Songkran road fatalities down - by 1
Road accidents during the Songkran festival claimed 15
lives in Chiang Mai between April 9 and 18, with another 1,705 people
injured. The road toll in Chiang Mai was one down on last year’s Songkran
holiday when 16 people died in Chiang Mai, and 931 people died on the roads
Mai police became stricter on enforcing road safety and traffic regulations
by setting up checkpoints.
The Chiang Mai traffic control center reported that nine
males and six females died on the roads. Of those injured, 1,208 were males
and 497 females. The majority of accidents involved motorcyclists, followed
by drivers of pickup trucks and sedan cars. Sixty percent of the
motorcyclists involved in road accidents were not wearing helmets.
The government had ordered stricter enforcement of
traffic regulations this year, particularly with regard to safety helmets
for motorcyclists, safety belts for drivers, and apprehending drivers under
the influence of alcohol. This had resulted in an increase in arrests,
charges and fines this year, the traffic control center reported.
In Chiang Mai, a provincial authorities center for road
safety had been formed by the Public Disaster Prevention and Relief
Operations Office under the Ministry of Interior, with the co-operation of
the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office, district officers and
provincial police officials.
Checkpoints were set up and manned 24 hours a day on more
than 48 routes that were regarded as high risk for accidents. Special
emphasis was placed on blood alcohol testing. With 28 kits available,
officers were able to test about 3,640 people every day.
Chiang Mai deputy governor, Prinya Panthong said, “We
aimed to keep the number of road fatalities under 17. Actually, we don’t
want to see a single person die on our roads. However, sometimes you can get
hit by a car while just crossing the road. The cause may not always be
alcohol-related, but could be due to carelessness. Therefore, we are placing
emphasis on every district to continuously publicize road safety
Despite the rhetoric, it was very obvious during Songkran that
motorcyclists ignored the safety helmet decree. Until they do, they will
continue to be the ‘most killed’ category.
Songkran revenue 720 million baht
But most of it came from the locals
According to the Chiang Mai Press Information and
Co-ordination Center, citing figures supplied by the Tourism Authority of
Thailand, more than 1.4 million tourists flocked to Chiang Mai for the
Songkran festival this year, spending 720 million baht and resulting in
occupancy rates at a whopping 95 percent. The statistical period in Chiang
Mai covered the Grand Lanna Civilization Songkran Festival from April 10-15.
Tourism-related business reported that most tourists were
Thai - 70 percent being the agreed figure. Of the 1.4 million visitors,
about 350,000 were from Bangkok and other provinces.
An estimated 635,000 people visited the Grand Lanna
Civilization Songkran Festival which ran from April 2-15 at Nong Buak Had
Park including the fountain performance in front of the Chiang Mai municipal
office. About 12 percent of these were from Bangkok, 28 percent from other
provinces, while 60 percent were locals. Some 97 percent of these visitors
were Thais. Up to 86,000 people watched the Grand Lanna Civilization Parade
on April 10 alone, while about 6,000 people attended the fountain
Thai Airways International reported that every flight
between Bangkok and Chiang Mai and return was full from April 10-16. It had
to provide one extra flight daily from April 9-16. Bangkok Airways also
reported fully booked flights.
State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said it had to increase
the number of train carriages due to passenger demand, and the Chiang Mai
Land Transport Office also had to provide 40 more buses daily for both
outgoing and incoming trips during the water festival.
Forestry office ready to chop down deforestation criminals
Forestry officials have issued a warning
that it will confiscate the property of people who trespass on forest lands
and are guilty of deforestation in the Fang, Mae Ai and Chaiprakan districts
of Chiang Mai.
Wichai Laemwilai, deputy director-general of the
Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants, said the department has
been concentrating on the prevention of forest fires and deforestation in
the northern region since April 5.
It had collected evidence that “Capitalists, government
officials and local politicians” had trespassed on and deforested the
woodlands. If the Forestry Office found specific evidence which identified
lawbreakers, legal steps would be taken to confiscate their properties, he
The office already had identified three alleged offenders
who would be charged with destroying large tracts of forest in Mae La Noi
district, Mae Hong Son province.
Much deforestation is caused by hill tribes who cut down
the trees to create new agricultural land. However, “Some capitalists
encourage the hill tribes to invade forest areas for some particular
purposes,” Wichai alleged. The Forestry Office needed to collect more
evidence to confront the alleged offenders, he said.
Chiang Mai Municipality raises concern over burning off outdoors
Chiang Mai Municipality has announced that
the air quality in the city has gradually deteriorated and contamination is
now above safe limits.
Chiang Mai’s air contains many contaminants that may
harm people’s health. According to a study by the Chiang Mai
University’s Social Research Institute, it was found that burning outdoors
causes 50 percent of the pollution in the city. As well as producing smoke,
dust and bad smells, burning off also releases cancer producing contaminants
into the air.
The Chiang Mai Public Health Office has reported that the
number of patients with respiratory system diseases has steadily increased
from 487,213 in 1994, to 626,950 in 2000 and 704,800 in 2002.
Similarly, the incidence of lung cancer jumped from 64.96
per 100,000 people in 2001 to 138.87 per 100,000 people in 2002, a doubling
in two years. With this kind of evidence behind it, the municipality has
expressed its concern over outdoor burning off. To improve both air quality
and the health of Chiang Mai residents, it has therefore urged the public
not to burn garbage and paper in areas close to their houses. Incidentally,
burning garbage outdoors is a violation of municipal by-laws.
Central government’s plans for the eight northern provinces
Includes promotion of Buddhism to stem growth of other denominations
The central government convened a meeting of governors,
deputy governors and high-ranking officials from Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Chiang
Rai, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Phrae, Nan, and Phayao at the Empress Hotel in
Chiang Mai on April 17.
Wissanu Krea-Ngam, Deputy Prime Minister
The meeting was addressed by Deputy Prime Minister
Wissanu Krea-Ngam and informed the 500 attendees at the meeting of the
government’s strategic plans to develop the regions.
Deputy PM Wissanu reported the direction that the
government wants to see as far as the development of the regions is
* Lampang province will place emphasis on the development
of ceramic products;
* Lamphun will focus on the Northern Region Industry
* Chiang Rai on its role as the entrance gate to the
* Phayao on its “Livable City” project;
* Chiang Mai as the “City of Health and Life”;
* Mae Hong Son on its eco-tourism;
* Nan on its good government; and
* Phrae on its teak industry.
He added that these strategic plans should dovetail with
the four main national strategic plans - the war on poverty, improvement of
the country’s competition potential, improvement on the quality of life
for Thai people; and sustainable development.
The deputy PM said he had been appointed to watch over
the implementation of government policy for Zone 1, the upper north. He
urged those present to continue the policies set out by the former deputy
PM, Dr Somkid Jatusripitak.
He also encouraged them to increase tourism to their
areas, and take care of the arts and culture, religion, and to work with an
attitude of service, and impress the public.
He urged the governors to persuade residents to attend
temples to study Buddhist teachings and make merit every Sunday, and set up
Buddhist religious places in their provinces as centers for performing
Buddhist rituals to prevent the propagation of other denominations.
He also suggested the governors and media should encourage people to
plant the Ratchapruek (or Cassiafistu) tree and fly the Thai national flag
in front of their houses.
Senators to protest Chinese dam building
Fears of devastating damage to the fragile ecosystem of
the Mekong River are spurring the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee to send
a letter to the Chinese government, calling for a halt to all further
damming of the upper Mekong.
Noting the extensive destruction of the environment
caused by the Chinese government’s efforts to dam the Mekong and dynamite
islands and rapids, Sen. Kraisak Chunhavan, chair of the foreign affairs
committee, warned that the ecological time bomb on the river was now
beginning to explode.
Extensive damming operations by the Chinese government
oblivious to seasonal variations in the ecological cycle has led to the
rapid erosion of river banks and a consequent loss of farm land, while
blasting rapids had left fish without breeding grounds and led to a massive
reduction in the river’s fish population.
Most importantly, the Chinese operations have served to
change the course of the river; thus, affecting the already contested
border separating Thailand from Laos.
“The more rapids that are blasted to allow large
Chinese freight vessels to sell goods in Thailand, the more Thailand is put
at a disadvantage,” Kraisak said, adding that the views of the Senate
committee had already been forwarded to the government. He also confirmed
that the committee plans to send a protest letter to Beijing to call for a
halt to damming and blasting operations on the Mekong.
The Mekong River Commission, which China has refused to
join, recently warned that the 3,000-meter long river, which flows from the
Tibetan Plateau through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and
Vietnam, is now at its lowest level in recorded history.
Niwat Roikaeow, a leading member of a non-governmental
organization supporting the preservation of the ancient Mekong settlement
of Chiang Khong in Chiang Rai Province, said that a Chinese official had
been sighted in the area preparing to engage in blasting work. Noting that
no Thai officials were present, he accused the Thai government of
neglecting the environmental damage that the Chinese are causing.
“This indicates that officials from Thailand’s
central government aren’t interested in this issue. They allow the
Chinese authorities to enter at will,” he said.
He observed that Thai soldiers along the border were
unhappy with this neglect, as they received no advance warning from China.
“We have never supervised, inspected or helped in the decision-making of
these Chinese officials who come into our country. It’s as if we allow
China to come in and do whatever it wants. This is Thailand’s flaw. These
rapids are currently undergoing an environmental impact assessment by the
Thai authorities. China should respect this,” he said.
The Chinese government has long been planning to blast
the Kai and Don Phee Lon rapids out of existence to make the Mekong
navigable as far as Luang Phrabang in Laos. But in March last year the Thai
government ordered that the plans be put on hold pending an environmental
impact assessment, fearing that the blasting works would damage the
environment, adversely affect local lifestyles and change the course of the
river which marks the border between Laos and Thailand. The 10-month
assessment is due for completion in June. (TNA)
More Songkran road toll statistics
Some provinces report lower figures, some greater
The eight provinces in the upper north of the country
have recorded a drop in the combined total of deaths and injuries during
Songkran this year compared to last year. The Road Safety Control Operation
Center’s report covers the period from April 9 to 18.
In all, 64 people were reported to have died in road
accidents (79 deaths in 2003). There was also a 6.7 percent drop in the
number of people injured, 5,418.
Drunk driving was the major cause of accidents and not
wearing safety helmets was the major contributing factor to the severity of
Lampang was the only province that recorded an increase
in the number of fatalities, with 10 people reported killed, four of them in
a car crash. Last year, the province recorded eight deaths while the death
toll in Phayao and Mae Hong Son was the same as last year.
Chiang Rai province had the highest number of fatalities,
18, although this was lower than last year’s toll of 26. The number of
injuries, however, increased from 900 last year to 1,116 this year. Every
single injury but one involved motorcycle riders.
Phrae province saw 395 accidents, in which four people
died. In Nan province, there were 358 accidents, causing four deaths and 354
injuries. During Songkran 2003, the figures were 422 accidents, seven deaths
and 415 people injured.
The number of accidents in Phayao was the same as last
year, with seven fatalities and 596 people injured.
Mae Hong Son recorded 107 accidents. Only two people were
killed and 30 injured. The low figure is linked to the small number of
tourists to the province.
In Lamphun, there were four deaths with 435 people
injured in Songkran accidents. The figures last year were three and 61
Lastly, Chiang Mai, the most sought-after tourist
destination, recorded 15 deaths and 1,075 injuries down from 16 deaths and
1,717 injuries last year.
Ban Tawai selected as OTOP
pilot scheme village
Ban Tawai Village, where entire families
earn their living as wood carvers, has succeeded in getting recognition as
an OTOP pilot scheme village.
OTOP stands for “One Tambon One Product” and is a
government program to inspire communities to profit from their heritage.
Tambon is the Thai word for village or sub-district.
As part of the program, the government gives villages a
financial incentive to promote and produce what they are renowned for to
create a larger income for the entire community.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is promoting Ban Tawai
Village as a tourist attraction with its woodcarvings available for sale.
Ban Tawai Village will be part of the tourism network that includes Wiang
Kum Kam and San Kamphaeng District.
The village has already experienced a positive result, as
more Thai and foreign tourists visited this year due to Chiang Mai being
selected as organizers of the Grand Lanna Civilization Songkran Festival.
Tourists said they were impressed by the skill of the carvers and bought
wood carvings and other handicrafts as souvenirs because they were cheap and
of good quality. They also said they were able to understand the value of
the wood carvings because they could watch while they were being created,
and could appreciate the skill and artistry that went into the final
Wing 41 gets new planes - and new pilots
Fly boys fly in
A welcoming ceremony for seven L-39 ZA/ART pursuit planes
was held at Wing 41, in Chiang Mai. The planes were being commissioned to
replace the OV-10 C turbo-prop aircraft which were decommissioned on March
personnel presented garlands to welcome the new pilots of the L-39 ZA/ART
In keeping with the Royal Thai Air Force policy on
relocating aircraft, the pilots and aircraft technical officials from 401
Squadron, Wing 4, Taklee district, Nakhon Sawan province, were moved with
the fighter planes to Chiang Mai.
pursuit aircraft did a fly by during the air show.
The relocation was deemed necessary to create a balance
in the country’s air-strike capacity to ensure stability and close support
for air defense in the northern region when it is required.
Group Captain Man Sritajit, deputy commander of Wing 41, was present at
the ceremony and delivered the welcoming speech and placed garlands around
the pilot’s necks.
Police extortion racket alleged
Claims immigrants targeted by corrupt police
Corrupt traffic police officers who allegedly have been
squeezing money from foreign workers and illegal immigrants are soon to feel
the squeeze themselves.
Pol Lt Gen Chalor Chuwong, commissioner of Provincial
Police Bureau, Region 5, has ordered an investigation into claims that
officers stationed at the police booth near Ton Lamyai Market in Chiang Mai
have been extorting money from foreign workers.
Members of the public and merchants from the nearby Ton
Lamyai Market informed the local media of the alleged extortion taking place
at the police traffic control booth. Foreign labourers and people who do not
speak Thai fluently would be called into the booth and bullied into handing
over money to the officers before they were set free, it was claimed.
It was also claimed that this group of traffic police
would patrol the Chiang Mai bus station and seize immigrant workers. When
the alien laborers got out of the buses, the police officers would summons
them to the side of the street and demand money.
The police commissioner said he takes the complaint
seriously and has ordered Pol Lt Col Weerayut Prasopchokchai, deputy
superintendent of Chiang Mai Traffic Police, to investigate and to report
back to him in detail.
“The police stationed at the booth will be questioned.
Every police officer is duty bound to service the public. If any official,
irrespective of rank or position, is found guilty, he will not be allowed to
remain in the police service and will be subject to severe penalties,”
E-Cop ready to make E-Arrests?
Chiang Mai police go high-tech in fight against crime
As criminals have become more desperate and sometimes
more sophisticated, police officers need to improve their law enforcement
methods to guard and protect you, the innocent citizens. Unfortunately, this
has not always been the case, as police have lagged behind in the age of
modern information and technology.
This is changing in Chiang Mai, thanks to the far-sighted
approach of Pol Maj Gen Wutti Wittitanon, the deputy commissioner of
Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5. He is the driving force behind the
“E-Cop” project, in keeping with the government’s vision of promoting
Chiang Mai as one of the country’s leading ICT cities.
The Police Bureau, Region 5 has developed a computer
program exclusively for internal communication. The system is restricted to
the police and accessible only with their individualized passwords.
The program is being used to send and receive official
documents and urgent commands and messages within the eight upper northern
region provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nan,
Phayao and Mae Hong Son.
Police officers stationed at every police station in the
region completed their training in the new system on March 30. Chiang Mai
began implementing the E-Cop project by filing accident and general criminal
cases on computer during the Songkran festival.
Pol Lt Col Kritsana Polnark, the inspector in charge of
policy and planning for Chiang Mai Provincial Police, is in charge of the
project. He told Chiangmai Mail that the principle behind it is to
link up information from the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 to the
General Staff Division, Provincial Police Division and police stations
concerned. The project is now running in all the northern provinces except
Mae Hong Son.
The E-COP project was launched at the Provincial Police
Bureau in January 2004, the first provincial police bureau in the country to
do so. Each provincial authority will be responsible for paying for its
Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division, has signed a
contract with TOT Public for rental of its connection network. The division
will use the lead line system, which means they can connect instantly
instead of using a dial-up connection as in the past.
At present, 30 phone lines are rented for each police
station, enabling quick communication with the Provincial Police Bureau,
Region 5 and every provincial police division 24 hours a day. This also
means facsimiles will no longer be needed - saving both time and paper.
The E-COP project has been used on a trial period since
January, but from this month, it is being formally implemented.
It is foreseen that it will also be used to link up with
the courts, to expedite the issuing of search warrants and for coordination
with an Inspector of Inquiry in filing a lawsuit.
The system in future could also be used to access census
registration information and the Department of Land Transport’s vehicle
Another planned technological innovation is the
installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at about 80
strategic points, such as the Night Bazaar, markets, parking lots,
significant sightseeing sites, and other crowded areas. This will enable
police at control centers to monitor criminal activity or accidents 24 hours
Previously, CCTV cameras were not installed because of
problems with the fiber optic channel. However, TT&T has made it
possible with the installation of high-speed Internet connection with ADSL
technology, which also helps cut costs considerably.
The CCTV project budget is estimated to cost 10 million baht and details
have been sent to Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat for official approval.
Pol Lt Col Kritsana said, “If closed-circuit cameras are installed around
the province, we predict a five percent drop in crime because criminals will
know they are being watched. We also might know when and where crimes have
taken place even before they are reported, because we have observed them on
the monitors. The footage may also be used as undeniable evidence in
criminal cases,” he said.
Chiang Rai Songkran tourism beats expectations
Shoppers snap up cheap Chinese chintz
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT),
Northern Office, Region 2 has released the tourism figures for Chiang Rai,
over the Songkran period.
The Mae Sai border market, Doi Tung Palace, Golden
Triangle and Mae Fa Luang Park were the top spots visited by the tourists
with just under 5,000 visiting and shopping at the Mae Sai border market on
April 12 alone. Chinese manufactured goods such as clothes and electronic
appliances were the most popular items snapped up.
Many tourists holidayed at the Mae Sai border itself. The
parking area proved to be insufficient for the hordes of visitors, many of
whom had to park their cars along the road sides heading to the market and
take mini-buses the rest of the way.
The hotel occupancy rate in Chiang Rai stood at 90
percent, which is much higher than usual. Most holidaymakers stayed at
moderately priced hotels, rather than five star accommodation, TAT officials
Chiang Mai conducts pilot study for asset conversion scheme
IT being used to collect the information
The Lands Department has been working to accelerate the
issuing of land title deeds and on the development of their management
information system (MIS) under the government’s asset conversion policy.
During the first phase, October 1 - December31 last year, the land title
deeds were processed and issued.
For the second phase, from January 1 - September 30,
2004, more land will be surveyed and title deeds issued.
To be able to speed up this issue, the Lands Department
has set up a pilot project for the development of MIS in Chiang Mai’s
Muang and Phrao districts. In the future, the MIS will be applied over the
country. The government has budgeted 183 million baht to be spent this year.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra stated during his
recent vacation in Chiang Mai that the government has launched the asset
conversion scheme to make land available to disadvantaged people to be used
for earning income.
The PM added that he did not want people who have been
given land title deeds to sell or transfer them, as this action would
contravene statutes and undermine the government’s objectives for the
Drowned phones another Songkran casualty
Condom use not recommended (for the phones)!
More than 60 mobile phones were brought in for repairs at
the Nokia Care Centre at the Chiang Mai Central Airport on April 16, 40 of
which were damaged by water. That is part of the legacy of annual Songkran
Pongsiri, Nokia marketing officer, said drenched mobile phones could
sometimes be resuscitated, but not all made complete recovery. “Water most
often leaks in through the keyboard, but a mobile phone should not be turned
on if its owner is not certain whether water has leaked in or not, because
water could damage the main board.”
Instead, he advised taking out the removable parts of the
phone, such as the battery and simcard, and rub them with a dry cloth and
blow dry with an electric fan. “You must not use an electric hairdryer, as
heat can also harm the main board,” he said.
In the case of drowning, the cell phone should be taken
to a repair center immediately. It should take under two hours to
investigate any damage. Repairs would cost a minimum of 350 baht. “This
does not include the price of spare parts,” Monchai said.
“If water has leaked into the main board, the memory
unit may have been damaged. If the phone circuit is broken, the cost to
repair it could be as high as 3,500 baht, as the whole main board has to be
In those circumstances, the center staff would recommend
that a new mobile be purchased instead, because it would not be economically
worthwhile repairing the damaged one.
His advise for Songkran 2005 was simple. “Next
Songkran, in your next water fight, do not risk expensive damage to your
phone by carrying it around with you. Even placing it in a plastic bag or
condom only reduces the risk; moisture may still get in,” he warned.
Chiang Mai governor honoured in Rod Nam Dam Hua ceremony
A colorful procession with hill tribes dressed in their
Lanna costumes, officials, housewives and members of the private sector
descended on the Chiang Mai governor’s residence on April 15 to the
accompaniment of bright Tung flags and merry traditional music.
Suwat Tantipat and his wife Ornadda Tantipat, with members of the Chiang Mai
press. (Photo by Saksit Meesubkwang)
They had come to carry out the traditional Rod Nam Dam
Hua water-pouring and blessing ceremony as part of the city’s Songkran
The procession began from the Three Kings Monument at 1
p.m. and moved along Ratchadamnoen and Thapae roads and finally stopped at
the governor’s residence on Charoenprathet Road. Many Thai and foreign
tourists watched and joined the procession as it proceeded through the city.
of the public pay respect during the Rod Nam Dam Hua ceremony at the
governor’s residence. (Photo by Saksit Meesubkwang)
The ceremony began with Deputy Governor Prinya Panthong,
as the representative of Chiang Mai’s residents, and other deputy
governors and permanent secretaries blessing Governor Suwat Tantipat and his
Members of the public then poured scented water over the
hands of the governor and paid their respects to him and his wife,
presenting them with agricultural products. The governor sprinkled water
over those present in return.
Governor Suwat wished everyone a good standard of living
and a prosperous New Year.
The governor also pledged that after the Thai New Year celebration, he
would work for Chiang Mai’s people, especially on the poverty eradication
policy promoted by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Chiang Rai expecting real estate boom
Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge the catalyst
The real estate business is booming in
Chiang Rai in anticipation of the opening of the second Thai-Burma
Friendship Bridge at the Mae Sai border later this month. Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra and his Burmese counterpart are expected to do the
Patchara Sinsawatra (apparently not related to the PM),
head of the Customs Office at Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai province, said
the bridge was due to open on April 30, the same day as the Thai and Burmese
cabinet ministers meeting.
With the forthcoming opening, there had been a
significant rise in real estate deals, especially in Mae Sai district, as
new investors and economic development is expected to follow.
Patchara reported that an asphalt road in the Ban
Sanpakhe village area had been constructed at a cost of over 38 million
baht. “By the middle of this year, about 443 million baht will be
allocated for land purchase, land upgrading, by-pass road construction, a
customs house, immigration office and other offices and facilities. However,
for now officials will be working in cargo containers as temporary
The opening of the bridge is seen as a sign of mutual
friendship and a link from Thailand to Burma and China, to allow
continuation of trade when low water levels make it impossible for cargo
ships to use the Mekong River.
Since news of the bridge construction became public,
investors have expressed interest in buying land along the Mae Sai by-pass
road near the entrance to the bridge. A number of plots have been sold at
more than 10 million baht. A boom in housing construction is expected to
Tipawan Chuajedton, a businesswoman and land broker in
the border area, said at the Tai Lua Cultural Weaving Fair that she had more
than 100 rai of land on which she was prepared to build a Tai Lua tribal
museum complete with houses built in traditional style, near the golf course
on the by-pass road in Mae Sai district. Guesthouses and hotels along the
road to the bridge would cater to motorists travelling to Burma.
Umporn Srisamut, a committee member of the Thai-Burmese
Economic and Cultural Association, said the opening of the second bridge was
good news for people from both countries. She also expressed the wish that
the economy and tourism be vigorously promoted so that more investors and
travelers would come to Thailand.
This would result in more revenue for the country.
She referred to the establishment of a tax-free
industrial settlement in Tambon Sridonmoon, Chiang Saen district, about 30km
from the bridge. “The price of land in this area is not too high, starting
from 500,000 baht per rai,” Umporn said. “So that is an incentive for
investment. If there is real support from the government, economic
development here need not remain as only a dream,” she said.
Summer storm blasts over the upper north
Came from Burma via Mae Hong Son
A summer storm hit the eight provinces of the upper north
in the early hours of April 19. Very high winds were recorded, as well as
rain and potential hail, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
The storm originated in Burma and entered Thailand
through Mae Hong Son province. The strong winds and rain continued
throughout the upper northern provinces, with no abatement, according to
Weapon Kunawiweatthanangkul, a meteorologist at the Northern Regional
Meteorological Center. He warned residents, “Rain and strong winds may
continue for two or three days and may even bring hailstorms.”
“The wind velocity is 33 knots, which is considered as
quite severe. Roofs of dilapidated buildings may be torn off and trees
uprooted,” he said.
The provincial authorities are keeping a record of the
damage to estimate of cost of the storm.
Phayao Provincial Authority pushing local fashion workshops
Textile, jewellery and leather goods manufacturers to get boost
The Phayao Provincial Authority and the Jewellery
Industrial Center have combined their efforts to make the province a hotspot
The director of the center, Ms Niramai Sirisrisudakul,
said it would arrange a workshop next month to elevate the textile industry.
Phayao province is expected to become a hub of training,
assembling, developing, manufacturing, designing, displaying and trade, of
the upper north for textiles, jewellery and ornaments, and leather goods.
She said textiles would be the first to be placed under
the spotlight, targeting clothing weavers, designers and manufacturers.
The workshop for the textile industry will take place
from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Jewellery Industrial Center, Tambon Mae Ka,
Muang district, Phayao on May 4.
Textile manufacturers, clothing designers and textile
production groups in Phayao and other provinces of the upper north are
welcome to attend.
Participants are asked to bring samples of their work if
they would like advice from experts on how to improve their products.
The workshop is free of charge. For more information,
please call 054 439 133-5.
American tourist stabbed and
robbed in guesthouse
Police investigating, but no arrest yet
An American tourist has been stabbed and
robbed by an intruder who broke into his room in the early morning.
Forty-seven year old John Harem was asleep in a guesthouse on Charoenprathet
Road when an unidentified man broke into his room at 5 a.m. Harem woke up
while the robber was going through his belongings. He confronted the man,
and a scuffle took place. The assailant then brandished a knife and stabbed
him in the arm and head.
The assailant made off with three credit cards, cash
worth 8,000 baht, a driving license and other documents. Police from Muang
Chiang Mai police station investigated and collected a sample from a
bloodstain in the American’s room.
American worker at hill tribe center found dead
No evidence of foul play
An American computer trainer at a hill tribe center has
been found dead in his room. It is suspected that he died of a heart attack.
Chiang Mai police reported that 51-year-old Jerry Swift, who worked at the
center in Tambon Nong Hoi, was found dead in his rented room on April 19.
of Jerry Swift.
Police officers from Mae Ping police station were alerted
after the caretaker noticed offensive odors emanating from the American’s
room. The body was found on the bed dressed in white shorts and socks.
Police assumed that he had been dead for at least three days judging by the
state of the corpse. There was no evidence of violence either on the body or
in the condition of the room.
The caretaker told police that Swift was friendly and got
on well with other people living in the area. He had never been involved in
any quarrels, and had been renting a room for over five months.
The caretaker said he had not seen Swift for two days and
thought he gone on vacation during Songkran. However, he had noticed the
odor and unlocked the room, then finding the body.
An autopsy will be carried out at the Maharaj Nakhon
Chiang Mai Hospital to determine the exact cause of death.
The US consulate-general in Chiang Mai has been notified of the death.
Police successfully defuse grenade at Southern Muang Samut Market
Chiang Mai police have defused an M-75 grenade planted in
front of a fish shop at Southern Muang Samut Market.
A passer-by found the grenade in a black bag placed near
an electric pole in front of the shop on Muang Samut Road, Chiang Mai at
around 3 p.m. on April 20.
where the bomb was planted in the front of a fish shop on Muang Samut Road,
Chiang Mai. (Photo by Autsadaporn Kamthai)
Police from Chang Puek police station rushed to the scene
and the bomb rescue team from the 33rd Border Patrol police headquarters was
called to defuse the grenade. Police cordoned off the road to traffic and
bomb squad removes the M-75 after successfully defusing it. (Photo by
Had it exploded, the grenade may have caused damage in a
It took about 20 minutes before it was defused. The bomb
squad suggested that “someone wanted to create an uprising”.
Police are investigating.
Six members of ‘White Face’
gang left red-faced
And red-handed as well
Six members of the self-proclaimed “White Face” gang
were left red-faced after police arrested them following a tip off. An alert
member of the general public informed police that he had overheard six
people in Chang Puek Road in Chiang Mai planning to commit a robbery.
members were questioned at Chang Puek police station.
Police officers, under Pol Col Kittisarn Kaewpradub,
superintendent of Chang Puek police station, burst open the room in which
the six were sitting. A quick inspection revealed 51 stolen items, including
television sets, four mobile phones, 10 wrist watches, two cameras,
calculators, a wallet, a bag, three dolls, a student identification card,
numerous electronic appliances and one ya ba tablet. The gang members
admitted that they had stolen all the items.
The gang told police they had formed the “White Face”
or “Anarchy” gang with the intention to commit the robberies. Before
committing a burglary, they would cover their faces with Guan Im cream and
put on red lipstick so that they would not be recognised. They confessed to
committing 10 robberies in Chang Puek and other areas.
Panuwat Kawinporn, 21, Sirikunya Cahiwong, 19, Kittipong Songsiri, 19,
Manachai Saechua, 22, and two others who cannot be named because they are
minors, were charged with theft and other criminal activities. At the time
of going to press, two robbery victims had already identified the alleged
thieves. It would appear they will have plenty of time to perfect their
make-up behind bars.
Traffic police officer seriously injured by teenage driver
Blood alcohol four times the limit
A teenage driver who has been charged with being under the
influence of alcohol ploughed into a motorcycle traffic police officer. The
policeman, Pol Cpl Pithep Thongjar was rushed to hospital where he was
admitted, suffering from a fractured skull and contusions to the brain. The
motorcycle patrol officer had been on traffic control duty on Chang Klan Road
in Chiang Mai at the time of the accident.
Chiang Mai police detained and then arrested the driver,
Suriya Sukyang after he was tested and allegedly found to have a blood alcohol
level of .203 mgm percent, more than four times over the legal limit.
Pol Lt Gen Chalor Chuwong, commissioner of Provincial
Police Bureau, Region 5, has visited Pol Cpl Pithep at Maharaj Nakhon Chiang
Mai Hospital, and offered him financial assistance.
Pithep’s condition was being closely monitored at the
time of going to press. A hospital spokesperson said he had suffered a skull
fracture and they were watching for signs of a cerebral haemorrhage.
The teenager, Suriya Sukyang faces several charges,
including driving under the influence of alcohol and causing grievous bodily
Cultural exchange Chinese film crew finds rude currency exchange
Money taken and no return
Chinese filmmakers in the North to film a documentary on
the Songkran festival have had anything but a festive experience - their
belongings and 60,000 baht in cash were stolen.
The 13-member crew reported to police at Muang Chiang Mai
police station that they had booked in at a hotel in Chiang Mai on April 6
and left to shoot the documentary in Mae Hong Son province. The film crew had
been hired by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to film the festival as part
of a cultural exchange scheme between Thailand and China.
When they returned to the hotel on the night of April 16
and checked their belongings, they discovered that the wallets of five of the
film crew containing official documents and cash valued at 60,000 baht were
missing. There was no sign of a break in.
A crime squad enquiry has been undertaken to find the
stolen property as soon as possible. Once again this looks like an ‘inside
Petrol station heist nets thief 170,000 baht
Police pumping employees for evidence
A petrol station on Mahidol Road in Chiang Mai has been
robbed, with the thieves making off with over 170,000 baht in cash. The
daring robbery at the PTT petrol station run by Panya Motor Partnership took
place on April 18.
Within minutes of being notified, Pol Capt Sa-nguan
Saenkam of Muang District police station, accompanied by detectives, rushed
to the scene. However, the thieves, and the money had long since gone.
Sombat Tengwongthana, the owner, showed police how the
robbers had gained entry by breaking the glass door to the office, rifled
through the drawers and scattered everything around the room. Sombat said
160,490 baht was missing from one drawer and 10,000 baht from another desk
He told police the petrol station was open from 5 a.m. to
midnight daily. After midnight, a security guard patrolled the front of the
petrol station. When he went to the station the next morning, Sombat found
that the glass had been broken and his accountants’ desks had been rifled.
Pol Capt Sa-nguan said he suspected an ‘inside job’ as
the thief or thieves knew where the money was kept. Fifteen employees were
questioned and their fingerprints taken for comparison with prints taken at
the robbery scene. This should soon show which employees were working there!