Hill tribes people arrested on forest encroachment charges
Claims of ethnic prejudice by Forestry Department
On July 24, the secretary of the Northern Farmers and
Ethnic Groups Network of Thailand, Wiwat Tamee, led 100 villagers from Ban
Pang Daeng to protest against Forestry Department officials and police after
48 hill tribe villagers were charged with encroachment on national conserved
The protesters distributed leaflets to passers-by in
front of the Chiang Mai Provincial Court, where they were held in custody.
number of protesters assembled at the court, complaining about the unfair
arrests. (Photo courtesy of Northern Farmers and Ethnic Groups Network of
Wiwat said that more than 100 forestry officials and
Chiang Dao police encircled the village of Ban Pang Daeng, in tambon Chiang
Dao in the early morning of July 23 and arrested the villagers as they were
preparing their morning meals. They were locked up in the cells at the
Chiang Dao police station until they appeared in Chiang Mai court the next
Of the 48 villagers charged with encroaching on forest
land, 25 are Lahu, 19 are Palong Karen, three are local people and one is
Lisu. Some of them were couples, and it is claimed children and disabled
persons were among those carried away and charged.
Wiwat said that the action of the officials and police in
encircling the village was heavy-handed and unnecessary. He said the
villagers had been living in the national conserved forest for a long time
and they had never been harassed by officials before. “That causes them to
feel the officials have a bias against them, and they are treating the
arrests as unfair,” he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives had previously planned to
apply a pilot project for those people living in the forest village, but it
didn’t eventuate, Wiwat claimed.
Alien labor registrations proceeding in Chiang Mai
7,000 employers finally toeing the line
Department, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai already has more than 60,000 alien laborers
registered with the local administration department and provincial
authorities, while Fang district has about 20,000, according to Orachorn
Rattanamanee, the chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Services Office.
She said that from July 1-21, 7,000 employers had
registered with the authorities to ask permission to employ 44,140 alien
laborers with 21,815 as farm workers, 10,000 as construction workers, 3,780
as domestic workers and the rest in other areas of employment.
The provincial sub-committee worked out career quotas.
Registered laborers must have medical check-ups and health assurance cards
from the Public Health offices, Orachorn said.
Alien labor registration to carry stiff penalties for violations
Reward for reporting illegal laborers after August 1
After the cut-off date of July 31, specific teams will be
set up to investigate the employment of unregistered alien workers. In the
meantime, the Ministry of Labor will propose a reward for persons giving
information leading to the arrest of illegal alien laborers. Half of the
reward will go to the person making the arrest, 30 percent to the
whistle-blower, and 20 percent to the government.
On July 24, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Muhamad Noor Matha,
in his capacity as chairman of the Alien Workers System Management
Committee, chaired a workshop on ‘Northern Alien Workers System Management
for 2004’ at Chiang Mai City Hall.
The Deputy PM said that the workshop was held to discuss
with provincial governors and government agencies involved to identify
problems. In the North, the number of aliens who had been registered so far
was still minimal for Tak and Mae Hong Son.
The workshop was a platform to listen to the problems of
entrepreneurs as well. Previously, the government had facilitated the
registration for laborers, including the ones who had no specific or
permanent residence. The Department of Provincial Administration assigned a
dummy residence for them. This time, the registration not only covered the
alien workers themselves but also their entire families. The main objective
behind this registration is to ascertain the number of alien workers and
their family members, as well as the kinds of laborers needed.
This data was to be obtained precisely to serve as input
for the amendment of regulations and for proper planning. The legalization
of these laborers was another objective, but of secondary importance. It had
been stressed that the registration period would not be extended.
The Local Administration Department advised that the more
than 170,000 hill tribe people who will gain Thai nationality in November
should be instructed not to register now.
Meanwhile, Labor Minister Uraiwan Thienthong said, “If
alien workers, or employers on their behalf, have not properly registered
for issuance of ID for aliens, they will not be permitted to live on Thai
soil and will be sent back to their countries of origin. They would be
charged on the spot for violating the Alien Employment Act BE 2521 (1978)
and the Immigration Act BE 2521 (1977).”
The Labor minister continued, “Employers who hire
aliens without the proper work permit will be liable to imprisonment not
exceeding three years and/or a fine not exceeding 60,000 baht. Employers who
provide residence for illegal aliens will be sentenced to imprisonment not
exceeding five years and/or a fine not exceeding 50,000 baht. Illegal
workers face imprisonment not exceeding three months and/or a fine not
exceeding 5,000 baht. For aliens who have entered the kingdom illegally, the
penalty shall be imprisonment not exceeding two years and/or a fine not
exceeding 20,000 baht.”
Road Safety conference
brings forward ideas
But results only in surveys and more meetings
Saksit Meesubkwang and
The Road Safety Command Center in the Office of Disaster
Prevention and Relief met with heads of all government offices associated
with work involving road safety and natural disasters.
Sukumoljan, head of the Chiang Mai Insurance Office, talking about the goals
to reduce street accidents and address natural disasters.
Around 50 participants, including heads of administration
organizations, representatives from the Chiang Mai Provincial Police
Station, Provincial Transportation Office, Office of Education and many
insurance companies gathered at the Training Institute of Disaster
Prevention and Relief on July 22. They discussed strategies to lessen road
accidents, and prevent and prepare for natural disasters during the rainy
Piyanart Sukumoljan, head of the Chiang Mai Insurance
Office, said that cooperation from parents, students and educational
institutions was needed to reduce the number of street accidents. She also
urged the police to carry out their duties and be much more strict in
enforcing the law.
A number of goals were set. Firstly, that 90 percent of
drivers must fasten their seatbelts and motorcyclists must wear helmets,
whether inside or outside the municipal area; secondly, that the figure of
25 percent of accidents caused by drunken drivers be reduced; thirdly, that
at least 90 percent of drivers must possess a valid driving license; and
fourthly, that strict suppression on modifying engines and driving at high
speed be enforced to reduce the accident rate by at least 25 percent.
While most of these are very noble sentiments, one
wonders that if the call is for stricter law enforcement, why was the figure
of only 90 percent of drivers should wear a seatbelt and again why only 90
percent should possess a valid driving license? There was no reported method
to reduce the incidence of drunken driving, and suppression of modified
engines has been shown many times over not to work.
Educational institutes were asked to identify with these
goals and convey them to students through training. Police officers were
asked to circulate memoranda to every police station urging their colleagues
to carry out their duties comprehensively and continuously in line with the
laws. “If all parties cooperate, road accidents would be reduced
dramatically,” said Piyanart. Again a noble sentiment without the
infrastructure to make it work.
It was noted that the heavy rains caused disasters such
as flooding and landslides. Administrative officers and health personnel in
each district were asked to conduct a survey and record statistics showing
areas repeatedly affected by flooding; areas through which water flowed down
from mountain forests; and areas with frequent landslides.
Officials in these areas were urged to prepare reports,
with suggestions for solutions and estimated budgets to be urgently
submitted to provincial offices. The governor would acknowledge the reports
and approve the budgets for prevention and solutions before disasters took
Once again, this problem is perennial, the reasons are already well
documented and surely now it is time for real action.
Manual to be compiled to reduce air pollution
Medical authorities worried
Dr Duangchan A. Charoenmuang, the head of the project for
developing measures for reducing air pollution reported to a meeting on air
pollution control saying that, “We have collected data from hospitals all
over Chiang Mai and found that children and the elderly constitute the
highest percentage of people who suffer from respiratory diseases caused by
burning in open space.”
According to statistics covering the 1994-2004 period,
50,000 people developed lung and bronchial cancers. Chiang Mai had the
highest rate in Thailand, she added.
Dr Duangchan has asked for public cooperation in helping
reduce air pollution caused by outdoor burning. Dr Duangchan said,
“Burning in open spaces is one of the main causes for creating air
pollution in Chiang Mai. It is responsible for 50 percent of air pollution
in municipal and surrounding areas. Smoke from such burning affects the
health of the city and will cause air pollution to reach critical levels. A
survey found that the air of Chiang Mai has been polluted and the quantity
of polluting particles in the air is the highest in the whole country.”
The committee of the project for developing measures for
reducing air pollution has met to develop a manual to tackle the problem.
The manual will include implementation methods, authorities involved, roles
and functions of agencies and organizations, and provisions of laws
including penalties. The manual will be supplied to local administration
organizations as well as the private and public sectors.
PM approves a number of projects proposed by Chiang Mai
Rejects several others
Nopniwat Krailerg and Saksit
Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat put forward eight
projects to further develop the province’s infrastructure when Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited Chiang Mai.
Thaksin greets one of his closest old friends in the northern dialect during
his meeting at Chiang Mai’s 700 Year Sports complex.
PM Thaksin remarked that many of the proposals did not
cover development in the rural areas and remote smaller districts. However,
he said he would approve urgent proposals that help the villagers, such as a
project to build two reservoirs to address water shortages.
These are the Mae Hoy construction project for a 10
million cubic meter reservoir in Chorm Thong district costing 170 million
baht, and the Mae Sa Luang reservoir in Phrao district costing 200 million
baht. He said construction would take about three years to complete.
The PM also approved the construction of a 55 km rural
road, a center at Mae Jo University for quality control on community-produced
agricultural products, improvements on abandoned land behind Chiang Mai City
Hall, improvements to the drainage system to solve floods, and the
continuation of the Chiang Mai Green and Clean campaign.
The PM committed the government to 82.5 million baht for
the road construction, expecting it to serve the transportation of
agricultural products from local areas to distribution centers. Mae Jo
University would get 64 million baht for its quality guarantee work. The
abandoned land behind the City Hall has been earmarked for international
fairs and other public recreational activities, with the focus on a water
Another 261 million baht was allocated for improvements to
the drainage system to solve flooding in the west and south of Chiang Mai
City. It will take two years to complete this project. The Mae Taeng
irrigation and Mae Kha drainage systems are included in these improvements.
Another 261 million baht was set aside for the Chiang Mai
Green and Clean campaign as the PM considered that it enhances the city’s
One of the proposals rejected was a request for 40 million
baht from the government in line with its “War on Poverty”. The plan was
for 20,000 households to be given 2,000 baht each. The PM said the province
should instead request the money from the National War on Poverty Combat
Other proposals turned down included improvements to the
city’s historic and cultural sites, which would have required 270 million
baht, and a project for paving local streets which would have cost 288
The PM allowed public appeals, which included complaints about the low
longan prices, lack of teachers, and issuing of land title deeds.
New elephant camp proposed for Night Safari Zoo
But PM’s approval needed for funding
Plodprasop Suraswadi, the former permanent secretary in
the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, called a meeting of the
Elephant Camping Park Board to discuss progress in the construction plan for
an elephant park near the Chiang Mai Safari Night Zoo.
Suraswadi, the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Natural
Resources and Environment, at the meeting in Chiang Mai to discuss the
possible launch of the elephant park.
The heavyweights in the industry, including Sophon Dumnui,
the director of the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand; Maj Gen
Chirachai Dechdamrong representing the Royal Thai Army; Sermsuk Chonlawanich
representing the Deputy Secretary-General of the City and Urban Planning
Department, Surapan Chunpicharn representing the National Economic and
Social Development Board, and project advisor Dr Bernard Harrison, all took
part in the conference.
The principal reason was to summarize progress, so that a
budget proposal can be submitted to PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
Plodprasop said the elephant project was close to the
Night Safari and located on 6,000 rai, and will cost an estimated 700
million baht. The elephants will be bought from other private zoos or
brought from forests in Thailand. Owners of elephant camps in the North are
invited to share their elephants with the new proposed elephant camp.
Homeless or roaming elephants in both towns and forests will be transported
to the new camp as well.
The elephant camp is expected to open within three months
after the official launch of the Night Safari Zoo but admission to the camp
will not be included in the admission price to the night zoo.
The project will be completed if the PM approves the budget proposal.
The return of the bird flu?
Chiang Mai province gets ready with Check Point Chook
All Chiang Mai districts adjoining other provinces have
been ordered to set up checkpoints to inspect all ducks and chickens being
brought into the province.
Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Kwanchai Wongnitikorn said
Lampang, Lamphun and Chiang Rai provinces had been singled out.
The province has been cooperating with the Chiang Mai
Provincial Livestock Office to ban the transfer of all ducks and chickens
into the province that have not been inspected. Residents have also been
asked not to feed their poultry in open fields.
Kwanchai suggested that livestock officials should keep
an eye on the situation. If they suspected poultry were contaminated, they
should inform the province immediately.
An operations center to combat bird flu has been
established following the new outbreak and the Livestock and Agricultural
Office will meet weekly to review the situation.
However, at the time of going to press, there was no
report of bird flu in Chiang Mai. The province believes it has good
preventive measures in place against the epidemic. All products from other
provinces and suspect areas will be tested carefully.
The deputy governor gave the assurance that the province
was keeping a close eye on the situation as it was afraid it could affect
SME Bank wants to help small businesses get bigger
The money is waiting for the better entrepreneurs
The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development Bank of
Thailand plans to liaise with governors to support small and medium
enterprises and OTOP (One Tambon, One Product) entrepreneurs in the regional
SME’s Bank car that will be used in August to carry the message to all
The SME Bank ran a training course for Chiang Mai
government officials at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel on July 23, covering
‘Commercial Strategies for SME’s and OTOP’. This was a pilot project.
The SME Bank is the first non-commercial bank in Thailand
that provides financial support for SME’s and OTOP entrepreneurs
throughout the country as it sees them as significant drivers of economic
“As planned with the Ministry of the Interior, all SME
Bank branches will start to liaise with all 75 governors this month to
increase economic growth by producing more new enterprises,” said Chotisak
Assapawiriya, the bank’s managing director.
“The bank has put emphasis on asset conversion by
encouraging local entrepreneurs to add value to their products, to upgrade
them and increase income,” said Chotisak.
Recently, the bank asked all governors to choose 100
outstanding products in their areas for proposed financial support and
branding from the bank.
Chotisak revealed the bank had approximate 5 billion baht
for loans to support SME’s and OTOP manufacturers countrywide, and 3.8
billion baht to work on the campaign of issuing product brands.
The bank also has 75 mobile SME Banks that will go into service during
August to spread information and provide suggestions to the SMEs and OTOP
producers in rural and regional areas.
PM opens solar powered generating station
Two billion baht savings predicted
Thailand entered a new phase of alternative energy
development on July 22 when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra opened the Pha
Bong solar powered electricity generating station in the northern province
of Mae Hong Son.
The power station, owned by the Electricity Generating
Authority of Thailand (EGAT) will give a much needed energy boost to Mae
Hong Son, the only province in Thailand not covered by EGAT’s national
Although the province is already home to a hydroelectric
and a diesel powered station, these are both small scale, and cannot produce
sufficient electricity to meet the province’s growing energy needs as the
province’s natural tourist attractions are discovered by increasing
numbers of visitors.
Already, power cuts are not uncommon. Khamphui
Jeeraruensak, EGAT deputy senior governor for power systems transmission,
said that such power cuts were taking an inevitable toll on the province’s
The Pha Bong station has a production capacity of 500
kilowatts, enabling it to generate 700,000 units of electricity each year.
This will reduce diesel consumption by local power stations, producing
savings of over 2 billion baht.
The power plant cost 187.11 million baht to construct.
Most of the financing came from the Energy Policy and Planning Office.
Construction began in February last year, and the first test runs were
carried out in March this year. Full production commenced in April. (TNA)
Americans train Thai troops to combat drug trade
A Thai-American joint military exercise codenamed
‘Baker Torch 04-3 B’ kicked off on July 26 at 3rd Development Battalion
to improve the ability of Thai troops in drug suppression.
Gen Phicharnmeth Muangmanee, commander of the 3rd Army Region and the US
Consul Henry Jardine in Chiang Mai, salute at the launch of the joint
military exercise. (Photo courtesy of the Pha Muang Task Force)
Lt. Gen Phicharnmeth Muangmanee, commander of the 3rd
Army Region and the US Consul Henry Jardine in Chiang Mai presided over the
launch of the exercise.
The Royal Thai Army assigned the 3rd Army Region to the
joint military exercise. It is taking place in the grounds of 3rd
Development Battalion, 5th Special Force Regiment, and some areas in Chiang
Mai’s Mae Rim and Mae Taeng districts. It will end on August 27.
Gen Phicharnmeth Muangmanee, commander of the 3rd Army Region, inspects the
US troops. (Photo courtesy of the Pha Muang Task Force)
A total of 75 Thai soldiers are taking part with 28 from
the 4th Infantry Division, 28 from the 1st Cavalry Division, four from the
Commanding Unit of Special Warfare and 15 from of 3rd Region Border Patrol
Police Headquarters. There are 15 trainers from the United States.
The exercise aims not only to develop the capability of both Thai and
American troops and patrol police involved in drug suppression, but also to
advance Thai and American cooperation on drug eradication.
Red minibus drivers feel left out of the tourism agencies loop
But how many can actually talk to the tourists?
Krailerg and Editorial staff
The leader of the red minibus drivers has complained that
tourist-related organizations have not consulted them, but are quick to
Nunti, chairman of Nakhon Lanna Transport Cooperatives Limited.
Singkham Nunti, chairman of the Nakhon Lanna Transport
Cooperatives Limited, claimed that despite its status as one of the
tourism-servicing units of the city, his organization had never been used by
tourism agencies. They had also never valued the importance of the
cooperatives’ members, the red minibus drivers themselves. “But whenever
problems arise, the cooperatives and their members are blamed,” Singkham
On the setting up a parking center or ‘Call Center’
for vehicles under its chain at a hotel in Chiang Mai, Singkham said that
around 20 million baht had been allocated from a loan taken from the
Cooperatives Development Funds. The budget will be spent on purchasing an
additional 30 cars to be used as meter taxis. The construction of the Call
Center should be completed by early 2005 as a New Year gift for Chiang Mai
“Phoen Si Lor” (red minibus’s friend), a radio
program broadcast via Community Radio FM 91.75 MHz, has been promoting
public relations, and serves as a channel to receive suggestions for
improving services of red minibuses.
Red minibus members, through the coordination of this
radio program, have returned over 100,000 baht in items which passengers
left behind in the vehicles, including cameras and mobile phones.
Meanwhile, Achasathai Rattanadilok na Phuket, chief of
the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office, gave an update about the
idea of incorporating red minibuses into a comprehensive mass transportation
system of Chiang Mai, which will include electric monorails and public
He said, “This project has progressed slowly because
the structure of an organization to be established for overseeing this
system has not been concluded. We are speeding up our work on it. Upon
completion, a committee at provincial level will forward a proposal to the
Ministry of Transport for approval. Around 390 million baht will be required
over a three year implementation period for this project.”
Whilst the red minibuses may do a reasonable job for Chiang Mai
residents, the Cooperative still has a long way to go as far as servicing
the needs of tourists. Destination signs and an ability in basic English are
needed before the red minibuses can become a valuable part of the tourism
Drug dealers take to the water
Mekong River popular in the GMS
Department, Chiang Rai
The Mekong River is becoming increasingly used as a
transit route for drug smuggling and a rendezvous point for drug dealers.
This was claimed at a workshop on international
cooperation in drug suppression, especially along the river, that took place
from July 20-22 at the Wiang Inn Hotel in Chiang Rai and was organized by
the Border Drug Suppression Center, Office of Narcotics Control Board, and
the United Nations.
Representatives from the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS)
countries - China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand - and the UN Office on Drugs
and Crime as well as observers from the Japanese consulate and about 60
The workshop aimed to give officers in the four countries
along the river an opportunity to exchange opinions and share experiences to
strengthen their drug suppression coordination.
The participants also discussed effective solutions to
the drug problem in the GMS and planned an operation strategy to suppress
trafficking along the Mekong border lines.
Chiang Mai petrol consumption continues to rise
Krailerg and editorial staff
Chiang Mai motorists used 12 percent more fuel in the
first four months of the year than in the comparable period last year.
Northern region figures indicated consumption of 1.4 billion liters of
benzene (91 and 95) and diesel. Of this volume, 547 million liters were used
by Chiang Mai motorists alone.
Participating in the radio program ‘Ruam Duay Chuay
Gun’ (Lending Helping Hands), Chumpol Pittayarak, director of the Energy
Bureau, Region 10, Chiang Mai, gave information about the situation
regarding world crude oil prices. He said that the fluctuation of oil prices
may continue, though, due to concerns over violence in Iraq and financial
problems encountered by the Yukos huge petrol company in Russia.
Statistics from the Department of Energy show that the
government has so far spent more than 18 billion baht to subsidize the price
of petrol. Current local retail prices are lower than the real selling
prices on the world market. Without subsidies, the actual prices per liter
in Thailand would be 20.26 baht for 95 octane and 19.75 baht for 91 octane.
With regard to cooking gas, changes in prices have been
minimal, as it can be produced domestically, unlike petrol that has to be
Following the government’s energy saving policy, more
than 700 petrol stations in the northern region have cooperated by closing
services at midnight without the need to use law enforcement. The rate of
such cooperation in Chiang Mai is 50 percent.
Many observers would question the overall efficacy of
this dictum. All this will do, say the non-believers, is increase the
volumes at the bowsers during daytime, and put night staff out of work.
Mae Hong Son gets 1.5 billion baht from sympathetic PM
Tuamjork Public Relations Department,
Mae Hong Son
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra approved all eight
proposals submitted by Mae Hong Son for development in the province, costing
the government almost 1.5 billion baht in total.
PM Thaksin also assigned provincial authorities to carry
out the construction of a shortcut linking Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai for
greater convenience for travelers.
The premier met the people at Ban Pangmu School in Muang
Mae Hong Son district, where he was warmly welcomed by Governor Suphot
Laowannasiri and the heads of government departments. (With 1.5 billion baht
at stake, the greeting would have been very warm.)
PM Thaksin said he fully supported the provincial
development projects. Mae Hong Son asked for approval for improvements to
the Highway 108 and Highway 1095 costing 643 million baht, construction of
concrete roads in villages costing 41 million baht, improvements to the Mae
Hong Son airport costing 262 million baht, the Pai airport improvement
project worth 11.5 million baht, the Mae Sariang airport improvement work
costing 9.5 million , the construction project for electricity supply for
the 115 KV current system worth 430 million baht, the establishment of
Chiang Mai Rajabhat Institute, Mae Hong Son campus, at 75.6 million baht and
a reforestation project worth 9.3 million baht.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
is Chiang Mai the ugliest of them all?
Overcrowding and selfishness blamed
A forum attracting over 500 people was held on the topic
‘Is Chiang Mai getting ugly?’ in response to a recent travel magazine
comment to that effect.
Representatives of stakeholders in Chiang Mai were
invited to attend, including Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn; Chao Duangduen na
Chiang Mai, chairperson of the Chiang Mai Provincial Cultural Center; Insom
Panyasopha, president of the Northern Press Association; Dr. Thanes
Charoenmuang, an academic from Chiang Mai University; as well as business
people from the private sector and students from various educational
institutions in Chiang Mai.
left: Jumpol Chutima, president of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce,
Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Prinya Panthong, and Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn,
during the panel discussion at the forum on the city’s image.
Before the discussion started, a video was shown to
explain the reasons behind the Chiang Mai population explosion. In addition
to the availability of employment, there are a number of educational
institutes that have gained national fame, and students coming here to study
have also swelled the population numbers.
The forum was told that numerous problems have now
surfaced, such as water and air pollution and the quantity of garbage that
keeps on increasing. Chiang Mai residents, accustomed to their traditional
way of living, have to become more competitive to survive in the present
world. They have had to adjust and learn how to use modern technology, and
have to dress themselves like people of the new era, and eat western food.
All this has made them focus only going forward without looking back to
their traditional way of living in Lanna style, which has developed over
thousands of years. If this valuable heritage is not preserved, there will
be obvious repercussions on the next generation, it was postulated.
Chiang Mai councilor Pornchai Jitnavasathien said,
“Chiang Mai Municipality has adopted a policy to preserve Lanna cultures
and traditions by launching a compulsory regulation that constructions of
buildings, roads or any other kinds of construction must be consistent with
“The municipality has conducted a survey of old houses
that are well preserved and are still in their original shape and style.
Certificates will be awarded to owners of these houses. Each house will be
promoted as worthy of viewing as a model of a former era.”
Dr. Thanes Charoenmuang of the Political Science
Department in the Faculty of Social Science at Chiang Mai University, said
the population had become self-centered. “As a consequence, people are
more competitive in life and business. Their interest in old things from the
past has waned. They go to temple less often. When they build a house, for
example, they do not care about the next person. They think that if they
have the money, they can construct anything that they want to.”
“According to the history of Chiang Mai, especially for
the inner area surrounded by ditches and moats, governors in the olden days
announced that no one was allowed to construct any buildings taller than
three stories, lest they obstruct the visual field when the city was being
“There were also several temples and sacred objects in
the inner area. If a house or building was higher than the tops of pagodas,
it would be considered as higher than Lord Buddha (and the monks), which is
not a good thing. People have had this belief and practiced it for 700
years,” he added.
While these may be valid observations of change, the forum apparently did
not come up with how to change our ugly image into a more beautiful one.
Vandals target Chinese consulate-general
Could have been an illuminating experience
Unknown vandals threw electric light bulbs onto the
tennis court of the Chinese consulate-general on Thong Lor Road at 11.30
p.m. on July 19.
guard at the Chinese consulate-general points out where the incident took
Forensic police and officers from the Muang district
police station found fragments of light bulbs scattered over the court and
next to the side wall of the consulate. As the road running alongside the
diplomatic site is generally deserted, police suspect the culprits threw the
light bulbs onto the tennis court while there were no witnesses to identify
Two guards on duty, Boonserm Buatib and Tawee Huansri,
said that while they patrolled the premises they heard the sound of breaking
glass coming from the court. They discovered the glass fragments and called
It is thought at this stage that the culprits are mischievous teenagers,
rather than heralding an anti-Sino relations guerilla group. Police
investigations are continuing.
Ambitious plans devised for cleaner air in Chiang Mai and Lamphun
Exhaust emissions and burning off indicted
A conference on Air Pollution Management was held at the
Chiang Mai City Hall on July 19, with participants from Chiang Mai and
Lamphun provinces, provincial administration organizations, municipalities,
the Provincial Environment Office and associated offices. These included
deputy permanent secretary of natural resources and environment, Chalermsak
Wanichsombat, pollution control department director-general Apichai
Chawachalernpan, the deputy dean of Chiang Mai University’s Engineering
Faculty Dr Wasan Chompakdee, and 20 heads of relevant offices.
Chalermsak said that Chiang Mai and Lamphun are
surrounded by mountains and have a dry climate during winter, which are
contributing factors to pollution in their cities.
The department’s air quality control found the dust
levels of minute particles in the air was above the standard and acceptable
levels for two thirds of the year.
Causes of air pollution in the two provinces included
communities burning leaves, farmers burning weeds, construction works,
vehicles and forest fires.
A five year plan to solve the pollution was devised,
divided into short-term and medium-term goals. A 800 million baht budget has
been prepared to carry out the plan.
The short-term plan will be put into operation this year
and next year, with a budget of 276 million baht with 252 million baht for
Chiang Mai and 24 million baht for Lamphun. The plan will cover looking at
mass transportation, controlling exhaust fumes (which cause 50 percent of
current air pollution), the promotion of bio-diesel fuel and controlling
The medium-term plan will run from 2006-2009 and 670
million baht has been allocated - Chiang Mai getting 546 million baht and
Lamphun 124 million baht. The plan will place emphasis on the development of
a mass transportation system and the further crack down on vehicle exhaust
It will promote the use of bio-diesel, the reduction of
forest fires, and establishing service centers for agricultural wastes to
reduce burning by farmers.
Minister Suwit Kunkitti, minister of natural resources
and environment, who presided over the seminar, said that work to solve the
pollution problem should begin immediately, or people’s health and tourism
would suffer. He said he would like to draw in technical college students to
help check the state of vehicles within the city areas on a continuous
“Monitoring forest fires and burning is also necessary
in wintertime and the law should be applied to prevent illegal outdoor
burning,” he said.
“More importantly, the cooperation from the public is
needed to help the officials accomplish the plans. So local administration
organizations will have to play a much bigger role and encourage people to
cooperate,” he warned.
Flash flood claims life
of woman in Fang district
More heavy downpours predicted
A flash flood hit two villages in Fang district, claiming
one life. The Meteorological Department, Northern Region Office has also
warned of more heavy rains with the prospect of further flash floods.
On Monday, July 26, at 3 a.m. about 700 households in the
two villages of Moo 6 and Moo 12 of tambon Mae Kha, 20 km from Fang district
town, were hit by flash floods from the nearby mountains. The water had
collected in the mountainous region and poured down onto the village.
Kampaeng Namchaipop, 55, was killed and 68 households
were damaged. Kampaeng was living with her daughter and her nephew. Her
house was positioned directly in the path of the current, and they did not
have enough time to flee.
District officials had reportedly told the headmen of the
villages to inform the inhabitants about the danger last Friday, but they
did not take it seriously.
After they were notified of the disaster, territorial
security volunteers were called in to aid the flood victims. The Fang Red
Cross Society also distributed 500 parcels of food and other items. The
district officers have donated 3,000 baht to the owners of each house that
was damaged. The family of the deceased woman received 5,000 baht.
Last year, the same location was also hard hit by
flooding but no severe damage resulted.
Meanwhile, the Northern Regional Meteorological Center
predicted a low pressure system in the area because of a south-westerly
monsoon causing heavy downpours of up to 50mm of rain over the whole of
Thailand. Some downpours will last for several hours and those living in
areas prone to flash floods should take extra precautions.