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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

“Jack Frost” is coming, bringing the Mae Kha Ning phenomenon

Yupparaj College student petitions against CMU rejection

Mae Jo University’s Agricultural Fair brings in the heavyweights

Aviation Expo to honor Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Thailand

CMU runs Car Free Day trial inside campus

SPOT Image and ONCB monitor illegal crops in SEA

Sustainable highland development and the Royal Project

Guinness Book of Records to witness elephant group painting

Another tourist victim of ride-by robbery

Chiang Mai inspectors to take drug traffickers to the cleaners

Fatal accident on Doi Intanon leaves two dead and eight seriously injured

Provincial Police Region 5 strut their stuff

Co-owner of snooker hall snookered by narcotic suppression police

Cowardly teen gang members arrested after five robberies

Swedish tourist dies under mysterious circumstances

Prem Arts Festival a huge success

Russian Ballet teaches the teachers

Brothers run from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai to raise money for cancer research

“Jack Frost” is coming, bringing the Mae Kha Ning phenomenon

Nopniwat Krailerg

Get ready for the cold, says Worapoj Kunawiwattanangkul of the Northern Meteorology Center. The cold weather in the North could be as low as -4 to -5 degrees Celsius at the mountain peaks during the end of December.

So far this year, the lowest temperature has been -1 degree Celsius at Doi Intanon, whilst the lowest on record over the past 50 years was -5 degrees Celsius recorded December 24-25, 1999.

The extremely cold weather triggered the phenomenon known as “Mae Kha Ning” (frozen dew drop – known as Jack Frost in the UK) and was seen at Doi Intanon and Doi Angkhang and even the water surface of the reservoir at Doi Intanon became frozen over.

Worapoj said that the temperature would gradually become lower, going down to the predicted –5 degrees C. The Meteorology Department has asked all people in mountain areas of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Payao, Nan and Mae Hong Son to be well prepared for the upcoming cold period and take good care of their livestock and crops which might be affected by the cold weather.


Yupparaj College student petitions against CMU rejection

Saksit Meesubkwang

Yuthasak Yarangsee, a C-7 teacher at Suksa Songkoh Chiang Mai School has delivered a petition complaining about Chiang Mai University’s rejection of his child, Sarun Yarangsee, a student of Yupparaj College.

Yuthasak Yarangsee hands the petition to Assoc Prof Thanarak Suwanprapit, to appeal for his child’s right to receive a sports quota placing.

Sarun won a sporting scholarship for talented athletes according to the policy laid down by PM Thaksin Shinawatra that provides for athletes to be in the quota and continue his university studies free of charge.

However, in this case, it turned out that his son was left out of the quota while other schoolboys from Yupparaj College were included.

Yuthasak has petitioned CMU to act responsibly and punish any negligence by its officers. He wanted this case to be an example for public.

Assoc Prof Thanarak Suwanprapit, assistant to CMU’s president of the student development and alumni student, received the petition and pledged to pass it on to CMU’s president to inspect the case.

CMU will examine the situation. If they find this has been caused by carelessness, the officers concerned will be punished according to the CMU regulations. If Sarun is qualified to be in the quota, he will be admitted immediately.


Mae Jo University’s Agricultural Fair brings in the heavyweights

Saksit Meesubkwang

Mae Jo University’s 70th Anniversary Agricultural Fair took place from December 6-12. The event was also dedicated to the 72nd Anniversary of HM the Queen.

Agricultural Minister Wan Muhammad Nor Matha (center) and Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat (right) at the opening of the Mae Jo University’s 70th Anniversary Agricultural Fair.

Assoc Prof Dr Thep Pongpanich, Mae Jo University rector, officially opened the fair on December 6; however, Agriculture Minister Wan Muhammad Nor Matha joined the opening ceremony. Since the majority of Thai people are farmers, Mae Jo University plays an important role in promoting farming and livestock among Thai people, said the minister.

A few days later, a seminar on Environmental Management for Resource Conservation was held with Deputy Prime Minister Jaturon Chaisaeng and the deputy leader of the Democrat Party Apisith Wechachiwa, presiding. Demonstrations on various farming methods, organic vegetable growing and other topics were explored.


Aviation Expo to honor Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Thailand

Wing 41 the local hosts

Nopniwat Krailerg

An aviation exposition was arranged to celebrate the 77th birthday of HM the King and the 72nd birthday anniversary of HM the Queen, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Agricultural Flying Office’s Royal Rain Operations.

Some of the aircraft on display at Wing 41.

The expo was officially opened on December 12 by the Royal Thai Army’s Commander-in-Chief Gen Chaiyasith Shinawatra.

As part of the expo many activities were involved, such as an air rally from Tak to Chiang Mai (over the route Tak-Bhumibol dam - Mae Sariang district - Khun Yuam district – Lamphun - Chiang Mai).

There were displays of various types of aircraft, including Wing 41’s L-39 aircraft, and other aircraft from the Royal Rain Operations Office, and the Thai Aircraft Conservation and Development Foundation under Royal Patronage. Ultralights and microlight aircraft and parachute jumps were also performed.

This exposition brought together one of the largest displays of aircraft and pilots in Thailand. A lucky draw was held with the winner getting a flight over Chiang Mai.

The event was organized by the Royal Thai Army, Royal Thai Air Force, the Royal Rain Operations Office and Agricultural Flying Office, the Thai Aircraft Conservation and Development Foundation (under Royal Patronage), the Civil Aviation Training Centers, Chiang Mai Aviation Club and Tak Aviation Club.


CMU runs Car Free Day trial inside campus

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Chiang Mai University (CMU) tried a Car Free Day on December 13 to encourage 30,000 CMU students and personnel to use environmentally friendly transport, such as electric cars and bicycles, within the campus. The Car Free Day helps students and CMU personnel with fuel expenses and reduces air and noise pollution.

Assoc Prof Dr Pong-in Rak-areeyatham (4th left), deputy president of CMU, with CMU’s student ambassador and other administrators and personnel.

The project was performed as a one day trial to evaluate the appropriateness and seek improvements before proposing it in the long term. 16 electric cars and 26 minibuses were made available free of charge for the students to use during the rush hours.

An electric car service within CMU has been operating since 2002 and will continue to 2010, but at present the number of electric cars is not enough for student needs, said Assoc Prof Dr Pong-in Rak-areeyatham, deputy president of CMU.

435 bicycles are provided to the students to use for commuting within the campus. Three main campus roads; clock tower to volleyball court, male dormitory 5 to male dormitory 6 and Rujirawong swimming pool to CMU’s officers’ club building, were closed and only the electric cars allowed on these routes.

The Car Free Day project is part of the Divide Energy by Two that has been supported by the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO) and applied in seven universities throughout the country to raise awareness and significance of energy conservation among university students and personnel.


SPOT Image and ONCB monitor illegal crops in SEA

Alliance Francaise, Chiang Mai

Spot Image and the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) have sealed the first successful collaboration to assess the use of SPOT imagery for monitoring illegal crops in South-East Asia. A regional training center has been set up under a technology transfer agreement to benefit all countries in the region.

Located in Chiang Mai, this operational training center is funded by the ONCB, SPOT Image and the French government. The center offers a full program of courses, equipment, software, and documentation for processing and interpretation of SPOT imagery.

The new center will give the ONCB statistics and maps for monitoring illegal crops, and the capacity to accommodate and train technicians from neighboring countries.

Satellite-based topographical information has proven a vital asset in monitoring and controlling illegal crops in the SEA region. But it also aids in defining priority areas or in planning and setting information systems based on satellite data that are key policymaking tools for local and regional authorities.

Training in processing of SPOT imagery also offers this regional center the opportunity for Thai users to exploit data from the future Thailand Earth Observation System (THEOS) satellite, scheduled for launch mid-2007.

The ONCB/SPOT Imagery Image Seminar held on November 24 at the Alliance Francaise in Chiang Mai presented the regional training center and SPOT Image’s turnkey solutions to local and regional authorities. The seminar also focused on how SPOT imagery is used for agricultural and forestry monitoring applications, and for surveillance and hazard management.


Sustainable highland development and the Royal Project

Princess Chulabhorn opens Highland Symposium

Reinhard Hohler

On December 8, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol, the youngest daughter of His Majesty the King of Thailand, ceremonially opened the three days international symposium, held at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel in Chiang Mai, on “Sustainable Highland Development and Networking: Lessons Learned from the Royal Project”.

Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol opens the Highland Symposium.

The princess holds a doctorate in organic chemistry and gave a talk about drug discovery and development. HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani welcomed thee 250 delegates, among them 100 international delegates, and informed them about the Royal Project initiated in 1969 by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, helping 85,000 highland people to reduce opium production, alleviate poverty, and protect the environment.

In one keynote addresses, Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang highlighted the co-existence of people and forests and mentioned the decline of forests because of logging, mining, agriculture, and village settlements. He noted that the aim of the government is to preserve the forest and to maintain 40 percent of its cover. His Majesty the King has provided the formula of ‘three types of wood for four types of uses’ and this has been successfully implemented by the Royal Project.

Akira Fujino, representative of the Regional Center for East Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Bangkok, suggested the sharing of best practices and experiences for sustainable alternative development, which is needed for countries facing illicit crop cultivation, particularly Afghanistan and Colombia. Sustainable development programs include the introduction of alternative crops, promotion of handicrafts, health education, drug treatment, road construction and irrigation projects. The experiences in the past 35 years in Thailand have proven that alternative development can drastically reduce opium production.

HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajani (second from left) at Doi Ang Khang.

Dr. Sandro Calvani, UNODC representative in Bogota, Colombia noted that the results of alternative development are not immediate and its success lies in the capacity of projects to transfer the necessary knowledge directly to the communities. Commercialization and a marketing strategy are decisive factors.

There was a lively panel discussion chaired by Dr. Santhad Rojanasunthorn, director of research, Royal Project Foundation, about an exchange of experiences and perspectives on sustainable highland development as well as drug crop reduction, involving rural and social development, management of natural resources, and effective strategies for alternative development.

In the afternoon of the second day of the symposium, the international participants visited Doi Ang Khang, in Chiang Mai’s Fang District, where the first agricultural research was conducted. According to His Majesty’s vision to eliminate the slash and burn practices of the hill tribes, the highlanders there were shown how to grow useful crops. Furthermore, modern techniques were taught to the Lahu, Lisu and Palaung hill tribes to promote higher yields and thus improving their standard of living.

On the final day of the symposium, four working groups elaborated on the different aspects of Ang Khang. During the breakout group discussion on examining conditions for alternative development, the following findings were made: projects must be long term, infrastructure must be in place, flexible information sharing is necessary, law enforcement must be at the base of all measures, and governmental policies must have regard for fundamental human rights.

On the way to and from Doi Ang Khang, in Chiang Mai’s Chiang Dao District, the participants visited the Royal Project Development Center of Huay Luek, peopled by Hmong and Karen, as well as Nong Khieo at Ban Mai Samakhi, peopled by Jingpaw and Rawang tribes.


Guinness Book of Records to witness elephant group painting

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Guinness World Records is going to tape “The largest painting by a group of elephants” on February 19, 2005 at Maesa Elephant Camp, Mae Rim district, Chiang Mai.

Two of the eight elephant artists stand beside their joint painting.

The canvas, named “Cold Wind, Mist and Charm of Lanna”, is 2.40 meters high and 12 meters long and will be painted by a group of eight elephants. All eight were born at the Maesa Elephant Camp.

The Guinness World Record team observed the elephants’ painting talents on Elephant Day in March 2004, and agreed to return to observe the elephants break the world record.

A press conference was held on December 13, at the Maesa Elephant Nursery. Present at the press conference were Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat; president of Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, Jumpol Chutima; director of Tourism Authority of Thailand Northern Region 1, Junnapong Saranak; Chuchart Kalmapichit and Anchalee Kalmapichit, owners of the Maesa Elephant Camp.

Somporn Naksuetrong, general manager of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, presented the certificate to prove the talent of the elephant painters.

The highlight of the day will be the auction of the painting, which will be witnessed by the Guinness World Records. The receipt and certificate will be issued to the auctioneer.


Another tourist victim of ride-by robbery

Nopniwat Krailerg

An unsuspecting Canadian tourist, Shanna Edwards, was robbed in broad daylight as she pedaled up to the guest house where she was staying in Chiang Mai.

Canadian tourist Shanna Edwards (left) was another ride-by robbery victim.

The robbery took place at 1.30 p.m. on December 4, and at press time, police had not managed to find the culprit, despite a good description of the robber given by the twenty-one year old Canadian.

She had telephoned the 191 emergency number to report that a teenage thief, wearing a red T-shirt and a jeans, riding a Honda motorbike, snatched her bag which contained a camera, two Canadian ATM cards, a Visa credit card, a driving license and 1,500 baht in Thai banknotes.

Police inspected the scene around the Wanasit Guesthouse opposite the P S snooker club in Soi 8, Rachamankha Road, near Wat Phra Singh, Muang district, Chiang Mai, where the victim was staying. She reported that as she was riding in front of the guesthouse and was about to get off the bike, the motorbike thief snatched her bag and escaped.


Chiang Mai inspectors to take drug traffickers to the cleaners

Money laundering all washed up?

Saksit Meesubkwang

Sixty-eight Chiang Mai police inspectors attended a workshop on Drug Case Investigation and Money Laundering at Nakorn Ping Palace, Chiang Mai December 7-9.

Pol Maj Gen Wutti Wittitanon, deputy commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, presided over the workshop and officials from Office of Chiang Mai Provincial Judge, Chiang Mai Court, Faculty of Law, Chiang Mai University, and Prosecutor Office Region 5 were special lecturers.

National Police Bureau Chief, Pol Gen Kowit Watana emphasized the significance of law enforcement on drug cases and improvement and development of police investigation, using forensic science and technology to eradicate drug trafficking, said Pol Maj Gen Wutti.

Frequently, drug and money laundering cases are lost in the courts because Thai police did not fully understand anti-money laundering laws and the traffickers hired skillful lawyers to fight for them, said Pol Maj Gen Wutti.


Fatal accident on Doi Intanon leaves two dead and eight seriously injured

Nopniwat Krailerg

A sightseeing long weekend trip for residents of Ratchaburi province ended in disaster when the minivan in which they were traveling on the way to Doi Intanon in Chom Thong district, Chiang Mai, collided with an 18 wheel transporter on December 11.

Eye-witness reports would indicate that the van was attempting to overtake another vehicle when the accident occurred.

Police from Chom Thong District Police Station and medical staff from the Chom Thong Hospital and rescue teams rushed to the scene to help the victims.

The van was extensively damaged, with the ten people on board trapped in the wreckage. It took the rescue teams over 30 minutes to pull the people from the wreck, but despite their efforts, Pachara Saeng-a-roon, 45, and Kotchakorn Saeng-a-roon, 20, were pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

The eight injured were Prakob Intanil, 51, Patcharee Intanil, 47, A-rak Khumsao, Worapach Intanil, 18, Sarichya Intanil, 15, Athita Khumsao, 43, Imsri Khumsao, 77, Maneemas Pakdee, 47.

The van driver, Worachet Poowattanathanasin, fled the scene after the accident. The 18-wheel truck belonged to Chiang Mai Construction Company.


Provincial Police Region 5 strut their stuff

Saksit Meesubkwang and Nopniwat Krailerg

Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 showcased their capabilities in front of an audience of 2,000 people at the Chiang Mai Municipality Stadium on December 13. A similar number of police from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nan, Payao and Mae Hong Son were involved, complete with four helicopters, two fire engines, four sniffer dogs, 20 police cars and other equipment.

Police show how they operate when dealing with protestors.

Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya said that this was the first police operation showcase, combining the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, Border Patrol Police Bureau and Central Investigation Bureau.

The main purpose was to inform government and private organizations, local administration organization and the general public of the capabilities of police operations in various situations.

Various scenarios were set for the police to show their skills in control of protestors, negotiation, VIP protection and rescuing hostages. These special operations can be carried out in all eight provinces and is available throughout 24 hours.


Co-owner of snooker hall snookered by narcotic suppression police

NopniwatKrailerg

A Lisu man, Narong Sinchao, 29, and his pregnant girlfriend, Supathida Chaiwong, 24, were arrested at the Great Hotel in tambon Chang Puek, Chiang Mai on December 9. Pol Col Jeerachai Raktiprakorn, deputy commander of the Narcotic Suppression Bureau, and the Narcotic Suppression Police apprehended the two heroin dealers.

After the arrest, the narcotic suppression police confiscated their properties worth 10 million baht. These assets included a house in Suan Nam Sai Housing Estate in San Sai district, the Lan Thong Snooker Club Chiang Mai, a new pick up truck, and two cars.

Narong confessed that the money received from heroin dealing was used to co-invest in the snooker club with his friends and buy many houses and cars. Some of his properties had been seized earlier and he and his wife had been hiding at the Great Hotel to escape arrest.

The police information came after the arrest of three heroin dealers on September 18 by the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5. 2,100 grams of heroin with a street value of 1.8 million baht had been seized and the three arrested dealers told the police Narong was their big boss and the big dealer.

The police had tried to arrest Narong and his wife but they fled. The police had already confiscated some of their properties valued at 20 million baht and had a current arrest warrant for the pair.


Cowardly teen gang members arrested after five robberies

Preying on young woman and using weapons during assault

Nopniwat Krailerg

An 18 year old teenage hoodlum, Nawee Sintiam, also known as “Bird-Lai”, a leader of the DRT (Dara Thong) gang and another five members were arrested after committing five robberies within Hang Dong, Muang and San Kamphaeng districts.

The DRT gang boasted 10 ‘sub-branches’. This gang was the fifth in line, said Provincial Police Bureau Region 5’s commissioner, Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya. The gang members ranged from 15-18, said the commissioner.

Nawee Sintiam shows his tattooed body which gave him his “Bird Lai” nickname. (Lai means full of stripes and marks.)

The arrests happened after Ampa Wannakao was robbed on November 29 around midnight on Hang Don-Chiang Mai Road (in front of the road to the north end of Chiang Mai University). They rode up on a motorcycle and pushed her motorcycle over, then robbed her of a gold necklace, wallet and mobile phone. They threatened her with a long sword during the assault.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong commended Chiang Mai provincial police working in cooperation with Hang Dong district police in the hunt for the wrongdoers.

On December 2, Paisarn Somchote, 17, was arrested, followed by Nawee Sintiam on December 5. Supachai Kobtanyakij, 15, surrendered to the police two days later. All were charged with the robberies.

After questioning, the three young culprits confessed that they had committed five robberies. The haul from these robberies included a motorcycle, gold necklaces, mobile phones, Buddha images and other valuables stolen from an old person.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong said that there are still more gangs in Chiang Mai which include both adults and teenagers, but he called for all parents to take responsibility for their children’s whereabouts and behavior to prevent the problem.


Swedish tourist dies under mysterious circumstances

May have frozen to death

Staff reporters

Swedish tourist Sullback Roy Jan Olos, 59, was found dead in San Ka Yaum village in San Sai district, Chiang Mai on December 9.

He entered Thailand a few months ago and resided with one of his female friends. On the night before he died, nobody stayed at the house and he bought alcohol to drink alone. He was discovered dead the next morning.

At this stage, police suspect that he froze to death while under the influence of alcohol, as his body was not covered with a blanket, despite the bitter cold weather.

There were no signs of physical violence, and the body will have to be sent for an autopsy to determine the real cause of death.


Prem Arts Festival a huge success

David Michaels

The Prem Tinsulanonda International School held its third annual Arts Festival with a day of fun, music, creativity and performance coordinated by Joanna Moon, Head of Art. Participating in a wide variety of artistic endeavors, students, local artisans and artists were able to showcase their many talents.

Evelyn concentrates on painting her beautiful fan at the Arts Festival.

The interactive afternoon featured workshops in fan and umbrella painting, pottery making, beading, handloom and basket weaving. Junior and Senior School students and parents exhibited their artwork, and Prem’s Amnesty International Club sponsored a ‘Peace Tree’. Raffles LaSalle International School of Art, with whom Prem has an ongoing relationship, was also involved.

Somil proud to be part of the ‘Cinders’ production.

One of the more unique events of the day was the ‘World of Wearable Art’ fashion parade in which students and teachers displayed their own artistic creations in clothing and accessories.

With a pulsating performance by the Korean Drummers, the Junior School Drama Club presentation was certainly not to be missed.

Sonya, as Cinderella, scrubs the floor in Prem’s production

The culmination of the Arts Festival came with the performance of the play, ‘Cinders’. Involving more than fifty students under the guidance of six staff members, ‘Cinders’ was presented in the outdoor amphitheater to a large audience. This pantomime, a funky, contemporary show, followed the familiar story of Cinderella with plot twists, humor and insane characters along the way. This was interspersed and supported by an assortment of musical numbers provided by a choir and a rock band. The audience roared with laughter and rocked to the music. The students contributed a vast array of artistic talents, from actors to musicians, and set and costume designers.

Susie plays the sassy step-sister in the performance of ‘Cinders’.

As the cast of ‘Cinders’ took their bows in front of the appreciative audience, one could feel the spirit that went into making this day such a success.


Russian Ballet teaches the teachers

Autsadaporn Kamthai

To improve the teaching of the performing arts in Chiang Mai, the Russian Ballet hosted a special training course for teachers from December 11-12.

Teachers learn hand-puppet techniques at the training course held by the Russian Ballet.

Twenty teachers from both government and private schools in Chiang Mai who were eager to learn more about the performing arts and its various techniques joined the two-day training sessions.

Wilawan Sawetseranee, a lecturer from the Fine Arts Faculty, Chiang Mai University was one of the special lecturers who spoke on topics covering clothing design, dancing steps, and singing technique for the teachers.

ML Nisamaneee Pholthanya, chair of the kindergarten division of Chiang Mai Private Schools Association, presided over the training sessions.


Brothers run from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai to raise money for cancer research

Staff reporters

Two courageous runners, Stuart and Ralph Allen from England ran from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai in early December to raise money for the UK cancer research and the provincial hospital of South Wales.

Stuart and Ralph Allen reach the Chiang Mai Zoo after leaving Mae Hong Son six days previously.

The brothers decided to do this charity run after their mother died of cancer nearly two years ago. They chose adventure as their money raising activity and Thailand was targeted as the destination for this project.

It took them seven days to run from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai. Their route was not on the highway road but across the mountains from Mae Hong Son’s Muang district to Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.

“The route was really tough, containing a lot of mountains and on the 2nd day we got through around 22 mountains and were really exhausted,” said Stuart. “We even got lost on the first day for two hours,” he added.

Their adventurous run has, so far, brought them approximately 50,000 baht in donations from sponsors in the UK. The sums raised will be split between the UK Cancer Research and provincial hospital of South Wales.

Stuart and Ralph are used to long distance running as four days before they did the Mae Hong Son - Chiang Mai run they took part in the Bangkok Marathon. They also plan to carry out adventurous runs in other places like China.