Thaksin tasks TAO’s to help War on Poverty
But says TAO’s have to upgrade first
Tambon Administration Organization (TAO) members are
regarded as grassroots politicians who are close to their local communities
as well as to their Members of Parliament, so they are in an ideal position
to help develop democracy.
This was the message from Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra when he addressed 3,300 participants at the opening of a two-day
workshop in Chiang Mai on the three year tambon development plan. “TAO
members are part of the rural power structure, but these local
administration organizations still lack experience in modern management. If
TAO’s improve their efficiency, they could actually help their local
people,” said Thaksin. “I want to see TAOs in Chiang Mai develop into
good organizations with pilot projects to help tackle poverty. However, they
must also be supported by national politicians so that they can help their
people and relatives to solve their basic problems,” he added.
The PM cited the War on Drugs campaign. Part of what he
considered success was as a result of the cooperation between tambons, local
communities and the central government. “This time, we need to tackle the
War on Poverty,” he said.
As part of the strategy to bring more money into the
local areas, the PM indicated that more jobs, and income, would be generated
by attracting foreign visitors and tourists, as well as foreign investment
projects. “It is our wish that they come and spend their money here in the
local areas of Chiang Mai,” Thaksin said. “The main point in solving the
problem of poverty is to join hands, especially in boosting local
production, investment and job creation, so that local people can earn more
income through business and tourism operations,” he repeated.
He said that a handbook of success stories would be
published as a guideline for the younger generation and people who want to
be overcome their poverty. This manual would help carry on the work and
philosophy of the War on Poverty (hopefully it will be cheap enough for the
poor to purchase it). “I hope that the problem of poverty in Chiang Mai
can be solved within 3-5 years. This is the challenge to those working to
raise the standard of living of the people,” said the PM.
Wear your helmet
It not only makes sense - it’s an order!
Chiang Mai has woken up to the fact that the majority of
road fatalities are motorcyclists, and the principal reason for their demise
is the lack of wearing safety helmets. This has been a crusade by the Chiangmai
Mail for many months, and finally the powers that be have taken the
hint. With Songkran road toll figures that are shameful, anything that can
be done to get the local motorcyclists wearing helmets - done up and of a
decent standard - is to be applauded.
Mai’s deputy governor, Prinya Panthong (center) accompanied by Provincial
chief medical officer Paisarn Tanyawinichkul, and Pol Capt Pichet Roongruksa
of the Chiang Mai Provincial Traffic Police Office launch the “wear your
Central Airport Plaza during April 6-7 was the venue for
the “Drive safety for Chiang Mai people” campaign, launched jointly by
Chiang Mai deputy governor, Prinya Panthong, accompanied by Provincial chief
medical officer, Paisarn Tanyawinichkul, and Pol Capt Pichet Roongruksa, of
the Chiang Mai Provincial Traffic Police Office.
This campaign targets motorcycle riders, especially
students and workers. Of course a beauty contest had to be thrown in, so
there was the Helmet Boy and Girl as part of the campaign. During the
campaign, quality helmets were also available for purchase at a cheap price
to encourage people to buy and use helmets.
Dr Paisarn said that the number of people injured from
road accidents during Songkran in Chiang Mai was around 1,600 annually.
Deaths in 2003 numbered 16. Of these numbers, 80 percent were motorcycle
Pol Capt Pichet pointed out that motorcycle riders still
lack awareness of the dangers of not wearing helmets. Standing on any street
corner would show that is still the case, despite the fact that police issue
traffic violation tickets for non-compliance with the helmet law more than
He said that from now on, violation notices would be issued by any
policeman at any time when motorcyclists were seen riding without a helmet.
He said he hopes that this random policing will stop people from keeping
their helmet in the carrier and popping it on the head before known
PM Thaksin Shinawatra finds a shortcut
New road map from Mae Orn to Jae Sorn costs 56 mio baht
At a cost of more than 56 million baht, and 12 months in
the making, the new 19 km shortcut between Chiang Mai’s Mae Orn district
and Lampang’s Jae Sorn was officially opened by PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin presided over the opening of the new shortcut.
PM Thaksin was welcomed and briefed by Gen Chainant
Charoensiri, the commissioner of the Military Development Work Command, who
said that this newly improved road was to help the local residents, but it
could also be developed to promote eco-tourism route in the area.
The completed road link will be handed over to remain under the care and
responsibility of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plants.
Wing 41 opens community shop
But not fly-by-night operation
The Northern Park Emporium, part of the Mostplace Group,
in front of Wing 41 aims to present buyers with products from all over the
world. The Executive Pavilion at Lilavadee Gallery is the ideal business
center fully equipped with high speed internet using wireless technology at
leather in the form of Buddha image made from cow skin is available at the
Northern Park Emporium.
It has strategically targeted this Wing 41 extension to
be able to present products from Yunnan into Thailand, for example, or cross
borders to other beyond destinations via its Indo-China network facilities
through Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Visitors are most welcome to the Northern Park Emporium
facilities, which as well as shopping opportunities, there is the ability to
just sit down with a cup of coffee as a rendezvous for relaxation, going on
with business from early flight check-in or unexpected flight delays,
awaiting someone’s late arrival or departure, or even a place to wish
friends and love ones bon voyage.
left) Suphot Kulthong vice chairman of Mostplace, group captain Wisurin
Moonla the Wing 41 commander, group captain Thanasak Metahanant, and group
captain Treepol Ongpaitoon.
Northern Park Emporium can also supply venues for
sporting meetings, business seminars, exhibitions and E-commerce.
Northern Park Emporium opens daily from 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. and its coffee
gallery opens daily from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Average income in Chiang Mai to be 20,000 baht by year end
No guarantee, but that’s the target given to the TAO
Chiang Mai province has set itself the
target of raising the income of its citizens to 20,000 baht per head by the
end of this year. This was announced by Chiang Mai governor Suwat Tantipat
at the workshop on the strategy for Tambon Administration Organizations
(TAO’s) to solve the issues of poverty.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was guest speaker at
the workshop at the Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel in the city, which was
organized by the Chiang Mai TAO Association.
It was attended by TAO chairmen, council presidents,
members and permanent secretaries from Chiang Mai to gain a better
understanding of the government policy on addressing poverty.
They were told that Chiang Mai would be the first pilot
province to raise people’s standard of living through the government’s
Governor Suwat reported that 250,000 people had
registered with the authorities as being classified as poor. About 160,000
had complained about a shortage of land for farming, while 130,000 were
burdened by debt. “Chiang Mai province has set itself the target of
raising income to 20,000 baht per head within this year. Hopefully, we will
soon no longer have poor people in this province,” noted the governor.
While the much vaunted CEO style of governance is
supposed to allow the organizations like the TAO’s set their own agendas,
it was obvious that the strategies are central in origin. Whether these
populist approaches can actually deliver the result will be anxiously
awaited by the poor in Chiang Mai.
Local administration bodies to take over public works
Decentralize says central government
Local administration bodies should take over public
works, town and rural development from central government to better serve
local communities, was the conclusion from a workshop held in Chiang Mai.
The Public Works, Town and Country Planning Department
and the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Works, Town and Country Planning Office
organized a joint meeting under the theme “Strategy in town to country
Prinya Panthong, Chiang Mai’s deputy governor, presided
over the meeting at the Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel in the city.
500 people took part, including senators, members of
parliament, heads of government and local administration offices. Also
present were officials from local administration organizations from the
northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Uttaradit, Tak, Phetchabun, Lampang,
Sukhothai and Mae Hong Son.
Deputy Governor Prinya said in his opening remarks that
current government policy encouraged decentralization and transfer of some
central government tasks to local administration organizations. Town and
country planning was one of the areas where decentralization could be
He added, “Planning requires technical knowledge.
Therefore, the responsible authorities have to be acknowledged and
subsequently assigned responsibilities. For this, the officials under their
control need to be properly educated about the required techniques in town
and rural planning. In this way, they will be able to correctly solve the
problems of the community and develop town and rural areas for suitable and
Town planners looking to improve the Ping’s riverbanks
Pollution a problem
Plans are afoot to refurbish the riverbanks along the
Ping River. The plans include conserving, developing, purifying and
beautifying the land and buildings along both sides of the riverbank, so
that the riverbanks can function as relaxation areas for the public and
serve as areas for northern cultural exhibitions. Planners also hope to
improve waterway transportation.
Dr. Wason Chormpakdee from Chiang Mai University’s
Faculty of Engineering, and chairman of the Ping River environment
conservation coordinating committee, said that his committee also plans to
promote the setting up of sightseeing areas, offering tourists opportunities
to experience ancient riverside communities, northern handicrafts and Lanna
Dr. Wason announced the plans during a Ping River
conservation seminar last week, presided over by Chiang Mai’s deputy
governor, Thongchai Wongrianthong, and attended by 50 participants from the
Ping River environmental conservation coordinating committee, Chiang Mai
Town and Urban Planning Office and private development organizations.
Dr. Wason also spoke on the Ping River’s water quality,
which he said has been so severely degraded, fish can no longer survive.
However, last year the river was dredged by the Water Transport Department,
which takes responsibility for planning and developing the river flow. 40-50
years ago the Mae Ping River was used as a dump for waste matter, which
eventually led to blockages.
“Nevertheless, the Ping River has to be dredged
carefully, as the environmental impact can adversely affect marine life.
This point is possibly not understood by persons who have never thoroughly
studied the environmental impact of dredging the river,” he said.
Chiang Mai mayor announces his team
Three monthly assessments announced as well
Boonlert Buranupakorn, the returned Chiang Mai mayor, has
announced the appointments of four municipal councilors as his deputy
mayors, three advisors and one secretary for his new administration team.
Manas Sirimaharaj was appointed as the deputy mayor for
administration and finance, Chatri Chuamanochan as deputy mayor for public
works, Poonsawat Worawan as deputy mayor for sanitation and environment and
Soonthorn Yarmsiri as the deputy mayor for education.
The three advisors are Tairoj Ratanajinda, Pitak Tantisak
and Wipawan Chaiwong and the secretary is Pornchai Jitanawasatian.
Mayor Boonlert added that there would be ongoing
assessments every three months of the deputies. “If any of them are found
not working to my satisfaction, I would immediately move him,” he said.
This is the second term for Boonlert Buranupakorn as
Chiang Mai mayor and this time he successfully led twenty four members of
the Chiang Mai Khunatham group to take all the seats in the municipal
council, from the four election areas of Nakhornping, Kawila, Meng Rai and
Sriwichai districts. They have four years in which to prove their worth to
ASEAN-OSHNET meeting held in Chiang Mai
Singapore to coordinate inspections
The Department of Labor Protection and Welfare hosted the
fifth ASEAN-Occupational Safety and Health Network board meeting, attended
by representatives from 10 ASEAN member countries.
Minister of Labor Peera Manathas
The four day conference took place at The Empress Hotel
in Chiang Mai. Addressed by Peera Manathas, Deputy Minister of Labor, it was
pointed out that the workforce was an important contributing factor to every
country’s development. Attention should therefore be paid to their health
and safety conditions.
The 10 ASEAN countries represented, Brunei, Cambodia,
Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Laos and
Thailand had therefore previously agreed on the establishment of the ASEAN
Occupation Safety and Health Network, and would now review case studies of
the problems found in each country, offering a chance for ASEAN members to
exchange experiences and agree on strategies to address those problems.
Singapore was assigned the additional task of coordinating labor
Each ASEAN country was asked to appoint a representative to the ASEAN
Occupation Safety and Health Network board which would meet annually. The
director-general of the Labor Protection and Welfare Department would
Government workers, police, soldiers and residents get behind Clean Up Day
Getting ready for the Songkran soak
Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat and Chiang Mai Mayor
Boonlert Buranupakorn jointly declared the Big Cleaning Day promotional
campaign underway on April 3.
Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat (left), accompanied by Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert
Buranupakorn, swept Charoenmuang Road during Clean Up Day.
An estimated 1,000 Chiang Mai Municipality’s officials,
workers, and soldiers from the 3rd Development Battalion, Kawila Camp, 7th
Field Artillery Battalion, 5th Special Force Regiment and Pack Squadron,
Police officers and Chiang Mai residents joined in the campaign.
The Big Cleaning Day was part of the “Chiang Mai - the
Beautiful City” campaign that Chiang Mai Municipality set aside to
celebrate the 72nd birthday anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen. The
campaign focused on cleaning the city’s buildings and streets and
decorating the buildings to make them more eye-catching.
The campaign has set three main city roads as target
areas - Charoenmuang, Thapae and Ratchadamnoen, and later this campaign will
be extended into other areas.
Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert said that the water quality
testing on 21 spots around city moats showed it was clean enough to be used
for Songkran and for people to swim in the moats, but not fit for drinking.
In case of emergencies, the municipality has readied 220 rescue personnel
positioned around the city’s moats.
With the moat now ‘safe’ for the revelers, let us hope the police can
make the roads equally as safe. Last year’s Songkran death toll was a
blight on the face of the nation and should not be tolerated by any society
that considers itself ready for the 21st century.
Parn and Phaya Mengrai districts suffer 10 million baht hail damage
Villagers keep tennis ball-sized hail as mementos
Severe rain and hailstones lashed houses,
lychee and longan orchards and chicken farms for one hour in Chiang Rai’s
Phaya Mengrai and Parn districts. Houses were de-roofed, crops were
flattened and hundreds of chickens that had survived the bird flu cull were
also killed. It has been a tough year to be a chicken.
Local people said a hailstorm of this proportion had
never occurred in the area before. Villagers are keeping hailstones in the
freezer of their refrigerators to show to their grandchildren. Over 600
residences in Phaya Mengrai district were damaged.
Chiang Rai province and Tambon Administration
Organization has put aside funds to assist in the rebuilding. Authorities
are saying that around 80 percent of the costs for tiles will come from this
For crop and livestock losses, the province will provide
vegetable and fruit seeds and animals. Unfortunately, this natural calamity
might affect farmers abilities to repay debts they owed the largesse of the
government village fund. Perhaps they can receive loans from Taksin’s end
poverty campaign to pay off their other government loans.
While isolated areas have received water and hail, the
drought in Chiang Rai remains with Nong Luang in the Wiang Hang district now
totally barren. In the lychee gardens in Wiang Chai district farmers are
covering the tree roots with rice straws to attempt to keep them damp.
Heaviest gales of the decade hit Fang district
6,000 villagers affected, swamping authorities
with calls for urgent assistance
Residential areas and fruit plantations in the five
tambons of Fang district were devastated by windstorms. Aid teams, set up by
both Fang district and Tambon Administration Organizations (TAO’s), were
mobilized to render immediate assistance.
collapsed during the storms in Mae Rim district.
Boonserm Jitjiansuwan, Fang district chief officer, said
the tempest hit the five tambons of Wiang, Monpin, Pong Namron, Sansai and
Mae Kah, covering 31 villages and 6,000 people suffering from the effects.
Eight schools and a similar number of temples suffered
severe damage. The damage to homes was extensive, with structural problems
resulting, as well as roofs being blown away. Fortunately there were no
records of personal injury from flying debris.
The Fang district chief officer, authorities of the five
TAO’s, village headmen and village elders, and the territorial security
volunteers are currently meeting to assess the damage and to seek assistance
from government. Building materials for housing reconstruction, such as
roof-tiles, plywood and other materials have already been contributed by the
government and the private sectors, and would be transported to the areas of
The cost of the disaster has been estimated to be around
one billion baht, at minimum, and Chiang Mai Provincial Authority has been
already informed of this.
Other districts reported damage, especially in Mae Rim which was hit by
the rainstorm for almost half an hour. Billboards were blown over (though
that is no real loss) and some residences lost their roofs.
San Kamphaeng hit by storms
High winds and hail cause much damage
The annual summer storms have hit, with
San Kamphaeng bearing the brunt of the ferocity. Hundreds of homes and
thousands of mangoes and longans were lost in the snap storm that hit at
around 8 p.m.
Residents of Ban Mai Pattana Village, Moo 2, Tambon Rong
Wuadaeng, San Kamphaeng District, all joined in to repair the damage,
cutting and removing tree branches blocking the road, while waiting for the
authorities to come to deal with the fallen power lines. Everyone was
affected in some way in the small village, with even their childcare center
having to be closed for at least two days for repairs.
Uthai Panyathip, the headman of Ban Mai Pattana Village
said that a similar situation happened 10 years ago with a comparable degree
of damage. However, after the storm calmed down, he organized the villagers
to help each other and informed the city district and the Provincial
Electricity Authority of Chiang Mai asking for further assistance. 24 hours
later, repairs were still being effected.
Lampang province was also affected with hailstorms
wreaking havoc in the Mae Moh area, damaging more than 200 residences in the
Huay Rak Mai Village. The storm lasted only a few minutes, but left a trail
of destruction. Personal injury from the golf ball sized hail was recorded,
as well as roof and window damage and destruction of agricultural
plantations. According to some villagers, hail of this size had never been
seen before in this region.
301 “cool” number plates up for auction in June
Atsashai Rattranadilok na Phuket, Head of Chiang Mai
Provincial Transport Office, has advised that there will be a special
auction of “cool” number plates in June this year. The number plates
will be those with numbers such as single or double numbers in each
alphabetic category, with 301 plates being prepared for the public auction.
example of a “cool” number plate.
He believes people who win the auctioned plates would not
lose, as the registration plates could be transferred, sold, gifted or even
passed down to their descendents. The value of these plates would escalate
over the years.
The auction will be carried out in June, but in April and May there will
be a plate design contest and the winning design would be approved by the
Provincial Land Transport Office for putting into a real plate and would be
shown at the auction.
Government promises more funding for CMU physics research
Neutron applications could benefit society claims PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has announced that the
government is ready to finance further neutron research at Chiang Mai
University (CMU). He made the announcement during a visit to the physics
department at the university’s Faculty of Science.
Thaksin was briefed at the Fast Neutron Facility research center at Chiang
Mai University. (Photo by Saksit Meesubkwang)
“The financial support will go towards helping research
work. Great benefits could be gained from this research, with results being
applied in various and useful projects including the search for bombs and
drugs. If successfully developed and patented, this new technology could be
installed at the new Suvannaphum Airport,” said Thaksin.
Work in this field was initiated in 1972 at the CMU. In
1983, the International Nuclear Atomic Office at Uppsala University in
Sweden provided assistance to the department. Since then the CMU has carried
out further work on ion beam analyses, Rutherford Back Scattering
Spectrometry (RBS), particle accelerators and other related research.
Thailand to be the world’s food kitchen, says central government
FDA helps Chiang Mai kitchens
clean up their act
Warasin and Kaweeporn Wachirarangsiman
The Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office has
cooperated with four educational institutes in organizing a seminar on Good
Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for more than 104 manufacturers in the Chiang
Mai food industry.
GMP in this regard covers the minimum standard required
in the cultivation, harvesting, processing and distribution of food
products, in line with the Health Ministry’s “Road Map of Food Safety”
to meet international standards set by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Implementing GMP in food production was seen as necessary for Thailand to
meet international criteria and promote the government’s vision of the
country as the “Kitchen of the World”.
Sathaporn Wongcharoen, deputy secretary-general of the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said at the seminar that the
implementation of GMP would also upgrade the quality of food and water in
Chiang Mai, so that consumers would not suffer from food poisoning.
“Personally, I would really welcome businesses being penalised if they do
not meet safety standards in food processing, because then they might seek
information and guidance to improve,” he said.
He said he was delighted with the cooperation given by
the educational institutions in offering GMP instructions to food producers.
However, he was concerned that certain products had been awarded up to four
stars, despite the fact that there was no standardization in labelling. This
was in violation of the food safety laws. A manufacturer guilty of violating
food safety laws would be fined for the first violation and could lose its
permit if it did not take corrective action. Sathaporn also said that any
food manufacturer lacking financial capacity to improve or upgrade could
apply for a bank loan.
Jaroon Yanasarn, a pharmacist with the Chiang Mai
Provincial Public Health Office, in his address acknowledged that the health
office in the past had been strict only when initially approving permits to
food manufacturers. No subsequent inspections were carried out, leading to a
fall in the quality of food products. “To maintain a consistent high
standard, all enterprises must implement GMP in their food processing,” he
A survey conducted by the health office shows that most
manufacturers agree with the GMP criteria, however, they still need to
receive information and guidance about its implementation. Some major
food-producing companies have even hired private consultants for this at
great cost, but small and medium-sized enterprises cannot afford to do so.
The Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office is
concerned about the problem but does not have sufficient personnel to help
as much as it would like. The four educational institutions - Chiang Mai
University, Payap University, Maejo University and Rajabhat Institute have
therefore been asked to help support the program by providing personnel.
Professors in these institutions have been asked to act
as advisers to food-producing companies that have only limited budgets, so
that these could continue their business while improving the standard of
The seminar was told that at present, food manufacturers
in Chiang Mai need to meet only 50 percent of the minimum requirements to
receive a permit. However, this would be increased to 75 percent when they
apply for their permits to be renewed.
Jaroon added that street food vendors would be included
in the scheme, and they would be instructed and guided by health office
staff on how to improve their food quality to meet the GMP criteria.
Ong-art Kittikulchai, the owner of Sunsweet Company and
representative of Chiang Mai Intermediate Food Manufacturers, said it was
necessary for food manufacturers to implement the GMP standards without
compromise. He also hoped to see employees in the food industry continuously
instructed and trained in GMP by provincial health office staff.
Watchara Sripoh, owner of the Tarnpetch Drinking Water
Company, said he wished to see quality evaluation take place in factories
every three months and that random inspections take place. “This will
encourage every business to maintain high standards all the time. Businesses
themselves need to be guaranteed that their products are safe for
Thai Ceramic Company facilitates traffic in Chiang Mai
Traffic light control booths donated
With road safety being a foremost need in Chiang Mai, the
municipality has received three traffic light control booths to improve
traffic flow in the northern capital. These were not purchased and supplied
by the traffic department, or local government, but were donated by local
Gen Kasem Rattanasoonthorn (right, front) receives the donation of traffic
booths worth 3 million baht from Worakarn Chuto, marketing manager of Thai
Ceramic Industry Co (left, center), as other police officers look on.
Worakarn Chuto, marketing manager of Thai Ceramic
Industry Co, presented the booths to the Chiang Mai provincial police
division in early April for better control of the road traffic. The
presentation ceremony was held at the Rincome intersection, where Chiang Mai
Police Chief Pol Maj Gen Kasem Rattanasoonthorn, accepting the donation from
Thai Ceramics. The three booths are worth about 3 million baht.
Two booths would be delivered and installed at the
Rincome and Nong Pratheep intersections and the third would be positioned at
the Hang Dong police station for its traffic control.
Worakarn said that Chiang Mai was clearly expanding at a
rapid pace, resulting in an increase in the number of road users. The
traffic police were there to ensure a smooth traffic flow for the
convenience of road users and pedestrians. To be able to do this, they
needed the correct equipment.
The traffic lights control booths cost more than most
people would imagine because all the materials used in their construction
were of the highest quality. The donors, the Thai Ceramic Industry Co had
been concerned about the health of the traffic police officers and they
considered the gift of the three traffic control booths as their social
In his acceptance speech, Pol Maj Gen Kasem expressed his delight at the
contribution of the Thai Ceramic Industry Co, as it was the private sector
which recognized the importance of traffic control. Every traffic police
official, he said, thanked the company for its social contribution.
Giant hailstones hit Mae Chan district in Chiang Rai
Frightened villagers hide in wardrobes with pets
More than 1,000 families were affected by a severe
hailstorm in Mae Chan. Wisit Sittisombat, the chief district officer of Mae
Chan district Chiang Rai, led a rescue team to help the victims of the
hailstorm that hit thirty villages, especially Ban Sanna, Ban Kiewpraw and
Ban Krok, across five tambons.
The villagers were reportedly alarmed by the sight of
giant hailstones the size of eggs that were left on rooftops. Roof-tiles
were damaged, tree trunks were torn and poultry killed, though fortunately
there were no reports of human casualties.
Saman Wangyong, the headman of Ban Sanna village, Moo 3,
Tambon Mae Kam, said that all 160 families had been affected by the
hailstorm which had caused a blackout. Some families had to set up tents as
Eye-witness, Mrs Dee Yana, the owner of one house, said
that before the disaster struck, the sky was black and a strong wind was
blowing. Giant hailstones then started hitting the roof tiles. Family
members and pets were crying in fright and hid in a wardrobe before the
storm subsided after more than 45 minutes, she said.
Wisit noted that the details of the disaster had been
collected for a report to go to the provincial authority, which was expected
to pay 80 percent of the cost to replace roof tiles. The local
administration organizations would cover the other 20 percent. He added that
a team of volunteers had been sent to help the villagers clean up the damage
the next day.
Monks and youth try to lower Songkran road toll
and Kaweeporn Wachirarangsiman
100 young volunteers and monks who took part in a
campaign to reduce road accidents during the Songkran Festival were
surprised by a visit from Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, who
encouraged them in their endeavours.
Suwat Tantipat with youth volunteers and monks at the road safety campaign.
This was part of a road safety programme run by the monks
from the Chiang Mai Merit Development Center, entitled “Getting Yourself
Alert Before Getting Your Engine to Go” and targeted road users at 20 gas
stations located all over Chiang Mai.
campaign was launched during the Songkran water festival.
The monks, who participated in training the young
volunteers, said that there had been 17 deaths from road accidents during
the Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai last year, and more than 1,700 injuries.
The Maha Vajiralongkorn Merit Development Center, Ayutthaya, had initiated
the campaign to try to reduce the number of accidents during Songkran, and
student volunteers from schools in Chiang Mai had been trained to promote
the campaign. The volunteers were divided into groups of 5 or 10 students
and stationed at each gas station in Chiang Mai city between 8 a.m. and 5
p.m. from April 9-15.
The young volunteers carried silver bowls of lustral
water, asking permission from customers to bless them according to northern
tradition. They distributed leaflets and stickers about the campaign and
gave a safety blessing for a safe trip.
“The young volunteers are a good example, devoting their time to social
service in promoting the campaign in the province,” Governor Suwat said
when he visited them and praised them for their contribution in promoting
Pha Muang Task Force clashes with drug dealers in Mae Ai
Two deaths land a haul of 100 pills
The Pha Muang Task Force received a
tip-off that drugs would be smuggled into Thailand across the Burmese border
opposite Mae Ai.
Maj Gen Manus Paorik, commander of the Task Force,
instructed Cavalry Battalion 135, Special Task Force Unit 3, to launch an
operation to obstruct and ambush the drug dealers at Doi Sam Sao area.
In the early hours of the morning, the unit engaged the
drug dealers in a running gun battle for about 10 minutes in the area behind
Ar Sue village in Tambon Thaton, Mae Ai district, which is about four
kilometers from the Thai-Burma border. In the ensuing clash, two drug
dealers were shot dead. The task force seized an AK rifle, a Thai hand gun
and 100 methamphetamine pills.
The Pha Muang Task Force has sent the confiscated weapons
and ya ba pills to the Mae Ai police station and is continuing its
investigation into the drug-smuggling operation. While local wisdom would
have it that the emphasis is now on crossing the Thai-Laos border, there are
still regular crossings from Burma.
Drug traffickers prefer
Police still on lookout over Songkran
Officials are concerned that drug
traffickers will take advantage of the Songkran festival to smuggle drugs
into Thailand from across its northern borders. Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra also noted that drug trafficking was now taking place through
Laos, rather than Burma.
Thai citizens had reported that drug smuggling had
changed from Burma to the Laos border areas because of the government’s
War on Drugs campaign. “Experienced officers have therefore to be
recruited to pursue the drug trade and trafficking in the Laos border
areas,” said Thaksin.
The PM also responded to reputed public concerns that
during the Songkran festival police would concentrate on traffic problems
and disregard drug suppression. He responded by asserting that officers
would be assigned during Songkran to continue their drug suppression duties.
Mae Sai Customs’ surprising confiscations
Dildo’s plus Viagra good insurance?
The Mae Sai Customs Office confiscated 99
cases of contraband items and other consumables worth 6.81 million baht so
far in the 2004 fiscal year, including dildos, Viagra, pornography and gold
Customs Office head Pachara Sinsawat said this week that
this treasure trove was due to a more vigorous implementation of the policy
to prevent and suppress contraband and drug smuggling along the border.
The Customs Office was carrying out joint operations with
the Pha Muang special task force to check the border areas, with the
approval of the Custom Office for collection of taxes he said.
In one of their hauls, major illegal importers were
arrested and smuggled goods valued at 7.7 million baht were seized on March
18. Pachara indicated that the Mae Sai Customs Office had brought in more
than expected due to the reorganization of tax scheduling, and an expanded
Water shortages? What water shortages?
revelers won’t let something as minor as a major water shortage get in the
way of a good Songkran splashing. The annual “water wars” went on as
usual this year, once again converting Chiang Mai into one big bathtub. For
many, it was a refreshing break from the hot weather we’ve been having.