HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Kingdom celebrates Chulalongkorn Day

Deputy PM says development plan for upper Northern provinces has failed

Teenage unprotected sex worrisome says Public Health Office

Garbage problem in Chiang Mai being tackled

Hot air balloons an aviation hazard?

Chiang Mai Provincial Lands Transport Office cracking down on school buses

Drug ring members and thieves arrested in Chiang Rai

Electioneering begins in the north

Bright future and prospects anticipated for Chiang Rai

China and Thailand sign Chiang Saen industrial estate joint venture MoU

Not content with the trees, now they want the boulders

SIPA looking towards the ICT Knowledge Park in Chiang Mai

Mae Hong Son Customs raking in the taxes

Farmers complain Saa paper factories release wastewater into rice fields

Fireworks to be banned at Loy Krathong?

Hilltribe nationality problems all “Thai’d” up

Chiang Mai and North Travel Show 2004 next month

Chiang Mai’s role in the GMS

German charged with killing a Swiss tourist

Large drug bust in Chiang Mai nets dealers and agents

X-rated VCD leads to arrest of policeman and accomplice

Dane commits suicide

Kingdom celebrates Chulalongkorn Day

Many activities planned for October 23

The King Rama V statue, set up for this auspicious day, stands tall in front of Chiang Mai Provincial Court near the old city hall.

Chulalongkorn Day, October 23, is a national holiday and ceremonies will be performed throughout Thailand to mark the day that the great King, known locally as “Phra Piya Maharaja”, passed away in the year 1910.

This year, since the holiday falls on a Saturday, banks, government offices and many businesses will be closed on Monday, October 25.

King Chulalongkorn was instrumental in modernizing the Kingdom of Thailand and is credited with many visionary accomplishments, including the establishment of the Council of State, setting up 12 different ministries which reorganized the government administrative system and the abolition of slavery.

King Chulalongkorn’s other ambitious achievements included establishing trade and diplomatic contact with foreign governments, and introducing revolutionary changes throughout the kingdom regarding police security, a postal system, hospitals, and railroads.

The great King also was instrumental in maintaining the nation’s sovereignty during a critical period in history when powerful nations were expanding their influence and colonizing neighboring countries.

Local ceremonies are being held in front of Chiang Mai Provincial Court near the old city hall. Hundreds of community representatives, business owners, students and press are today paying their respects to a great king.

Deputy PM says development plan for upper Northern provinces has failed

Wants more local involvement

Saksit Meesubkwang

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngarm came to Chiang Mai last week to attend a meeting of the Lanna group of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nan, Phayao and Mae Hong Son provinces. This group is overseen by him and this meeting was their assessment over the past year.

He added that the development plans that have been implemented were not proved a success, as an overall judgment. “Nothing has changed for the positive, so at the next meeting each local administration organization, like the Provincial Administration Organization (PAO), Tambon Administration Organization (TAO), and local educational institutes should be invited by each province to participate.”

He blamed the provincial authorities for unilateral decisions that “did not give significance to the local people.” From now on, he said that the universities and local administration organizations should take part in the action and operational plans of development.

In the upper North, he remarked that there were many famous universities like Chiang Mai University, Maejo University and Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, as well as private universities that could produce the qualified graduates to help work out the projects in the society.

“These institutes should be taking part in the development plans, as we will stress human resources development, arts and culture, environment, security and societies to be equally important as economic development,” he said.

Teenage unprotected sex worrisome says Public Health Office

“Median age of teens having premarital sex is 16”

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Dr Surasing Witsarutrat from the Public Health Office in Chiang Mai sounded a warning, saying, “A recent survey of Chiang Mai high school students shows the median age of teens having premarital sex is 16.” It also shows the lowest ages of Chiang Mai children indulging in sexual intercourse is between 8-12 years.

Dr Surasing Witsarutrat from the Chiang Mai Public Health Office.

The survey also indicated that less than 50 percent of sexually active teenagers used condoms showing a disregard for sexually transmitted diseases. This is high risk behavior as regards the transmission of the AIDS virus.

The actual number of HIV-infected teenagers in the North could not be estimated because the Public Health Office could not force all teenagers to have blood tests. Testing is only done when the teenager agrees.

However, the survey gave a hint that the spread of AIDS among teenagers is on the increase. One patient whose age is only 16 has been listed by the Public Health Office to receive the AIDS retroviral medicine on regular basis. This means the patient became infected a few years ago.

Garbage problem in Chiang Mai being tackled

Municipality gives our rubbish to an English company

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Municipality has signed a contract with an England’s SEPCO Holding Co., Ltd. to run a project which promises to turn garbage into energy.

Uncollected garbage is currently one of the biggest problems in Chiang Mai.

A contract was signed between Chiang Mai Municipality and SEPCO Holdings, which was witnessed by Thailand’s Minister of Energy, Dr Prommin Lertsureedech and England’s Minister of Environment and Agricultural Environment, Elliot Morley.

Construction of a factory to transform garbage into energy is estimated to be finished by April 2005. Two facilities, having a capacity of disposing of 200 tons of garbage each per day, will be installed at Hai Ya cemetery, Muang district, Chiang Mai to turn garbage into energy.

This project is hoped to help save on fuel imports, add value to garbage, improve Chiang Mai’s environment and reduce the chronic backlog of the city’s garbage collection.

This project will cost 1.1 billion baht and will be the pilot project for the country. The cabinet has planned to apply the technology to another six municipalities - Surat Thani, Khon Kaen, Udorn Thani, Prathum Thani, Hai Yai municipalities and Nonthaburi Provincial Administration Organization.

Chiang Mai Municipality will have its expenses for garbage management reduced from 590 baht a ton to 300 baht a ton.

Hot air balloons an aviation hazard?

Nopniwat Krailerg

Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Ltd. (AEROThai), Chiang Mai branch is concerned about hot air balloons (kom loys) being released during the Loy Krathong festival, saying that they could interfere with aircraft operations.

AEROThai has asked the public to reduce the size of hot air balloons and to inform it in advance before launching any oversized balloon to prevent interference. Every year during this period there are concerns over the effects from balloons on Chiang Mai International Airport air traffic movements.

Group Capt. Suebboon Naennar, commander of AEROThai, said that they realize there is a tradition in launching hot air balloons during the Loy Krathong festival, but since some could reach up to 3,000 feet, pilots are sometimes startled and annoyed.

This year, AEROThai has asked for cooperation from many government and private organizations, and temples around Chiang Mai to minimize the size and reduce fuel contained inside the balloons.

If a balloon flew into the flight route, it might cause malfunctions in aircraft engines resulting in emergencies and endangering life, said the commander.

AEROThai also requested Chiang Mai Municipality, which launches balloons every year during the festival, to let them know in advance to forewarn the pilots, said Group Cap Boonsueb.

Chiang Mai Provincial Lands Transport Office cracking down on school buses

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Lands Transport Department has announced rules and regulations for school bus services effective nationwide from November 15. After this, every school bus, minibus, van, and pickup truck in Chiang Mai must be upgraded to the same standard level for the school vehicles, driver training standards and safety measures. Once attained, certificates will be issued.

Autsathai Rattandilok na Phuket, the chief of the Chiang Mai Provincial Lands Transport Office said many school buses were created during the past years. He said that every school bus must display “school bus” signs which can be seen clearly from a distance of 150 meters, with lights and fully equipped with fire extinguishers and all have a permit from the office to run as a school bus.

He added that these school bus drivers were responsible for their vehicle’s condition. Violations will attract fines of 2,000 baht and revocation of the license. Operators have until November 15th to comply.

Drug ring members and thieves arrested in Chiang Rai

Previous incarceration no deterrent

Staff reporters

Chiang Rai police announced successful capture of a gang of five thieves in the province. A police ambush resulted in the arrest of the light-fingered five which included Sithipong Kamol, Akekapol Duangkaew, Weerayuth Pojan, Kiatchai Karnkomsue, and Sorakij Tayaso, together with seizing their motorcycle and other valuables stolen from a house in tambon Rob Wiang, Muang district, Chiang Rai.

After questioning, the police found that this gang had committed four other robberies. They admitted their guilt and confessed that they had already been imprisoned in Chiang Mai prison.

Other arrests were announced by Pol Maj Gen Chamnong Kaewsiri, the commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police Division. His haul included two drug dealers, Banyat Yamee and Srilai Yamee, who live in Chiang Rai’s Muang district. Following their arrest police confiscated property including a Ford car, a title deed for a dormitory, and a bank account with a total value of 10 million baht. The arrest of these two dealers followed the previous arrest of other dealers in Chiang Rai province. There is neither honor in drug dealers or in thieves it would seem.

Electioneering begins in the north

Nopniwat Krailerg

Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party, led by incumbent PM Thaksin Shinawatra, staged its “Kick-off Campaign” in every region of the country on October 17.

In Chiang Mai, the rally was at the Municipality Stadium with numbers reputed to be 80,000, to be told of the works of the PM Thaksin government during the last four years and new policies for his government if re-elected. The election slogan is “Last four years for repairing, next four years for strengthening the country”.

Yaowapa Wongsawas (center), deputy TRT leader with TRT members in the North.

Two new TRT candidates were introduced in Chiang Mai, the first being the PM’s family member Payap Shinawatra who has been given zone 2 of Chiang Mai.

The other is Jullaphant Amornwiwat, son of former MP Sompong Amornwiwat, who has been earmarked for Zone 9 of Chiang Mai.

Yaowapa Wongsawas, deputy leader of the TRT party and younger sister of the PM, was recently upgraded to be in the party list system to make room for the new candidates.

The TRT candidates are Pakorn Buranupakorn, Payap Shinawatra, Boonsong Terriyapirom, Wittaya Songkam, Pornchai Atthapreeyangkul, Noppakhun Ratphatai, Surapol Kiatchaiyakorn, Phanintra Pakkrakasem, Jullaphant Amornwiwat and Santi Tansuhas.

Candidates for Lamphun are Arpaporn Putthapuan, Sa-nguan Pongmanee, and Sathaporn Maneerat. Panya Jinakam and Somboon Paiwal will be candidates Mae Hong Son.

Yaowapa said that she was sure that most people would still put their trust in the TRT candidates in the upcoming election and allow them to continue to accomplish the party’s policies.

Payap Shinawatra said that he is prepared to enter politics and admitted that being a sibling of PM Thaksin helped. He said that he was sure that if he was chosen by the people of Saraphi district (his sister Yaowapa’s old constituency), he would be able to continue his sister’s works because of the close cooperation between them.

Bright future and prospects anticipated for Chiang Rai

Seminar told industrial estate will not decrease tourism

Phitsanu Thepthong

Foreign trade and investment along the northern borders is on the way up, registrants were told at a seminar held at Dusit Island Resort Hotel in Chiang Rai.

The permanent-secretary of state for the Ministry of Transport Wanchai Sarntooltad said the construction of border transportation networks is very important.

Most of speakers agreed that Chiang Rai will be the golden gateway to neighboring countries. Reasons include the setting up of economic zones along the borders to link with southern China, the proposed industrial estate in Chiang Saen district, a new bridge across the Mekong River, and the construction of a second river port.

The second port will be built to receive the influx of Chinese cargo, and the Ministry of Transport has deemed that the second port will be constructed on a 300 rai area at Ban Sobkok.

The permanent secretary of state for Ministry of Transport Wanchai Sarntooltad said the new industrial estate in Chiang Saen will not result in decreasing numbers of tourists and visitors, as many sides fear. It will not be like Maptaput in Rayong or the Laem Chabang deep water port in Chonburi province. He said these estates on the Eastern Seaboard have increased employment, raising the living standard of the local people, but there should be well planned city management, he added.

The seminar was attended by all the local and national politicians including Vorakiart Somsoi, governor of Chiang Rai; Wanchai Sarntooltad, the permanent secretary of state for Ministry of Transports; Nopporn Tonrub, deputy governor of Chiang Rai; Boontham Thipprasong, deputy chairman of Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce and Veerapong Chaiperm from the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, as well as Tuenchai Deetes and Viroon Puansaen, senators for Chiang Rai.

China and Thailand sign Chiang Saen industrial estate joint venture MoU

Environmental impact studies continuing

Phitsanu Thepthong

Chiang Rai deputy governor, Nopporn Tonrub envisages Chiang Saen as a tourist town where visitors could use ferry boats to visit both Laos and Burma on a Mekong river excursion. From here, boat tours could run to South China’s Sibsong Panna, Jing Hong and Kunming in Yunnan.

Deputy Chiang Rai governor Nopporn Tonrub said Chiang Saen is a tourist town where tourists could use ferry boats to visit Laos and Burma along the Mekong River.

“Chiang Saen was also built by King Mengrai Maharaj and is rich in culture and traditions. It has been proposed as a world heritage site by the provincial authorities,” he said.

The industrial estate project has therefore to be developed with this in mind, and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are progressing, and since October 12 this year Mahidol University conducting these in the area to be developed into the industrial estate.

Boontham Thipprasong, vice president of Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce, said Chiang Rai will be home for a newly developed industrial estate.

An inspection committee led by Prasong Iaemsiri from the Office of Environment, Region 5 is suggesting the university team that conducted the EIA in the three districts of Mae Sai, Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong should expand their parameters to include the entire province.

Boontham Thipprasong, vice president of the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce, said the newly developed industrial estate will bring in great benefits to the upper North region, “But the villagers and people concerned must realize there could be effects on the water, air pollution, as well as social problems.”

The Chiang Saen industrial estate is a pilot project for a Thailand-China joint venture for the estate development. The estate will be built on 3,000 rai of land, costing 1.5 billion baht and further investment costs to be met by China will be 4 billion baht.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with China’s Khunming New and High Technology Company, as a partner for the Sino-Thai joint venture, investment and cooperation.

Not content with the trees, now they want the boulders

Stone smugglers apprehended in mid shovel

Staff reporters

Forestry officials, police and administrative officials arrested five workers while they were using excavators to dig up huge stones within national reserved forest and military land in tambon Mae Raem, Mae Rim district, Chiang Mai.

The police also seized another two 6-wheel trucks, which were used to transfer stones from the area.

The five workers confessed that they were employed to dig up these stones and sell them to many gardening and decoration shops in Chiang Mai. They were paid 20,000 baht a day for this smuggling task. The officials charged them with stealing natural resources and have been questioning them to find out who was the financial resource behind them.

Chalermpol Singha, assistant district chief officer, who is responsible for security, said that the wrongdoers smuggled stones up to two meters in diameter. Unfortunately for the errant excavators, Chalermpol had already assigned officials to strictly inspect the area.

SIPA looking towards the ICT Knowledge Park in Chiang Mai

Staff reporters

A conference of the Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) executives was held on October 18 with Manu Ondeedolchet, director of SIPA, saying that software personnel were in high demand in the market but at present Thailand does not have the capacity to produce these personnel to meet the demand.

The feeling was that the country needs to produce more personnel for the software industry and have them to work in the North. The IT Knowledge Park is part of a government attempt to boost the competitiveness of the Northern region and to upgrade Chiang Mai as the ICT City. A budget of 362 million baht is earmarked for this project.

The ICT Knowledge Park is envisaged as the center of the software industry, along with the Northern Animation Studio project to serve academic institutes, provide infrastructure to support the project of “E-government” and develop software personnel to maintain the growth of software industry.

Mae Hong Son Customs raking in the taxes

9.6 billion baht shows a healthy import/export situation

Staff reporters

Bancha Kaewdaeng, head of Mae Hong Son Provincial Customs Office, said that at present border trade via Ban Huay Pueng in tambon Huay Pha, Muang district, Mae Hong Son is looking very healthy.

From October 2003 to September 2004, value of imported products through all border areas under responsibility of the Customs Office was 164 billion baht while exported products were valued at 24 billion baht. During that period, import tax revenue was 9.6 billion baht.

Bancha stated that at present there is a foreign liquor exporting company selling products in Burma, consigning their goods through Ban Huay Pueng. This company’s wines are distributed in Taunggy and Mandalay provinces in Burma. The company says that most of its clients live in Taunggy and Mandalay so exporting through Ban Huay Pueng is convenient and delivery takes only 24 hours.

However, problems in exporting products still exist and are caused by local companies that do not understand the Customs Office regulations, said Bancha.

Bancha said that after Mae Hong Son opens a market fair at Ban Rong Haeng in tambon Huay Pha, Muang district in early 2005, border trade through Ban Huay Pueng will become even more brisk.

Ministerial law allows Mae Hong Son Customs Office to import and export all kinds of products, while in the past some imported products were excluded, stated Bancha.

Farmers complain Saa paper factories release wastewater into rice fields

Official protest to village headman

Saksit Meesubkwang

200 farmers from Ban Nongkong, Group 2 in Tambon Tonpao, San Kamphaeng district, Chiang Mai, rallied in front of the Village Headman Office, calling on village head Boonchom Jaikampan for help to assist farmers who have suffered from the wastewater released from the Saa paper manufacturers.

They claim that their rice crop was destroyed, following complete tracts of land being contaminated by the waste.

Boonchom said that the farmers complained of the waste hazard created by the factories which are located above the rice paddies, and the waste was comprised of chemical substances that contaminated the streams.

Thawil Mongkolcharoen, the deputy permanent secretary of Tambon Tonpao, added that the tambon Tonpao municipality has been looking for ways to solve this waste problem.

He said he had asked for cooperation from the manufacturers, by treating their waste before it was released into waterways supplying the rice farms; however, this situation is still in the negotiation stage.

Fireworks to be banned at Loy Krathong?

Authorities keeping tight watch on firework factories

Nopniwat Krailerg

In the wake of the explosions in firework factories in Ayutthaya and the approach of the Loy Krathong festival, Chiang Mai province is keeping watch on the production and distribution of fireworks in the city.

Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Kwanchai Wongnitikorn

Officials are regularly examining two firework factories in Chiang Mai, situated in Sarapee and Hang Dong districts to prevent explosion, especially with the production of very large fireworks. The province has already closed two non-registered factories in Hang Dong district.

Wanchai Pipatsamut, head of Chiang Mai Industry Office, said that the office has examined all firework factories. If any district finds non-registered production, the office will have them registered and controlled.

Deputy Governor Kwanchai Wongnitikorn said that the province had commanded all districts to keep a close watch on the sale of fireworks and make sure all fireworks were registered and approved.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara Na Ayutthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, wants to ban giant fireworks and is stopping traders selling them during the festival. The commissioner is preparing to propose his policy to Governor Suwat Tantipat to make a public announcement in advance of the Loy Krathong festival.

The deputy governor said that associated organizations would confer to discuss the hot air balloons. Hot air balloon are a cause of many household fires during the festival every year, said Kwanchai. “Being a local tradition, careful consideration is needed,” he added.

Hilltribe nationality problems all “Thai’d” up

DNA testing not conclusive says Khunying Pornthip

Saksit Meesubkwang

The squabble that resulted from 1,243 hill tribe people being removed from the residential census in Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai province continues.

The aggrieved minority group appealed to the Ministry of Justice, calling for what they called ‘justice’ to be applied fairly to them. Finally in response to their claims, Somchai Wongsawas, the permanent secretary of state for the Ministry of Justice, accompanied by Khunying Dr Pornthip Rojananand, the director of the Central Forensic Science Institute visited the people in Mae Ai to investigate their problems.

The Ministry of Justice wanted show the villagers that they were not forgotten and suggested the Forensic Science Institute could help prove their race by DNA testing.

However, Khunying Pornthip said that although the DNA testing method would be used for confirmation of their nationality, it could not indicate their exact nationality, but it would tell something about their heredity.

She added, “In Mae Ai district, at present, it has been found that there are some groups of people that could not have their background identified with DNA testing for their parents and relatives.

“The next step is that the Local Administration Department must find the other persons to help in searching for their race, persons who could identify and certify their background before being granted Thai nationality,” she said.

Chiang Mai and North Travel Show 2004 next month

Staff reporters

The 2nd Chiang Mai and North Travel Show will be held from November 29 - December 2 this year at the Chiang Mai University’s Convention Center on Nimmanhaemin Road, Chiang Mai.

It will be hosted by the Chiang Mai tourism promotion board, led by Chiang Mai’s mayor, along with director of Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Northern Office, Region 1, president of Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association and other local organizations.

The show will be also aimed to offer tourism-related business operators and entrepreneurs an opportunity to sell their services and products and to meet domestic and foreign sellers and buyers.

Chiang Mai mayor, Boonlert Buranupakorn said the form of the travel show will be designed as “table top sales” and allow for business negotiations on tourism and among those concerned in Chiang Mai and from the North.

Those participating in this show will include educational tours to the tourists spots in Chiang Mai such as Mae Sa Elephant Camp, Doi Suthep Mountain, and others in the North, so buyers can judge their potentials and readiness on tourism in the northern Thailand.

The Chiang Mai North and Travel Show 2004 is aimed at boosting tourism in Chiang Mai and the North, and for the region to be more recognized worldwide.

Chiang Mai’s role in the GMS

Ron Renard

Members of the business and academic sectors discussed whether Chiang Mai was ready to be the hub of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) in education, commerce, and transportation, at the Greater Mekong Consultancy-Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce seminar.

Speakers were from the Greater Mekong Consultancy and the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, who pointed out that although Chiang Mai was the region’s largest city with the most cosmopolitan population plus many educational institutions, diverse agriculture, tourist attractions and good transportation links, it had not fulfilled its potential. Within Chiang Mai itself there is poor awareness of its region, few library resources, and a provincial strategy orienting the city towards Bangkok.

The government has established a ‘master plan’ for Chiang Mai to be the region’s transportation hub. The city has many unrecognized advantages, such as local crafts, language ability, informal trade links, as well as a strong and advanced agricultural sector through which Chiang Mai could become the region’s leading city.

The Greater Mekong Consultancy is a locally based organization established three years ago to harness local knowledge and cultural sensitivities of the locally based population with experience in sustainable and appropriate development throughout the region. More seminars will be organized to build a positive dialogue among all interested parties for the sustainable development of Chiang Mai so it can play a leading role in the region.

Opening the seminar, Ian Bushell together with Somchai Sirisujin and Dr Ron Renard a Director of the Greater Mekong Consultancy, explained that the purpose of the seminar was to examine different aspects of current development in the GMS and how Chiang Mai can take more of a lead in these activities. Somchai Sirisujin the Executive Director of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce explained that Chiang Mai had active links with the Chambers of the Economic Quadrangle countries (Yunnan, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand).

Dr Ron Renard, a resident of Chiang Mai for almost 30 years gave a historical perspective of the city’s place in the GMS and explained how the authorities had mainly looked south to Bangkok for direction. The authorities in neighboring countries had actually identified Chiang Mai’s potential as a center for the North much earlier. Despite the new initiatives of the current government, there was a little knowledge or expertise like language skills in Chiang Mai that would assist the city in developing its economic and cultural links with its GMS neighbors.

Narong Tananuwat, the current secretary general of the Economic Quadrangle Committee explained that this organization started four years ago and comprised Yunnan (one of the poorest regions of the PRC), Laos and Myanmar as well as Thailand. Over 400 million people lived in this region and it had enormous economic potential. Historically, cooperation had been difficult, but now the member countries appreciated the many benefits that expanded trade, new business opportunities and enhanced productivity could bring.

One of the initiatives is to make Chiang Saeng a new industrial center for Chinese electronics manufacturing. The area would need up to 20,000 skilled workers over the next few years to meet the requirements for this project. Concerns about the environmental impact on this important historical region were being addressed and the new development would be located some distance from the ancient sites.

Somchai Sirisujin also stressed that the various national sub-committees fully appreciated the need to maintain cultural differences such as language and dress and balance these requirements with sustainable development in the region.

Maung Aung, associate director of the Socio-Economic Consultants and previously an infrastructure expert at the Asian Development Bank gave an outline of the various infrastructure projects that are potentially available in the GMS, including transportation.

Finally, Jack Kelly a locally based expert in Tourism from J.E. Austin & Associates looked at tourism prospects in Chiang Mai and the GMS. The number of tourists is increasing exponentially and the challenge is to manage these opportunities and make the experience for future tourists safe and enjoyable.

Kelly questioned whether Chiang Mai could ever be a tourism “hub” if it was unable to produce a world calibre website, but the potential was there if management and co-ordination were improved.

German charged with killing a Swiss tourist

Denies all charges but police proceeding

Saksit Meesubkwang

A German tourist, Adrian Gordon, 33, was arrested and charged with murdering his Swiss friend, Raffael Buhrmann, 32, following an investigation by police in San Kamphaeng and Chiang Mai provincial police.

Police escort Adrian Gordon, suspected of killing Raffael Buhrmann, to the press conference.

Raffael Buhrmann was found dead on October 11 at a house in San Kamphaeng district, Chiang Mai. It appeared initially that he had been bludgeoned to death.

On October 14, Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara Na Ayutthaya, commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, and investigation police brought the accused German to a press conference held at the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5. However, Gordon denied the crime.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong said that after the murder of Buhrmann, forensic police from Chiang Mai Provincial Police Station and medical officers from the Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University examined the body and searched for evidence at the murder scene.

The court issued an arrest warrant for Gordon, and during questioning it was discovered that before Buhrmann was killed, the two men had been involved in a heated argument.

Doctors from CMU Faculty of Medicine declared that Buhrmann died through strangulation and other multiple injuries. Three kinds of drugs were found in the body, stated Pol Lt Gen Panupong, but it will take another few days for the laboratory to clarify what types of drugs they were.

“The Police have put high priority in investigating this murder case, because both the victim and accused are foreign tourists and a swift outcome is important to the city’s image,” said the commissioner.

Gordon would be charged with the murder of the Swiss tourist, although police were also investigating whether there was more than one person involved in the crime.

Large drug bust in Chiang Mai nets dealers and agents

Extra-judicial killing in Chai Prakan district, Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

Pha Muang Task Force seized over 400,000 ya ba pills from two agents in Chiang Dao and Chai Prakan districts and confiscated the dealers’ properties valued at 20 million baht.

Drug suspects arrested and hauls seized by the Pha Muang task force.

A joint press conference was held on October 16 at the Pha Muang Task Force by Pol Lt Gen Watcharapol Prasarnratchakij, commander of Narcotic Suppression Bureau, Maj Gen Manus Paorik, the commander of Pha Muang Task Force, and Pittaya Jinawat, director of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Northern Office.

The ya ba was produced in Burma, some time ago and was smuggled into the kingdom through Ban Na Kong Moo-Pong Pa Khaem, in Thai Yai occupied areas and then via Chiang Dao district in Chiang Mai.

The Pha Muang Task Force had been tipped off that the ya ba shipments would be smuggled into Chiang Dao and Chai Prakan districts. Two teams of soldiers and drug suppression police were sent to stop the transfers and arrest the two groups of traffickers.

The information was that the first rendezvous would take place at 1 p.m. at the Ban Rin Luang - Muang Na roadside in tambon Mae Na, Chiang Dao district. The plainclothes soldiers pretended to purchase the ya ba from a Thai Yai dealer named La. They then seized 300,000 ya ba pills and arrested him.

On the same day, at 5 p.m., it was arranged that another three dealers, Soonthorn Phibarnkij, 36, Nafu Phibarnkij, 40, and Jawa Laojang, 23, residents of Chai Prakan district, would supply ya ba to the plainclothes police at Ban Pha Hong in tambon Sri Dong Yen, Chai Prakan district. Soldiers and police therefore co-planned to arrest the three dealers.

The three dealers rode up on a motorcycle but twigged that this was a set-up and began firing on the police. In the ensuing gun battle, Soonthorn was killed, but Nafu and Jawa were arrested and over 100,000 Ya Ba pills, one shotgun, and a motorcycle were seized.

After the arrest, the authorities confiscated properties belonging to Soonthorn and Nafu that included 200,000 baht cash, a title deed, a house located on 1 rai land, four deposits for land in tambon Sri Dong Yen, a bank deposit account, a longan drying factory on 2 rai, along with eight drying ovens, 10 rai of longan plantations and a Toyota pickup truck. The combined value was 20 million baht.

Pol Lt Gen Watcharapol said that drug busts have gradually decreased from 260,000 cases in 2002 to 160,000 cases in 2003 and 70,000 cases this year.

X-rated VCD leads to arrest of policeman and accomplice

Underage sex film available over internet

Saksit Meesubkwang

Following a ‘whistle-blowing’ by a Chiang Mai journalist, a policeman and his accomplice have been arrested for production of pornography involving an underage girl.

Pol Sergeant Nipon Rakta-le (right, wearing sunglasses), and Pichai Saetiaw (left), at the press conference.

Pol Sergeant Nipon Rakta-le, 36, a policeman stationed in Chonburi Province, and Pichai Saetiaw, 37, were sent to Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara Na Ayutthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, for further investigation of their part in the production of an X-rated video showing them having sexual intercourse with a 14 year old girl.

The arrests followed the handing in by a journalist of an X-rated video CD to Pol Lt Gen Panupong last week, showing sexual intercourse between the accused men and the girl. The journalist informed the commissioner that this X-rated film was presented in one website and was distributed at many markets.

The accused said that the sexual intercourse happened two years ago after they met the girl at a discotheque in Chonburi. After the shameful episode, they left the record of their interlude with another person living in Chonburi. Unfortunately, this person made copies of their film and distributed them.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong said he was unsure as to whether the courts would oppose bail for the two men.

Dane commits suicide

Police presume personal problems

Nopniwat Krailerg and Saksit Meesubkwang

A Dane who had been under treatment for one year committed suicide on October 11. Hamidi Hassan, 47, ended his life by hanging himself.

He had visited Chiang Mai twice but did not often go to see the doctor, unless he needed further prescriptions.

The last persons who saw him reported that he said he was going to his room in the guesthouse as he had a headache.

Pol Maj Thongchai Kannikar, police inspector of Chiang Mai Muang district Police station, along with tourist police, forensic police, and doctors from the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital were at the death scene.

Mrs. Sutin Schrut, the owner of the guesthouse said that the man had been staying alone at the guesthouse since September 1, and his outstanding debt with the guesthouse was for 43,528 baht. Some people said that he was homesick, especially for his mother.

The body was brought for autopsy at the Maharaj Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital, and police informed the Danish Embassy.