Vol. IV No. 43 - Saturday October 22 - October 28, 2005
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Kingdom celebrates Chulalongkorn Day

Four officers die in army helicopter crash

Two young elephants injured by landmines in Tak forest

Fast-track for Horticultural Expo completion

Wedding will be a panda extravaganza

Chiang Mai trade, investment and tourism on show at Chinese expo

Officials and police meet to discuss Round IV of anti-drug drive

Here comes winter, says Met Center

Hotline installed for reporting suspected human trafficking cases

Cabinet for approval sought for flood prevention projects

Consumer watchdog claims MaMa instant noodles contain too much sodium

500 students and residents build small dams to prevent future flooding

NOHMEX wins best trade association award and prepares for World Craft Expo 2009

New PR director for Chiang Mai stresses cooperation of all sectors

No go for elephants with jumbo-size tummy ache

Food Street project due to open for Loy Krathong

Villagers drive out headman accused of cheating over flood budget

Over 30,000 trees to be planted throughout Lamphun

Jealous gardener poisons his young wife then attempts suicide

Bank of Thailand launches campaign to spot fake money

Busker’s career bombed without a note being played

Chiang Rai dealer arrested with 90,000 ya ba pills

Two smugglers bring 10 kg of raw opium across the Thai-Laotian border

Officials moved after illegal ID card scam uncovered

Police strategy assigned for 2006 budget

Cart men turned to speedier way of making a living

Hill tribesman arrested with 54,000 ya ba pills in police sting

Kingdom celebrates Chulalongkorn Day

Many activities planned for October 23

The King Rama V statue, set up for this auspicious day, stands tall in front of Chiang Mai Provincial Court near the old city hall.

Chulalongkorn Day, October 23, is a national holiday and ceremonies will be performed throughout Thailand to mark the day that the great King, known locally as “Phra Piya Maharaja”, passed away in the year 1910.

This year, since the holiday falls on a Sunday, banks, government offices and many businesses will be closed on Monday, October 24.

King Chulalongkorn was instrumental in modernizing the Kingdom of Thailand and is credited with many visionary accomplishments, including the establishment of the Council of State, setting up 12 different ministries which reorganized the government administrative system and the abolition of slavery.

King Chulalongkorn’s other ambitious achievements included establishing trade and diplomatic contact with foreign governments, and introducing revolutionary changes throughout the kingdom regarding police security, a postal system, hospitals, and railroads.

The great King also was instrumental in maintaining the nation’s sovereignty during a critical period in history when powerful nations were expanding their influence and colonizing neighboring countries.

Local ceremonies are being held in front of Chiang Mai Provincial Court near the old city hall. Hundreds of community representatives, business owners, students and press will be paying their respects to a great king.


Four officers die in army helicopter crash

Nopniwat Krailerg

A Bell 206 helicopter of the Third Army Region carrying Maj. Gen. Pairat Thongjaktu, commissioner of Pha Muang Task Force together with Maj. Wisit Worawitwatana and two pilots identified as Capt. Thonglaw Nakpoo and Capt. Komin Chao-uthai crashed in Phrae while returning from a conference in Phitsanulok on October 13, flying back to Pha Muang Task Force headquarters in Chiang Mai.

The pilots were informed that the weather in Phrae was variable and that it was raining. Later, the helicopter lost contact with Lampang Air Traffic Control Complex at 4.05 p.m. and the last contact indicated that it was 25 miles away from the complex in an easterly direction or 75 kilometers from Phrae.

Initially it was believed that the helicopter may have crashed or undertaken an emergency landing due to the weather conditions. Commander-in-chief of the Third Army Region Gen. Saprang Kanlayanamit ordered a search. Phrae Governor Athikhom Supanpong sent Territorial Defense Volunteers, Civil Defense Volunteers and police officers from Phrae and Lampang to search the area where the last messages had come from, Wiang Kosai National Park, where they began looking along the Phee Pan Nam Mountain Range. Mountains there are over 1,000 feet in height.

Rain and the difficult terrain halted much of the searching on the first day but on the second day, October 14, three helicopters from Chiang Mai and four from Phitsanulok supported by the Third Army Region joined the rescue workers. At 1.30 p.m., at an area between Phrae and Lampang, two kilometers away from the Wiang Kosai National Park, the wreckage was discovered along with the bodies of the four officers.

The helicopter was completely burnt except for the tail. Rescuers believe that it had hit the top of a waterfall and then tumbled two kilometers down a cliff.

The four bodies were transferred with difficulty out from the park that night and were sent to Surasakmontree Hospital, and subsequently to their hometowns. A funeral ceremony was organized at Wat Koo Ha Sawan.

Maj. Gen. Pairat Thongjaktu has been posthumously promoted to the rank of general, while the other officers have received citations.

Gen. Pairat Thongjaktu was born on November 16, 1951 and was 54 years old. He had completed his studies at the Armed Forces Academics Preparatory School with the 11th generation and Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy with the 22nd generation. He served as a government official in 1975 and in 2003 he was promoted to deputy commissioner of the 1st Calvary Division.

On April 1, 2005, he was promoted to commissioner of the 1st Calvary Division and commissioner of Pha Muang Task Force. He had served as commissioner for only six months and 13 days.


Two young elephants injured by landmines in Tak forest

Five days trek to get injured animals out of the forest

Nopniwat Krailerg

Two sister elephants were injured when two separate landmines exploded under their feet as they were working with their mother in the forest at Tha Song Yang, Tak, near the border.

It took five days to get the elephants out of the forest and take them by truck to the hospital at Friends of the Asian Elephant in Lampang.

A veterinarian team is treating two elephants, Phang Moje and Phang Mo Too, after they stepped on landmines.

Phasupho Wiangbunlue, 55, living at Tambon Mae Usu in Tha Song Yang, Tak who cared for both elephants, said that he was hired on October 5 to take logs from the Burmese border. He herded up three elephants, a mother called Phang Lamoo and two daughters named Phang Moje, age 6 years and 10 months and Phang Mo Too, 2 years and 10 months to haul the timber from the forest.

As the three elephants were working, Phang Moje and Phang Mo Too stepped on two landmines at the same time. The explosions caused the beasts to panic and it took Phasupho and his companions several hours to calm them down.

Phang Moje’s rear right leg was injured while Phang Mo Too suffered injuries to her front left leg. The mother was unhurt. Phasupho purchased pain-killing drugs from a veterinarian to inject the elephants. He took them across the Muey River and then hired a 10-wheel truck to carry them to the hospital.

Veterinarian Preecha Muangkham, director of the Elephant Hospital Lampang said that the condition of the two elephants was not too serious. Phang Moje had injured her ankle and the sole of her foot. The condition of Phang Mo Too was of more concern because she was so young, and the front legs support more body weight. She has also never been trained so she is more difficult to handle.

The two elephants did not need an operation beyond the paring away injured flesh but they have their wounds cleaned each day and are also given pain killers daily. Preecha said it will be two years before they are fully well again.


Fast-track for Horticultural Expo completion

Nopniwat Krailerg

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek International Horticultural Exposition 2006, to be held in honor of His Majesty the King and initially planned to be ready in September next year is now being fast-tracked by the addition of army personnel and the grounds will be completed in March.

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek International Horticultural Exposition 2006 being held in honor of His Majesty the King is currently 33 percent complete.

The dates of the expo are November 1, 2006 to January 31, 2007.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat presided over a conference concerning the exposition’s progress at the Office of Agricultural Research and Development. Suwat said that the exposition had been upgraded to A1 level by a resolution of the 57th AIPH Congress on September 26-27, in Montreal, Canada.

The private sector organization taking care of the progress said that 33 percent of the work has been completed and the remainder was planned to be ready by September as per the schedule but that the government, to ensure nothing was left to chance, had sent in the army to help progress and complete the preparations earlier. Lt. Gen. Yuthapong said that army is working using March as the completion date.


Wedding will be a panda extravaganza

Lanna traditionalists complain of bear-faced commercialism

Nopniwat Krailerg

A spectacular wedding ceremony is to be arranged between Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui, the two pandas that were donated to Thailand by China and who currently cohabit in Chiang Mai Zoo.

The big day has been arranged for November 9, beginning at 9 p.m., but already there are quarrels in the background.

Two pandas Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui to be married at Chiang Mai Zoo on November 9. (Photo by Saksit Meesubkwang)

The wedding will be organized in both Lanna and Chinese styles, with a Lanna procession gathering at Thapae Gate in Muang Chiang Mai. About 1,000 people are expected to join in the parade, which will wend its way towards the zoo.

There the bride and groom will be seated in a splendor normally reserved for lovers, and the wedding ceremony will be the same as that held for human couples.

Voices are, however, being raised in dissent, and it is not those of Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui, who do not appear to have much to say in the matter anyway.

Many people are declaring that a “marriage” ceremony between two animals is a travesty of Lanna heritage, itself so often in danger of being tainted by cheap commercial opportunism.

Sopon Damnui, director of the Zoological Park Organization has therefore met with Dr Chao Duang Duan na Chiang Mai, president of Chiang Mai Culture Council, to consult her on how to organize a wedding for the pandas that would not offend Lanna sensibilities.

A decision was made to organize the event as a tribute to Harold Mason Young, the founder of Chiang Mai Zoo, and that the word “wedding” should be taken out.

However, Mr Young being deceased, he too has nothing to say in the matter. How much can a poor panda bear?


Chiang Mai trade, investment and tourism on show at Chinese expo

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai province, the Ministry of Commerce, the Board of Investment of Thailand, Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Federation of Thai Industry joined with Chiang Mai businessmen to attend the 2nd China - ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning, China on October 19-22. The Department of Export Promotion (DEP) Northern Region acted as coordinator.

Jiraporn Tulyanon, director of DEP’s Northern department and head of the CAEXPO organizers in Chiang Mai, said that the province was exhibiting under the theme “Chiang Mai, a Perfect Harmony of Business and Leisure”.

On display was information concerning tourism, trade and investment. The DEP had invited 110 Thai companies to have their own stands and these exhibited products such as machines and tools, electronic and electric supplies, hardware and construction instruments, light industry and handicrafts and agriculture and food products.

Ten Chiang Mai businessmen and 41 representatives of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce were headed by Chiang Mai governor Suwat Tantipat and he also attended the Business and Investment Summit conference. The China-ASEAN Expo was presided over by Zeng Qing Hong, vice president of China.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Somkid Jatusripitak joined the expo and witnessed an MOU and purchasing order between Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce and Guangxi Chamber of Commerce that involved 3,000 tons of Thai jasmine rice, Thai fruits and household decorative supplies

Thai-Chinese trade value in the previous year stood at 15,266 million US dollars, an increase of 30 percent over the previous year, while export value to China stood at 7,119 million US dollars and imports from China totaled 8,147 million US dollars. During January to July this year the trade value of both stood at 11,500 million US dollars, an increased of 36 percent over the previous year.

Recently, Thailand hosted a conference in Chiang Mai with Madame Wu Yi, deputy prime minister of China attending. Both countries agreed to cooperate on trade aspects that would drive the trade value between the two up to 50,000 million US dollars by 2010. Tourism will be promoted with a target of 4 million Chinese tourists by that year. The conference was held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the normalization of Thai-Chinese diplomatic relations.


Officials and police meet to discuss Round IV of anti-drug drive

Nopniwat Krailerg

On October 11, Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat brought together administration officials, police and social rule implementation committees to discuss the practicalities of implementing Round IV of PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s drug elimination campaign.

Amongst the measures are enforcement of the laws under the Act of Service Places and the Act of Tape and Television 1997. This will involve policing of karaoke lounges and computer game shops, football gambling, alcohol and drinks distribution in the beer bars along waysides outside permitted times in hotels, and keeping a close watch on places in which young people gather.

Implementation of the rules under the Children Protection Act 2003 and the checking of health and beauty places such as spas and massage salons will also be part of the campaign.

This phase of the anti-drug drive runs for a three-month period, from October 1 to December 31, by which stage it will be apparent whether it has been successful.


Here comes winter, says Met Center

Saksit Meesubkwang

Dr Surasing Wisarootrat, deputy head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, has warned residents to take good care of themselves during this period with the temperature dropping and highly variable temperatures during both day and night.

Citizens should prepare sufficient clothing to keep warm. Diseases that can hit hard during the winter include influenza and pneumonia, both in children and adults. If fever comes on then you should immediately see a doctor to prevent having other complications. This is especially so in the highlands, and hill tribes should take care of their health seriously, especially children and elders.

The Meteorological Center has said that the weather in the north will change to winter at the end of October, with a ridge of high pressure or cold air mass from China moving over the region. Thundershowers and falling temperatures will occur during this time.

The high pressure area will cover the north more heavily than last year and the weather is likely to be colder than that recorded for several years.


Hotline installed for reporting suspected human trafficking cases

Nopniwat Krailerg

A hotline has been set up by the Chiang Mai Social Development Office for members of the public to report what they believe might be cases of human trafficking. The number is 0 5312 1164.

Head of the Social Development Office Mongkol Danwilaipitikul says that this is the latest move in the ongoing policy to protect victims of trafficking and to pursue those who are responsible.

The line can also be used for reporting cases of wandering children and beggars.

When the office receives a call, personnel there cooperate with the police to check out the individual cases. If any children or women are discovered being maltreated they may be sent to the Baan Phak Dek, if they are children, or Baan Phak Ping Jai homes for counseling and sanctuary. This year 30 children and women have been helped in this way, and several business owners prosecuted under the Children and Youth Protection Act 2003.

The Chiang Mai Social Development Office comes under the responsibility of the governor.


Cabinet for approval sought for flood prevention projects

Nopniwat Krailerg

Thongchai Wongrianthong, Chiang Mai deputy governor, has been involved in consultations with the 1st Irrigation Office to draw up flood control projects for presentation to cabinet.

Three episodes of flooding in Chiang Mai have stimulated attempts to finally resolve the problem.

There are four long term methods that are considered could resolve the problem. These would involve constructing walls along the river banks to protect economic areas, changing the direction of the flow in certain areas, building a higher capacity drainage system, and decreasing the volume of water that flows into areas prone to flooding.

In the meantime, short term protection measures would be the installation of a warning system, the developing of an information system, and improvements to the drains.

Drain ways will be enlarged at the Tha Wang Tan dam on the Mae Ping River and improvements carried out along the river from the dam to Nawarat Bridge.

Another dam will be constructed in the Mae Ping River and two in the Mae Taeng River, as well as the building of underground drains to let out water from the Mae Ngad and Mae Guang dams. Water management will be done by zoning vulnerable areas.

However, cabinet approval is now needed before any further work can go ahead.


Consumer watchdog claims MaMa instant noodles contain too much sodium

Company counters that they have been passed by FDA

Saksit Meesubkwang

The Foundation for Consumers is claiming that the sodium level found in a popular brand of instant noodles was between 50 and 100 percent higher than is allowed.

They state that consumers should not eat more than one pack per day because the sodium could have an effect on their kidneys and that it could cause problems with high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Phet Paniangwet, CEO of Thai President Foods, the company that makes MaMa instant noodles, said that the claims of the consumer association were being checked. He said that no problem had occurred with the instant noodle product before and that it was certified by the Food and Drug Administration, who would not allow the distribution of the product if any harmful substance was found.

He added that if the Food and Drug Administration would like the product ingredients to be adjusted, the company would follow their directive, otherwise the existing recipe will be retained.


500 students and residents build small dams to prevent future flooding

Jaruwan Punyoyai (Student trainee CMU)

Five hundred students and local residents are working on a project to build small check dams that it is hoped will help prevent further flooding in the Chiang Mai area.

Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) personnel, Pha Muang Task Force, and students from Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, Payap University, North-Chiang Mai University, Far Eastern College, Chiang Mai Technical College, Maejo University and Chiang Mai Polytechnic College have been out in Wiang Haeng after fears that more heavy rainfall could repeat the devastation that took place two weeks ago.

Col Pairat Wiruhayan, deputy commissioner of Pha Muang Task Force (third from left) at the press conference. (Photo by Preeyanoot Jittawong)

Chiang Mai has faced water problems for a long time. During summer, from March to May, local people do not have enough water for agriculture. Then they have the opposite problem with floods during the rainy season. Flooding does more than damage property and agricultural land, and endanger lives, it also affects the tourism business which has a knock-on effect for the local economy and businesses.

Deforestation is a major cause of the flooding problem, which has to be resolved by long term solutions such as building small dams close to the source of the river.

The objectives of this new project are to slow down the water stream in the main rivers and reduce the land surface destruction. Since water is the essential element of forest growth, sustaining the water cycle will benefit the forest in the long run. This project is also intended to increase the biological diversity of the ecological system and prevent forest fires. The project also helps educate local people and prevent environmental problems.

Participants in the project have already completed 1,601 small dams and they will have reached their target of 3,000 dams by October 24. The aim is to make this project a prototype for long term flood mitigation in Chiang Mai and other areas in the Mae Ping river basin. The prospect for the future is to have 30,000 dams.

On October 11, Col Pairat Wiruhayan, deputy commissioner of Pha Muang Task Force, held a press conference on the project. Sponsored by Chiang Mai PAO, which is providing a 400,000 baht budget, the project was carried out by Pha Muang Task Force and students from eight schools in Chiang Mai October 10 - 24.


NOHMEX wins best trade association award and prepares for World Craft Expo 2009

Nopniwat Krailerg

NOHMEX (Northern Handicrafts Manufacturers and Export Association) has been chosen out of 609 associations throughout the country for an award as the best trade association.

Sukin Wongsa, current president of NOHMEX (2nd left) and the two former presidents Pairat Towiwat and Napong Sa-nguannapaporn.

The awards were organized by the Department of Business Development, Ministry of Commerce, and presented by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Somkid Jatusripitak at a Thai trade institute celebration in Bangkok.

The Ministry of Commerce is concentrating on developing Thailand’s business promotion activities so they are able to compete on an international level. Trade associations are an important part of the nation’s exporting mechanisms and their management, staff development and efficiency are consequently being encouraged to develop. The best organization contest considered four aspects: track record, work efficiency, service quality and organizational development.

NOHMEX has been in existence for 10 years and is supported by both the government and private sectors. It concentrates on Northern handicraft development and promotion, and brings substantial income into the local areas and the country. The association works closely with the Chiang Mai Five Cluster Network, Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industry Chiang Mai Chapter, Chiang Mai Banker Club and Chiang Mai-Lamphun SMEs.

Current president Sukin Wongsa said the market value of the main sectors dealt with by the association was at present 275 million baht in ceramics, 171 million baht of Sa paper and 331 million baht of mango tree product. The association wants to increase this by up to fourfold.

Northern handicraft products will be promoted in the international marketplace at the World Craft Expo 2009. There is also the Craft Service Center and a handicraft fashion promotion that is organized at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University. During the next three years a budget of 10.5 million baht is being supported by the governors of the eight Lanna provinces to promote Lanna style handicrafts in the international markets.


New PR director for Chiang Mai stresses cooperation of all sectors

Public Relations Department Region 3 Chiang Mai

A new director has been appointed for the Public Relations Department Region 3 Chiang Mai.

Somjai Sasomsap, new director of Public Relations Department Region 3 Chiang Mai meets Chang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat to introduce herself and present the governor with a souvenir of the occasion.

Somjai Sasomsap has visited Chang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat to formally introduce herself, and has taken over projects from Jintana Singhsuramet, director of Radio Thailand Chiang Mai, who has been working as temporary department director.

The new PR director has now assigned duties to government officials and staff. She stressed the importance of public relations and economic relations with neighboring countries in aspects of conservation tourism and wellness tourism, the cooperation of all sectors concerned being of paramount importance.

Somjai Sasomsap, new director of Public Relations Department Region 3 Chiang Mai receives congratulations from Jintana Singhsuramet, director of Radio Thailand Chiang Mai.


No go for elephants with jumbo-size tummy ache

Just relax while I insert an arm in your rectum!

Nopniwat Krailerg

Five elephants in Mae Taman Elephant Camp became sick through eating dried grass which caused trouble in their digestive system, and as a result they had to be treated at the elephant hospital in Lampang.

Buachan, Hang Good, Kaewnin, Sombat and Sridaw Bualuang, well known to visitors to the popular tourist attraction at Mae Taeng, were found to be suffering from bad cases of constipation. After treatment at the hospital, four were sent back to the camp where they were put on a carefully controlled diet but a fifth, Kaewnin, was held for further treatment.

Veterinarians at the hospital said that eating the dried grass had resulted in lumps of grass forming in the stomach so the elephant couldn’t excrete. Treatment had involved the veterinarian team carrying out manual removal of the grass lumps, using exceptionally long rubber gloves and standing on tip-toes. This procedure was followed by administration of a saline solution and vegetable oil to ease the digestion process. They reported that no chemical substances were found in the grass, contrary to local rumor.

Constipation is unusual for an elephant. Normally, elephants eat between 6 and 12 percent of their bodyweight, or up to 250 kilograms per day, the main intake being Bana grass. Bana needs to be cut every two months otherwise it becomes too old and dry, and cause the elephants to suffer indigestion and constipation.


Food Street project due to open for Loy Krathong

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Municipality together with Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office are hurrying to verify food standards for restaurants along Huay Kaew and Suthep roads in an attempt to open the pilot Food Street program before Loy Krathong.

Deputy mayor Wilawal Woraputtipong said that the program comes under the Clean Food-Good Taste project and is designed both to promote tourism and to protect public health. All outlets have to be approved by Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office.

On Huay-Kaew Road, 78 percent of 69 restaurants, 25 pavement food stalls and 44 outlets in Kad Suan Kaew department store have already received approval. Sixty-five percent of the 44 restaurants on Suthep Road participating in this project have also been approved.

The goal is to have at least 90 percent of restaurants on Huay Kaew Road and at least 80 percent on Suthep Road ready before opening Food Street Chiang Mai.

Dr Surasing Witsaruttarat, deputy head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, stated that Suthep Road and Huay Kaew Road were the best choices for this pilot project since these two streets were most frequently used by tourists going to the popular destination of Doi Suthep. The success of this first project will lead to other roads throughout the province being brought into the scheme.


Villagers drive out headman accused of cheating over flood budget

Appears the money was disappearing quicker than the water

Saksit Meesubkwang

Villagers in Saraphi have driven out their headman because of certain irregularities in the management of the flood control budget for their area.

On October 16, 150 villagers of Baan Sankaptong at Tambon Saraphi gathered and handed out flysheets saying that Tawatchai Maneechote, their headman, was mismanaging the funds for public water management and floodwater control for the village. They demanded his ouster.

The villagers offered him a chance to explain his actions but he ignored them. Part of the money was earmarked for aiding flooding victims, who had suffered during the recent storms.

Withaya Chotiwute, Tambon Saraphi chief officer, met with the villagers and accepted their petition to present to the Saraphi district chief officer.


Over 30,000 trees to be planted throughout Lamphun

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

The Pollution Control Department at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has approved a budget for planting more than 30,000 trees to improve Lamphun’s natural scenery.

Borworn Kuldirok, head of Lamphun Natural Resources and Environment, stated that Lamphun had received the budget from the Pollution Control Department. The goal is to plant 2,400 trees along the Mae Guang River, another 1,400 along the pathways of local roads, and 30,000 on both sides of all roads in the province, for a distance of more than 260 km.

To celebrate the birthday of His Majesty the King, organizers plan to complete the project by this December. Almost all the trees to be planted are the Ratchaphruek (Cassia fistula) or “Dok Khun” species, an auspicious tree that is a symbol of Thailand. The trunk diameter of the trees selected must be more than 5 cm to ensure they are healthy and strong.


Jealous gardener poisons his young wife then attempts suicide

Nopniwat Krailerg

A gardener jealous of his young wife poisoned her, and then unsuccessfully attempted to kill himself.

Officers from Chang Puek Police Station in Muang, Chiang Mai, went to Khuang Singh garden on October 12 after receiving a report that a Tai tribal husband and wife couple had been poisoned.

At the scene they found the woman, Sa Sawlee, age 20, lying dead in the room. Belongings were scattered around and a bottle containing a chemical substance was found. Lying unconscious beside the woman was her husband, Leeping Sawlee, age 35. Officers from the Ruam Jai Rescue Foundation took him to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital, where he was revived.

Witnesses said Leeping was jealous of his wife, who was 15 years younger than him, and that they had argued frequently. Before the tragedy he had been drinking and they fought. He had poured a chemical substance into his wife’s mouth and then swallowed some himself. He survived, she did not.


Bank of Thailand launches campaign to spot fake money

Preeyanoot Jittawong

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has begun a campaign to advise the public on ways of detecting counterfeit banknotes.

These have been turning up throughout the country, with large quantities found in Prachin Buri, Sakaeo, Chanthaburi, Trat, Sisaket, Ubon Ratchathani, Mukdahan, Nong Khai, Nan and Chiang Rai.

The BoT project is being conducted in all of the recognized forgery hotspots, and it aims to educate everyone from business people to youngsters.

A competition is being circulated in questionnaire form amongst 250 schools in 10 provinces. Schools in Nan province will receive theirs on October 25 and those in Chiang Rai on October 27, with others to follow.

There will also be an exhibition concerning counterfeit notes and a public relations campaign in the media.

The Bank of Thailand will support each school with 4,000 baht to help with the campaign. Hopefully they have double-checked the prize money.


Busker’s career bombed without a note being played

Saksit Meesubkwang

A briefcase suspected of being a bomb was detonated by bomb disposal experts on October 11, only to be found to contain a trumpet, loudspeaker and makeup.

Residents view the suspicious briefcase.

Muang Chiang Mai Police Station after receiving reports of the suspicious looking briefcase abandoned outside a supermarket in Waroros Market, Tambon Chang Moi, sent officers to the scene along with bomb disposal experts headed by Pol. Sen. Sgt. Maj. Taworn Thongjua, sub-head of 33rd border patrol police headquarters. Crowds had already gathered and the officers had to close the road, causing traffic jams.

The bomb disposal squad used a rope and grapple to pull the briefcase into a high pressure container to explode it, only to find to their chagrin, that the contents were harmless.

Staff of the supermarket had seen the item there at 11 a.m. and as it had remained untouched by 2.30 p.m. Police were therefore called.

The remnants of the briefcase and trumpet now await their owner at Muang Chiang Mai Police Station.


Chiang Rai dealer arrested with 90,000 ya ba pills

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

A drug dealer was arrested in Chiang Rai while he was waiting to transfer 90,000 speed pills to a client.

On October 17, Mae Sai Police Station officers in collaboration with soldiers of the special task force of 3rd Calvary Regiment searched and arrested Pan (last name unknown), age 49, a Burmese Tai male, living at Baan Pa Kook in Burma, while he was waiting at Tambon Kochang in Mae Sai. Orange and green speed pills mixed and stamped with the WY brand were found contained in blue plastic bags. There were 45 bags containing in total 90,000 pills. In addition, 40 bullets for an M16 gun were discovered along with three carbine bullets.

Because of the apparent high returns from the illicit trade (a ya ba pill costs 13 baht to buy at source and retails for between 250 to 300 baht in the central or southern parts of Thailand), this is the reason so many people try their luck. Until poverty is eradicated in Thailand, there will always be a ready pool of poor people willing to take the risk.


Two smugglers bring 10 kg of raw opium across the Thai-Laotian border

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Rangers stopped two men attempting to smuggle 10 kilograms of raw opium across the Thai-Laotian border at Wiang Kaen. One of the smugglers was shot in the ensuing fight while the other escaped.

A team from the 963rd Ranger Force headed by Kiart-udom Nadee and comprising nine officers set up a roadblock five kilometers from the border. Two hill tribesmen riding a motorcycle and carrying a knapsack were stopped and the officers asked to search them. Suddenly the man on the pillion stabbed at one of the officers whereupon other officers shot at him and wounded him in the hand. He was later identified as Santong Sawtuen, 25, a Hmong tribesman living at Tambon Paw in Wiang Kaen.

The other man, named as Kaomeoi Saefan and also a Hmong, sped away on the motorcycle but abandoned it 100 meters away from the scene.

Six lumps of raw opium weighing 9.9 kilograms and six ya ba pills were discovered in the knapsack.

Officers and police later searched the area and said they were confident they would find the gang that is dealing in drugs along border.


Officials moved after illegal ID card scam uncovered

Nopniwat Krailerg

Two district chief officer assistants in Mae Taeng have been moved to other postings after a village headman was discovered illegally arranging an ID card for an alien woman.

Investigations by Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 working in cooperation with Mae Taeng and Mae Sai police stations resulted in the arrest of Jumrad Soothichai, 53, village headman at Tambon Kued Chang in Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai and Sala Laeser, 33, a resident of the same village, when they took the woman to make an ID card at Mae Taeng district office on September 22.

Prasert Indee, Mae Taeng district chief officer, announced on October 10 that the governor of Chiang Mai had issued an order to move two district chief officer assistants to serve in other districts. Uthai Phelai, prevention and security chief officer assistant would serve in Mae On sub-district while Pitayaporn Iamsa-ad, register chief officer assistant would serve in Samoeng. The two were moved within 24 hours of the order.

Governor Suwat Tantipat said the two officers had been making illegal ID cards for alien laborers. He has stressed that officials in every district, especially the suburban areas, should carefully check all documentation before authorizing ID cards.

However, shifting officers to Mae-On and Samoeng seems like very little punishment for the government officials.


Police strategy assigned for 2006 budget

Nopniwat Krailerg

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, has announced the work policy for 1,972 policemen from 152 police stations after receiving the necessary budget for 2006.

The focus is on nine strategies, including the security of the Royal Family, national security, criminal control, judiciary liaison, civil law enforcement, traffic control, social services, keeping the peace, and enforcing government directives. The overall policy is to perform a service for the greater good of the public, and to ensure that unity between all the various organizations of administration is maintained.

A further policy is that technology should be applied to work procedures and personnel, who should be encouraged to develop their potential to the utmost.

The commissioner stressed the importance of suppressing the alien labor trade, trafficking of humans, drugs, pornographic media and copyright pirating. Game online service shops also needed to be controlled.


Cart men turned to speedier way of making a living

Saksit Meesubkwang

Two ethnic Tai tribesmen who worked as cart pullers at Muang Mai Market and who then found a more lucrative career acting as drugs carriers have been arrested.

At a press conference held at Chang Puek Police Station on October 12, Chiang Mai provincial police deputy commander Pol. Col. Chamnan Ruadreuw said that Seeson Loongkham, 21, and Som Nakham, 31, were both Tai tribesmen holding alien cards and that they were arrested at Muang Mai Market with 5,000 speed pills. They have been accused of possessing drugs.

Police said that both men had worked as cart pullers at Muang Mai Market for several years and later they often traveled to the border where they transferred ya ba from Burma in cooperation with Thai associates. Officers are now on the trail of others included in the racket.


Hill tribesman arrested with 54,000 ya ba pills in police sting

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

A police sting operation has resulted in the arrest of a Chiang Rai drug dealer and the seizing of 54,000 amphetamine pills that had been imported from Burma.

On October 14, Chiang Rai police in collaboration with narcotic suppression officers arrested Jaha Thamapaiboon, 47, a Lahu tribesman living at Tambon Huay Saw in Chiang Khong. The officers found 27 packages containing 54,000 speed pills stashed in a green pickup truck.

An informant had told police that a hill tribesman at Baan Wiang Mok in Tambon Huay Saw was transferring large quantities of drugs from across the border. Officers, acting as potential buyers, approached Jaha, saying they wanted 54,000 pills at the price of 100,000 baht. An appointment was made to deliver the drugs to the undercover officers outside Big C store, in Chiang Rai.

Jaha drove the pickup to the scene and after the officers checked that the ya ba was there, hidden in a fertilizer sack, the police in hiding pounced. Jaha was arrested and the drugs seized as evidence. He said that these speed pills were from his hill tribe friend living at Baan Terdthai in Mae Fa Luang, and that they had been produced by the Red Lahu in Burma. It remains to be seen as to whether Burma will do anything about this illicit production.



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