NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

It has been a long wait for the bus

So now the toddler walks unaided

Brazen burglar purloins police inspector’s property

Hmong tribeswoman to receive Royal award for dedication to farming

Tough new bird flu controls includes fighting cocks

Checkpoints to prevent movement of infected avian livestock

Heavy rain brings floods to Lampang and Phrae

Memorial planned to commemorate the glories of Chiang Mai kings

500 villagers protest gas plant storage plan

Pilot project will bring public water supplies to villages in 16 provinces

Chiang Mai buses will serve five routes in the city

Firecracker ban could be a damp squib

Chiang Mai Yee Peng Festival Schedule

Public urged to be aware of forged banknotes

Ceremony in memory of the great kings of Chiang Mai

Public asked to name the new city hall elephants

Abandoned Wat Inthakin is to be restored

Mobile survey for travel agents looks to expand tourism sites

Clothing and blankets sought for winter donations to villagers

Tourist policeman kills colleague

Abbot’s residence damaged by fire

100 police checkpoints will help thwart drug smugglers

No casualties after train derailment

Drug kingpin’s son-in-law indicted on drug charges

Tattoo did not save man shot by youths

It has been a long wait for the bus

But they are now running

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai at last has a mass transport system. The first bus left from city hall on October 31 in an inauguration ceremony presided over by Governor Suwat Tantipat.

Buses of the mass transit system serve on five routes that are separated into 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th lines. Chiang Mai municipality has provided 26 buses with 31 seats each that serve on the 2nd and 6th lines, 100 red minibuses of Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives serve on the 4th and 8th lines and Kwan Wiang buses serve the 10th line. Fare for an air conditioned bus is 10 baht while 15 baht is charged for red minibuses. Buses run between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day, with intervals of 12 minutes between each vehicle during standard periods and 15 minutes during rush hours.

Chiang Mai attempted a mass transport system 15 years ago, but it failed, leaving only red minibuses and tuk tuks as a public transportation system.

Governor Suwat said the new system is a cooperation between the government and private sectors that will serve local citizens and tourists and benefit the Chiang Mai economy.

The governor invited everyone to use the buses whenever they can to reduce expenditure on fuel and to reduce traffic jams. Each bus can hold between 30 and 40 passengers, and consequently the number of private vehicles on the roads could be reduced. Commenting on worries that operators might try and overcharge on the fares, the governor said that committees have been established and they will continually monitor any complaints.

Amongst the local officials witnessing the occasion were Chiang Mai Provincial Police Maj Gen Jiruj Promobol, head of Chiang Mai provincial transport office Autsathai Rattanadilok na Phuket, Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn, and Singhkham Nunti, president of the Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives.


So now the toddler walks unaided

Dr. Iain Corness, Executive Editor

While sitting surrounded by next week’s copy, the Chiangmai Mail’s energetic MD, Michael Vogt, reminded me that the newspaper is now three years old. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun, and it certainly does not seem like three years ago when we threw the party in Chiang Mai to announce the birth of the baby.

However, much has happened in that time from the ‘editorial’ point of view. We have seen staff changes in the reporters’ room and new writers taking on some of the regular columns. Whilst it is probably not ‘politically correct’ to single out anyone in particular, I have to congratulate Dr. Becky Lomax on her skillful handling of a couple of the weekly columns. Sometimes I might add a comma or two, but generally her copy does not need to be touched.

It may be of interest for the readers to know just how their Chiangmai Mail does get put together, now after three years, a fairly slick and polished internal routine. It begins with a hard working and dedicated news team that covers events of interest in the community. GM Michael Vogt then arranges for translations of the Thai language stories and looks at where these, plus those items from native English speakers, might be placed in the paper.

From there, the ‘raw’ copy goes to a sub-editor, and then to me, or sometimes directly to my desk, all through the wonders of modern email (when it works). My job involves grammar, syntax, spelling and general ‘readability’ of the articles, so if you cannot make sense of an item, blame me. Mind you, it probably means that I couldn’t make much sense of it either, and the final item was the result of some intuitive guesswork (especially when we get close to the printing deadline). Also from the editorial and layout point of view, there is Dan Dorothy, the President and Editor in Chief who looks down and scrutinizes everything from his nocturnal lair. Newspaper people do tend to keep very unsociable hours.

Of course, it also takes many more people to put together your newspaper every week, including secretarial, sales, accounting and delivery people, without whom it wouldn’t be possible to keep going week after week.

So your Chiangmai Mail is the result of teamwork, and there is no individual more or less important than others in the chain. Even me! But it always gives all of us a kick when the final print hits the newsstands on the Saturday morning. “We did it again,” is the combined chorus.

The infant of three years ago is now an accomplished toddler, but over the next three years you will see even more changes. A newspaper is a living entity, growing, changing, adapting to local pressures and even politics, but one that we hope will continue to inform and entertain the people of the North. That was our aim three years ago, and I see no reason to change it.


Brazen burglar purloins police inspector’s property

Nopniwat Krailerg

A cheeky thief broke into the home of a Chiang Mai police inspector and made off with goods to the value of 100,000 baht, including the officer’s pistol.

The robbery took place at the house of Pol Maj Thapanapong Chairangsri, at Tambon Patan in Muang, Chiang Mai, on October 24.

Police from Chang Puek Police Station, where Pol. Maj. Thapanapong was based, rushed to the scene but were too late. They found that the front gate had been pried open and the house burgled. It was an open and shut case of audacious robbery. Amongst the items missing were several gold ornaments weighing in total seven baht, two small Buddha images, two wrist watches and a 9 mm pistol.

His fellow officers believe that the burglary was the work of a drug taker seeing an opportunity while the Pol. Maj. was away. They are now seeking the offender and are hopeful of an early arrest, before they are further embarrassed.


Hmong tribeswoman to receive Royal award for dedication to farming

Royal Project Foundation

Ka Techalertpana, a 41-year-old Hmong tribeswoman living on the Nong Hoy Royal Project in Mae Rim has been selected by the Food and Agriculture Organization to receive an award from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for her outstanding contributions to agricultural development in the highlands.

Ka Techalertpana and her husband are good examples for other villagers.

Ka’s parents used to plant opium but stopped when it became illegal and turned to the cultivation of cabbages. This crop, however, earned little income for the family, particularly as they had to load and distribute the produce themselves.

As members of the Royal Project, her family then turned to the planting of other kinds of vegetables, and such has been their success that the family income has soared to 450,000 baht per year.

The Royal Project has given advice and encouragement on all the growing processes, which avoids the use of chemicals and sell well because of their quality. Ka is able to pass on her knowledge and experience to neighbors who are members of the Royal Project.

So effective did she prove to be as a coordinator that she was selected to be head of Old Nong Hoy village housewives at the age of 21, and now she is particularly active organizing community activities. Moreover, she realizes the importance of education, and she persuades housewives who have had little schooling to study and improve themselves.

Ka supports all kinds of activities, both in the government and private sector, to help youngsters stay away from drugs. She acts as a representative of the Hmong tribeswomen when Thai and foreign visitors tour the Royal Project. Family and friends say she is a good neighbor, wife and mother, and an example and role model for others.

“I never expected I would win such an honor as this award and it will be an inspiration for me to continue working for the community,” she said, adding that the Royal Project Foundation is the best gift her village could have as it helps villagers to improve their agriculture and that in turn brings good income to every family.


Tough new bird flu controls includes fighting cocks

Saksit Meesubkwang

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat said that bird flu controls are being applied at every level throughout the province, with even the breeding of fighting cocks coming under the stringent safety measures.

Vet Somporn Pornwisetsirikul, head of the animal health department, Chiang Mai Provincial Livestock.

“Residents have asked if the farms can be open as usual; however, cockfighting is being controlled and is not allowed to be organized during this period,” the governor said. He pointed out that during this time, cockfight farms must be checked and if any do not follow the rules they would be closed.

All fighting cocks in Chiang Mai must be registered and they have to be treated in limited areas by hanging nets to prevent the virus being spread from wild birds as well as from the chicken farms. There are 3,500 cocks registered at present.

Veterinarian Somporn Pornwisetsirikul, head of the animal health department at Chiang Mai Provincial Livestock said that avian livestock farms in every district would be checked. Farmers will be trained and the livestock injected with serum to prevent the spread of the virus. Animals are not allowed to be transferred out of the area and every sector such as administrative organizations, police, soldiers and Territorial Defense Volunteers have been requested to check their own districts.

CDs and cassette tapes showing how to take care of the health of those who live close to winged livestock are being distributed, along with regular advice being given by the radio stations.


Checkpoints to prevent movement of infected avian livestock

Nopniwat Krailerg

A meeting chaired by Surasing Wisarootrat, deputy head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health, has agreed upon further measures to control the possibility of bird flu infections.

Officials will spray disinfectant at 2,000 villages, concentrating on 35 areas in 11 districts that are considered to be especially at risk. Another seven checkpoints are being set up to control the movements of avian livestock entering Chiang Mai.

The Department of Livestock has set up checkpoints along highways in Lampang and Lamphun to control movements into the four provinces of Lamphun, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son. Control points are also being set up along the route that passes Mae Ai, Chiang Dao, Mae On sub-district, Mae Taeng, Hot and Chom Thong.


Heavy rain brings floods to Lampang and Phrae

Nopniwat Krailerg

Flooding has hit households in Lampang and Phrae, following heavy rains on October 30.

Sanlek Khamjai, head of the Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation in Lampang, said that floods had occurred at Baan Mae Phrao and Baan Rong Ta, Tambon Baan Huad, Baan Thung and Baan Wangkwai, Taombon Luang Tai and Baan Mai Nakaew, and Tambon Baan Pong in Ngao.

Owing to the heavy rain there was more water in the creeks and Mae Ngao River, resulting in households and farms being flooded. Residents in the flooded areas had no time to move to higher ground and seven persons had been stranded in their farms. However, officers had already rescued them and no injuries or deaths have been reported. In the meantime the province and district are being surveyed to estimate the cost of the flooding.

On the same day in Phrae, there was heavy rain over Doi Pha Klong National Park, the source of the Huay Kamin and Huay Pha Kham creeks that are located at the north of Tambon Pamat. Water volume in Long district stood at 105 millimeters raising the water in Huay Kamin and Huay Pha Kham creeks one meter above its standard level, causing floods at villages in Tambon Pamat for the fourth time this year.

Continuous rain from storm Kaitak for two or three days in Chiang Mai caused water in the Mae Ping River to rise to 3.79 meters, just above the critical level of 3.70 meters, at 10 p.m. on November 1, according to the P1 water measure at Nawarat Bridge. Water increased 5 cm every hour, causing concern amongst citizens that this might be the fourth time the city suffered flooding.

The Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Chiang Mai warned all who live in Muang, San Sai, Nong Hoy, San Pa Tong, Hang Dong and Saraphi to beware of the possibility of flooding.


Memorial planned to commemorate the glories of Chiang Mai kings

Nopniwat Krailerg

Descendants of Chao Jet Ton are in consultation with Chiang Mai province over how best to set up a memorial to the kings of Chiang Mai, which they believe would become an important tourist site.

Choochoke Thongtaluang, head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Relations Office, said that Governor Suwat Tantipat had been in talks with Chao Dararat na Lamphun and Chao Jet Ton descendants along with other personnel over the memorial.

Chao Dararat had said it would be very appropriate to have somewhere that would celebrate the glories of Chiang Mai’s kings and that it would be an excellent opportunity for a historical display. Chao Jet Ton descendants had initially offered to establish the memorial in the Wat Suan Dok area but there was a problem over the regulations concerning temple land. Other places would therefore be considered.

Chao Dararat donated a million baht and more funding has come from Chao Jet Ton descendants, but further budget is required from government organizations, the private sector and public donations.


500 villagers protest gas plant storage plan

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

About 500 villagers from three communities at Tambon Baan Kad in Soong Men district, Phrae gathered at Wat Taw Nimit to protest against plans by Gas & Petroleum Co Ltd to build six gas tanks that would be able to store 60,000 liters of gas.

Residents say the tanks would be located too close to the school and the community. They have on previous occasions asked that the company be moved away from the residential area but the owner has said the factory was set up legally and is the necessary distance from a community demanded by the regulations.

The protest was spurred on this occasion because villagers where unhappy over a statement published in a local newspaper by owner Phuwadon Sarajindapong saying that the gas storage tanks were not dangerous and that the villagers did not understand the situation.

Wanchai Thihongsa, officer of the Office of Energy Region 9, told villagers that the factory was acting under government guidelines on energy saving and that the facility would help reduce fuel oil usage. However, the villagers replied they still wanted the gas factory to be moved another five kilometers away from the community.

They then went to protest in front of Phrae City Hall, where they presented a petition to the governor. Samart Loyfa, assistant to the Phrae governor, received the petition.


Pilot project will bring public water supplies to villages in 16 provinces

Nopniwat Krailerg

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Yongyut Tiyapairat organized a conference with local administrative organizations to discuss ways of implementing the pilot project that will see public water supplies piped into villages in 16 provinces.

The ministry is concerned that the organizations through lack of familiarity with such projects might overspend and consequently the funding would be insufficient.

Chiang Mai is one of the 16 pilot provinces in the project, which overall will see public water supplies installed in more than 6,200 places. His budget for this is 11,000 million baht, a sum that has been authorized by government. The project is being implemented nationwide and is due to end before the end of 2008.

The minister added that the local organizations would be responsible for this project and residents would be allowed to participate in it as much as possible.


Chiang Mai buses will serve five routes in the city

Nopniwat Krailerg

For its mass transport scheme due to start this month, Chiang Mai municipality has prepared 26 Euro II standard minibuses with 31 seats and 100 red minibuses including eight Baan Kwan Wiang buses to run on five routes around the city.

Chiang Mai municipality buses and red minibuses display the mass transport symbol.

Apart from general convenience the service is designed to help reduce the use of private vehicles in and around the city and thus save energy and reduce traffic.

The 2nd line Chiang Mai Area Office-7th Field Artillery Battalion route will be served by air-conditioned buses that will start from in front of the Government Savings Bank Nong Hoy branch and proceed to Baan Den Electric Works, Chiang Mai Christian School (Nawarat Bridge) and the Riverside Pub & Restaurant on Fah Ham Road to the superhighway. Here the buses will continue to the Lotus Khamthiang branch and then on to the Kuang Singh intersection, then pass along Chotana Road to Boriboon Market, Lanna Golf Course, city hall, finally arriving at 7th Field Artillery Battalion.

The 4th line Carrefour-Airport route will be served by red minibuses. Beginning from Carrefour they will run to the superhighway, past Arcade domestic bus station and then continue along Kaew Nawarat Road to Thoong Hotel Road, where they will turn left. They will pass the Telephone Exchange and drive along Chareunmuang Road, passing the train station and Waroros Market, Thapae Gate, Chiang Mai Commercial College, the Elders’ Home, and Chiang Mai Gate. From here the buses will go to Wua Lai and Baan King Kaew, passing the Culture Center and Central Airport Plaza, and stopping at the airport.

The 6th line around the city will be served by air conditioned minibuses. They will start from Keha Nong Hoy and pass along Mahidol Road to Montfort High School and then to the superhighway. Here they will pass Arcade domestic bus station, Lotus Khamthiang branch and Kuang Singh intersection, then turn left to Chiang Mai Rajabhat University and Chang Puek bus station. They will return to Kuang Singh intersection to turn left along the superhighway until they reach Rin Kham intersection, where they will turn right along Huay Kaew Road to Chiang Mai Phu Kham Hotel. Here they turn left and drive along the Irrigation Canal Road to Ton Phayom Market and Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital and then enter a street beside the canal. From here they travel to Buak Had Public Park and Suan Prung Psychiatric Hospital to the airport, then along Mahidol Road to Chiang Mai Land Village and Chang Klan Road, Lanna Palace, Montfort Elementary School, and along Charuen Prated Road to Regina Coeli School and the French Council. They then drive to Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel and the Sang Tawan intersection along Chang Klan Road and end at See Suan Plaza.

The 8th line Airport-City Hall will be served by red minibuses. The route begins at the airport and continues to Niyom Panich, Watthanothai Payap School and Chiang Mai Ram I Hospital, then turns right to Maninoparat Road to Chang Puek Market, and turns left to Chotana Road and Chiang Mai Rajabhat University. Passing the Kuang Singh intersection, the buses continue to city hall then return to Chang Puek bus station and on to Maninoparat Road and Somphet Market. Here they enter a street beside the city canal and drive to Hua Lin Corner, Suan Buak Had Public Park and Suan Prung Psychiatric Hospital, then on to the airport.

The 10th line Baan Kwan Wiang-City route will be served by Baan Kwan Wiang minibuses. They start from Baan Kwan Wiang and run along Chiang Mai-Hang Dong Road to the Airport Plaza intersection, then turn left to the airport and drive on to Watthanothai Payap School, Chiang Mai Ram I Hospital and along Maninoparat Road to Chang Puek Market. The buses then continue to Somphet Market and Waroros Market and on to Chang Klan Road and the Night Bazaar, Sri Donchai Road, Chiang Mai Gate Market, and Wua Lai Road. They pass the Culture Center and go on to the airport intersection and the Chiang Mai-Hang Dong Road to arrive at Baan Kwan Wiang.

Buses will be in service from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. The fare is 10 baht for the 2nd, 6th and 10th lines, and 15 baht for the 4th and 8th lines served by red minibuses. There is a five baht discount for students in uniform and monks.


Firecracker ban could be a damp squib

Children have already bought fireworks say dealers

Nopniwat Krailerg

Firecrackers are to be prohibited from sale between now and Loy Krathong, said Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, announcing plans for the approaching high season and the Loy Krathong festival.

Police in the eight far north provinces are being given special directives on traffic control and security. The sale of firecrackers is to be banned owing to the danger they pose for both the person lighting them and for others nearby. Anyone detected distributing firecrackers between now and the festival will be prosecuted, unless authorized to do so, which adds a certain amount of ambiguity to the directive.

However, these plans may have come too late, as many children in the city have already purchased fireworks. Distributors say that these are the more colorful and beautiful kind that reputedly do not make a loud noise or pose a danger to those who handle them or to bystanders.

Chumporn Sangmanee, Muang district chief officer said there are 70 businesses in Chiang Mai allowed to distribute fireworks. Those without a permit or who have out of date documentation will be arrested if they are discovered selling firecrackers.


Chiang Mai Yee Peng Festival Schedule

November 9-17

- Official Opening Ceremony of Chiang Mai Yee Peng Festival at Thapae Gate Nov. 15
- Miss Yee Peng contest 16th-17th
- Traditional Loy Krathong activity in front of governor’s residence 11th-14th

- Krathong floating, Lanna style 15th-17th

- Front gate of 13 temples on Rachadamnern-Thapae Road at all time decorated 15th-17th

- Walking street displayed with Lanna and local handicrafts on Rachadamnern Road 9th-15th

- Small Krathong parade contest at Thapae Gate on the 16th

- Giant Krathong parade contest on the 17th

- Local Lanna-Japanese folk performance at Chiang Mai municipality office 15th-17th

- Beauty Kids Yee Peng Contest on the 15th

- Floating Krathong Contest 16th-17th

- Handmade Krathong (banana leafs and flowers) contest on the 16th

- Rites Honorary and pay respect to White Pagoda (Wat Sri Kong Pier) on the 16th

- Hot Air Balloon Contest on the 16th

- Water Sports (bamboo rafting, diving and enameled bowl rafting Competition) on the 16th

- Fireworks for Buddha Bucha 15th-17th

- Release Krathong along the river as line 15th-17th

- Light & Sound Events on the Ping River 15th-17th

- Legend of Loy Krathong Festival at the Three Kings Monument 9th-17th

- Lanna Dhamma Preaching of Mahachat Wat Lok Mo Lee 13th-14th

- Folk Art of 6 Ethnic Races, Maze, Beauty Kids contest and Preaching Mahachat at Wat Jed Lin 15th-17th

- Legend of Yee Peng Lantern as admiration for King at Wat Inthakin 13th-17th

- Sirimangkala Yee Peng Preservation Ceremony at Chiang Mai Buddhism Place 15th-17th

- The regional Art & Culture Exhibition at Chiang Mai University Art Museum 11th-20th

- Sansai Maejo Meditation Center Loi Krathong Festival. Festivities will start when the sun sets. Saturday November 12


Public urged to be aware of forged banknotes

Saksit Meesubkwang

A campaign to help members of the public combat the spread of counterfeit money was launched on October 27 by the Bank of Thailand (BoT) in association with the authorities of Chiang Rai province.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 shows counterfeit banknotes.

The program, staged at Rim Kok Resort in Muang, Chiang Rai, included a competition with questions based around the recognition of counterfeit banknotes.

Sub. Lt. Yodchai Choosri, senior director of the Corporate Debt Restructuring Group of the BoT said that counterfeit notes were continually being detected. Popular denominations are 100 baht and 1,000 baht. Yodchai said that the counterfeiters are usually not large gangs but small operations using color copying and other simple methods and disbursing the notes in different provinces.

There have been 18 detected instances so far this year, with all denominations starting from 20 baht notes, and 34 offenders have been apprehended. Total counterfeit banknotes impounded this year is 4,543. This represents a decrease over the previous year, which saw 33 detected cases, 64 offenders, and 24,535 counterfeit banknotes.

Although the current trend is towards a decrease, this is no time for complacency warned Yodchai. Modern technology helps the counterfeiter improve the quality of his work. Consequently, citizens have to be on the alert and know how to distinguish between real and counterfeit notes to avoid being victims. Additionally, the BoT is working on a new style of banknote which will be harder to forge.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 said that he had directed police of the eight northern provinces to concentrate on detecting counterfeit notes. Residents who find forgeries are asked to contact the police at any time.


Ceremony in memory of the great kings of Chiang Mai

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Chao Jet Ton descendants held a ceremony on October 28 to commemorate the 96-year anniversary of (Koo) Chao Luang Chiang Mai’s ashes being interred at Wat Suan Dok, Chiang Mai. Performing the ceremony, in memory of the nine Chao Luangs or Chiang Mai kings and Chao Dara Rasamee, consort of King Rama V, were 729 monks.

729 Monks perform a religious ceremony for nine Chiang Mai kings and Chao Dara Rasamee.

In 1999, Chao Dara Rasamee gathered the ashes of her deceased royal relatives at Wat Buppha Ram (Wat Suan Dok at present) where the nine Chiang Mai kings’ ashes also lay, and she invited 729 monks to perform a religious ceremony. After Chao Dara Rasamee passed away, her ashes were also kept there, and the Chao Jet Ton descendants have continued the tradition.

Chiang Mai province also organizes a water pouring ceremony during Songkran every year for these kings and for Chao Dara Rasamee, in memory of those who built and protected Chiang Mai.

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor presided over the ceremony.


Public asked to name the new city hall elephants

“Very Expensive” comes to mind

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai’s governor has asked the public to name and choose the color of the new elephant sculptures that now grace the front of Chiang Mai City Hall.

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor and four elephant sculptures in front of Chiang Mai City Hall.

Governor Suwat Tantipat said the area had now been beautifully landscaped with gardens and a fountain, and four elephant sculptures that cost in total almost 1.2 million baht.

The governor said the elephant image was chosen because it symbolizes Thailand, and the location in front of city hall is particularly appropriate because of the mountain view behind.

He said he would now like residents and students to put their suggestions forward.


Abandoned Wat Inthakin is to be restored

Preeyanoot Jittawong and Saksit Meesubkwang

The long abandoned and neglected Wat Inthakin, an important temple of the Lanna era, is to be restored.

Phra Kitti Siriphiku discusses Buddhist scriptures with residents in front of the Luang Phaw Khao Buddha image.

Chiangmai Mail reporters visiting the temple, which is in the middle of the city, found that the pagodas, buildings and main Buddha image called Luang Phaw Khao are still in good shape.

In front of the building that houses the main Buddha image we found a young monk named Phra Kitti Siriphiku, 26, sitting there to discuss Buddhist scriptures with devotees. He said he was a follower of Phra Racha Sithajarn, deputy head of the Chiang Mai monks. He has been there since July 10, wishing to combine his studies with playing an active part in the temple restoration. The temple, he says, has been abandoned for a long time, despite being in the middle of the city, and he would like to see it once again achieve the prominence and respect it had in the past.

Phra Kitti Siriphiku’s former name was Kraisri Jantarapanya, and he is of the royal lineage of Mom Luang Rapheepan Chompunoot. He was born in Nakhon Sawan and entered into the monkhood at Wat Phra Thad Doi Suthep. He said he intends to be a monk all his life. If his ambition to restore Wat Inthakin is accomplished then he will continue to help other temples in different areas.


Mobile survey for travel agents looks to expand tourism sites

Preeyanoot Jittawong

The tourist industry in Chiang Mai, in cooperation with the Thailand Research Fund, has undertaken a study tour of various localities within easy reach of the city to see which might be suitable for inclusion as new sites on tour schedules.

Tourism business owners share opinions concerning tourism.

The mobile survey through the communities took place on October 25, with tour agents and the media surveying tourism routes from Chiang Mai City to places that included Baan Tham Chiang Dao, a visit to a Lisu hill tribe village in Baan Nalao Mai, and the paying of respects to Phra Sihasaiyad and Phra Chao Tonluang at Wat Tham Tab Tao in Chai Prakan district. Guides in each location explained the history and points of interest of each community.

This tourism route was managed by the communities and much of the emphasis was on the local lifestyles along with building contacts amongst the tour agents.

Opinions were sought on the strengths and weaknesses of each place at the end of the trip, and the tour personnel gave their opinions on what they thought would be successful and what might not. Advice was also given to the community leaders, it being in everyone’s interest to see that tourism potential is maximized in order to increase the earning power of the local residents.


Clothing and blankets sought for winter donations to villagers

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Foremost Omeg 3 distribution center in Chiang Mai is to present clothes and blankets this winter under a cold weather protection program at Baan Mae Long Tai, Tambon Sopkhong in Omkoi.

Villagers at Baan Mae Long Tai face cold weather during winter but they lack sufficient warm clothing and bedding and the village is a remote one. The program is being organized to offer them some relief and the center is asking Chiang Mai residents and organizations to donate clothing, blankets and anything else suitable to present to the villagers.

The donation process will last until November 10th and is at Foremost Omeg 3 distribution center, located at Karn Keha Nong Hoy Village, Tambon Nong Hoy in Muang, Chiang Mai. Details can be provided by calling 0 6670 3105 and 0 1783 8521.


Tourist policeman kills colleague

Saksit Meesubkwang

An argument between two tourist police officers ended with one of them shooting and killing the other.

Tourist police gather as news of the shooting spreads.

Officers at Muang Chiang Mai Police Station rushed to the scene at Chang Klan Road in Muang, Chiang Mai, where they found the body of Pol Sen Sgt Maj Suchat Pornjaruensombat, 45, a tourist policeman attached to the head office, lying in a pool of blood. He had been shot six times with a .38 caliber revolver.

The killer was identified as Pol Sen Sgt Maj Thongchai Thappoo, 47, a tourist police officer at Chiang Mai airport. He was confined to Muang Chiang Mai Police Station while the body was sent to Central Memorial.

Investigations revealed that the two officers did not like each other (and the shooting confirmed it). Thongchai who was senior, felt that Suchat did not pay him enough respect.

On October 26, the day of the killing, there had been a ceremony at the tourist police office and both men had attended the event. There was an argument, and Thongchai shot Suchat and killed him. He then surrendered. Thongchai has been charged with murder.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, said the killer could expect no leniency.


Abbot’s residence damaged by fire

Nopniwat Krailerg

The residence of the abbot of Wat Thad Kham, on Suriyawong Road near the Chiang Mai Gate, was badly damaged by fire on October 25.

Abbot Phra Kroosri Adul Silakit said that he was in his bedroom when he began to feel the heat and called for the help of monks and then for the fire brigade.

The first floor of the two-story building caught alight first and the flames quickly spread to the second floor.

It took firemen about an hour to extinguish the blaze. The teak furnishings were burned along with numerous Buddha images. Only an old Phra Jao Ngern Lan Buddha image that had been kept many years in the temple escaped unscathed.

The cause of the fire is still not known, but it is being investigated by the authorities.


100 police checkpoints will help thwart drug smugglers

Nopniwat Krailerg

Almost 100 checkpoints have been set up along the border in an attempt to control the smuggling of drugs into the North, reported commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya.

He said that although it is becoming increasingly difficult for distributors to transfer drugs throughout the eight northernmost provinces, smuggling is still a problem along the border. The checkpoints will help control the illegal traffic. A manual has also been distributed to all police stations in Region 5 that shows them various drug suppression strategies designed to thwart dealers and smugglers.

Building up a strong community spirit is another form of suppressing the trade, said Panupong, and there is emphasis on curing and rehabilitating drug takers. Nevertheless it is worrisome that more drug transference is now taking place along routes in the northeast region.


No casualties after train derailment

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

A train traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai containing a number of foreign tourists came off the rails at Baan Ton Peung in Laplae district, Uttaradit. No one was injured in the accident.

Anon Wongsuwan, director of the Northern Railway Office said that the train consisted of only two coaches, having earlier been detached from another train. The accident occurred as the train was on its way to Baan Huay Rai, in Denchai. There had been some land subsidence and the engine came off the rails. The train had been traveling very slowly, hence no one was hurt. The passengers were moved to Muang, Uttaradit, and then transferred to Chiang Mai.

The engine was lifted back onto the rails and checked for damage, which proved to be minor. After repairs it was ready for service the same day.


Drug kingpin’s son-in-law indicted on drug charges

Police attempting to break up powerful gang

Saksit Meesubkwang

The son-in-law of a drug kingpin arrested two years ago has himself been arrested on drugs charges after being trapped in a police sting operation.

Police take drug dealer Afupo Sanmee to the office of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5.

A press briefing was held on October 31 by Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5; Pol. Col. Sarawute Chantraprasert, superintendent of the bureau, and Pol. Col. Niyom Duangsri, Mae Ai Police Station superintendent.

Jointly they announced the arrest of Afupo Sanmee, 45, a resident of Baan Huay San, Tambon Thaton in Mae Ai. Afupo had been contacted by undercover police who said they wanted to buy amphetamines from him for 5 million. Afupo fell for the plot and drove his pickup to the agreed rendezvous at Mae Ai minibus terminal, where he met the officers. He was promptly arrested with 10 packages of ya ba containing 200,000 pills.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 at a press briefing on the arrest of a drug dealer together with the seizing of 200,000 ya ba pills.

Afupo said that he was a son-in-law of Laota Sanlee, a major drug dealer arrested together with his son two years ago.

The ya ba seized with Afupo had been smuggled in from a neighboring country. Panupong said it would have a street value of 50 million baht had it got as far as Bangkok.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong said that Afupo was a member of a powerful gang of drug dealers that the police bureau has been pursuing since 2001. The gang, he said, has links with many networks. Some other dealers have already been arrested while others were still being investigated.


Tattoo did not save man shot by youths

Saksit Meesubkwang

A drunken row amongst a number of youths in a karaoke lounge resulted in the death of one of them.

Police arrested three youths on October 26 in connection with the murder of Thom Chommoo. The three offenders said they and another 10 companions were drinking and singing songs in the karaoke lounge when Thom entered the premises to drink, and started to speak badly to them.

A fight broke out, and after that Thom went home and returned with a knife to avenge himself against the three young offenders. They fled but then returned, and one of them had a pistol. Thom revealed his tattoo which he thought would save him in the event of his being shot, but it failed to do so and he was killed.

A press briefing was held by Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 and Pol Maj Gen Jiruj Prombol, commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police. They identified the youths as Sithichai Plengpraw, 21, Worachet Suriya, 22, and Somsak Suriya, 21. All are from Muang, Chiang Mai. Sithichai and Worachet were charged with conspiracy to murder and with possessing and carrying a weapon, while Somsak was accused of grievous bodily harm.