Bird flu fears grip the north
Bird police set up roadblocks
The Chiang Mai Provincial Livestock Office
confirmed that it has been busy with measures to prevent the bird flu
epidemic getting out of hand. Checkpoint controls have been set up to
inspect and block the transfer of chickens and other poultry from the
men selling eggs by the roadside said they have lost one third of their
sales volume so far since the bird flu outbreak erupted.
Vet Somporn Pornvisetsirikul, head of the Animal Health
Development Department, said measures are in place to control outbreaks of
the disease, including urgent meetings being held with related units, close
monitoring, examining poultry droppings from each farm, and five samples
being tested from each household with poultry in the communities.
24-hour checkpoints have been set up at Saraphi district
to control poultry transfers and inform the general public about the
necessity to have these kinds of controls put in to monitor the situation.
He added that the Provincial Livestock Office in Chiang
Mai watches over more than 700 chicken farms in Chiang Mai, and that 400
have now stopped production. Vet Somporn said 200,000 chickens have been
examined, with no confirmed avian flu deaths so far.
However, in Lamphun, Pongpat Kattapat, acting on behalf
of the Lamphun livestock office, ordered farmers to kill around 10,000
chickens and partridges suspected of having caught the deadly virus.
Inspectors found that around 2,000 chickens and
partridges had been sick and many were dieing at Tambon Nongnam, Lamphun.
When officials went to investigate, they found that the chickens and
partridges had a serious disease, but they said they were unable to specify
what type of disease. The livestock office has sent samples to the lab, and
asked the farmers to keep chickens from breeding for at least the next 30
Officials also inspected a farm in Tambon
Gingviengnongrong and found that a great number of partridges there were
“unsanitary”, and therefore ordered that all 6,000 of the partridges at
that farm be slaughtered.
Lamphun officials went on to say that after examining
samples, thus far no bird flu has been found. Also, all 167 standard farms
registered with the Lamphun livestock office are so far “free of sick
chickens”. All dead chickens have come from “local people’s own
private farms” officials said.
Meanwhile, fears of the outbreak are having a marked
effect on the local poultry market, and as of Wednesday, sales volumes have
dropped by over 50 percent.
Fresh chicken businesses at the markets, roadside fried
chicken and egg stalls, as well as other chicken outlets in Chiang Mai City
have seen their takings plummet faster than a plucked chicken on the wing.
Those affected by the fall in consumer confidence are
requesting urgent assistance from the government.
As for its effects on the human population, Dr. Rattawut
Sukmee, the head of the Office of the Provincial Public Health, said all
hospitals have been informed to be on alert and monitor all patients
suspected of having been infected with this avian flu virus.
He warned people to eat their food well cooked, to
prevent any chance of getting the disease.
Any cases concerned with this disease infection should be
immediately reported by both public and private sectors with no cover-up,
said the public health officials hastily.
Metered taxis for Chiang Mai City
But will they be painted red? And will this make Chiang Mai the metered taxi hub of the North?
The Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities and Provincial Land
Transport Office have approved a proposal to begin a metered taxi service in
Chiang Mai City.
Nanti, the president of Nakorn Lanna Cooperatives and the owner of the first
metered taxi in Chiang Mai.
Singkham Nanti, the president of Nakorn Lanna
Cooperatives who operates the red mini-buses, told Chiangmai Mail
that currently there are only two taxis in services in Chiang Mai. Singkham
said that the cost of investment was very high for the metered taxi service.
“Therefore, the taxis had to be run as a joint venture between the
cooperatives and the taxi owners,” he said.
The metered taxi fare would start from 30 baht for the
first 2 kilometers and 4 baht for each subsequent kilometer. Waiting will be
charged at 1 baht per minute.
Singkham said the fare was cheaper than Bangkok (35 baht
up for first 2 km and 4.5 baht for subsequent km). The meter taxis would not
replace the song taow minibus, but be an opportunity for tuk-tuk and
unlicensed taxis, said Singkham.
Customers can call 053-271242 and 01-952900 for pick up
and there will be an extra charge of 20 baht. The call center would
officially open on February 14, and Nakorn Lanna Cooperatives would control
the vans, red minibuses and taxis.
Singkham is, however, worried that there may be too many
rules and regulations which would make it difficult for them to increase the
number of taxis in the city.
Mardi Gras-type festival Feb 12-15 officially starts tourist season in Chiang Mai
It seems that there will be no more low season in Chiang
Mai, if the newly assembled Chiang Mai Tourism Promotion Board plan goes
ahead to celebrate one special festival each month of the year.
parade at last year’s Mardi Gras was a site to behold.
On January 20 there was a short briefing for the private
sector at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel in Chiang Mai about the upcoming Mardi
Gras Carnival scheduled for February 12-15. Chalermsak Suranant, director of
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Northern Office Region 1, informed 50
participants that for the first time, Chiang Mai will celebrate the opening
of the tourist season with the 3rd Mardi Gras street carnival.
The annual event will be held along Changklan Road at the
Night Bazaar, where food, drinks and entertainment will be available from 6
p.m. till midnight. There will be a Mardi Gras parade on February 11 at 3
p.m. Other highlights will be Elvis Presley shows, and a performance by the
popular Carabao Band.
With this event, Chiang Mai hopes to follow the tradition
of the successful Hua Hin Jazz Music Festival and the Koh Samui Carnival.
Sponsors of the Chiang Mai Carnival will be Don Tree Season, Beer Chang,
UBC, Dream Vision Studio and Chiang Mai Municipality.
Vorapong Muchaotai, president of Thai Hotels Association
(THA) Northern Chapter, also confirmed that Orient Thai Airlines will be
among the sponsors.
Chiang Rai prepares to build 4 Buddha images
In honor of HM the Queen’s birthday
Phra Thammarachanuwat, deputy head monk of
Buddhist Region 6 and the abbot of Wat Phra Kaew temple, Muang district,
Chiang Rai, have been appointed as the organizing chairpersons for the
construction of four Buddha images. The activity is being organized to honor
Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 6th cycle or 72nd birthday anniversary later
Each Buddha statue will be 9.9 meters wide and 15 meters
high. These will be situated near the Golden Triangle, Chiang Saen district,
once they are finished.
Thailand would also give Buddha images of 72 inches wide
to China, Burma, and Laos for Buddhist followers in those countries, to
provide them with the opportunity to offer respect. This goodwill gesture
would also improve relationships with those countries and their people
located along Mekong River.
Excess longan production brings in “Mr. Longan”
The thin end of the nationalization wedge?
Pramual Rujanaseree, deputy minister of
interior recently presided over a meeting entitled “Thai Longan to the
World Export” at Chiangmai Orchid Hotel. It was attended by the governors
of Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces, politicians, farmers, chambers of
commerce, representatives from the Marketing Organization for Farmers (MOF),
and Public Warehouse Organization (PWO).
This year it is estimated that there will be 500,000 tons
of Longan produced. In the past, the glut has caused prices of longan to
fall, making it an uneconomic crop for the farmers.
To get over this problem, the government has established
the National Longan Company, or “Mr. Longan” to solve the problem. The
Department of Post-Harvesting Science, Chiang Mai University will be at the
core of the project. Most participants agreed with the ambitious plan and
concluded that the management of longan prices should be done systematically
with long term planning by a tripartite working group of farmers, government
Jaras Suphasri, Northern Longan Farmers Cooperatives
chairman stated that in principle, he agreed with the government’s concept
in solving the problem; however, he needs more details. When “Mr.
Longan” solves the falling longan prices, then the MOF and PWO could be
The deputy minister of interior said this issue needs to
be considered because both the MOF and PWO are governmental organizations.
As far as the 70,000 tons of longan currently in stock, he will discuss this
with Dr Somkid Jatusripitak, deputy prime minister who is in charge of the
marketing of the product. The surplus might be processed into alcohol, he
Restoration of Phrathat Doi Suthep underway
Seven million earmarked
Chiang Mai provincial authorities have prepared a request
for a seven million baht budget needed for restoration of Phrathat Doi
Suthep pagoda, the most respected and revered chedi in the area.
The pagoda restoration work, including Wat Phrathat Doi
Suthep surroundings and landscaping, has been discussed at committee level,
chaired by Governor Suwat Tantipat. The Fine Arts Department in Chiang Mai
has confirmed finding cracks caused by earthquakes in the past years,
explaining that the earthquake in 1995 had caused major damage. When the
cracks expand, it will cause damage to the top and the body of the stupa.
The Fine Arts Department here proposed a seven million
baht budget be approved for restoring Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep stupa.
Mae Fah Luang Foundation opens its garden to tourists
Trial period to see if foreigners like the double pricing
The Mae Fah Luang Foundation is opening it garden daily
from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., according to Thanya
Nikrothanond, the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Northern
Office, Region 2.
She said TAT and the Foundation have been improving the
facilities in the garden as a prime location for tourism, which comes under
the Doi Tung Development Project.
It is situated in Ban Pa Ngiew, about five kilometers
north of Chiang Rai and will feature cultural performances and Lanna Thai
heritage arts and objects.
Interested tourists can visit the garden, with an entry
fee of 20 baht for Thais and 50 baht for foreigners. For more information,
please contact 053 711 968.
Globalization and Development Symposium this Monday
The International Sustainable Development
Studies Institute (ISDSI) will be hosting a symposium on Issues in
Globalization and Development at the UNISERV building on the CMU campus on
February 2 at 9 a.m.
The symposium will feature cumulative research projects
from 15 undergraduate American students who have been studying in Thailand
for the last six months.
ISDSI works with over 100 American, Thai, and Australian
students each year in an experientially based study abroad program to
facilitate learning about people, development, and the environment.
For more information on the symposium, please go to
www.isdsi.org or contact the main office at tel. 053 942 239.
Seminar told Thai Elephant on the verge of extinction
No pachyderms turned up for the discussion either!
The seminar “Will Elephants in Thailand become
extinct?” was held last week at Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, Chiang Mai and
was well attended by different people and organizations (but no elephants).
left) Vet Sittideth Mahasawangkul, Thai Elephant Conservation Center,
Lampang; Robert Greffenberg, Siam Safari, Phuket; and Pittaya Homkrairath,
Mahout House, Trat during the seminar in Chiang Mai.
Vet Sittideth Mahasawangkul, an elephant specialist from
the Thai Elephant Conservation center, Lampang, said the elephant problem
began with the closing of forests to the elephants by the government
beginning in 1988. Measures such as hiring elephants to patrol the border
was not the right direction to solve the displaced elephant problem, as it
was not continuous employment. The number of male elephants was also less
than 10 percent of what was needed to breed naturally.
However, Sittideth affirmed that the number of Thai
elephants would decrease but it would not become extinct in our lifetimes
since elephants live for such a long time.
Robert Greffenberg, of Siam Safari, Phuket, said now
there are 200 elephants in Phuket and every elephant camp is trying to cut
the admission price. Elephants and their mahouts could not earn a living.
Robert said the government should promote the elephants as part of the
eco-tourism package and that tourists have to pay more to see or ride the
However, Pittaya Homkrairath, Mahout House, Trat
province, believes that Thai elephants would not become extinct because now
there are many organizations, associations and charitable clubs doing
activities to help save elephants.
The number of elephants in Thailand is less than 1,200
but it is believed that many elephants are still roaming in the forests.
“The problem is not the elephants, but it is the people,” concluded
Sunday is nail-biting time for five mayoral candidates
First direct election of Chiang Mai Municipality mayor
Phitsanu Thepthong and Chin
All eligible voters are urged to go to the polls this
Sunday, February 1 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., to elect a mayor and municipal
The five candidates on the ticket for mayor include
Boonlert Buranupakorn, the current mayor; Dr Niwat Tantiyanusorn, Vorakorn
Tantranond, Surachai Leosawasdipong, and Mrs. Busaraporn Supharakjinda.
political campaigns are in full swing for the Sunday, February 1 elections
for city mayor and council seats.
24 seats on the Chiang Mai Municipality Council also will
be directly elected by the people. One of the candidates told Chiangmai
Mail that, “This is a chance for Chiang Mai residents to vote directly
for their representatives, and this is really a decentralized system giving
power to the local administration.”
Meanwhile, Police General Wassana Permlap, chairman of
the Election Commission, said his commission is already prepared for all the
forthcoming elections to take place this year.
Chairman Wassana said that this year there would be
elections at both national and local levels, in particular the election for
the city mayor and president of the Provincial Administration Organization
(PAO) of every province in 2,859 locations.
He said the elections must be held with total
transparency and fairness. It is necessary for the commission members to
educate people, create understanding and investigate cases that might
violate election laws.
He ended by saying that the election commission needs to
prepare itself for each election and insist that the electoral roll be
brought up to date and is accurate for that region.
EDITOR’S NOTE: At the time of going to press, Chiang
Mai police told Chiangmai Mail that bars will be allowed to remain
open before and during this Sunday’s election, and that sales of alcohol
will not be banned as is normal procedure during elections. Chiangmai
Mail cannot, of course, guarantee this. The final decision remains with
the authorities and any questions about this policy should be directed to
Naresuan Force captures over 13,000 bottles of Ketamine
But misses the smugglers
The Naresuan Force has captured over
13,000 bottles of Ketamine worth 13 million baht, as it was being smuggled
into Thailand across Thai-Burmese border. The military operation by the 4th
infantry regiment task force was under supervision of the Naresuan Force and
went to the ferry landing belonging to Thewarit Pankaew, Ban Huay Muang
Village, Tak Province, following a tip-off.
The military officers found 13,605 bottles of Ketamine
during the border raid. The drugs were hidden in a large box. The two drug
suspects, however, fled by jumping into the river in the darkness to escape
arrest. Thewarit Pankaew, the owner of the boat landings claimed that the
haul was just vaccine for chickens.
General Chaiyasith Shinawatra, the army’s commander in
chief stated that that this was the first time that these drugs had been
delivered from the north. Previously, smuggling was done in central Thailand
and across the Thai-Cambodian borders.
General Chaiyasith believes that the Ketamine is probably
being produced in East Europe and neighboring countries west of Thailand’s
border. Officers are now trying to determine who owned the drug haul. Thus
far, no one has stepped forward asking for it back.
Arson suspected in Lanna View housing estate fire
Residents using garden hoses could not contain the blaze
A grass fire in Lanna View housing estate
on the highway to Mae Jo University was reported to the Tambon San Phisua
Administration Organization’s Fire Engine Unit, according to the Fire
Brigade of Chiang Mai Municipality.
of haze as the fire truck doused the flames. (Photo by Tom Matty)
The people who started the fire left immediately when it
began to get out of control. Local residents with garden hoses and a passing
policeman fought a losing battle with the blaze, until a fire engine arrived
to douse the flames.
Lanna View has become a popular Moo Baan recently and
lots which have been neglected for several years are suddenly appearing with
‘For Sale’ signs with Bangkok numbers on them. Some have conjectured
that arsonists may have been hired to do a quick clearing job for an owner
before some potential buyers appeared. However, even the Good Samaritan
policemen expressed the view that the culprits would not be caught.
Mae Sa Elephant Camp and CMU Veterinary faculty sign academic exchange agreement
Elephants trumpet their approval
Mae Sa Elephant Camp and veterinarians from Chiang Mai
University (CMU) have realized the importance of academic cooperation to
continuously develop the health management of the Asian Thai elephant. In
addition, this will aid international research into elephant conservation.
Chuchad Kanlamapinit, Mae Sa Elephant Camp MD, said the
two organizations would work together in conducting research and providing
funds. Study courses are being made available, as are scholarships.
Assoc. Prof. Suvichai Rochanasathien, CMU Veterinary
Faculty dean, said the veterinary team would support the camp in diagnosing
elephant illness and disease.
For personnel development, CMU and Mae Sa Elephant Camp
would hold seminars and training courses to increase the potential of the
staff of the two organizations. The cooperation agreement would be for 10
Chiang Rai to hold first World Tea Rally
Chiang Rai Provincial Transport Office will be holding
the Chiang Rai World Tea Rally from February 6-15 to promote the
province’s World Tea Festival.
Charnchai Kilapaeng, head of provincial transport,
announced that the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives along with
Chiang Rai provincial authorities will jointly host the event at the Golden
Triangle on the banks of Mekong River in Chiang Saen district. It will be
the first time that this kind of rally will be held to promote good quality
tea and tea production.
The rally will start at the Golden Triangle and will
travel through Mae Sai, Mae Chan, Wat Rong Kun, Maekorn waterfalls, Wiang
Chai, Wiang Chiang Rung, Doi Luang and will end at Chiang Saen district.
The length of the rally is about 250 kilometers and 300
teams are expected to enter the rally competition. The admission fee is
1,000 baht per team, with the winner receiving the Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra trophy, and 5,000 baht cash prize.
For more information contact the Chiang Rai Transport
Office, and its braches in Toeng, Wiang Pa Pao and Parn districts, the bus
stations at Chiang Rai and Mae Sai districts, or call 053 711 359, 053 717
492, 01 721 7999 and 01 565 1043.
ONCB warn of new drugs in town
Sniffers, snorters and shooters a worry
Pittaya Jinawat, Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB)
northern director, has announced a warning to the public to be aware of new
drugs being brought into the local area. He said the drugs, like cocaine and
crack cocaine, are likely to be used by youth groups and visitors to
He said that drug use in the 17 northern provinces has
been drastically decreased, but it’s not the end of the drug suppression
yet. Drugs like ya ba, opium and heroin are still being smuggled from border
areas of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, and Tak provinces.
ONCB and the Provincial Police Bureaus 5 and 6, together
with police forces from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son, are
continuing with close supervision and sting operations covering 100 targeted
Learn Japanese for 1 baht an hour
Cheaper than playing games on the internet
The Non-formal Education Center in Chai Pakan district,
Chiang Mai backed by the Chai Pakan municipality has launched courses in
fundamental Japanese at the amazingly low cost of only 1 baht per hour.
This program includes reading, writing as well as basic
speaking for everyday life with 50 baht for the whole course lasting 50
hours plus free textbook. In addition, a certificate will be provided to
those who finish the complete program, as well as a receipt for their money.
Application forms are available now. Classes will start
on February 2 and run through March 15, and the hours are 6-8 p.m. with the
lectures being given at the municipality office. More details at the Chai
Pakan public library, tel. 053 870657.
Mae Moh sulfur dioxide levels are safe, says Pollution Control Department
The Pollution Control Department has released their
findings of sulfur dioxide measurements conducted at the Mae Moh
district’s 13 weather quality measurement stations under the supervision
of Electricity Generating Authorities of Thailand (EGAT), as well as four
stations under the Pollution Control Department.
The Office of Air and Noise Quality Management, Pollution
Control Department, reported that they did this to ensure that the sulfur
dioxide in the atmosphere in Mae Moh district areas does not exceed the
acceptable peak measurements of 780 micrograms per hour per one cubic meter,
and an average of 300 micrograms in 24 hours.
Their findings would indicate that the northern area is
in no danger of having too much exposure to sulfur dioxide. The lowest
findings, recorded at Ban Sadet Station and Ban Mae Jang, were zero
micrograms per hour and the highest levels were only 139 micrograms and 10
micrograms per 24 hours on average. (It should be noted that the quoted
readings were taken over a two week period last November, and are not
All reports from the 13 stations measure the atmospheric
contamination every week. All stations are calibrated on the 10th of the
SME Center to be established soon
To provide help for small entrepreneurs
The establishment of a Small and Medium sized Enterprise
(SME) Support and Distribution Center is one of this region’s pilot
projects that would help other regions, said Wanchai Ratchadamas, director
of Industrial Promotion Center, Region 1, Department of Industrial
Promotion. The Ministry of Industry would construct the SME Center on a 400
rai plot of land belonging to the 33rd Military Circle of the Royal Thai
In the northern region lies the origin of Lanna arts and
cultures. There are various kinds of handicrafts, textiles, potteries, wood
products, and clothing that are suitable for international trading. Many
institutes in the region have high potential to produce more products, and
foster the talents of young designers.
Director Wanchai explained that the SME Center would be
separated into two sections. The first will be the business opportunity
center (BOC) that would help entrepreneurs access information and be trained
in export product development. The second would be the product distribution
and promotion center, also serving as an exhibition hall linking with other
product distribution centers abroad.
Wanchai said that the Cabinet has approved a budget of
1.2 billion baht for construction, which will take place over the years
Nicolaas Bloembergen speaks on Laser Technology in Peace and War
The Dialogues towards a Culture of Peace series continued
last week at Chiang Mai University Faculty of Science with high caliber
keynote speaker, Nobel Prize winner Prof. Nicolaas Bloembergen delivering
his address on Laser Technology in Peace and War. Over one hundred people
were present for the illuminating speech.
Prize winner Prof. Nicolaas Bloembergen (seated) poses with a group of
science students. (Photo by Natchawai Srirat)
Prof. Bloembergen said, “Lasers emit light with a very
high degree of monochromaticity, directionality, and can produce much higher
intensities than incoherent light sources, such as incandescent lamps,
fluorescent tubes and arcs. The first operating laser was realized in 1960
by T.H. Maiman, and much early research was funded by military agencies, but
at the present time the commercial laser market is four times as large as
the military market. Most laser applications are for peaceful purposes.
Among the most important of these are fiber-optic communications and laser
surgery. Other applications include laser printing, laser machining,
construction alignment, and data storage on CD disks. Some military uses for
lasers are also reviewed.”
president of Chiang Mai University, Assist. Prof. Dr. Anuman Ratchaton
(left) presented a token of appreciation to Prof. Nicolaas Bloembergen.
(Photo by Natchawai Srirat)
He also gave the derivation of the word ‘Laser’,
which is an acronym standing for “Light Amplification by Stimulated
Emission of Radiation.” Despite its English origin the word laser was
rapidly adopted in many other languages, including Russian. The language of
science is universal, independent of nationality, race or religion, he
the Faculty of Medicine, president of Chiang Mai University, Asst. Prof. Dr.
Nipon Tuwanon with Prof. Ferid Murad (left) who also gave an address to
medical undergraduates. (Photo by Natchawai Srirat)
He went from laser’s scientific applications to its
medical use, to the impact that optical fiber communication systems have
that now connect virtually all countries and major cities around the globe,
and are even more important than the impact of lasers in medicine and
In his presentation he injected a little lightness into
the weighty subject, giving his student audience a tip on how to get a Nobel
Prize themselves. “You are science students and all of you have a chance
to win a Nobel Prize, but remember, the older you get, the better your
chances are,” he said.
Prof Bloembergen ended this very exciting and
enlightening keynote speech with the words, “The main conclusion of this
presentation is that these International Peace Foundation gatherings would
hardly take place without travel by commercial jet aircraft ... one should
keep in mind that science and technology are morally neutral. They can be
used both for peace and for war. It is fortunate that most uses of lasers
have turned out to be beneficial for mankind.”
Strategy to reduce road toll and traffic accidents
All very fine, but will it be enforced?
The Chiang Mai Provincial Road Safety Command Center has
a strategy to reduce the accidents experienced by motorcycle riders and
lower the death toll and injuries from road accidents.
Lieutenant Major Viroj Kesaporn, Public Relations Officer of General Staff
Division, Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5, described measures people in
his division hope will reduce the road toll.
Five projects are to be launched as a promotional
campaign to students, workers, government officers and the public, to make
them aware of the need to wear a helmet and turn on their headlights. The
campaign will provide knowledge on safe riding and following traffic rules
and regulations, and promoting Chiang Mai as a “traffic safety city”.
These strategies will run until December 31, 2004.
However, despite the projects’ aim to reduce accidents, the people have to
participate as well for an effective result, Police Lieutenant Major Viroj
Kesaporn, Public Relations Officer of General Staff Division, Provincial
Police Bureau, Region 5, concluded.
According to figures released after the New Year
festival, the number of accidents went down compared to last year’s
figure, from 1,281 injuries and 27 deaths, down to 1,033 injuries and 15
deaths. However, 80 percent of road deaths and injuries were caused from
riding motorcycles without wearing a helmet.
Police Lieutenant Major Viroj said accidents are still a
problem for big cities. “If there is no strict enforcement (of the laws),
the increasing number of vehicles will create more serious accidents,” he
Considering that around 50 percent of Chiang Mai’s
motorcycle riders do not have a license, and 80 percent do not wear a
helmet, the enforcement appears to be very weak. No one disagrees with the
strategies, but it all comes back to enforcement of the laws that are
already currently in force.