present, the overall situation in Chiang Mai real estate is a rapid increase in demand and therefore prices. The government movement to ease finance will persuade people to buy properties and assets from the government auctions.

Land with building construction in San Sai district.

Ban Suan Cherng Doi resort in Chiang Mai.

Lion Clubs District 310 Convention in Chiang Mai in March

5,000 Lions roaming the streets - a ferocious sight!

Chin Ratitamkul

Chiang Mai will be the host for the 13 Lions Clubs in District 310 38th Thailand Convention from March 19-21, 2004. Chiang Mai Municipality, Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities, Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization, Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, and the Tourist Authority of Thailand, Northern Office, Region 1 will be involved.

Suwat Tantipat with 13 presidents of Lions Clubs in Chiang Mai.

The convention aims to find methods and aid to help society and disadvantaged people. The general meeting will be participated by 3,000-5,000 members and also 300 members from Leo Club (youth).

Chalermchart Nakarangkul, organizing committee chairman.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will preside over the opening ceremony of the convention at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, Chiang Mai.

Chatree Lertsirimongkolchai, the convention chairman, said the convention would show the potential of Chiang Mai to the hub of the provinces, particularly as regards tourism.

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai Governor at the press conference at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel.

During the convention, there will be a parade of all Lions Clubs from throughout the country, a Lions Night party, booths displaying OTOP products and export items, and Lions Golf competition, a VIP tour program in Chiang Mai, and Leo youth club camping.

Lions Club International is a charity organization founded in 1917 and established in Thailand since 1957. There are 310 Lions Club branches in every region of Thailand.

“Nihonsai” Japanese Exhibition

Japanese culture and language promoted

Natchawi Srirat

Thailand has been changed by the current globalization and has realized it cannot remain insular and has to be more open to world culture and modern technology. Language is also another factor for Thai students to understand that it is important to be at least bilingual, and even better to be multilingual, with English the international language, and French, German, Chinese and Japanese also important for Thai business.

Ready, Set, Go! “Sumo” the famous Japanese sport.

The Humanities Faculty of Chiang Mai University’s Japanese Department want people to understand the importance of Japanese language in the world market, and organized a Japanese Exhibition called “Nihonsai”.

The exhibition was on December 27-28 at Lan Pro Dot Com, 3rd floor Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Complex with Saburo Sato, the Japanese Consulate of Thailand in Chiang Mai presiding over the exhibition.

Beautiful Japanese woman in Japanese costume “Nagata”.

There were many activities such as dressing up in Japanese style “Yukata”, Japanese food, a Japanese souvenir shop, and Japanese style games and entertainment.

Japanese cultural demonstrations were given, including a demonstration of tea making, flower arrangement, and how to use the Japanese brush-pen. There were also many competitions with singing, quizzes, dancing contest and the highlight of the day was the “Ban Sai Thong” Japanese Version drama.

Colorful Japanese food is shown to people but this is only just an appetizer!

Forestry Police cutting down crime

Woodman, spare that tree!

Thanawan Chumsaeng, PRD Chiang Mai

Forestry police force are pushing inspection in the field, looking for forest and public land invasions, selling wild products and wild animals and invading natural parklands.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Sawak Pinsinchai, Forestry Police Commander, said that from information received there was large scale invasion in both forest areas and public lands. From January 1, 2004, the Forestry Police will coordinate with the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 to investigate quarries and artesian wells and the police will prosecute every case violating the law without any exceptions following PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s decree.

The Forestry Police Commander added that after this he would make an observation at Fang watershed source area and for the first period would inspect the invaded areas in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, and Nan following public petitions for these areas.

Industrial Promotion Center to host entrepreneur workshop

30 seats for bachelor’s degree applicants only

Wanchai Rachadamart, Industrial Promotion Center region 1 said that he would cooperate with Chiang Mai University to hold a workshop aimed at creating new entrepreneurs from January 26 to February 19, at the Faculty of Business and Administration.

People, who would like to attend this workshop should at least have 2-3 years business experience, hold a Bachelor’s degree and a strong desire to be a new entrepreneur. The workshop is limited to 30 seats only.

For more information, contact Business Industrial Development and SME’s Industrial Promotion Center Region 1, 158 Tung Hotel Rd., Muang, Chiang Mai 50000 or call 053-245361-2 ext. 520 or apply in person at Faculty of Business Administration, CMU, during office hours.

PM Thaksin presides over San Kamphaeng Walking Street fair

Demonstrates not-forgotten tea-making skills

Natchawi Srirat
Photos by Phitsanu Thepthong

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra presided over the San Kamphaeng Sarn Silp Tin Hattakam Fair at San Kamphaeng. Many other honorable guests came to the opening ceremony including Sonthaya Khunpluem, Minister of Tourism and Sports; Suwat Tantipat Chiang Mai Governor and Yaowapa Wongsawas, Chiang Mai MP, and Somchai Wongsawas, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice.

Traditional dance to welcome PM Thaksin.

PM Thaksin claimed that he wants to develop his tome town, San Kamphaeng, by solving the problems of the poor people, by giving them ideas for useful businesses. The people who used their local knowledge would bring fame and fortune to the community, he said.

(From left) Yaowapha Wongsawas, deputy of the Thai Rak Thai party, Somchai Wongsawas, the permanent secretary of Ministry of Justice, and their daughters at the opening ceremony.

“San Kamphaeng has great potential in many things such as handicrafts, tourism and beautiful ladies. Generations have done this for a long time such as textile handicraft, cotton handicrafts, pottery ware, woodcarving, and silverware, saa paper products and umbrellas. These are the export handicrafts which brought a great income into the community and fame into the country,” said the PM.

PM Thaksin demonstrates his talent at tea and coffee making.

There are more than 500 booths displaying the local handicraft. The fair will be held every Saturday from 2 p.m.-10 p.m.

A romp in the goo

Holiday Arts Roundup

Jim Messenger

Holiday times are both stressful and rewarding. Life goes by at such a fast pace. One wonders what it’s all about, what it all comes down to. Perhaps one thing that makes sense is to get out of the house, exit the mall and the madding crowd and find some place to relax. You might be interested in this art gallery information I’ve put together. It’s an incomplete list of what’s on, more on the way. It’s sort of a follow-up to last week’s missive. But to say there isn’t a lot going on is to actually misspeak myself ... and we wouldn’t want that would we? So here goes with the list.

One of the paintings of the exhibitions from January at Umong Sippadhaamma.

First off are septuplets of ponderous pachyderms deep in the goo and slogging it onto canvas. I speak of course about Kongkam, Lankam, Wanpen, Kamsn, Duanpen, Panpetch, and Songpan; tuskered and not, those fire breathing artistes from Mae Saw Valley, who consume 250 kilos of food per day, as well as having an unhealthy interest in bananas... “Why it must be elephants he’s speaking of!”

One of the painting elephants at work.

Yes indeed, behemoths from the green jungle come to Wat Chang Kong (next to Imperial Mae Ping Hotel) to paint their stuff for one and all. Show / demos are 4 times nightly (5, 6, 7, and 8 p.m.). Two elephants, in rotation, descend from the clouds to waft the air of city fumes, bemuse and enchant their city brethren with their painterly arts.

Secondly, don’t miss any of the exhibitions at Umong Sippadhaamma (106/6 Soi Wat Oumong, Sub soi 11, www., daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.). It’s a brand new space; in fact when I drove by there last year, IT was not there. But it looks old. So ... go figure! Anyway, it’s a nice getaway, set in the trees. The atmosphere is definitely laid back and there are usually 6 to 10 pieces on the wall, of stunning beauty and painterly command (yours to judge, eh!). Anyway I like the space, and the art on the walls is bright, alive, innovative and free. And definitely naughty, with a Thai sensibility that both amuses and bemuses. The present show, a no-namer by Phubessawara Phetchumroen is on till the 14th of Jan. Go see.

Also, something that peaks through my curiosity is a show called “Dark Blue Painting” by Somkid Rawangpromraj. It’s at a new gallery space I know nothing about called Ran Lao Gallery (Ked Cherng Doi, Cholaprathan Rd., CM, 66-53-401 070, daily, noon - 11 p.m.). I’m intrigued by the title of the show and a pic of one of the pieces, so I’m off to see that when I can. On till 30th of Jan.

Lastly to take note of is Gallery Panisa (189 Mahidol Rd, Haiya, Muang CM, 66-53-202-779, daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.). It is a very well located spot (on the approach to Airport Plaza from town), with a second larger gallery on the way. Right now they have a hodge-podge of different things to look at, if you’d care to drop in (next show, mid Feb, in the new space). As well, they’re offering some interesting painting courses, of which the following are: for adults: Techniques of Oil Painting (9 to 12, Sat mornings), Water Colour Painting (2 to 5 p.m., same day). Sunday’s features include: Composition (9 to 12, mornings), Drawing (2 to 4, afternoons). The children courses run concurrently. So if you’d like more information on these courses, the good folks at the gallery would be happy to oblige. Ask for Note. He’s usually in the back sala space painting away.

That’s it for now. Happy Holidays! I’m off to the races.

A meditation workshop in Chiang Mai

Cory Croymans’ personal experience

Have you ever heard about a type of meditation which could allow you to access infinite light, energy, and wisdom from the source of the universe to amplify your spiritual life force and to produce definite, positive results in your daily lives and environment? I thought that it sounded too good to be true.

Masami Kondo (1st R) leading participants into the ‘Divinity IN’ meditation, with handwritten mandala in the background.

I accepted an invitation to participate in a Divinity IN Workshop (pronounced ING) at the Asian Healing Arts Center in Chiangmai Lake Land.

I was in for a surprise because when the five Japanese visitors led by Masami Kondo from the Byakko Shinko Kai Foundation in Japan, demonstrated this combination of vocal sounds, special breathing and simple hand movements, and all participants became very quiet and moved by the peaceful and harmonious feelings which emanated from this group.

This sacred meditation which was inaugurated at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan by 12,000 dedicated world servers is a cosmic sign language which looks somewhat like a Tai Chi exercise. Through the practice of this IN as it is called, we believe we are able to vibrate at a higher level and awaken to our true identity as Divine Beings while at the same time assisting in the spiritual evolution of the planet. The nature of the IN is universal and it may be practiced with any other spiritual training or practice you are currently engaged in.

By the end of the morning, most of us had mastered the first of these meditative exercises and after lunch we proceeded with learning how to draw beautiful Mandalas that are truly beautiful pieces of art written in overlapping multiple circles of seven.

For more information about the Divinity IN, the website is or contact [email protected]

Government pushing farmers into GAP and GMP

Part of 2004 Food Safety Year

The government has announced that 2004 is National Food Safety Year and wants Thailand to be a hygienic food center as well as having the world-renowned cuisine.

Kriangkai Kanongdechachart, the head of Agricultural Extension Office, Chiang Mai province, said that it has asked farmers to produce rice, plants, and fruits and vegetables hygienically. However, the procedure was not effectively understood and his department says they should use Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) to control quality.

The agricultural entrepreneurs have to think about hygienic management such as using silos, packing, and equipment under the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) process that strictly controlled quality at every step in the process. “If everyone has cooperated in response the safety food policy, Thailand can be accepted by the world markets for the GAP and GMP standards,” concluded Kriangkai.