HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Song Contest sings the anti-drug message

Old Siam at the National Archives June 1–15

U.S. Consulate Chiang Mai changes public service hours

Thai Orchid Foundation holds art contest

Health problems of itinerant alien workers cause for discussion

The Ministry of Public Health gets in on the buzzwords

European Film Festival 2004 at Chiang Mai’s Major Cineplex

Song Contest sings the anti-drug message

Trill your way to 10,000 baht

Jiraphat Warasin

Voice Studio in Chiang Mai has collaborated with Central Airport Plaza and DAPP Records to host the “Chiang Mai to Be Number One Singer Contest 2004” among primary and junior high school students competing for a cash prize of more than 10,000 baht. The young singers must apply before July 17, 2004.

From left: Ajarn Thienchai Sukthieng, vice president of the project, Khunying Pimjai Kuptawanitch, the president of the To Be Number One project, and Wuthipong Thayaping, secretary of the project.

This contest is aimed at encouraging Thai youths in the northern provinces not to turn to drugs, but properly use their leisure time and abilities by singing instead.

There will be two rounds to end up with 10 contestants in the final. The song that each applicant selects must be in Thai (string, country or modern music) and they must arrange the backing track by themselves.

For more information, contact Voice Studio 1, Tel. 0-5341-0123 or Voice Studio 2, number 11, Wangkam Building, Nimmanhaemin Rd., Tambon Suthep, Muang, Chiang Mai, 50200, Tel. 0-5389-4552 or www. voicestudio.com and www. dapprecord.com

Old Siam at the National Archives June 1–15

Marion Vogt

If you like history, or if you are interested in historic photographs and art, then you should not miss the exhibition of rare photographs of old Siam from the collection of the Nแprestek Museum in Prague, an institution that specialized in art and artifacts of non-European countries.

Vice governor of Chiang Mai, Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, and invited guests in the National Archives Chiang Mai near Suan Dok Gate. (Photo by Michael Vogt)

The Ministry of Culture in cooperation with the embassy of the Czech Republic in the Kingdom of Thailand, the US Consulate General in Chiang Mai and Soka Gakkai Thailand organized the photo exhibition “Siam through the eyes of the travelers Enrique Stanko Vrแz and Josef Korensk”.

Enrique Stanko Vrแz was a famous Czech-American globetrotter who visited Bangkok, Bang Pa-in and Ayutthaya in March and April of 1897. During his stay he photographed King Rama V’s departure for his European journey (photographs #15 and #16) and was even allowed to inspect the royal boat.

At the official opening of the exhibition (left to right, front row) Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, vice governor of Chiang Mai; M.R. Chakrrot Chitrabongs, permanent secretary for culture; Khun Somsri, deputy director of the Fine Arts Department; H.E. Jiri Šitler, ambassador of the Czech Republic and Somkiat Limrossukon, president of Soka Gakkai Thailand. (Photo by Michael Vogt)

The second traveler, Josef Korensk, visited Bangkok in May 1901 at the invitation of the Austrian consul Erwin Mueller and his Czech wife. During their visits, both Enrique Stanko Vrแz and Josef Korensk befriended the entrepreneur Eduard Bock, a German from Moravia, who helped to build the first inland bound railroad from Bangkok. Some of these photos (#50 and #51) were given to them as a present, including some of the celebration of the fixing of the first railroad tie in the presence of the entire royal court of that time.

57 rare photos of old Siam at the turn of the 19th century can be seen at the National Archives Chiang Mai near Suan Dok Gate until June 15. The exhibition times are Monday – Friday 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.

U.S. Consulate Chiang Mai changes public service hours

The American Consulate in Chiang Mai announces the following changes to its public service hours, to be effective Monday, June 14, 2004:

Mondays: Visa applicants only: 8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Tuesdays: American Citizen Services: 8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. (Full Service), 1 p.m. - 3.30 p.m. (Limited Service, which mean, the Consulate is open during these hours for American Citizens to pick up tax/voting forms, passports, benefit checks, and to make general inquiries.)

Wednesdays: Visa applicants only from 8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Thursdays: American Citizen Services: 8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m. (Full Service); 1 p.m. - 3.30 p.m. (Limited Service)

Fridays: Emergencies only: (call 053-252-629, ext. 2104)

Thai Orchid Foundation holds art contest

2nd year attracts good entries

Saksit Meesubkwang

The Foundation of Native Thai Orchids arranged an art contest at the Native Thai Orchid Garden, Maejo University, Chiang Mai, with Lt. Gen. Phicharnmeth Muangmanee, president of the Foundation and commander of the region presiding.

Lt. Gen. Phicharnmeth Muangmanee, commander of the region presiding.

Several well known artists took part, including Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat, who is the number one ranked artist in Thailand. Judges included Dr. Weerachai na Nakhon, director of Chiang Mai Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden; and Ajarn Sa-ngad Pui-ok, Asian region botanist specialist; Ajarn Surasit Saowakong, Ajarn Aumnuay Butre-in, and Dr. Manop Kaewkamnerd.

Some of the paintings entered in the contest.

Lt. Gen. Phicharnmeth said in his address that he was delighted to see the second running of the art contest. He said this contest would encourage people to look for native Thai orchids. It would also help preserve the orchids as part of the national heritage in response to the wishes of Her Majesty the Queen.

The art contest was divided into five categories. Eakarin Chualao was given 50,000 baht first prize for his painting of an orchid, while the first runner-up’s prize valued at 30,000 baht went to Soonthorn Suwanhem for his painting of bamboo. The second runner-up was Prathap Wiengnil who received a prize worth 20,000 baht for the painting of Her Majesty the Queen and an orchid.

Health problems of itinerant alien workers cause for discussion

Vaccination and HIV/AIDS still a huge problem

Health and Development Networks (HDN)

Access to health care for migrant workers, drug users and people living with HIV/AIDS were topics of discussion in the Health and Development Networks monthly NGO forum.

The theme “Access for all” was chosen in light of the upcoming 15th International AIDS Conference (IAC) which will be held in Bangkok in June. Sansern Dongdee of the Migrant Assistance Program (MAP) explained the difficulties migrants face accessing health care. “Migrant workers from the neighboring countries of Burma, Cambodia and Laos often come to look for job opportunities in Thailand, and are subjected to the worst working environment and exploitation, accepting jobs that are shunned by Thai workers,” Sansern claimed. Because they are not included under the 30 baht health scheme, their access to treatment is extremely limited.

NGO representatives and the Public Health Office participated in the Health and Development Networks forum.

The forum asked for educational materials in various local dialects.

Migration trends connected to international projects were also cause for concern. A construction project linking Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is due to be completed in 2007. This will, along with the Mekong canalization, use migrant labor and problems such as drugs and sex trafficking and the spread of HIV/AIDS will follow.

The registration of migrant workers began only a few years ago. While the official number of those registered is around 9,000 workers, the actual number could be as high as 70,000.

Prapat Sukkiaw and Nattapol Tanunchai from the Ozone House, a group that works with drug users, claimed that drug users often speak of being “set up” and falsely charged by the police; discrimination and a lack of understanding from their families and society.

Imprisoned drug users are at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS by sharing syringes with their fellow inmates. The methamphetamine drug users are generally teenagers, aged 14-15, and they often contract HIV through sexual transmission.

Access to information concerning the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS among these groups is minimal. Ozone House representatives called for an increase in educational activities for drug users on the prevention of HIV/AIDS, how to look after their health and how to live with people infected with the AIDS virus.

The Network of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the Upper North has been pushing for increased access to health care for more than a decade. Their advocacy has led to the implementation of the NAPHA project by the government to make AIDS drugs available free of charge to 50,000 people harboring the virus. It is important to note that efforts have been made to include drug users and ethnic groups under this free program.

However, in reality, drug users and ethnic minorities still face significant barriers in accessing these drugs. Public officials complain that ethnic workers move too often as migrant workers and it is difficult to follow up and monitor the cases. This issue will be addressed collectively between the network of PLWHA in the Upper North and the Northern Regional Public Health Office.

Issaree Sirirut, the representative from the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, said that a new convention center is to be built in Chiang Mai, and this would lead to an increase in migrant laborers. They will cooperate with the Ministry of Interior to expedite a survey of these workers to be completed by August.

The forum also called on the government to revive vaccination services for filariasis (elephantiasis) and leprosy due to the influx of migrant workers.

For more information, contact [email protected] or tel. (66) 053 418 438. The NGO Forum meets on the last Tuesday of every month. The next meeting will be held on June 29.

The Ministry of Public Health gets in on the buzzwords

Thailand to be Asia’s Health Hub

Tossaporn Boonchan

The Ministry of Health administration committee last week traveled to Lampang province to observe the workings of the hospital as part of the ongoing technologies transfer and experiences exchange project.

Dr. Somchai Chuapetcharasophon, deputy director-general of the Health Services Support Department under the Ministry of Public Health, brought the 32 provincial chief medical officers and directors of the general hospitals from the South and the Northeast to observe the operations of Lampang Hospital.

He also spoke on the strategy of accelerating Thailand to become Asia’s health hub. According to the government policy that promotes and supports the country’s economy by means of attracting foreign currency into Thailand, the Ministry of Public Health has responded by establishing this “Asia’s heath hub” project, expecting to bring earnings into the country of about 200 billion baht during the 5 year period 2004-2009.

There are three economic viewpoints: developing medical service businesses, health services and health promotions. Since Thailand is considered a major source for medical herbs, if the project is fully achieved, it is expected that the income from foreign patients, spa businesses and herbal products to the country could be about 26 billion baht.

European Film Festival 2004 at Chiang Mai’s Major Cineplex

24 outstanding movies from now till June 13

Marion Vogt

The European Film Festival, which is now an integral part of the cultural calendar in Chiang Mai, is having its 6th screenings here. 24 Platinum Films from 17 countries are being shown June 1-13 at Central Airport Plaza’s Major Cineplex.

After the enlargement of the EU, four of the ‘new’ countries were represented and could show their long and distinguished film making traditions.

Opening night enthusiasts Thomas Baude, Director Alliance Fran็aise and Hon. French Consul; H.E. Jirํ Šitler, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Thailand; Chamaiphan Baude (Pu); Hagen Dirksen, Hon. Consul to Germany; Ulf Hausbrandt, Political Officer; Prinya Panthong, Deputy Governor and Wanphen Dirksen. (Photo by Michael Vogt)

The Czech Republic, (Tragi-Comedy - Autumn Spring), Hungary, (Comedy-Romance - Stracciatella), Poland (Drama – There and Back) and Slovakia (Family Movie – Thomas the Falconer) all reflected the idea of people’s longing for happiness, love and understanding, their efforts to overcome troubles and win over death, while criticizing greed and painful desires.

Prinya Panthong, Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai, said movies were a very helpful way to learn about different cultures in today’s world, saying, “We live in the time of globalization, technical development and growth but what would our world be without movies and dreams? I hope that this year even more Chiang Mai residents take the opportunity to inspire themselves, to relax and increase world understanding so that our children will have the chance to grow up in a peaceful world.”

Ulf Hausbrandt, political officer of the delegation of the EU posed the question in his opening address, “Why a European Film Festival? First and foremost we believe that there is more to EU-Thai relations than tuna quotas, tariffs and textiles - the things you usually read about. For us, the cultural dimension of our relations is equally important. We want to demonstrate specifically European cinema, which feeds the mind with intelligent stories that go beyond digital effects and the typical recipe that make modern blockbusters. In selecting the movies we did not limit ourselves just to the positive aspects of European culture and society, we will also show some of the more problematic sides.”

But there is more than dramas and tragedies which you can watch, on Sunday June 6 at 5 p.m. look for ‘Upspring’, a hilarious comedy which won the Jussi Award for best film, best script and best music in Finland in 2003. Or take in the Swedish film ‘Gossip’ (2000) on Saturday June 12 at 7 p.m. Hope, fear, emotions and insecurities of ten women during one day in their lives. All of them hoping to be given the part of Queen Christina in an American movie, perhaps the chance of a lifetime.

Take in a ‘different’ movie this week, courtesy of the EU and the sponsors who have brought this film festival to Chiang Mai.