Nightriders ignore helmet rule
Young adults the main offenders - and the most killed
The much vaunted police crackdown on
motorcyclists is largely being ignored by the group most at risk – young
motorcyclists. The Chiangmai Mail carried out its own survey last
week to see if the local motorcyclists were heeding the police call to turn
on their headlights and wear their helmets. The results turned out to be
two out of six, or exactly one-third, of the riders shown here are wearing
helmets. This is not a good sign if the authorities hope to reduce the death
toll on our roads.
A couple of months ago, less than 20 percent of
motorcyclists were wearing helmets, with most riders apparently leaving
their life protecting headgear at home. With the well-publicized road safety
campaign and police hiding round street corners with violations book at the
ready, it initially appeared as if it were actually beginning to take
A middle of the day survey showed that the motorcycle
riders were now, more often than not, wearing a helmet, with around 2/3rds
obeying the law. Pillion passengers were, however, still largely ignoring
the statutes, with only around one third of them wearing any type of helmet.
This was still a much better result than before the Xmas-New Year period.
Repeating the survey in the evening, as a confirmation,
turned in some devastating statistics. The compliance as far as helmets was
concerned fell to around only one third of riders and much less than that
for their pillion passengers.
With the alcohol factor being so much greater at night,
it will be unlikely that the road toll will be less at Songkran if the
helmet rule continues to be ignored by those most at risk. Can we ask that
the Chiang Mai police be just as vigilant at night as they are during the
day? Many Chiang Mai mothers will support you.
A nightmare lived - Georg Taubmann reflects on 102 days in Taliban captivity
Miracles do happen
Recall mid August 2001 - the international media was full
of reports of eight foreign aid workers detained in Afghanistan. The
expatriate relief workers were accused of preaching Christianity among
Afghan Muslims. Under the Taliban’s strict interpretation of the Islamic
law, the penalty for both proselytizing and apostasy (conversion from Islam
to another religion) is the death sentence.
Taubmann, director of Shelter Now International, Kabul. (Photo by Marion
Looking at Georg Taubmann and his wife Marianne now, they
appear cool, calm, and collected, and were more than willing to share their
phenomenal story and personal experiences in an exclusive interview with Chiangmai
“At that time, we had lived and worked in Afghanistan
and Pakistan for 18 years. Our organization had built houses, canals, wells,
roads, had supplied food and medical aid to thousands and thousands of
people, and took care of street kids. We provided aid and clothes to refugee
camps, sheltering tens of thousands of people. We were welcomed with open
arms, and had support from basically all international countries and
governments. And then, out of the blue, it all went terribly wrong.”
and Marianne Taubmann showing pictures taken in captivity. (Photo by Marion
The story sounded more like a script for a Hollywood
movie, and even Georg admitted to that, as it included Black Hack
helicopters, secret service agents with night-vision goggles, but also the
horrific scenes and scenarios one normally looks away from when shown on TV.
“Several times during our detention, we were not only
relocated from one prison to another, but also brought to places where other
prisoners were shot or hanged. At one stage, we were told to watch a soccer
game in a stadium. After the stadium was filled with spectators, the exits
were locked, and a number of prisoners were publicly executed, in front of
an audience of a few thousand.”
Georg still recalls the sounds and screams of detainees
being tortured, and the sight of those prisoners afterwards. “The hacked
body parts were put on sticks around the area, clearly visible for all,”
said Georg recalling the horror.
“All in all, we were kept in five detention centers,
including our final prison in Ghazni, where we had neither water, nor a
toilet. The plan was that this destination was just an overnight stopover on
the road from Kabul to Kandahar, which was the Taliban’s stronghold in the
south of the country. Luckily, the Taliban left Ghazni without us, after
having been attacked by locals.” From their cell, the detainees listened
to the shooting outside. “We were absolutely certain that we would die
that night,” Georg said.
After some time of not knowing what to expect, the cell
doors suddenly were broken open by anti-Taliban locals who declared the
detainees free. “It was one of the many miracles which we experienced
during our 3-month ordeal,” Georg reaffirmed.
After such a horrific experience, I asked him how he
feels about it now. “We are only humans, and therefore feel a certain
hatred. But I must say I am a Christian, and the Bible tells me that I have
to forgive. I have forgiven them for what they have done to us.”
After his rescue, Georg Taubmann returned to Germany,
only to find out that he did not really belong there. A few months later,
the whole family returned to Kabul. They found their house plundered and
destroyed. But even the loss of 1.5 million euros could not awake bitterness
However, the horror did not end there. Exactly one year
after his arrest, Georg was in the Pakistani mountain resort of Murree,
where one of his sons was enrolled in a Christian school. On that day,
masked gunmen, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, stormed the campus, killing
six Pakistani workers. His son, mercifully, was not injured.
“Many years ago, the country’s situation could only
be described as ‘hopeless’. Now, after the Taliban regime, this has
turned into ‘hope’. We still have a lot to do,” he said with a smile.
George has been awarded a number of international
recognitions, including the German ‘Bundesverdienstkreuz’, the highest
award the German president gives out each year. He did not receive those
awards for his time in captivity, but for his work as director of the
Shelter Now Organization. A remarkable, strong, and positive-thinking family
you do not meet every day.
Big Brother is watching what you’re watching!
The Thought Police are closing in
Dr. Surapong Suebwonglee, the Information Communication
Technology minister, said the ministry has been working assiduously to
control obscene websites for the last six months. They have established a
special team unit generally known as Internet Cyber Inspectors, to receive
information from concerned parties and keep a lookout for impolite words as
well as obscene pictures on websites.
Following their vigilance, more than 1,000 websites in
this country were forced to end their services. However, he expressed the
serious concern that many obscene websites from overseas were still a
problem, due to not enough information. Fortunately, the Ministry of Culture
accompanied by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security have
kept watching and at the same time a tip off by many volunteers has led to
fining or arresting people who acted against the law.
The minister noted that the new Whale program, developed
in Thailand, is an effort to block websites with impolite words or obscene
pictures. This new program allows young citizens to surf internet secure in
the knowledge they would not inadvertently stumble across any naughty words.
However, he added that this serious problem is still
difficult to stop through the great number of obscene foreign websites and
new website names that are cropping up. He also asks for cooperation from
internet surfers to immediately inform the ministry about inappropriate
We have checked the Chiangmai Mail website and are
removing any words ending in the letter x and deleting all words that have
only four letters.
Second phase of Eua Arthorn low cost computers starts
It’s trade in time!
In line with the government’s aim of having Thailand an
e-community, the second phase of Eua Arthorn low cost computers will be
operational next month.
Dr Surapong Suewonglee, minister of Information and
Communication Technology, (ICT), said the government has instituted a
computer exchange program to allow computer users to exchange their old
computers for new ones.
The plan is for current users to bring in their old
computers and get new ones and the old ones will be donated to schools in
the provinces. The computers will all be Pentium 4, 256 Ram of memory, and
40 Gigabyte hard disks. The prices are currently being negotiated.
The plan is to have 20,000 computers ready for exchange
by March 12. The committee has also collaborated with many businesses to
provide these computers and will be circulating a list of prices and
computer specifications during the 3rd week of this month.
Software promotions office open as part of the Chiang Mai-ICT city
Does Bill Gates know about this?
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) minister
Surapong Suebwonglee presided over the opening ceremony of the Software
Industry Promotion Agency (Public Organization).
computer business is looking up ... ICT minister Surapong, center, presses a
button to mark the opening.
Minister Surapong said the establishment of the new
center would bring great benefit to this province and before further
implementation in Khon Kaen province and Phuket.
The plan to push Chiang Mai forwards as an ICT city had
gained full support from the organizations concerned such as the Software
Industry Promotion Agency, National Economic and Social Development Board,
Chiang Mai Office, Provincial Chamber of Commerce and other educational
To achieve the results from this software plan, a budget
worth than 420 million baht was prepared to support the software industry
within the province and at the same time promote tourism, and handicrafts.
Additionally, the project encompasses setting up a
telephone network system, with high speed internet and mobile phones through
multimedia system under the Telephone Organization of Thailand that would be
soon launched in Chiang Mai in preparation for it becoming an ICT city.
He also added that the Smart ID Card project was
scheduled to be introduced by April this year in Chiang Mai as the first
Valentine’s Day is for lovers in Chiang Mai
Don’t bump me, I’m full of eggs
Hundreds of couples, imbued with the loving spirit of
Valentine’s Day, registered their marriages with the local government
waiting to register their marriage at the Chiang Mai Muang District Office
on February 14.
In the Muang Chiang Mai district, eggs were also
presented to the couples, provided by the district officer Chumporn
3,000 chicken eggs were prepared by the district
officials, while some hotels from the Thai Hotel Association, Northern
Chapter also provided free rooms for bridal couples who registered on the
On Doi Saket district, some couples registered their
marriage in a hot air balloon. Surapol Panas-ampol, Doi Saket district
officer registered seven couples who fell in love and got married while
drifting in the clouds of love.
Chiang Rai to integrate local wisdom and education system
But is this wise?
An international seminar was held at Dusit Island Resort
Hotel, in Chiang Rai Province, organized by the Ministry of Education
entitled “The integration of local wisdom with the educational system”.
Participants came from 11 Asian countries including Brunei, Cambodia,
Indonesia, Laos P.D.R., Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam,
China, Japan and India.
Rung Kaewdaeng, Secretary General of the Educational
Council, Ministry of Education, presided over the opening ceremony. The
seminar was also a cooperation between the Educational Institute General
Secretary’s Office, the Ministry of Education, the Cultural Center of
Education for Development in Asia Pacific, the United Nations Science and
Cultural Education organization, the Regional Center of Archaeology and Fine
Arts, and the Regional Center for Development of Higher Education Institutes
and Chiang Rai Provincial Authorities.
Rung Kaewdaeng said that the seminar took the form of
brain storming and exchange of ideas, looking for ways to use local
knowledge to overcome education problems as they pertain to the different
countries and to see if cross-cultural solutions could be found.
Hill tribe cultural festival
for Chiang Rai
Visitors invited to try khamu alcohol
The lifestyle of the hill tribes men will be presented at
the Amazing Ethnic Groups Festival in Chiang Rai, beginning at 5 p.m. on
The Chiang Rai provincial hill tribe development and
welfare center in Tambon pa sang, Mae Chan district will hold the festival,
to preserve the primitive cultures of each minority group in Thailand
Pinchai Pinkaew, director of the Center, says visitors
will be amazed at their stunning costumes, their cultural performances,
their food, drinks, herbal drinks and the potent khamu alcohol.
Thanya Nikrotharnond, director of Tourism Authority of
Thailand, Northern Region 2 Chiang Rai said this cultural festival would be
something new to attract visitors, and especially the traditional large
swing ceremony, normally held around August and September each year.
Kraisith Sithichok, director of the Akha Association of
Thailand, said this festival would include various ethnic groups and their
preservation, as many hill tribe men from throughout the country have been
invited to attend the event.
Government attempting to get three large projects underway
Problems ahead with traffic and waste disposal however
Chiang Mai is slated to press ahead with
three large government backed projects. These include construction of an
International Convention and Exhibition Center, a Northern Agricultural
Products Distribution Center, and an SME Product Center.
The permanent secretary of the prime minister’s office,
Pol Major Yongyuth Sarasombat last week followed up the progress of the
three projects at a meeting with the officials and government offices
concerned at Chiang Mai City Hall.
During this meeting, the traffic problem and construction
sites were discussed and the committee finalized the decision to locate the
International Convention and Exhibition Center at Tambon Mae Hia with
approval of the cabinet. It was suggested that public utilities in the area
should be improved to avoid future traffic problems.
The SME Product Display Center would be located at Ban
Nong Hor, Tambon Chang Puak, Muang, Chiang Mai, while the Center for
Agricultural Product Distribution (Northern Region) was not approved not to
be built at this area, due to the traffic problem and 40 ton garbage waste
each day which would result in wastewater in the irrigation canals, the main
source of running water for the city.
The new site of the Agricultural Center is expected to be
at the White Mulberry Station in the Institute of Dry Crops near Maejo
University in San Sai district.
Some representatives of the Chiang Mai commerce expressed
the opinion that this latest center should be located on Highway No.11 and
the committee allowed them 30 days to carry out a feasibility study and
Those projects are expected to be completed by 2006
before the World Horticulture Fair in this area.
TAT gears up for 7th Thailand Tourism Awards
Ceremonies must end by midnight
The Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Mana
Chobtham, chaired the TAT seminar at Mae Ping Imperial hotel on February 12,
regarding the 7th Thailand Tourism Awards of 2004.
sector personnel attending the TAT seminar at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel.
Director Mana said this project was introduced to
encourage tourism entrepreneurs to upgrade tourist services to a higher
level in terms of service and environmental awareness. He put strong
emphasis on environment conservation as the main tourist attractions
bringing the tourism dollar into Thailand.
Recipients of the tourism awards would be those who
assist the public and support tourism activities, specifically foreigners
who after traveling across the kingdom promote tourism activities in
The award categories include the Tourism Award, Tourist
Accommodation Award, Tourism Promotion Organization Award, Tourism
Development Project Award and Public Relation Award.
The award ceremony will be on September 27, which is
World Tourism Day. Special awards called Friends of Thailand will be
presented to Thailand’s allies for their efforts to help support
Thailand’s tourism in their own countries while the Excellent Tourist
Guide Awards will be given to tourist guides who demonstrate excellent
TAT has organized seminars throughout the country and
worldwide to boost tourism activities in Thailand. TAT activities are
regarded as ways to produce higher standards of Thailand’s tourism as well
as improving our reputation overseas.
The unanswered question is still whether international tourists are
prepared to come to Thailand, to be told they have to go to bed at midnight.
Thailand-China FTA under the microscope
The Thai government’s policy is to open up more
agricultural markets abroad, and this is being done through Free Trade
Agreements (FTA), especially with China which was effected from October last
year, for agricultural products, vegetables and fruit.
Prof Napaporn Mekhayai (right), the dean of the Agricultural Business
Faculty, presents an honorary doctorate degree in economics to Dr.
Pittayaphol Narthataradol, the manager of Bank for Agriculture and
Agricultural Cooperatives during the seminar.
Maejo University’s Agricultural Business Faculty held a
seminar on “Directions of Thai farmers markets, in the age of FTA”, with
Associate Prof Napaporn Mekhayai in attendance. The seminar was organized
along with the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC)
which has foreseen the significance of prices of agricultural products.
Currently it was accepted that marketing was a major
factor in both domestic and foreign markets. Well prepared planning and
marketing will result in good prices for the produce.
Guest speakers were Dr. Pittayaphol Narthataradol, the
manager of BAAC, who spoke on the roles of agricultural cooperatives and the
agricultural markets in the age of IT; Wiwat Maikaensarn, the deputy senior
committee of the Charoen Phokaphan Co (CP); Kangwan Tantipong-anant, the
secretary of Thai-Chinese Economic Association; Dr Suthiporn Jeeraphanthu,
the secretary of the Agriculture Economic Office and Rujana Supnirand,
managing director of Maboon Krong Rice Co.
The seminar resulted because the economics experts at
Maejo University expressed their concerns over the Thai government policy on
FTA with China. Assoc Prof Dr. Prasert Chanyasuparp, a lecture on economics
and agricultural cooperatives at Maejo University remarked that with the
agreement between Thailand and China for free trade, Thailand should gain a
major advantage over other countries, since China is a big market with a
However even though Thailand pays zero percent import
duties into China, there are still many areas of rules and regulations in
which China still has the upper hand in trade. This was why agreements with
China must be reviewed and discussed to make sure we get the advantage. Dr.
Prasert also said that in the current world it is very important for markets
to have freedom and good export agreements between countries to help support
the economy and encourage growth.
Governments must help exporters to move their products to
appropriate countries to help the economy and discourage high import and
export fees so that the businesses will still gain from exporting.
Chiang Saen looking for world heritage listing
But much work needed
Chiang Rai’s deputy governor Sriprom Hormyok said
Chiang Rai is preparing to promote the ancient city of Chiang Saen for world
Old Chiang Saen town, at present still maintains an
unspoiled natural beauty as well as its historical remains. It has been
found that it was rich in archeological evidence that were rich in
historical studies and preserved original artifacts.
Deputy Governor Sriprom said that Chiang Saen town should
be preserved and the town area itself should be studied further in more
detail. He added that Chiang Rai province has given an important
significance to old Chiang Saen town, and will push for world heritage
listing, a decision that came from public debate in the province.
The working committee has much to achieve yet, including
directing, surveying, budgeting, academic studies and public relations
campaigns. The government has shown interest and provided the guidelines.
In addition, Chiang Rai provincial authorities have
looked at separating new developments such as the industrial estate and the
existing Chiang Saen port, from heritage areas.
He said the port will be rebuilt at Ban Sobkok village,
and the industrial estate will be in Doi Luang area. New roads would assist
tourists to visit the region.
Chemistry researcher wins top Japanese award
Flow injection analysis scoops prize
The Japanese Association for Flow
Injection Analysis (JAFIA) has presented its top award and the
association’s certificate to Dr Ket Krutphan, a lecturer at the Chemistry
Department, Science Faculty of Chiang Mai University (CMU).
His outstanding performance was original work on the
development of Cost-Performance Flow-based Chemical Analysis Systems. The
official presentation of the award will take place at the 44th academic
symposium at Okayama University, Japan, and also at the 12th international
conference on Flow Injection Analysis and Related Technique (12th ICFIA), in
This award is only presented by the association to
leading scientists at the international level, and Assoc Prof Dr Ket
Krutphan, has also been invited to be a guest speaker on such the
development at the 12th ICFIA.
Assoc Prof Dr Ket Krutphan has many academic credits, and
has also been awarded other accolades for his research work, being recipient
of the national most outstanding researcher in the field of science, and
chemical pharmacy of the National Research Council of Thailand, as well as
many other national and international awards.
Nam Yom watershed development project
Feasibility studies continue
Phrae province provincial meeting held
further discussions on the integrated Nam Yom watershed development project.
Somsak Bunpluang, governor of Phrae chaired the second meeting this year on
the water conservation topic and appointed a working group to follow up and
evaluate, and consider the project and whether is should go ahead.
The working group consisting of delegates and individuals
from Phrae, Phayao, Sukothai and Phichit provinces participated in the
discussions. These four provinces are some of the most affected regarding
water sources and program development.
The meeting discussed many different concerns concerning
water resources, and discovering new water sources, choosing which water to
preserve, recovering old water sources and solving water shortage problems.
Other water-related issues that came from the public forum at the Pongsanuk
School in Phrae were also brought to the discussion table.
Another topic was the preservation of the forests, since
many of the water sources are deep in these forests, and to preserve the
underground water table, natural fertilizers should be used rather than
The conference ended with the committees willing to
accept any speakers who have ideas or comments about the plans or
implementation techniques to help preserve our natural water.
Alcoholism increases as drug availability decreases
Mae Hong Son addresses the problem
Dr. Seree Tujinda, the director-general of the Department
of Medical Services revealed that the governmental policy on drug
elimination, known as the war on drugs, has certainly reduced the numbers of
drug addicts. However, those who were addicted are now turning to legal
drugs, and alcohol in particular.
To attempt to turn the tide, the Mae Hong Son Remedy and
Rehabilitation Center has been opened to treat alcoholism in the community.
A special building was built to serve as an alcoholism Out Patients
Department. The emphasis here is to return the alcoholics and drug addicts
to society, in some cases using the Drug Addicts’ Rehabilitation through
Agriculture Project (Baan Saeng Tawan). The project allows the patients to
delay payment for the Out Patient services until they are back in useful
employment and receiving a salary.
Mae Hong Son Remedy and Rehabilitation Center has
developed and refined the treatment to serve both drug addicts and other
narcotic addicts and alcoholics.
Water wars in Phrae
Sungmen, and Denchai all pumped up in drought
The dry season has started, and now two districts in
Phrae province are fighting over the allocation of irrigation water. On
February 15, Mrs. Thongwan Pinjai, the kamnan of Tambon Pongpawai, Denchai
district, led her merry band of 200 soybean farmers to the water system run
by the Department of Irrigation, where they set up water pumps at the Nam
Maeman Reservoir in the Sungmen district.
Since both districts were lacking water, with more than
10,000 rai of soybean farms being parched, it was agreed that the two
districts could take three million cubic meters from the Nam Maeman
reservoir, - of which one million cubic meter would go to Denchai district,
and the other two million cubic meters to Sungmen.
The agreement did not last long as the Sungmen district
villagers turned off the water flowing into Denchai district. This resulted
in a fight with drawn water pistols at the ready, requiring the negotiating
skills of the assistant Sungmen district officer Charoen Ungkham, plus Kanit
Satsue, irrigation engineer of Phrae province, and Ekphan Kaehorm, secretary
of the Tambon Administration Organization. They met with Mrs. Thongwan
Pinjai, and the villagers of the two districts to seek a solution that would
hold water with both thirsty camps.
It was decided that the Irrigation Department would add
more pumps so they could irrigate the 10,000 rai in Sungmen district, so
that those farmers would not block the water to the Denchai farmers.
Pha Muang Task Force uncovers another huge drug haul
7 kg heroin, 20,000 ya ba pills and 2 kg of ‘ice’ drug
The military special task force led by Maj Gen Manus
Paorik, Pha Muang Force commander, received a tip-off that there would be a
drug smuggling and transfer at the Per ferry crossing, Tambon Mae Sai, Mae
Sai district, Chiang Rai.
From a hiding point, the task force saw four suspects
carrying boxes across the river border, from Burma to Thailand. The Army
identified themselves but the drug runners left their boxes and fled the
On inspection, the force found 20,000 ya ba pills, 7.1
kilograms of heroin and 1.9 kilograms of the designer drug ‘ice’. The
Pha Muang Force later held a press conference at the 33rd Military Circle
Club at Kawila Camp, to appraise the media of the results of further
investigation and they expected to make arrests of the culprits shortly.
Paranoid drug addict holds 2 year old as hostage
Police defuse situation and then file charges
Prien Khampekkad, a 39 year old, known drug addict was
too intoxicated to find his own house and had been wandering the suburbs,
obviously in a drug and alcohol induced haze. Suddenly a spark of
recognition saw him knocking on the door of a friend’s house in Tung Fai,
Muang District, Lampang province. There he asked if he could stay with him.
Boonchu Khampek, the owner of the house, took pity upon
him, but Prien’s paranoia soon took over and feeling that Boonchu was
going to hurt him, seized Pornkasem Khampek, a two year old, and holding
scissors to the young child’s throat told everyone to leave him alone.
Police were called from Tung Fai police station who spent
many hours trying to calm him down. Prien eventually was so weak that police
were able to disarm him and made sure the child was unharmed. Police then
charged him with attempted kidnapping and aggravated assault.
A police spokesman said this situation reflects the
problem with drugs and other narcotics that have been spreading in Lampang
Local radio listeners agree
with curfew for U-18’s
Zoning not popular and Valentine’s Day under fire
Chiang Mai’s residents expressed their concerns through
Radio Thailand, Chiang Mai station’s talk-back program but supported the
new rule on curfews on Under-18’s.
Following the PM’s weekly broadcast, many local
listeners expressed their opinions about the new rule to limit the time for
youngsters being out at night unsupervised, saying that all those under 18
should be home by 10 p.m.
However, the majority did not support the idea of
entertainment area zoning because these can be easily managed at the time of
registration of proposed businesses. Entertainment outlets near temples or
schools should have their licenses revoked.
Another hot issue raised by local people was related to
the Valentine’s Day and they exhorted youngsters not to follow this new
trend in the society. The mass media should not support this value but
educate them on the origin of Valentine’s Day instead.
And just what is the origin of Valentine’s Day? As a
public education, Chiangmai Mail would ask that the callers to the
program read the following brief history. Valentine’s Day goes back to the
ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia, which was held on February 15. At
this celebration, the available girls’ names were placed in a box and the
young men drew out the name of their sexual partner for the next 12 months.
A real lucky dip!
The festival became Valentine’s Day when a Catholic
priest, Valentine, was stoned and put to death on February 14 by Emperor
Claudius II for having disobeyed his orders and secretly marrying soldiers.
He was later made a saint and when Christianity took control of Europe the
priests moved Lupercalia from February 15 to February 14 and renamed it St.
Valentine’s Day to honor Saint Valentine.
So if the people today are worried that the day of roses
and chocolates is being cheapened with promotions for condoms and other
contraceptive advice, they should hearken back to the Lupercalia, the true
origin of the event.
Lamphun governor looks for unruly youths
50 man force fails to find any
Lamphun Governor Thawatch Satieranam led a 50 member
force of police and volunteers to inspect entertainment areas near the
Northern Region Industrial Estate. This crowded area is well known as a
gathering place for local youths, who can be seen drinking till late. The
widespread news reports of gang violence prompted the governor to gather his
posse together and ride into karaoke valley.
Following the patrol and inspection, the governor said
they found no youths aged under 18, and only turned up those who had not
brought their ID cards with them before going to the pubs and restaurants.
The governor said the provincial authorities are closely
following the situation, especially brawls among the young gangsters because
there were so many of them going to the entertainment outlets.
Perhaps they think that by closing the outlets down, the
problem will just quietly disappear?
Over 400 female students behind bars
Nearly 450 female school children and students are
currently being held in Thailand’s prisons, according to data released
this week by the director-general of the Department of Corrections.
The statistics disclosed by Nathi Jitsaawang indicate
that there are currently 445 young students in correctional centers and
prisons across the country, of which 172 are vocational students, 134 are
university students and 118 are high school students, together with one
Eighty-seven percent of these young women are being held
on drugs charges, with the rest held on general charges. One is on death
row, while another five are serving life sentences.
Nanthi attributed these women’s crimes to the desire
for a luxurious lifestyle, or because they had got in with the ‘wrong
crowd’ of friends. He also noted that many of the women were suffering
from family problems, or that their friends had tricked them into a life of
Nonetheless, he stressed that their time in prison was
often positive, as they receive life training and psychological help
designed to prevent them from re-offending. With training from Sukhothai
Thammathirat University, these young women learn skills including computing
skills, meditation, fashion design, music and arts, while at the same time
learning social skills. This in turn enables them to improve their lives and
engage in further study when they are released from prison, he said. (TNA)
Spreading peace through science and commerce in developing countries
The International Peace Foundation (IPF) sponsored
another of its keynote speeches at Chiang Mau University’s Faculty of
Medicine last week. The Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace invite
everybody to cross borders and build bridges by listening to and opening up
other viewpoints, generating new ideas and developing innovative forms of
Morawetz, Chairman of the International Peace Foundation.
Uwe Morawetz, the Chairman of IPF arranged more than 100
lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences and major public events all over
Thailand in the past six months. The Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace
aim at achieving a better co-operation for the promotion of peace, freedom
and security, promoting Thailand as a pioneering center for peace, diplomacy
and non-violent conflict resolution at an international level and
establishing creative solutions for the growing threats of war and
international terrorism. However, with the ongoing problems in the south,
Thailand can no longer be held up as a role model.
Richard J. Roberts, a Nobel Laureate for Medicine was the latest keynote
speaker brought to Chiang Mai by the IPF.
Funds which are raised from these dialogues will be
donated to peace, education and development programs of already existing
organizations and institutions in Thailand. A globalized world needs broad
strategies for change to secure a sustainable future for us and the next
Dr. Richard J. Roberts was the latest keynote speaker
brought to Chiang Mai by the IPF. He is a Nobel Laureate for Medicine and a
Research Director at New England Biolabs, Beverly, Massachusetts. He began
his address saying, “Science is an inherently peaceful activity, one in
which disputes are solved, not by violence, but by the exercise of logic and
reason. It is a universal discipline, being practiced in essentially the
same form in every country of the world. There is no room for the fervent
fundamentalism that characterizes many other social and religious
activities. Disagreements are resolved by peaceful meetings of the
antagonists, debate among them and the application of logical reasoning. The
practice of science transcends the national boundaries of the political
systems and the cultural bounds of religions.”
He explained the importance of dialogue between
colleagues from the west and east. How the discovery of DNA produced a whole
new industry of biotechnology. But he also added his concern saying, “of
course one will also need to consider carefully the whole question of
intellectual property in these areas, to be certain that the benefits of
technology do not outweigh its disadvantages. It should not be forgotten
that the genetic heritage of the developing world is every bit as important
a natural resource as minerals, timber or oil that we traditionally think of
as the key to prosperity.”
He spoke of his work in the biological field, of
supporting laboratories in developing countries and regarding finding
treatment for the top six tropical diseases targeted by the World Health
Organization. Diseases, caused by parasitic worms, mostly in third world
countries, where research results have had many spin-off activities and
products that have arisen solely because scientists chose to study these
Dr. Roberts closed with the words, “By practicing science and staying
aware of commercial possibilities, I believe that the cause of peace can be
promoted. Ultimately, if we are all citizens of a world in which the logic
and reason of science prevails and there is sufficient commerce to ensure
prosperity, the chances of that world being peaceful are greatly