Vol. IV No. 24 - Saturday June 11 - June 17, 2005
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai mayor unconcerned about red minibuses protest

MP commission investigates possible fraud in bid for PAO

Seminar on mudslide risky areas — but deforestation continues

As the river traffic dies, Chiang Rai MPs oppose dams and new port

Inthakin column veneration ceremony 2005

Garlic farmers unseat perfidious cooperatives manager

800 policemen making sure wheels don’t fall off mobile cabinet in Phayao

19 year old student succumbs with Dengue hemorrhagic fever

Polluted water from prison upsets villagers

Court of Justice in Region 5 consults with CEOs

New gasohol for old longans

Chiang Mai supports government policy on energy usage

Butterfly swarm astonishes onlookers

World No Tobacco Day

World Environment Day 2005

US group joins Tai tribes appeal

Free trading upheld in Mae Sai border area

No agricultural work in Canada

Northern economy improved in April

British tourists stage lie-in on Chiang Mai airport runway

Red minibuses question transparency of municipality bus purchase

Explosion at Khao Mun Gai shop results in Gai Yang

Chiang Mai mayor unconcerned about red minibuses protest

Nopniwat Krailerg

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor, has come out and said that all the routes requested for the municipal bus concession had been approved and that all processes were done by the book. Staff would be ready and the buses are now being tried on the roads. He was unconcerned about possible resistance from the red minibuses or their petition to the PM.

“Validity and satisfaction probably are not able to go together, because I have done everything exactly and for the best, as is my duty, in order to provide mass transport to the people of Chiang Mai. It does not matter that some will protest about the buses because everyone has their own agenda, so I can’t criticize them over this issue,” the mayor reiterated.

He added that he would consult with PM Thaksin Shinawatra concerning mass transport on June 11, and would ask for his suggestion or advice on dealing with the conflict.

As Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives would appeal to the Senate to verify the purchase of the 26 buses, Boonlert said that the municipality had purchased them in 2004 and the buses had been ready for almost two years; it was not a project that had just been done. He was content to be checked and affirmed everything was clear.

“I don’t care what they do because it is time to release the buses after June 15 and I have already done my best,” the mayor added.


MP commission investigates possible fraud in bid for PAO

Permit and future funding in doubt

Nopniwat Krailerg

The scheduled five floor addition to the PAO office in Chiang Mai is in doubt due to recent storm damage and budget approval uncertainty. To clear this up, MP members of commission traveled to Chiang Mai to sort out the issue.

Supol Fong-ngam, vice president of the commission, said that they had to consider two points: design and safety certification. The contractors accepted that they had no authority to certify the condition the building and funds for purchasing and hiring were in the approval process. However, the Office of the Auditor General of Thailand had complained that a bid process should have taken place in a central office, but Chiang Mai PAO office only put the bid out in the provinces. Chiang Mai municipality urged the PAO to conform with the Building Control Act, but it did not do so.

It was first accused of malfeasance and warned that any if officers were found to be cheating, the permit for this building would be seized. The vice president added that the Chiang Mai PAO had cooperated with the Faculty of Engineering, Chiang Mai University, to verify the building structural strength, and the members of the commission would request the National Engineering Council of Thailand to recheck. Results are expected within two weeks. It seems that the house of cards is not ready to fall over yet.


Seminar on mudslide risky areas — but deforestation continues

Saksit Meesubkwang

On June 4, the Department of Mineral Resource with Chiang Mai province and Chiang Mai University held a seminar for 360 residents in six districts; Mae Chaem, Mae Taeng, Fang, Mae Ai, Chai Prakan and Samoeng, to inform them about mudslide precautions. Somsak Photisai, director general of Department of Mineral Resource, was the chairman of the seminar joined by Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, deputy governor of Chiang Mai.

Somsak Photisai, director general of Department of Mineral Resource and Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, deputy governor of Chiang Mai give information to the residents.

Somsak said that natural resources in Thailand had decreased because of deforestation - resulting in mudslides. Most areas in Chiang Mai were covered with forest but soil was crumbly causing it to be unable to hold water in the rainy season. Soil would become more and more wet and heavier, causing mudslides in heavy rain. The seminar attendees were told the department had provided officers to various villages to survey and take pictures of risky areas, and Officers would move residents out of the area whenever necessary.

Mudslide took place in September 16, 2004 at Baan Sansook, Tambon Tatorn in Mae Ai, Chiang Mai, resulting in one death. Flooding at Tambon Thapa in Fang and in Tambon Mae Tuen, Chiang Mai damaged 12 houses and over 4,000 rai of land. The flooding destroyed 221 houses and three villages including 484 rai of land. On July 26 in 2004, a mountain torrent at Tambon Mae Kha in Fang, Chiang Mai caused one death and 66 houses were destroyed, together with over 3,000 rai of land.


As the river traffic dies, Chiang Rai MPs oppose dams and new port

Saksit Meesubkwang

The deputy minister of finance, and retinue, came to Chiang Khong to see just what was the development situation in that region, as far as international trading was concerned.

Not much water left in Mae Khong River during the summer, after China has constructed dams along the river.

Varathep Ratanakorn, deputy minister of finance and his team conferred with government officials at Chiang Khong district office, joined by Chiang Khong district chief officer Suthep Tiewtrakul, head of Chiang Khong customs house Somyode Kantaeng and the area’s MPs.

Sectors concerned with border trade reported to Varathep that China had constructed the R 3 route, 250 km in length, passing through southern China to Baw Kaew area in Huay Sai City, Laos, opposite Chiang Khong. This route was expected to be finished in 2007, and would make cross border traffic more effective, but reduce navigation along the Mekong River, and 16 dams constructed by China would certainly affect river traffic.

The Deputy Minister suggested stopping construction of Chiang Khong customs house at Tambon Wiang Haeng in Chiang Khong, to await confirmation of the Thai-Laotian Bridge to be constructed by the end of this year or the beginning of next year. There are three locations recommended for the construction, Baan Huay Kook, Baan Don Mahawan and Baan Pak Ingtai in Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai. He requested government officials to work effectively and honestly, as border trade revenue in Chiang Khong is important, being 900 million baht during the first months of the year.

Suthep Tiewtrakul, Chiang Khong district chief officer, said that besides the Laos bridge the district office would offer to construct industrial settlements at Tambon Sri Donchai and Tambon Sathan in Chiang Khong. Buasorn Prachamorn, Chiang Rai MP of area 8 and Itthidet Kaeluang, MP of area 7, informed that they would like the cabinet to stop the second Chiang Saen port construction, which would cost a billion baht, as it was unnecessary for Chiang Saen to have a second large port. Chinese traders would prefer to transport via the land route. They were going to present this petition to the mobile cabinet in Phayao on June 13-14.


Inthakin column veneration ceremony 2005

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Chedi Luang Worawiharn Temple and Chiang Mai municipality organized the annual Inthakin column (Sao Lak Muang) veneration ceremony from June 3-9, allowing people to worship and hold special activities in the temple.

The parade taking Phra Puttha San Ha Buddha image to be placed inside Chang Tam Temple.

Chiang Mai Inthakin column adoration ceremony 2005 started with a parade to place the Phra Puttha San Ha Buddha image in the Chang Tam Temple. The colorful parade had flags being waved, local drums, offerings and the Inthakin column itself and was attended by groups of government officials, residents and students.

In the evening, the Inthakin column ceremony included the pouring of water, the placing of golden leaves on the Buddha image, including putting flowers in a bowl to worship the column.

Inthakin column has been a Chiang Mai column since King Meng Rai’s period in 1296, and is set at Chedi Luang Temple at present. It was in a small Jaturamook building and was made from a large tree and buried in the ground. The ceremony of the column veneration is held every year to appeal for rain. Residents prepare flowers, joss sticks, candles, lustral water, and perfume to worship the column at Chedi Luang Temple. There were 108 monks performing simultaneous ceremonies at ten points.


Garlic farmers unseat perfidious cooperatives manager

Running a cloved shop, perhaps?

Chiangmai Mail reporters

On May 31, garlic farmers congregated in front of Mae Hong Son City Hall to sign a petition to present to Mae Hong Son’s governor. This was to topple Muang district cooperatives manager, Yingpad Wanakamol, because, they said, he was dishonest and meddled with the garlic price of the members and was disloyal in other projects.

Niran Jankan, president of the garlic farmers cooperatives in Muang, Mae Hong Son, declared that cooperatives members were not satisfied with Yingpad’s actions, as he decreased the garlic price from 15 to 12 baht per kilogram. Although farmer supportive committees had guaranteed a garlic price of 18 baht and later decided to purchase at 15 baht per kilogram, the manager intervened, resulting in its decrease. Furthermore, farmers were charged 1.50 baht per kilogram for the transfer process.

“He spent too much of the cooperatives’ funds on his own business, such as loan fund business and an alcohol factory, and he could not pay dividends to cooperative members for two years. So we have decided to remove him as Muang district cooperative manager,” Niran said.

The governor accepted the petition and promised to investigate the manager and the matter. Farmers dispersed after learning of the satisfactory response from the governor.


800 policemen making sure wheels don’t fall off mobile cabinet in Phayao

Chiangmai Mail reporters

In an enormous display of security consciousness, Pol. Maj. Gen. Rakchart Rachakit, Phayao Provincial Police commander, said that the area is ready for the mobile cabinet meeting in Phayao, and that police officers had been assigned to guard the PM and the entire cabinet everywhere; at conferences, their temporary residences and while on the road.

He expected that the mobile cabinet meeting June 13-14 would be peaceful and asked local residents to cooperate and to inform the officers about security problems. Phayao Provincial Police had also provided an intensively trained corps of residents to keep the PM and cabinet members secure.


19 year old student succumbs with Dengue hemorrhagic fever

Nopniwat Krailerg

Kirati Sangchadchawan, 19, a freshman studying in Far Eastern College Chiang Mai, died from Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), the most recent victim in Chiang Mai. He had been treated at McCormick Hospital for five days before his condition deteriorated.

A 42 year old woman selling pork in Mae Rim fresh market plagued by mosquitoes in nearby drains was the first death from DHF this year.

The official total is now 127 DHF patients and two deaths in Muang and Mae Rim, Chiang Mai. The disease is found mostly in Doi Tao, San Pa Tong and Chom Thong and Tambon Chang Klan, Tambon Sriphum, Tambon Thasala, Tambon Hai Ya, Tambon Sanphisua in Muang including Tambon San Phranet and Tambon San Sai Luang in San Sai district.


Polluted water from prison upsets villagers

Disgusting smells and a disease source say locals

Saksit Meesubkwang

Ban Taw villagers at Tambon Chang Puek in Muang, Chiang Mai, have appealed to the Chiang Mai governor claiming the Central Prison Chiang Mai had sluiced polluted water along their drains causing a foul smell and making some villagers ill.

Artesian wells are also affected.

Ban Taw villager points to the polluted water coming from Central Prison.

Even though the residents requested authorities to deal with the problem several times, nothing has happened. The local press then tried to investigate the problem, and the officers claimed that they were dealing with it and said that the polluted water was not only from the prison but from restaurants as well.

The residents said they had endured the disgusting smell for almost two years without any action on their requests for a solution. They then decided to inform the governor.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat said that he had told the prison and the Environment Office to resolve the conflict, and both organizations are currently dealing with it.

The governor declared that the prison always purifies water before sluicing it to the drain and, to prevent a repeat of the situation, a project for pumping polluted water underground where it could not be smelled (but could pollute artesian wells), was being planned by the prison.

Anan Chaiwong, president of Ban Taw community, said that the prison claimed that the polluted water was from restaurants. He said that the villagers used to ask the prison to hire a sludge pump to get rid of polluted water from the prison to a pit in another place or to dig a canal and sluice purified water into the Ping River without passing through a community.

The area affected by the disgusting smell covers five square kilometers. Water sources in the community that used to be hygienic and drinkable, and full of fish, deteriorated after the prison was established.


Court of Justice in Region 5 consults with CEOs

Saksit Meesubkwang

The Court of Justice in Region 5 held a CEO conference at the Sheraton Hotel, Chiang Mai, led by Supachai Poo-ngam, president of the Supreme Court.

Supachai Poo-ngam, Supreme Court president

Supachai said that this conference was to support the legal processes in Region 5. At present, there were more than 10 appeal courts supporting cases held over in the Supreme Court, and assistant judges were being added to speed-up conclusion of cases. He believed the Thai justice process was fair to citizens and could be trusted, but sometimes delays occurred for many reasons often due to insufficient numbers of officers. Although exams for court officers were often organized, only around 10 percent could pass the test. Those working in a court needed to be selected prudently because judgments affected persons’ lives and mistakes could result in a poor image and lack of trust of the court.

Nanthawan Jaruenchasri, a director general judge in Region 5, said that cases in the Northern provinces were decreasing at present, especially drug cases - now only being 3,000 cases. This was as a result of drug suppression while illegal labor cases were increasing at the moment and civil and business court cases were at the highest level since 2002.

Court of Justice Region 5 CEO conference at Sheraton Hotel, Chiang Mai.


New gasohol for old longans

CMU Faculty of Agriculture turns dried longans into gasohol

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University researchers have converted dried longans to ethyl alcohol to finally produce gasohol when mixed with benzene. CMU intends to present their findings to the government as an alternative energy source.

Asst. Prof. Pornchai Luang-apapong and a research team of the Faculty of Agriculture have been successful in modifying dried longan, of which there is usually 25,000 tons of unused stock per year and growing, as China’s demand for the fruit has been falling.

The research began by fermenting dry longans to get ethyl alcohol and then distilling it and mixing it with benzene to become gasohol.

The researchers said that they would participate with the government if this project was supported. They predicted that 25,000 tons of dried longans could produce a million liters of ethyl alcohol and to produce gasohol from unwanted dried longans was much better than dumping the crop, suggested Asst. Prof. Pornchai.


Chiang Mai supports government policy on energy usage

Nopniwat Krailerg

The energy saving policy proclaimed by the government is being stepped up throughout the country, having starting on June 1. The public is being asked to stay under 90 km per hour while driving, turn off air-conditioning between noon and 1 p.m. every day and turn off their lights at 8.45 p.m. for 5 minutes every night. It is being claimed that these measures could reduce the cost of electricity energy used by 43 million baht or equal to the volume of electricity produced from one dam in a set period, and the PM said that these policies are to be continued.

The Electricity Distribution Office 4, Chiang Mai, responsible for Mae Rim district and some areas in the city, reported that after turning off air-conditioners at noon for an hour, they used only 73.3 instead of the usual 81 megawatt, before again increasing to 81 megawatt after 1.00 p.m. on June 1. The 7 megawatt reduced electricity use on that day could be converted to represent 50 million baht, however on other days there was only a one or two megawatt decrease.

It was expected that electricity usage would be much decreased if the campaign were continued. Large government offices in Chiang Mai also participated, including the office of Chiang Mai governor Suwat Tantipat and the three deputy governors. Supachai Iamsuwan, head of Chiang Mai Provincial Office said that Chiang Mai government offices would continue following through with the measures.

Lights in Chiang Mai on the night of June 1 were turned off for five minutes as the campaign requested, resulting in 219 megawatt consumption instead of the normal 287, thus saving 67 units. The governor said that he was satisfied with Chiang Mai’s participation in the electricity energy usage campaign. Government offices would campaign seriously targeting a 10 percent saving in both electricity and fuel oil usage. The business and industry sectors would be encouraged to participate positively.


Butterfly swarm astonishes onlookers

Meatball seller worried about mothballs

Saksit Meesubkwang

Amazingly, a million butterflies flocked to a building at Chiang Mai Municipality Stadium. A meatball seller, and purveyor of local wisdom on site, said, “I have sold meatballs here for almost 20 years, but I have never seen anything like this before.”

Butterflies hanging on an office wall at Chiang Mai’s Municipality Stadium.

On May 31, butterflies, both large and small, flew into Chiang Mai Municipality Stadium and covered buildings, trees and the grandstand, leaving spectators agog as these kinds of butterflies were hardly ever seen, and never in such organized squadrons. Some felt this was an alien invasion, whilst others thought it was a new branch of Wing 41. The entire number was estimated at about a million, with officials still counting wings and dividing by two to get the exact numbers, which will be reported to the mobile cabinet meeting, if they have not dispersed before then.

Sgt. Sayan Jitsampan, security officer for Chiang Mai municipality, said that after the butterflies gathered he warned everyone not to molest them, in case they turned savage. He also warned people allergic to butterflies to stay away, and requested higher authorities to deal with the fly-by predators because he was concerned that timid residents exercising in the stadium may be frightened by these ferocious caterpillars in drag.


World No Tobacco Day

Preeyanoot Jittawong

With millions dying every year from the effects of tobacco, Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Center recognized World No Tobacco Day with a project called “Team Sukaphap Ruam Jai Khajad Pai Buree” (to participate with one another in eliminating tobacco), using a white frangipani on a red background as the symbol of the anti tobacco campaign.

Activities were held for world no tobacco day at Tonpayhom Market, Chiang Mai.

In Chiang Mai 25 percent, or 3.2 million people older than 15 years of age smoke, more than the Public Health Center expected. Elsewhere the percentage is not over 17 percent.

Dr. Rattawut Sukmee, the head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, said that the office supported non-smoking activities such as providing training on how to quit smoking, cooperating with other Public Health Centers to campaign to against smoking and many others.

Every year, May 31 is declared World No Tobacco Day, and this year it was emphasized by doctors, dentists, nurses and academics, and people who may encourage quitting smoking.


World Environment Day 2005

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Chiang Mai municipality, along with government and private sectors and Chiang Mai residents, entered into World Environment Day activities along both sides of Huay Kaew Road on June 5.

US Consul General Bea Camp, Minister of Interior Secretary Pakorn Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn and Chiang Mai municipality administrators attend World Environment Day activity.

The UN has proclaimed June 5 as World Environment Day and campaigned under the concept of ‘Green Cities’ for this year, to support the Plan for the Planet. The Secretary to the Minister of Interior, Pakorn Buranupakorn, presided over Chiang Mai’s World Environment Day, and addressed the participants on environment-related issues and their management.

Chiang Mai students and residents cooperate on World Environment Day.

The activity received good participation from government and private sectors, education institutes, department stores, hotels, restaurants and communities, in all around 70 organizations. Students attended the activity by parading to campaign for green world and included the residents of Chiang Mai in walking along Huay Kaew Road to Rukhachad Public Park to encourage paying attention to natural resources and environment preservation.


US group joins Tai tribes appeal

Chiangmai Mail reporters

Tai tribal organizations and the USA have requested the Thai government not to move 400 Tai tribe refugees, mostly women and children, as they might become victims of human trafficking and suffer more human rights suppression.

Five Tai tribe organizations sent a message to the Thai government to review their policy of moving an orphans home and Tai tribe refugees in Doi Tai Lang by the end of May. Most of the 400 Tai tribe refugees in Doi Tai Lang were women and children, part of the 1,800 refugees in Doi Tai Lang, located near the border between Pang Mapah district, Mae Hong Son and Muang Tone in Shan State, Burma.

An orphanage with 208 children in the refugee village encroaches on Thai soil, as do 68 houses of 449 Tai villagers. Royal Thai Forces ordered these refugees to move out from Thailand and back into the Shan State on May 18, and started moving them forcibly on May 31.

The organizations are concerned because the destination is located in a combat area. Human Rights Watch (HRW), whose head office is in the USA, requested the Thai government to accept Tai tribe refugees who have fled from human rights aggression in Burma to Thailand. 200-500 Tai tribesmen have emigrated to Fang and Chiang Dao districts, Chiang Mai, but no region will accept these people, despite the fact that they may be forced to return to Burma. This encourages the situation in which the alien workers become used as cheap illegal labor by unscrupulous managers in Thailand, and women and children are at risk of becoming victims of the human trade.


Free trading upheld in Mae Sai border area

As long as it isn’t Tesco-Lotus

Saksit Meesubkwang

Local traders in Chiang Rai are calling on support from trading organizations to resist the new Tesco Lotus department store proposed for the Mae Sai area. A leaflet campaign was held on June 2, with Boontham Thipprasong of the Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce saying that several sectors, such as Mae Sai Merchant Club, Kwuang Meng Foundation, Lions and Rotary Association and others gathered to show solidarity against the proposal. He also invited residents to close their shops and stop working on June 13, to assemble and present a petition to PM Thaksin Shinawatra when he arrives in Chiang Rai for the mobile cabinet conference in Phayao, during June 13-14.

The leaflets want Mae Sai residents to resist a new branch of Tesco Lotus planned to be set up in Mae Sai. It is claimed that residents would be out of jobs because small retailers could not sell their goods and would sack workers, similar to 2004 when 175,000 small retailers went out of business because of a large department store. It probably affected 875,000 workers, and the 400 large department stores like Tesco Lotus throughout the country are only able hire 80,000 workers.

The dissenting voices claim that setting up a new branch of Tesco Lotus brought no advantage to local area income, as all goods are distributed by the head office, and some products were produced by Tesco Lotus itself. General goods brands had to pay high costs to be displayed in these department stores and the entire income would be sent to head office, resulting in capital outflow from the local area. The claims even went as far as indicating that this kind of department store would also affect youngsters, as they would spend parents’ money on shopping, probably causing other social problems, including changing the local lifestyle.

The efforts of campaigners would not stop at presenting a petition to the PM, said Boontham, but the sectors concerned had consulted with Chiang Rai MP Tuanjai Deethed about the issue, and she promised to confer with Senate members of the commission, especially about the impact and free trade area limit toward retailers. He added that several million baht in Mae Sai and nearby areas would be directed towards Tesco Lotus, but only a few baht would remain for retailers, a development similar to the time when Big-C and Makro were set up in Chiang Rai, causing retailers to lose about 60 to 70 percent of their income.

“This resistance to large department stores is not only for Mae Sai retailers but for all retailers in Chiang Rai,” Boonthan said, echoing words used in America in the 1920’s.


No agricultural work in Canada

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Chiang Mai Employment Department warns residents not to believe or pay money to an agent proclaiming to be able to find agricultural jobs in Canada, as there is no approved agricultural work there for Thai workers.

Orachorn Ratanamanee, head of Chiang Mai Employment, said that even after the Department of Employment had informed the public that there was no listing of M.K. North American International Labor Resources with positions available for Thai laborers as agricultural workers in Canada —people still applied for jobs.

The department had contacted Canadian organizations concerned, and was informed that no consent had been given to any agent or company to import labor from Thailand to be used as agricultural workers.

If some people have already paid for a job, they could ask for their money back or present a petition to Chiang Mai Employment Department.

For more information, call 0 5322 3325 or 0 5322 2865-6, or visit Chiang Mai Employment on Chotana Rd. at Tambon Chang Puek in Muang, Chiang Mai.


Northern economy improved in April

Staff reporters

The Northern economy improved in April 2005. Consumption expenses increased, import-export value accelerated but home construction lagged, as did crop supply due to the drought. However, primary crops brought more income to farmers owing to increased prices. The export of industrial products also increased but the number of tourists decreased because of the unrest in the South. Goods prices increased in line with fuel oil prices and commercial bank savings and loans decreased.

Service activity decelerated because of an explosion in Songkhla resulting in visitors canceling trips. However, this year’s Songkran festival stimulated tourism, and several target groups had re-routed to visit the northern region, allowing hotels and restaurants 9 percent more income compared to last year. Passengers at the airport also increased by 14 percent.

Registration of private cars increased by 22 percent, while the purchase of motorcycles decreased by 9 percent.

Oversea trade or export value increased by 27 percent or USD 218 million. Important products for export were identified as electricity systems, supplies and optical products, increasing by 40 percent or USD 42 million, as well as fuel oil exported to Laos increasing by 26 percent or USD 1.5 million and rubber exported to China increased by 300 percent or USD 6 million.

Import value increased by 18 or USD 129 million accelerating from May and mainly imported through northern industrial customs houses in the sum of USD 122 million increasing by 18 percent. Most imported products were plastic products and resin. Border trade increased by 9 percent or USD 5 million with import value from Burma and Laos.

Northern trade balance in April, 2005 exceeded USD 89 million, increasing at 44 percent or USD 62 million compared with the same period in 2004.


British tourists stage lie-in on Chiang Mai airport runway

Lost insurance documents, so decided THAI should fly them home

Nopniwat Krailerg

On June 3, a British tourist holidaying in Chiang Mai had an accident, resulting in a broken leg. He and his friend told Thai International to approve tickets for them to fly to London, telling the airline staff to collect the money from an accident insurance company in the UK. Unfortunately, they did not have any documents or receipts to verify their claim, consequently THAI refused to approve the tickets for them.

Thai Airways International

The two British men were not satisfied, lost any vestiges of ‘jai yen’ that they might have picked up in Thailand and said they would stay at the airport until they received the tickets.

Eventually the insurance company in London agreed to pay for the two tickets, which were given to them so that they could fly back on June 8.

THAI reported that it had, nevertheless, taken good care of the disgruntled travelers by providing food and drink for them at the airport, something they did not have to do.


Red minibuses question transparency of municipality bus purchase

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives, which has dealt with red minibuses in Chiang Mai for more than 20 years, continues to resist Chiang Mai municipality buses by presenting a petition to PM Thaksin Shinawatra during his trip to Chiang Mai on June 10-11. They will request the Senate to investigate the purchase of 26 buses, valued at 63 million baht, and ask for more transparency.

The Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives challenges government to purchase a million baht per each red minibus if it thinks these vehicles are useless.

Singhkham Nunti, the president of the Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives, told Chiangmai Mail that petitions cover: 1. No buses must run in the city but only service suburbs; 2. Buses and red minibuses should cooperate with each other by picking up passengers in their own areas, transferring them to each other; 3. If government believes the red minibuses were not beneficial, it should purchase 2,790 red minibuses for a million baht each. However, he learnt from Chiang Mai governor Suwat Tantipat that the buses had not been approved for service yet awaiting the cooperatives to present the petition to the PM before releasing them.

Moreover, the cooperatives thought that streets in Chiang Mai were too narrow and therefore improper for buses, and it might not reduce traffic jams but cause them. There were nine concession routes in Chiang Mai and if the cooperatives would be allowed to borrow funds from government to provide air-condition vans, not more than 500,000 baht per each second hand van or 1.1 million baht per each new one, it would spend only 30 million baht per route coming to 270 million baht for the entire nine routes. The cooperatives believed that this was more appropriate for the province. Furthermore, the government would receive the capital and interest from the loan instead of wasted funds for buses.

The cooperatives, pulling out all the stops, wondered about the transparency of the 63 million baht purchase, although they were second hand vehicles. The municipality should have organized route concessions before taking the vehicles, they grumbled.


Explosion at Khao Mun Gai shop results in Gai Yang

Nopniwat Krailerg

A gas bottle exploded at a Krit Ocha Khao Mun Gai (oily rice with boiled chicken) shop on June 1, resulting in a fire behind the shop.

Kritsada Watchara-trangtrakul, owner of the shop, said that he was running out of gas, so he asked Nawin Pinta to change the gas bottles. While disconnecting a partly filled bottle, gas sprayed onto two stoves where chicken was being boiled, resulting in an explosion.

The detonation produced a blaze which destroyed several items and BBQ’d others before workers could extinguish the flames. Nawin was later admitted to Maharaj Hospital, Chiang Mai.

The Krit Ocha Khao Mun Gai shop near the Three Kings Monument has been operating for a long period and is well known in Chiang Mai.



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