NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Mass vow of No to Drugs

Chiang Mai at risk of earthquakes

Garlic farmers bailed out again

Chiang Mai municipality tries to prevent flooding

Chiang Mai spends millions on drain along both sides of Mae Kha canal

USAF Big Band, Jazz and Swing Concert

Cattle and buffalo deaths in Mae Hong Son cause concern

Fraudsters extort cash posing as government labor inspectors

Chiang Mai Passport Office to issue e-passports in August

Justice Minister oversees sale of confiscated goods

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever identified in 287 patients in Chiang Mai

Cable car to link Chiang Mai Zoo and Night Safari

Homesick Japanese engineer commits suicide

New buses running late (again)

Chiang Mai majority support new buses on World Environment Day

Commissioner once again warns officers of involvement in crime

The never ending garbage story

Fah Haam TAO goes into the boat rental business

Dust study after lung cancer and respiratory disease cases soar in Chiang Mai

Naughty VCD shop owner incarcerated

Students play hooky, haunt arcades and get drunk

Next Thai, Singapore PM retreat to be held in Chiang Mai

Fraudsters fail to deceive old woman and rob her instead

Division 5 arrests fake ID card gang

Victims of sex trafficking tell their stories

Tourist police capture 12 Burmese immigrants

Teenagers dealing in drugs arrested in Chiang Mai City

Mass vow of No to Drugs

1,500 people vow to resist drugs on National Anti Drug Day

Nopniwat Krailerg

1,500 people gathered at the Thapae Gate courtyard on June 26, the UN’s anti drug day, to take a vow to resist drugs. Chiang Mai municipality joined with the Drug Combating Center in Chiang Mai to hold the campaign to encourage everyone, from all walks of life, to prevent and solve the drugs problem.

Residents from 80 communities in Chiang Mai municipality area, government organizations, education institutes, foundations, associations and citizens’ power groups took part in the event.

The To Be Number One project’s youth members performed dance routines during the event, presided over by Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor, who led all in just saying No to Drugs in front of a picture of HM The King.

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn offered 250,000 baht each to Muang Police Station, Chang Puek Police Station, Mae Ping Police Station, Phuping Police Station and Chiang Mai Provincial traffic police, a total of 1,250,000 baht, to encourage them to suppress drugs, influential gangs, and criminals.


Chiang Mai at risk of earthquakes

Chiang Saen fault line could affect Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

Minister assistant at PM’s Office, Smith Thammasaroj revealed that there are nine fault lines that appear risky and could cause earthquakes in Thailand. Most of them are found in the west, from Chiang Rai to Ranong. Two very risky ones are the Srisawat fault line in Kanchanaburi and the Chiang Saen fault line in Chiang Rai. The one in Chiang Saen could cause a 5–6 Richter scale earthquake and would affect both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

The minister assistant made these remarks at an earthquake seminar he chaired in Chiang Mai, organized by the Engineering Institute of Thailand under H.M. The King’s Patronage, to give earthquake information to engineers and government officials who are responsible for public disasters and to residents in risky areas throughout eight northern provinces.

In addition, the seminar was targeted at engineers to design structures resistant to earthquakes and for residents to be aware of earthquake prevention measures.

“This seminar is to inform residents in the eight northern provinces, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Phrae, Nan and Phayao to realize the consequences of earthquakes, as these provinces are located in risky areas,” the minister assistant said.

“There is information recorded in chronicles that 1,000 years ago an earthquake that could have been 7 on the Richter scale took place in Phayao, causing a subsidence that later became a creek or Phayao Lake as it is today. Professionals from the Chiang Mai University Faculty of Engineering have surveyed the lake and say it is possible an ancient city may be discovered under its waters, to become a new world knowledge source,” he disclosed.


Garlic farmers bailed out again

Saksit Meesubkwang

On June 20, Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, Chiang Mai deputy governor, chaired a meeting between farmers and farm support committees concerned about the garlic price in the current year, to solve garlic price problem in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Chiang Rai and Phayao. There were almost 100 garlic farmers and others attending the conference.

Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, Chiang Mai deputy governor

Kwanchai said that he was aware of the plan to approve a 526 million baht fund; 436 million baht for Chiang Mai, 41 million baht for Chiang Rai and 29 million baht for Phayao.

This fund would be spent on purchasing dry garlic at 18 baht per kilogram, with a maximum of 350,000 baht per farmer, but the farmers had then to grow different kinds of plants such as lychee, longan (also the subject of a subsidy) and oranges. The purchasing process would be applied from June to August.

He added that the government agreed to purchase garlic, not over 1,000 kg from each farmer, and if it was found that they were cheating on quantity, they would be punished and the government would not purchase garlic next year. Each province had to continually report the result of garlic purchasing to agricultural support committees.


Chiang Mai municipality tries to prevent flooding

Nopniwat Krailerg

Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that the main causes leading to flooding in the municipal area were that the Mae Ping River is at its containment limit from the Doi Suthep-Pui watershed and that the public is encroaching on the river and blocking drains. Nevertheless, the municipality is taking flood prevention measures.

Mae Ping River in Chiang Mai municipality area always brims with water during the rainy season, causing local flooding.

These methods are to drain water from Chang Kian and Huay Kaew to irrigation canals, removing garbage obstructing 40 small rivers and installing drains throughout the city. Sand bags will also be placed along the banks of the Ping River. He was confident that Chiang Mai residents would not face floods this year. (King Canute was also very confident he could turn back the tide!)


Chiang Mai spends millions on drain along both sides of Mae Kha canal

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai is spending 9 million baht on a drain along both sides of the Mae Kha canal. The construction started in February 2005, but the funding was found to be only sufficient for 2.5 km and there are 11.5 km left awaiting more funds to be approved by the province or Chiang Mai municipality.

Present state of Mae Kha cannel.

This project is to solve the problem of fetid water in the Mae Kha canal, as villagers along the two sides have despoiled the canal until it is now disgusting. After the project is finished, villagers will be able to drain water through pits to purify it and allow it into the Mae Ping River.

Jamikorn Janhom, Head of Works, Chiang Mai municipality, said that Chiang Mai administrators are monitoring the Mae Kha canal and the municipality proposed a further 5.8 million baht to excavate the canal and purify the water. He added that nothing but rain water would be allowed to drain into the canal in future.


USAF Big Band, Jazz and Swing Concert

Free concert in Chiang Mai on July 11

The US Consulate Chiang Mai announced that the United States Air Force Band of the Pacific will stop in Chiang Mai during their Friendship Tour through Thailand in July.

Established during World War II, the band island-hopped through the Pacific and for a while settled in the Philippines until the band relocated to Yokota Air Base in Japan. Its mission is to enhance troop morale and international relations in the Pacific.

Pacific Showcase, the largest performing unit of the USAF Band of the Pacific, not only transports audiences back to a time when the sounds of swing filled the air, but also performs an exciting repertoire of contemporary jazz.

The concert is sponsored by AUA, RTAF Wing 41, the US Consulate and the U.S. Embassy.

The band’s last stop on their Thailand tour will be in Chiang Mai on July 11, 2005, performing from 7 p.m. at Payap University’s Somsawalee Theater. Interested music lovers should contact Payap University Music Department 0 5324 8037.


Cattle and buffalo deaths in Mae Hong Son cause concern

Saksit Meesubkwang

Cows and buffaloes are dying in Mae Hong Son, as a parasite brought in with imported livestock takes hold. Jirakan Rattana, head of Mae Hong Son livestock department, found that seven cows and one buffalo had died within a day. He noticed bloody blotches on their chests and the disease was spreading rapidly to the other 346 buffaloes and cattle in the village.

The villagers buried the dead animals after the officers took samples of blood to verify the cause of death. It appears that the dead animals were infected with a parasite.

The import of animals from Burma, without proper vaccination or quarantine has been blamed. These imported animals had a virus in the blood stream and parasites affecting the muscles and nerve system. The animals became weak and then die.

The livestock department requested villagers not to move the animals out of the village for a month and to immediately inform officers if they found any unusual conditions in the animals. The officers administered vaccine to increase the natural immunity of the remaining livestock and warned every village to beware of the disease.

Mae Hong Son is a transfer point for cattle and buffaloes from Myanmar. About 5,000–8,000 animals were imported between January to April, but the number will reduce to 3,500–4,000 per month in the rainy season. The regulations call for imported livestock to be kept in quarantine for 21 days and to be checked for four diseases, TB, Para TB, Leptospirosis and Brucellosis. If any of these diseases are discovered, the owner will not be allowed to import animals into Thailand and the animals will be destroyed.


Fraudsters extort cash posing as government labor inspectors

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Employers and business owners have been warned by Orachorn Ratanamanee, head of Chiang Mai Employment Office, to look out for people claiming to be government officials. These fraudsters say they are checking for alien laborers, sometimes even calling beforehand and then trying to extort money.

The Chiang Mai Employment Office said this was totally against procedure - a call beforehand was not required to check for alien laborers in any work place and officers always had to show the government’s official ID card. In fact, employers should refuse to speak with them if the officer did not show the important card. Each card has a number, name and last name, picture, card holder’s signature and the director general’s signature and date of permission and expiry date.

Employers are asked to inform Chiang Mai Employment Office on 0 5312 2743 or 0 5311 2744-6 if approached by the confidence tricksters.


Chiang Mai Passport Office to issue e-passports in August

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Choochoke Thongtaluang, head of Chiang Mai Public Relation Office, disclosed that the Chiang Mai Passport Division Office would start issuing electronic passports or ‘e-passports’ in August this year.

However, to do this, the Passport Division Office would have to upgrade its system to support the new passport service. This would be done between 15-31 July, which may cause inconvenience if anyone is requiring a speedy issue of a passport. The office is requesting residents who were not in urgent need of a passport during this period to postpone their applications until the upgrade is in place.

The office is still open for those who urgently wanted to travel abroad using the old form of passport until July 31, 2005, then it would be changed to the ‘e-passport’ format at the beginning of August.


Justice Minister oversees sale of confiscated goods

Saksit Meesubkwang and Preeyanoot Jittawong

Following the ONCB Northern region’s anti-drug display at Central Airport Plaza Department Store on June 24, presided over by Justice Minister Suwat Liptapanlop, he then traveled to the Drug Prevention and Suppression Office region 5 to oversee the sale of products seized during drug suppression maneuvers.

Justice Minister Suwat Liptapanlop looks at goods seized from drug dealers.

He was given the latest reports on drug suppression in the eight northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Phrae and Nan. Despite the surveillance and local vigilance, the eight northern provinces had most drug traffic and 80 percent of the arrests in Thailand were made in the north. However, arrests in June decreased due to drug dealers changing the transfer route to the north-east.


Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever identified in 287 patients in Chiang Mai

Malaria also prevalent

Nopniwat Krailerg

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever patients in Chiang Mai has now been identified in 287 people, with San Pa Tong district having the highest incidence while most malaria patients have been discovered in Mae Ai.

Chemical spraying in Chiang Mai area.

The Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office has stressed to hospitals and Public Health Office volunteers in every area to try to eliminate mosquito water sources as they allow them to breed rapidly during the rainy season.

There are now 49 malaria victims in Chiang Mai province. Most of them live along the Thai-Burmese border. This number includes aliens being treated in Thai hospitals.


Cable car to link Chiang Mai Zoo and Night Safari

Nopniwat Krailerg

Satisfied with the Night Safari proceedings, PM Thaksin Shinawatra said that he would support Chiang Mai even further with a cable car linking Chiang Mai Zoo and the Night Safari, passing a 15 km in length area allotted for the World Horticultural Exposition 2006. Several stops are planned along the route.

Plodprasop Surasawadee, PM’s Consultant said that a formal opening ceremony was considered for November 2005 after they have found the 150 kinds of animals to display in the park.

The Night Safari covers 6,000 rai of land and is located near the location of the World Horticultural Exposition 2006 to be held at the end of 2006. Both projects were expected to attract tourists to visit Thailand and Chiang Mai.


Homesick Japanese engineer commits suicide

Saksit Meesubkwang

Suffering stress at work and refused permission to return home by his company, Masakatatsu Tsungawara, a 33-year-old Japanese engineer working at an industrial estate in Lamphun decided to end it all and stepped out of the window his 21st floor apartment. His body was found by Pol. Lt. Col. Ittirat Saenpanya five meters away from the building.

Pikul Tem-im, 24, the dead man’s girlfriend, said that he worked as a quality control engineer in the northern industrial estate in Lamphun. Masakatatsu had complained of insomnia for several days and said that he felt unhappy about his work and wanted to return to Japan, but claimed the company refused to allow him to do so.

The police officers invited Pikul to give more information at the police station and sent the body to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital. The Japanese Consul in Chiang Mai is to contact his relatives to collect the body.


New buses running late (again)

At least until July

Nopniwat Krailerg

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor, spoke on the much vaunted mass transport systems for Chiang Mai and said that the licenses were being finalized for the 26 buses for permanent routes.

Advertising heralding the new Chiang Mai Bus (CMB) service.

He said they have been painted and have the signage ‘Chiang Mai Bus’ (CMB). The municipality will release its new buses into service in the second half of July.

The silence from the red mini bus movement has been deafening said the mayor and it appears that the red mini buses have given in.


Chiang Mai majority support new buses on World Environment Day

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Chiang Mai Air Protection volunteer network began some projects on World Environment Day on June 5, and held a formal closing ceremony for them on June 26 at Kad Suan Kaew Department Store. At the same time, the result of a poll taken by them was presented to Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, Chiang Mai deputy governor, on Chiang Mai residents’ opinion on the new public buses.

The Chiang Mai residents’ opinion on the bus saga was gained by a radio poll in cooperation with Chiang Mai Air Protection volunteer network and permanent city project officers. The result of 5,000 questionnaires was that 94 percent were in favor of the new bus service, as it would be convenient and safe and could reduce air pollution and traffic problems including saving fuel oil. The small minority that did not agree said that Chiang Mai was not suitable for mass transport and substandard buses could cause even greater traffic problems. They may also have owned red minibuses.


Commissioner once again warns officers of involvement in crime

Saksit Meesubkwang

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, called the eight north provinces’ commanders and 52 heads of police stations to spell out the policy on crime hotspots such as casinos, drugs and entertainment places.

The commissioner said that the Royal Thai Police policy was not to allow casinos, to carefully monitor places of entertainment and implement all rules on the society. He believes that there were no permanent casinos in region 5, but temporary casinos are sometimes discovered. He instructed superintendents in each area to suppress these and, if it appeared that officers were involved, they would be punished.

Entertainment places troubling people with loud music would first be warned and later prosecuted. He said that this was the last warning to police not to get involved in illegal businesses. Some police stations were known not to pay much attention to casinos and illegal lotteries, but if they did not change themselves before October 2005, they might be moved and their records sullied.


The never ending garbage story

Saksit Meesubkwang

After irate villagers burned a garbage truck in Doi Tao, Chiang Mai, to protest a garbage pit in their area, Mae Taeng residents gathered at Chiang Mai City Hall to present their petition. This conflict is now escalating.

Local organizations, Chiang Mai PAO, Chiang Mai municipality, Tambon municipalities and TAOs together with chief district officers had a meeting at Chiang Mai City Hall led by Prinya Panthong, Chiang Mai vice governor. He said that this conference was to inform all about the garbage pit problem and to find a method to deal with it effectively.

After discussions they agreed to set up three groups of committees, area location committees, campaigning committees and managing committees, to manage garbage pits. These committees will confer again on July 6, 2005 and, if history repeats itself, endlessly after that.

Area location committees call on every district chief officer and environment expert to suggest an appropriate area that will not affect people or the environment. To get rid of garbage in the short term until the end of this year, Chiang Mai municipality will install electric garbage destructors able to handle 400 tons per day.

Campaigning committees and managing committees will deal with garbage pits in the long term by campaigning among citizens about garbage and finding effective garbage elimination methods such as recycling and separating garbage.

“The most important thing needing to be done urgently is to awaken residents to the fact that they are the cause of garbage growth in Chiang Mai and we all have to cooperate to solve the problem and, in the meantime, to manage garbage pits effectively. If we cannot solve the garbage problem within 10 years, I am afraid that it will then be too late to ever solve it,” Prinya lamented.

Pornchai Jitnavasathien, Chiang Mai deputy mayor revealed that a company in Saraburi is offering to handle garbage elimination for Chiang Mai municipality by drying the garbage before dumping. This company would send representatives to confer with the proliferation of committees in Chiang Mai in July.


Fah Haam TAO goes into the boat rental business

Nopniwat Krailerg

Preecha Worakul, president of Fah Haam TAO in Muang, Chiang Mai, revealed that Fah Haam TAO has a 25 seat boat which could serve Fah Haam villagers’ travel needs.

Fah Haam TAO goes into the boat rental business

Furthermore, following the government’s policy to dredge Mae Ping River, the TAO would expand the marine route by adding one more port of call. It starts from Fah Haam going north and passing Tambon Sanphisua, Tambon Don Kaew to Mae Rim, while the southern route passes Kad Luang to disembark at Chai Mongkol Temple. This plan was to encourage residents to travel by boat and keep off the roads.

The president added that it was also available for tourists who were interested in hiring the whole boat. Normally, the boat runs twice a day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Fah Haam TAO to Waroros Market but it would offer Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Fridays and Sundays from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. for tourists.

“To prevent a conflict with private boat service businesses, the TAO would like tourists to reserve the boat at least one day in advance. A trip from Fah Haam TAO to Mae Rim and back takes three hours over an eight km route and from TAO to Chai Mongkol Temple and back it takes one and half hours. The rate to hire the whole boat is only 500 baht for five persons or at 100 baht each if there are between five and 25 persons,” he added.


Dust study after lung cancer and respiratory disease cases soar in Chiang Mai

Saksit Meesubkwang

The Thailand Research Fund (TRF) has realized that air pollution is a national problem, especially in Chiang Mai and Lamphun, where air pollution is higher than the maximum permitted level and a high and growing number of lung cancer and respiratory system diseases has resulted.

Asst. Prof. Mongkol Rayanakorn, dean of the Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University said that the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) had approved a fund for Chiang Mai University researchers to study Chiang Mai and Lamphun air quality. The study project was devised to four smaller projects, dust surveillance in Chiang Mai and Lamphun, air pollution analysis to find dust particles in the two provinces, daily air dust level and effect on health of asthma patients in the two provinces and lung cell’s DNA destruction by dust. These projects would run for 18 months from March, 2005 to August, 2006.

Equipment to collect dust samples will be installed at Waroros Market and Klang Wiang community in Muang, Yang Neung Market in Saraphi, Chiang Mai and Kai Kaew community in Muang, Lamphun.


Naughty VCD shop owner incarcerated

Nopniwat Krailerg

Twenty questionable VCDs and 300 books with naughty pictures, both Thai and foreign, were found on June 21 in a book shop at Tambon Wat Ket in Muang, Chiang Mai.

The owner was identified as Thongsook Fuklek, 52, who was arrested and accused of possessing pornographic VCDs and books for sale, a charge to which he admitted.

If found guilty he may have a long time to re-read the salacious material, as no doubt it will have been brought to the police station as evidence.


Students play hooky, haunt arcades and get drunk

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

With a rise in truancy amongst vocational education and high school students, an education inspector and police searched game shops and students’ residences in Chiang Rai and found students drinking alcohol; some were even drunk.

On June 24, Udom Poonsawat, education inspector acting as a representative of the student behavior controlling officer of Chiang Rai Area 1 Education Office, led a police posse from the Muang Chiang Rai Police Station to search Ozone and Cyber Speed game shops in Chiang Rai and found 20 vocational education and high school students playing games, who should have been in class.

The officers then went to Puttharak residence and found students drinking alcohol while two of them were passed out drunk. Having checked, the officers learnt that it was Teachers Day and most students were busy decorating trays with flowers to give to the teachers, but some students scorned the activity and decided to have a boozy party in a room of the residence instead. They all were recorded in their school’s black books.


Next Thai, Singapore PM retreat to be held in Chiang Mai

The Singapore and Thai governments have agreed on the next annual retreat between Singapore and Thai prime ministers.

The two governments have set that this year’s retreat between Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsieng Loong, will be held in Thailand’s northern resort province of Chiang Mai in September, according to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The date of the forthcoming retreat has yet been announced.

Thai Foreign Kantathi Suphamongkhon discussed the planned retreat of the two leaders with his Singapore counterpart, George Yeo, in Singapore last week.

The two ministers also discussed the problem of armed piracy in the Malacca Straits, with Thailand supporting Singapore to be a regional hub for information exchanges aimed to tackle the rampant piracy.

The Thai foreign minister visited the island state last week to attend the Asia-Middle East Dialogue or AMED, scheduled for June 20-22.

He took the opportunity to meet his Singapore counterpart and Singapore Defence Minister, as well as to pay a courtesy call on the Singapore premier.

Kantathi told TNA that he discussed with Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean the role of moderate Muslim in countering insurgency and terrorism in the region. (TNA)


Fraudsters fail to deceive old woman and rob her instead

Nopniwat Krailerg

A man and a woman pretended to negotiate with a 77 year old woman selling fruit in front of Thep Panya Hospital to order a quantity of her product. When she took them home to discuss business, she found two more men and women offering her a winning lottery ticket. Not falling for this transparent ploy, she refused.

They then threatened her with a knife and took her gold necklace with a small Buddha image, and 5,000 baht and fled in a pick up truck. Being a wise old biddy, she memorized the truck’s license number and immediately informed the police.

Even with this head start in their apprehension attempts, the police pursued the unscrupulous thieves unsuccessfully, but the truck owner was identified as being from Mae On sub-district, Chiang Mai.


Division 5 arrests fake ID card gang

Monk and ex air force officer among those nabbed

Nopniwat Krailerg

Members of Police Region 5 in cooperation with the Hang Dong Police have arrested a drug trafficking-cum fake ID card gang. Among members of the gang were a monk and an ex-air force officer along with his wife and daughter.

The ringleaders were Phra Somkit Bambad, aged 35, a resident monk at Wat Suan Lam Yai, Muang Nga, Lamphun; Kochanan Phromwong, 23, her mother Chotima Saysanit, 44 and Capt. Kowit Saysanit an ex-air force officer, 57 resident of Hang Dong, Chiang Mai. The police charged them with providing false information in government documents that may result in damage to other parties or the general public, and falsifying the details of third parties for listing in official registers or public records.

Police had found that many drug gang members had ID cards issued by the District Office but later it was found that they were aliens. These people informed the police that a monk had provided them with the ID cards. It also seems that forgers were active in the Hang Dong area of Chiang Mai.

Phra Somkit was arrested in the grounds of Wat Suan Lam Yai, and was then taken to Wat Sribunruang for defrocking so that he could be charged at Hang Dong police station.


Victims of sex trafficking tell their stories

Part 2 of a 3 part series

B. Lomax

In other countries we call them “survivors” of sex trafficking, but here in Southeast Asia they are simply victims. They have no power. They rarely receive treatment for their deep psychological wounds. They have been used and, without intervention and services, will be used again. A few will choose to remain prostitutes; the money they earn may literally save their families’ lives. But most will be traumatized by the experience and will try very hard to find family or friends who will pay their “debt” to the trafficker. Some will leave the brothels HIV positive or with full-blown AIDS. Many contract hepatitis. Tuberculosis is not uncommon. They may have no symptoms, but will still pass along any number of sexually transmitted diseases to the men who use them.

These lucky Akha children live in a community home where they receive education and health care. Girls from their villages were not so lucky.

Ying, 24, is an ethnic minority, Tai Yai, from Sipsongpanna in China. Ying left her home in China with a friend of a friend, a woman she met at work who promised a better life in Thailand. She was not kidnapped. She went willingly, although she was a little afraid of the unknown. The recruiter was skilled in the art of deception. Ying was not her first victim.

A driver with a truck picked her up with her little bag of belongings. She hugged her little sister and smiled, promising to send badly needed money from her new job in a restaurant in Bangkok. She turned her identification card over to the friendly recruiter as they neared the border. They crossed over into Burma and picked up more passengers. Later they crossed another border into Thailand. They moved from the truck to a van. Somehow she began to understand that things were not as simple as she had been led to believe. The journey was several days long and they picked up passengers again. One was only a girl, an ethnic Akha child of 15. They stayed at inexpensive hotels along the way, six or eight women in a room, the driver guarding the van and the women. They didn’t stop in Bangkok, but went on to a famous beach city. They had no passports, no identity papers, and did not speak the language. Tourists would become their customers. Some would be trafficked again into other countries if the prices were good enough.

This 16 year old was originally trafficked over a year ago. Although eventually removed from the brothel and returned to her family, she has chosen to cross the border into Thailand to work as a prostitute again on many occasions. With no education and no hopes for a job in Burma, this is her choice.

Ae didn’t experience the journey as Ying did. She is Thai, married and has a young son. While her family is poor, most of the men have jobs. Few in her family are literate, but Ae completed night school and knows how to read and write Thai. Television is the family’s most-used form of recreation. They only dream of the things they see there. When the recruiter made friends with Ae’s sister in law, all eyes turned to the fair-skinned Ae. It is not uncommon for Southeast Asian families to be separated by the need to find work. Ae took her family responsibilities seriously. Her son needed to be educated; her parents were growing old. She agreed to go to Bangkok to work, but she did not agree to work in a brothel.

She took her cellular telephone with her so that she could phone her husband and little boy. It would eventually save her life. The brothel owner would not release her even when her family paid her debt of $1,500 dollars. She was lovely and desirable to the customers, mostly men from other Asian countries. $1,500 did not cover the profits the brothel would make, and the owner is a powerful and wealthy man. She was beaten when she refused to work. She escaped, and her brother rescued her, thanks to many phone calls.

Som-O is from Burma. She is 20 now but she was only 14 when her mother sold her to the recruiter for $200. She desperately wants to believe that her mother did not know where she was sending her daughter. She ended up in a dirty brothel in Chiang Mai province, servicing at least five local men a day. Her age and inexperience made her a valuable commodity. The customers believed that she was too young to have contracted AIDS. And many believed that having sex with a virgin could cure AIDS or prevent it. She was sold and resold as a virgin, bringing $500 - $1,000 from each customer. Periodically, she was moved to a new brothel, and sold again. Som-O’s earnings were sent home to her mother. In two years Som-O repaid her debt to the brothel owner and returned to her village in Burma. She considered herself lucky that she had not contracted HIV. She ran the last half-mile to the family home into her mother’s arms. But she was not welcomed. Her earnings had supported the family for over two years, and the money would stop if Som-O were not working. The family is desperately poor, with no hope for their future without Som-O’s earnings. Her mother very firmly sent her back to the brothel. There was no happy homecoming. “Ya ba”, methamphetamine, became Som-O’s escape from her life in the brothel.


Tourist police capture 12 Burmese immigrants

Nopniwat Krailerg

Illegal immigrants being transferred to the southern region at the Arcade domestic bus station were arrested after a tip-off to Chiang Mai Provincial Tourist Police, led by Pol. Lt. Col. Nattawute Chodkanchanawat.

The officers found 12 suspected Burmese illegal immigrants between 18–30 years old getting on a bus bound for Bangkok. They showed alien cards when asked, and movement documents approved by Sittichai Prasertsri, Muang district chief officer, Mae Hong Son, but they were, nevertheless, arrested.

After questioning, police learnt that the documents were fake and Sittichai was now working as Mae Hong Son deputy governor. The men then admitted that they had fled from Burma to Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai, and planned to travel to the Southern province of Surathani, each having paid 10,000 baht to an agent in Chiang Mai who took them to the bus station. They were then to travel to Bangkok and another agent in Bangkok would pass them on to the south.

The police then arrested Sangwan Daoree, 27, a San Sai villager, at the bus station, the agent who was taking these men to Bangkok, and found 13 bus tickets in her possession. She was sent for prosecution and charged with accommodating illegal immigrants and smuggling them into Thailand, while the Burmese were accused of traveling to Thailand without approval and using fake government documents.


Teenagers dealing in drugs arrested in Chiang Mai City

University students the dealers and the users, say police

Saksit Meesubkwang

Showing that many of the well-meaning youth anti-drug projects have little impact, a gang of teenage drug dealers was found in Chiang Mai last week. It was also found that the majority were university students, selling to their undergraduate colleagues.

Chang Puek police arrest teenage drug dealers.

Pol. Col. Chamnan Ruadreuw, deputy commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police revealed that the arrested youths were Piyapong Kaewta, 19; Anupol Singken, 23; Thun Somboon, 18; Suwan Maitali, 22 and Watcharin Jariya, 20. They were found with 650 WY speed pills.

They admitted that they were agents, selling drugs to students in the city of Chiang Mai around Tambon Chang Puek in Muang, Chiang Mai. The money was spent at entertainment places and high cost technology supplies such as mobile phones and digital cameras.

It is hoped that interrogation of the intelligentsia university students will reveal the suppliers of the drugs, and the networks surrounding the universities.