NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Fire threatens power for Chiang Mai City

Immigration announces 15 days amnesty

Chiang Mai Water Works has no water to work with!

Violence against Women addressed at Chiang Mai Forum

World’s largest Saa paper sheet made in San Kamphaeng district

Innovation seminar provides roadmap say participants

Governor says Chiang Mai clean-up coming

RTAF de-commissions its OV-10 C jets

1,300 rai of Doi Inthanon forest destroyed by fire

PM Thaksin declares war on forest fires

Diarrhoea outbreak prompts hygiene push

Northern economy looking strong says BoT

Business registrations increase

Thai Heritage Preservation Day presents “Underground Treasures of Wiang Kum Kam”

Low Cost battle continues

Thai-Chinese business networking held in Chiang Mai

HIV victim tries self-immolation as way out

Auto theft solved in 24 hours

Upper Northern Children and Youth Networks discuss Child Protection Act

Swiss tourist attacked and seriously injured by youth gang

Fire threatens power for Chiang Mai City

Danger from overgrown vacant lots ignored by Provincial Electricity Authority

Nopniwat Krailerg and Saksit Meesubkwang

A fire broke out adjacent to the 3rd Electricity Supply and Control Station, Chiang Mai, on the Chiang Mai - Hod Road, Tambon Ban Sanpakwan, Hang Dong District. The fire was at the front of the electricity station, in an overgrown vacant lot.

Lost in the blaze were 50 electrical conduits, each 12 meters long, as the company which was contracted by the Provincial Electricity Authority had asked for temporary storage and left the electrical conduit there.

The fire covered 200 square meters and came as close as 10 meters from the power supply station. There was only one fire engine of Tambon Ban Sanpakwan Administration Organization that came to put out the fire.

Chalerm Kanjana, an engineer of the Provincial Electricity Authority, Chiang Mai, who joined the fire investigation, said that it was lucky that the fire did not engulf the two main power poles supplying Chiang Mai City. The whole province could have been blacked out as this station supplies the power to many areas in Chiang Mai, including the area behind Chiang Mai University back gate, Kad Suan Kaew shopping center, San Kamphaeng district, Mae Rim district and the Northern Region Industrial Estate in Lamphun province.


Immigration announces 15 days amnesty

But check your status today!

Alastair Connon

Following heightened security the Immigration Bureau of Thailand will get tough on offenders overstaying the 90-day rule, with fines of up to 5000 baht plus 200 baht per day.

The good news is that Superintendent Pol. Col. Jinabhadra Tansrisakul sought permission from Pol Lt General Chanvut Vajrabukka, commissioner of the Thai Immigration Bureau to agree to an amnesty of 15 days from April 16 onwards after a request was made by Alastair Connon, a member of the police monitoring committee.

“This is unique to Chiang Mai. I had asked for a 10 day amnesty for long term offenders and the increase to 15 days shows the commitment from the officers at Chiang Mai to help long term visitors and I am very happy at the level of support given,” he said afterwards.

Though these laws are not new and offenders already pay a penalty, the need for improved communication on these fundamental areas of Immigration Law is needed. A common mistake people make is the belief that a visa allows you to stay within the kingdom - it does not! It only gives you permission to enter the kingdom, and only to enter between the starting date and the finishing date displayed on the visa.

When you arrive in Thailand you must present an Arrival/Departure TM. 6 card to passport control. One half is kept by Immigration, the other half is stamped and attached to your passport, and this stamp clearly shows your arrival date and the latest departure date.

“Those most vulnerable are those who fail to read to the TM6 arrival card that is attached to their passports and those who are confused about the length of the visa versus the actual time permitted to stay, as they are not the same,” says Inspector Pol. Lt. Col. Kanokpun Roobkajorn, head of administration at Chiang Mai Immigration.

The wording of the relevant act is found in Section 37 Para 5: “If the alien stays in the Kingdom longer than ninety days, such alien must notify the competent official at the Immigration Division, in writing, concerning his place of stay, as soon as possible upon expiration of ninety days. The alien is required to do so every ninety days. Where there is an Immigration Office, the alien may notify a competent Immigration Official of that office.”

The enforcement of the “Notification of address” has also started in earnest. Visitors and long term visitors must notify their local police station or immigration office if they move from their recorded address. You can appreciate the importance of this law when immigration needs to locate a particular individual or nationality quickly.

An extract from Section 37: “An alien having received a temporary entry permit into the Kingdom must comply with the following: Shall stay at the place as indicated to the competent official. Where there is proper reason that he cannot stay at the place as indicated to the competent official, he shall notify the competent official of the change in residence, within 24 hours from the time of removing to said place.”

“Shall notify the police official of the local police station where such alien resides, within twenty four hours from the time of arrival. In the case of change in residence in which the new residence is not located in the same area, such alien must notify the police official of the police station in the new area within twenty four hours from the time of arrival.”

In layman’s terms, if you move or stay at a different address than that listed at the police station or immigration office you must notify them within 24 hours or face the penalty. Everybody should check their entry stamp and departure stamp dates and in case of having overstayed by mistake or being unsure, come to Chiang Mai Immigration and check. The penalty fees can be really costly.

The penalty/fines are up to:

1) For failing to register after 90 days, it is 5000 baht, plus a daily extra penalty of 200 baht per day.

2) For a house owner or proprietor who fails to notify the name of the person living at or renting or staying at his property it is 2000 baht.

3) For a hotel manager or guest house manager, it will be 10,000 baht.

Finally, please note that the amnesty is only for the “90 days” requirement.


Chiang Mai Water Works has no water to work with!

Songkran might have to be cancelled?

Saksit Meesubkwang and Jiraphat Warasin

Choke-amnuay Saipao, the manager of Chiang Mai Water Works, admitted that the drought conditions have left him sorely embarrassed and cuts are imminent. However, he said he has planned to seek more water sources so that they could support and supply sufficient water to the consumers in the city.

The water level at Huay Kaew Waterfall is very much lower due to this year’s drought.

At present, residents in the city are suffering from the insufficient water supply, and many of the consumers have lodged the complaints with the Water Works. It now seems as though they feel the Water Works department’s excuses don’t hold water any more. He said that this current water shortage problem was caused by the dry season which has lasted for months.

A typical consumer is Prachit Thimakam of Southeast Asia Consulting and Resource Company on the Irrigation Canal Road, in Tambon Suthep, Muang District, Chiang Mai. He said that since last month they have faced serious water shortage problems and the staff working in the office are not able to flush the toilet after use, so being a resource company they go out and use the toilet at other places. Perhaps they should try the ones at the Water Works?

Even when the Chiang Mai Water Works Office informs consumers in advance about cutting off their water, there have been periods of up to three days before water was reconnected, prompting more complaints from consumers and threats to cut off the manager’s water.

The Chiang Mai Water Works official admitted the shortage of water for distribution but guaranteed they are taking additional measures in looking for more water sources to return the water distribution back to normal.

However, Choke-amnuay explained that even unrefined water is in short supply and consequently the Umong water refinery plant is unable to supply areas in Huay Kaew Road, Jed Yod Road, Thippanet Road and the road running along the irrigation canal, starting from Ton Payom market to Samoeng intersection down until Hang Dong-San Patong Road.

Chiang Mai Water Works office is appealing for cooperation from Chiang Mai water users to use water economically and reserve some water as an emergency supply from now on until supplies return to normal. However, they do not know when that will be.

As an emergency procedure, they have asked the Department of Irrigation to pump water from Mae Yuak reservoir and deliver the water to the Umong refining plant. If they can get the pumps working efficiently they believe they should be able to deliver 8,000 cubic meters of water per day.

Chiang Mai city is not alone. Wittaya Suankaewmanee, the head of the water distribution and management project at Mae Taeng district, said that they were also looking at an acute water shortage. They were now unable to guarantee enough supplies for the local farmers. Even the Royal Artificial Rain Making project have indicated that the degree of humidity negated the possibility of making artificial rain.

With Chiang Mai attempting to attract more tourists, let us hope they don’t want to shower too often. As the annual water throwing festival comes closer, it even might become necessary to shower with a friend.


Violence against Women addressed at Chiang Mai Forum

Capital punishment for rape proposed

Jiraphat Warasin and Autsadaporn Kamthai

The Health and Development Networks (HDN) arranged the forum on “Violence against Women” at the end of March. Facilitators at the forum included Tassanee Srimongkol, director of Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand, Northern Office; Awassada Jansantoe, researcher on violence against women issue and Panngam Somanai, director of Lanna Women Center. Around 50 women, including expats attended the forum and took an active part in the proceedings.

About 50 women, including expats, attended the Violence against Women Forum and took an active part in the proceedings.

Tassanee said that violence against women could be classified in five main types; physical harm, mental harm, sexual violence, excommunication and financial control. The forum focused mainly on domestic violence or violence occurred within the family unit.

Awassada said that from her research on alcohol addiction she found that most men who were alcoholics always hit their wives. Surprisingly, Awassada’s research shows that Thai women tolerate domestic violence because of the Thai traditional ideal of monogamy forced them to live together with their husbands, and their maternal instinct that urges them to protect their children and prevent them being raised fatherless, and encouragement from parents and friend and religions.

The causes of domestic violence include the husband’s characteristics covering hot-tempered, aggressive, and domineering, inter household relation like lack of compromises, ignorance, economic reasons, environment and alcohol abuse. Panngam Somanai from the Lanna Women pointed out the last three causes usually trigger domestic violence in poor families especially in slum communities.

The male viewpoint towards women was also another significant cause that should be considered, said Panngam. Many Thai men view women as their servants.

The feeling from the forum was to ask the government to pay more attention to the violence against women issues. To date, the activities done to help abused women is mostly financial support from the Women Study Center or other organizations that working on this issue, not from the government.

Tassanee suggested the law on violence against women should be applied as strictly as it was when Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat was prime minister, stating that rapists must be executed.


World’s largest Saa paper sheet made in San Kamphaeng district

Took 30 workers 14 days with 50 kg mulched mulberries

San Kamphaeng district, Chiang Mai has the honor of having the largest Saa paper sheet in the world. The giant Saa paper sheet, was made by Saa Paper Farm in the district, and is about 4 meters wide and 12 meters long. It took 30 workers two weeks to produce from the 50 kg of mulberries, and required local knowledge and skill to produce paper of that size.

It will be used as the backdrop of the central stage for the First Saa handicraft and local wisdom fair of Ban Ton Pao, which will be held this weekend (April 9-11). Ban Ton Pao is renowned as the Saa paper village producing and exporting the local handicrafts.


Innovation seminar provides roadmap say participants

“Where do we go from here?”

Autsadaporn Kamthai and Jiraphat Warasin

The Federation of Thai Industries, Chiang Mai Chapter said at the Chiang Mai Innovation Forum that it will push R&D projects to help SME entrepreneurs. The 2nd Forum was held on March 12, at the Empress Hotel, providing an opportunity for academics, research centers, researchers and SME entrepreneurs to meet and present their innovative research work, products and projects.

Suradech Tanruangporn, organizing chairman of the Forum said that this forum would help upgrade their businesses, and Chiang Mai will become the innovation leader in the region.

Suphat Limpaporn, director-general of Department of Industrial Promotion said that the scheme did not focus only on the new industrial inventions, but also upgrading old inventions. He said that a technology transfer center would be established to provide useful information for the entrepreneurs to help them develop their industrial products. Possibly, an industrial software park will be established in the city, as well.

Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong said that Chiang Mai was chosen as the “innovation center” because the city had many strong points to support it. Chiang Mai has worthwhile local knowledge that can be utilized, especially handicrafts, availability of public utilities such as financial institutes, transportation, availability of medical treatment, educational institutes and an abundance of natural resources.

The innovations presented at the forum included an alcohol distiller using foam pumping techniques presented by the Institute of Science and Technology Research and Development (IST), Chiang Mai University, dyeing process development from IST, improvement of bean processing from the Rajabhat Institute, Chiang Mai; flame treatment to increase the strength of Sa mulberry paper from the National Science and Technology Development Agency, Northern Region; Khao Taen packaging design from Rajamangala Technology Institute, Payap Campus; Kaeng Khanoon (Jackfruit curry) canned for exporting from Payap University and community derived fertilizer from Maejo University, innovative creations from research and development from Agro industry, CMU and the demand for IT personnel in providing information and technology service.


Governor says Chiang Mai clean-up coming

And for once it isn’t the ‘red-light’ areas

Nopniwat Krailerg

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, echoed the sentiments of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who wants to make all tourism and travel provinces clean, green, tidy and beautiful.

Chiang Mai is a tourist destination city, so provincial authorities would be working in cooperation with the municipality, Tambon Administration offices, public health offices, and other government offices concerned, to launch a Big Cleaning Day campaign in the city. “We have already started to landscape, renovate, paint and repair some buildings such as those in front of the government offices, universities and road aisles,” he said.

Amongst eyesores that will be targeted are the many billboards and advertising material on the footpaths. Chiang Mai Municipality is now planning a public relations exercise with the shops and building owners to ask them to adhere to municipal statutes. Hopefully this will include all the electioneering posters.

One of the government policies is to display Thai national flags on government offices and the public should do so as well to show their pride in the Thai nation, and as showing respect for HM the Queen’s 72nd birthday anniversary this year.

Governor Suwat wants to see beautiful flowers and orchids, especially lining the road from the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain to the top. Maejo University has said it will take the responsibility for planting the orchids on the road up to Doi Suthep and then throughout Chiang Mai.


RTAF de-commissions its OV-10 C jets

33 years old and time to be pensioned off

Jiraphat Warasin

The end for the Royal Thai Air Force’s OV-10 C jets was marked by a moving farewell ceremony at Wing 41, Chiang Mai. However, despite their age, the jets have not yet finished their useful life, having been donated to the Philippines in a PR move between the two governments.

Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukpasook puts the farewell garland on the OV-10 jets.

The OV-10 C jets, operated by the 411 Squadron (of which the white shark is taken as a symbol), have been serving the Royal Thai Air Force since June 16 1971, with the major mission and responsibility being air support in the North, covering the northern provinces of Phayao, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun. They were also used along with ground-fighting military troops in eliminating communist insurgents, with Wing Commander Phisit Srikalsilp, who was the first wing commander of the OV-10 C squadron.

The OV-10 C jet had the capability of carrying Sidewinder guided missiles, as well as being a very versatile fighter jet. Some sorties flown by these jets included countering invasions of the Cambodian and Vietnamese soldiers from the eastern part of the country or the heated disagreement over the Ban Rom Klao territory with Laos and the situation of fighting over the western part of the country with Burma and the Red Wa troops.

The Thai government sent four OV-10 C jets to the Philippines last year, with another four earmarked for the same destination.

Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukpasook, commander in chief of the Air Force Military Operation, placed garlands of flowers on the jets before Wing 41 gave them a tearful send-off.


1,300 rai of Doi Inthanon forest destroyed by fire

Hunters blamed by Head of Forest Fire Control Unit

Doi Inthanon National Park erupted in an almost uncontrollable inferno causing damage to around 1,300 rai of forest and land including some of the famous tourist spots and wiped out many 1,000 year old rose bushes. Also lost in the blaze were endangered wild life species including gorals.

The forest fire began in the northern area of Mae Parn Waterfalls or Mae Parn Watershed Mouth in the National Park bordering Chormthong and Mae Chaem district.

The fire raged in the connecting corridor between the two districts where fire fighters spent two days trying to stem the blaze but the high temperatures and strong winds fanned the blaze, making it difficult for fire fighters to control.

More than 200 fire fighters from the Inthanon fire fighters, Mae Oum Watershed Mouth Unit, soldiers from the Air Forces and villagers were called out to fight the fire by cutting fire breaks to prevent the spread to the Phra Thart Napametaneedol and Phra Thart Napapolphumsiriruam monuments.

Pichit Piyachote, Head of Forest Fire Control Unit, Chiang Mai 5 (Doi Inthanon), said that this was the worst fire in the last 10 years. It was expected that villagers who hunted for animals to be sacrificed during Songkran caused the forest fire.


PM Thaksin declares war on forest fires

16 chiefs of provincial forestry offices try to come up with answers

Saksit Meesubkwang

The order has been given by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to stop the spread of forest fires. To comply with this, Chatrachai Rattanopas, the director-general of the Forestry Department called a meeting of the 16 chiefs of the Northern Provincial Forestry Offices to seek solutions to the forest fire problem, which is recurring every year.

Chatrachai Rattanopas, director-general of the Forestry Department

PM Thaksin Shinawatra has insisted on getting the answers as quickly as possible. “Because the fire problem not only destroys the natural resources but also impacts on the economy and the tourism as well, it is important that the public be made aware,” he said, adding that a promotional campaign for solving the forest fire problem would be carried out, and every chief of the provincial forestry offices would automatically be appointed as the working committee chairman and the chief of provincial public relations as the committee secretary.

The mass media would also be asked to join the committees, working in cooperation with the local administration organizations on publicizing the effects of forest fires among people using the local area loud speaker broadcasting channel in each community. This would also have to be done in several hill tribe languages.

Viriya Chuaybamrung, chief of the Provincial Forestry Office, Chiang Mai, said that Chiang Mai would become the center for the northern region for operations against forest fires, and each province can work in cooperation and propose methods for solving the problem.

In Chiang Mai, there would be weekly and monthly press conferences. The press would be invited to witness first hand from helicopters the real condition of the forest. Billboards would be put up at intersections, radio reports on forest fires would be broadcast and centers opened for receiving information about forest fires would be set up in every district of each province.

While public education cannot be ignored, whether it will see a decrease in the incidence of forest fires could be debatable. As far as stopping the spread of forest fires is concerned, surely a grid system of fire breaks as used in other countries might go further towards stopping the spread, as insisted upon by the PM?


Diarrhoea outbreak prompts hygiene push

Officials plug stopgap measures to reduce flow of outbreaks

Jiraphat Warasin

The incidence of severe diarrhoea in 38 central and northeast regions has more than quadrupled this year, with four deaths being recorded already. The disturbing trend is highlighted by a Ministry of Public Health Epidemic Disease Control Office survey, from January 1 to March 15.

Dr. Wallop Thainua (2nd left), permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry (right) inspects Chiang Mai Gate market, briefed by market manager Suriyan Maneewan.

Major danger zones include Sakon Nakhon (242 patients and 2 deaths), Bangkok (212 patients, 2 deaths), Samut Sakorn (119 patients), Nonthaburi (57 patients) and Phetchabun (25 patients). There were 802 patients in Chiang Mai, 1540 in Lampang and 901 in Chiang Rai.

Dr. Wallop Thainua, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said the ministry has constantly monitored the situation since the outbreak of the bird flu. Initial actions included a campaign to clean the markets. This campaign was reinstated due to the hot weather allowing pathogens to spread more quickly.

He added that the campaign should be ongoing and focus on markets as pathological germ sources. Dr Wallup said chopping blocks and meat grinding machines could not be cleaned with water alone and chlorine substances were necessary.

Other places of concern include the market grounds and nearby restrooms.

Several campaigns to encourage proper hygiene practices have been applied this year. Volunteers from the public health offices visit patients’ homes to check if chickens were being raised and to collect detailed information on the cause of disease.

The permanent secretary said that he would like to see Chiang Mai as the city of clean food in the near future.

The deputy governor of Chiang Mai, Kwanchai Wongnitikorn said there were only 90 fresh food markets in the province while 25 markets in the city areas were already cleaned.

“The province has introduced strict measures against more than 1,645 stalls, or about half the total. All would be completed before the Songkran festival.” He urged local residents to inform the provincial public health offices of any dirty markets.

Suriyan Maneewan, manager of Chiang Mai Gate market, welcomed the permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry and deputy-governor of Chiang Mai during a tour of the market.


Northern economy looking strong says BoT

Imports and exports both up

Kaweeporn
Wachirarangsiman

According to the Bank of Thailand, foreign trade, measured through the various customs houses in the north, is progressing well, with February’s figures increased by 43.9 percent and worth 169.9 million US dollars. Much of the increase in exports came from production in the northern region industrial estate and reflected the demand of new technological merchandise or information technology related business.

The major commodities exported were electric circuit switches, electrical appliances, optical equipment, electric wires and cables, transformers, electric motors and gems, but sports equipment and leather goods exports were down.

The bank officials noted the exports through the customs house at Chiang Mai Airport also grew 12 percent in comparison to that of last year. These commodities included crops and value-added agricultural products which increased at the expense of wood and ceramic products. All the export markets in the local region increased - China, Burma and Laos.

The BoT also said that imports had also increased by 40 percent from the previous year. Most imports related to materials needed for production of goods at the northern region industrial estate, and included machines for the manufacturing of circuit switches and other machinery, gems, base steels or metals and plastic resin products. Most of these goods were imported from Japan, Singapore and Israel but imports from the United States and South Korea decreased. However, it was still China and Burma that were the main import countries with seafood and agricultural products the main commodities.

It was also agreed by the BoT officials here that the trade balance was positive 58.9 U.S. million dollars, an increase of 20 million from the previous year.


Business registrations increase

Financial investment up correspondingly

Saksit Meesubkwang

Orajit Singkalawanich, director-general of Department of Business Development, said that the Thai economy was growing through increased confidence among Thai entrepreneurs, because of the government support for them in both domestic and international markets.

In January this year, 3841 new entrepreneurs registered their new businesses and this represented 11.8 billion baht as their registered capital investment. When compared with January last year, the number has increased by five percent and the registered investment is also up.

Yokohama Tire Manufacturing (Thailand) has highest registered capital of new registrations at 552 million baht. Yokohama is located in Rayong province and manufacture, distribute and export vehicle components and tires. The three most popular registered entities are construction companies (328), property rental companies (152) and radio and television sales (107).

The director-general said that in January 1,017 businesses cancelled their registrations and 2 billion baht capital was withdrawn, though these figures were lower than the year before. Drissen Lamphun Co, Ltd, located in Lamphun and manufacturing metal products, had the highest registered capital (115 million Baht) among the de-registered companies.

The director-general added that the statistics suggested that entrepreneurs have become more confident to put their investment into many fields of endeavor. The government has supported the entrepreneurs by providing advice, training courses on business and providing investment sources to make them capable of competition in international markets.


Thai Heritage Preservation Day presents “Underground Treasures of Wiang Kum Kam”

April 2 each year is celebrated as Thai Heritage Preservation Day to honor Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on her birthday. This year the Chiang Mai National Museum organized a special exhibition featuring the ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam.

The ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam, is an important cultural site in Chiang Mai province. From the excavations during past 20 years, Department of Fine Arts has discovered antiques that reflect the prosperity of the past civilization of the Lanna kingdom.

In the exhibition, visitors will learn the history and archeology of the Wiang Kum Kam ancient city. There are also stone inscriptions, Buddha images, Lanna containers, Chinese crockery, gold rings and sculptures on display.

This special exhibition will be shown from now until April 30 at the meeting room of Chiang Mai National Museum from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily (other than on April 13-15, for the Songkran festival). For more information, contact telephone no. (053) 221308, 408568.


Low Cost battle continues

The sky’s the limit!

Orient Thai Airlines was Thailand’s first low-cost airline when it introduced One-Two-GO in December last year, operating flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The response in the first month of operation was beyond expected targets with the total number of passengers reaching more than 40,000.

One-Two-GO’s successful launch not only signaled for a positive future ahead, but led to Thai Airway’s decision to decrease its domestic airfare to remain in the race. Others have now followed suit.

The entry of other low-cost airlines included Air Asia which employs a different pricing strategy to One-Two-GO. Air Asia’s progressive pricing strategy differed in that it’s pricing relied on the promotion of a minimum airfare rising to more than 2,000 baht on its domestic routes, including Bangkok-Chiang Mai.

In turn this has led to further pricing manoeuvres from One-Two-GO to ensure market competitiveness.

Thailand’s first ‘GO SHOW FARE’ from One-Two GO will offer ‘One price on every seat and every flight, no booking required’ on the following flights:

The ‘Go Show Fare’ became effective from April 1st this year, for Bangkok-Chiang Mai and from April 8, on the Chiang Rai, Phuket and Hatyai routes.

The ‘Go Show Fare’ is based on a first come-first served basis. Advance booking is not required as the passenger can go directly to the airport on the desired travel date and time.

For passengers who prefer to make advance reservation, bookings can be made at the Call Center 0-2267-2999 for every flight and every destination. For passengers living outside Bangkok, reservation can be made at One-Two-GO district offices during office hours.

Orient Thai Airlines is now undergoing contractual agreements with various financial institutions to offer alternative methods of payment via banks, as well as 7-Eleven counter services and in the near future customers will be able to make payments via ATM machines.

The healthy competition is certainly producing a bonus for Thailand’s air passengers.

1. Bangkok - Chiang Mai or Chiang Mai - Bangkok 999 Baht

2. Bangkok - Chiang Rai or Chiang Rai - Bangkok 1,199 Baht

3. Bangkok - Phuket or Phuket - Bangkok 1,199 Baht

4. Bangkok - Hat Yai or Hat Yai - Bangkok 1,299 Baht


Thai-Chinese business networking held in Chiang Mai

Imports-Exports ready to boom, if we can get them up the Mekong

Autsadaporn Kamthai

A networking meeting of fruit and vegetable exporters in Thailand and Yunnan, China was held at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel. Peng Rendong, Chinese consul general in Chiang Mai; Vipada Trisat, director of Commercial Affairs Office, Chiang Mai; Narong Tananuwat, secretary general of Joint Economic Quadrangle Chamber Committee and Li Wenfeng, assistant director general of Yunnan provincial department of commerce, participated in the conference with 45 Chinese exporters.

(From left) Li Wenfeng, assistant director general of Yunnan provincial department of commerce, Peng Rendong, Chinese consul general in Chiang Mai, and Vipada Trisat, director of Commercial Affairs Office, Chiang Mai.

Peng Rendong stated that Thailand and China needed to set up trading structure provide human resources and improve transportation to sustain the trade between the two countries. He did not suggest ways to lift the level of the currently almost dry Mekong, to allow shipping to move again.

Vipada said that since Thai government opened the free trade between Thailand and China on October 1, the free trade could improve the economy in South East Asia by 10 billion US dollars. It was noted that Chinese fruit and vegetable imports to Thailand has outnumbered Thai fruit and vegetable exports because China was at the peak of the harvest of fruit and vegetables. However, from now on, Thai fruits especially lychee, longan and mango from the North will start to be exported to China.

Li Wenfeng revealed that Yunnan abounds in fruit and vegetables and produces the largest fruit and vegetable crops in China. The popular vegetables are tomato, onion, potato, cucumber, while fruits are apricot, peach, plum, apple, orange, banana, and mango.


HIV victim tries self-immolation as way out

Suicide bid thwarted by fire department

Nopniwat Krailerg

Muang District Police Station in Chiang Mai received a frantic call that a fire was raging in a slum property in Fahmai Community, area 1, Soi Pracha Samphan, Tambon Changklan. Fortunately, neighbors and a fire engine extinguished the fire. When they entered the property, a 32-year-old woman was found sitting in the charred remains of a kitchen.

The woman was taken in for further questioning.

The woman was emaciated and neighbors said that she was the daughter of the house owner. Her father had gone to work as a construction worker and her mother stayed at home, but had very little to do with the daughter.

Neighbors also said that the woman had been a good looking girl, but after separation from her husband she took to working at night in the seedier parts of town. It was not long before she discovered that she had contracted HIV and everyone then shunned her.

She had tried other ways to end her life, such as running out in front of passing cars, but had been unsuccessful. Once again she was unable to carry out her own demise and the police took her in for questioning. Police said that if she was found to be of unsound mind, she would be admitted to the Suan Prung Psychiatric Hospital.


Auto theft solved in 24 hours

Police not taken in by phony number plate

Nopniwat Krailerg

Police at Criminal Investigation Division, Chiang Mai Provincial Police Headquarters arrested Chokchai Wuttinunsurasit, the 54-year-old owner of a cooking gas shop, for auto theft. He was caught driving a stolen car complete with a car license plate that he had made in a photocopier.

The stolen Honda

The 24 hours in the day of a CID policeman began with the report to Police Captain Boontham Kamrai at Muang Chiang Mai Police Station, by Suthee Wongkamolchun, a 34-year-old engineer. He attested that on March 27, at 6.30 p.m. he parked his car at Chiang Mai Bowl. After one hour he rolled out to the parking lot to find that his car had been struck out and he did not even have the advantage of a spare. His golden bronze Honda Civic car, license number 7799, Chiang Mai, had split, and he felt his life was now headed for the gutter.

The police were soon on the smell of the exhaust of the vanished Honda, with Pol Maj Gen Krasem Rattanasoontorn, the Police Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division Headquarter and Pol Col Suthep Dejraksa, Deputy Commander, ordering Pol Lt Col Thawatchai Yumak, to investigate and follow the vanished vehicle.

On March 28, at 6 p.m. when the police team arrived at the car park of Mushroom Suki Restaurant on Mahidol Road, Tambon Pa Daed, Muang Chiang Mai, a car with similar features was found parked there. This vehicle had the number 8888, Bangkok but police soon saw that the plates were made of photocopied paper sheets. The police team waited and took Chokchai Wuttinunsurasit into custody when he wanted to drive off.

Chokchai was charged with the theft and unlawful use of the car, as well as attempting to make it disappear. Chokchai acknowledged and understood the charges but denied committing both of them. He is currently in jail and reading the memoirs of the great illusionist David Copperfield. The car has been held for questioning by the Chiang Mai Police Forensic Division for further investigation and other details.


Upper Northern Children and Youth Networks discuss Child Protection Act

Complain that it is all suppression and not protection

Jiraphat Warasin and Nopniwat Krailerg

Over 150 people filled the Chiang Mai University’s Art and Cultural Promotion theatre to discuss and air their views on the new Children’s Protection Act which came into force on March 30.

The Upper Northern Children and Youth Networks considered that the contents of this ministerial law do not protect or support youths, but just likened it as control and punishment.

They feel it creates more opportunities for officers to violate the rights and freedom of youths. They feel that this regulation violates Article 30 of Thai Constitutional law, regarding the fundamental rights of children.

Ms. Amei Woymaeku, a youth representative from We are Your Friend said that with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra agreeing to disband the committee to follow up the war on poverty, this has also affected many children and youths who were from farming communities. She and Somsak Kuikia will submit an open letter to Prime Minister Thaksin through Somchai Charoen-amnuaysook, director of Children Support and Protection Office.

Pramuan Kowitchaiwiwat, the chairman of the Upper Northern Children and Youth Networks stated that the children and youths are not involved with drafting the act which directly affects them and do not understand the implications.

He said adults should ask for the opinions of children and support them to become involved.

He also asks for sympathy for children without ID cards, but are children who respect the Thai flag and His Majesty the King of Thailand, and sing the Thai national anthem, but are counted as aliens. There is also a problem that as child prostitutes they are squeezed by governmental officers.

Ms. Umporn Boontan, director of the Youth Potentiality Foundation (TYAP) stated her opinion that this act was the first act by which children could get systematic protection for the first time in Thailand. Even though it is not absolutely perfect it is a good start.

Somchai Charoen-amnuaysook, director of the Children Promotion and Protection Office, together with Aphichai Kulcha, chief of Supportive and Potentiality Development of Students, expressed concerns over misunderstandings of the social order crusade concerning the curfew, saying that this children’s protection law was issued not to force and limit the rights of children, but readers who read only one line or do not really know, interpret it incorrectly.

They said that this is the Children’s Act, not a law of revolution. Its content is about protection, and takes care of, and supports children both mentally and spiritually. When there is a problem, the law states that specialists have to solve the children’s problem and local administrative officers must devote least 15 percent of their work time for children.

The main contents of this Act are such as to stop young people, aged under 18 years old, from buying drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes or going to places of entertainment. Anyone who allows them to do that will be punished with three months imprisonment and/or fined not more than 30,000 baht.

It appears to most observers that the Act is one of suppression and domination, without working out ‘why’ such decrees are deemed as necessary in a country where family ties are reputedly held in such high esteem. Parental control and values cannot be taken away by government decree. The government by the people, for the people, should be working out how to assist parents in these difficult times, not just suppressing children, is the message that many were attempting to give at this seminar.


Swiss tourist attacked and seriously injured by youth gang

Left to suffer by callous residents

Nopniwat Krailerg

Patrick Viglino a Swiss tourist, was attacked by six long haired youths on Charoenraj Road, Chiang Mai but passers-by did just that - they passed by.

Police found Viglino battered and bruised on the sidewalk.

The 34-year-old tourist was attacked after having an altercation with the youths in a pub.

He was attacked in full view of many vehicles passing by the well-populated area, but nobody was interested in helping the man being attacked and beaten with sticks and beer bottles.

Finally two patrol police officers from Mae Ping Police Station were called out but all of the attackers had escaped by that stage.

Viglino was admitted to McCormick Hospital for medical care and treatment. He suffered multiple facial wounds and required suturing by the McCormick ER staff.

Viglino told Chiangmai Mail that he and his girlfriend, Ms Florence, had been traveling in Thailand for over 2 months. Before traveling to Chiang Mai City, they went to the South where he felt that it was very dangerous with the terrorism threats, but he was not attacked in any way, such as he was in ‘peaceful’ Chiang Mai.

He admitted that he had too much alcohol in the night in question, but he considered that attack by six youths to be very cowardly, and not the type of holiday memory he wanted to take home to Switzerland.