HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Teenage gang detonates bomb at public concert

Bomb discovered in Chiang Mai City

Miss Chiang Mai 2004 goes to CMU

Inventors’ Day in Northern Region

Longan fruit problems must be solved

Royal Project receives international award

One million baht offered if you die from eating oranges

Chiang Mai’s food processors gathering data as well as produce

Giant pandas boost Chiang Mai tourism

Frost covers Doi Angkhang Mountain

Moto-X comes to Chiang Mai

Unregistered cars being hunted down

Necessity is the mother of invention, goes the saying

Waste-to-Energy incinerators dangerous says Greenpeace

A new source for electric power

Thai-Burmese cooperation needed to help eradicate drugs

Burmese gang charged with counterfeiting visa stamps

Police and military personnel advised to be alert in the North

Alcohol impaired rider involved in multiple accident

Teenage gang detonates bomb at public concert

Are teenage gangs taking over Chiang Mai?

On January 11, the final night of the Chiang Mai Winter Fair and Red Cross Fair, there was an escalation of teenage violence which ended with a bomb going off during a concert, injuring five people.

Two young women and three men sustained shrapnel injuries.

Police Lieutenant Major Sampan Sirima, of Changpuak police station reported receiving notification of the explosion at the winter fair grounds at around 11.15 p.m.

The injured were admitted to the Nakornping Hospital and Kasemrath hospitals nearby. All of the injured were teenagers.

Before the concert started, it was reported that the police set up a checkpoint along the roads to the venue. Apparently, despite some teenagers turning back, the perpetrators of the bomb outrage slipped through the net.

Teenage violence is not restricted to the vocational schools in Bangkok and solutions should be considered very carefully without resorting to knee-jerk blanket restrictions.

Bomb discovered in Chiang Mai City

Not related to Southern violence say police

Thanawan Chumsaeng

A bomb was discovered by Kamnan Tosanguan while he was watering his garden at a house located on Rakaeng Rd, Tambon Hai Ya, Muang District, Chiang Mai. The principal ingredient was potassium chlorate with an electric detonator. Police estimate that the bomb would have the capacity to inflict damage over an effective radius of 15 meters.

According to Pol Major General Kasem Ratanasunthorn, Chiang Mai’s police commander, the bomb most likely came from a teenage gang. He added that the police traced and found five teenage suspects in that area who they believe left the bomb in that location. This kind of dynamite explosive device was also found last year at Mae Wang District.

He said there were still a few groups of teenage gangs around Chiang Mai, but the police had strictly controlled them, especially during the Winter and Red Cross fairs in Chiang Mai; however, brawls and fighting have erupted among the gangs leading recently to one death. He stated categorically that this situation was not similar to the violence in the South.

The police commander also ordered all police officers to be more vigilant during this period while Her Majesty the Queen was residing in Chiang Mai.

Miss Chiang Mai 2004 goes to CMU

Masters Degree student wins coveted crown

Chin Ratitamkul

Miss Chiang Mai beauty pageant coincided with Chiang Mai’s Winter Fair, and this year the organizing committee aimed to revive the value of the event. Dhospark Communication Agency, the organizers of this pageant, called the event “Miss Chiang Mai, with Lanna Wisdom”.

Chiang Mai MP Yaowapa Wongsawas (left) presented the trophy to Miss Chiang Mai 2004, Wanchula Sornlum.

To follow this concept, the stage was designed in Lanna style and the beauty contestants wore only Lanna dresses. However, to view their figures the judging committee judged the contestants wearing their sportswear.

30 young women entered the contest, and they all had to answer random questions during the interview session to find the winner. Finally, after the points were tallied, Miss Chiang Mai 2004 was Wanchula Sornlum.

Inventors’ Day in Northern Region

Eureka! I’ve found it!

Natchawi Srirat

Santad Rojanasoonthorn, chief executive officer of the National Research Council of Thailand (NRC) presided over the opening ceremony for Inventors Day, held for the first time in the northern region at Chiang Mai University’s Convention Center.

One of the more interesting inventions on display at the National Inventors’ Day festivities.

Jirapan Atthajinda, NRC secretary said that February 2 of each year is allotted to be Inventors Day, to commemorate the patents registered by His Majesty the King for inventing the “Chaipattana Aerator” used to treat polluted water. His Majesty King Bhumibol’s invention can be seen now in use all over Thailand.

Rather than hold exhibitions on the same day, Inventors Day in the North was organized from January 8-9. In the Northeastern Region it will be on January 23-25, at Fifth Year Anniversary Multi Purposed Convention Hall, Khon Kaen University.

Santad added that it is important Thai inventors in this millennium are encouraged to create inventions for the world. Government policy is to develop the technology in the Thai inventions through the National Research Council of Thailand to bring Thai inventions to the eyes of the world and in so doing provide new business opportunities.

Longan fruit problems must be solved

Sustainable development called for

Minister of Commerce Watana Muangsuk called an urgent meeting of all parties involved in the longan issue, including government units, businessmen, and local people as well as longan growers. The concept was to provide a forum for the various groups to highlight problem areas and afford some solutions.

The meeting was held at the Chiang Mai City Hall meeting room to prepare for the coming longan season. The minister said problems associated with longan production include processing work safety, chemical and pesticide control and marketing management problems. Solutions need to be found to allow sustainable development as a long term plan.

Minister Watana said that his department needs to compile all the problems concerned and the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives would coordinate to find the correct responses to the longan problem.

Royal Project receives international award

Colombo Plan prize for opium eradication

Natchawi Srirat

The Royal Project has been selected from more than 300 organizations in 24 countries as being the most outstanding organization successfully helping solve the problem of opium poppy growing. The prize was accepted by Prof. Dr. Kampol Adulyawit, the advisor to the Royal Project.

Prof. Dr. Kampol Adulyawit, an advisor to the Royal Project, accepted the prize on behalf of the Royal Project, at Colombo, Sri Lanka.

This project was a standout in the world in that it has eradicated opium by positive means, through crop substitution, by establishing agricultural research stations and plant production centers in the highlands in Thailand.

The Colombo Plan was established in 1951, by cooperation of seven countries, and aims to develop economic and social sectors in the Asia-Pacific region. In 1972, the Drug Advisory Program (DAP) was established to give consultation and advice on the drug problem by supporting the U.S. government backed efforts to solve the drug problem in the region.

The 30 year anniversary of DAP was held on December 21, 2003 at Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the award was presented at that time.

One million baht offered if you die from eating oranges

But do you have to apply in person?

Saksit Kitinant

Deputy Interior Minister Pramual Rujanaseri says that Sai Nam Phueng oranges from Chiang Mai contain no toxic pesticides despite what is being said by some groups. He said that he would pay a million baht to anyone who died by consuming Sai Nam Phueng oranges.

The rumour doing the rounds in certain academic circles was that Chiang Mai’s Sai Nam Phueng oranges were so dangerous for consumers that they should be referred to Sai Nam Pit oranges (poisonous orange), which would obviously affect its sales in the domestic and international markets.

To respond to the increasing demand for the fruit, it is claimed that many orchard growers in Mae Ai, Fang and Chai Prakan districts have been inappropriately using many chemical substances to produce a larger and faster harvest.

After hearing of this, Deputy Interior Minister Pramual urgently took action to investigate the innuendo. The result conducted by Agricultural Development and Research Center Region 1, Agriculture Department, showed that 10 orange brands sold in the markets had no toxic chemicals outside accepted safe limits.

At the time of going to press, not one dead person had so far stepped forward to claim the reward.

Chiang Mai’s food processors gathering data as well as produce

FTA’s may result in crop replacement programs

Chiang Mai food processing businessmen’s group has set up a food database. This is in response to the Free Trade Area (FTA) policies put forward by the central government.

Ong-art Kittikunchai, the president of the group revealed that from October 2003 the export figures in trade to FTA countries have increased and this is seen as good for the people who are in the fruit and vegetable processing business.

However, the government plans to reduce the areas under cultivation and support crop replacement plans. The Federation of Thai Industries, Chiang Mai and neighboring provinces has set up another food industrial group, including 35 companies, to help collect and provide more data in the Chiang Mai area.

“By coordinating with the private sector to exchange information, this can have marked effects on the macro economy,” Ong-art said.

Giant pandas boost Chiang Mai tourism

But left waiting for the bus?

Natchawi Srirat and Chin Ratitamkul

The black and white furry creatures that are really just a couple of cute animals are now considered as godsends when it comes to the economy and tourism industry in the northern province of Chiang Mai.

The lovely panda couple.

According to Transport Minister Suriya Chuangrungruangkitch, the arrival of the panda couple in Chiang Mai has increased visitor numbers five-fold. The pandas have also been good for Thai Airways International, which has heavily publicized panda trips, and are now scheduling extra flights to cope with extra demand.

However, Transport Minister Suriya said that the city still has some way to go in its transformation into a regional aviation hub. He noted that city bus operators have recently pointed that the absence of bus routes in the city was a big problem. This matter would now be looked into as a matter of urgency. Could the problem possibly be ‘red’?

Frost covers Doi Angkhang Mountain

3000 tourists experience a nip in the air

The public relations officers of the Royal Project revealed that during the past New Year holidays, there were over 3,000 tourists per day visiting Doi Angkhang in Fang and Chai Prakan district areas.

Frost as seen at the Royal agriculture Chinese persimmon plantation on Doi Angkhang.

Most ascended the mountain to see the legendary views from the top of Doi Angkhang during this cold season. However, many were not prepared for the mercury’s plummet to 1 degree Celsius causing frost (known locally called “mae ka ning”) that could be seen on the Royal Project’s produce. Tourists were getting up before the sunrise to see the fields covered by the white frost.

Moto-X comes to Chiang Mai

But in the center of town?

The news photo shows the plot of land being developed for a Moto-X circuit behind the Hillside 4 Condominium on Huay Kaew Road in the heart of Chiang Mai City.

It has been under construction, but protests from local residents has put a temporary halt to this. However, if it goes ahead, the noise pollution will annoy nearby residents as well as the city’s passers-by.

While it is important that the young people have places such as this to work off some of their extra hormones, should this be in the center of town? Chiangmai Mail will keep you informed of further developments.

Unregistered cars being hunted down

“We’re from the taxation department and we’re here to help you”

Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office indicates that there are 300,000 unregistered cars running around the roads, whose owners owe around 900 million baht in unpaid taxes. Registered vehicles number only 50,000, and owners of those coughed up 30 million baht for the honor of sitting in traffic jams caused by the illegal 300,000.

To show that the Land Transport Office does have a heart, they are giving all the defaulters up till February 25 to come in and ‘fess up, with the chance to then pay by installments.

Atsathai Rattanadirok na Phuket, the head of the office said that his department has been on the lookout since September 1, 2003. The owners of the unregistered cars had 180 days from that date to come clean, and the cut-off will not be extended past February 25, 2004.

To make it even easier, the office has set up a mobile unit for paying the tax, and on January 14, the mobile unit was expected to move to San Patong district and on January 17 to Mae Wang district to serve the people in those areas.

As a very special, once in a lifetime offer, owners who have not paid tax for more than three years will have the debt capped at the 3 year level, but the payment needs to be done within the 180 day period of grace.

When will they start on the 2 billion unregistered motorcycles, I wonder?

Necessity is the mother of invention, goes the saying

This time the invention was the necessity for the mother!

Natchawi Srirat

Chakree Charoenchit, the inventor of the Life Innovation “Physical Therapy Chair” received the inspiration from his mother. Wanting to help his paralyzed mother he began working on the invention in 1996.

The exercise chair is now available for purchase.

Chakree is a lawyer, but always liked to invent things; so he got an idea to invent an exercise machine for his mother to make her feel better.

His first chair did not work, but he did not give up. The next one was successful. Only six months after Chakree’s mother began using the physical therapy chair, she recovered from the paralysis.

The physical therapy chair can be adjusted up to 180 degrees, and the body is made of fiberglass. Four wheels allow movement, but they can be locked. Four massage spots on the back of the chair and four massage spots for the buttock are set up to relax and stretch the patient’s muscles. The chair is controlled electronically, and uses around 1 baht per hour of electricity.

Chakree has developed the design and look of the chair to be modern, lightweight and long lasting, but his proudest achievement is that when using it, his mother returned to normal. However, it should be noted that this invention has not been examined by any medical institute or medical organization to confirm the claims being made about it.

Waste-to-Energy incinerators dangerous says Greenpeace

Carcinogens released to the atmosphere claimed

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

The environmental group Greenpeace has warned the general public in Chiang Mai about the reputed dangers of waste-to-energy incinerators currently being proposed by Ministry of Energy.

Tara Buakamsri, toxics campaigner for Greenpeace South East Asia, calls for other ways to avert a garbage crisis.

The government is planning to construct garbage-burning power plants in the provinces of Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Rayong. The plan was expected to be submitted to the Cabinet for approval on January 13 this year.

Chiang Mai previously opposed and successfully stopped the construction of a similar incinerator in Hang Dong district in 1995.

Tara Buakamsri, toxics campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia claims, “These waste-to-energy and integrated waste management systems are fancy names for incinerators. If the correct decision is going to be made, the government must learn from the past experience in Hang Dong and implement zero waste initiatives instead of trying to justify inefficient technologies and waste our resources.”

He pointed out that contrary to claims by the Energy Ministry that the incinerator in Phuket is successful, Greenpeace claims there is no success story of garbage burning power plants in Thailand.

A study of the incinerator in Phuket by the United Nations Environment Program and Germany Technical Cooperation (GTZ) in 2001 showed an increase in environmental and public health threats. The study indicated that the Phuket incinerator releases a large amount of the toxic chemical Dioxin, which is known to be carcinogenic, says Greenpeace.

“These projects will not help us clear a path for sustainable waste management policy. They are prohibitively expensive to build. Even with supposedly state of the art facilities, an incinerator’s toxic emission cannot be controlled completely. Those living in the Chiang Mai-Lamphun basin must be concerned about living under a toxic cloud, if this plan materializes,” said Chainarong Setthachua, director of Southeast Asia River Network (SEARIN).

Greenpeace has been campaigning against waste incinerators in Thailand since 1999 and successfully stopped a Japan Bank International Cooperation (JBIC) loan package from financing a waste incineration project in On Nut, in Bangkok last year.

Greenpeace urges the government to instead of creating dirty energy from waste, it should implement environmentally acceptable waste management strategies and support zero waste initiatives to make local communities healthy.

A new source for electric power

Three bright sparks design Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Natchawi Srirat

Most sources of energy are non-renewable, such as coal, wood and oil. As a result much research has been done into new energy sources. A group of students from Rangsit University began by questioning themselves, “Why don’t we produce our own energy?”

The inventing team: Wichai (left), Wikran (middle) and Chalum (right) with their invention.

Wichai, Chalum, and Wikran, university students from Faculty of Art at Rangsit University, came up with the sparkling idea of a new energy resource from shoes, calling it “Energize Step”.

The three students worked on an idea to produce energy by putting the specific equipment in the heel of shoes and harnessing the energy produced by walking. In this case, the specific equipment in the heel will transform the energy to keep in a battery which can be used to power a radio, walkman, mini disc, or electronic toys.

The process from the end-user point of view is quite easy. Just put on the shoes and then walk. More steps will produce more energy.

The three inventors have been walking on this invention since 2002 and released it for scrutiny for the first time last year.

It’s not perfect yet, admit the trio, but they are hoping for funds from a government organization to support their project and allow further development.

Thai-Burmese cooperation needed to help eradicate drugs

Mekong basin countries and India need to join the fight

Thai-Burma cooperation plus other neighboring countries located along the Mekong river basin must combine to destroy the drug trade. Pitaya Jinawat, the director of Northern Regional Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) said that the Thai-Burma cooperation to suppress drugs along the borders during the past six months was very productive in many dimensions, with good information exchange and operational suppression.

A survey conducted along the Mekong river basin of Thailand, Burma, China, and Laos including India, is needed to help control the chemical substances used for production of drugs before delivery to the refineries located in Burma.

The director added that the Third Army Region has asked for further cooperation from the Royal Thai Army to help support the high-risk villages along the Thai-Burma border that have been involved in the drug trade as smugglers or drug throughways.

Burmese gang charged with counterfeiting visa stamps

Illegal immigrants give police the tip-off

Sampan Changthong

Three Burmese students from an international school in Bangkok were arrested on charges of using counterfeit immigration stamps, while another 12 Burmese were arrested as being illegal aliens who were waiting for their immigration visa stamps.

During the raid, they said they were waiting for their agents to return with their passports and entry visas. These were to cost them between 5,000-9,000 Thai baht.

After receiving this information, the authorities and officials swooped on the Mae Sai Inn Hotel and found the three Burmese agents, Nyi Tun Win, 26, Thet Aung Latt, 24, and Mong La Sae, 30.

The 20 government officers led by Colonel Sangob Sunuadorn, Mae Sai immigration commander, found equipment including an arrival immigration stamp, a departure immigration stamp, a Thai consulate in Rangoon stamp, a Thai consulate Garuda stamp, and a visa extension stamp.

Officials said that the Burmese counterfeiters contacted Burmese immigrants wishing to work in Bangkok, arranged fake passports and visas and then took them to Bangkok.

Nyi Tun Win and Thet Aung Latt, who are both studying at an international school in Bangkok, are claiming that they are innocent, but police are not impressed and have charged them.

According to Lieutenant General Charnwut Vatcharapuk, Immigration Commander, AMLO (Anti Money Laundering Office) they could sequester the property of people who earn their living by human trafficking.

Police and military personnel advised to be alert in the North

The North needs more lerts

Pol. Lt. Gen. Chalor Chuwong, the commissioner of Provincial Bureau, Region 5 said that following the violence that had erupted in southern Thailand, he had ordered the police under his supervision in every area, especially at tourist attractions and consulates to be particularly vigilant.

The government units concerned have been asked to coordinate and exchange information and news to the people in the area. “If there is something suspected or unusual, residents have to inform the police immediately so they can protect them,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Manas Paorik, the commander of Pha Muang Task Force also added that up to now he has not received any information regarding terrorism threats in the North, but has to prepare preventive measures and strategies in case of all eventualities. However, he believed that the terrorism links or violence in form of similar attacks would not happen in the northern region.

Alcohol impaired rider involved in multiple accident

Pillion passenger severely injured

Chin Ratitamakul

A severe accident occurred on Klong Chollapratharn (Irrigation) Road near Chiang Mai Phucome Hotel. A car driven by Phitchayaphorn Saengpuwong, 21, was involved in a collision with a motorcycle ridden by Vanakorn Kaewboonpong, 25, that was also carrying a pillion passenger.

This Mazda 626 was severely damaged following a collision with a motorcycle and a parked car.

When the two collided, the driver of the car swerved and ended up hitting a parked car.

The pillion passenger on the motorcycle was seriously injured and was admitted to the nearby Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital; however, the rider escaped with only minor injuries. Whether the pillion passenger was wearing a helmet was not recorded.

Police Captain Withaya Winyangyong from Phuping police station said that from the blood alcohol examination of all people involved, he found that Vanakorn, the motorcycle rider, had a level of 150 milligrams per milliliter, which is higher than the accepted limit in Thailand. He admitted that he had just come from a party.

Vanakorn was charged with reckless driving and being drunk whilst in charge of a motorcycle.

Police Captain Withaya said further investigation would be done after Vanakorn had sobered up.