Vol. IV No. 26 - Saturday June 25 - July 1, 2005
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Villagers torch garbage truck

Crowds flee in panic from suspected bomb

Police vow to nail monk killer within two weeks

Central government fixes prices

Aspiring Chonburi cheerleader in coma

Mae Hong Son calls for tunnel through mountain to Chiang Mai

Appeal for freedom for Aung Sun Suu Kyi

900 million baht budget designated for the Hang Dong-San Pa Tong city bypass

Mobile cabinet in Phayao considers human trade

Free trade between U.S. and Thailand

Mudslides still causing concern

Will the last person to leave Chiang Mai please turn off the lights?

Fresh milk floods market

Randy Pandy

Old cans for new tickets at Chiang Mai Zoo

Ceremony to commemorate the founding of Chiang Mai

Green bus company to expand in the north

German Swiss killing ruling on August 31

More hot air over hot air

Human trafficking is not so foreign

Human traffickers using fake passports arrested

Illegal immigrants from Burma apprehended in a hotel in Chiang Rai

Mae Hong Son police look for drug dealers in Chinese Haw villages

War on Drugs III ends in July

Villagers torch garbage truck

Staff Reporters

Villagers from Nong Pakbung lost patience over continued official inaction regarding their objections to a garbage separation plant in their area and set up a roadblock on Sunday night, netting a 10-wheel truck and trailer loaded with Chiang Mai rubbish. This incensed the villagers so much, the garbage truck ended up as a funeral pyre.

The original purpose of the roadblock was to prevent trucks and trailers loaded with garbage from entering the private garbage separation plant in their village. However, three of the trucks slipped past the blockade and managed to dump garbage in plant. The last truck was then torched by the protesting villagers, who by this time had fire in their eyes.

The police and firefighters who arrived on the scene were pelted with stones and at least 10 were hurt. The plant is now under guard.

However, Maj-Gen Prathom Aksornsri, the owner of the plant, is now less sanguine and the owner of the destroyed truck has asked Chiang Mai police for protection as he wanted to move his remaining trucks and a backhoe out of the offending garbage separation plant. He claimed the damage to his truck was about three million baht.

Pol Col Atthakij Kornthong, deputy commander of Chiang Mai police, said police have been assigned to protect the plant.

The Doi Tao district chief, Surapol Sattayarak, said he was awaiting an answer on the garbage issue from the tambon administrative organization of Bong Ton.


Crowds flee in panic from suspected bomb

Nopniwat Krailerg

A bag suspected to contain a bomb was found on June 20 in front of Fun Sabai dentist clinic next to Suriwong Plaza near Thapae Gate. As the clinic’s owner, Somreudee Wongwiratnukit, is the wife of highway police superintendent the police really rushed to the scene with Pol. Maj. Gen. Jiroot Prommobone, Chiang Mai Provincial Police commander leading.

As the usual ghoulish onlookers were pressing in, officers had to clear the scene as they examined a black leather bag on the stairs in front of the clinic. The officers suspected a grenade so they called Pol. Capt. Ekapan Pongpuan, head of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), border patrol police to examine the bomb.

Having checked the bag by x-raying, the officers discovered strong reflections and therefore decided to use a high pressure water pump to explode the bag — which was found to contain only three bricks.

Possible coercion or chaos creation was suspected by police conspiracy theorists but the clinic owner said she had no conflict with others and it might be a simple misunderstanding and someone has now lost three pet bricks.


Police vow to nail monk killer within two weeks

Nopniwat Krailerg

Police vow to arrest a prime suspect in the murder of Phra Supoj Suwachano, abbot of the Mettadhamma Buddhist forest sanctuary in Chiang Mai, within two weeks when more solid evidence is found.

The abbot was hacked to death in the compound of his Buddhist center on Friday June 17 but his body was only found the next day.

Police said possible motives for the murder included his discovery of illegal logging, encroachment on the center’s forest land, and the monk’s allegations of irregularities in some government projects.

The Development Network, a conservation body, claims that the motive for the murder was the monk’s conservation of 700 rai of forest land that was wanted by an influential person. The monk and others were being continuously harassed to leave the land and there were five cases pending judgment in the court.

Pol. Lt-Gen. Panupong Singhara na Ayutthaya, chief of Police Region 5, said police investigators were handling the case with great care to make sure innocent people would not end up behind bars. Police have so far interrogated four people, all of them villagers living near the Buddhist centre in tambon San Sai, Fang district.

Pol. Lt-Gen. Chamnan Ruadrew, deputy chief of Chiang Mai Police, said it was also possible Phra Supoj was murdered because of his writing about alleged irregularities in some government projects.

Paiboon Muangsuwan, a 59-year-old Ban Huay Ngu villager close to the abbot, said he believed Phra Supoj was killed because he had tried to protect the center’s forest land.

A group of people, led by a man identified only as Narong, had made repeated attempts to force the monk to sell the land, he revealed. He told reporters of a physical attack made on the monk in 2003 when he refused to sign a certain document, Paiboon said.

Fang Police had sought a warrant for the arrest of Narong in connection with an attack on Paiboon before the murder of Phra Supoj.

Paiboon said that several other groups of influential people, including local politicians and border patrol police, were interested in land, but the group led by Narong was the most violent, he said.

Narong is apparently a former army captain and close aide of Maj. Chalermchai Matchaklam, who was sentenced to death for the murder of Yasothon governor Preena Leepattanapan at a Bangkok hotel on March 4, 2001.


Central government fixes prices

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

The director general of the Department of Internal Trade has told businessmen to hold the price of goods firm for another three month period. The last restriction will end on June 30.

A consumer goods shop in Chiang Mai.

However, the department will consider individual products which need to be increased in price because of higher capital costs spent on raw materials.

The director general said businesses would be fined at 12 times the cost of the goods if government officers found any price increases and they could be prosecuted if it appeared deliberate.


Aspiring Chonburi cheerleader in coma

Local cheerleader contest to go on

Nopniwat Krailerg

Supatra Mahaudome, 17, freshman of Burapha University, Chonburi suffered an accident on June 20 while practicing a cheerleader dance with her team. She is presently in a coma and is being treated in Chonburi Hospital.

Cheerleader athletes who will attend the To Be Number One Cheerleader Thailand Championship 2005.

Despite this event perhaps making the public think that cheerleading is too dangerous, the cheerleader competition in Chiang Mai “To Be Number One Cheerleader Thailand Championship 2005” will still go ahead on June 29.

Adisorn Soodi, vice president of the Cheerleader Association of Thailand told Chiangmai Mail that the competition would be held as scheduled, as it was to encourage healthy youth and to support teamwork, including avoiding drugs.

This kind of competition had been held for eight years without any accidents occurring. The association has made a floor area of 12 x 14 meters that is sufficient to accommodate 20 persons and doctors and nurses would be in attendance.

He added that the accident happened in Chonburi because they lacked experience and there was no expert staff taking care of the contestants.

“Most of the competition tumbles in Chiang Mai are easy and basic and not too risky ... the athletes have practiced for not less than two months with the advice of experts, therefore the competition is not at risk,” Adisorn said.


Mae Hong Son calls for tunnel through mountain to Chiang Mai

Saksit Meesubkwang

Poonsak Soonthornpanichakit, Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce president, bemoaned the fact that the government had adjusted fuel oil prices upwards to 20.04 baht for diesel, 23.09 baht for benzene 91 and 23.99 baht for benzene 95 at PTT gas stations in Mae Hong Son.

This affected travel costs fees both by air and land, and flight tickets from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai now stand at 970 baht, an increase from the previous of 100 baht. He added that the higher fuel oils prices also influenced product prices causing hardship to residents.

The government should approve funds for developing a shorter route from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai on highway numbers 108 and 1095. One project that the chamber would like the government to consider is to construct a tunnel from Mae Hong Son through Tambon Huay Poo Ling passing Tambon Wat Jan and Samoeng to Chiang Mai.

The government had mentioned this project in 2004 and this route could reduce the hardship suffered by citizens and it would be worthwhile in supporting future border trade and tourism. He would like the government to pay as much attention to Mae Hong Son people as he does to other provinces.


Appeal for freedom for Aung Sun Suu Kyi

Nopniwat Krailerg

A number of organizations, including the Chiang Mai Network for Peace Organization and the Organization of Burmese Friends gathered on June 19 to appeal for freedom for Aung Sun Suu Kyi on her 60th birthday, being Burma’s democratically elected leader but still held under house arrest.

They wore local costumes, calling for peace in front of Nong Buak Had Public Park in Muang Chiang Mai.

Pranome Somwong, leader of Chiang Mai Network for Peace organization, revealed that the activity was joined by 60 members of each organization, representing Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s age, asking for freedom to celebrate her birthday, instead of cutting a cake.

A “Key for Peace” offering was made by people writing messages on old keys appealing for peace that would later be sent to Thai and Burmese artists to create peace artworks.


900 million baht budget designated for the Hang Dong-San Pa Tong city bypass

Saksit Meesubkwang

As if the present traffic jam solutions were not causing enough problems to traffic with dormant road works, the Department of Rural Roads, Ministry of Transport, now proposes a new route to bypass the city via Baan Toongsiaew and Baan Hang Dong in San Pa Tong, Chiang Mai, a distance of 13.8 km. This road is supposed to ease traffic jams in the city of Chiang Mai, but only time will tell.

Apinan Porananon, head of Department of Rural Roads Chiang Mai, said that initially, the route would be constructed along an irrigation canal in San Pa Tong and Hang Dong districts, but the canal irrigation ended at Baan Nam Bo Luang, therefore the department expanded the route from the starting point to Baan Toongpang in San Pa Tong, at kilometer 34 on highway 108. It is planned to construct four lanes, linking with a new Pasang-Ban Toongsiaew road that ended at kilometer 13 beside the irrigation canal.

Residents are all 100 percent in agreement with the project and want it built as soon as possible, but they suggest that the department build an effective drain alongside the route because water would flow from the west into the Ping River now obstructed by the new route, a factor possibly forgotten by the engineers. The design will be finished in November and a 900 million baht budget will be sought.

However, before constructing the road, the department will need to purchase Longan orchards owned by 10 farmers because the route passes over their land. This may, as a bonus, reduce the subsidy that is now being paid to these over-producing farmers, now that they are being undercut following the FTA with China.

Manoon Sangpleong, assistant manager of the environment study said that to select the route it was necessary to consider engineering, social economics and environment. The engineering aspect should design the route away from communities and use as few curves as possible to save natural resources.


Mobile cabinet in Phayao considers human trade

Chiangmai Mail reporters

Human trafficking was one of most important aspects being considered by the mobile cabinets in Phayao. It has become a great problem in Chiang Rai and the nine northern provinces with girls being smuggled in from foreign cities and towns and even from the hills, to be transferred both abroad and around Thailand.

Girls are being smuggled from China, Burma and Laos to send on to other countries. The trade affects Chiang Rai as it was trying to make the province a door to Lanna culture for international visitors, and not an open door for traffickers.


Free trade between U.S. and Thailand

Saksit Meesubkwang

On June 17, the US Embassy in Thailand with Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce organized a seminar entitled “U.S.– Thailand free trade agreement” at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel Chiang Mai. The American ambassador to Thailand, Michael B. Smith, and former deputy trade delegate of the U.S., chaired the seminar, attended by 80 participants.

US Consul General to Chiang Mai Bea Camp and American Ambassador to Thailand Michael B. Smith at the FTA seminar.

Ambassador Smith said that the seminar was to give information and exchange opinions, as several sectors had not fully understood the free trade agreement and that the fourth round between U.S. and Thailand would take place mid July, 2005 in U.S. He said that it would be beneficial for both countries to cooperate in trading in future if the negotiation was successful.

The FTA seminar

The first act after successful negotiation would be to reduce obstructions to trade in both countries and to boost community level economics. It would also be more convenient for local business to market and distribute their products in the U.S.

The ambassador added that fear of competition was one of the big problems causing free trade negotiations to break down, as people were afraid of change due to a lack of experience as they never traded in this way. Thirty years ago China was confronted with this kind of fearfulness with the result that it was the thirtieth U.S. trading partner but, after it had opened its doors to free trade, China became a great trading partner.

“However, we must realize that the free trade will not succeed if private sectors are lagging. To build up free trade with any country, the U.S. does not concentrate on big or small countries but pays attention to raising the ability level and efficiency of businessmen. The U.S. does not only negotiate with Thailand but with other countries such as Singapore and Japan also,” the Ambassador added.

He continued, “The negotiation in mid July is to concentrate on Thai product copyrights, e.g. software and music and the most important copyright that will be negotiated is Thai Jasmine rice Khao Hom Mali.”


Mudslides still causing concern

700 villages to get warning sirens

Nopniwat Krailerg

A survey of risky areas in the province reveals 694 villages in Chiang Mai are at risk from mudslides. In response, the Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Chiang Mai is getting ready to prevent disasters of this kind during the rainy season.

Wassana Wapinanan, acting for head of Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Chiang Mai.

Rain disaster prevention measurers have been installed at 50 points and warning equipment in 8 areas. These were in risky districts such as Mae Chaem, Mae Ai, Chom Thong, Omkoi, Mae Wang districts and Mae On sub-district.

This year, more warning equipment and rain disaster prevention measurers would be installed at 13 points in 52 villages in Chiang Dao, Wiang Haeng, Phrao, Chai Prakan, Fang, San Pa Tong, Mae Taeng, and Omkoi.

This warning equipment includes sirens like a fire engine’s and can be heard for three km. Residents could flee in time after hearing the sound, as long as they don’t go looking for forest fires!


Will the last person to leave Chiang Mai please turn off the lights?

Nopniwat Krailerg

If you see the street lights off, this may not presage a blackout, but is part of the new government conservation policy. It is predicted that this plan can save an immense amount of energy.

Porntham Yamploy, head of Chiang Mai Highway District 2.

Porntham Yamploy, head of Chiang Mai Highway District 2 (responsible for 2,000 km of routes in Chiang Mai province) said that to conserve electricity it would turn off lights on less used traffic routes after 10 p.m. every night. Intersections and main routes to important destinations such as the airport would not be cut off.

San Kamphaeng-Chiang Mai culture route, set up with several hundred lights, would also be turned off after 10 p.m., so bring your own candles (and drive carefully, as it appears officials are trading in safety for reduced energy use).


Fresh milk floods market

Chiang Mai PAO purchases five hundred thousand milk cartons

Nopniwat Krailerg

Thawatwong Na Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai PAO president, distributed milk to five education areas in Chiang Mai, spending 3 million baht on 500,000 UHT milk cartons from the Up North Dairy Cooperatives, Chiang Mai. This was done to protect them from the competition with fresh milk now flooding the market. The milk cartons were given to grade 5 and 6 students, as these two grades had not been given free milk before.

Thawatwong said that this was a temporary arrangement to relieve hardship and to give students more healthy protein. He confirmed that a 20 million baht budget would be approved to support education and youth next year.

At present, nine dairy cooperatives in Chiang Mai are able to produce eight tons of fresh milk per day, more than is required in Chiang Mai. The cooperative hired a company to produce UHT milk despite there being insufficient market to supporting existing UHT milk producers and even though the PAO has purchased half a million UHT milk cartons, one million two hundred thousand remain in the cooperatives’ stock.


Randy Pandy

Saksit Meesubkwang

The two pandas in Chiang Mai Zoo had their annual health check and were inoculated on June 16. Sopon Damnui, director of the Zoological Park Organization revealed that Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui were healthy and had grown quickly compared with pandas in China. Chuang Chuang was initially 15.01 kg before importation to Thailand but now he is 149.60 kg while Lin Hui had gained weight from 19.16 to 109.69 kg. At present, Chuang Chuang is 4 years and 9 months and Lin Hui, 3 years and 8 months.

Zoo staff distracts the panda to allow veterinarians a chance to inject vaccine.

He added that the male panda was ready for breeding evidenced by his antics in the enclosure designed to attract a female but Lin Hui, in a typical feminine fashion, ignored his wiles as she probably had a headache. Chuang Chuang is learning the old adage “Where there’s a will, there’s a won’t!”

It is thought that Lin Hui may be ready in May next year. Chiang Mai Zoo would prepare expert midwives, bridal suite location and equipment, such as candle-lit dinners to support the breeding process.

Sopon added that there were more examinations approved to study the pandas, including hormone level checks, tests to show the ovaries were working. These projects would help to predict the proper breeding period. The two pandas were trained to follow keepers’ commands and have a good relationship with them so it will be easy to effect the checking process; however, the most important relationship will be with each other.

From October 2004 to this June 2005, 1.3 million people brought 56 million baht to the zoo and more visitors are predicted to visit them in the future.


Old cans for new tickets at Chiang Mai Zoo

Nopniwat Krailerg

Save your cans for a trip to the zoo! Chiang Mai Zoo will give you an adult’s entrance ticket for 15 aluminum cans, or 10 for children’s passes. The other four zoos in Thailand will do the same from June 12 until July 11.

After the project, the zoo organization will transfer the aluminum cans from the five zoos throughout the country to the Prostheses Foundation of HRH The Princess Mother, to produce artificial limbs for cripples under the care of the foundation.


Ceremony to commemorate the founding of Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

On June 16, the Long Life ceremony was organized in Chiang Mai at 10 points throughout the city, the Three Kings Monument, the four corners and the five gates, as per the ancient Lanna ceremony, to bless Chiang Mai and to encourage ethics and local wisdom, and to commemorate the Chiang Mai city founders such as King Mengrai.

Kad Suan Kaew Department Store attends city age prolonging ceremonies at Hua Lin corner, collecting money from its staff to present to various temples.

The ceremony started with the presentation of breakfast to the monks followed by Buddhist activities at the different points in the city.

Nopburi Sri Nakorn Ping, or Chiang Mai, is 709 years old, and was established by King Mengrai in cooperation with his friends Sukhothai’s King Paya Ram Khamhaeng and Paya Ngam Muang, the Phayao King.

It was built between 1295-1296 to be the central city of Lanna Thai back in our past, and is still the center of culture and tourism in northern Thailand today.


Green bus company to expand in the north

Nopniwat Krailerg

Thaipatanakit Transportation has run the green bus service for almost 50 years and has now been granted a concession to serve the eight northern provinces, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao, Phrae, Nan and Tak with green buses.

Somchai Thongkumkoon, MD of Thaipatanakit Transportation and Wisanu Chaiwanitsiri, deputy MD of IBM Thailand in a press conference.

There are 600 buses at present, carrying 1.8 million passengers per year and the company is to fit its 20 new buses with 10 million baht of new technology, and a contract was signed with IFS, IBM and Chi Chang Computer in January.

Somchai Thongkumkoon, MD of Thaipatanakit Transportation said that the company has been using IT systems since 2004 with linked ticket sale systems from the head office to 28 other branches in different provinces and has a company website www. greenbusthailand.com offering online reservations up to 60 days in advance.

“The green buses will allow business expansion for free trade bus competition in countries in the Mekong River basin such as China, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam,” he said.

Some of the 20 new buses.


German Swiss killing ruling on August 31

Nopniwat Krailerg

The judgment in the trial of Gordon Adrian Koschwitz, 33, a German who allegedly killed Raphael Bauman, 33, his Swiss friend, is due on August 31, 2005. His lawyer, a Chiang Mai resident and another friend declares himself ready to defend him at no cost.

Kiettisak Phantawong, attorney-at-law dealing with Gordon’s case.

Gordon was apprehended in Chiang Mai on October 11, 2004 after having allegedly slain his friend in a private house in San Kamphaeng, Chiang Mai.

A foreign witness said that the dead man was irritable and aggressive. He had been introduced to Gordon by another Swiss man, and later moved to stay with the suspect but died the next day.

Kiettisak Phantawong, International Legal Counselor Office, and attorney-at-law, who is dealing with Gordon’s case, said that he knew the German and, on the day the event happened, Gordon called him to tell him that a man had died in his house. Kiettisak then informed the police on his behalf.

He believes that the suspect did not kill the Swiss man because if he had done so, he would have fled before telling others. There was nothing at the scene indicating an argument or violence, but forensic evidence is awaited and, if the evidence points to Gordon as the killer, he could be sentenced to death.

“I am ready to testify to my foreign friend’s innocence and willing to help him as best as I can, without any charge,” the attorney proclaimed.

To a question regarding the background of the case, the lawyer said that he knew Gordon used to be a Thai police informant about drug usage among foreigners in Chiang Mai and the northern region. Gordon’s house had once burned down and no cause was found, leading to police suspecting arson.


More hot air over hot air

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Chiang Mai air protection volunteer network group, led by Dr. Duangchan Apawatcharoot Jareunmuang, organized a discussion on June 18 at Kad Suan Kaew Department Store on how to solve air pollution through burning, and to seek the opinion of residents who are affected by air pollution resulting from burning crop residue and garbage. The goal was to also find a resolution that could be later applied as a policy to follow through.

Chiang Mai air quality discussion group at Kad Suan Kaew Department Store.

This discussion was attended by many who have been blowing the air pollution trumpet call and they assert that air pollution has caused Chiang Mai to have the greatest number of allergy patients in Thailand because of dust, burning and intake of smoke.

Chiang Mai municipality declared itself to be very much aware of those problems and was determined to talk more about punishing vehicles carrying dirt and letting it blow in the wind and fall on the road.

Chiang Mai PAO and TAOs has already produced much hot air about air pollution in the past and had held (generally unsuccessful) activities designed to persuade people not to burn garbage. They also cooperated with forest fire prevention centers to prevent forest fire in ‘at risk’ areas.

This latest discussion was, despite producing quantities of (recycled) hot air, judged as useful to many residents despite the fact that prior discussions had no appreciable affect on the problem.


Human trafficking is not so foreign

Part 1 of a 3 part series

B. Lomax

I am sitting in a semi-passable hotel room in Mae Sai, Thailand, listening to the street noises below my window. I have emails, photographs and a good book downloaded into my laptop. All are nice distractions from Mae Sai, which is the border crossing between the northernmost point in Thailand and Tachilek, Burma. I am in the Golden Triangle, beautiful and mysterious, but I would rather be in any number of other places tonight. I am waiting to talk to a young Tai Yai woman from Burma, a victim of sex trafficking who wants to share her story. A friend has arranged the interview. He is a tour guide, and he tells me that he sees it all when he travels.

Shops in the border town of Tachilek vending jade, sapphires, rubies, textiles, and antiques from Burma.

During the day, Mae Sai is just another border town. A four-lane road forms the main street into town and leads straight into an imposing building surrounded by enormous gates. The river is behind the building. This is the border checkpoint on the Thai side of the border. Vehicles are driven on the left side of the road in Thailand, the right side of the road in Burma, creating an interesting dance as cars and trucks enter and emerge from the checkpoint driveway and change sides of the road. I had lunch today on the river and watched the Burmese come into Thailand, the Thais go into Burma and the Western tourists go both ways.

Shops vending jade, sapphires, rubies, textiles, antiques from Burma and pearls from China line the main street and snuggle close to the hotel where I’m staying. Plastic is sold as jade, glass as sapphires, new as antique. Caveat emptor is the rule, but the real things are also here in surprising abundance.

Like many border towns, there’s something sinister and uncomfortable about Mae Sai at night. That’s when cars and trucks are stolen and rafted across the river into Burma, and women and children are bought and sold in Burma or China and walked through the river into the brothels of Thailand and then often on to countries as far away as Malaysia, Singapore, Israel, Japan, Australia and the United States. Drugs flow across that river, too.

This is the border checkpoint on the Thai side of the border. Vehicles are driven on the left side of the road in Thailand, the right side of the road in Burma, creating an interesting dance as cars and trucks enter and emerge from the checkpoint driveway and change sides of the road.

The checkpoint at Mae Sai closes at 7 p.m. By 9 p.m., I can see people wading into the water in Burma near the restaurant where I am having dinner. Then I watch them emerge into Thailand further downstream. I don’t have to be in Mae Sai to observe this. I could be in any number of other towns in Thailand, Burma, China, Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam. I could be in any number of other places in the world, for that matter, and observe illegal border crossings and human trafficking. But I live in Thailand, a country identified by the U.S. State Department as a source, transit and destination country for sex trafficking, and so I’m in Mae Sai.

Viewed strictly from a cost : benefit analysis, human trafficking for sexual exploitation is the perfect business. The supply of potential victims is constant, the cost of procuring them is low, and the revenue is ongoing. Victims can be sold and resold until they are no longer able to perform the acts expected of them by their customers, until they are sick with hepatitis, AIDS or tuberculosis, until they are suicidal. Many of them are ethnic minorities, stateless people with no citizenship in any country who will have a difficult time re-entering the country of their birth if they are trafficked outside of it. For an investment of less than $1,000 in Thailand, the cost of advance money to the family, transportation, bribes and the recruiter’s payment, a brothel owner in a neighboring country can expect a return of $100,000 or more on his investment in a young woman or girl. Poverty, hopelessness, war, and ignorance create the victims. Greed, corruption, and contempt for human life perpetuate trafficking.

Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region has been going on for generations. The borders between these countries are porous and enforcement of immigration in and out is difficult at best, corrupt at worst. No one I interviewed had personally experienced or observed violent kidnapping. It exists, but seduction is the preferred method of recruiting victims – money and the promise of a better life lure them from home to the unknown. Many of them end up in foreign countries where their health and safety are in danger. They are taken there illegally, their passports or other identification confiscated by the traffickers and fake documents issued. They are lured, deceived and kidnapped, they are held prisoner and often beaten. Sometimes they are locked up, but usually they are imprisoned by their own lack of knowledge of the law, culture, resources, and language of the country. They become indentured servants, often told that they owe their trafficker 40 to 60,000 baht before they will be returned home. They have few choices at that point. Their family is often as poor as they are but sometimes borrows the money from unscrupulous moneylenders. Then the family, too, is indentured. Or the women work out their debt as prostitutes. They have left poverty and despair behind only to find it again.

They have been trafficked.


Human traffickers using fake passports arrested

Nopniwat Krailerg

On June 16, Pol. Col. Pairote Praesakul, superintendent of Chiang Mai immigration, reported the arrest of a human smuggling gang.

The day before, immigration officers arrested Jin San Hua, 48, holding a Korean passport, traveling from Don Muang Airport, Bangkok to Chiang Mai Airport. Her passport was found to be fake by a new computer driven hi-tech machine that was introduced in cooperation with the US to improve the system, and it was first installed at Chiang Mai Airport. Her picture did not match the picture recorded in the computer, resulting in her arrest.

The officers interrogated her, which led to the arrest of three other Korean men. The gang leader was Kim Joong Sik, 65, found in a guest house on Chang Moi Road. The officers also found several more fake passports and other counterfeit documents.

Officers learnt that this gang was based in Beijing, China, to smuggle Chinese into other countries, especially Japan, using modified Korean passports and traveling from China to Thailand then flying on to the third country.


Illegal immigrants from Burma apprehended in a hotel in Chiang Rai

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

A tip off led to the apprehension of 13 men and 20 women between 20-40 years old in the Ma Ruay Hotel in Muang, Chiang Rai on June 17.

They had been charged 14,000 baht to be smuggled from Burma, crossed the border near Mae Sai and were resting before being sent to Rayong to work as fisherman.

The traffickers had claimed that they would receive 3,500-4,000 baht per each month.

Police are now searching for the gang arranging this illegal traffic.


Mae Hong Son police look for drug dealers in Chinese Haw villages

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Previously unsuccessful searches of Chinese Haw villages, Baan Roong Aroon at Tambon Huay Pa, Baan Rak Thai, and Baan Mok Jampae at Tambon Mok Jampae in Muang, Mae Hong Son were repeated, after further reports of drug movements during the rainy season. Apparently, the villagers wait until the police withdraw and then carry on smuggling as normal.

However, new reports indicated that several new houses had been built with secret compartments and hollow spaces that could be used to hide drugs. Other houses, previously the homes of dealers who had been evicted, were once again occupied and the police were checking on the new residents and a wary eye is being kept on these villages.


War on Drugs III ends in July

7.2 million baht, drugs and offenders seized

Nopniwat Krailerg

The records of War on Drugs III show that from April 1 to June 16, 142 retailers and drug addicts with 38,000 speed pills were found and 7,200,000 baht from 13 drug dealers was confiscated, according to Pol. Col. Chamnan Ruadreuw, deputy commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police.

Fourteen police stations set up almost a hundred checkpoints, resulting in the apprehension of drug dealers and illegal laborers. On June 16, 87 Burmese illegal immigrants were found, along with 8 weapons, 6 criminals, 1 motorcycle thief, 8 drug traffickers with arrest warrants out against them and 16 drug addicts and drug possessors with 200 ya ba pills.

Pol. Col. Chamnan said that the officers would continue to suppress drug wholesalers and retailers with names in the police black list. He claimed that several drug dealers would be arrested before June 30, the scheduled end of the third war on drugs.



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