US election outcome will not affect Thailand
US Consul-General reassures Chiang Mai locals
This has been a nail-biting week for millions around the
world, including people in Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand, as Americans
voted for the man to lead the US for the next four years.
“In fact, these have been probably the most important
elections in history because so much of the future of the world depend on
them,” Dr Tanet Charoenmueng of the Political Science Department in the
Faculty of Social Science at Chiang Mai University said in an interview on
panel discussions with live telephone conference to Washington. From left:
Dr. Sompong Wittayasakpan, Consul Henry Jardin and Dr Tanet Charoenmueng.
“US foreign policy affects the whole world, but only
Americans are allowed to vote,” Dr Tanet said. A ‘straw poll’ amongst
Thais during the week showed a 50-50 split between Bush and Kerry. Urban
Thais with a greater global outlook pinned their hopes on Kerry and change
for “a safer world”, while rural Thais in the main supported Bush, whom
they perceived as a strong leader in the face of terrorism. This reflected
similar voting patterns and demographics in the US, according to Dr Tanet.
Asked what the results would mean for Thailand, he said
Bush needed allies in Asia in his “war against terror”, and therefore
was more generous in terms of economic relations with the region.
“There was the fear, however, that economic policies
under a Kerry administration would hurt Thailand and the region with more
protectionist trade decisions,” he said. “There would be more trade
conflict as Kerry is perceived as representing US industry.”
However, the world could become the scene of more
international conflict under Bush. “Kerry was more open to world opinion,
while Bush would become more confident and arrogant towards Europe and the
rest of the world,” threatening hopes for global peace.
Dr Tanet was speaking at the AUA (American University
Alumni Association) in Chiang Mai, where hundreds of US and other expats, as
well as Thai students gathered on Wednesday, November 3, to follow live
television coverage of the incoming election results and commentaries, as
well as state-by-state updates.
The US Consulate-General in Chiang Mai hosted the
monitoring event with the AUA.
US consul-general Beatrice Camp told Chiangmai Mail that,
whoever had won this week’s elections, US policy towards Thailand would
“Thailand and the US have been partners for over 150
years, and we appreciate that this country is a strong ally. We are
particularly happy that we have had strong and positive relations with
northern Thailand for a long time, with the US being able to offer support
in the fields of education, hospitals and clinics.
“We look forward to continuing our friendship with the people of Chiang
Mai, the rest of northern Thailand and the country,” the consul-general
Local activists show disapproval of govt action in deep South
Around 50 members of United for Peace have gathered to
show their discontent towards the government backed military action in the
recent unrest at the Tak Bai district in Narathiwat province in southern
This non-governmental organization’s members walked
around Thapae Gate to give their message to the general public and a
performed candle-lighting ceremony in front of the governor’s residence to
call for peace and express their demands.
“Candle-lit walk for democracy” was held on the evening of October 29,
from Nawarat Bridge to Thapae Gate, to express solidarity with, and sympathy
for, the families and friends of almost a hundred Thais killed, and
thousands of others arrested during the Oct. 25 Narathiwat massacre in the
Their immediate demands to the Thaksin government
included the unconditional release of the 1,300 detainees, acceptance of
responsibility for the Narathiwat massacre, that the perpetrators of the
violence be brought to justice, a stop to the use of violence and replacing
it with a peaceful process to address the issues in the South, a stop to the
claimed distortion of the facts, and full disclosure of information through
They also demanded that the Thaksin administration create
an independent investigative body to look into the incident and report the
real circumstance of the October 25 massacre back to the public.
Finally, they called on all Thai people to remain
vigilant and courageous in standing up for their rights and to be united in
their pursuit for a peaceful and democratic Thailand.
Remembrance Day service next week in Chiang Mai
A Remembrance Service will be held at the
Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery, on Thursday November 11, in memory of all those
who gave their lives in war and in the service of their country.
A two minute silence will be observed at 11 a.m. This
will be preceded by a non-denominational service, commencing at about 10.45
a.m. After the service visitors are invited to the Chiangmai Gymkhana Club
The Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery is on the Chiang Mai –
Lampoon Road about 1.5 km south of Nawarat Bridge, opposite the Electricity
Tanks to supplement water supplies during dry season
The Chiang Mai Waterworks Office plans to spend money
next year on building 6,000 cubic meter tanks to supply tap water during the
Announcing this, Chok-umnuay Saipao, manager of the
waterworks office, said it had received 230 million baht from the government
to expand its service. The Provincial Waterworks Office is currently
drafting a plan for this expansion.
Saipao, manager of the Chiang Mai Waterworks Office.
At present, it supplies water to residents in the
districts of Doi Saket, San Sai, San Pathong, Hang Dong, Sarapee and Muang.
“Last year, the Mae Ngad dam, the main water source,
did not have sufficient water to serve residents, especially those living on
high-lying areas on Suthep Road and tambon Mae Hia, because the contents of
the dam had to be shared with farmers,” said Chok-umnuay.
This year, the amount of water in the Mae Ngad dam in Mae
Taeng district and in the Mae Guang dam in Doi Saket district was greater
than last year. The Waterworks Office would use less than five percent of
water in the dams as tap water for 50,000 people in Chiang Mai, he said.
Mae Ngad dam is to be closed shortly for repairs at its canal which
delivers water supplied by the waterworks office. The Irrigation Office has
therefore been asked to find alternative water sources for it during the
Zoo takes precautions against bird flu
Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat has expressed his
satisfaction with measures to prevent outbreaks of bird flu at the Chiang
Mai Zoo, according to zoo director Thanapat Pongpamorn.
The governor visited the facility last weekend.
All vehicles entering the zoo are sprayed with a solution
which kills germs and viruses. The same solution is sprayed onto the shoes
of visitors to the Nakorn Ping Bird Watching Garden.
at the Chiang Mai Zoo are guaranteed free from bird flu, following
precautionary measures taken against the epidemic.
The zoo has also stopped giving chicken feed and chicken
bones to animals and is feeding them pork instead. Any non-zoo resident
poultry is prohibited from entering.
All staff members have to keep themselves sanitized and use gloves and
masks while working with animals. “All poultry at the zoo are in a healthy
condition and there have not been any reports of animals dying from bird
flu,” Thanapat said.
Good news to warm not just the heart
The Chiang Mai provincial authorities are preparing the
help those facing the coming chilly weather. And if you can help, please do.
Wassana Wapinanond, chief of the Chiang Mai Provincial
Disaster Prevention Office, said the authorities are on the alert to
especially help villagers in the Upper North.
“From now until February next year, officials are
prepared to offer relief from the cold,” she said.
About 22 districts and two sub-districts in the province
have been identified to be provided with blankets and warm clothing. It is
predicted that people in Omkoi and Mae Chaem districts will be hardest hit
by cold spells.
Wassana added that the Public Disaster Prevention and
Relief Department this year has allocated a 1.7 million baht to Chiang Mai
province to buy 11,000 blankets.
Officials are currently buying the blankets to hand out
this month to villagers needing them.
The public and private sectors as well as department
store are being asked to donate further blankets and warm clothes. “The
appeal comes with the cooperation of the Thai Red Cross Society, the Third
Army Region and ITV, which would like to donate the items,” she said.
Items may be dropped off at the Chiang Mai Provincial
Disaster Prevention Office during office hours.
Lignite mine igniting Lampang residents
Residents in Mae Moh district, Lampang have made an
urgent appeal to be relocated because they cannot tolerate the pollution
from the local lignite mine any further.
Residents from almost 700 households in Ban Hua Fai, Ban
Huay Ped, and Ban Huay King villages met at the Mae Moh community center on
October 31 to submit a petition to Yongyuth Tiyapairach, secretary to Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, asking for urgent assistance from the
They complained about mine excavations that have caused
movement of the ground which causes cracks in the walls of their houses, as
well as acrid odors from sulfur and air pollution that causes numerous
deaths from respiratory illnesses.
They said they had previously directed their complaints
to relevant organizations, to no avail. The PM subsequently appointed
Yongyuth to attend to the residents’ complaints on his fact finding
Initially, 60 government officials will be assigned to
monitor the situation. However, the residents claim it is long past the time
for monitoring the situation. They want residential areas of 1.3 rai and a
further 15 rai for farmland per household, for subsistence farming, as well
as financial compensation. They also want a fund to be set up for occupation
development and mobile medical services for regular health checks.
Yongyuth pledged to submit all their requests to PM
Thaksin. The residents dispersed, satisfied with the promise - for now.
Thais, Burmese combine to maximize water resources
Thailand has signed an agreement towards cooperation with
the Burmese government for water resource management to fight floods and
drought along the border.
Deputy Prime Minister Suwit Khunkitti signed the
agreement with Maj Gen Htay Oo, the Burmese Minister for Agriculture and
Irrigation at the Dusit Thani Islands Resort in Chiang Rai on November 1.
The agreement is to provide the best utilization of water
resources for agriculture, industry and energy generation for both
“The agreement is a good sign of the close ties between
Thailand and Myanmar, the deputy prime minister said. “Droughts and floods
will be tackled for the good of both the Thai and Burmese people. This
integrated management of water resources hopefully will make farming more
A joint committee will study and collect information
involved with management of all water resources and irrigation canals
located close to the Thai-Burma border.
Maj Gen Htay said that the Burmese government was willing
to cooperate for the benefit of its people. For water management at least.
Cigarette factory to relocate to Chiang Mai
Govt chooses Chinese builders
The Cabinet has given its approval for the construction
of a tobacco factory at Ban Mae Jo, Chiang Mai.
Government spokesman Dr Jakkapob Penkae announced the
resolution of the Cabinet meeting on October 26, giving the go-ahead for the
Finance Ministry’s proposal to build the factory in San Sai district.
At present, the cigarette factory is based in Bangkok,
but the cabinet decided in 1991 to relocate it to another region and convert
the area into a public park. Thirteen years later, it looks as if it might
The new factory will have a capacity of manufacturing 25
billion cigarettes a year.
The billions of baht required to build the factory have
been approved by the Cabinet, along with an advisor payment fund of 200
million baht to support the construction.
The Finance Ministry chose the Mae Jo area because it is
close to tobacco leaf plantations. These factors will help the factory be a
Despite some coughing from opponents to the deal, the CYC
Company from China will be hired to construct the factory. The construction
is a joint undertaking between the Thai and Chinese governments which will
lead to further trade networks and stronger economic ties.
New center makes dealing
with municipality easier
Fed up with inconvenience and inefficiency when dealing
with civil authorities?
Chiang Mai Municipality, in an attempt to offer a better
service to the public, has opened a “Service Link Center” to make life
easier for people applying for residential construction permits, housing
census registration, and requests for public utilities.
Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn cuts the ribbon at the
‘Service Link Center” at the Chiang Mai Municipality,
flanked by representatives from the Chiang Mai Provincial
Electricity Authority, Chiang Mai Provincial Waterworks
Office and Customer Service Division of TOT Corporation.
The center, which opened on October 28, offers various
services under one roof, saving the public time and travel. Advisory and
information services and follow-ups on applications are also available at
“This is part of government policy to improve Thai
bureaucracy,” said Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn.
of the public at the newly opened ‘Service Link
Center’ at Chiang Mai Municipality, while Mayor Boonlert
Buranupakorn (right) looks on.
He has signed an agreement with the Chiang Mai Provincial
Electricity Authority, Chiang Mai Provincial Waterworks Office and Customer
Service Division of TOT Corporation to make their services available at the
Boonlert said that the municipality has studied the
project of setting up the center over two years. It was first called “One
Stop Service Center” but now will be known as the “Service Link
“The center shows good coordination between the government and private
sectors to serve the public, and is a pilot project in the province,” said
Chiang Mai starts gearing up for election
The Chiang Mai Provincial Election Commission is all set
for applications from candidates who wish to stand for Parliament in next
year’s election, announced its director Nirand Kamsemanant.
He also asked current government officials not to
interfere with the independence of any candidates by trying to persuade them
to align themselves with particular political parties. “If found guilty,
he or she may face immediate disciplinary action,” he said.
The general election is set for February 13. Chiang Mai
has 10 constituency zones, with 2,013 voting stations. The Election
Commission said it has about 40,000 personnel ready for polling procedures,
and all the election material is ready.
Parliamentary candidates may apply at city hall or the
Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization.
About 16 independent organizations that have registered
with the Election Commission will monitor the election process.
The commission will soon launch a public relations drive
to encourage voters to cast their votes by distributing election campaign
leaflets, brochures and running radio and television infomercials.
Nirand said one cause of concern was that article 57 of
the Constitution prohibits kamnan, village headmen, government officials and
local administration organization members from trying to influence any
In this regard, according to the election law which will
be enforced from November 10, if any complaint is lodged with the Election
Commission and has grounds for action to be taken, it will be followed up.
B-r-r-r-race yourself for winter,
is the forecast
It will be dark this evening, but should brighten up by tomorrow morning!
Winter has arrived in the Upper North. The Northern
Region Office of the Meteorology Center announced that this year’s winter
in the North has begun this month and will last to mid-February or March
The weather is getting a somewhat cooler in the North and
Northeast regions of the country the cold moves in from China. Temperatures
are forecast to drop appreciably next month.
Despite these portents of gloom, the Met Office predicts
that this year’s winter season will be slightly warmer than usual.
From December, some areas of the Upper North and
northeastern parts on the top of the mountains and in hill valleys will be
cool, with the winter winds that cover Thailand weakening in early March
This year’s temperatures are forecast to range between
highs of 16-22.9 degree Celsius and lows of between 8-15.9 degree Celsius,
so get your thermometers calibrated accurately.
At present, there are morning fogs, which will last until
next January. Some areas in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phayao,
Nan and Tak provinces will be cold on the mountaintops with morning mist.
The weather forecast center has announced a warning about
health care and the necessity of remaining warm, as well as to be wary of
road accidents caused by the thick morning mist.
For more information, please go to the Web site http://www.cmmet.com
Organic food producers get organized
Discerning diners will be happy to know of the
establishment of an organic vegetable garden project to encourage the use of
organic vegetables in Chiang Mai restaurants.
The Chiang Mai Restaurant and Organic Vegetable Garden
Club launched the project at city hall to promote the growing of organic
vegetables for restaurants.
Deputy Governor Kwanchai Wongnitikorn said that six
groups of organic vegetable growers had registered with the government to be
part of the project. It is envisaged that 40 percent of the project members
will be organic vegetable garden planters, 30 percent restaurateurs and 30
percent garden owners.
The garden owners will buy vegetables from the planters
and deliver them to the restaurateurs. Prices of the vegetables will be
fixed to prevent exploitation.
However, the planters need maintain the standard of their
produce to meet restaurateurs’ demands. In the case of over-supply to
participating restaurants, they will be allowed to sell their vegetables
New Burmese strongman good news for Thai war on drugs
3rd Army commander feels confident
The political change in Myanmar is expected to have
positive effects in Thailand’s drug prevention and suppression efforts,
says the commander of the 3rd Army Region, Lt Gen Picharnmeth Muangmanee. He
believes the new Burmese leader, Lt Gen Soe Win, is tough and against drug
dealers and traffickers.
“Because the new Burmese leader is strong and decisive,
and does not support drug trafficking, suppression action will be taken very
seriously, which will help Thailand’s anti-drugs drive,” he said.
Lt Gen Picharnmeth added that the Burmese authorities
must realize that its national security and dignity are also at stake.
Tax man smiles as Mae Sai trade booms
Border trade at Mae Sai this year has increased over
previous years. Increased imports and exports means a rise in tax collected,
said Chuchai Udompoch, head of the Mae Sai customs house.
It is to the country’s advantage that that the value of
imports at Mae Sai border is less than exports, according to Chuchai.
The value of imports so far this year is 498.39 million
baht as compared to 85.20 million baht last year. Exports were valued at
1.915 billion baht, a jump from last year’s 1.564 billion baht.
Main products imported at the Mae Sai border are
ready-to-wear clothes, blankets and garlic, while exports are fuel, rubber,
tyres and building materials such as cement and iron.
The total value of this year’s tax collection is 151.63
million baht, which is considerably higher than last year’s 24.53 million
baht. “These statistics reflect the growth in the Mae Sai border trade,”
Next year, border trade at Mae Sai is expected to
increase after the second bridge is opened for public use on December 5.
Entrepreneurs and traders who have been trading with Southern China will use
this bridge as a new transportation route instead of water transportation
that is dependent on the water level of the Mekong River, predicted Chuchai.
New commander-in-chief encourages Pha Muang Task Force
The new commander-in-chief, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and his
crew visited the Pha Muang Task Force, part of the 3rd Army Region, in
Chiang Mai on October 30 after he took up his position.
The commander of the task force, Maj Gen Manus Paorik,
gave a brief report to Gen Prawit on the situation on the northern border,
including the problem of drug trafficking and minority groups.
Commander-in-Chief Gen Prawit Wongsuwan visits the soldiers at the Pha Muang
Gen Prawit said that his visit was mainly to encourage
soldiers positioned on the border. The overall situation of the North was
“not at a level to cause concern,” he said.
Regarding the threat against minority groups by the
Burmese government, Gen Prawit said that Thai officials would not interfere
and insisted that Thai-Burmese relations remained the same.
Strict suppression on drug trafficking along the border
would continue as usual, added Gen Prawit. He admitted that cooperation by
and tip-offs from Thai residents along the border were crucial for the task
of the soldiers. The army’s efforts to strengthen communities had helped
in drug suppression.
“The task force has set out operations for national security which
include suppression of alien laborers and drug trafficking in both the short
and long term, and the commander-in-chief and the task force will monitor
the border areas more carefully,” said Gen Prawit.
Anti-drugs police swoop in early morning raids
Police attached to the Muang district police station
raided 10 venues in Chiang Mai on October 27 in operations to track down
That included a rented room in a hotel situated on
Ratchawong Road, a guesthouse near Thapae Gate, houses and a garage on
Pol Lt Maj Narit Sorndith, investigation inspector, and
ten officers conducted the raids after the Chiang Mai Court issued search
Police claimed teenagers and students were buying drugs
at the addresses, some of which had already been blacklisted. They
discovered 106 ya ba tablets in a house owned by Sophon Wannarat, a.k.a.
“Ake Duan”, on Nuntaram Road in tambon Hai Ya. Sophon was allegedly
taking ya ba when the police arrived at his house. The drugs were found
hidden in a loudspeaker. The police also found a Samurai sword.
Sophon told police that he brought ya ba tablets from
hill tribes in Mae Rim district, Chiang Mai to sell to teenagers at 200 baht
each. He kept some for his personal use, he said.
Tourist found dead
Police presume Viagra overdose
An overseas tourist, Delor Dol Sus, 69, was found in his
hotel room on Moonmuang Road, Chiang Mai on October 31.
Pol Lt Maj Boonlert Jantanudech, investigating officer at
the Muang district police station, colleagues and a doctor from Maharaj
Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital went to the scene after being informed by the
Police found a bottle of drugs and a hypodermic needle
next to the body. The doctor identified the drug as Viagra. They also found
many blood spots on his arms that seem to have been caused by intravenous
injection. Nothing was stolen.
A maid at the hotel told the police that Sus had stayed
at the hotel for two days and the night before he died, she saw him bring a
bar girl from Loy Kroh Road to his room. On October 31, she knocked on his
door to clean it but he did not respond.
Hotel staff broke into his room and found his body.
However, there was no sign of the girl.
The doctor presumed that Sus had died from an overdose of
Viagra resulting in heart failure before having sex with the girl. The
police are looking for the bar girl to question her.
The body was taken to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital
for an autopsy to ascertain the exact cause of death.
Drug-busters have field day
The Pha Muang Task Force, working in concert with local
police and soldiers, has made several drug busts in Chiang Mai and Chiang
On October 27, the task force under Gen Maj Manus Paorik
made several arrests and confiscated a large quantity of drugs. With the
cooperation of the 3rd Cavalry Special Task Force and Mae Sai district
police, the task force arrested a Hong Kong citizen, Chang Fong Chuen, 44,
as he was leaving a hotel in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai.
Aware that Thai officials were strictly enforcing drug
suppression, he swallowed 51 heroin filled condoms before flying back to
Hong Kong. However, the soldiers noticed his nervousness and made him pass
through an X-ray machine which showed up the packages in his stomach.
Chang Fong Chuen confessed that he was hired to carry the
heroin to Hong Kong for 20,000 Hong Kong dollars. Instead, he was taken to
the Mae Sai district police station cells.
Meanwhile, four others were arrested on the same day at
Ban Huay Luek, tambon Ping Kong in Chiang Dao district, Chiang Mai in
possession of over 2,000 ya ba tablets plus an amount of opium in a joint
operation involving the task force and the Chiang Dao district police
The law enforcement officers also seized 20,500 baht in
cash and a mobile phone to be used as evidence.
Another group of 10 people was charged with using drugs,
also on October 27. The 31st Ranger Special Task Force cooperated with
village headmen and the committee of Huay San in tambon Tha Ton, Mae Ai
district, Chiang Mai in running urine tests on 11 blacklisted residents. All
but one tested positive for drug use. They were escorted to the Narcotics
Combating Center in Mae Ai district for rehabilitation.
Fang businessman arrested
on suspicion of drug smuggling
Assets worth 10 million baht have been confiscated in the
arrest of an alleged major drug network member in Fang district, Chiang Mai.
On October 30, the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5,
assisted by Fang police and Chiang Dao police, arrested Somrot Kulwong, 36,
and seized a 10-wheel truck, pickup trucks and other assets and property at
his home in tambon Wiang.
suspect Somrot Kulwong (left) and Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya,
commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5 (seated right).
Somrot operated a company to transport agricultural
products, Krongkarn Namchoke, with six 10-wheel trucks, two pickup trucks,
six motorcycles and six mobile telephones used on the Chiang Mai-Bangkok
The police said they arrested him while he was gambling
with five friends, who also were using ya ba tablets. They seized equipment
for drug use, a .38 pistol, six rounds of ammunitions and 185 ya ba pills.
cash, bank accounts, and weapons.
Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, the commissioner of
the Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5, said that Somrot was in the same
network as Somjit Srichai who was previously charged with the possession of
70 kg of heroin several months ago.
He said these network members were often hired to smuggle drugs from the
Northern drug dealers along the borders to drugs peddlers in Bangkok. It was
found that Somrot used his trucks to transport drugs.