Public asked to help fight water pollution
Chiang Mai Municipality has signed a Memorandum of
Understanding with Portland Municipality in the US state of Oregon, Phuket
Municipality and Khon Kaen Municipality to work together on a project of
sustainable environmental management.
The project will be conducted with the support of the US
Agency for International Development (USAID) and US-Asia Environmental
Its primary aims are to raise people’s awareness of
water pollution and encourage public participation in polluted water
The municipality recently drafted the project of
sustainable environmental management for approval by higher authorities and
conducted a study on Chiang Mai’s water pollution and its management.
Public participation is being encouraged by allowing
people to take decisions on the direction of sustainable management in their
communities and suggest implementation plans.
The municipality plans to invite participants from 1,219 governmental and
private organizations and local people from 77 communities to take part in a
conference to discuss and share ideas on the subject. It should be a packed
Chiang Rai struck with worst natural disaster in 20 years
Mudslides and flash floods destroy
Chiang Rai suffered its worst natural disaster in 20
years when it was hit by mudslides and flash floods this week.
Rocks and earth from the mountain at San Pa Doi Pui tore
down in overflowing rivers on tambon Mae Sai after several days of heavy
rain, destroying villages in its path.
Boonlom Deesermyos, assistant district officer of Muang
district, accompanied by Tambon Administration Organization chairmen,
kamnans and village headmen from tambon Mae Sai inspected the devastated
areas, especially at Wat Koh Kaew.
Villagers in the affected areas going up the mountainous
region in search of forest products have been warned of the risk of going up
the hills, and to prepare for evacuation in case of emergency if there are
more heavy rains.
Flash floods and mudslides from Doi Nangnon Mountain in
Mae Sai district also struck villages in tambons Wiang Pangkam, Pong Ngarm,
Schools in the Mae Sai municipal district area were
temporarily closed because of high water levels. Floodwaters also covered
residential areas on Phaholyothin Road, causing extensive damage to
households, and mudslides brought traffic to a standstill.
An official of the provincial authorities claimed this
was the worst natural disaster in 20 years. “Provincial authorities have
sent their rescue teams and officials to help the victims,” he added.
A million dams for every year of HM the King’s reign planned
That’s a lot of dams
Thailand has been invited to help build a targeted 60
million dams to honor HM the King celebrating the 60th anniversary of his
reign next year.
The target date for completion of the project is 2006,
and the construction of the first of 30,000 check dams in the Upper North is
said to have started already in Chiang Mai, helping to slow down flash
floods in the rainy season. After a trial period for the successful
construction of check dams at the Huay Hong Krai Royal Development Study
Centre, the plan is to extend the project nationwide.
example of a check dam to help slow down the flow of water in Ban Huay Ngoo
in tambon Sansai, Fang district.
“They have already begun this huge project, without
spending any money from the government budget,” said Pallop Seamanlike,
chairman of the Office of the Working Group for Joint Operations on
Developing Rural Villages under the Royally-Initiated Projects.
“This project will restore a sustainable ecology,” he
stressed. It would hopefully lead to the conservation of the soil, streams
and forests so that the land can become fertile again.
“We want to expand the project to 30,000 dams in the
Upper North, to the benefit of the local villagers,” said Pallop.
It would be a collaborative effort involving the
government and private sectors, students from universities and other
education institutions, and volunteers from the general public who would
help keep expenses down by bringing their own food and drink to construction
With support from the Electricity Generating Authority of
Thailand, they would work on dam construction in the Fang and Chai Prakarn
districts of Chiang Mai, and in the Mae Tha district of Lampang.
“About 400 check dams are currently being built in the
north of Chiang Mai and more are to be undertaken in the southern districts
in Mae Chaem and Omkoi, according to our strategy,” said Pallop.
He added that more than 20,000 people would be
participating in check dam construction at any one time.
Fire fighters unable to reach top of high rise buildings
And can’t get under low bridges
Chiang Mai Municipality is concerned that it does not
have fire tenders to deal with fires above the 10th floor of the mushrooming
high-rise buildings in the city.
Poonsawas Worawal, deputy mayor of the Engineering
Division of Chiang Mai Municipality, said that even though the
municipality’s fire-fighting division had received a national award for
efficiency, the increase in high-rise buildings and the lack of modern
equipment is a cause of great concern.
Municipality officials are also looking for a suitable
site to locate the operation centre to cover all 40 square kilometres of the
municipal area. They hope to expand into the Pa Tun and Mae Yuak areas.
“However, this faces an obstacle in that the new fire
engines will not be able to pass under the low bridges located in these
areas,” he said. Water trucks currently have to use indirect routes, which
causes fire fighters to lose time in getting to the scene of the fire, he
Milan to display Chiang Mai OTOP items
Nine of Chiang Mai’s OTOP products have been chosen to
be part of the World Products Display in Milan, Italy in mid-September.
These nine products were chosen by the Industry Ministry
and include silk, cotton clothes, Saa paper, mango wood products, lacquer
ware, scented candles and silverware.
There are 42 OTOP products in Chiang Mai that have been
given the community product standard label and in June, 13 more products,
four in the clothes and nine in the souvenir sectors, received
During the last eight months, OTOP goods have earned the
province 890 million baht.
Chiang Mai Provincial Industrial Office is inviting all
OTOP entrepreneurs to register at the Industrial Office, located at the
city hall or call 0-5389-0509 and 0-5322-2493 to be approved for the
community product standard.
Ideas on farming on sloping land exchanged
The International Conference on Innovative Practices for
Sustainable Sloping Lands and Watershed Management was held from September
5-9 in Chiang Mai.
Soitong, director of the Bureau of Agricultural Commodities Promotion and
Management, Department of Agricultural Extension (DOAE).
The meeting was aimed at developing a technology transfer
system in agriculture in Thailand and other Asian countries and learn from
the extensive experiences of those working abroad.
More than 260 academics attended from China, Myanmar,
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Also present were
the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Swiss Agency for Development (SDC) and Thai
Kukiat Soitong, director of the Bureau of Agricultural
Commodities Promotion and Management in the Department of Agricultural
Extension (DOAE), said the department, Thailand Soil and Fertilization
Association and The International Water Management Institute would further
develop the system of agricultural extensions on sloping lands with financial
support from outside organizations.
function was held at Chiangmai Hills Hotel.
Research and networking had shown problems in the
agricultural sector. Therefore, the Swiss government had offered to finance
projects to develop appropriate new methods that can be applied by farmers
with sloping lands and in watershed areas.
More than 40 papers on research in various countries were
presented at the conference. Guest speakers were from the Swiss government,
ADB, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Prof Dr Santad
Rojanasunthorn of Thailand’s Royal Project.
Thongchart Raksakul, director-general of the DOAE, said that Thailand was
ready to act as the donor country for the transfer and exchange of
information with other countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region.
“Thailand’s networking is very useful for development projects in
communities, and especially for the policy makers and we should be more aware
of these sloping and watershed management areas,” he added.
Integration operation review shows lack of progress
Confusion reigns supreme
The results from eight northern provinces to the
integration operation 11 months after it was started by government offices
was detailed at a meeting in Chiang Mai, chaired by Jadoon Apichartboot,
inspector of the Office of the Prime Minister. It was attended by 480
Apichartboot, inspector of the office of the prime minister, who chaired the
Officials from the Office of Bureaucracy Development
Board also sat in as observers and evaluated the integration progress of
Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat, as chairman of the
Lanna group of eight provinces, said that the final summary of the
integration operation would be ready in the next two months, as he found
some inaccuracies in the initial report.
Chiang Rai Deputy Governor Direk Konkleeb said the
officials both from the provinces and the Office of Bureaucracy Development
Board had “not understood the real system and operation of the integration
system”. Besides, the plan of the Office of Bureaucracy Development Board
did not correspond with the provincial plans, he claimed.
Furthermore, there had been delays in financial support
from the government although the provincial plan had been well prepared and
launched. This delay has caused hiccups in the implementation of the
Direk also claimed it was noticeable that in all the
provinces, the deputy governors had failed in handling the integration
system, despite their having put in more effort than the governors. This led
to the deputy governors being “very upset”.
People who attended the meeting agreed that the officials both from the
Office of Bureaucracy Development Board and the provinces needed to improve
Construction of new municipality building faces delays
Looks as if it will have to go underground
Construction of new municipality building is facing
delays, as building plans have been sent back to the drawing board. It will
be at least another month before new plans will be ready for review.
The sticking point remains the height of the building,
with insistence that the new office building must be under 12 meters in
height and it must also be constructed in Lanna style. The only good news
was that the measurement excludes the roof and two storey underground
The Chiang Mai provincial authority on August 31 called
municipality representatives and the 11 opposition groups together to
discuss the new municipal building. Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Prinya
Panthong refereed the meeting.
Deputy Mayor Poonsawas Worawal, as the municipality
representative who is responsible for the engineering division, pledged to
redesign the building within a month, after which it will be tabled for
Officials expect that there will be considerable delays
before actual construction begins. The opposition groups still want the new
building be erected at an alternative location, on the site of the abandoned
hotel in front of the railway station. They also want the municipality to
relocate some of its departments and offices to municipal district offices
for greater convenience for the public.
Orchids to line road to Phuping Palace
Orchids are being planted along the road from Huay Kaew
Botanical Park to Phuping Palace to beautify the view along the road leading
to Doi Suthep Mountain.
This is part of the royally initiated project to return
orchids to the forest and increase public awareness in the beautiful
flowers, said Asst Prof Dr Pisuth Niamsup, president of the project. It is
being carried out by Mae Jo University and associated organizations. The
orchid planting is also part of HM the Queen’s birthday celebration.
orchids being rooted on a tree in front of the Chiang Mai Zoo to beautify
the route up to Phuping Palace.
About 7,200 orchids from 10 strains were cultivated by
Mae Jo University and were planted on September 5. The first batch of 2,500
orchids was planted by a group of the city’s VIPs. Chiang Mai Governor
Suwat Tantipat also joined the planting on that day. The planting started at
the botanical garden and continued to the viewpoint at the 13 km marker on
the way up to Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.
On September 12 and 19, the remainder of the planting will take place up
to Phuping Palace.
Feeling the petrol price pinch? Try a tricycle
Following the Chiangmai Mail’s feature on the
fate of the ‘samlor’, several bodies, including public transport
authorities in Chiang Mai, have voiced their concern. Since motorists and
commuters are facing increased fuel prices, the call has gone out to save
energy by the greater use of the samlor and bicycle.
meeting to prepare for training courses for samlor tours and services,
chaired by Pol Lt Col Sompong Chamroonphan (center), of the Chiang Mai
Provincial Traffic Police. (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
Autsathai Rattanadilok na Phuket, chief of the Chiang Mai
Provincial Lands Transport Office, told Chiangmai Mail that a meeting
on the samlor issue was held at the transport office on August 27, and with
the governor now promoting a revival of this mode of transport, training
courses have been planned for September. Today there are only about 150
samlor riders left, aged between 50-70 years old.
common sight in Chiang Mai - samlor drivers waiting for customers. (Photo by
Chiang Mai Provincial Lands Transport Office has
discussed further training for samlor drivers and other related issues, such
as improving their vehicle’s appearance, rules and regulations on using
public roads as well as traffic laws and signs.
Other issues to be raised include safety, good manners in
serving the public and the use of English to communicate with customers.
One TAT official remarked that training courses have been planned because
of fears the city’s samlor tour operations might fade away like Lampang
province’s horse-drawn carriages. Under the samlor promotion project, to
be run by Governor Suwat, the 150 samlor riders will take part in three
training courses with 50 riders at a time.
Only one case of Meningococcal disease reported in North
A two month old Hmong baby in Phayao province has been
diagnosed with Meningococcal disease, the only case in the six Northern
Provinces between January and August, according to the 10th Disease
Prevention and Control Office.
Sompot Borwornsin, from the Disease Prevention and Control, Chiang Mai.
Fortunately, the baby from tambon Pha Chang Noi, Pong
district, Phayao responded to treatment and has recovered.
To date, 22 people in 15 provinces around Thailand have
contracted the disease. A 6 year old Burmese boy in Kanchanaburi province in
the west of Thailand died five days after he contracted the disease.
There were no reports of Meningococcal infection in the
Northern region last year, while in 2002 only two patients were diagnosed in
Chiang Mai and Phayao.
Dr Sompot Borwornsin, from the Disease Prevention and
Control, Chiang Mai, explained that Neiseria Meningitidis was the
cause of the disease. General symptoms are initially similar to other
febrile diseases. It is spread through droplet infection in saliva,
coughing, sneezing, sharing a cigarette, using the same glass and close
contact like kissing.
There is a vaccine to protect against the illness.
Concern has been raised about Muslim pilgrims going on hajj to Mecca in
Saudi Arabia. They can get vaccinated free of charge at the 10th Disease
Control Office, said Dr. Sompot.
He also said all Public Health Offices and the 10th
Disease Prevention and Control Office have paid close attention to the
situation. If an outbreak of the disease is found in any area, the public
will be informed immediately through the media.
People who suspect they may be infected should observe their symptoms
closely. If they have a high fever for more than two days, they should see a
doctor to determine the cause and be treated. However, Dr. Sompot advised
that the Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever and Leptospirosis could cause similar
Pedal power saves fuel and money
Chiang Mai University has launched a campaign to promote
energy saving awareness on campus.
The “CMU-DIV 2” (divide by 2) campaign, announced on
September 1 at CMU’s Convention Hall, will be promoted to help the country
save energy in view of rising prices for oil and consumer goods.
president Dr Nipon Tuwanon (center) inspects the ‘Golden Bin’ made from
recycled garbage and waste materials. Turning it from the garbage to Gold.
CMU president Asst Prof Dr Nipon Tuwanon presided over
the launch and presented 455 bicycles to student representatives from each
campus dormitory for students to use on campus.
Prior to the campaign, a “Golden Bins” competition
was held. This was to make useful objects from recycled garbage. The winner
was called “Elephant Chair” from the Kindergarten team comprising
Jetsada Intapunt and Naratchada Sriwichai from the Fine Arts Faculty. They
received a 15,000 baht prize.
“golden bin” named “Elephant Chair” from the Kindergarten team,
formed by Jetsada Intapunt and Naratchada Sriwichai from the Fine Arts
Faculty was the winner. Jetsada was presented with the prize from the CMU
president Dr Nipon Tuwanon.
The work of the “Look Chang Yuthahatthee” team from
the Science Faculty was first runner-up, while the second runner-up award
went to a team from the university’s Energy Administration and Saving
Institute. They won 8,000 and 5,000 baht respectively.
A cheerleader show and a performance by the “ETC” band and “Koh”
Mr Saxman were staged to entertain the audience during the campaign launch.
Multiple service providers now all under one roof
Government, state and local administration
Chiang Mai can pride itself for being the first province
in the region to establish a public services center bringing many
bureaucratic offices under the one roof.
Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat signed an agreement
establishing the center with Tossaporn Sirisamphun, secretary-general of the
Thai bureaucracy system reform committee, on September 2 at the Duangtawan
Tossaporn said that the joint services center was an
innovation of the local administration, which combined services of
government, state enterprises and local administration organizations.
It will provide more convenience for people, especially
when they request building permits, electricity and water services, and
telephone numbers. “These basic services will be provided all at one
spot,” Tossaporn said.
The public services center in Chiang Mai is one of only
three centers set up in regional provinces. Initially, it will provide
advice and business registrations. Later, it will provide loan services as
Governor Suwat said at present the center was available
during working hours at Chiang Mai City Hall for people residing in the
Muang district area. In future, Chiang Mai will establish more joint
services centers and more varied services.
Thirteen organizations signed agreements and have become
part of the service center, including the Chiang Mai’s Business
Development Office, Office of Commerce, Industry Office, Social Insurance
Office, Provincial Administration Organization, and Municipality.
XV International AIDS Conference wash-up
Do politician’s promises mean commitment?
Development Network (HDN)
Perspectives on the 15th International AIDS Conference (IAC)
held in Bangkok on last July 11-16 were reflected at the monthly NGO Forum
on August 31. The forum focused on conference highlights and invited a panel
of conference participants to share their perspectives on key developments,
commitments made and other emerging issues that were (or were not) raised
during the conference.
The panellists included representatives from harm
reduction, youth, sex workers, treatment and human rights. Based on media
reporting, publications, delegate comments and e-Forum postings developments
in these areas reflect many of the potential successes, controversies and
omissions that occurred during the conference.
At the beginning, the negative impact of restrictions on
attendance despite the seemingly inclusive conference slogan “Access for
All” was lightened somewhat when the Global Village - open to the public -
became a unique meeting place for all, contributing to interactions that
would otherwise not have occurred.
The specific needs of groups like drug users, sex workers
and many ethnic minorities, as well as migrant workers received more
attention, with sessions, marches, exhibitions and stage shows effectively
raising awareness about their situation. Life-extending treatment (such as
TB prevention, nutritious food and accessibility to pharmaco-therapy for
drug users) while they wait for antiretroviral drugs was also identified as
a crucial element of upcoming initiatives. Finally, the call for a paradigm
shift in leadership was widely heard, urging a greater focus on leadership
at all levels: decisions by project implementers, young people or village
heads should carry as much weight as those made by heads of state or the
wealthy and famous.
The representative of youth activities at the IAC
addressed the issue of access for youth attendees from Thailand, whose
participation was severely limited due to the prohibitive fee of up to USD
1000 as well as inadequate translation services from English to Thai. The
country’s youth network called for better awareness, education and
fundamental policies created with a thorough understanding of young people
and their needs, a call the prime minister answered with a promise to
The panellist from the Faculty of Nursing at Chiang Mai
University addressed treatment issues, noting that PM Thaksin Shinawatra had
at past AIDS conferences promised ARVs to all those in need, regardless of
the cost. He had planned to extend Thailand’s support to neighbouring
countries. It is only now that the practical implications of implementing
his promises are being put to the test and the entire process remained
The representative of EMPOWER Chiang Mai commented on the
“a-go-go” show, staged by male and female sex worker representatives in
the Global Village, that was intended to show the lack of adequate support
for sex workers everywhere. Yet, journalists failed to show any interest in
what they were trying to communicate about sex worker’s rights and needs
in the AIDS epidemic, including decriminalisation. The ensuing
misrepresentation of sex workers in the media led to social stigmatisation
and discrimination not only in Thailand but in every country.
The representative from the Asian Harm Reduction Network
(AHRN) noted that harm reduction figured prominently in this Bangkok IAC.
PM Thaksin stated in his opening speech that in Thailand,
drug users were now considered to be patients instead of criminals, although
drug use is still officially illegal and drug users face much stigma and
discrimination by society. When the PM claimed that Thailand was already
implementing a harm reduction programme, a protest march resulted, listing
the four main elements currently not in place: methadone, ARVs, clean
needles and no more “war on drugs”.
The panellist from the Chiang Mai Community Rights
Commission noted that all of the issues discussed were closely linked to
human rights (or a lack thereof) and that the conference had not delivered
any concrete, practical answers on how to solve or prevent HIV/AIDS problems
in Thailand with regard to human rights violations. He called HIV/AIDS a
“social disease” for which society must take responsibility.
Issue of access to information and resources for the
elderly was emphasized at the end as they were often the main caretakers of
orphaned children or other family members in need of care.
The next monthly NGO Forum meeting will be held on
September 28, 2004. It is open to everyone. For more information, please
contact firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. 66 53 418 438.
Night Safari plan dogged with problems
Looking for a lease a llama deal
The Night Safari Committee has decided to rent animals
from private companies rather than purchase them because of the high costs
The committee met in Chiang Mai on August 28 to discuss
the Night Safari project and related tourism activities. Plodprasob
Surasawadee, adviser to the prime minister, is the committee chairman.
Officials at the meeting discussed the high cost of
acquiring animals and the problems associated with importing them. The
committee also expressed concern that the difference in climate and
geography could distress the animals.
They agreed to hire the animals from either domestic or
foreign private companies, for which 37 million baht was set aside, rather
than buying them.
However, the rental contracts would have to be for
between 3-5 years and the hiring companies would need to provide treatment
and replace the animals in case of death or disease.
Four Burmese monks sentenced for shoplifting
One 19-year-old monk and three 17-year-old monks were
arrested in Mae Sot district, Tak for stealing goods from a grocery store on
September 5. The four Burmese monks reportedly resided at Wat Manee Prai
The grocery shop’s owner, Wassana Ninklai, told Mae Sot
police that her goods were stolen during the night. The police searched for
thieves and found the four monks at Mae Sot fresh market. The police
searched them and found 1,000 baht in coins, 24 cigarettes cartons, four
bottles of coffee and four pairs of canvas shoes. The four were then
The monks admitted they stole the goods, saying they had
done so because the temple did not have enough food for them. They also
confessed to previously stealing consumer goods from other shops in the Mae
Sot municipal area.
The four were sentenced according to Thai law and will be
repatriated to Myanmar after they have completed their sentences.
Enormous numbers of drug related arrests in the north
July was a ‘productive’ month for the police, as 700
people allegedly involved in drug trafficking in the eight northern
provinces were arrested, according to the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5.
The two provinces that yielded the most arrests were Chiang Rai (301) and
Chiang Mai (192).
Of these, four were actual drug producers and 10 were
simply ‘mules’ who carried drugs into Thailand from other countries. In
those figures there were also 318 drug users and 161 others were caught in
possession of drugs.
In July alone, police confiscated 312,994 ya ba pills and
over 12,000 grams of methamphetamines, heroin, opium and fresh and dried
The Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 confirmed that
police will continue to control all 101 checkpoints throughout the north to
block drugs being smuggled into Thailand.
Compared to the figures for July last year, the number of
arrests increased by over 50 percent. This either points to increased
vigilance by the law enforcement officers, or increased trafficking, or
Naval officer charged with trafficking in 11 Bangladeshis
A Chief Warrant Officer from the Royal Thai Navy has been
charged with smuggling 11 Bangladeshi illegal workers into Thailand, on
their way through to Bangkok.
Police on September 3 arrested 43-year-old Banyom Walwin,
stationed at Sattahip naval base in Chonburi province, in connection with
the trafficking of the Bangladeshi, who were holding fake passports and
caught at the Chiang Rai border.
The Chiang Mai Immigration Police Office and Sobprab
district police caught Banyom while he was driving the van after picking up
the aliens at the Ban Lai Hongpu checkpoint in tambon Sobprab in Lampang.
Banyom told police he had been hired by a man named
Somsak (surname unknown), to take what he described as “Bangladeshi
tourists” from Chiang Saen district in Chiang Rai province to Bangkok.
After that, he was to take another group of 11 Bangladeshi from a hotel in
Chiang Khong district to the airport in Bangkok. He would be paid 10,000
He claimed other people would take the 11 “tourists”
on to Malaysia. The police also charged the 11 “tourists” with holding
fake passports and entering Thailand illegally.
Youths caught smuggling drugs
Hired as ‘mules’ but more like donkeys
Two teenagers were hired to smuggle more than 7000 ya ba
tablets by hiding them in their shoes. They were apprehended at the Mae Sai
border checkpoint, according to the Mae Sai police.
The Customs House Office in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai along
with the special task force of the first Calvary Regiment, Pha Muang task
Force, had already set up the checkpoint for searching for contraband
brought in and out through the border pass.
After behaving suspiciously, the two teenagers were
searched and the ya ba tablets were discovered in their shoes. They were
identified as Anant Saisanong, 21, a resident of Si Saket province and
Sawaeng Mo-in, 21, from Thapla district, Uttaradit province.
The drug suspects admitted to the Mae Sai police that
they were hired by drug gangs to act as mules for 15,000 baht each. This was
their second border run. The ya ba drugs were received from a Chinese Haw
woman from the Red Wa group in Burma.
Accept gays and transgender persons more fully, workshop hears
Kamthai and staff reporters
Transgender people should not be considered just in the
framework of gender roles and sex classification but through their
abilities, and transgender sex education should be included in the school
curriculum. These suggestions came out of a workshop entitled “The
Journalist and How to Make Appropriate Communication on AIDS and Issues
Concerning MSM (Men who have Sex with Men)”.
The Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand (RSAT) in
collaboration with Population Services International (PSI) Asia, Thailand,
the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), M Plus, FASID and
Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office organized the workshop.
One participant, 21-year-old Chumporn Kaewsom, believes
Thai society in general does not provide space for the MSM group to disclose
themselves. Despite a constant campaign to promote acceptance of the MSM
existence, most Thais still show latent resistance or bias towards this
group of people.
Chumporn said that, generally, Thai people have a
“narrow vision of reality” and lack freedom of their own thought, which
makes it difficult for the MSM to “come out”. However, he admitted that
the Thai media accepts their existence and helps by showing activities of
the MSM like transgender beauty contests to the public and showing many MSMs
in the entertainment world.
Pongthorn Chanleran, president of the executive board of
the RSAT, Northern Regional Center, feels that Thai society is increasingly
open-minded to listen to the MSM. However, acceptance should be based on
real understanding towards the transgender group, so that they would be
As the Mental Health Department in the Public Health
Ministry officially stated in 1992 that the MSM and other groups of
transgender persons are not considered abnormal, people should change their
biased attitude towards them.
Sex education for the young generation should include the
matter of the third gender sex to promote the acceptance of the MSM at
grassroots level in Thai society and solve the problems arising among young
transgender persons at an early stage, suggested Pongthorn.
Pongthorn added that the media should present the
transgender person in a non-biased way and admitted that third gender people
have enjoyed a favourable response by the Thai media.
“The media should look beyond the frame of gender and sex to consider
the value of their humanity and abilities, as more and more transgender
persons have played significant roles and gained more power in Thai society,
especially in many service-related industries,” Pongthorn said.
Cabinet expected to slash Chiang Mai air pollution funding
A management plan for tackling the air pollution in
Chiang Mai and Lamphun is now with the Cabinet for approval. However, it is
expected the budget will be whittled down to only 100 million baht, from the
initial proposal of 500 million baht.
Meanwhile, Chiang Mai University will submit a budget
request of about 17 million baht to the Thai Research Fund (TRF) to carry
out research on the air pollution in Chiang Mai encompassing five projects:
a survey of the dust volume in the city, an analysis of the air particles,
tests on air hazards, the daily air pollution levels, and the effects of air
pollution on lung cancer. Details of the proposed research were given by
Apiwat Kunanurak, the director of the Office of Environment, Region 1,
The working group is confident that it will meet the
target of reducing the air pollution problem in Chiang Mai next year by 90
percent. The working group has been divided into six categories:
* control vehicle emissions (Highway Department, Office
1; and Chiang Mai Provincial Police);
* control outdoor burning (Chiang Mai Provincial
* control forest fires (Office of Forest Conservation
* control emissions by factories (Provincial Industrial
* control the burning of agricultural materials and
products (Provincial Agriculture Office); and
* control public burning (Provincial Public Health
However, since all these bodies already have the power
and the legislation is in place to carry out the controls the working group
feels are necessary, it is difficult to imagine how the situation will be 90
percent better in 12 months.