HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Kingdom rejoices in HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s 52nd Royal Birthday Celebration

Extend closing times if you want Chiang Mai to be tourism hub

Ceremony performed to appease the spirits after senator’s ‘disrespect’

PM gives Phayao 246 mio baht for projects

Gasohol now available at 10 Chiang Mai petrol stations

Flood warning and landslide map available on website

Northern governors and ambassadors to work together

Chiang Rai gets praise and money from PM

PM meets the people of Phrae

1.4 mio baht found in gift box

Daring robber smashes display counter

New designer drugs, heroin replacing ya ba tablets

New Toyota amphibious vehicle fails first voyage

Thieves steal hi-tech equipment from Buddhist temple school

Four motorcyclists hurt after crane knocks over telephone pole

Buddhism Office steps in to avert split in community

Children starving throughout Nan province

Students playing hooky in internet shops get hooked

Instability in Myanmar puts off Thai investors

The Kingdom rejoices in HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s 52nd Royal Birthday Celebration

July 31, 2000 - HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the Rice Sowing Ceremony and the presentation of the flag at the “Community Rice Production and Promotion” center at the agricultural field, Moo 5, Bang Ngam, Sriprachan, Supanburi Province. (Photo: Courtesy, Bureau of the Royal Household)

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was born on July 28, 1952, in the Ambara Villa of the Royal Dusit Palace in Bangkok. He is the second of four children, and is the only son of Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and Queen Sirikit.

The Crown Prince received His primary schooling at Udorn Hall of the Dusit Palace and attended secondary school in Sussex and Summerset, England. In August 1970, the Crown Prince attended the King’s School, Paramatta, Sydney, Australia and in 1976, He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Military Studies at the University of New South Wales. The Crown Prince also attended the Royal Thai Army Command and General Staff College, graduating in 1978, and later received a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Sukhothai Thammatirat University in Bangkok in 1987. In 1990, He successfully attended the Royal College of Defense Studies in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej conferred his son with the title of “Somdech Phra Borama Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman” on December 28, 1972, making him the Crown Prince and Heir to the throne.

HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn attended numerous military training courses in Australia and the United States, with observation tours in England, Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands. A long list of military courses attended by the Crown Prince includes helicopter and high performance aircraft flight training, special warfare training, demolition training, parachute training, and courses in small arms and other weapons used in modern warfare.

Some assignments include Commanding Officer of the King’s Own Bodyguard Regiment and Command, Commanding General of the Royalty Security Command, and Instructor Pilot of the F-5 E/F. Intermittently, He engaged in actions for counter -insurgency purposes in the North and Northeast areas of Thailand as well as for protective purposes in areas around Cambodian refugee camps at Khao Lant, Trat Province.

The Crown Prince has continued the Royal Family’s assistance programs to underdeveloped areas around the country and visited depressed urban areas around Bangkok distributing food and necessity items to people in need. Another impressive undertaking was His participation in a fertilizer preparation project in Suphan Buri Province using natural ingredients to enrich the land in support of the country’s great agricultural pursuits. Farming is considered to be a highly significant and noble profession in Thailand and the Royal Family takes an active role in advancing the vital industry of agriculture.

Extend closing times if you want Chiang Mai to be tourism hub

Sympathetic MP promises to take message to the PM

Saksit Meesubkwang

The issue of closing times for entertainment outlets has raised its stubborn head yet again.

The Entertainment Entrepreneurs and Operators Club of Chiang Mai has met with the senator and Chiang Mai MP’s asking for help in extending the government stipulated closing time to 2 a.m.

On July 18, club chairwoman Naiyanet Waiyaratchapanitch and about 250 members representing restaurant clubs, beer bars, karaoke bars, discotheques and other entertainment venues met at the Pornping Tower Hotel in Chiang Mai. They all agreed that the closing time should be extended.

At the meeting were Senator Thavorn Kiartchaiyakorn, MP’s Suraphol Kiartchaiyakorn and Pornchai Arthapreeyangkul, and the vice- president of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization, Praphan Buranupakorn.

Naiyanet said the issue would be submitted to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. She said most of the entertainment entrepreneurs have suffered financially because of the early closing times since the Ministry of the Interior began implementing the government’s Social Order policy in Chiang Mai City.

The police, as well as local administration and government officials, have carried out nightly inspections since May and ordered beer bars to close at midnight. Those proprietors in violation have even been arrested. “Some operators have maintained their businesses but as many as 20 percent have closed down,” she said. Beer bars were hardest hit because their clients were mostly foreigners who did not dare return to the bars for fear of being arrested, she added.

The members of the Entertainment Entrepreneurs and Operators Club of Chiang Mai is asking the government to relax the closing times to help them maintain their operations.

“If the government wants to promote Chiang Mai City as the tourism hub, it should concentrate more on this entertainment sector,” she remarked.

Pornchai Arthapreeyangkul, Thai Rak Thai Party MP for Chiang Mai, said at the end of the meeting, “We, as the people’s representatives, will do something about your complaint. I think an extension of the closing time may be possible, and we will discuss the issue and forward the message to PM Thaksin to help make the right decision.”

Ceremony performed to appease the spirits after senator’s ‘disrespect’

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Following Senator Rabiabrat’s outcry against the custom banning women from entering the inner pagoda at a Buddhist temple, which has been widely labelled ‘disrespect’, a ceremony to appease the spirit of the Lanna ancestors was performed.

Chao Duangduen Na Chiangmai lights candles to worship at the main pagoda. The candles were lit north, south, east and west of the pagoda to pay worship to the pagoda and Buddha relics kept inside it. Panintra Pakkasem, Chiang Mai’s Member of Parliament, Col Wisit Dechsakul and Thongchai Teparak, chiefs-of-staff of the 3rd Army Region, lit candles at the other three compass points.

The ceremony took place at the main pagoda at Wat Prathat Doi Suthep.

For weeks, Lanna people from Chiang Mai and nearby provinces have been opposing her insistence to be allowed to enter the inner area of the pagoda. They believe that her ‘disrespect’ has frightened and annoyed the spirit of all Lanna ancestors who have been protecting the town and blessing all residents.

A foreign nun, students and citizens participate in the ceremony.

Lanna monks performed the sacred ceremony to comfort the spirits. “The ceremony is not new at all. It was regularly practised in the Lanna kingdom in ancient times when any disaster that greatly affected the people occurred,” said Prof Kiattikun Maneepayom, a specialist in Lanna arts and a noted person of language and culture.

Hundreds of monks, government officials from the Provincial Cultural Office, students, and members of the public participated in the ceremony to protect their customs.

The religious ceremony began with people receiving the five Buddhism precepts from monks and praying to show respect to the Buddha, religious precepts and monks. After that, 39 monks delivered the Thamma Chak Kappa Watana Sutra, which is the first sermon the Lord Buddha gave and considered the most important in Buddhism.

Afterward, a leader came to present the four necessities of a Buddhist monk, food, raiment, abode and medicine and then making merit through the monks to the ancestor spirits, to pay them back for their kindness and protection, especially to the spirit of Phra Chao Kue Na, the king who brought the Buddha relics to the pagoda.

Later, Prof Kiattikun performed a ceremony to boost Lanna people’s morale. Many had become nervous and frustrated by the senator’s actions, and felt they needed to build up the strength of their souls again and restore peace to the city.

The ceremony reflects a strong unity between Lanna people and their Buddhist faith. It also showed their great pride in their respected pagoda which has been the center of their spiritual life for many generations, as they were ready to fight any offence directed at it.

PM gives Phayao 246 mio baht for projects

Sirikul Panpanya Public Relations Department, Phayao

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra approved financing for two development projects in Phayao during his tour to this northern province.

An amount of 246 million baht is to be spent on improvements to the weir and irrigational system in Ing River basin and on a maintenance project for Wat Sri Kom Kam and Buddhism Park.

The PM arrived in Phayao on July 19 and attended a meeting with Phayao Governor Baworn Rattanaprasit who proposed five urgent provincial projects which would cost 1.2 billion baht.

The projects would be for water resources development, rubber tree planting promotion to solve poverty, the maintenance and preservation of religion, the development and construction of transportation routes, as well as border area development.

However, the PM approved only two projects giving the province 246 million baht. Other projects will be assigned to responsible ministries to consider within their budget allocations.

Gasohol now available at 10 Chiang Mai petrol stations

Nopniwat Krailerg

PTT has introduced its new product, Gasohol 95, to ten petrol stations in Chiang Mai and plans to open 400 more Gasohol 95 stations nationwide this year.

The northern capital received its first deliveries of Gasohol 95 on July 16, after Bangkok stations.

PTT decided to expand its distribution to the North to offer motorists a wider choice, said Apichit Ruchikiatkamchorn, deputy managing director. Gasohol 95 was an alternative source of energy and PTT was the first in the country to distribute it. The petroleum based fuel is becoming popular among consumers as it is similar to Benzene 95 but 50 satang per liter cheaper.

Apisit added the gasohol will help the country decrease its fuel imports, is more economical and will help protect the environment.

The ten stations in Chiang Mai which provide the Gasohol 95 are the PTT station at Wing 41, Chiang Mai Laksanapong 2 and 3 stations in Muang district, Sukhum service stations in Faham, San Kamphaeng and Saraphi districts, Somjit Chiang Mai 1995 station in Muang district, Wilai Service Station in Doi Saket district and Panya Motor stations in Nong Hoi and Pa Daed area.

Flood warning and landslide map available on website

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Land Development Department has put a flood warning and landslide area map in the website for the general public and government offices to take appropriate action. The map, on a 1:50,000 scale, can identify areas at risk within a village and in a province.

Northern provinces Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Nan and Tak are at risk of landslides, says the department.

Its director, Attha Somrang, said that a flood and landslide in Tak’s Mae Ramat district in May followed the department’s predictions.

Attha suggested people keep an eye on the levels of canals and rivers in the event of heavy rain. If the level was reaching a dangerous level, people should move to higher ground for their own safety as flooding could follow.

Northern governors and ambassadors to work together

Public Relations Department, Chiang Mai

The eight provincial governors of the Lanna Group from the upper North and Thai ambassadors to nine foreign countries have agreed to set up a joint data base.

According to Dr Wissanu Krea-ngam, deputy prime minister, they will develop joint working procedures and systems in detail in the near future.

He said at a press conference held after their workshop in Chiang Mai on July 18 that they will set up a joint operations center, in the form of a "Virtual Organization", consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, Thailand Chamber of Commerce, and the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).

The centre will be manned by a working group which will compile the data base from the eight provinces and nine embassies. Meetings between the governors and ambassadors would be held more frequently.

He also said a training course would be devised, with the assistance of the Damrong Rajanuprab Institute.

Deputy PM Wissanu said to promote more trade and investment links with other countries, a Foreign Relations Office would be set up. Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be stationed in the office to act as a liaison for the governors in the North and the Thai ambassadors.

He added that the final conclusion of the workshop will be endorsed at next week's Cabinet meeting in Bangkok.

Chiang Rai gets praise and money from PM

Worachat Kongkaew, Public Relations Department, Chiang Rai

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra continued with his largesse, during his northern tour, approving a large budget for Chiang Rai province to create close ties with neighboring countries to boost the tourism and travel industry.

The PM also plans to upgrade the customs and immigration services to meet international standards.

He approved the urgent budget for the Chiang Rai project worth almost three billion baht to help solve flooding in this northern province in a three year plan.

The PM has paid great interests in the social issues in Chiang Rai, such as human trafficking, flash foods and tourism. He said the people of Chiang Rai would face another tourism boom in the near future, because as many as two million tourists from Asian countries are expected to visit this province. “However, Chiang Rai must have a tourism magnet to draw more tourists and visitors, and the people in the tourism industry must also be qualified,” he said.

He instructed the director-general of the Irrigational Department, together with the Member of Parliament for Chiang Rai, to carry out a feasibility study for plans to help solve the social problems.

PM Thaksin praised the governor and his deputies for carrying out the government works on the CEO integrated policy. “It is quite clear that in three years, many things will have changed for the positive in this province,” he said.

PM meets the people of Phrae

Agrees to some of their requests

Chatchai Puangkachorn, Public relations Department, Phrae

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met the people of Phrae on July 18 during his tour of the province, when he explained his policies to local government officials.

Phrae has submitted requests for several projects totaling 600 million baht. The province asked the PM for the Nam Mae Sai reservoir in tambon Padaeng, Muang district to be constructed to address the flooding problem as well as agricultural needs.

Other requests are to expand the airport to be able to receive larger aircraft, a road construction project to promote tourism, and forest conservation projects in Song and Long districts.

Another mega-project will include the development of Highway 11, from Denchai to Uttaradit, into a four lane highway.

They also need government investment for a study of the transportation system, with a cargo container center at Denchai to cope with economic growth through a Free Trade Zone agreement in this region following the Quadrangle Economic Cooperation development plan between Thailand, China, Myanmar and Laos.

While in Phrae, PM Thaksin approved the government budget requests for the construction of the dam, road construction covering 14 km, and the registration for study course enrolment via the Internet service of Maejo-Chalerm Phra Kiart in Rong Kwang district. Maejo University has been chosen as the center of technology transfer to communities and scientists will be sent to help assist the university staff.

Regarding the construction plan for Kaeng Sua Ten Dam, the PM said he would keep the dam in mind as the last choice. At the moment he would use the Kaem Ling (monkey cheeks) system initiated by His Majesty the King to help solve drought and flooding in the area.

Thaksin also asked all officials of the Irrigation Department to survey the irrigational system and then provide enough irrigation for farmers.

He supported locally designed Moh Hom clothes and processed wood items as OTOP products.

He said he would review the request for the Ministry of Transportation to consider the expansion of Phrae airport as well as the construction of the four lane highways between Uttradit to Denchai and from Rong Kwang district to Ngao district in Lampang.

1.4 mio baht found in gift box

Courier said she was unaware of the contents

Mass Communication Organization of Thailand

Police have confiscated 1.4 million baht in cash at after they received a tip-off that a Chinese Haw woman was transporting a large amount of cash.

They were told she was traveling in a car with friends from Ban Arunothai village in Chiang Mai’s Chiang Dao district.

Pol Capt Sa-nguan Mahawan set up a roadblock along the Muang Na-Chiang Dao Road, and stopped a pickup truck loaded with passengers to check whether it carried any smuggled goods.

A Chinese Haw woman from Tak province, 34 year old Palor Sae Yang who was in the front, was carrying a gift box and appeared nervous when police asked to search it.

When they opened the gift box, they found the 1.4 million baht. Palor denied any knowledge of it, saying that people in Ban Arunothai had asked her to take it to relatives in Tak province’s Pobphra district.

Police confiscated the money pending further investigation, and drug suppression police searched the house in Ban Arunothai, but found nothing illegal.

Police still believe the cash was laundered money from drug trafficking in the area. It is unknown at this time what the police will do if it proves to be otherwise.

Daring robber smashes display counter

Flees with gold jewelry worth 50,000 baht

Saksit Meesubkwang

A robber made off with 11 gold ornaments worth 50,000 baht from a Ratcha Chiang Sean Road (tambon Hai Ya) gold shop display counter.

He hid his identity by wearing a helmet during the robbery on July 16, said Supaporn Kangwarnklai, the owner of Kangwarn Gold Shop. The robber entered the shop just after it opened and while she was arranging items in the display counters, he smashed a hole through the glass with a stone, and snatched the ornaments and fled.

Supaporn Kangwarnklai, owner of the Kangwarn Gold Shop, indicates the (newly repaired) display counter where a helmeted robber made off with lots of gold.

The gold shop has closed circuit television but the robber’s face was hidden by the helmet and he could not be identified.

Police of Muang district police station have taken fingerprints and blood samples from when he cut himself breaking the glass and will check to see if they have a DNA match.

A sketch of the robber’s helmet has been circulated to all gold shops in Chiang Mai and Lamphun to warn owners, said Pol Lt Maj Narich Sorndith. Police have asked other gold shop owners to inform them if they suspect another customer wearing a helmet, bandages and carrying a rock.

New designer drugs, heroin replacing ya ba tablets

ONCB points finger at Myanmar

Nopniwat Krailerg

The ONCB (Office of Narcotic Control Board Northern Region) is keeping a close watch on new drugs being smuggled into the country from Myanmar.

The director, Pittaya Jinawat, said that the new drugs include ‘ice’, a crystalline form of amphetamine that can be used to produce ya ba (speed). It is primarily produced in south China.

Thai police confiscated ya ba pills and arrested the couriers following Chiang Mai police suppression.

He added that a new form of ‘ecstasy’, produced in the Netherlands, is being smuggled directly into Bangkok as well as coming in through Malaysia.

“Both ‘ice’ and ‘ecstasy’ can now be manufactured in Myanmar, but the quality is not as high as the original drugs produced in China and Holland,” he said.

Pittaya said ONCB officials usually apprehend suspects and ecstasy traffickers and confiscate the drugs in Chiang Rai. “We are keeping an even closer watch now as the refineries and production bases for the drugs are located inside Myanmar but are very close to Thai territory.” Myanmar is well known as a production base for ‘ecstasy’, ‘ice’, and ya ba.

Drug smugglers have changed their transit routes from northern Thailand to the northeastern region. Pittaya also said the amount of heroin being smuggled into northern Thailand has more than doubled this year.

The government’s much vaunted War on Drugs, on the other hand, has at least led to a drop in the quantity of ya ba tablets entering Thailand.

Pittaya added that a meeting held earlier this month between Thai and Burmese authorities at Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 headquarters would strengthen bilateral cooperation. Myanmar would help trace those suspects for whom search warrants had been issued in Thailand but who fled to Myanmar to hide.

The question that should be asked, is that if the Myanmar refineries are so well known to the ONCB, why has nothing been done to stop the production by the Burmese authorities?

New Toyota amphibious vehicle fails first voyage

Passed tree-test but failed buoyancy

Nopniwat Krailerg

A Toyota van was towed out of the city moat at Jaeng Katam Fort after the driver lost control of the vehicle as he attempted to avoid crashing into oncoming motorcycles.

The submarine van after it plunged into the city moat.

Before plunging into the moat, the van hit a tree. No one was injured, but the occupants reported being dampened by the entire incident.

Thieves steal hi-tech equipment from Buddhist temple school

Nopniwat Krailerg

At least two burglars have stolen hi-tech equipment including a digital camera, cables, memory stick, and batteries worth 30,000 baht from the Maha Chulalongkorn Rajavittayalai School at Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai.

When staff member Arthawuth Chantaen arrived at the school on Monday morning, July 19, he noticed the items had disappeared from the computer laboratory. However, the 25 computers in the room had been left.

Arthawuth points out the cupboard from which the stolen items were taken.

Arthawuth informed the police that a Sony Cyber Shot digital camera, cables, memory stick and batteries were missing.

Police from the Phuping police station arrived to investigate the burglary, in the graduate school building where Buddhist monks study for their Masters degree. The burglars had left their footprints.

The police said that the thieves climbed up the electricity pole located near the room, and entered through the unlocked windows. The police would check footprints and fingerprints.

Arthawuth said that the thieves might be people who used the computer lab previously.

Four motorcyclists hurt after crane knocks over telephone pole

Last time it got a pick-up truck!

Autsadaporn Kamthai

A mobile crane knocked down a telephone pole, dragging the phone and electricity cables in its wake, injuring four people and damaging two motorcycles as a result.

The errant pole after the accident.

The incident took place at about 9.30 a.m. on July 16 when the crane belonging to the Nim See Seng Leasing Company hit the pole on Muan Dam Pra Kod Road.

The injured, Prachak Saengsawang, Sarika Wongsrisai, Anunt Kanti, and Prasert Kanti, were on the motorcycles behind the crane, said a shop vendor who witnessed the event. They were taken to Chang Puek and Lanna hospitals for treatment.

The crane driver, Sommai Kasamut, will be charged with careless driving, causing injury to other persons and damage to property.

The TT&T Co. pole was only recently erected to replace another one which had fallen on a passing pickup truck last month. The driver was uninjured in that incident.

Poles along the Muen Dam Pra Kod Road are old and not firmly embedded, according to a TT&T Co. employee who preferred to remain nameless.

Buddhism Office steps in to avert split in community

Temple troubles in Samoeng

Over 50 dwellers in tambon Maesarb in Chiang Mai’s Samoeng district have protested against the order stopping them going into Buddhist temples, given by the tambon’s chief monk, Phra Athikarn-udom Sunyato. He has advised the monks in seven local temples not to accept invitations from villagers who believe in the Nam Meow doctrine or allow them to enter the Buddhist temples.

Nam Meow is a doctrine in Buddhism’s Mahayana tradition that teaches its followers to sacrifice and help human beings as their friends. The doctrine shares with the Hinayana tradition the belief in the “Three Jewels”: in the Lord Buddha, his teaching (dhamma), and community of monks (sangha), as well as in making merit.

The Nam Meow doctrine differs from the Hinayana in its prayer script, which is in the Japanese language, although the meaning is the same. However, its followers believe the monks in tambon Maesarb misunderstood its prayer script.

One of Nam Meow’s followers, Prachan, said he felt uneasy and troubled because he was not allowed to enter any temples, as the monks and novices chase him away. His neighbors who follow the Hinayana tradition also cut off their relationship with him.

Phra Chinnaworn Wachirayano, the abbot of Wat Pang Duem in tambon Maesarb, said that he disagreed with the instruction of the command of Phra Athikarn-udom Sunyato that monks should not associate with Nam Meow followers. He said he did not want the conflict to worsen and cause a split within communities.

Chao Duangduen na Chiangmai, chairperson of the Chiang Mai Cultural Council, has also stepped in to attempt to heal the divisions.

The conflict was finally solved after the director of the Chiang Mai Buddhism Office, Chamlong Kittisiri, informed Phra Kru Sirichaikoon, Samoeng district’s chief monk, to cancel the instruction.

The instruction violated the right, protected by the Constitution, for people to freedom of belief if it does not affect the nation, religion and royal institution. Some might even borrow from another religion and say the final result came from the wisdom of Solomon!

Children starving throughout Nan province

Public Relations Department, Nan

Around 3,600 children under the age of six in Nan province are suffering from malnutrition, Nan Governor Dr Suwat Choksuwattanasakul has revealed. Most of them are hill tribe children.

At a seminar on malnutrition among children, organized by the Nan Provincial Public Health Office, Dr Suwat called for practical solutions to the problem present in every village of this northern border province.

With the cooperation of provincial public health officials, action would be initiated in every district, tambon and village to enlist the cooperation of parents and caregivers, he said. This would be in response to the government’s call for the prevention of malnutrition in rural and remote areas.

Students playing hooky in internet shops get hooked

School inspectors getting tough

Nopniwat Krailerg

School inspectors and officers from the Chiang Mai Provincial Police Division raided four games and internet shops after Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat received numerous complaints that internet outlets were influencing students to skip classes, causing their grades to drop.

Some technical college students playing games in one of the shops.

The first stop was next to the Chiang Mai Technical College, where they found 16 students, in uniform, brazenly playing games. The second was opposite Wat Pha Bong on Singharat Road where 12 students in uniform were found. The shop is reputedly owned by a former director of Lamphun Technical College. The third shop was located at the intersection in front of Wat Dub Pai, where 20 students were found playing games online.

The fourth was in the soi alongside Hor Phra School on Singharat Road. This time the school raiders returned empty-handed as no students were caught, as their friends had warned them by mobile phone.

The names of the students were recorded before they were returned to their schools for punishment. The inspectors and officers also searched their bags but did not find anything illegal.

Most of the students caught admitted they were playing online games, although some claimed they were on the internet doing research for school assignments.

Worawut Jinarit, one of the inspectors, said that he would like teachers to be stricter. He also appealed to internet shop owners to act responsibly.

He added that recently the role of school inspectors had diminished and they had not been included in any department for more than a year.

However, they are now getting a chance to perform their duties again after the governor instructed them to crack down on truancy and proposed they officially resume their tasks. There are about 30 inspectors on duty every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I am sure the school children will soon realize that Tuesdays and Thursdays are ‘safe’!

Instability in Myanmar puts off Thai investors

Public Relations Department, Chiang Mai

Myanmar has cooperated well with Thailand on various issues and wants friendly relations with its neighbour, but Thai businessmen are still wary.

This is the assessment that came out of a workshop at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel in Chiang Mai attended by eight governors of the Lanna group provinces and Thai ambassadors attached to nine countries.

Suphot Theerakaosalp, the Thai ambassador to Yangon, Myanmar said, “The Burmese government wants good relations with Thailand. However, Thai businessmen and investors are still not sure because of the internal situation in the country, especially the conflict situation along the Thai-Burmese border. If there is not peace within Myanmar, Thais won’t invest there,” he said, adding however that the Burmese government has given more significance to cooperation with Thailand on issues like drug suppression, and national and border security.

“Thailand is still regarded by Myanmar as the first ‘gateway’ for economic interaction and development.” Myanmar has an abundance of raw materials, energy and cheap labor that could support and receive an influx of large investment projects by Thais.

Meanwhile, Jirasak Thanesnant, the Thai ambassador to India, reported India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at 10 percent, and the country had a huge population with strong purchasing power.

“Interesting businesses and investments in India would be in public works, information technology, sciences, trade, and the tourism sector,” he added.

“The overland route between Thailand and India passing through Myanmar could be the economic route linking these countries. India is the major Asian market, after China.”

It is reported that the Thai embassy is focusing on trade between Thailand and India this year, which could reach USD 2 billion, if stimulated by a Free Trade Area agreement.