NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Bird flu fears grip the north

Metered taxis for Chiang Mai City

Mardi Gras-type festival Feb 12-15 officially starts tourist season in Chiang Mai

Chiang Rai prepares to build 4 Buddha images

Excess longan production brings in “Mr. Longan”

Restoration of Phrathat Doi Suthep underway

Mae Fah Luang Foundation opens its garden to tourists

Globalization and Development Symposium this Monday

Seminar told Thai Elephant on the verge of extinction

Sunday is nail-biting time for five mayoral candidates

Naresuan Force captures over 13,000 bottles of Ketamine

Arson suspected in Lanna View housing estate fire

Mae Sa Elephant Camp and CMU Veterinary faculty sign academic exchange agreement

Chiang Rai to hold first World Tea Rally

ONCB warn of new drugs in town

Learn Japanese for 1 baht an hour

Mae Moh sulfur dioxide levels are safe, says Pollution Control Department

SME Center to be established soon

Nicolaas Bloembergen speaks on Laser Technology in Peace and War

Strategy to reduce road toll and traffic accidents

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 central region.

These 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 days.

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?

Chin Ratitamakul

The Chiang Mai Provincial Authorities and Provincial Land Transport Office have approved a proposal to begin a metered taxi service in Chiang Mai City.

Singkham 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

Reinhard Hohler

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.

The 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 this year.

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 and traders.

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 disbanded.

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 suggested.


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

Samphan Changthong

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!

Chin Ratitamakul

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).

(From 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 elephants.

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 Pittaya.


Sunday is nail-biting time for five mayoral candidates

First direct election of Chiang Mai Municipality mayor

Phitsanu Thepthong and Chin Rattitamakul

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 council members.

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.

Party 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 local authorities.


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.

Lots 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

Chin Ratitamakul

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 years.


Chiang Rai to hold first World Tea Rally

Samphan Changthong

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 Thailand.

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 areas.


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

Measurements continue

Vikrom Wetchasart

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 current.)

All reports from the 13 stations measure the atmospheric contamination every week. All stations are calibrated on the 10th of the month.


SME Center to be established soon

To provide help for small entrepreneurs

Chin Ratitamakul

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 Army.

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 2003-2008.


Nicolaas Bloembergen speaks on Laser Technology in Peace and War

Marion Vogt

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.

Nobel 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.”

Vice 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 explained.

At 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 surgery.

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?

Chin Rattitamakul

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.

Police 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 added.

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.