NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Mass transportation has arrived for Chiang Mai

Hans Blix states his views on what happened in Iraq

A mandate does not mean everything in the garden is rosy

Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce makes its first demands

Karens pledge to continue their fight

Two deaths from Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever in 2004

Alien labor - government gives in to reality

Resort found employing alien laborers

Student exhibition held at Central Airport Plaza

Red minibus turns turtle in Mae Rim district

The unhappy lot of women

Rehabilitation offered for female prisoners

Rally to raise funds for CMU Faculty of Medicine

From Farm to Table project launched to promote agricultural product lines

Seminar seeks information on the depths of the Ping River

Women warned of tricky cocktails

Deputy PM lectures police on corruption

Messenger with the wrong message kills employer

Girl crashes outside hospital

Mass transportation has arrived for Chiang Mai

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn stated that Chiang Mai Municipality has bought 26 minibuses, two maintenance minibuses and one route-checking minibus to be used as our foray into mass transportation. The cost of 62 million baht was supported by the government to fund promotion of Chiang Mai as an aviation hub.

The new 32-seat minibuses will operate on three main routes which the yellow minibuses cover. The first runs from Nong Prateep intersection to the foot of Doi Suthep (behind Chiang Mai University), the second route runs from Nong Hoi to Infantry 7th and the third from the Railway Station to Huay Kaew Waterfall.

The Municipality has purchased the minibuses because of an increasing number of personal vehicles in the city and the resulting traffic congestion. Effective mass transportation will help reduce traffic problems and air pollution and hopefully the number of personal vehicles on the roads.

Constant complaints about the red minibus service were also a reason for the purchase of the 32-seat public transport.

The mayor guaranteed that the newly-purchased minibuses would be in service soon to respond to people’s needs. The minibuses have been painted to make them attractive.


Hans Blix states his views on what happened in Iraq

Identifies the real threats to world peace and unity

Sandy Clark
Photos: Watcharapong Jingkaujai

Dr. Hans Blix, chairman of the international Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, former executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission and director general emeritus of the IAEA, is one of those rare international experts who can call a spade, a spade – with authority.

Dr. Hans Blix

In his closing remarks, given during his address at the CMU to those who can still think for themselves, he said, “In foreign affairs, as in medicine, you cannot have successful operations unless you make correct diagnoses. You need to apply critical thinking to get these diagnoses. If you do not, but instead create a virtual reality, that reality may collide with the reality on the ground. This, in my view, is what happened in Iraq.”

He was brought to Chiang Mai by the International Peace Foundation under Chairman Uwe Morawetz, and the interest in the man and his opinions was extremely high. The CMU auditorium was filled past capacity and an adjoining room had to be opened for the hundreds of students to allow them to understand the plight of a man who tried (unsuccessfully) to convince the world and its leaders that weapons of mass destruction were not found during 700 inspections at 500 different sites.

He stated that due to misinformation and the lack of cross examination, and with political leaders seizing upon unconfirmed “evidence”, was it possible for the Iraq war to happen. He compared the situation with seeing black cats in a street, then leading to the conclusion that there must be witches around.

The auditorium at the Faculty of Science at CMU was filled past capacity and students had to sit in a different room.

One of his main points was that terrorists do not live on clouds but must have their feet on the territory of states, so the international community should uphold the principle that each government has an obligation to ensure that its territory is not used as a base for attacks on other states.

However, Dr. Blix said he knows that for most people in the world the priority security issues are hunger, poverty, disease, and civil disorder. He does not believe that another world war is on the way but that global warming and environmental threats are much bigger concerns for man’s long-term security. “The United Nations has a role to play in helping to provide such security. Examples are easy to find. After the tsunami catastrophe, better warning systems are now discussed regionally and globally. Whether we want it or not the gradual global integration that is being brought about by the technical, economic, and information evolution is gluing us together. Increased interdependence and proximity will push relations between blocs and continents toward peace.”

But he also expressed concern over attempted nuclear armament of states such as North Korea and Libya and spoke on the implementation of “smart” economic packages, to help those countries, even Iran, to exit from poverty and starvation, as has happened in China. Solutions through negotiations! Dr. Blix spoke on the ways in which the world fights terrorism, about intensified international cooperation in the day-to-day field work of national intelligence, mentioning national police and financial institutions to trace persons, resources, weapons and dangerous material.

But it was not all doom and gloom. He said with a twinkle that, “There is hope. The diplomatic game is still on – which is better than seeing it off!” Despite that, he urged the media to be careful with speculations about the bombing of Iranian installations and about Iranian retaliation and added that he hoped that all sides feel the seriousness of the situation.

It was a complex address, but with very salient concluding remarks looking towards the future, towards more balance of power and the possibility to make the world a safer place.


A mandate does not mean everything in the garden is rosy

Hill tribes tell TRT that there are problems in the north as well as the south

Saksit Meesubkwang

Tribal leaders of the seven hill tribes living along the river (comprising Karen, Hmong, Yao, Lawa, Lisu, Lahu and Tai Tribes) met on February 7 at the Mae Hong Son Community Office. Pongpipat Meebenjamas, the organizer of the Natural Resources Management office reminded the TRT to be more concerned about grassroots problems, in particular those of the Mae Hong Son hill tribesmen, who make up 80 percent of the Mae Hong Son population.

Most of their problems, it was said, deal with land deeds. The land is predominantly mountainous and will soon be proclaimed as national reserves. The citizens earn their living from fruit plantations in these mountains and are presently being harassed by police and the army, and prosecuted for intruding on their own traditional homeland.

The government needs to be alerted to solve the issue and launch a clear policy in terms of the land in the national reserves, said Pongpipat. Mae Hong Son people chose TRT thinking that TRT’s management would be more effective and transparent and the government would listen more to the peoples’ requests. Time will tell if that rose-colored view was warranted.


Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce makes its first demands

Mae Hong Son looking for new roads and increase in Burmese trade

Staff Reporters

Phoonsak Soonthornpanichkit, president of Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce, said he believed that with a one-party government, TRT would bring positive prospects to the country’s management. Sounding an unusual note of caution, he said that he was, nevertheless, concerned about the possibility of a dictatorship that might arise from the party’s landslide victory. “We should monitor the government after the new cabinet has been set up to see if there is any improvement in Thailand’s problems.”

The Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce supports the government because it received the majority of the votes and this shows real democracy in action, he said.

Two Mae Hong Son MPs are now in parliament and the Chamber believes that they will try as soon as possible to develop the province according to the strategies set by the provincial administration. Of particular interests is the construction of the roads to Mae Hong Son (highways 108 and 1095) and the road from Samoeng to Chiang Mai via tambon Huay Pu Ling to Mae Hong Son. The Highway Authority of Thailand is now studying these for environmental impact.

The Samoeng–Mae Hong Son Road will be a main indicator of the efficiency of the MPs. The Chamber sees this road as a boost to Mae Hong Son tourism and an alternative to air travel.

The president added that the MPs must encourage trade along the border with neighboring countries. The market crossing point at Baan Huay Peung and other channels should be open permanently to do business with tradesmen in Tong Kee province in Burma. Mae Hong Son gains most of the provincial income from tourism and border trade and the Chamber expects their elected representatives dealing effectively with these issues.


Karens pledge to continue their fight

KNU’s attempts to negotiate with the Burmese government at a standstill

Saksit Meesubkwang

On January 31, Gen. Bo Mya, chairman of the Karen National Union (KNU), and approximately 1,000 KNU soldiers and Karen people joined the 56th anniversary at Miapoo Military Camp of the 201st battalion, which lies opposite Ta Song Yang district of Tak.

KNU secretary general Pado Mahn Shah said that the KNU has 70,000 members who are trained in political issues and military tactics, and are well prepared to cope with any incidents.

Negotiation with the Burmese government has been at a standstill since October 2004 when Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, former Burmese Prime Minister was removed from office, said the secretary general. KNU still has contact with the Burmese government but it is unknown when negotiations will recommence.

“The KNU wants the Burmese government to use peaceful means to handle every national issue. If the government is really sincere, all political prisoners should be released and it should negotiate with all minority groups and stop using violence,” said Pado Mahn Shah.

Lt. Gen. Mu Too, commander in chief of the KNU Army, said that negotiations with the Burmese government have to be based on equality and the government has to honor agreements with the KNU.

“Although we have negotiated to stop assaulting each other, government troops still attack the KNU camp and people; this shows their insincerity”, said the commander in chief. “We have been fighting for 56 years and are still strong. We will never let our Karen tribe be wiped out,” he vowed.


Two deaths from Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever in 2004

However 762 cases reported during the year

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office reported that last year there were 762 cases diagnosed and reported as having Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever in the region. This is equivalent to a ratio of 48 per 100,000 of the population. The largest group of patients (474) were aged 5 to 24 with only 26 patients aged below 5. Males slightly outnumbered females by a ratio of 1.15 to 1.

Of the 762 reported cases, only two people died from Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever last year.


Alien labor - government gives in to reality

Work permits for alien laborers to be issued from February 1

Chantawee Punmira

Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Office announced that work permits for Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian workers would be issued from February 1 this year.

Orachorn Rattanamanee, head of the office, stated that some work permits requested by Thai employers in July 2004 had been issued. Apparently the process takes only eight months.

The Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Office will, from February 1, be distributing work permit applications. From now on, applicants can pick up applications at the service centers of the Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Offices.

However, before general excitement sets in, some of the previously requested work permits were still being processed.

For more information, please contact the service center of the Chiang Mai Provincial Employment Office at 0-5322-2767 during office hours.


Resort found employing alien laborers

Nopniwat Krailerg

Pol Col Montri Sampunnanont, superintendent of Mae Rim District Police Station along with 60 of Mae Rim district’s police and administration officials searched the Erawan Resort in tambon Pong Yaeng, Mae Rim district after the resort was alleged to be employing alien laborers.

At the rear of the resort, the police searched 10 houses used by the workers and found that 50 Hmong were living there. The police and officials asked for their ID cards and highland ID cards but none of them had either.

Pol Col Montri said that he was informed that the resort brought these alien workers from Petchaboon and Tak and employed them as gardeners and general employees. The owner now was trying to issue work permits and other important documents so these workers could be sent overseas.

The police arrested all undocumented workers and are preparing to deport them. They are also questioning the owner.


Student exhibition held at Central Airport Plaza

Chantawee Punmira

Thai Vijit Silp and Chang Mai International School held an exhibition to show off their students’ talents at Central Airport Plaza.

Minister of Public Health Sudarat Keyurapun observes the students’ works at an exhibition.

Sudarat Keyurapun, minister of public health, presided over the opening of the exhibition on February 12, saying that the exhibition reflected students’ interest in arts and business administration. She enjoyed the exhibition and activity as it was promoting students to spend useful time and develop their skills and abilities.

The exhibition presented works from students at higher and lower vocational levels of both schools. Their works vary from drawing, painting, sculpture, commercial arts design and packaging design, architectural design and construction plan drafting.


Red minibus turns turtle in Mae Rim district

Inoperative traffic lights and speed indicted

Nopniwat Krailerg

It was the battle of the minibuses at the intersection where Pack Squadron Chiang Mai Camp links with the ring road which people use to commute between Mae Rim and San Sai district.

This red minibus turned turtle in a joust with a white minibus.

In a spectacular joust, the red minibus of Kamron Tanoi, 45, was overturned by the fully laden white minibus (Mae Taeng minibus) driven by Subin Norkaew, 46. Unfortunately, it was a rather Pyrrhic victory, as the snout of Subin’s charger was severely damaged, though his cargo of passengers was unscathed.

During questioning, Kamron said that his minibus turned right and headed to Huay Tueng Tao reservoir but the white minibus which was heading to Mae Rim district, crashed into him. Subin of course, saw this another way, and the wrangle needed Pol. Maj. Chatchawal Saengboon, inspector of Mae Rim District Police Station, to adjudicate. The doughty police officer was also needed to untangle the ensuing traffic jam at a peak time for traffic in the area.

Locals say the intersection has been used for a year and road accidents occur there because the traffic lights are usually inoperative or turned off, especially at night. They also say that people commuting on that route usually drive too fast, thus making it a regular black spot for road accidents.


The unhappy lot of women

Women and Children Protection Center’s shocking statistics

Chantawee Punmira

Every human is born with free will. However, it is surprising that some look down on other people and impose themselves to be more superior than others, even their own mothers. We have learned since we were young that humans are social animals, consequently they need attention from their fellows. Every human needs love from their family.

This is unfortunately a very familiar picture, not just on the streets of Chiang Mai.

The starting point for everyone is at home. Some people, especially women and children who come from fragile families, have it hard; they are obliged to face a life full of with difficulty and oppression. And that oppression comes from relatives, brothers and parents. Everyday, the news headlines show that this problem never fades away in our society. The suppression of women in Thailand is a huge societal problem.

The solution is somehow not easy. Although laws covering human rights are in the statute books, women and children are still taken advantage of. This repetitive problem is considered a national and global concern. The north of Thailand has this problem of oppression of women and children too. They are tortured physically, mentally and sexually. They are taken advantage of, forced into prostitution, illegal laboring, and abused. Every authority concerned should seriously work towards solving this problem.

The Chiang Mai Women and Children Protection Center revealed the fact of women and children being regularly abused physically and mentally in the north, including Chiang Mai. During the last six years, 73 women have been tortured physically and sexually by their fathers and another 52 by their stepfathers. 40 of them have been tortured by their own mothers. 97 cases refer to harassment by relatives. Boys are also victims, as 96 boys have been reported as being tortured.

Rossukon Thariya, a social welfare officer who dedicates herself to helping women and children, believes that the situation is explosive. “The situation of oppression of women and children in Chiang Mai and in the upper Northern provinces is considered critical. The center has frequently been receiving information about abused women and children - physically, mentally and sexually. They are forced, bought, sold, transported, detained, deceived, and hidden. Many women from neighboring countries are being forced into prostitution, or become illegal workers, or beggars. This immoral situation happens in Thailand and other countries as well; and Chiang Mai is used as the receiving province, the passing trade route and sometimes the final destination of these women. It is considered negation of the human rights of women and children and is an international and transnational crime. The government and the private sectors should take this problem seriously and try to solve it as soon as possible.”

The Women and Children Protection Center has efficient divisions to tackle the problem; such as the inspection section consisting of the Social Welfare Division and the Section 5 police force; a treatment section consisting of doctors, nurses, and officers in hospitals; the finance section which distributes the budget from government; the public relations section which publicizes the organization and its aims via the government mass media; the evaluation section under the control of the provincial administration, police force, and the Women and Children Division, doctors, and social workers.

These people need help. Everyone has a duty to help them by informing the center of human rights abuses. However, this problem will never fade away from our society if women and children are poorly treated by their own relatives or even their own parents. The proper solution is to encourage moral values through education which is the basis of the country’s development.


Rehabilitation offered for female prisoners

Chantawee Punmira

Concerned women and vocational associations in Chiang Mai have cooperated to establish the “Return Criminals to Society with Thai Traditional Massage” project. So that released prisoners may be rehabilitated and rejoin society as useful members, it is necessary to train them in some vocation so that they may earn their living when their incarceration is over. The project is under supervision of Yaowarat Shinawatra, the president of the National Women’s Association under the patronage of His Majesty the King.

Yaowarat Shinawatra (3rd right), the president of the National Women Association’s, and member of Businesswomen and Vocational Associations in Chiang Mai.

Yaowarat stated that this project was originated by the Chiang Mai Women’s Sanctuary to rehabilitate those who have gone wrong and, it is hoped, they will not return to criminal life on release.

Chiang Mai women inmates enjoy the Thai traditional massage project.

The project aims to teach them freelance professions so they can exercise their newly won vocational knowledge and become employed. The Chiang Mai Women’s’ Sanctuary also accepts others who are interested in attending vocational courses with the 150 selected former prisoners.

Apart from Thai massage course, the Chiang Mai Women’s Sanctuary will provide vocational courses according to their talents and capabilities, such as Thai cooking, silk weaving and flower and tree cultivation.


Rally to raise funds for CMU Faculty of Medicine

Chantawee Punmira

Chiang Mai University (CMU) Faculty of Medicine held a fund-raising rally on the 120 kilometer trip from Chiang Mai – Mae Rim and Mae Taeng to raise money for the medical equipment fund of the CMU’s Faculty of Medicine.

Autos begin the rally to raise money for medical equipment.

Assoc. Prof. Watchara Rujivejpongsathorn, deputy president of CMU, launched the rally caravan on February 12. The participants also competed for the trophy of Her Royal Highness Princes Galyani Nivadhana.

The rally was the first charitable activity of the Faculty of Medicine in 2005 and received overwhelming support from both governmental and private sectors and 80 cars took part in the rally.

Assoc. Prof. Dr Watchara said that the medical equipment would be used by students of the Faculty of Medicine in the building that was built to honor the 50th anniversary of King Bhumibol.


From Farm to Table project launched to promote agricultural product lines

Staff Reporters

The Chiang Mai Public Health Division in collaboration with the Agricultural Products Research Center and CMU launched the “From Farm to Table” project, aiming to provide knowledge and promote agricultural product lines.

The “From Farm to Table” project in action at the Canal Research Station.

This promotion follows the nationwide “Thai Kitchen to International dish” promotion, and Suwat Tantipat, governor of Chiang Mai, presided over the exhibition at the Canal Research Station earlier this month.

Governor Suwat said that this exhibition is to respond to the policy of safe and standardized food in the “Thai Kitchen to International Dishes” project of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The Chiang Mai administration has set the standards of the restaurants in Chiang Mai.

Presently 482 farms are participating in the project, and altogether 1,771 rai of land are allocated for the production in 14 districts. They can produce 5,078 tons of fresh food which is sold at city hall, schools in Chiang Mai, such as Dara College School and Mae Rim Public School, medical service places such as Dara Rassamee Hospital and Nakornping Hospital, markets, and other standard restaurants.


Seminar seeks information on the depths of the Ping River

Saksit Meesubkwang

On February 11, at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, World Gemstone Exploration and Mining Consultants in cooperation with the Mineral Resources Department, Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment held a seminar on Exploration for Subterranean Property Management at the North Ping River Area, which includes Mae Taeng, Chiang Dao and Prao districts.

Piphop Wasuwanich, deputy general director of Mineral Resources Department, presides over the seminar.

Piphop Wasuwanich, deputy general director of Mineral Resources Department, presided over the seminar and 100 government officials, forestry officials, village headmen, officers of tambon administration organizations and officers of private sectors took part in the seminar.

A representative of the World Gemstone Exploration and Mining Consultant said that the company was selected to run the exploration for subterranean property management within the north Ping River area and the exploration started in April 2004.

The exploration takes 200 days to finish. The Department of Mineral Resources has assigned the company to focus on three main activities, namely conference organization to brainstorm and encourage public participation, subterranean property exploration to investigate mineral resources, study and analyze thoroughly data collection.

Asst Prof Dr Nisit Pantamitra, a lecturer from the Faculty of Economics, Chiang Mai University said that as number of world citizens was increasing gradually, natural resources became insufficient for them and associated organizations should plan and draft effective strategies to manage the resources that are left.


Women warned of tricky cocktails

Nopniwat Krailerg

It seems that the young Thai males are resorting to slipping drugs into women’s cocktails for sexual purposes, since they are apparently not attractive enough by themselves. Over the years there have been many such chemicals with supposed aphrodisiac qualities, including the renowned ‘Spanish Fly’ which is Cantharides.

Dr. Phoonlap Nanthavijitwong, deputy head of Chiang Mai Provincial public Health office.

The latest being used by the over-sexed, but under-achieving males is GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate or Gamma-OH), warned Dr. Phoonlap Nanthavijitwong, deputy head of Chiang Mai public health office.

Used by party freaks, the chemical is mixed in drinks as it has no smell and only a slightly salty taste. Added to a drink, it reputedly makes women uninhibited and its effect lasts for one to three hours and is undetectable in urine samples taken four to five hours after intake, though blood tests do reveal the substance.

GHB has a direct affect on the nerves and is classified as a Class 1 banned substance and has been prohibited in the US since 1990. GHB was previously used for inducing sleep and a narcoleptic medicine during child birth and in the treatment of alcoholism.

GHB is often transformed into sodium salt in powders and tablets but most often it can be found as a liquid solution which is clear, colorless and a little salty. It is well known in the low-life market as liquid x, liquid ecstasy or Blue Verve.

Dr. Phoonlap added that it is never found in reputable drug stores and is illegally imported like Ecstasy. Penalty for use is incarceration for 1-15 years and fines of 20,000-100,000 baht for the producer, and sellers or importers will be jailed for 5-20 years and fined 100,000 - 400,000 baht.


Deputy PM lectures police on corruption

Saksit Meesubkwang

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Witsanu Kruengam gave a special lecture to inspectors in the eight Northern provinces under the supervision of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 with the concept being work efficiency and transparency.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Witsanu Kruengam gave a special lecture to inspectors from 8 northern provinces.

To improve the efficiency of police operations in accordance to the government’s policies, modern equipment should be used to speed up police work, said Dr Witsanu.

Modern technologies like computers could help and police in this era should be competent, not only in law process and investigation but also in other fields and be capable to work in coordination with other organizations, said the Deputy PM.

Police officers from 8 upper northern provinces.

Dr Witsanu added that when the reelected Thaksin Shinawatra government took the reigns again, it would focus on transparency, speed of operation and non-corruption at every governmental level. PM Thaksin warns that if any organizations were found indulging in corruption, they will be investigated and punished.

Some citizens view police in negative ways since some of them used to take advantage of people, said Dr Witsanu. However, the deputy PM admired Thai police operations since some police teams could solve important cases very rapidly.

He asked all police to consider public participation as an important factor for their operation and the new generation of police to support the people and be honest.


Messenger with the wrong message kills employer

Absence of gun control claims another victim in Chiang Mai

Saksit Meesubkwang

Awhu Luja (aka Chai), 21, was arrested on February 9, charged with being the killer of Wassana Wangjiangphun on February 7. Another person, Thodsamas Suwanruk, was wounded in the shooting. The motive for the killing was apparently that Wassana decided to fire her messenger for inefficiency and bad time keeping.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the provincial police Bureau Region 5, during the press conference.

Police were looking for Chai after the shooting, and arrested him when he returned to his home to celebrate the Chinese New Year at Baan Muang Krong. He was taken to Chang Puak police station where he confessed to being the gunman who killed Wassana and injured Thodsamas, then stole 200,000 baht. Police confiscated a .38 millimeter Smith and Wesson pistol with a loaded magazine and 211,000 baht cash. He was charged with first degree murder.

The facts surrounding the case were revealed at the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, where senior officers of the Chiang Mai Police gathered at Chang Puak station to look for the approval for their success in the presence of the press.


Girl crashes outside hospital

Gets very speedy treatment

Nopniwat Krailerg

At 2 a.m. on February 13, the Chang Puek police were informed by Lanna Hospital staff that a car had overturned in the road in front of the hospital injuring the driver, Sunisa Archrachkij, 26.

Sunisa Archrachkij’s overturned vehicle in front of Lanna Hospital.

Her car hit a fence and electricity pole and overturned. The road had been closed for underpass construction.

Police believe that Sunisa became drunk at a local entertainment outlet and attempted to drive back home in Nong Hoi.

On the way home she sideswiped a pickup truck and lost control, then hit the iron fence and electricity pole.

Rescue staff from Ruam Jai Foundation and Lanna Hospital medical staff extricated her immediately after the crash. It was fortunate that the accident occurred in front of the hospital and she received immediate treatment.