Vol. IV No. 16 - Saturday April 16 - April 22. 2005
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Two ‘colonels’ arrested for drug dealing

Chiang Mai Airport safe

New information center opened at Wiang Kum Kam buried city

Long pondering on Longan problem

Fah Haam TAO holds “Sueb San Withee Him Fang Ping” Fair

Two koalas to arrive at Chiang Mai Zoo in five months

Drought situation in Chiang Mai surveyed

Community supports environment program

Free Art viewing at Matoom Art Studio

New bus routes for the new busses

New public park for Chiang Mai

Fuel rates affect Thailand, but less than in neighboring countries

Monks receive breakfast in national religion unity ceremony

Drug dealer killed in graveyard

Alien desperate for citizenship arrested

Search of prison cells reveals many contraband items

Two ‘colonels’ arrested for drug dealing

Senior police found to be under occult curse

Saksit Meesubkwang

A long investigation revealed that Col. Mahasang and Col. Mahachar dealt in drugs along the Thai-Burmese border. Their activities took place opposite Pang Mapah district in Mae Hong Son. Connections with foreign networks were found and both were involved with Wei Hseuh-kang, a notorious drug and war lord.

Col. Mahasang or ‘Chao Ping Liew’ Saelee, (2nd left) together with the two parties in a press conference.

On Aril 7, Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau and Pol. Maj. Gen. Wutti Wittitanon, deputy commissioner were able to report that the dubious duo had been arrested. Col. Mahasang or ‘Chao Ping Liew’ Saelee, 59, a leader of the Wah tribe, was charged with drug dealing and possession of a weapon.

He added that the pernicious pair had transferred their wealth to another by purchasing property and houses, later identified as Boonjert ‘Khun Kor’ Saelee or Cheunjit, a coordinator. Some properties had already been seized by the police.

On April 6, Pol. Lt. Col. Chalermpol Hongsakul, Chiangmai Provincial Special Task Force head led a team to arrest Col. Mahasang with his two assistants at Khun Wang Place Village, San Sai, Chiang Mai. They also found documents concerning international network drug dealings, as well as weapons and ammunition.

Bizarrely, police found a brass plate under a foot towel in the drug dealer’s bedroom, on which were engraved the names of Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, Pol. Maj. Gen. Wutti Wittitanon and Pol. Col. Sarawute Chantraprasert.

Tai tribe people, known for their occult knowledge, interpreted this as black magic cursing the three police officers, as they have pursued him for long time, and the suspects confirmed that the brass plate was made by an old Tai tribesman.


Chiang Mai Airport safe

Staff reporters

After the explosion at Had Yai Airport, Chiang Mai Airport has increased its security to prevent a similar situation, checking abandoned suitcases and vehicles parking nearby the building.

Flying Officer Suthara Huangsuwan, president of Chiang Mai Airport Authority of Thailand (AOT), revealed that Chiang Mai Airport could be considered a target for bombing after Had Yai Airport, as Chiang Mai Airport is an international airport.

Wing 41, Military Camp 33 and police, both uniformed and plain-clothes, are patrolling the airport 24 hours a day.

They request business owners inside the airport building and all staff to keep eyes out for strange persons or situations, and to immediately inform officers if they find unattended suitcases or other packages.


New information center opened at Wiang Kum Kam buried city

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

The ancient buried city, dubbed the “Ancient Underground City”, excavated from 1984 until 2002 by the Regional Office of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai led by Yaowapa Wongsawat with 39,445,000 baht funding, has just opened a new information center with Governor Suwat Tantipat officiating.

Arak Singhitakul, director general of the Fine Arts Department and Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the new information center.

Suwat Tantipat said, “I realize the importance of this ancient city and know that it is necessary to preserve it, as it is an important part of local and national heritage. Residents should be proud of their ancient civilization and the public should be informed so they can bring tourist money to the local residents and the country. This information center will allow visitors to learn about the old local lifestyle and atmosphere before visiting the real place, and it will support tourism”.

Arak Singhitakul, director general of The Fine Arts Department added, “The Fine Arts Department is responsible for preserving, protecting and promoting all cultural heritage of the nation for the public, and archeological research is working to bring pride to the nation.”


Long pondering on Longan problem

Saksit Meesubkwang

Longan farmers, recently encouraged by unscrupulous merchants to maximize their crops by use of dubious and dangerous chemicals, are being chided and encouraged to grow Longan correctly.

Sudarat Keyuraphan, the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives said, “I appeal to you all to do your duty.”

On April 8, Sudarat Keyuraphan, this year’s Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives chaired a meeting about the Longan problem. Suwat Tantipat represented Chiang Mai, together with local MPs with an overall attendance of one hundred persons.

Sudarat Keyuraphan said, “This conference is to plan before the approaching Longan season, and to recommend that Longan farmers grow Longan without adding chemical substances; which results in an export problem.” She added, “Tambon chief officers, village heads and Longan orchard owners will be polled and we will request soldiers to survey by satellite to confirm that information matches reports.”

The minister said that if merchants took advantage of Longan growers, they would be prosecuted. If exporters cannot accept contaminated Longan, then the government would contact overseas importers to export the fruit to prevent middle-men taking advantage of farmers. It was predicted there would be not more than 200,000 million tons of Longan this year. The government would promote Thai citizens to consume Thai fruit and offer to sell Longan in department stores.

“This is a first-time conference about Longans since I became Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives. I appeal to you all to do your duty,” the minister concluded.


Fah Haam TAO holds “Sueb San Withee Him Fang Ping” Fair

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

Tambon Fah Haam Tambon Administration Organization (TAO) provided a fair called “Sueb San Withee Him Fang Ping” (to continue Ping Riverside lifestyle) on April 8-10 at a wharf behind Ja Khao Temple.

Therdsak Jaruwat, senior assistant muang distict officer, who presided over the opening ceremony, strikes the gong.

Preecha Worakul, president of Tambon Fah Haam TAO said that this fair was for rehabilitating natural resources along the Ping River and to open a service centre for both Thai and foreign visitors, to encourage tourism within Tambon Fah Haam, Chiang Mai. There were bio-marine tourism, local northern activities, small sand pagodas, water pouring and more traditional activities held.

Dr. Wasan Chompakdee, committee member of Mae Ping River and environment coordination works added that Chiang Mai University had supported the plan to conserve the Mae Ping River environment, and applied a pilot plan for Tambon Fah Haam TAO, to be the pilot area. This plan had been presented to the Natural Resources and Environment Department in March 2004 to apply to Mae Ping River development and other rivers. It was well received and successful, as residents paid more attention to the river and showed their support for Fah Haam TAO.

The opening ceremony of this fair took place on April 8, and breakfast was presented to 79 monks and a Lanna style parade. Therdsak Jaruwat, senior assistant muang distict officer, presided over the opening ceremony, and later released 800,000 marine animals into the river.


Two koalas to arrive at Chiang Mai Zoo in five months

It’s a long walk from Down-under

Nopniwat Krailerg

The two koalas from Australia are predicted to arrive in Chiang Mai within five months, said Thanapat Pongphamorn, director of Chiang Mai Zoo. The Zoo has already prepared a habitat for displaying the bear-like marsupials, and expects that they will attract more people to visit.

Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui, friendship ambassadors from China, are the most popular animals in Chiang Mai Zoo.

“Panda bears are currently the highlight of Chiang Mai Zoo. On average, there are not less than 1,000 persons per day visiting the pandas, and the total number of panda visitors, from October 2004 to March 2005, stands at about 413,635 persons,” he said.

Meanwhile, researchers are preparing to breed pandas in a research project by cooperating with Chinese experts. This will hopefully occur some time next year, as it depends on the couples having grown sufficiently to be able to breed and whether the Thai ambience gives them the urge (to read the instruction manuals). Normally, this kind of bear is five years old before being ready for breeding.


Drought situation in Chiang Mai surveyed

Staff reporters

The Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives has surveyed the drought situation in Chiang Mai and found it not to be serious, and said that no immediate help was required. However, some areas that are confronted with drought situation will be aided by artificial rain making.

On April 8, Sudarat Keyuraphan, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, visited Chiang Mai province and organized a conference to pursue drought situation and to find methods to solve the problem, with all sectors concerned.

After consultations, the minister concluded only some areas such as Doi Tao and Hot districts might need artificial rain to grow plants.

However, the main plan to solve the drought is to dredge rivers and canals throughout the country, predicted to be complete in June. The minister instructed that every natural water source in Chiang Mai be searched for and water volumes computed.


Community supports environment program

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai municipality invited 100 household representatives living in the municipality area to attend a training workshop to share environmental knowledge about environment problems and to let them actively participate in protecting the city’s environment. Indirectly, it could reduce garbage and waste from private houses. The training workshop took place on March 8 at the Park Hotel, Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai City is becoming dustier by the day.

Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that currently the main environmental concern in Chiang Mai affecting community residents’ life is the air quality. Using information from the Pollution Control Department, it appears that dust is increasing exponentially.

The Natural Resources and Environmental Policy Office agreed that dust is the main problem, and has increased compared to previous years. As for ozone, it exceeds the safe standard level only a few times.


Free Art viewing at Matoom Art Studio

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

Matoom Art Studio on Ragang Rd. by Tua or Shoompol Taksapornchai was formally opened by the owner of the studio, joining with Thai and international artists. Everyday Tua teaches children how to draw at Kad Suan Kaew department store, and gives advice about art at his studio.

Several artworks produced by adults, be it smaller or larger paintings or furniture, can be found at Matoom Art Studio.

Shoompol Taksapornchai said, “I have set up this studio because I love art, and for it to be a place to share art opinion among artists and the public who are interested in art, including displaying art works without emphasizing business profits. I am an artist who likes to present my art work but I did not have sufficient money to hold an exhibition. That’s why I would like to offer an opportunity to new artists, both Thai and foreigners, who wish to exhibit their art work. I will be very appreciative if I receive suggestions about art.”

Shoompol “Tua” Taksapornchai in his studio, in the middle of art pieces produced by both Thais and foreigners.

He is willing to teach art to children during their summer vacation to instill art in Thai youngsters’ minds so that they love art and to maintain it in Thai society forever.

He will also display antique furniture until April 23, 2005.


New bus routes for the new busses

Nopniwat Krailerg and staff reporters

Chiang Mai people’s long wait for mass transportation has now been relieved by the purchase and release of twenty four 36-seat busses to serve Chiang Mai residents from May onwards. 62 million baht was received from the government for the purpose. Routes have already been surveyed and the municipality will therefore use these routes to be convenient and safe for the new busses.

New routes being surveyed.

Route 1 on Nong Pratheep - Cheung Doi (foot of the hill): Outward trip starts from Nong Pratheep crossroad straight to the super highway route 11 to Arcade terminal bus station, turn left to the station until meeting Kaew Nawarat Road, then arriving at Nakorn Phing Bridge. Passing over the bridge, turning left to Witchayanon Road along Ping River, right towards Thapae Road, turn left to Khodchasarn Road and u-turn to Moonmuang Road until meeting Sriphum Corner. Turn left to Sriphum Road to Huarin Corner and then turn left long to Arak Road until meeting Methang Temple, u-turn along Boon Ruang Rit Road to Suan Dok Gate crossroads, turning left to Suthep Road till arriving at Cheung Doi.

Inward trip starts from Cheung Doi along Suthep Road to Suan Dok Gate, then turn left to Boon Ruang Rit Road till meeting Huarin Corner, turn right to Manee Nopparat Road to Chang Puek Gate, turning left along to Chang Puek Road till arriving at Chang Puek internal bus station. Turn right to Sanam Kila Soi 1 till meet Wat Chiang Yeun School junction, then turn left to Manee Nopparat Road to Sriphum Corner, then right to Chaiphum Road and turn left to Chang Moi Road. Turn left to Rachawong Road, right to Witchayanon Road until arriving at the white pagoda, right to Witchayanon Road along to Nawarat Bridge then turn left from the bridge to Chareunmuang road till finish at Nong Pratheep.

Route 1 number 4 Chiang Mai Airport- Sai Kaew market: Outward trip starts from the airport along to Airport Road, left to Mahidol Road till arrive at Jang Goo Huang T-junction, then turn left to Bamrung Buri Road to Khatom Corner, left to Moonmuang Road till meeting Sriphum Corner, left to Sriphum Road and u-turn to Manee Nopparat Road till meet Sriphum Corner; left to Witchayanon Road. Turn right to Rachawong Road and turn left to Tai Wang Road then cross Nawarat Bridge along to Nawarat Road and turn right to Arcade terminal bus station. Then turn left to super highway Route 11 to San Dek intersection, and turn right down to super highway Route 118, and finish at Sai Kaew market.

Inward trip starts from Sai Kaew market along to super highway route 118 to San Dek intersection, turning left to super highway Route 11 to Nong Pratheep crossroad, then turn right to Chareunmuang Road till meeting Nawarat Bridge. After crossing the bridge straight on to Thapae Road to Night Bazaar junction, turning left to Chang Klan Road till arriving at Sang Tawan crossroad, right to Sri Don Chai Road till meet Khatom Corner. Go straight on Chang Law Road to Jang Goo Huang T-junction then turn left to Mahidol Road to airport T-junction, and turn right on Airport Road then arrive Chiang Mai Airport.

The municipality has offered job opportunities for bus drivers and bus fare collectors. Applicants for these positions will be interviewed during April.


New public park for Chiang Mai

Former train station land to become public park by November

Nopniwat Krailerg

To add green areas in Chiang Mai City, the municipality is converting a former train station land in the east area into a public park. The project is expected to be finished within 300 days, or before the end of this year.

Chiang Mai municipality is converting this former train station into a public park. (Photo by Watcharapong Jingkaujai)

Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said, “Chiang Mai municipality is using all options for the public park to serve the residents, covering 47 rai, while the remaining 15 rai will be reserved for future projects. This project is in accordance with PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s policy to improve environment and well-being of Chiang Mai residents.

“The public park will be one of the lungs of Chiang Mai, similar to Suan Buak Had Public Park which is well known as a relaxing area, exercise place, playground, outdoor stage and more.”

Chiang Mai municipality received a revised budget of 99 million baht, approved by the Minister of Interior and coordinated by Pakorn Buranupakorn, MP of Chiang Mai area 1.

The mayor said that this project has been awarded to DPCS Co., Ltd., as the company offered the lowest construction cost of 98,820,000 baht, and promised to finish within 300 days from now.


Fuel rates affect Thailand, but less than in neighboring countries

Saksit Meesubkwang

Songwit Ittipatanakul, president of the Chiang Mai Tourist Business Association, reported that the increasing cost of gasoline affects all business sectors. Car hirers also had to adjust their rates according to gasoline costs.

Even tourism packages, both domestic and international, had increased in cost, but he believes that the number of tourists would not decrease, as the rising costs in Thailand are not too severe compared to neighboring countries. However, Thailand needs to promote new and interesting places or find new target groups.

Chiang Mai should provide attractive new places to entice tourists. The association has consulted its members to present a petition to the government to improve tourism places and to set up new attractions.

The tourism trend in Chiang Mai is predicted to move upwards, especially at five star hotels, as several new hotels have already opened, and a considerable number are still under construction. They will be especially attractive for overseas tourists visiting Chiang Mai, and these categories of hotels are working with professional marketing plans, which can only benefit Chiang Mai.

As for new tourism places, Chiang Mai should emphasize combining culture and hilltribe lifestyles in a stylish place, featuring Chiang Mai as an art and cultural center. Real culture must be maintained, and should not be modernized.

Requesting information from vehicle hire businesses, Chiangmai Mail learned that they had to adjust their hire charges by 20-30 percent, or change from 1,500 baht to 1,800 baht per day, depending on the driving distance. To visit destinations at more distant locations, the fare will be 1,800-2,000 baht per day.


Monks receive breakfast in national religion unity ceremony

Saksit Meesubkwang and Watcharapong Jingkaujai

Because of an apparent lack of appreciation of religion in Thailand, currently expressed by terrorist activity in the south of Thailand, the government led by PM Thaksin Shinawatra held a religious ceremony to encourage peace and unity among Thai nationals, under the theme “national religion unity creation ceremony”, on April 10 throughout the country.

Buddhists monks gather with Christians and Muslims to pray for peace in Thailand.

Chiang Mai residents and government officers led by Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, gathered to present breakfast to 100 monks on April 10 at a Lai Kham cathedral of Phra Singh Temple in Muang, Chiang Mai.

Christians, Muslims and Buddhists pray together for peace in Thailand.

Suwat Tantipat presided over the opening ceremony and said, “Thailand has been affected by both overseas and domestic problems, causing sluggish development in the country, leading to many problems. I believe that people should think more about consciousness, wisdom, righteousness and wrongdoings after the presentation, to live peacefully forever more.”

Bea Camp, US consul general of Chiang Mai together with David Summers, Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor and Prinya Panthong, vice governor of Chiang Mai participating in the ceremony.

In addition to the ceremony in the morning, there was also a national religion unity creation ceremony organized at Chiang Mai City Hall in the evening by Christian, Islamic and Buddhist leaders, combining their own religious activities for Thai peace.


Drug dealer killed in graveyard

Facilitated burial?

Nopniwat Krailerg

After receiving information that there would be a drug transfer, Investigation Police from Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 led by Pol. Col. Sarawut Chanprasert, superintendent, waited at Ton Pao graveyard on Chiang Mai-Fang Rd. at Tambon Wiang in Fang, Chiang Mai, the hand-over place favored by the drug dealer.

At 3 a.m. on April 5, the police ambush posse saw a middle-aged man riding a motorcycle, whose appearance fitted the information received. The police immediately rushed to arrest him but he shot at the police, which led to a shootout lasting about five minutes.

The man was killed in the exchange of gunfire and was later identified as Sorapon or ‘Boon’ Jantakham, living at Tambon Wiang in Fang district, Chiang Mai. The police found a 9 mm handgun, 6 bullets, and 10,000 ya ba pills.


Alien desperate for citizenship arrested

Nopniwat Krailerg

Noppol Koontolwan, 24, a mechanic, was arrested by Administration Department officers for presenting false documents to renew his ID card, claiming his old one was lost.

Having checked the submitted information with the Central Registration Bureau, the officers found that he was an illegal alien who gave wrong information about his birth date and illegally had added his name to the residence registration. He is being prosecuted for presenting fake documents officials.

It was learned that Noppol had tried to gain registration before, even going so far as to seek conscription in 2001. He was found to be a Laotian, although he claimed to be Thai, but could not name his parents.


Search of prison cells reveals many contraband items

Commissioner confiscates bingo cards

Staff reporters

Siriwat Sairat-in, the commissioner of Chiang Mai Central Prison, led a 50-strong team of warders and police officers and searched the cells of 10 prisoner. They were looking for weapons and hidden drugs.

The search was sprung without warning and many potentially lethal items were found including about 100 CDs and cassette tapes, a transistor, 120 pills of unknown medicine, 200 small sharp wooden items, 20 bingo game cards, and many pieces of wire and iron.

Having completed the search, Siriwat Sairat-in said that this action was taken to prevent prisoners hiding dangerous items and weapons that could lead to unexpected events. “As for the bingo cards and other dangerous things found in the prisoners’ rooms, the officers will investigate how they were smuggled into the prison,” the commissioner said.

He added that this process was very successful and he had already assigned the officers to pay more attention to checking unacceptable items to prevent violent events and bingo games.



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