Air pollution in Chiang Mai soars
In spite of a brief respite, after the first unseasonable
rain fall, air pollution in Chiang Mai is rising to record and dangerous
The standard maximum level of suspended particles is 120
micron/cubic meter, but after March 13, the dust level increased to 151.2
Even though a 24 hours Call Center has been established,
few calls have been received as yet, except from foreigners who feel that
nobody there understands them.
Apiwat Khunarak, director of the 1st Environment Office,
responsible for the Call Center, accepted that even though the center has
been established for little more than a week and citizens have accepted the
service, it was found that the center needs to effectively manage several
internal systems. Many foreigners called the center but officers didn’t
understand what they were saying. He would present this issue to the Chiang
The call center telephone number is 053 890 000.
Cable car string breaks before it gets off the ground
Plodprasope Surasawadee, chairman of the special land
management for sustainable tourism committee, revealed that he had
stopped the construction project for the cable car at Doi Luang Chiang
Dao, Chiang Mai. “After PM Thaksin Shinawatra claimed that there will
be a survey made of Doi Luang Chiang Dao to develop and establish a
tourism place by setting up cable car, resistance from NGO’s was
received,” he said.
natural resources and beautiful views - Doi Luang Chiang Dao.
Until 2004, he was going to employ an overseas company
to survey Doi Luang Chiang Dao for five million baht; however, as he
expected that NGOs might resist the project, he had to stop the project.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao, the third highest peak in
Thailand, is rich in natural resources and attracts many tourists.
Nikhom Puttha, Thailand’s Northern Wildlife Fund
coordinator and a member of the Doi Luang Chiang Dao protection group,
gave thanks to the government for paying more attention to the importance
of natural resources and lifestyles of local residents. If the project
had been approved, he said, it would have meant that wildlife, forests
and homes would be destroyed.
“Not only our organization, but many other
organizations disagreed with this project,” he said. “We resisted the
project, not for our own advantage, but for protecting national
resources, so the government’s decision to cancel the project is the
right one,” he added.
Nikhom Puttha said that after rumors spread about the
Doi Luang Chiang Dao project, many visitors, interested in this issue,
visited Doi Luang Chiang Dao to see the nature of it, bringing much more
garbage to Doi Luang Chiang Dao. This showed that there was too much
garbage even without the cable cars, but if the construction had
occurred, garbage might have increased by several hundred percent.
However, March 26-27, the Rak Chiang Dao Club will pick up that
garbage and destroy it, and the resistance parties will provide
information to the public on March 30 at Baan Tharn Kaew in Muang, Chiang
Mai, to asses their resistance process and give thanks to the government.
Water vending machines provided
The director of Chiang Mai Water Works Office proclaimed
that the office has prepared sufficient water throughout the drought period
and has provided water vending machines for residents. 230 million baht was
spent on the machines that distribute 115 million cubic meters of water per
Thiensawat, director of Chiang Mai Water Works Office area 9.
On March 15, Thammasak Thiensawat, director of Chiang Mai
Water Works Office area 9 said, “There are two cisterns containing water
for distribution in Chiang Mai. At present, Chiang Mai Water Works office
provides 80 million cubic meters of water per day, and Chiang Mai residents
use 60-70 million cubic meters. Water has been sufficient for people’s
needs, but about 200,000 tourists travel to Chiang Mai during weekends,
meaning that the water demand increases.”
The director added, “The Chiang Mai Water Works Office has a project
for water production in the pipeline, and construction will start in April
at Tambon Patan in Muang, Chiang Mai, budgeted at 230 million baht. It can
produce 115 million cubic meters of water per day. This project has been
undertaken because the number of residents living outside the city is
increasing, and if water production remains at the same level, it will not
be sufficient. Old pipes will be also replaced and expanded to reach every
World’s biggest pot of pork curry cooked in Chiang Mai
Were there too many cooks for the broth?
On March 20, in the courtyard in front of the Three Kings
monument, a huge two meters wide and one meter deep pot of Northern pork
curry was cooked. The ingredients included of 700 kg of pork and entrails,
1,000 liters of water, 24 kg of ancient traditional Knorr flavoring cubes,
and herbs. There were 20 cooks making the curry, following an ancient recipe
of MR Thanatsri Sawatdiwat, a well known Thai food expert and employer of a
large number of cooks.
Thanatsri Sawatdiwat, Weera Rojpojanarat, deputy permanent secretary of
Ministry of Culture; Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor; Boonlert
Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor; and Yon Pokhasub, Unilever Best Food, cook
the biggest pot of “pork curry”.
This program was initiated by Unilever Best Food, (who
unsurprisingly produces the ubiquitous Knorr flavoring cubes), together with
Chiang Mai province with profits from the sale of the curry plus 30 million
baht from Unilever being donated to support schools in the South that were
affected by the tsunami.
Many important gourmands joined the program, indicating the importance of
pork barrel politics. These included MR Thanatsri Sawatdiwat, Weera
Rojpojanarat, deputy permanent secretary of Ministry of Culture; Suwat
Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor; Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor; Yon
Pokhasub, of Unilever Best Food. All honorary guests including the wives of
the Chiang Mai deputy governor and Chiang Mai mayor joined in the cooking,
risking spoiling the broth.
Third Army exercises held amongst Red Lahu tribe
Baan Wanaluang at Tambon Tamlod in Pangmapah district,
Mae Hong Son, was visited by Lt. Gen. Picharnmeth Muangmanee, the Third
Army Region 3 Commander and his team to train the villagers on how to
protect themselves against drug use and AIDS.
He said that the visit also aims to encourage the
officers to sacrifice their time to teach villagers about preventing forest
The result, said Lt. Gen. Picharnmeth, was satisfying
because the villagers cooperated with the officers very well. Baan
Wanaluang used to have a drug and AIDS problem but they have reformed. This
village is an example for several other villages.
Most of the villagers of Baan Wanaluang are Red Lahu
tribes, and have moved from Baan Sankamleu and Baan Yapahan. The government
provided them with an area to make a living and to stop planting opium in
1986. Baan Wanaluang was established as a village under the care of Tambon
Sobpong in 1999, transferred later to the care of Tambon Tamlod.
Forest protection agency involved in logging
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Or who will guard the guardians?
When villagers of Baan Pa Mawlaw, Mae Hong Son, reported
that officers of the Forest Conservation Coordination Office were cutting
trees in a forest nearby without informing the villagers, Saowarat
Yimrungruang, Mae Sariang district chief officer rushed to the scene to
Somjit Netpradit, the head of Forest Conservation
Coordination Office said that the building, for which the trees were cut,
was an office of Mae Sarb Protected Forest Development Project, a Teak
Breeding Center in Mae Hong Son, and that the governor allocated funds for
it. The office is tasked with the process of forest prevention and
renovation under the responsibility of Forest Prevention Coordination Office
2. The project was conceived to protect and conserve 1,000 teak trees in the
A representative of Baan Pa Mawlaw said that on three
previous occasions, men who claimed they were government officers cut trees,
and told the villagers they were cutting them for constructing an office,
not for sale. The villagers were afraid of losing their forest as the
repeated tree felling, without notification, smelled of illegal logging.
In their opinion, the forest belonged to the local
residents, as they had planted the trees themselves to show their admiration
for HM The Queen, and for bountiful nature.
The representative added that there were many government
officers from the police and army transferring teakwood during weekends, and
some police offered to pay wood transporters 5,000-10,000 baht per time.
They could transfer the teakwood without fear of apprehension as they were
part of a network of police and army officers.
There is no one protecting the forest, said the
villagers, as apparently government officers are themselves involved.
Treasury Department donates land for public parks
Look out for one popping up near you
Prinya Panthong, vice governor of Chiang Mai selected
land and signed a contract to set up public parks, courtyards, art galleries
and libraries within and outside Chiang Mai Municipality.
Surapong Suksurat, Chiang Mai treasury officer, said,
“To expand green nature areas throughout our country is a cabinet
resolution, and therefore the Treasury Department is donating seven plots of
land.” The funds for construction will come from the local administration
A property at Tambon Sriphum will be set up as an art
gallery, courtyard and library. A public park will be set up at Tambon
Thungtom in Sanpathong district, a courtyard at Tambon Nakawkreu in Hod, a
public park, courtyard and library at Nongpeung in Saraphi, a courtyard at
Tambon Mae Fagmai in San Sai, a public park, courtyard and library at Tambon
Chaisatan in Saraphi, a public park at Tambon Chang Peuk in Muang and a
courtyard and public park with 76 kinds of trees in front of Chiang Mai’s
700 Year Anniversary Stadium.
Chiang Mai gears up for Songkran MVA Festival
On March 20 Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, chaired
a Chiang Mai Road Safety Center (RSC) committee meeting to find methods to
prevent or reduce traffic accidents during the Songkran festival.
Government and private sectors brainstormed for hours and
came up with five innovative and unusual strategies, such as enforcing
traffic laws, promoting driving skills, solving traffic jams, providing
emergency medical services, and assessment reports. There will be an
administration center for road safety at city hall on March 31, coordinating
the five strategies.
The Chiang Mai governor said, “During last year’s
Songkran festival, there were 15 deaths and 1,705 injuries from traffic
accidents. We are expecting to minimize deaths and injuries as much as
possible this year by establishing service centers at all villages to watch
for breaches of traffic laws. Also, there will be 50 checkpoints on the main
routes. We request residents to cooperate with us by paying attention when
traveling and to welcome tourists with warmth, impressing them by splashing
water gently, for the sake of Chiang Mai’s good image, and for encouraging
Songkran traditions to be upheld forever.”
Whilst these are all noble sentiments, sentiments have
precious little effect on Thailand’s abysmal road toll figures, being some
of the worst in the world. Chiangmai Mail pointed out last year that
since the majority of fatalities result from motorcycle accidents,
influenced by alcohol, and the majority of deaths arise from motorcyclists
without adequate helmets, there are two obvious areas to start any campaign.
Chiang Mai Night Safari has sufficient water
Excavates 15 artesian wells and constructs reservoirs
Udomporn Anutwong, director of Administration in
Conservation and Management revealed that water supplies for the Chiang Mai
Night Safari are sufficient, and it is predicted that 1,000 cubic meters of
water would be used per day.
Several sectors were anxious about insufficient water,
but Udomporn confirmed that water would be sufficient because the Department
of Groundwater Resources has excavated 15 artesian wells. All groundwater
wells could pump up to 95 cubic meters of water per hour; therefore, the
safari would not face drought, even though these wells could pump only 16
hours a day.
“15 groundwater wells are surely sufficient for all
water-related activities used in the safari park, without taking water from
any other nearby area,” Udomporn claimed.
In spite of the new measures, there will also be a
reservoir holding water taken from the artesian wells, and the park will
receive cooperation from the Irrigation Department by laying pipes from the
canal to the area. Furthermore, public water will support the Night Safari
park by distributing water to the project.
Chiang Mai rehearses emergency situation
False rumors about an impending earthquake spreading in Chiang Mai
Amid growing but unfounded rumors of an impending
earthquake, Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat has ordered the Office of
Public Disaster Prevention and Relief, other departments concerned,
volunteer rescue teams and emergency doctors to get ready for emergency
at Kad Suan Kaew Department store perform well during the mock rescue
The Kad Suan Kaew Department Store was selected to be an
assumed disaster scene because it is a high building and has many visitors
Governor Suwat said, “This training was successful, and
people have now practiced dealing with emergency situations. We will rescue
people in high buildings by helicopters belonging to Wing 41 and the border
police. As for those on lower levels, we are preparing giant air cushions to
cushion their fall. All sectors are getting along well, instruments are
ready, and all processes are on time and in order. Even though there is no
earthquake expected, natural events are unpredictable, so it is better to be
Can we now all rest easy in our beds?
Chiang Mai Lanna Art and History Galleries to be built
Chiang Mai Municipality to spend 120 million baht
An area of two rai behind the Three Kings Monument that
used to be a residence of the prosecutor, will be converted into the Chiang
Mai Lanna Art and History Galleries, said Suwaree Wongkongkaew, head of
Support and Development of Chiang Mai Municipality Works. The government has
authorized 120 million baht for this project, and construction is expected
to be completed in 10 months.
behind the former city hall is to become an art gallery.
The two galleries feature the city’s early stages, the
lifestyle and history of the past 700 years. Opposite the Three Kings
Monument is a district court building that will be converted into a Lanna
Art Gallery as a local museum. The city History Gallery is located near the
Art Gallery, and both historical issues complement each other.
History buffs say that the area used to be the prosecutor’s residence,
and an ancient city wall has already been found next to it. It is expected
that more ancient artifacts will be unearthed, so some historians are saying
there should not be any building constructed in that area.
Chiang Mai development plans unfold
New airport for Chiang Mai province
Dr. Surapol Kadchamat, director of the National and
Regional Planning Bureau, said that in order to develop Chiang Mai province
as a center of tourism and trade, a new airport is needed. The new location
will be in Baan Thi, Lamphun, and a ring road will be constructed to link
with the airport.
By doing so, the local industry in Lamphun would also
benefit greatly. Furthermore, a new road from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai via
San Kampang would be built, passing Mae Aon sub-district and Lampang. The
initial plan was to renew the existing Doi Saket route, but local residents
A seminar on regional and national plans was organized to
draft a vision of development. The development plan covered the best use of
public utilities in all areas.
At the same meeting, Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor,
informed those present that Chiang Mai would enlarge Huay Kaew Road by three
meters on each side, at a cost of 120 million baht, to reduce traffic
Traffic jams during the weekends occur regularly from Kad
Suan Kaew to the Phucome intersection, as many tourists like to visit the
Kruba Sriwichai Monument and Doi Suthep.
The plan is also to beautify the road with trees and
flowers, “to make Chiang Mai green and beautiful.” To further develop
the city and roads would not only to create a positive image of Chiang Mai,
but also impress visitors and tourists, said the governor.
Government under attack for failed bird flu policies
Deaths could exceed the millions lost in World War 1, say academics
Bird flu, according to Prof. Pongsak Angkasit at a public
veterinary health convention held with Chiang Mai University on March 11,
has damaged Thailand’s economy, exports, and the well-being of its
citizens, especially farmers. It might spread wider than expected, and
humans would die in numbers compared to lives lost during World War I. Dr.
Pongsak is president of Chiang Mai University.
Dr. Pongsak Angkasit, president of Chiang Mai University.
Vet. Dr. Darunee Thatsuwan, main coordinator of the Office of
International Education (OIE) and National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity
and Food Standards (ACFS), explained that bird flu is also known as virus
H5N1, a type of influenza virus in a species of Orthomy xoviridae.
Veterinary Health Regional Institute holds a bird flu discussion at Chiang
Mining company trying to evict families from their ancestral homes
Illegal land title presumed issued by influential persons
Farmers from Tambon Bawkaew in Samoeng, Chiang Mai, have
lived on and farmed their land for countless generations, regularly paying
taxes to the government. Now I.T.C. Mining is trying to evict them from
their 35 rai of rice paddy.
Pramoonpol, assistant to Chiang Mai’s governor, receives the petition.
They claim that no land was sold to anyone but the
company is still trying to clear them out and previous petitions to the
court and the PM have met with no success. Now, led by Surachai Tawbeu, they
are trying one more time with a petition to the Chiang Mai governor.
They requested that a committee be set up to establish
truth of how I.T.C. Mining obtained the land title although the residents
never sold land to any company. They wish to find the persons who issued the
title and ask that they be punished for so doing.
Ownership of the land should be withdrawn from the
company and title granted to the long-time residents. They demand that all
these requests should be answered within 10 days - if not the residents
would take action to receive justice.
Thanakorn Pramoonpol, assistant to Chiang Mai’s
governor, met with the protestors and received the petition on the
It has now been discovered that the owner of I.T.C. Mining, Sawang
Amornwiwat, just happens to be a relative of former police commissioner,
General Sawat Amornwiwat and a member of this family is the MP of Chiang Mai
Red minibuses keep rates down
Singhkham Nunti, the president of Nakorn Lanna Transport
Cooperatives, told Chiangmai Mail on March 22 that transportation on
red minibuses will not cost more, despite the rise in fuel costs.
Singhkham said that after the cabinet decided to increase
the cost of diesel fuel by three baht, effective from March 22, vehicle
owners and especially the 2,700 red mini bus drivers will be affected.
minibuses in Chiang Mai will not raise prices … for now.
However, Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives confirms it
will maintain the former rate of 10 baht as long as possible because it
understands that people would have a difficult time if prices were raised.
To help stave off some of the costs, the 1,000 co-op
drivers will consume Bio-Diesel provided by PTT and Bang Chak gas stations.
They also will receive a 50 satang (half a baht) discount per liter.
However, if the government adjusts upwards by another two baht later this
year, the red minibus co-op would need to review and may adjust the rates,
but to not more than 12 baht. There is no member of the cooperative who
could increase the fee unilaterally, he added.
Twelfth Christian conference to be held in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is preparing to welcome Asian leaders for the
12th Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) entitled “Building Communities of
Peace for All”, March 31-April 6 at Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, Chiang Mai.
The Presbyterian Christian Church of Thailand is the host
for the conference, held for the first time in Thailand. There is a
conference every 5 years hosted by different member countries of the CCA.
Chiang Mai is selected to hold the conference due to the community of
Presbyterian Christians and its renowned provincial environment. It is
expected that there will be 500 attendants.
CCA was established in 1975 at Parapat, Indonesia under
the name of “East Asia Christian Council” (EACC) and it was formally
promoted in May 1959 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and later changed to CCA, in
June 1973. At present, CCA consists of Presbyterian Christians or Protestant
organizations from 18 different countries in Asia. The head office is
located in Hong Kong. The administration committees and executives manage
the CCA by using three ministries: 1 Faith, Mission and Unity, 2 Ecumenical
Formation, Gender Justice and Youth Empowerment and 3 Justice, International
Affairs, Development and Service and many more special activities.
The title of this conference matches the target of World
Christian Council (WCC) that campaigns on the issue of Decade to Overcome
Violence, and matches that of the United Nations (UN) “Decade for a
Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World”.
Therefore, the conference of CCA is a reflection of sharing cooperation of
Asian Christians to find methods to make peace for the world.
Married couple arrested carrying ya ba pills
After our last expos้ of the drug trade, it appears
that underwear and bras are now no longer the hiding places of choice for
drug traffickers, having been replaced, at least temporarily, by
Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya (left), commissioner of the Provincial
Police Bureau Region 5 at the press conference.
Revealing that their information came from the customary
tip-offs, Pol. Maj. Gen. Manoch Cholwisit, commander of Phrae Provincial
Police, and his team arrested Anan Hiranyarak and Suwannee Saekho on March
The couple were apprehended at the Nang Fah checkpoint in
Song district, Phrae while in the process of transferring 60,000 ya ba pills
inside loudspeakers from Tambon Thaton Mae Ai, Chiang Mai, to Chonburi.
Mobile phones, golden necklaces and 57,000 baht in cash were also
The married couple admitted that they had done this three times already
as they could sell one to two thousands pills a day in Pattaya.
Pah Muang Task Force chopper down
On March 20, soldiers of the 241st Cavalry Battalion, Pha
Muang Task Force, flew in to relieve soldiers along the border. During the
flight, a dense fog rose and the pilot, due to limited vision, lost control
of the helicopter.
workers transfer the injured to hospital.
Soldiers on duty in Fang rushed to the rescue in two more
helicopters. The rescuers needed to rappel down 300 meters and searched for
two hours for the injured. Fortunately there were no deaths but there were
10 soldiers injured, three of them seriously.
It is presumed that the helicopter’s load was too
heavy, and the old equipment made it difficult to maneuver in bad weather
Motorcycle bag snatcher fells Italian
Petty theft increasing as Songkran approaches
On March 16, a 56 year old Italian (who preferred not to
give his name) was approached by a man riding a motorcycle who snatched his
bag, felling him in the process. The police quickly radioed ahead to set up
road blocks but the thug bag-snatcher was not apprehended.
It has been reported that pick-pockets and snatch and
grab thefts are increasing in Chiang Mai, especially during the season
approaching the Songkran festival.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner
of the Provincial Bureau Region 5, is sending 300 additional police officers
on to the streets to look for and suppress crimes. He will consult with the
commanders of the eight northern provinces, as well as with the
superintendents of each police station, as to how to prevent, save and
secure the lives and possessions of residents and visitors during the
Songkran festival. There will be blood alcohol level checks on motorcyclists
and cars on every main transit route. Police with and without uniform will
be deployed and the drug transference issue will be concentrated on during
Chiang Mai Immigration arrest 30 alien beggars
Laboring layabouts lurk in grove
A grove near Ruam Choke market was found by immigration
officers to conceal a group of illegal immigrants from Burma who, failing to
find work, were begging around Chiang Mai, bothering tourists and giving the
city a poor image. Thirty adults and children were arrested.
It is thought that they may have been supported by
extorting labor agents. Evidence also exists that some of the child beggars
have been deliberately mutilated to increase their pathos.
Pol. Col. Piroj Phraesakul, superintendent of Chiang Mai
Immigration Office said that they suspect a gang of human traders who steal
and mutilate children. Police are cooperating with Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai
hospital to check DNA, and if children are found with DNA not matching their
purported parents, the adults will be prosecuted for human trading.
Another drug trafficker bites the dust
The usual tip off led to the Third Cavalry special task
force stopping a mounted motorcycle with two men on board. Before the
officers could search the suspects, one of them fired shots and the usual
fusillade of bullets was returned, leading to the expected death of one
trafficker, the escape of the other and leaving arresting officers,
The dead man was identified as Sansern Fai-auer living at
Baan Hong Hae in Mae Sai.
Also recovered were ya ba pills of various colors, heroin
and 500 baht cash.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Jamnong Kaewsiri, commander of Chiang Rai
Police Station, informed the press that there has actually been a decline in
drug transfers along the border of Chiang Rai because of suppression
tactics. However, small groups were still operating. Hill tribes have helped
to identify transfer points and times, he said.
Karen Kaya tribesmen destroy Burmese army base
Armed Karen Kaya forces attacked the Burmese army and
soldiers of the Red Star Troop and, using an ancient Fu Tze strategy,
separated the enemy’s forces and attacked the Red Star Troop whilst
ambushing other Burmese armies reconnoitering near by Yamu base leaving many
dead and injured.
The leader of Karen Kaya reported that it was meant to be
a counter attack against both the Burmese and the Red Star who had earlier
unsuccessfully attacked the Karen Kaya Yamu base using heavy weaponry,
mortars and field artillery.
The Karen Kaya Deputy leader revealed that they would
soon attack the agriculture area of the Red Star as a ya ba production
factory was in production in that area, and would also attack the food route
of the Burmese army. He added that the Kaya would not cease their attacks
until they had driven the hated Burmese army away from their Yamu base. It
was predicted there would be a big battle on March 27 as this will be
Burmese Force Day.
Lahu drug dealer killed in front of his family in Chiang Rai
A Lahu hill tribesman was killed in the city of Chiang
Rai while shopping with his wife and child at a market there. It seems that
he was on a drug dealer’s list, as well as a police blacklist.
Pol. Maj. Somchan Purimsak, duty inspector of Muang
Chiang Rai Police Station, was informed on March 21 about the shooting on
Trairat Rd., opposite the residence of Chiang Rai’s provincial education
officer. The police rushed to the scene and found the body of Lahu hill
tribesman Jaju Jahae, 47, lying dead, having been shot by a .38 revolver.
The body was riddled with five shots, showing those who perpetrated the
crime did indeed want him dead.
Eyewitnesses informed the police that Jaju was driving a
truck with his wife and child to do some shopping at the market, but when
crossing the street after parking his truck, a gunman, with his face covered
by a black mask, shot him. He died immediately at the scene.
Jaju was on the police blacklist for drug dealing. Police
will investigate the reason behind the shooting, and try to find the man
behind the gun.