HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A most happy birthday to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Happy Birthday Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya

Local residents help snare stand-over gang

Hang Dong municipality announces Northern New Year celebrations

“Phra Ajarn Noo” abbot of Mae Pang temple dies

Chaiprakarn police arrest six live drug dealers with 17,800 ya ba pills

First it was a Honda,then a Toyota and now a Benz

Wualai Walking Street maintained

Police arrest Abbot for stealing Buddha images

Chiang Mai lottery ticket sellers protest injustice

Notorious Red Wa leader opening a casino opposite Mae Hong Son

Two more Lisu drug traffickers slain in sting operation

Fifth conference on dust, air and noise pollution problems in Chiang Mai

Korean credit card gang arrested

A most happy birthday to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was born on April 2, 1955, the third child of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand.

HRH studied from kindergarten to high school at Chitralada School in Bangkok. She ranked first in the National School Examinations in the primary level (grade 7) in 1967 and in upper secondary level (grade 12) in 1972.

Ranked fourth in the National University Entrance Examination, HRH enrolled in the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, first class honor, and a gold medal in History in 1976. She continued her studies in two graduate programs concurrently, obtaining an M.A. in Oriental Epigraphy (Sanskrit and Cambodian) from Silpakorn University in 1978, and an M.A. in Pali and Sanskrit from Chulalongkorn University in 1980. She enrolled in a doctoral program at Srinakharinwirot University (former College of Education) in 1981, and was awarded a doctoral degree in Developmental Education in 1987.

The principle of using education as a means for community and social development, which HRH acquired during her doctoral studies along with her former experiences in the field, has provided her with a solid base for her subsequent involvement in community development activities.

In addition to her formal degree programs, HRH has attended several training courses and workshops to enhance her knowledge and skills in effective integrated development. These subjects include computer, cartography, meteorology, survey and photogrammetry, remote sensing and geographic information system and nutrition.

HRH has acquired first-hand experiences in working on development projects initiated by Their Majesties the King and Queen. These projects involve a number of diversified fields including health and hygiene, education, water resource development, agriculture and cottage industry by regularly accompanying Their Majesties on visits to remote areas since the age of sixteen.

From these experiences, she has developed special interests in agricultural extension to improve school children’s nutritional conditions; supports education from pre-school to tertiary levels; and mother and child care. She has also concentrated on helping the handicapped, especially in using information technology (IT) to develop independent living and learning skills.

HRH runs several philanthropic organizations and foundations. She has been Executive Vice President of the Thai Red Cross Society since 1977; Executive Chairman of the Chaipattana Foundation (in charge of His Majesty’s development and environmental preservation projects), Ananda Mahidol Foundation (to promote higher education), the King Rama II Foundation (to conserve and promote Thai Culture); President of the Sai Jai Thai Foundation (to support disabled veterans), Prince Mahidol Award Foundation (to award prizes annually to members of the international community for outstanding performances in the fields of medicine and public health); and Adviser of the Committee of Thai Junior Encyclopedia Project by Royal Command of H.M. the King.

HRH began her teaching career in 1979 when she started teaching the General Education Program at Chulalongkorn University. A year later, she joined the Department of Law and Social Sciences, in the Academic Division of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. Presently she is Director of the Department of History, and has played an active part in revising its curriculum. She also supervises the Thai Music Club at the Academy. Occasionally she gives special lectures at several other institutions and regularly attends academic conferences and seminars both in and outside the country.

In addition, HRH represents Their Majesties in various royal functions. She also presides over ceremonies as well as other social and charity functions all through the year. In 1991, HRH was awarded the Magsaysay Aw ard for Public Service.

HRH likes to travel around the Kingdom and abroad to obtain knowledge of physical geography and peoples’ varied lifestyles. One of her favorite pastimes is writing articles, poetry and short stories. Proceeds from her written accounts of her overseas travels are the main source of income for the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Foundation which was set up in 1979 to support needy students in schools, vocational colleges and universities.

HRH loves Thai literature and studies literature of other countries. She enjoys playing classical Thai instruments and practicing Thai classical dancing. She also paints and is keen on sports, including jogging, swimming, biking and trekking - which gives her an opportunity to learn about plants, trees and geographical features of the areas.

In addition to her knowledge of Pali, Sanskrit and Cambodian, HRH is communicative in both English and French and has been learning Chinese, German and Latin.

Happy Birthday Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya

Chiangmai Mail humbly joins the Kingdom of Thailand in wishing Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya a most happy birthday on April 5.

Princess Ubolratana was born HRH Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya on April 5, 1951, in Lausanne Switzerland. She is the eldest daughter of HM the King and Queen.

After finishing her education in the United States of America, she stayed in America for many years, raising three children; Miss Ploypailin Jensen, Mr. Poom (Bhumi) Jensen and Miss Sirikitiya Jensen. It was with great sadness that the Kingdom of Thailand, and people throughout the world, this year mourned with Princess Ubolratana upon the loss of her only son, Poom (Bhumi) Jensen, during the tsunami disaster in the south of Thailand.

Since returning to Thailand, the Princess has embarked on many activities for the betterment of the Thai people. One notable project is “To Be Number One”, which deals directly with the drug problems in the kingdom.

Local residents help snare stand-over gang

Saksit Meesubkwang

A gang of teenagers who were extorting parking fees from motorists attempting to park on Moonmuang Road outside the Mandalay Bar have come to the notice of the local police.

Parking in front of Mandalay Bar on Moonmuang Road. (Photo by Watcharapong Jingkaujai)

Having been informed by residents, Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, assigned Pol. Col. Prayad Boonsri, superintendent of Muang Chiang Mai Police Station to lead a police troupe to search for the gang of teenagers. This gang was demanding money for parking Moonmuang Rd.

It appears that the members of the gang were collecting 40 baht for car or pickup and 20 baht for a motorcycle.

After receiving the assignment, Pol. Col. Prayad Boonsri instructed his police force to take the names of the miscreants and record them in the police list. It appears that the leader of the gang is called Ja Aod, a former soldier of Wing 41.

The commissioner added that if anyone was asking for money by claiming they had influence, it meant that he was a gangster and would be prosecuted. “I am warning all concerned: if lower level police cannot suppress this, then I will certainly suppress it by myself because all citizens have to be under the same law,” he said.

Hang Dong municipality announces Northern New Year celebrations

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

Hang Dong municipality, in cooperation with government and private sector will organize the Hang Dong Songkran Festival entitled “Seub Heed San Hoi Paw Koi Pee Mai Muang Hang Dong” during April 5-8. It is hoped this will encourage Lanna culture and tradition and promote Chiang Mai tourism. It will be organized at Hang Dong municipality office, supported by funding from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Northern Office Region 1.

Chamroon Reng-tha-normsab, Hang Dong municipality mayor (2nd right) at the press Conference

Chamroon Reng-tha-normsab, Hang Dong municipality mayor, said, “The municipality is close to local residents and their lifestyles, therefore it has to promote and protect the beautiful culture of its local area. That’s why the Northern New Year is organized, following local traditions and culture.”

There will be outdoor activities starting at 7 p.m. entitled “Rampeung Teungha Pee Mai Muang” between April 6-7, as well as Kantoke style dinners. Traditional performances will be shown once a day.

Between April 5-8, there will, of course, be a Thachang (the old name of Hang Dong) local beauty contests for both adults and children. Contestants must wear Lanna costumes and will be tested about their knowledge of Lanna. There will also be local food competitions such as papaya salad and larb, a ceremony of pouring water on elders’ hands, local culture and tradition performances and an OTOP goods walking street.

“Phra Ajarn Noo” abbot of Mae Pang temple dies

Staff reporters

“Phra Ajarn Noo Sujit Toe”, 87, much loved abbot of Doi Mae Pang temple, passed away peacefully on March 21. His disciples and relatives paid respect to his body, and requested the grant of royal cremation rites for the body.

Local residents of Phrao district, Chiang Mai, learned that Phra Ajarn Sujit Toe known variously as “Phra Ajarn Noo” or “Phra Kroo Sujit Toe Thana Jarn”, abbot of Mae Pang temple in Phrao district, Chiang Mai, had died in his residence in the temple. Phra Samlee Puttaso, a disciple of Phra Ajarn Noo, said that his master had been sick and was treated at Maharaj Hospital for the past two years. Having come back to the temple, he blessed his disciples and relatives, and died soon after.

Many Buddhists supporters of Phra Ajarn Noo, went to make obeisance at the body on March 22. In the afternoon of the same day, Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, lead the bathing rites before placing the remains in a coffin. His disciples will make merit and virtue for one hundred days.

Phra Kroo Sujit Toe Thana Jarn used to take care of Luangpoo Wean Sujino when he was alive. He had practiced the Buddha’s teaching all his life and donated 55 million baht for a building for healing monks in Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital.

Chaiprakarn police arrest six live drug dealers with 17,800 ya ba pills

Saksit Meesubkwang

Pol. Col. Phumthat Pankul stated on March 25 that the police had spent 50,000 baht in a sting operation to buy ya ba from the gang and 17,800 ya ba pills, two mobile phones, a motorcycle and a pickup were confiscated. The drug dealers were identified as Anuwat Jayee, Pasee Jathorn, Songkit Witee, Uthen Horpralad, Prati Jajo and one woman, Nameecah Jalu. They all admitted that the ya ba was transferred from the Thai-Burmese border and they had done this repeatedly.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya said that this ya ba gang was a very successful one that had assigned both hill tribes and local people to work systematically and those arrested were only unimportant dealers. The police were in the process of collecting evidence to arrest the rest of the gang. He added that most of the ya ba found in the Northern region was type 13, and it needed to be checked by forensic scientists to identify the producers.

The drug dealers and 17,800 ya ba pills arrested by Chaiprakarn police.

First it was a Honda, then a Toyota and now a Benz

Saksit Meesubkwang

Claiming that he has suffered continuously from the date he purchased his brand new Mercedes Benz 180 for 2.39 million baht, Pairoj Boonprasert, a well-known Chiang Rai attorney attempted to return the car to Thaweeyont Leasing Co., Ltd. in Sansai district, Chiang Rai.

He told Chiangmai Mail that he had purchased the Benz back in October2003, paid cash, but the engine behaved oddly within a month. Several serious accidents occurred due to the car suddenly stopping, so repairs were made at DaimlerChrysler Company, Bangkok.

Pairoj added he later appealed to the company to replace his faulty Benz with a new car, but the agent refused, stating that it could be repaired. The car was repaired several times and the guarantee period was extended to more than two years, but it was still in the same condition and he decided to leave the useless car at home.

Having asked, he knew that the company would buy the car back at market value for 1.7 million baht, which with an added 20 percent, would have netted him 2.04 million baht, but he would have been required to purchase another new car at a high price from the same company.

“If a car cannot be used it needs to be changed. The company has refused so I have to use a truck and a motorbike for my wife,” Pairoj said. “I don’t need redemption money but a new car, or repayment of the money that I paid for the car. If the company does not do anything I will ask for justice because I have been burdened by the problem for more than two years. I have presented a petition to Consumer Protection Committee,” he added.

Sudsawat Laorungroj, manager of Thaweeyont Leasing Co, Ltd. accepted the petition and promised to pursue the matter. Pairoj is awaiting results of the pursuit.

The current ‘stalemate’ is that Pairoj wishes to purchase a new car, but DaimlerChrysler (Bangkok) is asking for an additional payment of 690,000 baht. Pairoj, however, does not want to spend more than 360,000 baht. The agent in Chiang Rai is simply a coordinator between Pairoj and DaimlerChrysler. Pairoj has not pressed any charges yet. DaimlerChrysler BKK is currently consulting with their Head Office in Germany about this case.

Wualai Walking Street maintained

Staff reporter

Wualai Walking Street, having been judged successful, will continue for another ten weeks. Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor said, “The high profile Saturday fairs in Chiang Mai on Wualai, Nimmanhaemin and Wat Ket roads have proved very successful, and both locals and tourist enjoy them. It supports the economy and tourism in Chiang Mai well, so Chiang Mai municipality will extend the project for another ten weeks. Walking Street will again run from March 26 to May 28, 2005.”

The municipality invites residents who are interested in selling handicrafts to sell their products on those days, and requests them not to sell other goods because it may lead to deviation from the original purpose and people might not enjoy it as much.

Police arrest Abbot for stealing Buddha images

Nopniwat Krailerg

Phra Charawut Thammawaroe, 32, acting abbot of Wat Jetiyanusorn or Yang Phra Thad Temple, located at Tambon Sanpuleuy in Doi Saket, Chiang Mai has been arrested for stealing Buddha images. His secular name was Charawut Kaewyon, from San Kamphaeng district, Chiang Mai. One of the stolen images was an important Buddha image 9 inches on base and 12 inches high dubbed Phra Fonesaenha, belonging his own Wat Jetiyanusorn Temple.

The thefts occurred between November 6, 2004, and March 1, 2005 and the first intimation was the loss of three Buddha images from the residence of a monk on the second floor at Wat Jetiyanusorn Temple. The images were described as a bronze Subduing Mara “Phra Fonesaenha”, an important image of Wat Jetiyanusorn Temple, and two other bronze statues.

Having stolen the three images, the nefarious monk replaced them with fake Buddha images. Local residents were saddened by third event and requested the police to arrest the robber for punishment and the return of the Buddha images.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong assigned officers to pursue this case and they later collected enough evidence in cooperation with investigation police of Doi Saket Police Station, to request a court ruling to arrest the miscreant.

A witness, Phichitchai Khamleu, a driver close to Charawut Kaewyon, who agreed to sell the three Buddha images on the market, confessed that when Charawut was acting abbot, he stole many Buddha images from the temple passing them on to him for sale. The driver received 500 baht from the 20,000 to 90,000 baht received for each sale. The important Phra Fonesaenha was sold in Bangkok for 120,000 baht. However, the police have already recovered the image, but two remaining Buddha images are said to be in Chiang Mai and Tak. The buyers have been contacted to return them.

Chiang Mai lottery ticket sellers protest injustice

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

Over 200 people gathered at Chiang Mai City Hall on March 21, requesting justice in the sale of unallocated lottery tickets. The Government Lottery Office had earlier considered the qualifications of Chiang Mai lottery sellers cooperatives improper, and refused to allocate lottery tickets to them.

Phongsak Wangsamer (left) Chiang Mai assistant governor receiving a petition from the Chiang Mai lottery sellers cooperatives.

210 lottery sellers signed a petition to present to the government concerning the unjust action of the Government Lottery Office. They question the cause of “improper qualifications” as they have sold lottery tickets for the last 15 to 20 years, and became Chiang Mai lottery sellers cooperatives, duly certified and licensed as required by the law.

Thannanya Kaewmuang, the president of Chiang Mai lottery sellers cooperatives said, “We are being treated unfairly, and after contacting the Government Lottery Office, we were informed that we have not been selected. The office didn’t explain the reason. We feel that there is injustice and question is why many other lottery agents in Chiang Mai have been allocated lottery tickets? If we buy lottery tickets from these agents, we will be charged two percent, and people will take advantage of our situation.”

Phongsak Wangsamer, Chiang Mai assistant governor, received the petition on behalf of Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, and will check on those lottery sellers from head of village and Tambon and PAO, to certify their qualifications. Then he will present a petition and information collected to committees of the Government Lottery Office to review.

Notorious Red Wa leader opening a casino opposite Mae Hong Son

Thai Chamber of Commerce supports venture

Saksit Meesubkwang

Poonsak Sunthornpanichkit, the president of the Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce, stated, “Col. Mahaja, the Red Wa leader is preparing to set up a casino at Baan Hua Muang, Shan state in Burma, opposite Mae Hong Son district. A casino would be advantageous to Mae Hong Son economy because those visiting will require transit services, restaurants, hotels and tour agents as Mae Hong Son will be the gateway to visit the casino. We can not resist the casino as it is not in Thailand but in Burma.”

He added that Mae Hong Son receives income from tourism and border trade but this occurs only for a period of three months, from November to January every year. For the rest of the year hotels, restaurants and tour agents have to hold out until the next high season. For that reason he is enthusiastically in support of all year tourism with visitors visiting the casino.

Border trade at Baan Huay Phueng, Tambon Huay Pah in Maung is hindered by the Thai government limiting goods transference to Burma and government departments poking their noses into border trade matters, leading to many problems between business owners and the government. The other border trade problem is that vehicles can not use routes all year because of rain. These problems decrease the economic growth of Mae Hong Son, he said.

It appears that Col. Mahaja has applied for the former Khun Sa base to be the location of the casino and has constructed a 30 room hotel. It is also reported that the Burmese government has certified Col. Mahaja as the Red Wa leader and allowed him responsibility for Shan States in relation to economy and border trade and supports him with 11 battalions of army troops to take care of the border.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Thong-in Harnpajonseuk, commander of Mae Hong Son Provincial Police Station said, “Whatever supports the economy of the province is good, if it does not affect national security. The casino is not Thailand’s concern but cross border traffic will increase drug transference.”

He added that if the casino opens for Thai clients, it might lead to conflict between the Thai and Burmese governments, as provincial government levels could not deal with it themselves. The casino might only be a rumor, and we will have to wait for more information from the Burmese government, he added.

The 7th Infantry Regiment revealed that it is not easy to journey to Burma through the border. Even if there will be a casino in Burma, the special task force of 7th Infantry requests Thai gamblers to pay attention to Thai security issues about gambling.

Reports from the police, army and ONCB reveal that Col. Mahaja is a much wanted drug dealer with warrants out for his arrest issued by both the Thai and US governments.

Two more Lisu drug traffickers slain in sting operation

Nopniwat Krailerg

Disguised as regular ya ba buying customers at the irrigation canal near Huay Tung Thao reservoir in Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, police ended up gunning down Santipap or “Luang” Thairomyen, 31, and Worapoj Laosorn, 28, two Lisu hill tribesmen drug dealers, on the morning of March 22.

While they were in process of trading, the two men detected the sting and started shooting. Police returned fire and the two fell, riddled with bullets. They found 30,000 ya ba pills, an AK-47 assault weapon and a .22 mm pistol.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau, revealed that he had three warrants of arrest for Santipap aka Jakrapat Tritrakulsab, arrested before in Lampang, where 12 kg heroin had been recovered, on June 7, 2004.

The two men had been pursued by warrant-possessing police for a long time, but invariably escaped. This time, the police spent 700,000 baht to buy 30,000 ya ba pills, and the operation, as it resulted in their extra-judicial killing, was regarded as successful.

The two men transferred ya ba from Mae Hong Son border, and kept it in Mae Taeng district, Chiang Mai. They later transferred the ya ba on a route beside the irrigation canal. This route is now used more often to transfer drugs as it links with other districts in Chiang Mai. It is predicted that there are 12 more persons concerned, and the police say they will arrest or posthumously apprehend them soon.

Fifth conference on dust, air and noise pollution problems in Chiang Mai

Watcharapong Jingkaujai and Saksit Meesubkwang

Obviously in the usually erroneous belief that talking in large groups will solve all problems, Chiang Mai Office of Natural Resources and Environment organized on March 23, the fifth conference to find solutions to solve the dust, air and noise pollution problems in Chiang Mai. Suwat Tantipat presided over the opening ceremony for officers of Chiang Mai Office of Natural Resources, Chiang Mai Forest Office, traffic police, Chiang Mai land transport office and sector concerned, altogether about 50 persons, this number ensuring that there could be 50 divergent opinions.

Officials group together to try and solve the pollution problem in Chiang Mai.

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, said, “To solve environment problems especially dust, forest and garbage burning during our drought period should be planned together with the public. There are many areas where problems have been solved efficiently by the Chiang Mai municipality officers leading to a clean and beautiful environment. The officers have to survey the areas with problems that are located outside the city, and assign departments and sectors concerned to be responsible for those problems. Burning forests and garbage problems need to be solved concretely, therefore the Call Center has been established, which is not to protect, but to prevent, and the officers concerned should take more action. ‘Action’ can be separated into control points, networks and rescue team cooperating with each other, to immediately deal with the problems. There were 43 calls about those kinds of problem but the officers could not deal with them all.”

An environmental awareness movement started in October 2004, and until March 2005, it appears that there are 40 factories with chimneys that can be certified as ‘safe’ factories. There are some factories that have been closed due to air pollution for not implementing control methods.

In spite of finding methods to solve dust, air and noise pollution problems in Chiang Mai, a program has been initiated called “Riding bicycles for the breath of Chiang Mai” to encourage local residents to reduce air pollution and traffic jams according to Chiang Mai’s policy, Green & Clean.

Korean credit card gang arrested

Nopniwat Krailerg

Four Koreans carrying and suspected of using fake credit cards were arrested at an entertainment venue in Charoen Muang Road on March 21. A search turned up 18 fake credit cards.

Lee Song Su, 33, Lee Jong Shin, 39, Lee Jong Su and Kim Song Ho, 33, had been sought for some time after many reports of counterfeit cards in use throughout the north.

The police searched their rented house on Loy Kroh Road and found another 21 credit cards. The four Koreans confessed to producing the cards and were sent to Bangkok for prosecution by the CSD.

Reports of purchases made with false cards exceeded 100 million baht in value and cooperation with stores and places of entertainment finally led to the capture of the gang, “... as it will for other such criminals,” said Pol. Col. Suthin Sabpuang.