Vol. IV No. 7 - Saturday February 12 - February 18. 2005
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

TRT wins all seats in Chiang Mai

Escaped prisoner dies in gun battle with police

APEC Study Center of Thammasat University teaching international economy to Chiang Mai teachers

National Soldiers Day is marked in Chiang Mai

Rajabhat Chiang Mai University celebrates its 80th anniversary

17 steps to a Healthy Thailand

Northern economy and money situation in 2004

Opium crop destroyed

Lampang provincial strategies budget approved

Take time to smell the roses

City allocates 90 million baht to tackle air pollution

Daring attempted murder of Saming Ruenplee could be solved

Mae Hong Son targets border trade with Burma

TRT wins all seats in Chiang Mai

TRT and Thaksin Shinawatra in momentous landslide victory

Nopniwat Krailerg and Staff Reporters

Chiang Mai showed its spirit by turning out in strength for the election (80 percent of eligible residents voted) while TRT (Thai Rak Thai) led by current PM Thaksin Shinawatra, created history by becoming not only the first prime minister of Thailand to win a second term, but also the first to win the majority of votes in Chiang Mai, thus putting all 10 TRT candidates into parliament. TRT also increased its representation in the 14 Northern provinces from 55 to 71.

Ten of thousands participated at the latest TRT election campaign.

TRT again becomes the governing party with 382 seats in parliament being 307 seats from district divisions and 75 from the party list. This overwhelming majority allows him to form a one-party government making the opposition ineffective. PM Thaksin Shinawatra will now have no excuse not to fulfill his election promise, “To solve all Thailand’s problems,” in his second term.

Results in detail are:

Pakorn Buranupakorn, the former representative from the 1st district, won against democrat Dr. Deuntemduang Na Chiang Mai; Payap Shinawatra, the PM’s brother, becomes representative for the 2nd district where Yaowapa Wongsawat, the former representative, switched to being a party list candidate.

In other districts, Boonsong Teriyapirom, the former MP, received the majority votes from the 3rd district of Mae Rim and Mae Tang. Wittaya Songkam delayed the result by contesting the vote count in the 4th district. In the 5th district of Sun Kampang, Doi Saket and Mae On sub-district, the hometown of Thaksin Shinawatra, Pornchai Autrapreeyangkul from TRT defeated Pongprayul Rajapai from the Democrat party. In the 6th district, Nopakhun Ratpathai, the former MP, gained more than 70,000 votes to secure his seat; while Suraphon Kiartchaiyakorn from the 7th district regained his former seat. In the 8th district, Phanittra Pakkasem won; Julaphun Amornwiwat, the son of Pol. Gen. Sawat Amornwiwat, won in the 9th district and Sunthi Tunsuhat in the 10th district.


Escaped prisoner dies in gun battle with police

At large for four months with 50,000 baht bounty

Nopniwat Krailerg

A prisoner who escaped from Chiang Mai’s Central Prison four months ago was killed by police after he fired on officers who had cornered him in a mango orchard in Nong Jom, Chiang Mai on February 7.

Ming Jaiman, the escaped prisoner killed in the police fusillade.

Ming Jaiman, 50, died at the orchard after firing on police who tried to negotiate his surrender. Ming used a 0.38 mm gun to threaten the police. Three bullets were left in the gun.

Ming had been sentenced to 10 years for robbery and kidnapping but escaped from Chiang Mai Central Prison on November 6, 2004 together with Akkradech Kongkrajang, 40. Police nearly apprehended him on November 18 last year in Mae Rim district but he escaped when a policeman was shot in the leg (Chiangmai Mail previous report).

The police had set a 50,000 baht reward for Ming’s arrest and a villager recently informed the police that he had seen Ming with his wife in a rented house in the area behind Mae Jo University. When the police descended on the area in their usual stealthy fashion in a cavalcade of vehicles with wailing sirens, the perhaps prescient Ming sensed a police action and fled, but was cornered in the mango orchard. Ming refused to surrender and declared he would fight to the death. He then lived up to his threats.

The police fired tear gas where Ming was concealed then opened fire with a hail of bullets that lasted for 20 minutes. Ming was, not unsurprisingly, found dead when the firing frenzy finally died down.


APEC Study Center of Thammasat University teaching international economy to Chiang Mai teachers

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

The APEC Study Center of the Bangkok-based Thammasat University, in liaison with the Ministry of Education, intends to widen Chiang Mai teachers’ knowledge of international economy following the training course that was held at the Empress Hotel from February 3-4.

Dr. Surapol Nitikraipoj, president of Thammasat University

400 teachers in the North attended the training course presided over by Dr. Surapol Nitikraipoj, president of Thammasat University.

At the opening session, Dr. Surapol said that he was delighted that so many Northern teachers had joined the course as it was important that Thai people are equipped with knowledge of the movement of international economies and trade and understand global change, to benefit Thailand as a whole, and increase national competitiveness.

The APEC Study Center does not only provide knowledge on APEC but also APEC’s impact on international economy and global societies.


National Soldiers Day is marked in Chiang Mai

Saksit Meesubkwang

National Soldiers Day on February 3 was marked at the Office of the Combat Soldiers Welfare Organization on Chotana Road, Chiang Mai.

National Soldiers Day at the Office of the Combat Soldiers Welfare Organization on Chotana Road, Chiang Mai on February 3, 2005.

Maj. Gen. Jane Kiritaweep, the commander of the 33rd Military Circle, presided over the ceremony attended by a hundred veterans of the Vietnam War, Indochina War and other wars. A two minute silence was observed in memory of the soldiers who died in the service to the nation in many wars.

Maj. Gen. Jane praised soldiers for their heroism as well as their devotion to the nation and expressed concern towards their families and soldiers now on battle operations.

To recognize and reward their devotion and brave hearts, the Combat Soldiers Welfare Organization was formed to assist them in health conditions, social welfare and a good standard of living, said Maj. Gen. Jane.


Rajabhat Chiang Mai University celebrates its 80th anniversary

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

Asst. Prof. Dr. Ruengdech Wonglar, Director of the Chiang Mai Rajabhat University (CMRU), announced the Academic Fair will be held during February 12-14 and the CMRU Home Coming will be on February 12 to mark the 80 year anniversary of the university.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Ruengdech Wonglar (Center), Director of the Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, Asst. Prof. Jarin Chatphan, deputy director (left), and Uthai Suekrasae, Chairman of CMRU Alumni Club.

As the fair is an annual event, this year’s fair would be special to commemorate the auspicious 80th anniversary of the university, said the rector.

This year’s fair will feature the three main strategies of the university: development of teachers, language teaching improvement in which foreign university lecturers are invited to discuss topics of teaching the Thai language to foreigners and teaching foreign languages to Thais, and the cultural conservation project, in which local cultural experts will present their work and discuss cultural issues. The CMRU faculty, alumni and general public are all welcome.

At the Home Coming on February 12, 80 hot air balloons will be released to mark the celebration and hopefully not represent the coming semester.


17 steps to a Healthy Thailand

Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Division’s Utopian policies

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

The government has launched a new policy to encourage Thais to be more concerned about health, their intelligence, social relations, and intellect. People should live decently and think of economic self-sufficiency; according to a speech given by His Majesty the King. Thais should maintain good family values and healthy surroundings. Society must support learning and mutual help. Everyone should take part in leading Thailand to be “Healthy Thailand” until we are able to claim truly that Thailand to be a healthy country.

Dr. Ratthawut Sukmee, Head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, said that the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office has set 17 principles in response to the “Healthy Thailand Policy”.

1. Thais must have higher I.Q. and E.Q. levels

2. Thais aged 6 years or more must do exercises in every village, tambon, commune, division and place.

3. Thais have the right to continue their studies until the age of 12 and have a chance for further education in order to gain knowledge about health and life skills.

4. Thais should maintain good families: children and old people should receive attention from the family.

5. The average healthy life span of Thais must extend. The numbers of deaths from illness should decrease.

6. Every Thai has a right to receive standardized medical services.

7. Thais should be able to have good food with nutritional values for the body’s need. The food must not be contaminated. All markets, restaurants and food stalls must have health concern standards. Food must be produced under the GMP standard.

8. Thais should reduce alcohol intake and give up smoking.

9. The average rate of casualties and deaths must be decreased.

10. The number of suicides and mental illness should be reduced.

11. Thais must be safe from crimes and deadly violence, loss of property, mental abuse and sexual harassment.

12. Thais should earn a decent income.

13. Thais must live in hygienic places, have enough clean water to survive and live in healthy surroundings.

14. Thais must refrain from gambling and drugs.

15. Thais should have knowledge, love, unity and caring.

16. Thais should deal with problems in a peaceful and reasonable way.

17. Thais should believe in religion and traditions.

Chiang Mai provincial Public Health Office would work in line with the government policy and to reach the target.

Whilst excellent targets to aim for, the 17 golden rules are Utopian dreams as they do not show the ordinary Thai in the street or village, just how their IQ and EQ levels can be raised, let alone the other 16.


Northern economy and money situation in 2004

Watcharapong Jingkaujai and BoT

The economic situation of the North was recently summarized by Somsak Wongpanyathavorn, senior director of the Bank of Thailand (BoT), northern region:

In 2004 the overall northern economy expanded well, driven primarily by private consumption and private investment, in spite of some deceleration in the latter half of the year in light of a farm income slowdown, rising oil prices, and dampened consumer and investor confidence that prompted successive adverse uncertainties. On the external front, exports rose significantly, resulting in an increase in manufacturing production particularly that of export-oriented, nonetheless, export growth slowed in the second half of the year as foreign demand decreased. Services activity expanded well. Headline inflation accelerated from the previous year. Commercial bank deposits appeared to accelerate, but credits decelerated from the same period last year.

Production

Farm income rose slightly whilst manufacturing production expanded at a decelerated rate but remains at a satisfactory level in response to foreign demand in the events of the Euro 2004, the Athens Olympic Games, and the US presidential election.

Services

Services conditions improved from last year’s depressed level triggered by the news of the SARS outbreak, benefiting from tourism promotion by private and public entities, price competition among budget airlines, and concerns over the unrest in three southern provinces of Thailand that prompted tourists to shift destinations to the northern region. Hotel occupancy rate increased by 4.2 percent, while hotel average room rate was at 888 baht per room night.

Private consumption

Private consumption activity expanded well. VAT collected from wholesale and retail businesses rose by 16.2 percent year-on-year, reflecting improved economic activities in most northern provinces.

Investment

Overall private investment activity expanded. Capital investment accelerated both in the areas of export-oriented production and domestic oriented production. Government budgetary expenditures increased by 8.6 percent to 113,181 million baht whilst current expenditure grew by 6.1 percent. Capital expenditure rose by 14.3 percent, especially in the area of subsidies that stemmed from disbursement of Tambol Administrative Organizations (sub-district administrative organization). As for government income, revenue rose by 13.8 percent.

Fiscal position

Taxation grew by 15.6 percent, particularly specific business tax, corporate income tax, and value added tax (VAT). As a result, budgetary balance registered an increased deficit of 97,907 million baht

Foreign trade

Export value increased by 28.8 percent to 2,162 million US dollars. Border-trade export value increased markedly, even though exports to Southern China declined, as exports to Myanmar and Laos PDR expanded well.

Import value rose by 21.3 percent to 1,353 million US dollars. Border-trade import value also expanded well as imports from every neighboring country increased, especially Burma. Trade balance registered a surplus of 810 million US dollars, compared with a surplus of 564 million US dollars in 2003.

Prices

The Consumer Price Index rose from the previous year by 2.8 percent, accelerating from 1.9 percent in 2003. Food prices increased by 4.8 percent as prices of meats, fish and seafood rose in response to consumer demand prompted by concern over the avian flu outbreak; while the price of fresh vegetables increased in light of diminished supplies. Non-food prices grew by 1.6 percent largely as a result of increases in prices of retail benzene gasoline, electricity price per unit, and motor vehicle maintenance. Core Consumer Price Index increased by merely 0.1 percent year-on-year.

Labor

The northern region labor force stood at 6.8 million whilst the unemployment rate, nonetheless, increased from 1.6 percent in the same period last year to 1.8 percent because agricultural employment was adversely affected by drought conditions.

Banking

At end-November 2004, commercial bank deposits outstanding expanded by 6.2 percent to 296,205 million baht. Meanwhile, commercial bank credit outstanding grew by 7.7 percent to 215,628 million baht, decelerating slightly from the same period last year in line with economic activities, with credits being extended export businesses, especially rice and processed agricultural products. The ratio of credits to deposits was 72.8 percent, improved from 71.7 percent in November 2003.

More official details may be found at: http://www.bot.or.th/bothomepage/databank
/RegionEcon/northern/public/econ_e/ch1_e/4712NRE con_ e.htm.


Opium crop destroyed

Third Army realizes 82 percent of target in two months

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Third Army Region reported over 469 rai of opium plantations were destroyed from November 20, 2004 to January 30, 2005.

The operation accomplished 82 percent of the targeted 568 rai set by the Institute of Narcotics Crop Cultivation Survey of the Office of Narcotics Control Office or INCCSONCO. Another remaining 45 rai of suspected opium cultivation are still under observation.

The opium eradication campaign was carried out by the Drug Combating Center, which is now located in Chiang Mai.

The Third Army Area’s Tactical Operation Center Task Force has launched a website http://www.pin47th. net to publicize the information on the eradication of opium plantations throughout the country.


Lampang provincial strategies budget approved

Nopniwat Krailerg

Lampang deputy governor Athikom Supanpong revealed that a budget of 21 million baht has been allocated to support the provincial development of Lampang’s competitiveness and potential.

The fund will handed out in two stages. The first tranche of 10.5 million baht will be provided shortly and the second awaits finance department juggling.

The fund will be used to cope with urgent problems that directly affect the population and for which no other budgets can be tapped. It will be used to aid and support the government’s policy of developing rural areas and communities and boosting the quality of its management and administration.

Provincial development strategies that focus on making the city livable, a tourist attraction and ceramic center takes forty percent of the fund and another forty percent will be kept for solving urgent problems. Ten percent of the fund will be hoarded for service quality in the government sectors and suppression and prevention of corruption and another ten for administration of the change. These categories make access to the fund more easily available to the administering officials.

The spending plan will soon be submitted to the Governor for approval.


Take time to smell the roses

Low temperatures on Doi Inthanon summit temps tourists

Saksit Meesubkwang

Most of the North is still enjoying low temperatures, especially in remote mountain areas. The cold heralds the annual blossoming of wild roses on Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai.

Around four to five thousand tourists jam the winding mountain road to this magnificent mountain peak at weekends to wonder at the rare beauty of the wild roses, (called “Thousand year roses” in Thai).

The wild roses are not the only attraction for Thai tourists who also enjoy the seldom experienced cold and crisp mountain air and wild birds flying in the forest. Bangkok may have its expressways in the sky, but in Chiang Mai we still have birds overhead.

Sumphan Sirisumphan, Doi Inthanon’s wildlife conservationist, said that the wild roses can only be found at the 1,500-2,000 meter level on Doi Inthanon and begin blooming mid January or in February. Their short-lived glory ends after February. Wild roses are similar to normal roses but with sturdier trunks, more like perennial plants.

Don’t miss the chance to view these wonders now or you will have to wait for next year. The temperature on Doi Inthanon is now about 3.5 to 10.5 degrees Celsius.


City allocates 90 million baht to tackle air pollution

Nopniwat Krailerg

A budget of 90 million baht has been allocated by the Department of Pollution Control for Chiang Mai to tackle its air and noise pollution crisis, said Prinya Parnthong, Chiang Mai Deputy Governor.

A common sight in Chiang Mai

The severity of Chiang Mai’s air pollution is reputedly reduced as a result of campaigns and strict control on sources of air pollution. Air quality measurements taken indicate minute dust particles at approximately 60-80 micrograms, lower than the danger level of 120 microgram.

The decrease is due to a decrease in forest fires, prevention at construction sites and stricter checking of vehicle exhausts. The success is attributed to eight working groups.

Another budget of 9.43 million baht is allocated for the province to tackle agricultural crop and trash burning. The target was set to encourage at least 500 farmers in 2,000 rai of farmland to plough in unused crops and leaves instead of burning to help reduce air pollution.


Daring attempted murder of Saming Ruenplee could be solved

Coffin maker arrested for attempting to fill his product

Nopniwat Krailerg

Boonlert Pohmphad, 38, a former village headman of Moo 3 village in Hang Dong, Chiang Mai, was arrested by the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 as one of the murder team that attempted to kill Saming Ruenplee, a village headman of Bongtan, Chiang Mai on January 12 at the Chiang Mai Municipality Office (as reported in Chiangmai Mail).

Saming was shot in the head on the day he attended a meeting on garbage management of Chiang Mai city whilst surrounded by a group of ten colleagues in the municipality parking area. He is still in a coma at the McCormick hospital in Chiang Mai.

The police arrested Boonlert at his coffin factory in tambon Hang Dong, after determining that a team of five people, of which Boonlert was one, was behind the hit said Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong.

During the usual interrogation, Boonlert freely admitted that he was one of the team and has had a business conflict with Saming regarding the garbage tip, as the police suspected. He and his fellows had previously tried three times, unsuccessfully, to murder Saming.

The police know the names of the other team members and they expected to make arrests soon, said the commissioner.


Mae Hong Son targets border trade with Burma

Saksit Meesubkwang

Thailand promoted border trade with Burma in 2004 and agreed to export consumer and technical products in exchange for buffaloes, jade, diamonds and sesame oil. This trade exchange is believed to strengthen relationship between Mae Hong Son and Burma at the local level.

A new border market at Huay Pueng checkpoint in tambon Huay Pha Mae will be opened on February 15. Initially, the border market is set to open only on weekends but plans to be open more regularly if negotiations with Burma succeed.

The current conflict between minority groups and the Burmese government is said not to affect the province’s border trade but the Burmese government has yet to guarantee security to traders along the border areas and no one is holding their breaths.

Poonsak Sunthornpanichkil, newly elected president of Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce said he would soon strengthen the relationship between Mae Hong Son and Taunggyi in Burma. He added his opinion that, if the province was too hung up on national security, trade and economy would worsen.

Once the Huay Pueng market is open, the Chamber of Commerce will additionally promote trade at Nam Pieng Din village, Ban Sao Hin and Mae Sam Laeb.

The main income of Mae Hong Son is from tourism and border trade. In 2004, 1.5 billion baht circulated in the province from tourism related businesses and services, and border trade brought at least 2 billion baht to the province, stated Poonsak. He urged the government to give significance to the province’s border trade equally to its concerns for national security.



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