Vol. III No. 47 - Saturday November 20 - November 26. 2004
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Peace Hour promised at Thapae Gate

Gunmen strafe school bus, killing driver and injuring 5 students

Alaskan governor and his delegation visit Chiang Mai

International visitors learn from Thai model

Night Bazaar vendors forced to pay for setting up in front of shops

Buddhist academics protest commercial use of Buddhist art and architecture

‘Cool’ car plates handed to proud owners

Loy Krathong Program 2004

Urban areas become priority targets in anti-drug campaign

Thousands of origami birds show solidarity with southern Thais

337 million baht proposed for Chiang Mai-Lamphun pollution plan

Northern youths network with their peers on children’s rights

Hmong New Year traditional competition set for January

Remembrance Day Service held at Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery

Drug dealer arrested, property sequestered

Transport Call Center launched

Chiang Mai Police worked up over fireworks at Loy Krathong

Passenger arrivals at Chiang Rai International Airport up 30 percent

Peace Hour promised at Thapae Gate

Weekly Friday rally in the name of freedom

The United for Peace-Chiang Mai organization has vowed that it will organize a weekly peace rally, which will take place every Friday at Thapae Gate, until the problems in the south are solved.

The organizers are claiming that three weeks have passed since October 25, the day of the Narathiwat massacre, yet no apology has come from the Prime Minister to the Thai families of the 87 people killed, no one has been made accountable, and almost no arrests have been made.

On the contrary, they say that military operations are ongoing, the death toll in the South rises every day and the same violent and militarist ideology shown by the occupying forces of Iraq is continually killing hundreds of people, destroying hundreds of mosques all over major Iraqi cities as 10,000 US and 2,000 Iraqi troops launched a major offensive in Fallujah. Scores are dead, thousands of civilians have fled, while others remain to bury their children, and other members of their families caught in the crossfire, as bombs fall directly on their communities.

Many Thai academics, students, members of the parliament, human rights organizations and political groups are condemning the Narathiwat massacre and the way the government has dealt with it.

United for Peace-Chiang Mai announced that the start is at 6.30 p.m. and all community members are welcome to join. If you want to be part of this movement, organizers ask you to wear white shirts, bring candles and peace messages. For more information contact United for Peace – Chiang Mai, Bee: 0 9700 2575, Judy: 0 1724 0580 or email: u4peacechiangmai @yahoo.com


Gunmen strafe school bus, killing driver and injuring 5 students

Revenge from drug cartels suspected

Nopniwat Krailerg

A group of gunmen using AK-47 machine guns riddled a school bus with bullets on November 9 at Fang district.

The driver, Sawang Samrarn, was killed in the attack after being hit three times, causing the bus to leave the road. Five students, who all attend Ban Wiang School in Fang district: Kanjarin Jaitiang, 14; Jakkapong Sunanta, 15; Pranot Samrarn, 13; Perima Samrarn, 14 and Sroyrapee Sawika, 14, sustained lacerations from broken glass. They were taken to Fang Hospital for treatment.

Sawang was reported to have been the village headman of Huay Bon village in tambon Wiang. It is believed the motive behind the murder is that Sawang regularly informed police about any drug dealers and trafficking within the community.

Pol Col Thanasarn Phalaitho, superintendent of Fang district police station, called on police to work together to track down the perpetrators.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, flew to Fang district to examine the crime scene. “The murder was very defiant because the gunmen targeted a school bus,” said the commissioner. “It is fortunate that none of the students were hit.”

Police investigations are continuing.


Alaskan governor and his delegation visit Chiang Mai

Thai-US FTA discussed

Editorial Staff

Deputy chairman of the Legislative Council of the United States John Hottinger, the Alaskan governor, and his delegation paid a courtesy call on Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat during an official visit to the city.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat (third left), John Hottinger (front row, third right), deputy chairman of the Legislative Council and American Consul General Bea Camp (second left) pose during the official visit of US officials in Chiang Mai. (Photo courtesty Chiang Mai Public Relations Office)

The visit is seen as an opportunity for Thailand to create networks with the Legislative Council of the United States and high-ranking officials at national, regional, and private levels.

The issue of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Thailand and the United States was discussed during their meeting. Hottinger expressed interest in the impact of trade on the environment and the FTA between Thailand and the US, and the energy and education policies.

It is hoped the visit will strengthen relations between the United States and Thailand as well as Chiang Mai province. Moreover, it provided a platform for promotion of US government policy in Thailand.


International visitors learn from Thai model

Editorial Staff

Ministers from 19 developing countries visited Huay Hongkrai to study HM the King’s philosophy of a self-sufficient economy.

Foreign Affairs Minister Surakiat Satianthai hosted the visitors from Asia, Pacific region, Africa and Latin America to the Huay Hongkrai Royal Development Study Centre in Doi Saket district, Chiang Mai.

Surakiat Satianthai (second right), foreign affairs minister, describing, to ministers from 19 countries, Thailand’s self-sufficient economy philosophy at the Huay Hongkrai Royal Development Study Center. (Photo: Chiang Mai Public Relations Office)

The visit was part of an international conference on “Development Alternatives: Self-Sufficient Economy” that took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok from November 8-10.

The participants were shown watershed and river revival, sustainable forest utilization and self-sufficient agriculture at the center.


Night Bazaar vendors forced to pay for setting up in front of shops

So who does own the pavement?

Saksit Meesubkwang

About 20 Night Bazaar vendors gathered at the Duang Tawan intersection on Loi Kroh Road to protest against having to pay money for use of the footpath area when plying their trade in front of the Fuji Film and Friendship shops.

The vendors who have used the footpath area in front of the shops to sell their goods, claim the owners say they are sharing electricity and tap water and now they have asked them to share the bills.

The vendors on the other hand insist they use the illumination from the street lamps and not from the shops. “Last month, we paid around 1,000-2,500 baht towards the electricity and tap water bills to the shops as permission to use their front areas,” said Prateep Bonnark, one of the vendors.

Last month they petitioned Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranuprakorn, who said they could use the areas free of charge as it belongs to the municipality.

Rassamee Maikaensarn, 65, said that she had been using the area to sell products for her living for over 17 years and had never been charged by anybody until the two shops forced them to pay.

They called on the municipality to investigate the shops owners’ behavior and to issue the vendors permission to use the footpath areas and prevent them from being forced to pay shop owners.


Buddhist academics protest commercial use of Buddhist art and architecture

Decor in soon to open five star hotel under scrutiny

Saksit Meesubkwang

On November 15, over 200 Buddhist monks, academics, and representatives from Maha Chulalongkorn University, Chiang Mai Campus and City Development Foundation of Chiang Mai Art and Culture Office gathered at the Suan Dok Temple. They were protesting against the reproduction of Buddhist art and architecture, used in a number of soon to open hotels in Chiang Mai.

Around 100 local media representatives and protesters receive first hand information about the hotel, which has claimed it is not violating Buddhist traditions or beliefs.

It is regarded as offending the Buddhists who think that Buddhist art is being exploited by the commercial enterprises.

Dr. Thaneth Jaroenmuang, a Chiang Mai University academic, said that the reproduction and use of these arts and architecture went against custom, claiming that the reproduction of these arts and architecture are socially and legally wrong. The reproduction goes against the Hotel Construction Act, the Temple Construction Act and Human Rights Laws, according to Dr Thaneth.

After the protest meeting at the temple, the protesters were invited to the building site to receive a first hand explanation and tour of the premises, undertaken by the owner of the hotel. He took it on himself to carefully explain the concept and layout of the area. It was clearly shown that the overall concept was created in order to preserve and maintain the Buddhist and Lanna tradition and heritage, and that hotel guests would not actually sleep in temples, as it had been incorrectly reported recently. The group appeared satisfied with what they saw, and the protest group broke up peacefully, as Buddhists should.


‘Cool’ car plates handed to proud owners

Road Safety Fund to receive auction proceeds

Nopniwat Krailerg

The 301 ‘cool’ car plates of the ‘Kor Yor’ category that were auctioned June 24-25 were handed over to their new owners at a party at the Empress Hotel on November 8.

Twenty-five car plate auctions were held, 13 in Bangkok and 12 at provincial level, earning the Land Transport Department over 400 million baht (280 million baht in Bangkok alone) said the department’s director general, Piyapan Champasut.

The director general of the Land Transport Department, Piyapan Champasut (left) hands the 9999 car plate to Thanasorn Rattanafoowong (right).

“The income from the auction has been added to the Road Safety Fund to campaign for traffic accident reduction, especially during the upcoming festive season. Next year the auction will bring in at least 250 million baht,” he predicted.

“The economic status of Chiang Mai residents is quite high because half of the car plates in the new category (5,000 serial numbers) were reserved within five months,” said Piyapan. Usually, it takes two years for all plates in each category to be reserved.

At the recent car plate auction in Chiang Mai, the number 9999, which is a lucky number for Thai people, was reserved with a highest bid of 1.8 million baht. However, a car owner in Phitsanulok province outbid Chiang Mai for the number to claim it with a 1.89 million baht bid.

Other numbers that fetched high prices included the 1111 plate that was sold for 1.2 million baht, 2222 for 820,000 baht, 3333 for 610,000 baht, 4444 for 560,000 baht, 5555 for 730,000 baht, 6666 for a devilish 300,000 baht, 7777 for 605,000 baht and 8888 for 1.5 million baht.

All these registration plates have panda and umbrella labels to make them even more appealing.


Loy Krathong Program 2004

Friday, November 19

3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Opening ceremony for the Chiang Mai Yee Peng Loy Krathong Festival at Three King’s Monument

Saturday, November 20 - Saturday, November 27, 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Lanna art show, traditional art show and competition at Three King’s Monument

Walking Street on Ratchadamnern Rd. and Three King’s Monument Cultural fair at Thapae Gate

Sunday, November 21, 2004

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Drum Competition: winner received Royal Cup at Yuparaj College

Wednesday, November 24 - Friday, November 26

6 a.m. – 10 p.m. Cultural shows by six tribal groups at Jed-Rin Temple

Thursday, November 25, 2004

9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Krathong making skills competition, Three King’s Monument

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Rafting race, diving and ka-la-mang (washing bowl) race (first round) at Ping River in front of Municipal Office

5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Opening Ceremony of the Yee Peng traditional festival at Thapae Gate

5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Krathong making skills competition, Thapae Gate

7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Yee Peng Lantern Parade from Thapae Gate to Chiang Inn Plaza in Night Bazaar on Chang Klan Rd.

7 p.m. – 12 p.m. Yee Peng Beauty Queen Contest and Yee Peng Junior Beauty Queen Contest (first round) at Thapae Gate

8 p.m. – 12 p.m. Fireworks competition at the port in front of Sri Khong Temple

9 p.m. – 10 p.m. Light and sound show on the floating podium in front of the Municipal Office

8 p.m. – 12 p.m. Krathongs and fireworks show at Ping River in front of the Municipal Office

Friday, November 26

7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Worship Ceremony to the White Chedi in front of the Municipal Office

9 a.m. – 12 a.m. Lantern Competition in front of the Municipal Office

9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Municipality building – hot air balloon competition

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Rafting, diving and ka-la-mung race (final round) at Ping River in front of Municipal Office

4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Yee Peng International Thai Boxing Competition at Thapae Gate

6 p.m. – 12 p.m. Small Krathong competition at Thapae Gate

6 p.m. – 12 p.m. Competition of Pratoo Paa (traditional flower decorated gates) on Ratchadamnern Rd., Thapae Rd. and Praisanee Rd.

7 p.m. – 12 p.m. Yee Peng Beauty contest and Yee Peng Junior Beauty Queen Contest (abilities performances round) at Thapae Gate

8 p.m. – 12 p.m. Krathongs and fireworks show at Ping River in front of the Municipal Office

8 p.m. – 12 p.m. Lantern competition in front of the Municipal Office

9 p.m. – 10 p.m. Lights and sound show on the floating podium in front of the Municipal Office

Saturday, November 27, 2004

6 p.m. – 12 p.m. Large Krathong competition of which the winner will be awarded a Royal Cup on Ratchadamnern Rd. and in front of the Municipal Office

7 p.m. – 12 p.m. Yee Peng Beauty Queen Contest and Yee Peng Junior Beauty Queen Contest (final round) at Thapae Gate

8 p.m. – 12 p.m. Lantern and fireworks show in front of the Municipal Office

9 p.m. – 10 p.m. Light and sound show on the floating podium in front of the Municipal Office


Urban areas become priority targets in anti-drug campaign

Nopniwat Krailerg

Narcotic operations are moving from the border regions to urban areas of the northern region.

The change in focus began on October 4 and will continue until December, Kamol Taiyapirom, director of the coordination division of Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Northern Region, announced.

Kamol Taiyapirom, director of the coordination division of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Northern Region.

“Urban areas have become hiding places for some drug dealers and target areas, triggering a greater spread of drug use among students and in schools,” said Kamol. By comparison, border areas have become less profitable for drug trafficking because of constant suppression of soldiers and police.

The quantity of drugs smuggled into the kingdom across Myanmar border has also decreased. Instead, dealers are turning to transfer drugs through Laos and across the northeast Thai border and Tak province in the west.

“Suppression in rural areas for which the Ministry of Interior has been responsible has proved to be effective,” said Kamol.


Thousands of origami birds show solidarity with southern Thais

Are paper doves of peace really going to be enough?

Editorial Staff

Amid the intense unrest in Thailand’s deep south, the Flower and Paper Bird for Peace Group ran a “60 million hearts to help southern people” project November 5-7 at the Central Airport Plaza.

Folding paper birds to promote peace in Thailand’s southern provinces.

The group was led by Sumit Chaemprasit, ML Anupong Kasemsan, Surachai Jantimathorn, Arunsak Ongla-or and Suriya Duangsuriyachai.

Project activities included origami, a music performance, and an exhibition of peace, national flowers and national birds.

A music performance is another attempt being used to promote peace in the South.

The three-day activity ended with thousands of origami birds having been produced as symbols of peace to show solidarity with people in the Deep South who have been living in fear. All these birds were to be sent to them to show them the northern people’s concern and encouragement, according to the Flower and Paper Bird for Peace Group.

Similar activities in Ubon Ratchathani, Bangkok and Pattani province will be organized.


337 million baht proposed for Chiang Mai-Lamphun pollution plan

But can money alone lower the pollution levels?

Nopniwat Krailerg

The cabinet has been asked to approve 337 million baht to support the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Pollution Plan.

Currently, a 205.79 million baht budget is under consideration by cabinet. Of this, 198.19 million baht is proposed for Chiang Mai and 7.6 million baht for Lamphun. A supplementary budget of 131.21 million baht (93.74 million baht for Chiang Mai and 37.47 million baht for Lamphun) is now being proposed.

The money has been requested to meet the target that has been set, indicating that dust pollution should be at least 90 percent of the standard level by 2005.

During the meeting of the Air and Sound Pollution Committee held earlier this month, a revised air pollution management plan for Chiang Mai and Lamphun was drafted to be placed before the cabinet.

It was agreed that Chiang Mai’s mass transport system needs to be addressed. All vehicles will be controlled so their emissions are below the standard level.

Bio-diesel will be the main fuel used in at least 1,000 of the city’s buses. Bio-fertilizer made from wastes will be the new method for agricultural technology. Some 100,000 rai of land will be free from burning off.

The Office of Natural Resources and Environment reported that, according to data from the air measurement instruments at Yuparaj School and Chiang Mai City Hall, the amount of dust has been below the critical level since September.

Last year’s data is predictive that Chiang Mai’s dust would exceed acceptable levels from December to April. Therefore, some measures will have to be taken beforehand to prevent this.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat has set up seven committees to work on air pollution problems. Government organizations will brainstorm to carry out monthly measurements, and the results will be handed to the governor and his administrative team.


Northern youths network with their peers on children’s rights

World Vision Foundation of Thailand

Young people from throughout Thailand gathered to form networks to address children’s issues of at the national Child’s Rights Convention in Bangkok from October 26-29.

Youths from all regions of Thailand gather to help solve and protect Thai children’s rights.

Organized by the World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT), the convention theme was “Do Child’s Rights Happen By Chance?”

Law experts convened with non-governmental organizations working with women and children, as well as with well-known personalities including Dr Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunan, Wacharin Pajaekwinyusakun, committee head of Appeal Court Region 5; Panada Wongpudi and Tankun Jid-isara. Some 320 underprivileged young people from around Thailand also attended.

Awareness and understanding of their rights was highlighted during the convention. The network of youth volunteers that was formed will work in communicating a basic knowledge of children’s rights to their peers in schools and communities. They aim to become a mouthpiece to the government and private agencies and help youths whose rights are abused.

The youth committee on children’s rights is to be formed on a national level, as well as an action plan from 2005 to 2007 that addresses the issue.

“The WVFT had been consistently organizing training sessions since 2001 to impart knowledge about the responsibilities and children’s rights at both provincial and regional levels,” said Chusak Wuthiwaropas, its executive director.


Hmong New Year traditional competition set for January

Editorial Staff

To celebrate the New Year, 12 Hmong villages in Chiang Mai will hold a traditional sporting event on January 14 at Baan Buag Jun, Pong Yang, Mae Rim district.

The celebration is held annually by these 12 Hmong villages and is called “Noj Peb Cause” in Hmong dialect, apparently meaning “New Year celebration with sports project to preserve the tradition and resist drugs”.

The Royal Project Foundation has supported and co-organized the event, whose highlight is the traditional Hmong tribe wooden buggy race. Other amusements such as top-spinning, egg-throwing and crossbow shooting will be arranged.

Up to 5,000 Thai Hmong villagers will dress in their tribal attire, made specially each year for this New Year event.

For more information, please call the Royal Project Foundation on 0-2415-0100 ext 1356.


Remembrance Day Service held at Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery

Staff Reporters

The emotive sounds of the Last Post and Reveille, played by the lone bugler, were heard at the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery in November. The occasion was the Remembrance Service to pay homage to the memory of all those who gave their lives in war and the service of their country. It was held at the time and date of the Armistice which brought the First World War to its end; the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Rev. John Butt (front) and Hon. British Consul Jon Glendinning paying respect.

The short address before the two minute silence was led by Rev. John Butt, director of the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture at Payap University. He spoke movingly of the ultimate sacrifice made by many for causes which were dear to them.

The traditional Last Post and Reveille were played with great feeling by Bugler Peechet Rangsan, from Kawilla Barracks, with the permission of the commanding general, Major General Jaen Kirithavip.

Many turned out to pay homage to the memory of those who gave their lives in war.

The service was attended by about 80 people, including Thais, Western residents in Chiang Mai, and overseas visitors. Many of the visitors expressed their appreciation of the setting, the eloquent address by John Butt and the essential contribution by Bugler Peechet.

After the service, guests were invited to the Chiangmai Gymkhana Club for refreshments, at the invitation of the chairman, Preecha Kowittaya.


Drug dealer arrested, property sequestered

But once again others escape the police net

Staff reporters

Following the arrest of a 42 year old woman in Mae Taeng district and the seizing of 7,800 ya ba tablets and 12 kg of heroin, police have confiscated her property in Chiang Mai and Lampang.

Vilawan Kantawong was arrested in a joint operation by the Samutprakarn provincial police station and Provincial Police Bureau Region 5. Working in cooperation with the Narcotics Suppression police and Mae Tang district police, they then searched a house belonging to Pin Kamboonpun, Vilawan’s daughter in law, in Mae Tang district, Chiang Mai. The house was surrounded and 13 vehicles worth over 50 million baht were confiscated.

Pin and Vilawan’s son, Aun, managed to escape in a Nissan Cefiro. Police officers tried to contact them to demand they return the car to the police as it is to be confiscated, but it seems they are not returning their calls.

Officers from Samutprakarn provincial police station and Sob Prab district police station also raided the house of Sawang Kuntawong, Vilawan’s brother, in Sob Prab district, Lampang.

However, he also escaped before police arrived. At the house, they found documents belonging to Vilawan, including title deeds of land, a bank account passbook, a life insurance document, car licenses plus guns and ammunition.

All confiscated property has been sent to the secretary-general of the Office of Narcotics Control Board, which will examine them to decide whether they are related to drug trafficking.


Transport Call Center launched

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives has launched a call center to serve public transport passengers with a choice including 2,719 red cabs, 36 air-conditioned minivans and 12 metered taxis.

The call center is located at Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperative Office in front of the Chiang Mai Cultural Center on Wualai Rd, and is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The service hours will later be extended to midnight.

“Customers can ring the Call Center at 053-279291 or 053-271242 ext 16,” said Singkham Nunti, president of the Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperative. “They only have to pay an extra 20 baht service charge to be picked up anywhere. The taxi fee starts at 30 baht for the first two kilometers, and for longer distances it costs 4 baht per kilometer.”

He added that the cooperative would provide a transport service to the Night Safari Zoo from April next year. Sixty cooperative members’ vehicles, which operate in the communities around the Night Safari Zoo, such as tambon Nong Kwai, Hang Dong district, tambon Mae Hia and tambon Suthep, will service people wanting to go to the Night Safari.

Downtown service cars are also available for passengers going to the Night Safari Zoo. Each of these cars will be uniquely decorated, such as with a zebra pattern.


Chiang Mai Police worked up over fireworks at Loy Krathong

Staff Reporters

Chiang Mai police under the command of Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, are cracking down on large noisy firecrackers being sold in Chiang Mai in advance of the nine day Loy Krathong festival.

On November 14, police from the Muang District Police Station seized 400 large fireworks from a shop on Suriyawong Road in tambon Hai-Ya. The owner of the shop, Nongyao Chaiderm, 40, was fined 1,000 baht for selling them.

The police also tried to catch the vendors who sell prohibited fireworks at the Waroros market but the vendors sensed the police presence and escaped. The police did not come away empty-handed, though, seizing another set of 300 firecrackers.

During the festival, police have said they will be on the lookout for noisy fireworks and for people who endanger others when letting off fireworks.


Passenger arrivals at Chiang Rai International Airport up 30 percent

Arrivals and departures at Chiang Rai International Airport have increased over last year by 30 percent (600,000 passengers) due to the growth of the low-cost airline business as well as trade and tourism within the special economic zone.

Wisith Iew Prapar, director of the Chiang Rai International Airport, said the growth of no-frills carriers had boosted the concept of flying. At present, the airport accommodated Thai Airways, Orient Thai Airline, Air Asia and Mandarin Air, he said.

Approximately one thousand passengers used the airport each day, said Wisith. “However, flights between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are being asked for, and no airlines are servicing this route,” he said.

After 10 years of operation, Chiang Rai International Airport had stalled as far as investment but the growth of low-cost airlines, trade and tourism within the special economic zone has improved, he said. “The airport is now trying to upgrade facilities and attract passengers to increase profits,” said Wisith.



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