HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presides over royally sponsored funeral ceremony

60-year-old US P-38 plane discovered near Thai-Burmese border

Community based drug rehab center opened

Botanical park glows with pride

EGAT environmental impact studies to go ahead for coal mine project

World summit to share OTOP ideas

Public Relations Department wins award for radio training

Traffic police to crack down on speeding motorists

Night Bazaar to regain its former attractiveness

Market stallholders protest against area tax

New historical finds unearthed in Wiang Haeng district

Chiang Rai tastes fruitful border trade

Precious plant seeds spread by air to honor Thailand’s Queen

Effects of bio-diesel on engines queried

Hi-tech gadget sniffs body and clothes

Road construction planning in the North

Everyone can contribute to saving energy

Japanese govt donates dental equipment to Chiang Mai University

PRD and ONCB address international narcotics seminar participants

Hospitals, rescue teams accused of acting inappropriately

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presides over royally sponsored funeral ceremony

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on Monday, August 30, presided over the royally sponsored funeral service for the late Chao Chai Suriwongse na Chiangmai at Wat Suan Dok Temple on Suthep Road, Chiang Mai.

Hundreds of guests attended the funeral. Chao Chai Suriwongse was a prominent northern dignitary who had large property holdings in Chiang Mai, including the former Suriwongse Hotel and Duangtawan Hotel.

He is survived by several relatives, including his son, Thawatwong na Chiang- mai, president of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization.

60-year-old US P-38 plane discovered near Thai-Burmese border

Investigations underway to positively identify aircraft

Autsadaporn Kamthai

The wreckage of a United States P-38 aircraft used during World War II has been found in the Ban Huai Krai Mai Forest in Chiang Mai’s Wiang Haeng district. The aircraft’s remains were found by local dwellers about 10 kilometers from the Thai-Burmese border.

Group Capt Sakpinij Promthep, head of the History Division at the Royal Thai Air Force Museum, has examined the find and the American consulate was notified.

Parts of an American P-38 aircraft were found in the forest in Wiang Haeng district.

Group Capt. Sakpinij said parts of a machine gun, bullets and other small fragments of the engine and fuselage were found. “From the engine type and equipment, it can be ascertained that the P-38 aircraft was manufactured by the Lockheed Company in the United State during World War II, between 1941-45. The P-38s were sent to important bases in the Southeast Asia region during the war,” he said.

The P-38 aircraft were used to bomb Japanese troop emplacements in areas of Chiang Mai, Lampang and Uttradit provinces during that period.

The name and fate of the pilot could not be ascertained at this time, as the engine serial number was not found. If this is discovered, it should be easy to work out the pilot’s name from the US records.

Representatives of the American consulate in Bangkok met with Group Capt. Sakpinij to discuss the find. The Joint Training and Apprenticeship Committee in Hawaii will become involved to research the pilot’s name and investigate the reason for the plane going down.

The area where the wreckage was found is to be promoted as a new historical tourism site by the Royal Thai Air Force, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and the development project of Wiang Haeng Mine. The aircraft’s remains will be used as an educational medium for students to learn about the history of World War II.

Community based drug rehab center opened

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Rattananurak Health Rehabilitation Center in Lampang’s Muang district was officially opened by the Minister of Public Health, Sudarat Keyuraphan, on August 20. The center, on Huay Peng Road, began operating last December for drug rehabilitation for addicts from 17 northern provinces.

The center’s main programs are based on a community-based drug rehabilitation method. All drug users and addicts live together as a big family in a safe and drug-free environment. The center also develops their social skills, alter their behavior and increase their opportunities to be employed and keep them off drugs in future.

The center has rehabilitated 117 former drug addicts so far, of whom 10 willingly entered the program and 107 were forced to enter, reported Suchart Laoboriphat, director of the Drug Rehabilitation Center, Chiang Mai. Of these, 51 were hill tribe member and the rest locals.

The Minister declared that community-based drug rehabilitation had been accepted globally and over 50 countries had applied this method for their drug addicts.

According to the evaluation done by the United States, 80 percent of addicts who passed through community rehabilitation do not return to drug use and are able to conform to society and live happily.

The Ministry of Public Health had initially targeted 270,000 drug users nationwide, of whom 118,300 were users and 151,700 addicts, said Sudarat. So far the numbers have exceeded this with 539,309 having entered the rehabilitation program.

Botanical park glows with pride

Editorial staff

The Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) has completed a lighting installation project in the Huay Kaew Botanical Park. The project was undertaken by PEA’s Region 1, Northern Region, Chiang Mai and cost 500,000 baht.

Chiang Mai MP Yaowapha Wongsawas (center) at the opening ceremony with Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat (left), Decha Vichitphan (PEA) on Yaowapha’s left, and other guests of honor.

The park is sometimes open to the public until late evening, so the Chiang Mai provincial authorities implemented the improvement project for the botanical park used as a recreation place, fitness center and flora study center. To make it possible to extend the hours and for safety’s sake, the PEA designed an electricity supply system and lighting installation with underground cables.

The park, located near Chiang Mai Zoo and Chiang Mai University at the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain, is now billed as another tourist attraction on Huay Kaew Road. Young people are able to express their artistic and musical skills and talents on the lawns.

Chiang Mai MP Yaowapha Wongsawas presided over the opening ceremony on August 28.

EGAT environmental impact studies to go ahead for coal mine project

17.9 million baht windfall for CMU

Autsadaporn Kamthai

The go-ahead for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand’s (EGAT) project of mining for coal over 3,500 rai in Tambon Saen Hai and Tambon Piang Luang of Chiang Mai’s Wiang Haeng district will depend on results of environmental and social impact assessments.

Local people protesting against EGAT’s coal mine project wear red T-shirts as their symbol in their common fight against EGAT.

If the studies show a destructive impact on local inhabitants, the project will be terminated or adjourned, said Maj. Dr. Anuchart Palakawong Na Ayuthaya, Scientist C-10 of the Environment Division of EGAT. The coal mine was expected to get cabinet approval and be constructed in 2008, but only if it has passed assessments and local deliberation, he said.

EGAT has hired the Engineering Service Center of the Engineering Faculty, Chiang Mai University, to run the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), with the cost being 17.9 million baht. The study will take 16 months to complete. It will focus on local participation on gauging the impact, following the tenets of the Thai Constitution, which gives priority to participation by the people.

The Language and Culture Research Institute at Mahidol University has been given responsibility for the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) being carried out among nine tribes of local dwellers.

Following the EIA and SIA, independent public deliberations will be held for six months to allow communities to approve the studies and measure appropriateness and impact of the project to prevent conflicts at a later date.

Already, a group of local dwellers has been protesting against the project, claiming it will cause pollution in the district and spoil the environment. One of villagers in Ban Chong, Tambon Wiang Laung, who is part of the opposition group expressed his concern about the regular transport of coal to Mae Moh Power Plant in Lampang to generate electricity. He said it caused air and noise pollution and was a danger for local road users.

He is also concerned about dangerous minerals underground such as cadmium and lead that may cause harm to people’s health and farmlands.

On the other hand, he admitted that more income, employment and tourism could follow the mine and help the nation that needed the resource. Two 17 year old students who reside in Wiang Haeng district said they did not want the mine in their hometown as it would spoil the environment and cause pollution.

EGAT claims that the coal mine would generate an estimated 20 million tons of coal over 20 years, saving Thailand about 15 billion baht in energy bought from other countries.

The areas for the mine are state property as they are mainly forest areas, military areas and a recently announced national park. However, many local villagers’ farmlands are also located in the areas.

EGAT explorations in the Wiang Haeng district since 1983 have shown it has a supply of approximate 139 million tons of coal with low (1 percent) sulphur content.

World summit to share OTOP ideas

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Chiang Mai is to host an international “One Village One Product Summit: Uplift Grassroots Economy Sustainability” from September 16-19. This will take place at the Chiang Mai University’s Convention Hall.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to preside over the opening ceremony and Finance Minister Dr Somkid Jatusripitak will chair the event.

Representatives from Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, Laos, Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, China, India, South Korea, Mongolia, Australia, New Zealand, Malawi and Tunisia will participate.

The main objectives of the conference are to give participating countries the chance to exchange their ideas on their One Tambon One Product (OTOP) operations, seek new markets and exchange products.

It is hoped that the conference will help boost the standard of Thai products and publicize them in other countries and markets.

At the conference, top quality OTOP items will be on display and on sale.

Public Relations Department wins award for radio training

Phitsanu Thepthong

The Public Relations Department (PRD), Region 3, Chiang Mai Office has won the “Innovation in Radio Training Package Award” in an international contest organized by the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD).

Jintana Phantufak, director of Public Relations Department (PRD), Region 3, Chiang Mai Office.

According to Jintana Phantufak, the director of the office, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse made the award last month to PRD director-general Suchart Suchartwetchaphum at the 3rd general assembly of AIBD in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

There were four categories in the AIBD contest: Innovation in Radio Training Package, won by PRD Chiang Mai; Most Outstanding Radio Program on National Harmony, won by China; Most Prominent Television Program on the Diversity of Cultures, won by Korea; and Best Television Program on Local Issues, especially Children and Women, won by India.

Director Jintana said the Office’s training course on Digital Radio Production for Broadcasting was produced by Veerasak Choengchaow, who is responsible for technique, and Saipin Choengchaow, responsible for programming, on behalf of the PRD.

The two training courses on digital radio programming were launched in 2000 at a seminar on digital radio broadcasting by computers, and in 2003 for the digital radio studio and techniques in digital radio production.

The programs were designed to help develop the work of Radio Thailand in the Upper Northern provinces, changing it from the analog to digital.

Traffic police to crack down on speeding motorists

Surreptitious B. 200 not going to be enough?

Nopniwat Krailerg

Speedsters beware! The Chiang Mai traffic police have announced they will charge drivers exceeding the 90 km/h speed limit.

In a response to the government’s policy on energy saving, Pol Maj Chartthai Chuchai, the traffic police inspector in the southern zone of Chiang Mai Provincial Traffic Police, said that traffic police are ready to crack down on motorists.

Pol Maj Chartthai Chuchai, the traffic police inspector in the southern zone of Chiang Mai.

“The petrol price is increasing all the time, and we want to step up the measures to produce energy saving and at the same time reduce the number of road accidents,” he said.

The Land Transport Act 1979 will be enforced to control the speed of vehicles on the road. He said the traffic police and highways police in the past two months ran a campaign to limit motorists to 90 km/h, particularly on the Chiang Mai-Lampang Superhighway and other main roads. More than 230 motorists have been fined.

“The Chiang Mai Provincial Traffic Headquarters has dispatched traffic police to undergo training on making arrests and taking action,” he said.

Night Bazaar to regain its former attractiveness

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Night Bazaar is to be spruced up, it was decided during the Chiang Mai Municipality’s recent meeting with over 880 vendors.

Chiang Mai deputy mayor for the Public Works Division, Poonsawas Worawal, chaired the conference with Night Bazaar market entrepreneurs.

After the conference, Poonsawas said the Night Bazaar market is in a state of disorder and needs to be improved and cleaned up.

The participants agreed on an improvement plan and asked the municipality to build uniform stands for them to use. It was also agreed to let Rak Night Bazaar Club be responsible for garbage collection in the Night Bazaar precinct.

The municipality will provide municipal police to control traffic and municipal police boxes have been erected for this purpose.

The deputy mayor said when the improvements are finished, the Night Bazaar would again deserve its reputation as a magnet for both Thai and foreign tourists.

Market stallholders protest against area tax

Already hard enough to make a living

Saksit Meesubkwang

Vendors in the Siriwattana market have complained at what they call unfair trading taxes meted out according to the size of their stalls. 30 vendors, led by Samai Yomkum, rallied in front of the market on August 23 and handed an appeal to Dr Surapong Towichakchaikul, former MP for Chiang Mai.

Vendors submit the complaint to former MP for Chiang Mai Dr Surapong.

Samai said that officers of Chiang Mai Municipality had been collecting tax from the stallholders for around three months. On August 13, officials from the Chiang Mai Provincial Revenue Office examined the stallholders’ areas at the Siriwattana market, and calculated a new trading tax payable. Samai said that according to the area tax, he had to pay 1,600 baht for his 2 metres by 2 metres stall, which to him seemed to be exorbitant.

Samai said that they had never had to pay taxes to any governmental offices before, but only to local administration organizations. They are now calling for assistance from any associated government offices as they earn only a little money each day. If they have to pay such a tax, they would face financial difficulties.

Stallholder Praweesuda Thepsib, 49, said she earned very little for her family. She could not even afford her children’s education fees and had to borrow 30,000 baht from a loan shark, with 20 percent interest. She considered the new tax to be double taxation, as she already has to pay the owner of the market and the local administration organization.

Dr Surapong brought the petition before the House on August 25 and handed it to the MP’s Economics Committee to let them clarify the vendors’ new tax as soon as possible. It was also decreed that vendors at other markets need to pay the trading area tax as well.

New historical finds unearthed in Wiang Haeng district

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Around 60 historical sites have been discovered in Chiang Mai’s Wiang Haeng district, but the Fine Arts Department is yet to register them.

Dr. Anuchart Palkawong Na Ayutthaya, a scientist at the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), has revealed details of sites with ancient temple remains, and other historical sites and artefacts. However, they were not registered by the Fine Arts Department yet “as it is responsible for supporting and restoring many historical sites”.

Mom Chao Chatri Chalerm has said this is the place where King Naresuan the Great died.

All the sites in Wiang Haeng district are located near water sources, which is unique, unlike other sites at Wiang Kum Kam, Dr Anuchart said.

Wiang Haeng district is steeped in history, especially that surrounding the death of King Naresuan the Great, who reigned during the Ayutthaya era.

“If these sites are promoted properly, tourism in the district will increase. Many Wiang Haeng residents are becoming aware of their heritage and have helped the district preserve these ancient temple remains,” said Dr Anuchart.

Recently, Mom Chao Chatri Chalerm Yukala or “Tarn Mui”, director of the film “Suriyothai”, after studying the history of King Naresuan the Great checked out the area as a possible location for his new film, “King Naresuan the Great”. He believes that the area was where King Naresuan died on his way to fight with the Burmese king.

The district plans to build a permanent hall to preserve the battle helmet that the King used during the war and has asked people to donate money for the building. Those who would like to contribute should contact the Wiang Haeng District Chief Office on 0-9851-6079.

Chiang Rai tastes fruitful border trade

Literally and figuratively

Staff reporters

Deciduous fruits from Mainland China are reaching Thailand’s markets through the border trade at Chiang Saen town. So far this year, 500 million baht worth of fruit, mainly apples and pears, has been imported through Chiang Rai province, according to a customs official in Chiang Saen.

The border trade is booming again as importers, especially in the northern region, have ordered large quantities of fruit from southern China.

Last year trade volumes had dropped as surpluses among Chinese exporters led to price wars and losses, but this has not been repeated this year.

Vinai Chimthongprasert, chief of the Customs House at Chiang Saen district, said this year’s Chinese import volumes had reached 1 billion baht in border trade, while Thai exports reached 2 billion baht. China’s apple and pear imports alone were higher than last year’s import volumes. This was because the commencement of the Free Trade Agreement between Thailand and China in October 2003 had produced fruitful border trade.

Precious plant seeds spread by air to honor Thailand’s Queen

Rare species will flourish under conservation program

The Royal Thai Air Force plans to sew some 200 kilograms of plant seeds from the air to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 72nd birthday. The Air Force’s Wing 41 will spread the seeds throughout selected areas in the northern region of the country. It is a routine agricultural project according to the commander in charge of the scheme, squadron leader Wisurin Moolla.

The seeds were given to the Royal Thai Air Force by forestry and conservation officials in a recent ceremony in Chiang Mai. They cover a wide variety of plants and protected species, including teak, jackfruit and tamarind. The seeds were bought with donations.

Aircraft used to help produce artificial rain will be used in the forthcoming operation. But the date of the operation has yet to be decided. (TNA)

Effects of bio-diesel on engines queried

Nopniwat Krailerg

Red minibus owners are concerned about the long-term effects of bio-diesel on their vehicles’ engines as they claim no organization has taken the responsibility to study the matter.

At the end of a two-month campaign promoting the use of bio-diesel, Singkham Nunti, president of the Nakhon Lanna Transport Cooperatives, said over 200 red minibuses had changed over to the new fuel but the outcome of the campaign could not yet be assessed.

“The cooperatives are concerned about the effect on the engines in the long term,” he said. They wanted to know who will take responsibility if their vehicles’ engines were damaged. However, there have not been any problems from using bio-diesel up to this point.

The government has been promoting the project of using recycled vegetable oil as bio-diesel in Chiang Mai’s San Kamphaeng district.

The proposal to reduce the cost of bio-diesel by 30 satang per liter has not come into effect yet.

Hi-tech gadget sniffs body and clothes

Saksit Meesubkwang

The Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 has started to use a DS 1000 N machine to search for drugs and weapons hidden in the body and clothes.

The electronic sniffer dog, imported from the United States at a cost of 50 million baht, has now been used in the suppression of drugs and weapons among club-goers in Chiang Mai.

It was first unleashed in a spot check raid led by deputy commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 5 Pol Maj Gen Vuth Vititanont, accompanied by 50 policemen and officials from the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office.

Eight teenagers were found in possession of drugs and were charged.

Pol Maj Gen Vuth said that the strict control of drug use among club-goers would continue and become even stricter.

The DS 1000 N is excellent in searching for 12 types of narcotics and nine types of bombs or grenades, he said, adding that it is also available for police officers from other police stations in the area.

It looks as if the wonder puppy won’t be staying too long in his kennel!

Road construction planning in the North

Save four hours on way to Mae Hong Son

Nopniwat Krailerg

Motorists driving between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son can look forward to a mere two hour drive instead of the current five to six hours, promises the Highways Department.

A new highway from Samoeng district to Wat Chan in Mae Hong Son next year, will cut the travelling time, but don’t rush - the short cut is currently only at feasibility study stage.

According to Bancha Ekthammasuthi, the first Highways District Office, Chiang Mai, more interchange construction projects are in the pipeline to help solve the Chiang Mai City traffic chaos, as well as fly-overs, such as the one at Highway 121 on the Outer Ring Road, and Highway 1001 (Chiang Mai-Phrao district) crossroads.

There will also be fly-over construction at the crossroad of Outer Ring Road and Highway 118 (Chiang Mai-Doi Saket and San Kamhaeng districts) and at the crossroads of Highway 11 and Highway 1147, leading to the Northern Region Industrial Estate in Lamphun.

Other shortcuts linking Chiang Mai City with other neighboring provinces will be considered, in line with the government’s policy that designates Chiang Mai as the hub of transportation (and everything else).

There are also plans to widen some roads for four-lane traffic, especially the Outer Ring Road between the Samoeng district intersection link to the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Superhighway intersection.

The four-lane widening will also cover the existing highways from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, Lampang and Lamphun, from Mae Taeng district town to Chiang Dao, from Doi Saket district town to Mae Suay district to Chiang Rai, and from Chormthong district town to Hot district, Highway 116 (Pa Sang, Lamphun) to connect with Highway 118 at Doi Lor. These will include the highways from Chiang Mai-Hang Dong, Mae Rim-Mae Taeng, and Chiang Mai-San Kamphaeng.

The Highways Department said its vision is to offer “convenient highways with road safety and beauty throughout the Lanna region”.

This year, the department here has begun construction on two underpasses, at the Kuang Singh and the Sarn Dek intersections. The Highway 121 Outer Ring Road in the western part of Chiang Mai City has already been completed. This will help relieve traffic congestion.

With all the plans, let us hope the Highways Department remembers that sensible reconstructions, allowing more than one lane at a time to proceed, will keep motorists happy and stop the incredible bottlenecks that much of the road resurfacing caused this year.

Everyone can contribute to saving energy

Saksit Meesubkwang

Autsathai Rattandilok na Phuket, head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Land Transport Office, wants everyone to conform to the government campaign to save energy.

The first operation has been carried out at its main office, the Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal, Chang Puak Bus Terminal and its three branch offices. The second operation has been promoted among the public and transportation-related entrepreneurs.

The Land Transport Office set the goal that its offices and bus terminals will help the country to reduce the nation’s energy consumption by not using air-conditioners at weekends, to use it only from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and to work at 25 degrees Celsius.

Light in the offices will be turned on only when necessary and switched off after working hours, except when employees need to carry out official work after hours.

Motorists will not exceed 90 km/h to help save fuel.

The Lands Transport Office has also sped up its work on mass transportation. It has told all red minibuses to operate only on their set routes, and buses will run on the main roads.

The office has also asked transportation service companies to save fuel by loading their trucks as much as possible within the rules of safety.

The public has been asked to plan their trips so they do as much as possible on one trip, and to share rides when travelling in the same direction. They have also been asked not to use air-conditioners before noon as the Chiang Mai weather is getting cooler now.

Meanwhile, Singkham Nunti, president of the Nakhon Lanna Transport Cooperatives, suggested all taxi drivers should not drive around when they do not have passengers.

He gave the assurance that the service price of red minibuses will not increase as a result of the rising fuel price and called on the public to use minibuses to help the country save energy.

He added that, if any minibus driver serves any passengers impolitely or improperly, they can inform the Cooperatives or notify the police and any Transportation Office officials, so that the Cooperatives can improve the service quality.

Japanese govt donates dental equipment to Chiang Mai University

Autsadaporn Kamthai

A handing-over ceremony of dental equipment donated by the government of Japan to the Faculty of Dentistry, Chiang Mai University, was carried out on August 31 at the faculty’s conference room.

The group poses for posterity at the Faculty of Dentistry.

Kei Kanamori, the first secretary of the Embassy of Japan, and the assistant to the first secretary, Naoko Ashida, represented the Japanese government in granting three mobile airotors worth almost 1.4 billion baht to Associate Professor Virush Pattanaporn, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, through the president of Chiang Mai University, Assistant Professor Nipon Tuwanon.

From left: Kei Kanamori, the first secretary of the Embassy of Japan, Chiang Mai University president Asst Prof Dr Nipon Tuwanon and Assoc Prof Virush Pattanaporn, the dean of Faculty of Dentistry, CMU.

This was part of the “Project for Empowering Mobile Dental Clinics in Northern Thailand” from the government of Japan. The faculty will use these mobile airotors in its dental services in rural areas of eight Upper Northern provinces.

From left: Asst Prof Dr Nipon Tuwanon, Assoc Prof Virus Pattanaporn, the dean of the Faculty of Dentistry CMU and Kei Kanamori, the first secretary of the Embassy of Japan with the donated dental equipment.

Japan’s support of northern dental service goes back to 2001 when Shigeuki Suzuki, Japanese consul general in Chiang Mai, and Kazuhiro Eto, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, suggested the CMU’s Dentistry Faculty apply for support from the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects (GGP) from the government of Japan.

After the proposal was approved, the government of Japan donated three sets of mobile airotors to the faculty to support free dental services in northern rural areas.

PRD and ONCB address international narcotics seminar participants

Perhaps international cooperation will eventuate

Staff reporters

A training course on ‘International Narcotics Law Enforcement’ was organized from August 16-27 to disseminate knowledge of the justice process in the Asia-Pacific region. The participants came from Nepal, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Burma, Iran, Bangladesh, Brunei and Thailand.

Director Jintana Phantufak (left) briefs the participants attending the International Narcotics Law Enforcement seminar.

The 26 delegates from 15 countries called on the Public Relations Department (PRD), Region 3 Chiang Mai Offices on August 24, and on the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 the next day.

PRD director Jintana Phantufak briefed the delegation on the department’s role and functions, as well as activities in its anti-drugs campaign. A group discussion and exchange of information followed, especially on the use of mass media as a tool to combat drug abuses.

The study tour was aimed at evaluating the drug situation in terms of production, trading, smuggling, transportation and the control of chemical substance precursors for drug production, as well as the extent of drug dissemination in the area.

The law enforcement officers from the varying countries are looking for closer cooperation to work more efficiently.

On August 25, the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) took the study group to the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5’s Information Technology Center for a briefing session.

Pol Col Sarawuth Chantaraprasert, superintendent of the Investigative Police Division, informed the delegates of the bureau’s activities in drug suppression, E-cop information technology and other IT-related work.

Hospitals, rescue teams accused of acting inappropriately

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai’s governor has accused a private hospital of violating its medical ethics which, he claimed, may negatively impact the city becoming a medical hub.

This follows a complaint from Boontham Khamphiro, chairman of the Chai Kaew Community in Tambon Nonghoy lodged with Governor Suwat Tantipat.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat

According to the complaint, 32-year-old Boonnet Pinksaew, a Chiangmai Phucome employee, was seriously injured when he was hit by a pickup on Boonruangrit Road, near the gates of the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital.

But instead of admitting Boonnet to Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital with full equipment, capacity and facilities for medial services, the rescue team transported him to Central Memorial Hospital, which is located about 5 km away, where Boonnet died after receiving treatment.

Boontham also claimed that when relatives came to fetch Boonnet’s body for the funeral ceremony, the hospital staff asked them to pay 20,000 baht. This caused further unhappiness.

It is reputed that some hospitals pay commissions to those who bring patients to them - 500 baht per patient - resulting in fierce competition among rescue teams in search of people injured in road accidents.

Governor Suwat Tantipat said at his weekly press conference on August 31 that he would assign the police to take action against the rescue team operations to solve the problem. “There must be a thorough look at the rescue foundations’ system, including their executive boards and staff,” the governor said.

He added that it was “very shameful” when the hospitals overcharge. “If they do not charge properly and ethically, this would increase people’s suffering.”

He said, “Instead of being promoted as the Medical Hub City, we will lose our reputation of offering a high standard of service. The warm hospitality of the organizations and warm welcome by executive boards of hospitals should be attracting patients from both Thailand and abroad, to use our medical services here.”

“Inappropriate actions by rescue teams would be harmful and unethical. The Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Department must inspect hospitals falling under the CEO governor, to ensure they are managed properly,” he added.