Valentines Day bomb causes income losses at Big C Lampang
Police, responding to a bomb scare report from a security
guard, declared Big C department store a danger zone at 11 p.m. on February
13th after a bomb was discovered behind a toilet in the male lavatory on the
first floor. The guard had been informed by a man at closing time that he
had seen the bomb hidden in the toilet.
Customers milled around nervously outside whilst the
scene was examined by Lt. Col. Jumras Panya. Lacking the proper tools, he
requested help from border patrol police in Mae Tang. Pol. Capt. Jumras
Prakong, head of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) examined the bomb and,
being a proponent of delicate handling, decided to use a high pressure water
pump to explode the bomb. This caused a massive bomb blast panicking the
watching crime scene junkies, many of whom wisely fled the scene, but did
not cause excessive damage to the building since it had been doused with the
water. Nevertheless, damage to the building and resultant loss of profits
was estimated to be in the millions of baht.
Pol. Capt. Jumras said that it was a homemade bomb with
gunpowder stuffed in a can. The bomb was twelve times more explosive than a
giant ping-pong bomb (i.e., a ping-pong ball filled with gunpowder,
considered a “standard” homemade “bomb” popular with youths). Police
have, however, allayed fears that ping-pong has become a dangerous sport.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Kraisorn Rungsang, commander of Lampang
provincial police, said that it could not yet be determined whether bomb was
planted due to a business dispute, staff or internal problems. He was
informed that there was a dispute between kiosk operators and the managing
director as the rents had been increased and protests had been made. He
suspected that the bomber intended to detonate the bomb on Valentines Day to
cause the maximum income loss.
CMU responds to proposal to move the airport north
Chiang Mai University disagrees with the airport
development project to make our airport the aviation hub in the north
region, a policy of PM Thaksin Shinawatra. The expansion of the runway will
be made in a northern direction which will affect the university in various
ways, such as increasing noise pollution, radiation disturbance to the
medical and communication equipment, disturbance of scientific projects and
the addition of chemical substances to the air. CMU is located on Suthep
Road near the airport.
complaining about noise and safety through increasing military and civil
Akom Thantakul, assistant director of the CMU public
relations and extra-curricula activities dean, said in the meeting between
CMU and the South East Asia Technology company that CMU representatives have
proposed that the airport or the runways should be constructed outbound
instead of inbound because inbound construction will affect the community.
CMU representatives have proposed three practical
solutions for the company: 1st the Thai Airport Authority should propose an
out-of-town airport construction project as soon as possible and the
construction should be take place within five years; 2nd a negative effect
inspection should be conducted, especially for noise pollution, radiation
disturbance, dust problems and the company should make the results public.
The company should install inspection equipment to learn the level of the
problem; 3rd a study of social and environmental effects from the runway
extension should be conducted.
CMU has already requested experts in engineering and
social studies to give their opinions and deal with the company proposal to
the airport development project.
The airport development project covers the extension of the runway from
3,100 meters to 3,400 meters. This extension cannot be made towards the
south since many communities will be affected. The Mae Hia citizens south of
the airport have already protested about the project last year. A
citizen’s poll revealed that they would like the airport extended
northerly rather than southerly because the airport is already too close to
town. Their health is being affected it is claimed.
Northern SMEs center trying to assist local entrepreneurs
The Center of Small and Medium Enterprises Development
and Distribution Promotion in Chiang Mai, which was opened by the PM Thaksin
Shinawatra last year, wishes to help entrepreneurs and give advice to small
and medium enterprises in the eight upper Northern provinces.
Thaksin Shinawatra presided over the opening of the Northern SME Center on
Toong Hotel Road, Chiang Mai. (Photo by Nopniwat Krailerg)
Napong Sanguannapaporn, director of the center announced,
“The implementation of the center in the north is under the support of the
Center of Industry Promotion. The Industry Promotion Department is the
leading division at the provincial level that supports and enables SMEs and
OTOP entrepreneurs to succeed in international market competition.”
The center has several meeting rooms of various sizes.
The center also provides three business center rooms with computers to
assist businessmen and their customers. Business counselors can give advice
on new enterprises, marketing, management, and an information search service
via internet links are available.
For more information contact the Northern SME Center on Toong Hotel Road,
Chiang Mai or call 053-266489 during the office hours.
Traders already flocking to
Baan Huay Peung border market
The Bann Huay Peung Market is finally open. On February
15, in Mae Hong Son, Suphot Laowansiri, Mae Hong Son governor, presided over
the opening of the long awaited Baan Huay Peung border market. Burmese
traders are already flocking in to sell their products to tourists.
The governor said that this market is considered the
starting point of the border trade in Mae Hong Son and the center for Thai
and Burmese goods. Many Burmese products are well received by tourists and
it is anticipated that the market will become a joint venture center for
Thai and Burmese traders. More than 1000 tourists and locals visited the
market on the first day and more than one million baht was spent.
Isares Phusara, the head of Mae Hong Son Tourism center,
said that the Baan Huay Peung market links Tong Kee province in Burma and so
the market could become a permanent immigration point for tourists to visit
Burma if the government allows this.
Phoonsak Sonnthrn Panichkit, Mae Hong Son Chamber of
Commerce president, not to be denied his say, added that the market will
become the center of trade with Tong Kee in the distant future.
The ever optimistic Mae Hong Son governor, Supoj
Laowansiri, stated that the newly open Huay Pueng border market will open
two or three times a month and would serve as a gateway for local trade
between Thai and Burma, and would soon overtake Mae Sai market in Chiang Rai
or Mae Sod market in Tak, he opined.
However, Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce has a more
jaundiced view, stating that border trade through Mae Hong Son might face
obstacles caused by the Burmese government’s reordering of border areas.
They reported that in January 2005 the province’s border trade dropped by
about 40 percent. The traders will wait and see, as where else can they go
to sell their goods.
North Thailand’s first underground Walking Street
To promote OTOP products
In an effort to provide more product channels for traders
and reduce the escalating kiosk rental price, the border town of Mae Sai is
engaging in a 20 million baht construction project of an underground walking
street to sell OTOP (One Tambon One Product) products. Chiang Rai province
hopes it will become a new tourist attraction and will open the door to
Indo-China international trade.
Wichai Taweevoradej, Mae Sai mayor, said that, to promote
Thai tourism, OTOP products, and local goods, the Tambon Municipality has
received 20 million baht budget from the Local Administration Division, and
the Office of Thai Social and Economics Development, to construct the first
ever underground walking street in the North — from the Mae Sai police
station to the top OTOP products center — a distance of 102 meters.
Most products on sale in the Mae Sai market in Chiang Rai
are from China and there are presently few OTOP products on sale. The
underground street will also form a connection to the OTOP exhibition
Solving Chiang Mai’s air pollution problem
Dr. Duongchan’s pollution solution to PAO
Saksit Meesubkwang and
Dr Duongchan Apavajirut Charoenmuang, chairman of the
Chiang Mai Air Pollution Solution Project, submitted a 13 point air
pollution solution to Udomsak Suwitsakdanont, deputy president of Chiang
Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO), on February 15 at the
Dr Duongchan’s plan includes a campaign for
eradicating outdoor burning, using garbage as fertilizer and suggestions
for raising funds, and every 3rd Friday of January every year to be kept
as Chiang Mai Clean Air Day plus a contest to produce an efficient kiln.
Udomsak said that the PAO already has a three year plan
concerning environmental problems. It also has a strategy to raise
awareness of natural resources and environment among the young generation,
to reduce air and water pollution in Chiang Mai and to campaign for people
to categorize their garbage to ease the process of garbage recycling.
The PAO is preparing to launch a project for complex
garbage management in Doi Saket district, Chiang Mai. It has already
signed a contract for construction to start soon which will take three
years to complete. Garbage problems will be a thing of the past, claimed
Udomsak, recyclable garbage will be reused and some will be turned into
fertilizer and sold cheaply to farmers.
Growers protest Chinese Garlic
More FTA dissent
Mae Ai administration hall was swamped by 1000 garlic
farmers, led by Thongsuk Bookdee, protesting dry garlic price values
guaranteed for May-July 2005. The protesters were demanding a garlic price
of 25 baht per kilo. Each had a chance to strut his stuff before the
divisions such as the provincial agricultural office, chamber of commerce
and the domestic trade office were asked to pass this issue through to the
government. Adison Kamnerdsiri, the Mae Ai district chief, finally promised
to pass the issue to the concerned organizations as requested.
The protestors demanded that Boonsong Teriyapirom, the
newly elected Thai Rak Thai MP, cooperate within three days, or else they
will blockade the Chiang Mai-Fang road as an expression of their
The cause of this protest was the government
pronouncement on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China for agricultural
products. So far, China has been increasingly producing farm products and
swamping the Thailand market. The goods from China are cheaper than the Thai
produce; therefore, garlic grown by Thai farmers remains unsold.
Although the government has helped garlic farmers in Chiang Mai by
guaranteeing them a reasonable garlic price, joining the FTA will affect the
Thai economy in many ways in the future. It appears obvious (to some) that
Thai agricultural produce will be more expensive than goods from China or
other Asian countries. If these countries enter into the FTA market it will
have a big impact on Thai farmers’ lives. It is time that the government
looks at both the positive and negative outcomes of the multiple FTA
One stop service center for visas and work permits
Thamrong Mahajchariyawong, deputy secretary of the Board of
Investment (BoI) Northern Region said that the BoI has coordinated with the
Residence Continuation Division of Chiang Mai Immigration Office and the Work
Permit Request Division of Chiang Mai Employment Office to provide a one stop
service for work permits and visa requests within two hours.
Mahajchariyawong, deputy secretary of the BOI committee.
Those allowed to use the center include investors or experts in investment
promotion, investors whose investment is valued over two million baht, services
employees or experts working for registered companies that have over 30 million
baht investments, foreign reporters, foreigners working for international trade
head offices and regional offices, researchers and developers in science and
technology fields, employees of international banks, experts in information
technology (IT) and employees of any company having a regional branch based in
Chiang Mai air quality worrying
Dust in air exceeds twice the standard
The dust particle count in Chiang Mai appears to be
increasing exponentially and is already approaching twice the acceptable
standard, rivaling Bangkok and Delhi.
Chiang Mai officers are now urging people to stop burning
garbage or grass in the open air in order to reduce smoke and pollution. It
is uncertain whether the change of the season from hot to hotter is the
cause of the windy weather blowing dust into the air.
Prinya Panthong, deputy Chiang Mai governor, admitted
that Chiang Mai has severe environmental problems concerning air pollution,
garbage, and ignored advertising-boards.
It is also anticipated that during February to May Chiang
Mai will face extreme heat conditions, already being experienced with cold
mornings but very hot days. The sky is sometimes gray which is, according to
Sanya Tumtakob, officer of the Department of the Chiang Mai Natural
Resources and Environment, a sign of a probable El Ni๑o phenomenon. He
did not entertain the premise that it the gray skies were simply a city
pollution haze as can be seen in Bangkok, Mexico and other polluted cities
around the world, at all times.
Forest fires in surrounding area and provinces can add to
the problem. Not relying on the view from the window, Sanya made the
shattering pronouncement that high altitude pictures show that the weather
is dry at the moment and fires can take place in many areas. With Chiang Mai
in a basin, as is Mexico, the air can hardly move and the citizens will
Chiang Mai has 8 million rai of forest in total of which
only 2.5 million rai is controlled by the forest fire force. The other 5.6
million of forest is unattended except by illegal loggers. The
administration will, as soon as possible, send a fire force to deal with the
problem, said the deputy governor.
Myanmar in the spotlight
In the midst of an aggressive campaign “not to visit
Myanmar (Burma) as a tourist” initiated by British Prime Minister Tony Blair
in Europe recently, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism Myanmar is trying to
counterbalance the controversial image of a country that is blackened by
accusations of human rights abuse.
During the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2005) in
Langkawi/Malaysia (see Chiangmai Mail Vol. IV No. 7, page 7), U Htay
Aung, the Ministry’s director-general, was given the opportunity to have his
U Thay Aung
(middle), director-general from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar
announcing the venue of ATF2006 in Yangon.
Ruled by a harsh military dictatorship, Myanmar is called the
“Golden Land” because of its myriad golden pagodas. With a total land area
of 676,000 square km that is the size of Britain and France combined, the
predominant Buddhist country has an almost 3,000 km long coastline along the
Indian Ocean. Over 50 percent of the land is still covered with forests.
U Htay Aung, the Ministry’s director-general said that with
a population of over 52 million, the Union of Myanmar is more than just a land
of golden pagodas and has just about everything that makes a memorable holiday
experience. Whether it is for cultural festivals, colorful markets, bizarre
traditions and 135 ethnic groups, or an eco-tourism adventure in sight of
snow-capped mountains or pristine beaches with crystal-clear waters, travelers
will be greatly amazed by the country’s splendid charms and overwhelming
generosity of its people.
Thus it is no wonder that Myanmar has experienced a
year-on-year tourism growth since 2000. In 2004, the country welcomed 656,000
visitors, including border tourism - an increase of 10 percent. The Ministry of
Hotels and Tourism’s efforts are aiding this growth to make travel to Myanmar
easier. One such initiative was the launch of the e-visa application via the
Internet for places without Myanmar representation.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is closely working with
their industry partners to promote Myanmar even more and to achieve the target
of 750,000 tourist arrivals by 2005. Efforts are ongoing to attract tourism
investment. Projects under consideration include beach resorts in Myeik (Mergui)
Archipelago, theme parks in Thanlyin (Syriam) and Yangon and urgent
infrastructure upgrades, such as highways and bridges in Shan State and
international airports in Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. Interesting to note is an
ambitious private project to establish the luxurious eco-lodge “The Lisu” at
Putao in Kachin State which will be opened in October 2005 by Swiss Brett
Melzer, who successfully runs Balloons over Bagan.
The Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board, Marketing Committee
chaired by New Zealander Raymond J. Bragg is organizing fixed date departure FAM
trips for travel industry agents, travel writers, and photographers. These
familiarization trips will start from April 5 until September 20 with 12
departure dates and cost USD 450 per person, including Myanmar Airways or Thai
Airways return ticket from Bangkok to Yangon, accommodation based on twin
sharing with breakfast, transfers and sightseeing 8 days/7 nights program
For tourists coming from Chiang Mai, there are regular flights to Yangon or
Mandalay with Thai Airways and Air Mandalay.
Energy use to surge
by 40 percent in next 20 years
Chiang Mai energy crisis
Prof. Dr. Thanongkiart Kiartsiriroj, manager of the
Chiang Mai energy development project, said that the use of energy in Chiang
Mai will increase 40 percent by 2024.
According to studies conducted concerning energy
production and consumption in 15,000 households, Chiang Mai energy
consumption is mainly from electricity, petrol and cooking gas. More than 50
percent of energy is used for utilities while cooking gas and charcoal are
used in 90 percent of the cooking process.
The Research Institute and the Science and Technology
Development Division of Chiang Mai University have been requested to draw up
a plan for Chiang Mai energy development. The project scope covers energy
production and consumption in the province, including local energy plans,
energy management in communities, the possibility of natural resource
capability in nine areas in seven Tambon Administration Organizations (TAO)
and Chiang Mai Municipality.
Energy consumption per family income in Chiang Mai varies
considerably, but if the presumed increase eventuates, Chiang Mai is now
facing an energy crisis.
Prof. Thanongkiart said that Chiang Mai has many
alternate energy sources that can be used such as bio-energy: straw, wood
charcoal, sugar cane, bio-chemical gas from waste water or animal waste,
solar energy, wind energy, tide energy, and garbage. These energy sources
are still not fully developed but could account for 10 percent of the energy
consumption in the future, particularly tidal energy if the current global
warming continues and raises the sea level, though it will never be enough
to make Chiang Mai a seaside resort.
The Chiang Mai Energy Office has already drafted rough
plans. A seminar to receive opinions and suggestions from concerned
departments will be held at the end of February in Chiang Mai.
Eight Chiang Mai districts face drought
The Tambon Administration Organization (TAO) has assisted
farmers affected by drought by allocating a fuel fund for pumping water,
reported Sathit Kantawong, administration official of the Chiang Mai Provincial
Disaster Prevention and Relief Office.
Eight districts of Chiang Mai are facing drought. The
affected areas are very far from water resources and include 18,000 rai of paddy
fields at an estimate loss of 850,000 baht. The province has a fund of 1 million
baht to give to each district to solve subsequent problems and relieve the
effects of the drought.
Chiang Mai governor, Suwat Tantipat, has assigned deputy
governor Prinya Panthong to tackle the problem and establish a drought relief
center that will work under the control of the Disaster Prevention and Relief
The affected zones are Doi Saket, San Sai, Muang, San
Kamphaeng, Mae On sub district, Sarapee, Hang Dong, San Patong, Samoeng, Mae
Wang, Chom Thong, Doi Lor sub district, Mae Chaem, Hod, Doi Tao, Om Koi, Mae
Rim, Mae Taeng, Chiang Dao, Prao, Chaiprakarn, Wiang Haeng, Fang and Mae Ai
Villagers attempting exemption
from 25 million baht court fees
Attempting to obtain 1 billion baht compensation from the
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), On U-Ngeng and 127
others have claimed they are underprivileged, to attempt to get legal
exemption from court fees. Their petition was accepted for consideration.
The board is to hold a further meeting in order to
determine the most suitable procedure for the exemption, individually or as
a class action. A conclusion will be reached in a week.
EGAT has proposed the evacuation of Mae Moh citizens to a
1,000 rai locality. The secretary of the social welfare office of Mae Moh
said that the resettlement had received cabinet approval in June 2004. The
deputy PM, General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh accepted the proposal for the
evacuation of 500 affected families from their ancestral homelands to other
Nothing has, however, been done to arrange the move or
provide necessary infrastructure and funds for re-building. The victims of
the pollution from the coal fired power station are now preparing to
petition the government once again.
Japanese to assist women at risk in Phayao
On February 16, Katsuhiro Shinohara, Japanese Consul
General, signed an agreement with Precha Wattanakunakorn, president of
Bangkok YMCA Foundation to donate 3.5 million baht to the YMCA foundation
for the construction of a convention hall in Phayao to help stamp out human
Shinohara, Japanese consul general, signed an agreement with Precha
Wattanakunakorn, president of the Bangkok YMCA Foundation.
Precha said that YMCA is contacted by an estimated 350
women a month, victims of human trafficking. Phayao is regarded as one of
the poorer provinces of the country and has many victims. In 1992, YMCA
established a branch in Phayao to conduct activities, support and prevent
children and women from involvement in the sex trade and work on human
rights issues, and to be a center for anti-trafficking activities.
The center has only a small conference room, insufficient for the
activities planned, and the Japanese government, being made aware of this
problem, granted 3.5 million baht to the foundation to use for the
construction of a larger convention hall.
IRS advisor to visit Bangkok
Individual consultations from March 17 - March 25.
The U.S. Consulate is happy to announce
that the dates for the annual Internal Revenue Service visit (IRS) have been
finalized. IRS representative Mrs. Elizabeth Kinney will be visiting
Bangkok. She will be available to provide individual consultations from
Thursday, March 17 through Friday, March 25.
Mrs. Kinney is scheduling 15-minute individual
consultations for the following dates: Thur.-Fri., March 17-18, and again
from Mon.-Fri., March 21-25. Appointments will be available from 7:30 - 11
a.m. and from 1 - 3 p.m.
In order to schedule an individual consultation, please
call American Citizens Services (ACS) in Bangkok at 02-205-4049.
In addition to individual consultations, Mrs. Kinney is
offering two one-hour seminars on tax issues for U.S. Citizens living
abroad. Those seminars will be held at American Citizens Services (Bangkok)
on Monday, March 21 at 4 p.m. and again on Wednesday March 23 at 4 p.m. No
reservations are necessary, just come to ACS a little before 4 p.m. on those
days and tell the guards at the front that you wish to attend the tax
Mrs. Kinney did ask that we inform you that she will not
have the ability to electronically file your tax return.
Commonly requested tax forms are now available at ACS.
However, there is no need to wait to pick up these forms. You may download
and print all tax forms for 2004 and prior years from the IRS website. Go to
www.irs.gov and click the “Forms and Publications” link on the left of
The U.S. Embassy Consular Section in Bangkok is located
at 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand (Nearest BTS Skytrain station:
Credit card con throws
a Spaniard in the works
On February 15, Achara Pasaphan, the owner of Sri Thong
Panich shop in the Night Bazaar told the police that a tourist, thought to
be Spanish but named Barry Peterson, used a counterfeit credit card to
purchase watches from her shop.
sketch of a presumed Spanish national, Barry Peterson wanted for credit card
Achara said that on February 14 Barry drove a red-labeled
pickup truck to her shop and bought two expensive Rado watches valued at
132,000 baht using a credit card. On trying to cash the credit card purchase
at the Krung Thai Bank, she was refused and told that the credit card was
Meanwhile, Sornkiri Intama, owner of the Sport Town shop
in the Night Bazaar notified to the police that the same counterfeit credit
card was used at his shop by for purchases worth 35,030 baht.
The police believe that Barry is a professional conman and might have
used counterfeit credit cards in many places in Chiang Mai. A sketch of the
suspect has been distributed to all police stations and shops in Chiang Mai.
It is not known whether pawn shops, where he may attempt to exchange
purchased goods for cash, have also received the sketch.
President of Highlander Foundation of Thailand to sue owner of Erawan Resort
On February 10, 60 Mae Rim police, Special Branch police
and administrative officials searched workers houses in the Erawan Resort in
Tambon Pong Yaeng, Mae Rim district after being informed that illegal Hmong
workers were employed there and were trying to get ID cards and work permits
to move to third countries. 50 Hmong workers who were unable to show their
highlander ID cards to the police were arrested.
Later the police questioned an owner of the resort, and
charged him. Wichai Jariyakornkul, 53, an owner of the resort, said that
Aswin Esterberg, 56, president of the Highlander Foundation of Thailand had
bought 138 rai of land for 120 million baht from him and ran a charitable
foundation to provide homes for Hmong who lived at Thamkrabok in Saraburi.
Wichai claimed that Aswin used the foundation as a vehicle to solicit
contributions from foreigners. He said he was also in dispute with Aswin
about the land matter. Following his arrest, Aswin was charged with
providing accommodation for illegal workers.
To defend himself, Aswin, on behalf of the Highlander
Foundation of Thailand held a press conference on February 17. He stated
that all arrested Hmong have cards issued by the Internal Security Division.
Aswin said that the arrest defamed him and the
Foundation. Hmong who were living at the Foundation had migrated from
Thamkrabok and were assisted by the Thai authorities, added Aswin. They were
allowed to legally reside in the kingdom by virtue of the cabinet resolution
of March 4th 2004. Some of them were waiting to emigrate to a third country.
Aswin has now bailed all of them out of jail. He
continued that the Foundation was not involved with any drug networks as was
being claimed by some people. He was appointed to be the Foundation’s
president by the cabinet resolution. He has worked to assist these Hmong, by
meditation, to quit drug abuse.
He insisted that his Foundation had never received
financial aid from either foreign countries or the Thai government. He used
only his personal money to run the foundation until he had to sell his
property to raise funds. Up to now, he has helped 15,000 Hmong to migrate to
Concerning the lawsuit, Aswin said that he had bought
land from Wichai with a 12 million baht deposit and made a contract that
when a title deed was given to him he would give Wichai another 120 million
baht. Until now, he said that he had not received the title deed but Wichai
claimed that he had broken the contract. Aswin believes that he is being
persecuted by Wichai and planned to sue him.
Aswin also made an appeal to PM Thaksin to ask for a
security guard to assure his safety and that of another 50 Hmong.