NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Mass raid on drug lord’s property nets 50 million baht

Thai Rak Thai battling hard for the North

Befuddled citizens vote in round one

General election result online

Wildfires have ravaged the upper north

International coal conference in Lampang produces protest

Human traffickers offering work in France

Chiang Mai warned to guard against a new round of bird flu

Doctor removes swollen leech in man’s throat

Malefactor monitoring maintained

Panty-less go-go girl attempts to seduce arresting officer

Chiang Mai Municipality to clean up waste water with EM technology

Mass raid on drug lord’s property nets 50 million baht

Minister of Justice and AMLO rubbing their hands

Nopniwat Krailerg and Saksit Meesubkwang

A 100-strong police posse in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son descended on 14 houses belonging to Col. Mahachar (aka Lee Jue Kao) and Mahasang of the multiple aliases (aka Chao Fa, aka Chao Ping Liew, aka Juengching Saelee), reportedly the leaders of armed minority troops and drug networks of warlord Wei Hseuh Kang. The February 1 raid resulted in arrests and and confiscated property worth 50 million baht comprising cars, motorcycles, title deeds, gold and jewelry. There is a warrant and a large reward from the US for the arrest of the drug baron Wei Hseuh Kang himself.

Confiscation Pic 1: Minister of Justice Pongthep Thepkajana (right) at the press conference in Chiang Mai.

In the houses raided in Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai, police seized 15 important documents from Mahachar’s and his sister’s houses.

Mahasang and his daughters live in a house in S. R. Land in tambon Sannameng, San Sai district while his relatives and cohorts occupy others. Documents relating to illegal alien workers found in another Chiang Mai property also led to the arrest of Mahasang’s brother, Boonjerd Chuenjitra, for accommodating unregistered alien workers.

Police of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 have been working on the cases of Mahasang and Mahachar for over 20 years in an attempt to prove them guilty of heading drug networks and commanding minority troops assisting the Burmese Junta. These troops frequently attacked Thai soldiers and police trying to prevent drug ingress along the border.


Thai Rak Thai battling hard for the North

Thaksin claims ten TRT candidates will win in Chiang Mai

Saksit Meesubkwang

Lagging behind the Democrats in the North, PM Thaksin commenced his northern campaign tour in San Sai on January 23 to boost the chances of his candidate Wittaya Songkam. The sitting Democrat candidate, Kiengkan na Chiang Mai, wife of Thawatwong na Chiang Mai, president of the Provincial Administration Organization (PAO), is still well in the lead according to the opinion polls.

The TRT party led by its Leader Thaksin Shinawatra goes walkabout in downtown Chiang Mai

Moving to his home region Phrao where he faces Pakdeeporn Sujaritkul, popular wife of former Prime Minister Chuan Leekphai, the leader of TRT made his usual extravagant claims saying that to solve all the country’s problems simultaneously, it is necessary to support TRT party to gain a majority in the cabinet. He maintained that he had already solved all systematic procedures and would, if successful, solve all Thailand’s problems, in his next term.

Subsequently in Fang district the PM lent his arm to TRT candidate Julaphan Amornwiwat. Julaphan’s sitting Democrat contender, Yongyut Suwaphap, still leads the polls.

Finishing up his tour in Chiang Mai he walked the streets with TRT candidate Pakorn Buranupakorn basking in the plaudits and receiving bouquets from his supporters. Chiang Mai District 1 will be hard fought as the Democrat contender, Dueantemduang na Chiang Mai, is from the leading family in Chiang Mai. Dueantemduang graduated in the US with a PhD in economics. She is the oldest daughter of Thawatwong na Chiang Mai. Pakorn is the former TRT party representative of the District 1. His brother is Chiang Mai Mayor and this may increase his chances among Chiang Mai citizens.

Thaksin, obfuscating, claimed that Chiang Mai was his home town and seemed to think that, therefore, all 10 TRT candidates in Chiang Mai region must win this election. One has to wonder why all politicians, and not just the home-grown heroes, always claim that they will solve everyone’s problems in the next term. Why did they not manage to do it this term?


Befuddled citizens vote in round one

Chantawee Punmira and Watcharapong Jingkaujai

The Chiang Mai election board conducted the first round of the national vote for people from other provinces, but living in Region 1. These people had to register for the vote before January 8 to vote on January 29-30 in Chiang Mai.

The atmosphere of the Chiang Mai first round of the national election.

The tension was palpable as voters crowded in searching for the voting booth that appeared to be hidden away. As usual, some persons were not found on the list of voters and tempers ran high as voters all claimed that this election method was too complicated since they were obliged to check their names on the list, tell the election board officers their numbers, sign the form and show a permission document before signing their names and receiving the vote card.

Dr. Jithi Oranratanamanee, Chiang Mai election board director of Region 1, acknowledged that there were problems saying, “The officers had not anticipated the number of voters. Nevertheless, all of them tried very hard to facilitate the election method.” He accepted that voters swamped officers by their numbers and said, “The system is complicated because officers want to make sure the voters really have the right to vote. Besides, the officers had put up signs indicating the election booth location but the voters entered by another door and missed the signs. “However,” he promised, “the election board will be more prepared after this first round.”


General election result online

Easy if you have the e-facility

Saksit Meesubkwang

Suroj Lamsam, senior vice-president for marketing and services of TT&T, presented to Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau, the high speed internet system to disseminate the general election results.

Suroj said that the TT&T had worked to support communication systems in both public activities and governmental organizations.

In preparation for the general election on February 6, TT&T have cooperated with the Provincial Police to install an online reporting system for the general election results via high speed internet.

Suroj said that the online report would keep the Northern residents updated with the results every minute, despite the fact that vast swathes of the region are without internet access or even landline telephones in their area.

The online report is intended to link information from 42 election units in 37 constituency zones of eight Northern provinces that include Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Lampang, Lamphun, Phrae, Nan and Mae Hong Son.

The results of general election will also be available at the TT&T’s websites www. ttt.co.th, www.tttbroadband .com, www.tttonline.net and the websites of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 www.p5.police.go.th; www.fm100cmu.com.


Wildfires have ravaged the upper north

El Nino effect blamed

Saksit Meesubkwang

Wildfires in the last 12 months in the upper north occurred 32 times and destroyed 427 rai of land of forest land, revealed Surapol Lelawaropas, director of the Northern Wildfire Office.

Forecasting that the 2005 occurrences will be determined by “El Ni๑o”, the wildfire director said, “The change of temperature on the surface of the Pacific Ocean is one of the important factors in the severity of wildfires in Thailand. If the seasonal wind blowing from Peru to Indonesia is three degrees Celsius higher than usual, El Ni๑o will certainly occur and affect Thailand. This will further increase the aridity of the north and more wildfires will result,” he claimed.

No mention was made of the USA’s refusal, alone amongst rich nations, to cut harmful emissions that are seriously contributing to the problem.

On January 16-19, Sahat Boonyawiwat, Lord Chamberlain of the Bureau of the Royal Household Special Section and the Wildfire Bureau for the north, co-operated in the training of 110 local volunteers in 11 villages to fight fires in Baan Pong, Hand Dong district. These volunteers have helped to put out fires before fire officers arrived on the scene.

To keep them busy when not fighting fires, firefighting volunteers will be also trained in vocational handicrafts and agriculture. The Lord Chamberlain promised that the bureau would find markets for their handicrafts.


International coal conference in Lampang produces protest

Saksit Meesubkwang

More than 200 overseas and Thai experts met on January 24, 2005 with Amornrat Niratasaiyakul, Lampang governor; the head of the Mae Moh Electricity Division and other officers at an academic seminar organized by Coltrane Thailand and presided over by Viset Juphiban, Assistant to the Energy Minister.

Viset said he was pleased to welcome the delegates and that Thailand is honored to be one of the eight countries hosting the meeting this year, which aims to discuss the development of coal to its fullest extent as an energy source.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), which has run the local organization for 36 years, was the main host of this event. He expounded on the fact that the energy industry plays a key role in the economic growth in many countries and it is necessary to seek means of generating electrical energy to serve increasing demands.

Coal is important to the electricity generating process and Thailand has huge lignite coal deposits in Mae Moh district, Lampang and lignite mining to generate electricity has been carried out there for 50 years. Thailand does not need to import lignite from other countries and domestic coal is cheaper than any other energy source.

He claimed that Thailand is proud to produce clean energy that does not affect or pollute the environment. The next step, he continued, is to gain the confidence of the citizens so that they may continue to exploit this resource unhindered by protest.

The process should not pollute the surroundings, and EGAT has been disseminating propaganda about the coal mine to the locals, such as the installation of the sulfur dioxide gas eradication system. Some countries, of which Thailand aims to be one, have good policies and regulations to suppress any side effects from the coal electricity plant.

Despite this upbeat rhetoric, in front of the hotel there were more than 100 (professional) protestors led by rights campaigner Vanida Thantiamornpitak, all waving banners calling for a ban on the coal burning plant. They claimed that the emissions caused sickness and death and the plant polluted the environment.

The protestors claimed that EGAT administrators and the Thai government look only for economic benefits from lignite coal electricity production, rather than the well-being and property of its citizens and natural resources and the environmental concerns for the future.

In accordance with the seemingly accepted Thai police directives that people have to conform or be suppressed, a police task force led by Pol. Col. Yongyut Narongin, superintendent of Lampang police station, rushed to the scene to curb the protest. Preparing for more civil disorder they called in the reserves to increase the security guard force.

The protestors nevertheless continued to vent their ire using loud hailers and staged a sit-in on the middle of the road until nightfall when they became hungry and went home to eat. Some protestors, actually from Mae Moh, had earlier joined the throng, claiming that they will refuse the coal project and keep on protesting until the board gives in. Bigger and louder protests are planned.


Human traffickers offering work in France

But be prepared to return home

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

The Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Office is warning Thai people who are offered work in France, or other countries in Europe, to check the alien workers information since a gang of human traders is operating but their Thai victims were discovered in November last year.

Orachorn Rattamanee, the head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Office, said that the office had received a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the Thai Embassy in France had been contacted for help by twelve Thai men and a Thai woman.

The French government enforces laws to stop illegal immigration, just as the Thai government does here. The Thai Embassy asked the Thai Thumpratheep Temple in France to provide them temporary board and lodging whilst it was arranging with the French government to send them back to Thailand.

At this moment, there are more than 100 illegal laborers sent by the Thai gang to Europe. The gang preys on Thais, Laotians, and Cambodians who are sent to work illegally overseas. These Thai workers often hide once they have arrived in their destination to avoid paying the exorbitant 300,000 baht fee.


Chiang Mai warned to guard against a new round of bird flu

Nopniwat Krailerg

As the bird flu situation in Vietnam is critical, Veterinary Somporn Pornvisetsirikul, head of animal health development office in Chiang Mai Livestock Division, warned that although there are only three infected provinces at this moment, a drop from last year, the end of winter and the beginning of summer could be a dangerous period. The next round of national X-raying will be carried out from February 1–28, 2005.

Bird flu X-ray 1- Vet. Somporn Pornvisetsirikul, head of animal health development office, the CM Livestock Division.

Some patients with symptoms similar to bird flu disease were identified in the Chiang Mai region in January this year. It has been reported from sources, that from October 2004 – January 2005, 16 patients, all of whom had been in direct contact with slaughtered poultry, contracted bird flu.

Procedures to guard against bird flu include the establishment of the Division of Special Disease Control comprising Chiang Mai livestock division officers, animal health division officers and the 5th section of the Public Health division, all of whom are preparing to work in the affected area. Officers from the Ministry of Public Health and Agriculture also help deal with disease inspection and oversight of animal migration, animal destruction, disease eradication and public relations. The ministry has also prepared information about poultry. Medical equipment and drugs such as anti-bacterials are also provided. In February, it is claimed that all villages will be bird flu free.

The procedures consist of the inspection for bird flu based on information from the disease center and Cloacol Swab inspection, concentrating on slaughtered poultry. This is done once every two years, specifically for hens and fighting cocks.

Animals imported into Chiang Mai must have negative results from laboratory tests. There are two quarantine stations in Khun Tan and Le district in Lamphun. If the result is not clear or remains doubtful, no animal is allowed into Chiang Mai. The bird flu Committee board is now trying to standardize fighting cocks regions. Every cock must be identified. So far, officers have received good cooperation from owners in San Kam Paeng district.


Doctor removes swollen leech in man’s throat

Doctors at Nakorn Ping Hospital find leech in windpipe

Nopniwat Krailerg

Dr. Chatchai Koonrangsrisomboon of the Nakornping Hospital identified and then removed a bloodthirsty leech that had attached itself to the windpipe of a patient. The greedy leech was so swollen that it was stuck in the trachea.

Dr. Chatchai said that the patient, a resident of Mae Chaem district, had first received treatment at a clinic where a doctor assumed that he had tuberculosis but, finding no signs of TB in the x-ray, sent him to Nakornping Hospital. The doctor used a laryngoscope to examine the patient’s throat and identified the alarming cause.

The doctor surmised that the leech had entered his windpipe when the man drank water from a stream whilst wandering in the forest.

The intrepid doctor said that it was his first case of a leech getting stuck and sucking blood from patient’s windpipe. Normally, such patients have leeches stuck in their esophagus (the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach).

Unfortunately, hospital staff incinerated the writhing parasite before our doughty photographer could risk life and limb to photograph it.


Malefactor monitoring maintained

Commander of the national police force visits the north

Saksit Meesubkwang

Pol. Gen. Kowit Wattana, Commissioner-General and his entourage visited the north on January 28 to oversee malefactor control measures in place in Region 5 before the national election on February 6. Pol. .Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, welcomed the group and reported the movements of gunmen and drug traffickers who might take advantage of the election to transport illegal goods.

Pol. .Lt. Gen. Panupong informed the Commissioner-General of three steps taken: more than ten commissioned police officers and warrant officers who failed to behave neutrally during the election have been put on inactive duty; police forces are now keeping an eye on the listed gunmen often used by some politicians, but have not detained either the gunmen or the politicians. Some gunmen are, apparently, from government divisions, however, they are all blacklisted by the central police task force and the police will arrest all malefactors if anyone is shot or other crimes of intimidation are committed.

Since some people view the northern area as the pathway for drugs and human smugglings, the border patrol police have co-operated with the army’s narcotics suppression officers to deal with the problem and have found, not surprisingly, that the source of these are neighboring countries. The police have also found more than 200 crossing points used by these gangs.

The Commissioner-General, stated that he was now informed about the situation in the eight upper northern provinces. He would like to emphasize to police in every area that they should suppress any cheating by politicians or their supporters. All police officers should stay neutral and officers should help on Election Day as well. Any abnormal situation involving gunmen or smugglings should be informed to the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 commissioner or the Commissioner-General. All reports will be dealt with as soon as possible to suppress any kind of violation. During the election, the police should be aware of traffickers who might take advantage of the occasion to transport drugs. Specifically, the police should keep an eye on every crossing point on the border to prevent drugs coming into Thailand.


Panty-less go-go girl attempts to seduce arresting officer

Nopniwat Krailerg

The boredom of police officers at Ban Thum Pla check point, Chiang Rai, was relieved recently when a go-go girl from Pattaya tried to seduce them in order to deter them from searching her. Nevertheless, the voluptuous Naree Poompuey, 35 was arrested on January 27 by an officer whose probity or orientation rendered him immune to her wiles.

Three days earlier Cheun Huanju, 33 from Taiwan had been arrested at the same checkpoint with 8.4 kilograms of heroin valued at five million baht, vastly exceeding that of the go-go girl’s hoard, which was only 400 orange speed drugs, a new type from the Wa group but, to the consternation of the arresting officers, it was discovered in her more private area, covered only by her slip — whilst the mundane hiding place of the Taiwanese national’s heroin was under the back seat of his car.

Naree, the go-go girl, was intimately acquainted with a drug dealer in Chiang Rai (whose name was not revealed) who had asked her to smuggle drugs from Mae Sai to Chonburi. It was concluded that the drugs had been brought from Burma and imported at the Mae Sai border.

The Pa Muang Task Force and the Mae Sai police, Chiang Rai, had set up the checkpoint after a tip-off. Was it following a complaint from a surprised customer, one wonders.


Chiang Mai Municipality to clean up waste water with EM technology

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

The hygiene office of the environmental section of the Chiang Mai public health and environment division will provide bio-microorganism dubbed Effective Microorganisms (EM) to the Chiang Mai Municipality or other organization concerned about improving waste water and the environment in the province.

Mae Kha Canal in the Chiang Mai Municipality area

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor, explained that EM has been used at six waste water plants prior to release into the Mae Kha Canal that runs parallel to the Ping River and flows east of the old city center, which is surrounded by a moat.

The points being treated are at Rakaeng Rd. near Mae Kha Canal Bridge; at Ausadathorn Road beside the Chang Puak branch of the Government Saving Bank; at Thapae Road near the Thapae Inn hotel, at Sri Don Chai Road, at Mae Kha Canal Bridge, and at the back of Wat Lok Molee.

EM is a liquid culture of aerobic and anaerobic micro-organisms mainly sourced from human food processing and from nature. It consists of lactobacilli, yeast, photosynthetic bacteria, ray fungi and filamentous fungi. It does not contain any genetically modified organisms, is safe and easy to handle, and harmless to human health even if accidentally ingested.

EM offers benefits in the fields of aquaculture, solid waste management, sewage and effluent treatment, hazardous waste treatment, hygiene management, farming, animal husbandry and care and environmental regeneration.