HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Jack Frost visits Royal Angkhang Agriculture Station again

Early morning fog disrupts Chiang Mai Airport

4th Youth for Water Conservation project

Centers for family and community development to be set up throughout the country

Eight northern provinces meet deputy PM Somkid

Quadrangle road links almost completed

THAI getting ready to launch its own cut-price airline

Pandas get their Thai names

The Unipolar World - Can the US lead?

Royal program to assist Burmese disabled

Flower Festival next month

Thanathon ups the ante if you die eating oranges

China opens up its airspace

Edfest 2004 next month

Lampang police nab four teenage drug pushers

Drug busts auction brings in 4.5 mio for ONCB

Woodman, spare that tree

Bamboo planting touted as answer to drug running

‘Bomb’ found at Shinawatra Trading Building

Kung hei fat choy! One family’s happy Chinese New Year!

Mae Moh lignite mine to become Jurassic Park

Cracks found on the great pagoda at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Phuket Air makes children’s dreams come true on Children’s Day

Radio call-ins feel education is the answer

Jack Frost visits Royal Angkhang Agriculture Station again

A real winter experience

Many tourists have visited royal Angkhang Agriculture Station on Doi Angkhang Mountain recently, wishing to experience the phenomenon called frost.

On January 19 the mercury fell at
Doi Angkhang Mountain to less than one degree Celsius, once again producing a white blanket of frost for the visitors.

On January 19 the mercury fell at Doi Angkhang Mountain to less than one degree Celsius, once again producing a white blanket of frost for the visitors.

The high-pressure area moving from China has caused northern and northwest Thailand to have prevalent thunderstorms in some areas and the temperatures to tumble in the higher mountainous regions.

Early morning fog disrupts Chiang Mai Airport

Poor visibility makes it the hub of unhappy passengers

Thanawan Chumsaeng

The cold season with the morning mists in Chiang Mai province caused havoc at Chiang Mai International Airport, with several flight schedules disappearing in the fog!

As Thai Airways International’s ‘red-eye’ flight TG 100, which took off from Bangkok at 6.30 a.m., was trying to land at 7.40 a.m. at Chiang Mai International Airport, the poor visibility meant that the pilot had to abort the first landing.

After circling the airport for several minutes in a holding pattern and still being unable to execute a visual approach, the pilot decided to fly back to Bangkok leaving all the waiting Bangkok bound passengers stranded in Chiang Mai.

THAI was not the only airline affected, as Orient Thai Airline’s flight OX Air 120 that had departed from Bangkok at 7.20 a.m. with a scheduled arrival time in Chiang Mai at 8 a.m. could not land in Chiang Mai International Airport either and had to return. Phuket Air’s flight 9R232 which was to fly to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai could not depart Chiang Mai’s foggy air space. All this resulted in hundreds of unhappy passengers being stuck at the airport.

The airport did not reopen till later that morning, with the winter sun burning off the fog that had left everyone in a blue funk!

4th Youth for Water Conservation project

Forget the road congestion - let’s put a toe in the water

Natchawi Srirat

Rivers and canals have had an important role in Thai society for many years. Water transportation is another option to relieve the congestion of traffic on land and to reduce pollution and economic loss.

The preservation of the river is also tradition and culture. The Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Water Transportation and Commercial Navy Department has issued a policy to promote and rehabilitate the development and the potential of the river and water transport.

Waterways are there for us to use carefully.

This policy is to improve the basic infrastructure and to increase the role of water transportation to rapidly and safely connect with other types of public transportation.

The department is fighting water pollution from the wastewater from houses and factories flowing into the river, oil pollutants, toxic chemicals, and waste from boats.

Wanchai Sarntoolthad, director-general of Water Transportation and Commercial Navy Department, poses with a group of students from 7 schools with Wanchai.

A project named “Water Conservation Project for Youth” is being organized to help Thai youths realize the importance of water and to understand the safety needs in water transportation.

The opening ceremony of the 4th Youth group for Water Conservation Project was presided over by Wanchai Sarntoolthad, director-general of Water Transportation and Commercial Navy Department. Various activities had been planned for students from seven schools - Chairoj Wittaya School, Wat Tha Dua Community School, Wat Pa Tan School, Ban Tha Luke San Sai School, Kha Jao School, Kawila Wittayalai School and Chiang Mai University Demonstration School.

The most exciting activity for the children was going along the river bye boat, learning how to save people from drowning, learning about the water system and the history of Ping River, including getting to know the water creatures.

Centers for family and community development to be set up throughout the country

Are they the answer for teenage violence?

Chin Ratitamakul

Chaiya Sasomsap, advisor to the minister of social development and human security, presided over the opening of a seminar on Strengthening Women Networks and Family Institutes January 14-15 at Chiang Mai’s Phucome Hotel.

Chaiya Sasomsap, the advisor to the minister of social development and human security presided over a seminar on Strengthening Women Networks and Family Institutes at Chiang Mai’s Phucome Hotel.

Chaiya said the Office of Women Affairs and Family Institute organized this seminar to promote equality in male and female roles and in society. There was also discussion on the support for women’s participation in politics and setting up the family development centers in their communities.

The advisor noted that this mission is dependent on a strong network from every sector. The seminar was also expected to stimulate women and families to become more involved in the problems in their communities and create networks to protect and solve their problems. There would also have to be continued activities, particularly setting up family and community development centers.

The seminar attracted 400 representatives from provincial and Tambon administration offices, provincial social development and social welfare offices, social development and human security volunteers, and national women’s council.

Eight northern provinces meet deputy PM Somkid

Northern cooperation is the key

Dr Somkid Chatusripitak, the deputy prime minister, advised government officials from the North at a conference held at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel in Chiang Mai that the northern eight provinces have to work together to achieve the same aims.

Deputy PM Somkid (seated left) met with the eight provincial governors.

The northern group must cooperate in helping launch a promotional campaign featuring the Lanna traditional style and its identity. This includes the special economic zone, the joint venture between China and Thailand, which will be finalized by the end of this year. The government wants to take all eight provincial governors to visit Yunnan province in southern China to forge closer relationships and plan for joint tourism and investment projects.

The deputy PM added that for this strategy to be implemented in the northern region, the governors should meet each month. He also said that tourism promotion can link the eight provinces together.

Regarding the local SME’s, Deputy PM Somkid confirmed that the northern SME’s groups are more effective than other regions. Dr Somkid said he would let the Department of Export Promotion and Industrial Promotion Center in the region help and support them. “If every sector works together, we will certainly be able to help increase the GDP in northern region,” he concluded.

Quadrangle road links almost completed

77 businessmen complete a reconnoiter

Samphan Changthong

The deputy governor of Chiang Rai province brought businessmen from the Culture and Economic Association of Thai-Burma and Chamber of Commerce to survey the road connecting Thailand-Burma-South China. China has already constructed the road link that will connect Mae Sai-Tachilek-Chiang Tung-La.

The group, led by Direk Kornkleep, deputy governor of Chiang Rai, covered 275 km from the Mae Sai border in Chiang Rai to Tachilek province inside Burma via Tachilek-Chiang Tung leading to La, a Burma-China border town in the eastern Shan state of Burma.

Direk’s caravan continued into China, where the government has already constructed a road to support trade, investment, tourism and the cultural relationships of the people in both countries. The road from Sue Mao-Kunming-Chiang Rung is a six lane super highway; however the road from Chiang Rung to the border of both countries is only two lanes, but the link is almost completely finished.

The land route connected Chiang Rung-Laos-Chiang Kong-Chiang Rai covers 280 km and will be completely finished sometime in 2007, but currently only sections of it are usable. This will be the main route for land transportation from China and will assist trade and investment and tourism.

The customs formalities, including immigration and border processing also needs further development and improvement.

Deputy Governor Direk noted that this trip was useful in promoting understanding of the differences among the neighboring countries for trade, tourism, tradition and cultures. “Good understanding among the countries will be helpful towards making great cooperation in the future,” he said.

THAI getting ready to launch its own cut-price airline

Dogfights in the Asian skies?

Kanok Abhiradee, president of Thai Airways International (THAI) said THAI plans to operate its own low cost airline as another alternative for the public, as well as to compete in the marketplace with other low cost airlines.

Kanok Abhiradee, president of THAI outlining their involvement in Sky Asia.

He stated that the low cost airlines currently operating did have some impact on THAI’s profitability, but it was not much, and by promoting their own candidate in the cut-price field, this should negate any real influence on THAI’s annual operating figures. Kanok said he is optimistic and said the Sky Asia Airline project has a promising future as a low cost airline, and that THAI is currently in the process of registering it.

THAI’s start-up plan for the new airline would be around the middle of this year and THAI will attempt to attract a new customer group (estimated to be as large as 10 million passengers consisting of the elderly and economy class customers).

At present, airlines’ biggest rivals for low cost flights are mostly the tour bus and train travelers.

Kanok said he hopes that this will be an attractive offer to potential customers. He added that the aviation market is currently strong, and THAI is considering adding more flights from Thailand to China, which he expects would be launched around the upcoming Songkran festival.

Pandas get their Thai names

One little girl gets 25,000 Bt.

Chiang Mai Zoo is proud to announce that the Friendship ambassadors between China and Thailand have now been given their Thai names, after Chuang Chuang and Linhui have now been living happily in the Chiang Mai Zoo for three months.

The new names are Tewan (or all knowing guardian angel) for Chuang Chuang, and Tevi for Linhui (which also means angel).

The winner of the names for the pandas competition was Hatairat Tawan, an 11-year-old schoolgirl from Khon Kaen. The little angel will receive a 25,000 baht cash prize and the Prime Minister’s trophy.

The nine runner-ups will also receive some rewards from the zoo, and all of them will be traveling to Chiang Mai Zoo at the end of this month to receive their gifts and prizes.

One entry entitled “Dubbel Plysing” was allegedly rejected by the judging panel.

The Unipolar World - Can the US lead?

Keynote address to be presented by international scholar

The Hon. Jose Ramos-Horta will present a keynote speech and dialogue at CMU on Thursday, January 29, beginning at 4 p.m. There is no entrance fee. For more information phone 053 943 661-5 or Fax: 053 942 666.

Prof. Jose Ramos-Horta

The Hon. Jose Ramos-Horta is senior minister and minister for foreign affairs and cooperation of Timor-Leste; living in exile. He is also a visiting professor at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, and a distinguished visiting professor with the University of Victoria, Melbourne.

Prof. Ramos-Horta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. He is the recipient of many other international awards including the Grand Cross of the order of freedom awarded by the president of Portugal. He holds more than 10 Doctor Honoris Causa from some of the most prestigious universities in the US, Australia and Portugal and is a patron of the International Peace Foundation.

Prof. Ramos-Horta has been active in the pursuit of peace, not only in his own country but has been very successfully involved in hostage release negotiations in Columbia and as a mediator in Guinea-Bissau (West Africa).

Royal program to assist Burmese disabled

The Prostheses Foundation, the Mae Fah Luang Foundation and Thailand Body-Assemble Equipment Club, with other concerned organizations, have launched a program to provide 300 less fortunate Burmese residents with artificial limbs as part of the wishes regardless of religion or race project put forward by the late Princess Mother.

The opening ceremony of this program, held at Ban Huay Luek, Tachilek province of Burma, was attended by M.R. Disanadda Disakul, the Mae Fah Luang Foundation’s secretary as Thailand’s representative and Dr. Sai Kham Hliang, the director of Tachilek Hospital, acting as the Burmese representative, accompanied by the secretary of the Prostheses Foundation and other participants from both Thailand and Burma.

The Princess Mother initially focused on well-being of people before other steps of development for effective results. The Foundation provides medical services for disabled Burmese and is regarded as an attempt to promote development of a better living standard for these people. The Foundation can produce cheaper artificial legs than those from overseas, at only 700 baht each.

The secretary of Mae Fah Luang Foundation noted this assistance was through cooperation from Thailand. Planners also plan for Burma to begin producing artificial legs. This program would start late this month, and a three month training program was planned for the Burmese staff.

Flower Festival next month

“Don’t miss it, Petal,” says Chiangmai Mail’s Ms. Hillary

Natchawi Srirat

Chiang Mai’s Flower Festival is now in its 28th year and is renowned all over the world. This year’s festival will be February 6-8, at Suan Buak Had public park area and at the Nawarat Bridge area in Chiang Mai.

A rose in the Rose of the North. Chiang Mai’s 28th annual Flower Festival will be held February 6-8 at the Suan Buak Had public park area and at the Nawarat Bridge area in Chiang Mai.

The festival aims to maintain Lanna culture and tradition as well as show the world the beauty of the various kinds of northern Thai flowers. As an event, it is one of our top tourist attractions, bringing with it the economic advantages of the tourist dollar to the region.

The Flower Festival covers many interesting activities including the exhibition of flowers and the flower contest for more than 210 kinds of flowers February 6-8 at Suan Buak Had Park.

The floral grand parade will be bigger than ever, say the organizers, and will be the highlight of the festival. At least 30 floats are expected, representing both public and private sectors, and will begin in the morning of February 7 at Nawarat Bridge.

Miss Flower and International Miss Flower Beauty Contests will be run during the festival, with foreigners eligible to participate. The female flowers can be seen at Suan Buak Had Stage during February 6-7.

Local food and Lanna products will also be available to let the tourists taste original Lanna food, and there will be a cultural show on the stage in front of the governor’s residence on February 7 from 6 a.m. onwards.

A band featuring local musical instruments will perform in the garden every evening from 5-7 p.m.

OTOP products from Chiang Mai province will also be available for sale as tourist souvenirs. A food festival, art contest and photo contest will also be held during the Flower Festival.

Kritsadaporn Siempakdee, permanent secretary of Chiang Mai Provincial Offices is inviting everyone to come to Chiang Mai for the festival. “As Chiang Mai people, we welcome both Thais and foreigners to visit the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. I ask Chiang Mai people to decorate their houses with flowers to usher in the coming festival and to display the beautiful culture of Lanna and the kindness of Chiang Mai people,” he said.

Thanathon ups the ante if you die eating oranges

Almost makes it worthwhile for 2 million baht!

Phisut Itsaracheewawat

Following a previous announcement by Pramual Rujanaseri, deputy interior minister, that a million baht would be offered if anyone dies from eating local contaminated oranges, Chiang Mai Thanathon Co. has said it will double the wager.

Banthoon Jirawatanakoon, chairman of Chiang Mai Thanathon Co, announcing that he would give a million baht to anyone who died from eating his oranges.

Chemical contamination in oranges is the most controversial problem threatening orange growers around Mae Ai, Fang and Chai Prakan Districts and affecting their sales, as consumers are becoming wary of purchasing the fruit. However, testing by the Chiang Mai Agriculture Office showed there was only a very small amount of pesticide residue left in the oranges, and that was not enough to affect health.

Banthoon Jirawatanakoon, chairman of the Chiang Mai Thanathon Co. said that he exported 20,000 kilograms of oranges to Canada and many countries in South East Asia, exceeding exports from China.

Thanathon is now working on further improving the quality of its seedless oranges to be able to get into new markets within five years.

China opens up its airspace

Big benefits to tourism in the region

Thailand’s aircraft will be able to fly to every province in China without any flight limitations after negotiations for bilateral aviation liberalization are finalized between Thailand and China.

Deputy Minister of Transport Wichet Kasemthongsri informed the Cabinet that Thailand and China have negotiated several aviation privileges. Thailand is the first country that China has given the privilege to fly both passenger and cargo planes to all of its provinces. The agreement will help support tourism in both countries, as there are about one billion people in the China tourism market, making for only a slight difference in equality of about 945 million less potential Thai tourists traveling to China.

Deputy Minister Wichet added that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has already agreed to the plan. When Thailand opens a free skies agreement with India and China, it brings with it the possibility of more than a billion tourists that could visit the kingdom.

Deputy Minister Wichet confirmed that the Ministry of Transport would try to conclude the territorial sky liberalization agreement with China as soon as possible. From January 1, 2006, Thai Airways International will be able to fly to the US via Chinese territorial airspace, which will dramatically reduce the flight distance, and therefore the time involved to fly between Thailand and USA. It might even produce a reduction in the fare structure?

Edfest 2004 next month

The 4th Thai-British Education Exhibition

Central Airport Plaza and the British Council will jointly hold Edfest 2004, the 4th Thai-British Education Exhibition next month. This will bring more than 35 universities representing Britain to join in this activity at Lanna Hall, Central Airport Plaza Chiang Mai.

Edfest 2004 is an education festival with the slogan “Join Relations and Create Opportunities”. It is similar to the long lasting relationship between Thailand and Britain in the promotion of education and support and cooperation for new academic development projects.

David Hopkinson, director of British Council Chiang Mai, said the activity would support educational opportunities both in Thailand and Britain. During the exhibition there will be a workshop, LearnUK seminar, exhibition and information on education and tuition on IELTS tests.

Edfest 2004 commences on February 3, at Lanna Hall, Central Airport Plaza from 3 p.m. onwards.

Lampang police nab four teenage drug pushers

Drug suppression police and a police team from Lampang police station arrested 19-year-old Sunthorn “Ek” Uttato for possession of 96 amphetamines. The drug bust took place at Sukkasem Housing Village in Lampang.

Sunthorn was a resident of Ngao district, Lampang, but will now most likely need to fill out change of address forms, using Chiang Mai prison as his new place of residence.

Before the arrest, the police sent plainclothes officers to buy drugs from the local drug network. Pranung (surname unknown), Pichai Artthakan and Udomsak Tamboon were also arrested for allegedly bringing the drugs to the house where the drug purchase was to take place.

A police search of the house produced another 94 amphetamines wrapped by two black tape tubes.

All of the suspects confessed, and told police that they had received the ya ba from Yao hill tribesmen at Ban Pa Daeng, in Ngao District, Lampang.

Drug busts auction brings in 4.5 mio for ONCB

Chin Ratitamakul

The Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) northern office raised nearly 4.5 million baht during the recently held 27th auction of seized assets from drug cases. These auctions are in line with government policy as promulgated during the war against drugs.

Many people attended the ONCB’s 27th auction of assets seized from drug suspects, held at the Thai Worldview Vision Foundation.

Pittaya Jinawat, ONCB northern office director said that the past 26 auctions realized a total of 55,216,200 baht, but this time there were only 22 assets up for grabs, which returned bids totaling 4,552,000 baht. Assets seized from drug suspects included cars, pickup trucks, trucks, a bus, and motorcycles.

Director Pittaya said the money from this auction would go to raise funds for the ONCB, for use in its activities and as rewards to be offered to the police for their part in helping destroy the drug networks.

Woodman, spare that tree

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN International Model Forest Network selected Thailand as the host country for their workshop to examine model forest procedures for network members throughout the world.

30 representatives from Thailand, China, Philippines, Burma, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and officers from the UN attended the meeting in January.

Jira Jitanakul, a specialist from the Regional Chiang Mai Forestry Office, said Thailand was selected by the international organizations as the place for the meeting because Thailand is also an FAO member and has a model forest in Ngao district, Lampang.

Thailand is also one of four countries (Thailand, China, Philippines and Burma) that was selected to be part of the pilot project and as a model forest three years ago.

Ngao district is the model, having suffered from deforestation, but with help from local people, it has been resurrected. This area covers around 1 million rai and included a national park, conserved forest, watershed development offices, and many forest research institutes.

Bamboo planting touted as answer to drug running

Japan and Third Army think so

Samphan Changthong

The Third Army’s operation center, with Japanese specialists, is promoting bamboo planting as a viably economic means to earn an honest living. People can turn bamboo into value-added products, which the army hopes could help solve the drug problem along the Thai- Burmese border areas.

Major General Veerawat Tansuhut, Chiang Rai provincial army commander, explained the project during his keynote address to the Thai- Burma cooperation training course to develop border villages under the supervision of the Third Army Region.

This personnel training was held at Meng Rai Maharaja military camp. The plan covered 20 villages in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, and Tak.

Major General Veerawat explained that for the bamboo project, the army invited a team of specialists from Japan, led by Yoshito Lgarashi, the advisor of Pai Come Bamboo Foundation, to explain further.

The army would work with the Foundation, while Japan would buy the bamboo and turn it into bamboo tissues and clothes. The bamboo trunk can also be burnt and used as charcoal fuel and bamboo oil is used as a beauty treatment.

The project is free of charge to the planters and they can sell their quality products to the companies as well. The army will be responsible for the bamboo project. Maj Gen Veerawat said Chiang Rai has been assigned as the pilot province and it would be considered as a solution for poverty and drug problems.

‘Bomb’ found at Shinawatra Trading Building

Turned out to be a fizzer!

Thanawan Chumsaeng

A suspected bomb, wrapped in green with pink ribbons, was found in front of the Shinawatra Trading Building in the center of Chiang Mai City, causing panic and alarm, bringing out the Border Patrol Police Bomb Squad.

Fortunately it was just a New Year’s gift box. (Photo Saksit Meesubkwang)

Eyewitnesses said that three teenagers riding an unregistered motorcycle left the suspicious box at the scene around 5.30 p.m. and then rode away. The onlookers were afraid to open the box, fearing it might be a bomb.

Police officers from Changpuak Police Station roped off the area and nobody was allowed to enter the area. Police then contacted the 33rd Border Patrol Police to send the bomb squad.

The suspected bomb is inspected. (Photo Saksit Meesubkwang)

The bomb squad came, ready to defuse the bomb and the situation, but found only an empty box. Police are treating the matter seriously, and fingerprints have been taken from the package and will be matched up with any known miscreants.

The bomb disposal team from the 33rd Border Patrol Police (BPP) from Mae Rim headquarters about to defuse the ‘bomb’ at the Shinawatra Trading Building on Huay Kaew Road. The back of his suit reads: “I am a member of the bomb squad. If you see me running, try to keep up.” (Photo Saksit Meesubkwang)

While this was an apparently harmless student prank, the perpetrators should remember that in many parts of Thailand, live bombs have been left, and it is a fairly immature way to have an evening’s entertainment at the expense of the public and the police, investigating bomb hoaxes.

Kung hei fat choy! One family’s happy Chinese New Year!

Text by Marion Vogt
Photo by Michael Vogt

2004, the year of the monkey, signifies determination and a winning attitude in the Chinese culture. After enjoying the festive atmosphere of the New Year season and being back to just a few weeks of ‘normal’ life, other East Asian people are looking forward to the festivities marking the start of their, yet to begin, new year. In particular for all families with Chinese ancestors.

It was a huge family dinner but there was still place for strawberries and cream...

The effort to meet friends whom you have not seen for some time is part of the Chinese tradition. In general, the preparation is towards a spiritual cleansing, with positive attitudes, a bright and optimistic approach to whatever lies ahead.

Val and Poolsuk Mansfield with the Good Luck dancers for the year of the monkey.

Val and Poolsuk Mansfield invited friends, business acquaintances and family to their home to welcome the year of the monkey in the Chinese way as if there is a new start of life. A family dinner was prepared, beautiful dancers entertained the guests in the garden and firecrackers were lit to chase away the bad spirits.

But tradition or otherwise, it was a well planned party with the message to forget the bad things of the past and carry peace, prosperity, health, happiness and friendship into the year of the monkey, where anything can happen if you are at the right place at the right time.

Mae Moh lignite mine to become Jurassic Park

Purachai revokes EGAT’s land concessions

Deputy Prime Minister Purachai Piumsomboon has ordered the revocation of land concessions given to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) over 43 rai in Mae Moh where 13 million year old fossils have been found.

Deputy PM Purachai chaired the committee meeting dealing with the problem, and submitted the case to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The crux of the matter revolved around the finding of the fossils by EGAT and the mineral resources department. The fossils were found in an area 12 meters deep, 300 meters long, and 230 meters wide taking over an incredible 43 rai.

During the meeting, Deputy PM Purachai and his committee members decided to revoke the concession, saying that this area should be preserved and studied by experts in term of geography, geology and archaeology and as a national or world heritage site that can be enjoyed as a tourist attraction.

Prapat Panyachartrak, minister of natural resource and environment added that the area in which the fossil field was found has a potential 300 million tons of lignite, under the operations of EGAT. However, EGAT said it has 48 other lignite mines, which have about 1 billion tons of lignite. Since only 15-16 million tons of lignite are mined annually EGAT has no problems with just continuing to dig in their other lignite fields, therefore this could help preserve this special site in Mae Moh village, Lampang.

Cracks found on the great pagoda at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Urgent steps to be taken to restore the building

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat has appointed a committee to take charge of urgent restorations after structural cracks were found on the great pagoda at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. A report of the situation has also been submitted to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Chaired by Chiang Mai’s governor, the committee comprises many consultants including the deputy governor, the director-general of the fine arts department, the head monk of the province, the abbot of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai MPs and 29 other officials.

Phra Yansomphot, the deputy head monk of Chiang Mai province and abbot of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, said before the fractures on the pagoda were discovered, an increase in dampness was noticed.

Restoration plans are hindered by the number of tourists visiting the temple, but an urgent restoration schedule must be implemented for the eastern part of the pagoda, which is the most respected and revered religious site in the North.

Phuket Air makes children’s dreams come true on Children’s Day

Krona Visutrasai

Phuket Airlines (Phuket Air) in cooperation with the Chiang Mai Public Relations Office and Dusit Island Resort, Chiang Rai supported an educational project called “Traveling around Thailand with Phuket Air” as part of National Children’s Day 2004.

The first touchdown with Phuket Air at Chiang Mai. For some of the children this was their first flight ever.

The group excursion consisted of students from Chiang Rai, Doi Mae Salong, teachers, community leaders, local media, Chiang Mai PR and the Phuket Air host.

The trip was filled with various activities, entertainment and delicious food. Every child received a bag of goodies to take home, but the most exciting part was visiting Chiang Mai Zoo, the Buffalo Farm and the Maesa Elephant Camp, where children and adults were amazed watching the elephants artists.

The excursion to Chiang Mai Zoo was led by Raerai Aisiri, Jutamas Gajajiva and Vichien Noonrawd.

Raerai Aisiri (3rd right), Phuket Airlines purchasing director presented money to buy animal food.

Radio call-ins feel education is the answer

Poor salaries for teachers slated

Chiang Mai Public Relations Department’s radio program received many calls on Teachers’ Day regarding the education system. Callers requested government help develop teaching methods, particularly for teachers in district schools outside the city.

One of the hot issues discussed was that teacher and youth problems are abundant in the city. More time spent in education was considered a factor that could reduce the gangster and teenage problems in the town. Many of the people also requested the prime minister look carefully at social welfare, especially in regards to a fair salary rate adjustment for teachers.

Other callers felt that the entire education system comprising the schools, students, teachers, and the parents should be more involved in managing their social and educational problems.