EGAT protests generating
a strong undercurrent
Well-organized opposition to PM Thaksin’s privatisation plans
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)
protests against privatisation just won’t go away, PM Thaksin Shinawatra
is beginning to realize. About 1,000 EGAT employees from Mae Moh lignite
plant in Lampang province, and from Provincial Electricity Authorities
(PEAs) in the six Northern provinces assembled in Chiang Mai on June 4.
They arrived and began distributing leaflets to the
public in the city. These, as well as VCDs and CDs drew attention to “the
negative impact” of the privatisation plan by the state enterprise being
listed on Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). They cited Argentina’s
economic plan “that has caused the country’s economic collapse” and
say it is being followed by PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
The EGAT and PEA employees, dressed in red T-shirts,
distributed leaflets to passers-by, saying the EGAT must belong to the Thai
people and not be listed on the SET. They picketed the city’s roads and
main intersections like San Kamphaeng, Airport and Kuangsing, as well as
At 1 p.m., the protesters gathered at Thapae Gate
grounds, where they carried out heated debates on the issue, attacking the
Thaksin government’s policy on privatisation.
“This plan has been opposed by EGAT employees who have
voiced the opposition to the government for more than three months, but the
government still ignores our protest,” they claimed.
At 3 p.m., the protesters, led by Sudchai Somchorm of the
PEA Union, moved to the City Hall to submit an official protest to Chiang
Mai Deputy Governor Prinya Parnthong. He acknowledged receipt of the letter,
which was to be forwarded to PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
After handing over the letter, Sudchai said they also
planned to launch more protests by distributing leaflets throughout the
country, so the general public knows about the government’s plan and its
He said that protesters from Phitsanulok, Phetchabun and
some Northeastern provinces will stage more protests against the government
again and again in front of Government House in Bangkok.
He stressed that the government’s plan would have a profound affect on
everybody. “To give you a clear example, the general public will not be
able to avoid increases in the price of electricity. If any privatisation
plan and listing on the SET proves successful, privatisation of other state
utilities like waterworks and the highway department will follow,” he
Fire causes 0.5 mio baht damage to city building
Cause of blaze still unknown
A fire in the heart of the city has destroyed a
third-floor dormitory, causing damage of over 500,000 baht. Six water trucks
from the Chiang Mai Municipality fire brigade and police officers of Muang
District police station were called to extinguish the fire on Ratcha Chiang
Saen Road on June 4.
fire fighter inspects a burnt dormitory room.
Flames and smoke prevented the fire-fighters access via
the stairs and a cherry picker had to be used to hoist the fire-fighters to
the third floor. However, by the time they reached the centre of the blaze,
the fire had spread rapidly and caused extensive damage.
The dormitory’s owner, 55-year-old Amporn Prasongyon,
said a neighbour alerted her to the fire while she was cooking on the first
floor. She said that her late husband took a bank loan to build the
dormitory. She lives with her 30 year old son, Anupong Prasongyon, and still
has to pay off the monthly mortgage to the bank. To make matters worse, she
has just undergone an expensive operation.
Pol Lt Col Athirat Saenpanya of Muang District police
station said the fire started in the son’s room. Initial suspicions were
that it was caused by a lighted candle and incense; however, Anupong denied
causing the fire, which he claimed had started while he was meditating at
Muang Mang temple.
Police think it may have been caused by a short circuit; however,
forensic police will investigate to determine the actual cause.
Alien laborers can register for employment next month
12 month work permit for B. 1,800!
A Cabinet endorsement will allow Burmese, Laotian and
Cambodian laborers and their employers to register them for employment
during next month.
Orachorn Rattanamanee, head of the Chiang Mai Provincial
Employment Service Office, said the Cabinet on April 27 approved a Labor
Ministry proposal allowing Burmese, Laos and Cambodian labors who are in the
kingdom to apply for work permits.
This applies to laborers who registered at district
offices, sub-district offices and municipalities last year and those who
have never previously done so.
Registered alien laborers will have right to reside in
the country for one year. Moreover, their employers must register with the
Employment Department within the appointed time or they will not be allowed
to employ alien laborers.
Registration by both aliens and their employers will take
place July 1-31. After registering, employees will have to pass health
checks at hospitals approved by the Ministry of Public Health, between July
22 - November 15.
The laborers will have to pay 3,800 baht when making an
application which covers 600 baht for the health check-up, 1,300 baht for
health insurance, 1,800 baht for the one year work permit and 100 baht for
Employers and alien employees will be invited to attend a
conference to be better informed about the registration procedure.
Public library upgrade to learning and info-centre
Current affairs information to be included
Chiang Mai’s provincial public library on Huay Kaew
Road is to get a facelift and be modernized to make it a more user-friendly
Chuchart Liamwanitch, director of the Chiang Mai
Provincial Informal Education Office, said the public, staff and heads of
several organizations in the city have lent their support to develop the
The library will be provided with more materials and
facilities such as computers, air conditioners, desks, tables, and chairs to
make it more convenient for users of the facility in the future.
The library staff has also prepared more computer
training courses, as well as a research and reference room for current
affairs and economics issues taking items from more than 22 newspapers and
journals (undoubtedly scanning the Chiangmai Mail for what is really going
The library will also run careers training activities
including making scented and herbal candles, paintings and other skills and
For more information, contact the Chiang Mai Public
Library at Jaeng Hua Rin city corner daily, except public holidays.
Army unit teaches hill tribes the value of forests
Royally initiated project will have huge impact
Hill tribes are unaware of the effects of deforestation,
claims the Royal Thai Army’s 32nd Mobile Development Unit. To counter
this, it plans to run a royally initiated woodland villages project that
will teach them about forest conservation and rehabilitation, as well as
improve their quality of life.
According to Col Chaikrit Aiyapark, commander of the
army’s 32nd Mobile Development Unit in Chiang Dao district, the hill
tribes would be made into “quasi-forestry officers”. The unit chose Ban
Siri in Tambon Mae Na at the Ping River water mouth as the pilot village.
The project focuses on firewood, dying forests and cash
producing tree cultivation.
The first focus is to produce firewood for hill tribes by
planting fast-growing trees like chan thong wood, bamboo, rattan, pa du wood
on 1,500 rai of forest land. For forests where the wood is dying, more
fast-growing trees are planted on 247 rai of teng rung forest for hill
tribes to use to build their homes and fences.
Lastly, perennial plants like lychee, longan, mango and
coffee are planted to earn the hill tribes an income. Recently, rubber trees
have also been planted on 1,160 rai of commercial forest this being the
first rubber tree plantation for hill tribes in the country.
Before the unit revived and developed the area, it was a
very deteriorated forest without any new plantations that was only used as
hiding places for drugs and drug traders.
Dissatisfied? Then drop your governor a personal note
King Ramkamhaeng’s initiative revived
Chiang Mai’s governor has set up a complaints box in the
front of his residence on Charoen Prathet Road. The concept is that this will
give the governor a quick overview of residents gripes.
This system of having a box to receive public complaints
goes back to the reign of King Ramkamhaeng, but has been taken up again by PM
Governor Suwat Tantipat said he wanted an avenue of
redress for Chiang Mai residents who suffer because of public services.
On May 28, PM Thaksin installed his own box at his Ban
Phitsanulok residence to receive complaints from people throughout the
country, though it is expected that only locals will make the trip to the
Minister of the Interior Bhokin Bhalakula has also ordered
provincial governors to set up their own mailboxes. All letters of complaint
will now reach the governor directly. He will consider the complaints before
ordering the agencies concerned to take remedial action.
Innovation on Chiang Mai streets makes life safer
Pedestrian walk lights merrily buzzing away
Chiang Mai has caught up with most modern cities by
installing pedestrian crossing lights. The municipality is using a 34
million baht loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC,
formerly the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund) to install the pedestrian
crossing lights at 52 heavy traffic spots, said Boonlert Buranupakorn,
Chiang Mai mayor.
lights have been installed to assist pedestrians at 52 spots throughout
Chiang Mai City.
The computer-controlled system has been brought in from
England, and so far, 42 have been installed ion the city.
During the initial phase, there are worries that drivers
and motorcyclists will be unfamiliar with the system and there may be
accidents on the crossings. The mayor has asked vehicle users to be aware
and to stop to allow pedestrians to cross the street safely where these
lights are installed. If anyone breaks the rules by not stopping, they will
be penalized, he warned.
Pedestrians can activate the light by pushing the button
on the light pole so that the word “Ror” (Wait) appears on the monitor.
After about 45 seconds, a green light will appear meaning that it should be
safe for pedestrians to cross. It will hold the pedestrian red for a further
eight seconds to give disabled people enough time to get to the other side
of the road. During this time, even while the light for pedestrians is red,
vehicle users are not allowed to continue.
Blind people are catered for as well. They should hold on
to the pole after pressing the button as a vibration in the pole will alert
them when it is safe to cross. A sound emitted from the pole will also tell
them where one is located.
City Hall says that budgetary constraints prevent the municipality from
installing more lights.
Ping River banks to be upgraded to family recreational area
The banks of the Ping River are to receive a facelift to
make them a more pleasant and safe family recreation area.
The municipality has launched a project to solve the
problems of the river’s shallow water level, vegetation invasion and
wastewater drainage. Central government has supplied 50 million baht for the
from Chiang Mai schools attended the launching ceremony, also getting a free
Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai MP
Pakorn Buranupakorn, and Dr Ken Santitham, permanent secretary of the
municipality, officiated at the launch of the development project on June 4.
Students from local schools, including Montfort, Chairoj
Wittaya, Regina Coeli and Chiang Mai Christian Schools had an electrifying
experience on board the electric vehicle crossing the Naowarat Bridge to the
Many areas of the riverbanks are to be upgraded,
including around the foot of Nakorn Ping Bridge, at the foot of Chan Som
Bridge, the areas in front of the 1st Christian Church and the sandbank at
the foot of Nakorn Ping Bridge.
The mayor said, “Chiang Mai is growing fast and the
development is resulting in a negative impact on the river bank. As a
result, people are not able to use it to its full potential.”
Improvements will include railings to prevent children
from falling into the river. The municipality will also pave the area along
both sides of the river with cement blocks, build a public park, sala and
picnic table sets.
“The municipality aims to make the Ping River bank a new recreation
place for families and other citizens,” the mayor said.
Municipality ready to tackle city flooding
All hands to the pumps!
So that it is not caught unprepared with its Wellington
boots in the cupboard, the Irrigation Office has water pumps on standby in
case of flash floods on Huay Kaew Road during heavy downpours this rainy
Kraisin Chantarasuthee, chief of the 2nd Mae Taeng water
distribution division of the 1st Irrigation Office said that it is
responsible for Chiang Mai city’s Mae Taeng, Mae Rim, Muang, Hangdong, and
San Patong districts.
He said that the additional pumps will help pump out
flood water along Huay Kaew Road, starting from the Chiang Mai Public
Library and Rincome intersections to the Chiang Mai Phucome intersection.
This area is well known for being flooded for days on end every year.
In addition, he said, the Chiang Mai Municipality will
provide four pumps to be set up at the two points at the canal areas of Ban
Changkien, and in front of Chiangmai Phucome Hotel on Huay Kaew Road.
Each pump could redirect an average of 1,500 cubic meters
an hour into the nearby irrigational canal system.
Kraisin added that the Office will make a further 20
pumps available if it receives requests for urgent assistance from the five
Mobile cabinet meeting heads north again
Let’s hope it gets here this time
The mobile Cabinet meeting to be held in Chiang Mai this
month will focus on drugs and persons of evil influence, tourism, city and
urban planning, and environment and preservation of nature campaigns.
Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat reported that the
Cabinet has set up the mobile meeting for June 28-30.
“Issues to be discussed will be in line with the
current situation, especially the development plans for natural resources
and preservation of the environment,” he said.
Other topics will deal with finding solutions to local
problems, in order to maintain growth in the city and help develop its
Suwat said he will raise the problem of the traffic jams and congestion,
as well as tourism hub hopes, transportation, and trade development.
Ugly posters to come down
But beautiful ones can stay?
Posters and billboards that are an eyesore are being
taken down, in keeping with Chiang Mai’s “Clean and Green” efforts.
Following the downgrading of Chiang Mai as a tourist
destination by the National Geographic magazine, some action has started.
Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor, said that the
municipality was taking a new look at posters that offended the Green and
Clean project used to promote the city as tourist hub. “The municipality
is asking for cooperation from residents and shops in the municipal areas to
change or remove posters and stickers that are old and untidy.” It will be
interesting to see if all the old election hoardings will come down too.
To put up new posters or billboards in municipal areas,
the owners have to get permission from the municipality. Violation of the
local regulations may result in prosecution.
For more details on municipal regulations and on the
Green and Clean campaign contact the Building and City Plan Control
Division, Public Works Department of Chiang Mai municipality.
Landslides and flash floods alert
Seven districts at risk
The Mineral Resources Department of the Ministry of
Natural Resources and Environment has issued a public warning to be prepared
for landslides that are expected to occur during this rainy season in the
The department, in cooperation with the Northern
Meteorological Center, warned residents in flood prone areas, as well as
areas with sloping terrain and watershed areas near the mountains.
The department said the areas especially at risk are Mae
Chaem, Chiang Dao, Mae Taeng, and Doi Saket districts in Chiang Mai
province, Chiang Rai’s Mae Suay and Wieng Papao districts, and Mae Hong
It said the south-westerly monsoon over the Andaman Sea
and the Gulf of Thailand, combined with the low pressure areas in the Upper
North, could result in heavy rains that may cause landslides and flash
Prevention measures are to be stepped up. Residents in
villages at risk, especially near high mountains, should be prepared for
natural disasters that can claim lives and damage property.
The public is advised to follow up the department
warnings. Contact the department on tel. 02- 2023918, 02 -2023926 for more
The Northern Meteorological Center of the Ministry of Information and
Communication Technology says that it has observed scattered rain storms in
the district areas of Chiang Dao and Mae Taeng with thunderstorms and strong
World Environment Day marked in Chiang Mai
Stretches over 5 days
Saksit Meesubkwang and
June 5 was World Environment Day, but the eco-friendly
Environment Office, Region 1 based in Chiang Mai put aside five whole days
to promote it.
Mai Deputy Governor Prinya Parnthong getting ready to ride a bicycle with
the Sunday Bicycle Club at the Huay Kaew Botanical Gardens.
It arranged an environment exhibition, drawing
competition and stage performances at the Botanical Gardens on Huay Kaew
Road from June 1-5. A photographic contest with pictures of Doi Suthep was
Deputy Governor Prinya Parnthong officiated at the
ceremony to mark the United Nations’ appointed Environment Day, when he
presented young saplings to heads of governmental offices, village headmen
As part of the day’s activities, members of the Sunday
Bicycle Club and volunteers to protect the environment planted trees along
the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road. The committee of Mae Ping and Environment
Cooperation and Conservation also held a seminar on forest conservation.
The UN each year gives a topic around which World Environment Day
activities are planned. This year it was “Wanted! Seas and Oceans - Dead
or alive?” which the Environmental Quality Promotion Department translated
as meaning, “Help to Protect and Conserve Thai Seas”.
Mai Deputy Governor Prinya Parnthong (standing center), with the group of
people who received plants distributed by him on Environment Day.
Undercover police goal
to suppress gambling on goals
The Office of Royal Thai Police has set up
centers to suppress gambling for the EURO 2004 football fest.
The Office has ordered police to keep a lookout for
football bookmakers during the tournament from June 12 to July 4. Police
spokesman Pol Maj Gen Pongsaphas Pongcharoen said Acting Police Chief Pol
Gen Sunthorn Saikwan has ordered all police bureau, both metropolitan and
provincial from Regions 1-9, to set up local gambling prevention and
They are empowered to investigate any gambling on
football results, and undercover police teams will be patrolling
entertainment outlets, hotels, food shops, bars, cafes, Internet cafes and
other places that provide football telecasts.
Anyone found guilty of running football gambling will be
charged immediately, and the venue where the gambling takes place will be
closed and may lose its operating licence, the spokesman said.
The police will also be working with commercial banks, to
inspect bank accounts that are used for money laundering. The account holder
faces arrest and confiscation of assets and property, as well as legal
Mystery surrounds police investigation into death of German’s wife
Gnter Flick, 43, a German electronics engineer,
has asked Chiang Mai police to make greater efforts in investigating the
murder of his Thai wife. Yupin Paengkaew was murdered in 2002, and her
murderer has still not been found.
Flick and Yupin’s 27-year-old daughter, Napa
Kamsanongsri, also met with Pol Maj Gen Kasem Rattanasunthorn, commander of
the Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division, to press him for action on the
investigation. His deputy, Pol Col Suthep Dechraksa, has now been assigned
to follow up the case and track down the murderer. He promised he would also
send police officers to protect Flick and Napa.
Flick (seated left) and Napa Kamsanongsri (seated center), a daughter of the
dead woman, submit the petition to Pol Col Suthep Dechraksa (right), deputy
commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division.
The couple was married in June 2000 and had been living
together in Germany. Yupin returned to Chiang Mai and was killed in Tambon
San Mahapon, Mae Taeng district on November 11, 2002. She was struck over
the head with a blunt instrument, which caused her death. Her gold necklace,
gold bracelet and three gold rings were missing.
The case was initially assigned to Pol Maj Anek Chaiwong
of Mae Taeng district police station as the investigating officer. He
eliminated seven possible motives for the murder without apprehending the
Napa Kamsanongsri said on the night of her mother’s
funeral, police had approached her and said they had found a ya ba pill on
her mother. This made her suspect the police were trying to manufacture
evidence and make false accusations, as she asserted that her mother had
never been involved with drugs.
Napa said that her mother had told her that a
policeman’s wife had asked her mother to negotiate with another woman whom
Yupin knew well and with whom the policeman was involved. She was asked to
try to get the woman to stop their extramarital relationship. Yupin’s
involvement angered the policeman, she alleged.
Napa and her relatives have been following the case but
the police said they do not have enough evidence to arrest the murderer.
They also claimed that before Yupin was killed, she spoke 10 times with
The daughter claimed a lawyer had also asked her for
100,000 baht, part of which he said he had to pay to the police. She
Before submitting the petition to the Chiang Mai
Provincial Police Division, she had approached the Office of the Secretary
General of the Prime Minister and the Crime Suppression Division late last
year, but without success.
There are certainly some answers yet to be forthcoming in
International organized crime seminar held in Chiang Mai
American Embassy and ONCB get together over problems
International organized crime and how to rid the world
of this scourge were the weighty subjects of a seminar held in Chiang Mai
from June 2-4.
The Appeal Court, Region 5, organized the seminar which
dealt with drug trafficking, trafficking in firearms, human trafficking,
smuggling of migrants, terrorism, and money laundering. International
experts participated in the seminar, which was held at the Sheraton Hotel.
at the seminar on ‘Transnational organized crime’, held at Sheraton
Hotel, Chiang Mai.
Prasobsuk Boondech, president of the Appeal Court,
Region 5, presided. In his address, he said that the objectives of the
seminar were to enhance knowledge and understanding on the situation and
the impact of international organized crime and to develop more effective
strategies to combat it.
The United Nations has realized the magnitude of the
problem of international organized crime. Consequently, it approved a
convention for member states to combat it.. International terrorists are
also involved in crimes like trafficking in firearms, human trafficking,
smuggling of migrants and money laundering.
It is necessary for justice officials, especially
judges, to comprehend the form and impact of these internationally
organized crimes. It was hoped that this seminar would be beneficial for
the Appeals Court, Region 5 and the 16 provincial courts in the Upper
North, which all have to deal with international criminals.
The seminar was financed by the Budget Bureau of the
ONCB and the United States Embassy in Thailand, which also supplied the
Other attendees included Pol Gen Chidchai Wannasatit, secretary-general
of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB); Lt Gen Picharnmeth
Muangmanee, commander of the 3rd Army Region; Sermsak Pladthura,
vice-president of the Supreme Court; Wichai Kiyapat, director of the Budget
Bureau of ONCB; Brian M. Pearce, resident legal adviser of Narcotics and
Law Enforcement Affairs; and 30 chief judges from 16 northern provinces.
Human trafficking ring exposed
Mae Sai police have tracked down a gang producing false
ID cards used by human traffickers and illegal alien workers. Police
arrested three suspects and confiscated equipment used to make fake
Pol Maj Gen Chamnong Kaesiri, commander of the Chiang Rai
Provincial Police Division, said that a police team from the Mae Sai police
station, led by Pol Lt Col Shinawit Wichaithanapat, searched a house in Mae
As a result, Somboon Saimor, the ex-assistant village
headman and a village health office volunteer, Teeramesawa Rongkhankaew, 26;
and Yikaew (no surname given), 25, were arrested. Yikaew is a Burmese
national from Kengtung town in Myanmar, who was using a fake Thai ID using
the name Kandanai Saengkam.
The police confiscated more than 40 items as evidence,
including rubber stamps for use on Thai official documents and Thai
mountaineer’s zoning permits. The police also seized counterfeit Thai ID
cards, yellow cards, Thai mountaineer’s ID cards (light blue, pink, blue),
and application forms for Thai citizens and Thai mountaineers ID cards.
Investigations allege that Somboon worked as the head of
the counterfeit gang, Teeramesawa as the agent finding clients, and Yikaew
as the middleman who brought aliens to hide in Mae Sai district.
Each illegal migrant worker or mountaineer paid between
20,000-50,000 baht to the gang for producing the fake ID cards to allow them
to reside and work in Thailand.
It was revealed that the gang had been running its
operation for a long time and hid in Somboon’s house, as he knew the legal
loopholes as an ex-assistant headman, to produce the counterfeit official
Pol Maj Gen Chamnong Kaesiri said the police were
confident of making more arrests of those involved in the network. Many
human traffickers and illegal alien laborers had received help from
Somboon’s gang over the past six years, so that many aliens had flocked
into the country illegally.
Somboon and friends have found that the charge sheets and
arrests were genuine!
Chiang Mai monk implicated in drug trade
A few beers after prayers did not help his case
A Chiang Mai monk has been implicated in a drug
trafficking ring in Samut Prakan.
On June 3, Pol Gen Chidchai Wannasathit, deputy chief of
the Royal Thai Police Bureau and secretary general of the Office of
Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), said that eight alleged drug dealers
arrested with a haul of 350,000 Ya Ba tablets and ingredients for
manufacturing amphetamines in Samut Prakan province had links to the local
Gen Chidchai Wannasathit (right) questions Phra Kwan Wirat Nantawiriyachai
of Wat Thep Amnuay in Fang district.
Pol Maj Gen Suwira Songmetta, commander of the Samut
Prakan Provincial Police Division, in liaison with the ONCB officials
arrested another drug dealer and seized 298,000 Ya Ba tablets and 15
kilograms of the drug Ice. After questioning, the alleged dealer confessed
and pointed the finger at a monk in Chiang Mai.
Police officers armed with a warrant then searched the
abode of 34-year-old Phra Kwan Wirat Nantawiriyachai (AKA Chatchai
Muanglang), who was deputy abbot of Wat Thep Amnuay in Tambon Wiang Fang,
They found three cans of beer. The monk gave the excuse
that he sometimes drank beer “to help control his pressure”. What he did
not realize was that the pressure was just beginning. He was escorted to the
police station for further questioning.
It was alleged that Phra Kwan Wirat was the coordinator
of a drug trafficking ring which delivers Ya Ba by parcel post and was also
a member of the network with major drug trafficker Laota Saenlee at the
head. Laota is currently in jail with his two sons after the Criminal Court
convicted them last month.
The monk looks as if he will be re-joining the Laota clique, but this
time on the inside.