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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Bird Flu recovery to cost 25 billion

Chiang Mai turns into Cinderella!

8 mio baht earmarked for Thai-Burma border development

PEA to light up our lives

Chiang Mai trying to attract MICE market

Industrial Fair 2004 in Chiang Mai February 27

Lampang looking for private industry to run sequestered property

Candidates keen to register for Chiang Rai PAO president

Local teas in the World Tea Festival pot

New Project for FERC

PAO elections next month

Wired Communities seminar

Fire season upon us again

Lamphun Province trying to lower Songkran road toll

Young gangsters apprehended

Mae Hong Son’s previous PAO president unopposed

Lampang PAO elections look lively

Drug traffickers still being caught in Thailand

Bird Flu recovery to cost 25 billion

Banks setting aside the moneys needed

Thanawan Chumsaeng

The SME Bank, accompanied by the Government Savings Bank (GSB) and the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) has outlined a budget of more than 25 billion baht for a recovery plan after the outbreak of bird flu in Thailand.

Pinit Charusombat, minister of industry, said that following the bird flu crisis major financial losses and suffering have been experienced by Thai poultry farmers and others involved in the production and sale of chickens.

Under the recovery plan, the Industry Ministry indicated that the SME Bank together with the GSB, and BAAC have already set aside a budget to help relieve the crisis, with 10 billion baht for recovery procedures, another 10 billion baht for improving the breeding system and more than 5 billion baht for slaughterhouses and poultry processing plants.

The Iron and Steel Institute of Thailand, in cooperation with the National Food Institute has submitted to the Livestock Department a restoration plan to build metal structured housing for chicken farms, to improve sanitation and breeding procedures. This new style of chicken house was displayed during the government’s campaign to promote poultry safety at Sanam Luang.


Chiang Mai turns into Cinderella!

The lights go out at midnight

Saksit Meesupkwang and staff writers

Chiang Mai province is going to take its ‘social order’ responsibilities seriously on zoning entertainment outlets with punishments for those breaking the rules. Following the Bangkok meeting held on February 12-13, it was announced that Chiang Mai must follow the 1966 law which was amended last year.

This edict was given by Chiang Mai Muang District Officer, Chumporn Saengmanee, who said that Chiang Mai is going to zone the areas for restaurants, food shops and entertainment outlets.

He said that even though Chiang Mai is regarded as a “tourist place” it will still follow the government rules and regulations, in that they could operate their businesses until 2 a. m. inside the entertainment zone, or until midnight for those outside the zoning areas.

He emphasized that any food shops, restaurants, karaoke bars, and other entertainment outlets outside the proscribed zone found open after midnight would be in violation of the law and face punishment.

District Officer Chumporn said that the new edict meant that not only the local government offices, but also local police, educational institutes; and family institutes must cooperate to ensure the law is upheld.

The proposed zoning areas for Chiang Mai will be the areas on the ring roads, starting from Chiang Mai City Hall, ending at the areas behind Payap University. “When it is officially announced, those operators and owners would then be allowed to open until 2 a.m.”

Dr Rathawut Sukmeee, the head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office added that the office also takes responsibility for the operations of traditional Thai massage and spa businesses in the city which are currently booming as tourist attractions.

The only issue now will be to see if tourists really do want to be tucked into their holiday beds by the Interior Ministry at midnight?


8 mio baht earmarked for Thai-Burma border development

Mae Hong Son hoping for increased trade and tourism

Saluay Niramai

Supot Laowanasiri, governor of Mae Hong Song announced that this year, the provincial authorities have planned to invest eight million baht in a border development project that will connect the two villages of Ban Huay Pueng and Ban Long Haeng with Burma’s Ban Hua Muang nearby villages in the Shan State.

The two Mae Hong Song villages are located only 1,500 meters away from the Thai-Burmese border, and the plan is to set up a market area and “One Stop Service Centre” where Thai and Burmese merchants and vendors can come and exchange their goods and trade.

He also said there will be improvement in the border road to make it more convenient for travelers between the two countries. This road should be completed by the end of the year and he hopes these border villages become tourist attractions in the future.

Suphot Klinpraneet, the president of Mae Hong Son Provincial Tourist Association added that if these villages are developed as market places linking the two countries, then more tourists and visitors are expected to cross at these border villages to enter Ban Hua Muang in the Shan State of Burma.


PEA to light up our lives

50,000 households to get an electrifying experience

The Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) has started a project to provide electricity supply to every family in six northern provinces. By the end of next year, PEA plans to provide electricity to more than 50,000 households that have yet to be connected to the grid.

MP Yaowapha Wongsawas (4th from right), deputy Thai Rak Thai party, presided over the opening ceremony of the project to supply electricity to all households by the end of next year. With her is Chiang Mai Governor Suwat (3rd from left), Decha Wichipan, director of PEA, Northern Region 1, Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn (2nd right), and guests of honor.

PEA Northern Region 1 announced the project at a meeting held at the Empress Hotel, Chiang Mai, saying they had commenced plans to supply every household with electricity by April of next year.

Decha Wichipan, director of PEA Northern region 1, said that in six northern provinces there are still over 50,000 people who do not have electricity in their homes. The plan is to bring electric poles and lines to all accessible areas, while non-accessible regions will be set up with solar panels to supply electricity for home use.

The total cost of this project will reach 900 million baht, 300 million of this being reserved for setting up the poles and electric lines and the remaining 600 million baht will be used to set up the solar panels in different villages.


Chiang Mai trying to attract MICE market

Make cheese available after 2 a.m. is a start

The international convention and exhibition center to be established in Chiang Mai will give Thailand a greater chance of getting into more high-class tourist markets worldwide.

Chalermsak Suranant, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand, Northern Office, Region 1, said that the construction of this new international convention and exhibition center in Chiang Mai would increase business opportunities and ability to compete in the world markets and become a MICE (Marketing, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) destination for world conventions.

“If Thailand can use the MICE market to attract foreigners and markets from abroad, there is more area for expansion and future competition with rivals like Hong Kong and Singapore,” he said.

The international convention center is expected to be built in Tambon Mae Hia area, Hang Dong district, and the blueprints are nearly finished for the construction.

Work is also expected to begin in August this year and the building be ready to open in June 2006 to receive international conventions.


Industrial Fair 2004 in Chiang Mai February 27

Fashion and food

Chiang Mai Province is organizing the Industrial Fair 2004 by emphasizing that Chiang Mai is a fashion city and a place where you can experience the world’s cuisine.

The Provincial Federation of Thai Industries, Chiang Mai announced that Industrial Fair 2004 will be organized during February 27 - March 7, at the Industrial Promotion Center, Region 1, on Tung Hotel Road, Muang District, Chiang Mai.

The aim is to promote products of the north and one of the most important, responding to governmental policy, is to push Chiang Mai forward as another fashion city as well as Thailand’s world cuisine. Products designed and developed here and of export standard will also be displayed and sold in the fair.

There will be exhibitions of interesting industries, fashion shows from well-known boutiques in Chiang Mai, the best of OTOP products, seminars on SME’s, short-term vocational training courses and other interesting activities.


Lampang looking for private industry to run sequestered property

Tossaporn Boonchan

The Anti Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has presented the Thai style housing in Lampang, which previously belonged to the suspected drug dealer Panom Sap-anek, and was seized on August 2 last year, to Lampang provincial authorities to look after with the profits to help maintain the property, according to Amorntat Niratsayakul, governor of Lampang. The housing complex is situated in Tambon Chompu, Muang Lampang district.

The authorities have agreed that this property should be given to private enterprise to run as a tourist business, and the provincial governor is looking for people to apply with viable plans for running this tourist business.

The Lampang provincial authorities in this instance are under supervision of AMLO and have been charged with running the business to generate funds for maintenance and to use the seized property in a positive way.


Candidates keen to register for Chiang Rai PAO president

Must be a good salary on offer for the post

Registrations opened for the position of Chiang Rai PAO president and for the first time, the candidates for the elected post were lining up at the front door of the electoral office before it had opened.

The early birds were Mrs. Rattana Jongsutthanamanee and Salakjit Tiyapairat. Both candidates are backed by the Thai Rak Thai party and since there was no opposition in the area, any other hopefuls for the position will be registered as independents.

It is expected that there will be other candidates campaigning in all 32 zoning areas in 16 districts and 2 sub-districts. Registrations closed on February 13 and a fierce battle for electoral loyalties is expected. National politicians have been approached to assist some candidates, but with a preponderance of one political party, the outcome is not difficult to predict from the populist party political platform.


Local teas in the World Tea Festival pot

Chiang Rai turning over a new leaf?

Samphan Changthong

The World Tea Festival has just been concluded and was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Social Development, and Human Security, the Mae Fah Luang Foundation under the Royal Patronage, and Chiang Rai provincial authorities.

The festival was held to promote and introduce tea produced in Thailand into the world markets, and to stimulate and educate the people and farmers in the region to realize the importance of tea, a cash crop that can grow here.

The event was well attended this year, being held for a full 10 days to teach the public about the different teas such as Chinese tea, Indian tea, Sri-Lankan tea, Japanese tea and English tea.

About 3000 different varieties with different flavors can be grown. Introducing the local farmers to grow tea, and distinguishing the different tea leaves were some of the items covered during the festival.


New Project for FERC

You can help this charity at the FERC Gala

Text by Renee Vines
Photo by Marc Dumur

The Foundation for the Education of Rural Children (FERC), will build a regional Library/Study Center at the Bann Hui Sing School in the Mae Sariang district. The Center will serve ten villages by loaning books and providing ready access to materials needed to study for higher education admission exams.

Marion Rover, secretary of the Samsara Foundation, receiving a gift from the children.

The project will be funded by FERC’s fifth annual gala on February 28 at Le Grand Lanna. The previous galas have funded one major building project and numerous scholarships in each of the last four years.

The Bann Hui Sing School is somewhat unique in that it was started as a community effort to provide education for local children about 15 years ago. The Thai Ministry of Education later took over the school. The community spirit stills reigns in the area, however, as members of FERC’s Board discovered in early February when they visited.

Community leaders were asked to provide volunteer labor and make a small financial contribution to the project and they happily agreed. Children from the school entertained the visitors and community adults gathered to watch the measuring of the area to be covered by their new library. Board members invited the children who danced for them to also perform at the gala and the invitation was readily accepted!

A feeling of warmth and appreciation went with each board member as they returned to Chiang Mai. This is what foundation work should be - a group of people jointly interested in making a meaningful contribution matched by eagerness of the recipients to chip in!

In the rural area of the mountains of Mae Sariang, it is almost impossible for students to gain access to study materials that would help them prepare for entrance examinations to colleges, universities and technical schools. The center will solve this problem by housing an extensive selection of such materials. It is expected that this regional library will have 50,000 books on loan to both children and adults - everyone in the community.

The foundation board selected this project after examining several other proposals because it will serve a large number of both hill tribe people and Thais and should add significantly to the educational horizon of the community.

The budget for the Bann Hui Sing Library/Study Center is 600,000 baht and it is hoped that the entire amount will be raised at the Fifth Annual Gala on Feb 28. Tickets at 1,500 baht are available at guest relations Amari Rincome, Chiangmai Mail Office (Marion), Le Grand Lanna, or from committee members Luxami Utaipol, Marc Dumur, Annelie Hendriks, Rebecca Lomax, Celeste Tolibas-Holland and Renee Vines. A Patron ticket is also available at 5,000 baht. Exciting auction items and prizes galore will be available at the gala. See you there!


PAO elections next month

Party political jockeying already evident

Phitsanu Thepthong

The registration procedure for the election of Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) president and its members is underway. The Election Day has been set for Sunday, March 14.

Kanaphol Pinkaew, the director of Chiang Mai provincial elections said the current term of administration by the former president and members finished on February 4, this year. The elections would be for one position for president, and 42 seats for PAO members.

So far there are four candidates for president, Thawatwong na Chiang Mai, a former Chiang Mai MP, and deputy minister of finance; Mrs. Busaba Yodbangtoey, a former Chiang Mai mayor; Udornphan Chantaraviroj, a former president of Chiang Mai PAO and Narong Niyomthai, a former Chiang Mai MP.

Although three of the candidates are supposed to be from the Thai Rak Thai party, Thawatwong was the only candidate formally recognized by Thai Rak Thai party, while Mrs. Busaba was backed by the Rak Chart Group, Udornphan, was backed by Pattana Chiang Mai (Developing Chiang Mai) group, and Narong, a former Democrat Party member, is campaigning for this election as an independent.


Wired Communities seminar

ICT in Teaching and Learning - Experiences from the UK

Phitsanu Thepthong

A seminar to explore ways in which Information Communication and Technology (ICT) can be more effectively integrated into education and link the classroom to the wider community was held at the Rydges Hotel Chiang Mai. It featured keynote presentations by three UK speakers: Grace Kempster, Marion Brookes and Neeta Patel. This seminar was part of the Wired Communities series of Leading Edge seminars as part of the 4th Thai-UK Education Festival 2004.

The new British Ambassador to Thailand, His Excellency David Fall, presided over the opening of the seminar “Wired Communities - ICT in Teaching and Learning: Experiences from the UK”, organized by The British Council, Chiang Mai, in the ballroom at the Rydges Tapae. It was the ambassador’s first official visit to Chiang Mai. Pictured from left: David Hopkinson (director of the British Council Chiang Mai and hon. British consul) standing next to Madame Fall, H.E. David Fall (the British ambassador) and Arie J.M. de Keijzer (GM of The Rydges Tapae).

The opening ceremony was presided over by the British Ambassador to Thailand, David Fall, as part of his first official visit to Chiang Mai, and participants were welcomed by David Hopkins, director British Council.

The morning sessions included “Learning communities, Thinking nations - Developing Wired Communities” presented by Grace Kempster, director of ISM, British Council, “Transforming learning in the classroom - the role of ICT”, by Marion Brookes from Cambridge Education Associates and the “Knowledge and learning in the virtual education environment” by Grace Kempster. The other topic was “If you build it, they will come - the myths and realities of developing online services” by Neeta Patel, the director of Internet Business Development Group, British Council, UK.

“Wired Communities Where knowledge and learning Connect,” was presented at the seminar showing that “Culture Online” has helped enable people to develop their talents to the full, it is an innovative initiative to increase access to, and participation in, art and culture. It brings together cultural organizations with cutting edge technical providers to create projects that will delight adults and children of all ages and backgrounds.

WebPlayUK is another internet-based project that enables primary schoolchildren from rural and urban areas to work with a professional theatre company to create, produce and perform short plays. The plays are then uploaded onto a specially created website.

The National Grid for Learning (NGfL) is also a gateway to educational resources on the internet. NGfL provides a network of selected links to websites that offer high quality content and information. It offers information ranging from starting up a business, having a baby, starting a new school, looking for a job, dealing with crime, learning to drive, moving home, looking after someone, pensions and retirement, death and bereavement, and other services on-line such as applying for a passport and registering to vote.

At present, the seminar concluded that Internet for Education, is a free, “Teach yourself”, tutorial that lets you practice your internet information skills with experts to guide you to the best of the Web.

Internet for Education has been written by Stephen Pickles of the Institute of Education, University of London. It is one of set tutorials within the RDN Virtual Training Suite, created by subject specialists from universities and professional organizations across the UK.


Fire season upon us again

Chiang Rai sets up fire prevention unit

Chiang Rai has launched a promotional campaign to help save lives and property from forest fire outbreaks during this dry season. Charunroj Chimsamran, the head of Chiang Rai Provincial Public Relations Office announced that they have once again reached the dry season, which easily supports forest fires.

Sadly, during this season, forest fires often occur and the needless loss of human life and property comes about because of negligence, he said.

This year a special task force center has been set up in Chiang Rai on Pratu Chiang Mai Road, Tambon Wiang, Muang Chiang Rai district. This fire prevention and control unit is set up to help those who have questions or need assistance when dealing with forest fires.

To gain more collaboration from the city they are organizing a rally, a painting and poetry contest and competition about the environment.

The unit hopes that with this they can educate more people about the dangers, and prevent forest fires. The event will be held at Mae Suay Witthayakom School on February 28 at 9 a.m. in Chiang Rai. The public is welcome.


Lamphun Province trying to lower Songkran road toll

Effective measures being put forward

Lamphun Province seeks cooperation from both government and private sectors to launch a promotional campaign among motorcyclists about turning on headlights and wearing helmets. This is being done to attempt to decrease the shocking Songkran festival road toll.

Prayoon Wongphanitch, deputy governor of Lamphun Province revealed that during the past New Year Festival there were 255 accidents in Lamphun Province, 236 of which involved motorcycles. In almost half the cases, the injured people were under 20 years of age and the accidents happened at road junctions.

Lamphun Provincial Authorities have asked for cooperation from the government organizations and private sector, especially from large industrial concerns that have many employees. They are asking them to ensure their employees are wearing helmets and always turning on headlights.

Lamphun Provincial Authorities will also cooperate with educational institutes and related organizations to set up a service center to install a system that when the riders start the engine, headlights will be switched on automatically.


Young gangsters apprehended

Repeat felons not getting the message

Tossaporn Boonchan

Lampang provincial police, led by Pol. Lt. Col. Thaveesak Nayangcharoen, deputy superintendent for investigation at Lampang Muang Police Station, reported the police force’s success in apprehending three young ‘ride-by’ thieves. The miscreants were aged between 17-24 years old and were all Lampang residents.

The police said the Khelang Radio Center at Lampang Police Station received details describing the culprits, who were not only carrying out ride-by robbery but had left people injured as they knocked them over with their motorcycles. Miss Wantanee Saenmuangkaew was one of the victims knocked down in front of Khelang Ram Hospital on Phaholyothin Road.

After receiving fresh information, police gave chase and stopped the thieves, seizing two motorcycles, two mobile phones, three handbags, two sharp knives and 300 baht cash.

All confessed their crimes to the police, telling them about nine episodes during an 11-day spree, January 24 - February 3. Six cases were bag snatching and the other three were pre-meditated robberies in the local area.

Lampang Muang District Pol. Lt. Col. Thaveesak Nayangcharoen has also warned local residents to be on the lookout, while the police themselves will be investigating teenagers found loitering after midnight. He intimated that there were other young hoodlums in Lampang and the police have them under surveillance.


Mae Hong Son’s previous PAO president unopposed

Says his record speaks for itself

Registration of the candidates for Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) president and members is underway in Mae Hong Son. There are 24 registered election areas in Mae Hong Son and the hopefuls submitted their applications at Mae Hong Son Social Civic Center.

However, there was only one applicant for the position of PAO president, Surasith Trithong, the former president who is also a member of the Thai Rak Thai Party, still dominant despite the bird flu controversy. Many people gave him encouragement and support, especially the hill tribe people who traveled from Pang Ma Pha District, Pai District and Sob Moei Districts in Mae Hong Son.

Surasith stated that he was quite confident that he would get the votes from people again because he believes that people could see and review his work during the past years, citing the development of public utilities and the promotion of Mae Hong Son culture and education. He was not even worried if there were other competitors and he said that his bid must be evaluated by the productive work he has done in the past.


Lampang PAO elections look lively

At least there is more than one party represented

Tossaporn Boonchan

During the first day of registering candidates for the election of president and members of Lampang’s PAO (Provincial Administrative Organization), the atmosphere was full of vitality. National politicians have realized the importance of the northern provinces, and, showing solidarity and support for their candidates, are backing three groups here.

Candidate No. 1 in the run for Lampang PAO president turned out to be Jarasrit Chantarasurin, son of Pinit Chantarasurin, a Member of Parliament from Lampang Province and member of the Doi Ngern Group. The younger Chantarasurin’s team includes former members of Lampang’s PAO.

The Mae Wang Group scored number 2 on the ticket with Phairoj Lohsoonthorn, a long-term Member of Parliament from Lampang who has survived many elections, sending Mrs. Sunee Sommee, who was a member of the PAO in the Wang Nua District, in at number 2.

The last group was the Boonchu Pattana Group, led by the aptly named Boonchu Trithong, a Lampang senator who decided to field candidates in five areas out of a total of 30.

It is also interesting, for those who watch Thai politics, that the Doi Ngern Group and the Mae Wang Group are running separate tickets, sending their own candidates to compete against each other, even though they were in alliance at the last election.


Drug traffickers still being caught in Thailand

Methamphetamines, opium and weapons seized

Supin Chindaluang

The Pha Muang task force has seized more than 14,000 methamphetamine pills, along with raw opium and weapons in Wiang Haeng district, Chiang Mai.

Maj. Gen. Manas Paorik, the commander of Pha Muang task force, assigned cavalry forces to keep watch on the drug situation and in response, they set up a checkpoint at Ban Chong, in Wiang Haeng district. They then apprehended two suspects who were searched, revealing a haul of 14,000 methamphetamine tablets, half a kilogram of raw opium, 7 rounds of ammunition and one knife.

The two males confessed they were hired to bring the drugs to customers, but disclosed no details of their employers. Further interrogation might assist them to remember the source.

Pha Muang special task force would continue their operation to suppress the remaining drug networks in the north.