Vol. IV No. 19 - Saturday May 7 - May 13. 2005
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailand rejoices at the birth of a son to HRH the Crown Prince and Mom Srirasmi Mahidol

Storm over Chiang Mai causes 10 million baht damage

Consumers protected - Deputy Prime Minister visits Chiang Mai

SIPA supports Chiang Mai tourism with software

Municipal officers to Park and Ride

24th Cobra Gold training begins in Chiang Mai

Air Pollution Call Center in Chiang Mai receives many calls

ITV and Air Force brings tsunami-affected children to Chiang Mai

Safe som tam (aka papaya salad or papaya pok pok) throughout Chiang Mai

Deputy Prime Minister visits pilot biodiesel factory in Chiang Mai

Garlic prices leave sour taste in farmers’ mouths

Doi Suthep to be the scene of many Buddhist activities on Visakha Puja

Tourist’s valuables do the disappearing trick

Pha Muang Task Force trains community leaders in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai

Mae Hong Son Provincial Police getting tough on traffickers

Phuping policeman assassinated

Chiang Mai businessman killed at airport

New highs in Thai-Burmese cooperation

Heavy rain fails to extinguish house blaze

Thailand rejoices at the birth of a son to HRH the Crown Prince and Mom Srirasmi Mahidol

(AP-Staff Reporters) HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and Mom Srirasmi Mahidol are now the proud parents of a baby boy born on April 29 at 6:35 p.m. at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. It is the couple’s first child.

The Royal household proclaimed that the baby was born through a Cesarean section. The newborn weighed in at 2680 grams and was 47 cm long at birth. The baby had an APGAR score of 8-9, which meant that he was in perfect health. (APGAR stands for Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration, and is the first test given to a newborn.)

Doctors also announced that Mom Srirasmi was also in excellent condition.

“This is the greatest joy of Thai citizens,” Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said in his weekly radio address Saturday.


Storm over Chiang Mai causes 10 million baht damage

Chiang Mai airport closed

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

The storm which swept over the Chiang Mai municipality area on May 2 resulted in an hour-long electricity blackout in several areas including the Chinese consulate on Suriyawong Road and Phra Poklao Road, and a large tree fell over, damaging the wall of Chedi Luang Temple.

An ancient tree fell, but miraculously, the shrine at Chedi Luang Temple was not touched.

Electricity posts fell down on the road nearby the temple, and Chiang Mai International Airport was closed.

Pornchai Jitnavasathien, deputy mayor of Chiang Mai, said there were several areas affected by the storm, but a street in front of Chedi Luang Temple, Thapae Road, Suriyawong Road and government offices were more affected than other areas. Miraculously, a giant statue at Chedi Luang Temple was not damaged, although an ancient tree fell down beside the statue.

No deaths were reported, but there were some injuries and seven vehicles were damaged. The municipality invites residents to report any damage on 0 5325 9023-25.


Consumers protected - Deputy Prime Minister visits Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

On April 27, Phinij Jarusombat, deputy prime minister representing the Office of the Consumer Protection Board, visited Chiang Mai and attended the Consumer Protection Day at Kad Theater, Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel.

Deputy Prime Minister Phinij Jarusombat presents certificates to 56 gold dealers in Chiang Mai.

The Consumer Protection Act is represented throughout the country but there is no provincial office in Chiang Mai. As there are only sub-committees in each province, with the local governors as chairmen, the Office of the Consumer Protection Board and its local sub-committees held the activity to disseminate information about protection to the northern region, and also to establish a Consumer Protection Network to control the quality of goods and services.

Deputy Prime Minister Phinij Jarusombat checks goods at Siri Watthana Market.

Phinij Jarusombat said that people are generally satisfied with the Consumer Protection Board’s activities. However, some aspects of consumer protection law needed to be adjusted, because it currently controls just quality, price and advertisements and accepts only civil court cases. The board needed more public cooperation to watch over this issue in order to efficiently protect consumers. An improvement would not only up-lift the country’s standards, but would also be beneficial to exports. After his address, the deputy prime minister presented certificates to 56 Chiang Mai gold dealers.

He later showed expertise in testing the quality of gold, using tools from Germany that are 99 percent accurate. Gold from three agents in Chiang Mai was tested and it was found that one sample weighed only 96.4 grams, which is lower than the standard level fixed at 96.5 grams. The gold was sent to the Gems Center of Chulalongkorn University Bangkok for verification, and if the result is confirmed, the local businessman and the supplying factory will be prosecuted. Phinij also checked price notices on vendor’s stands at Siri Watthana Market, and was very satisfied with the results.


SIPA supports Chiang Mai tourism with software

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

An information exchange network was set up at the Sheraton Hotel, Chiang Mai on April 28, by the Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA). SIPA organized the Tourism C-Commerce seminar to boost tourism business opportunities.

Cooperation contract signing at the SIPA seminar in Chiang Mai.

Boonsong Teriyapirom, secretary of the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, presided over the opening ceremony for the 300 software businesses and other interested people.

Kruewan Samana, president of SIPA, said, “Offering opportunities for tourism business supported by SIPA is not only done in Chiang Mai but also in other areas, and it is the expansion which offers more opportunities.”

Boonsong Teriyapirom said that this seminar was a good starting point to support tourism with software. However, it was needed to understand the entire system and not only concentrate on technology — SIPA had already suggested both software and hardware solutions.

Tourism C-Commerce Solution was displayed by software companies that were members of SIPA such as Pushed e-Catalog system and E- Marketing. A cooperation contract was signed between private organizations and SIPA.


Municipal officers to Park and Ride

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn has said that there was insufficient parking space available for residents outside the municipal offices, because too many vehicles belonging to municipality officers were parked there, resulting in residents dissatisfaction.

The municipality will solve this problem by offering air condition busses to transfer its officers to work. An area beside Lotus Khamthiang branch is being considered to be parking area for the officers, and the busses would pick them up from there and transport them to their offices at the municipality building, three times per day.

“This plan will be applied soon to provide more parking area in the municipality office available for residents,” the mayor added.


24th Cobra Gold training begins in Chiang Mai

Saksit Meesubkwang

On May 2 at Pang Suan Kaew Hotel, Chiang Mai, the opening ceremony of this year’s Cobra Gold manoeuvres took place, presided over by US Ambassador Ralph Boyce and Gen. Chaisit Shinawatra, Supreme Commander of Royal Thai Army, joined by Singaporean Ambassador Chan Heng Wing and Toshihisa Takata, Japanese Minister.

Chaisit Shinawatra, Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Army (fourth from left), US Ambassador Ralph Boyce (fifth from left) and other representatives display their unity on stage during the opening ceremonies for Cobra Gold 2005.

US Ambassador Boyce said that Cobra Gold would add ability to create peace under the umbrella of the UN. “I’m proud to inform that one more step of Cobra Gold this year is to cooperate with other countries in providing aid for disaster victims and to rehabilitate regions affected by tsunami. I think there is a benefit for Cobra Gold to cooperate with Thailand to practice in rescuing the victims.”

He added that he was pleased to see US and Thai armies cooperating well to rescue victims after only two days of the disaster happening. They quickly modified the Utapao Thai Naval Air Station to be the hub for regional tsunami relief to rescue the victims from Indonesia and Sri Lanka. They could do this process because of several years of practice, with previous Cobra Gold exercises.

However, Cobra Gold training needs cooperation from each country and he gave much thanks to the Thai government that the training was held, and he also thanked the Singaporean and Japanese representatives.

Gen. Chaisit Shinawatra said that he was pleased to learn that the Cobra Gold countries would have their training in Thailand. For the last 20 years, Cobra Gold has become the symbol of the army cooperation between Thailand and America.

3,644 US forces will participate, including elements of US Army Pacific, US Marine Corps Forces Pacific and US Pacific Air Forces, US Pacific Fleets, as well as Special Operations Command Pacific, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, Military Sealift Command and reserve elements from the Army, Navy, Air Forces, and Marine Corps.


Air Pollution Call Center in Chiang Mai receives many calls

Nopniwat Krailerg

Control of air pollution shows signs of taking effect as Many Chiang Mai residents inform the Call Center about air pollution issues, while several organizations are cooperating with Tambon chief officers and heads of villages to educate local residents on burning garbage, and how to incinerate safely.

Apiwat Kunarak, director of the Regional Environment Office, revealed that after Chiang Mai province had established its 24-hours call center (telephone 0 5389 0000) to receive calls about forest fires and garbage and agricultural materials burning, there were 135 incoming calls in 24 hours about garbage burning — most of them from Muang, San Sai and Mae Rim areas. The organizations responsible for the Call Center are the Highway Bureau, Chiang Mai municipality, Office of Protected Forest Management, Chiang Mai Office of Natural Resources and Environment, Chiang Mai Office of Agriculture, and the Regional Environment Office.

The director of the Regional Environment Office said that there were some areas where the TAO and municipalities had ignored the efforts; however, they would be encouraged to take more action to prevent burning, and to inform residents about proper control of garbage-related issues.


ITV and Air Force brings tsunami-affected children to Chiang Mai

Watcharapong Jingkaujai

ITV and the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) joined forces in the “From Sea to Mountain” program, to rebuild children’s confidence after facing the tsunami catastrophe in the six southern provinces.

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, welcomes the children at Wing 41.

The 110 children chosen to participate on this trip came mainly from Phuket and Krabi. They had either become orphans or were physically affected.

The RTAF used a C 130 aircraft to carry the children to see the famous pandas at Chiang Mai Zoo, and they were treated to a Wing 41 flying show, and were shown handicrafts at Baan Tawai, Wiang Kum Kam, Baan Bor Sang and many other places. Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, welcomed the children at Wing 41 on April 28.

Niwatthamrong Boonsong-paisarn, CEO of ITV, said that ITV was concerned about our brothers and sisters affected by the tsunami and it therefore encouraged people to donate necessary items or money to aid the victims.

ITV had also used some of the funds donated to construct and repair homes and schools as well as for scholarships, encouraging career development and rehabilitation amongst the young.


Safe som tam (aka papaya salad or papaya pok pok) throughout Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

Galvanized by recent reports that the well-known and popular som tam could be unsafe for consumption, the Regional Medical Sciences Center, Chiang Mai initiated the “Clean Som Tam” campaign throughout Chiang Mai, as a part of the government’s policy concerning food safety.

A som tam business in Muang, Chiang Mai.

Prof. Suchai Charoenratanakul, Minister of Public Health, assigned 14 Central and Regional Medical Sciences Centers to organize “Clean Som Tam from Thai to World Market”, by training all som tam vendors either in or out of department stores to adapt som tam quality standards and to stop them from adding substances to artificially flavor som tam. If this had to be done, only good quality ingredients are to be used.

The Regional Medical Sciences Center cooperated with consumer protection groups to train about 50 persons and som tam business vendors in Muang, Chiang Mai, during April 28-29, to lift their standards and reassure som tam consumers. Ingredients were collected and checked, such as raw papaya, nuts, small dry shrimp, palm sugar, pickled crab, fermented fish and fresh vegetables.

The center has warned against chemical substances being added to vegetables and fruits in Muang, Chiang Mai since 2002, but did not find anything of low standard, rather safe and clean fermented fish in Muang and San Kamphaeng.


Deputy Prime Minister visits pilot biodiesel factory in Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai is getting attention from other ministers than the prime one, as, on April 27, Phinij Jarusombat, Deputy Prime Minister, visited a biodiesel research facility in San Sai district, Chiang Mai. This facility has received an investment of almost 16 million baht for biodiesel research and production for mini busses in Chiang Mai.

The factory produces biodiesel by using vegetable oil as a primary substance, converting it into 2,000 liters of hundred percent bio diesel each day. It will be sold to vehicles joining the project and it is predicted its use will increase productivity depending on primary resources.

The Deputy PM said that biodiesel production was encouraged throughout the country and it would be recommended to the PM within a week. Phinij said that the same system could be applied in other areas by copying the model biodiesel research facility at San Sai.

He added, “To produce biodiesel costs 15 baht per liter, which is cheap and helps to reduce the imports of fuel oil. Chiang Mai is a good pilot project with 200 mini busses taking part in the project.”


Garlic prices leave sour taste in farmers’ mouths

Request government guarantee of 28 baht per kilogram

Saksit Meesubkwang

1,500 garlic farmers in seven districts in the Mae Hong Son, led by Niran Jankan, the president of Mae Hong Son’s garlic farmers, gathered in protest at low prices at the Mae Hong Son City Hall. They requested the government, through Supoj Laowansiri, Mae Hong Son governor, to increase the garlic price as it was considered to be too low.

The farmers waited for three hours but no representative appeared to accept their petition, resulting in even more unhappy garlic farmers.

The Mae Hong Son governor later decided to accept their petition to guarantee dry garlic prices at 28 baht per kilogram and promised to present it to the government, and he promised to inform about the result on Saturday, April 30. The protesters accepted his word and they disbanded.

Niran Jankan, the president of Mae Hong Son’s garlic farmers said that when PM Thaksin Shinawatra visited Mae Hong Son last year, he promised the farmers to guarantee fresh garlic price at 10 baht. In previous years, fresh garlic stood at 10 baht and dry garlic at 30 baht per kilogram, but it was later reduced. In Mae Hong Son, 55,000 tons of fresh garlic are grown and the declining garlic prices are affecting the all the farmers.

Having received the petition on April 27, the governor went to Bangkok to consult with the government, which has now approved the purchase of dry garlic at the requested price, thus solving low garlic prices throughout the country with the stroke of a legislative pen.


Doi Suthep to be the scene of many Buddhist activities on Visakha Puja

Staff reporters

A Waisa Paramee activity at Doi Suthep has been arranged, to continue a tradition of presenting water granted by Royalty, and to climb Doi Suthep Mountain on Visakha Puja day.

The Waisa Paramee will take place on May 16-22 by presenting water and monk’s clothes granted by the royalties to Lok Moree Temple, and residents will celebrate at the temple, followed by parades around the city.

Many districts will participate in the parade, with decorated floats as well as traditional costumes and clothes, and there will be service points along the way up to Doi Suthep.


Tourist’s valuables do the disappearing trick

Cheap hotels say too expensive to fit door locks!

Nopniwat Krailerg

Pol. Maj. Gen. Kittithad Reunthip, deputy commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, revealed that there were six cases on the books of tourist’s valuables disappearing, especially in hotels.

This is occurring too frequently, he said, and demanded that police concerned in the six north provinces report all incidents so that a policy can be formulated, which Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, had stressed to be a priority.

The commissioner added that police officers had consulted several hotels and the Thai Hotel Association Northern Chapter to pay attention to tourist security. There was no problem with large hotels but smaller hotels were not paying much attention, claiming they could not afford the high costs of installing double lock systems and surveillance cameras.

The commissioner emphasized this issue, especially in Chiang Mai, because it was a tourist destination. During May, police would discuss amongst themselves how to lift security standards by cooperating with hotels and suggesting to them how to improve their internal security systems.


Pha Muang Task Force trains community leaders in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai

Staff reporters

To support the PM’s “War on Drugs III”, Pha Muang Task Force, Maj. Gen. Pairat Thongjaktu assigned officers in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to cooperate with police and civilians in setting up checkpoints in areas suspected of drug smuggling.

Pha Muang Task Force provided a team to train society leaders and for the young to learn about the harm caused by drugs, and to persuade them to “just say no” and to get involved in sports and other activities instead.

Team 321 trained 200 society leaders and young people on April 29 - May 1 at Baan Doi Kaew, Tambon Mae Ai in Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai, and team 322 trained at Baan Song Pee Nong, Tambon Rimkhomg in Chiang Khong district, Chiang Rai.

The Pha Muang Task Force also requested both government officials and residents in those areas to cooperate with one another to eliminate drugs from society.


Mae Hong Son Provincial Police getting tough on traffickers

May have to arrest themselves!

Saksit Meesubkwang

A conference delineating the suppression policy on drugs and human trafficking in Mae Hong Son province took place on April 27 at the Mae Hong Son Provincial Police office.

Mae Hong Son Provincial Police officers consult one another in a conference.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Thong-in Harnpajonsuek, Mae Hong Son Provincial Police commander, said that there would be monthly conferences to conclude and assess police work in each police station. Assistance from Mae Hong Son Provincial Police could always be requested, and due to the province’s proximity to the Burmese border, officers had to prepare themselves to be ready to cope with all situations.

A number of gangs always transferred illegal goods through the province, therefore officers had to set up check points on every route. It was learnt that some Thais and Thai police officers were getting involved with human trafficking and drug dealings. They would be seriously suppressed and prosecuted or dismissed from governmental services, he promised.

The commander added that Mae Hong Son Provincial Police would crack down on drugs, as the War on Drugs III had recently been proclaimed by the government. The police would check in every area such as villages, education institutes, temples, residences and entertainment places, and arrest anyone concerned with drugs, such as drug takers, retailers and networks. The province had applied the new policy since May 1 and also pursued old drug dealers who were on the police list, and on new drug dealers through wealth checks.


Phuping policeman assassinated

Foul play at the police box

Nopniwat Krailerg and Saksit Meesubkwang

On May 1, Pol. Cpl. Samarn Taesai, 30, head of protection and suppression department of Phuping Rachaniwed Police Station, Chiang Mai was shot at a police booth located at the Suthep Tambon Administration Organization in Muang, Chiang Mai. He was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 at Pol. Cpl. Samarn Taesai’s funeral ceremony.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, confirmed that according to the trajectory he was shot from behind and also confirmed that the policeman’s personal effects, service pistol and police two-way were stolen.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong said that Pol. Cpl. Samarn Taesai was on duty together with a volunteer at the police booth near the irrigation canal in Muang, Chiang Mai. However, the volunteer has disappeared and police is now trying to find him.

It is believed that the murder weapon is a .357 magnum, and it was also learnt that he had just moved from Phitsanulok to Phuping Rachaniwed Police Station, Chiang Mai.

A full police funeral was arranged.


Chiang Mai businessman killed at airport

Police surmise marital or money problems

Nopniwat Krailerg

On April 29, a security guard at Chiang Mai Airport reported to police that he had found a dead man in a car, parked at the Chiang Mai Airport staffs residence. Pol. Maj. Boonsong Nikorntuan, duty inspector of Phuping Police Station in Muang, Chiang Mai, led a team to the scene and found a man lying in a car, later identified as Sarawute Pisarnwaree, 36, SN garage owner, and manager of the northern region of AYUD insurance company.

The body had wounds to the neck and palm, and evidence of a struggle could be seen, leading to the assumption that he was killed from behind, and died not less than five hours previously.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police bureau Region 5, together with Pol. Maj. Gen. Jiroot Prommobone, commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police, and forensic police went to the scene to look for more clues.

Initially, a business or lover’s conflict was suspected to be the cause, as it was found that the deceased had many girlfriends although he was married, and also enjoyed night life.

His wife, Narose Pisarnwaree, said that her husband had no enemies. He told her that he would pick up his boss at the airport, and she did not hear from him until police reported they had found his body.

Pol. Maj. Sarawute Chantraprasert, investigation superintendent of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, said that the police had checked the airport surveillance cameras, but he could not be seen, and the police therefore assumed he must have waited outside the building. Two witnesses said they saw a dark red car following him, and two men wearing blue safari suits sitting in that car. It is suspected that they tried to negotiate with the man, and later killed him.

However, the main causes pointed to a lover’s conflict or business problem due to the fact that he was dealing resort business insurance in Chiang Mai, and would receive high commissions. His garage did not seem to have any problems. The police now think that the two men in safari suits were hired to kill him, and the police have promised to speed up investigations.


New highs in Thai-Burmese cooperation

Selling stolen motorcycles!

Saksit Meesubkwang

Pol. Maj. Gen. Thong-in Harnpajonsuek, Mae Hong Son Provincial Police Station’s commander, informed the press that a number of young Thai and Burmese men have been cooperating to steal motorcycles, and then sell them along the Thai-Burmese border.

Arrested with 16 hot motorcycles as evidence were Thai nationals Angkarn Luenam and Chaowalit Manithong, and Sue and Aek, Burmese men. The two Thai felons would be prosecuted for theft, and the Burmese will additionally be charged with being illegal aliens. The stolen motorcycles would be returned to the owners.

After investigation, it was found that the four criminals were members of an even larger gang which had as its members Jingna and Sang, Burmese, who escaped Thai police custody over motor cycle theft. The four villains claimed that the motorcycles were for their own usage, and not for selling. However, the police felt that four motorcycles each probably pointed to a felony, rather than avid collectors.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Thong-in Harnpajonsuek said there were 11 cases of motorcycle smuggling resulting in arrests this year, three cases were being verified, four cases were in court process, and seven cases were in prosecution process.

However, this case was different from the others because the dealers were Thai, and not just Burmese. Police officers will continue with planned checks on motorcycle dealings and young men with four motorcycles each can expect a ‘please explain’.


Heavy rain fails to extinguish house blaze

300,000 baht damage

Nopniwat Krailerg

A house on fire on Chotana-Chiang Mai Road resulted in the police informing the Chiang Mai municipality to send fire engines to the scene.

Not much remains after the fire.

Three fire engines tried to extinguish the blaze at the wooden house for about 20 minutes, but the house was totally destroyed. The family renting the house escaped injury.

After investigation, the police learnt that that house was rented by Manop Saeton, 36, a soy milk seller living there with his wife and three children. There was heavy rain and a storm that night causing the electricity to cut off, and Manop lit a candle in the house and went to bed. The candle’s illumination turned out to be not such a bright idea.



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