Vol. IV No. 47 - Saturday November 19 - November 25, 2005
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Construction work on highway intersections slips into low gear

Suspected bird flu cases check negative

It’s Nap time for the shops of Nimmanhaemin Soi 1

80 boys will become novices at Wat Chetawan on Fathers Day

Drug smuggling routes have switched to Mae Hong Son and the Northeast, says ONCB chief

All smiles as Mexican Sunflower festival blooms

Alcohol advert not appropriate, say citizens

Conference will discuss Khong River basin management

“Shotgun” marriage for Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui

Night Safari opening is set for New Year’s Day

World’s biggest orchid park will be feature of expo

40 expat tourist police volunteers take to the beat during Yee Peng

Cellphone agent seized for supplying porn downloads

Police nab 85 aliens smuggled in by human traffickers

Teenage burglars arrested

Crime appeared to pay for villager, until he was caught

Obscene books and VCDs seized in porn raids

Construction work on highway intersections slips into low gear

Nopniwat Krailerg

Sluggish progress on key local highway intersection projects has prompted the Department of Highways to see if work can be speeded up.

Chaisawat Kittipornpaiboon, director general of the department, said that work on the San Dek and Kuang Singh intersections was lagging behind schedule, and causing great inconvenience to Chiang Mai citizens. The department has called in a firm of consulting engineers and a bank, to see if a further budget would be necessary. Legal advice is being sought by the department before any further move is made.

The director general said that with just five months left of the contract between the department and Jirathep Limited Partnership, only 50 percent of the project had been completed. The 243 million baht budget for the two projects comes from the national budget.

Besides this there are three routes to be built in Chiang Mai under the direction of the prime minister, and these need to be finished within a year. These routes are highway number 11 from Chiang Mai Airport to Rincome intersection with 290 million baht of funding, highway number 121 beside the irrigation canal, at 510 million baht, and highway number 1014 at 290 million baht.


Suspected bird flu cases check negative

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Dr Thepnaruemit Methawin, head of Chiang Rai Provincial Public Health Office, said that 21 patients with suspected bird flu symptoms had been admitted to hospital during the period from October up to November 9. However, examination had revealed none of them were suffering from the H5N1 avian virus. The majority were cases of influenza or pneumonia.

The department, in cooperation with the Chiang Rai Livestock Office has sent officers to monitor the stocks of winged livestock. Both government and private hospitals have set up their own isolation wards to treat suspected cases. In addition, all officials of the hospitals and the Public Health Office have received training to minimize their own exposure to the virus, as well as how to deal with suspected cases.


It’s Nap time for the shops of Nimmanhaemin Soi 1

Kittiyaporn Kanjam (Student Trainee)

Dentist Nawaphumin Chaichomphu, executive of Man Muang Chamber Co., Ltd. (4th from right), MC Ongkarn Chai-Ongkarn from Indeed Creation Co., Ltd. (3rd from right), and a group of Nap committee representatives.

Nimmanhaemin Soi 1 is planning a festival from December 2 to 5, with the shops, boutiques and galleries in the soi working with the TAT for the staging of the 6th Nap.

Dentist Nawaphumin Chaichomphu, executive of Man Muang Chamber Co., Ltd., and MC Ongkarn Chai-Ongkarn from Indeed Creation Co., Ltd. held a briefing to announce the festival, which has a full name of 6th Nimmanhaemin Art and Design Promenade.

The fair will be held over a four-day period, and each day will have a different theme. Day one sees a “river of life” theme, while day two is devoted to flower decor and fashion design. Day three will feature an arts theme, with dancing, singing and marionettes. The final day is based around “the light of life”, with the lighting of candles on the occasion of Fathers Day, the birthday of His Majesty the King.

Along with the activities there is a product showcase and an exhibition. Thai and Italian food will be provided by the Amari Rincome Hotel, which is part of the Nimmanhaemin Soi 1 community.

The 6th Nap will start on December 2 and finish on December 5. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. The opening ceremony will be on December 2 at 6 p.m. in Nimmanhaemin Soi 1.


80 boys will become novices at Wat Chetawan on Fathers Day

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Wat Chetawan is to hold a novice initiation ceremony on the occasion of His Majesty the King’s birthday on December 5, which is also Fathers Day, at which 80 boys will take the saffron.

Phra Thongchai Chalermpon Nawawatcharaworawong,

Phra Thongchai Chalermpon Nawawatcharaworawong conducted a press briefing at JJ Market on November 8 to announce the plans for the young novices, which also include a birthday card making contest and a drawing competition in which scholarships will be given as prizes.

The abbot said that this is the second year the temple has held the novice ceremony. Last year 115 young novices took part. The boys will be trained in Buddhist ethics and the duties of novice monks, and a field trip to Lamphun is planned for December 10.

There will be a competition designed to test the novices in the field of ethics, and this will be open to boys between the ages of 12 and 15 who are studying in Chiang Mai. The winner will receive 5,000 baht together with a certificate, and will be the province’s representative in the national championships. Application forms are available from now to November 25 at education institutes. More details are available by calling 0 5323 3750 or faxing 0 5323 4751.president of the temple development project which aims to make the temple the knowledge center of the community.


Drug smuggling routes have switched to Mae Hong Son and the Northeast, says ONCB chief

Saksit Meesubkwang

Secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, Pol Lt Gen Kritsana Pol-anan organized a conference in Chiang Rai to discuss progress on drug suppression in the eight Northern provinces. Provincial governors, police commanders, army officers and narcotics control agents attended the discussions.

What has become apparent is that drug transference routes have switched recently to Mae Hong Son and the Northeast of Thailand, and therefore drug suppression organizations need to continually monitor the borders in these areas.

Chiang Rai is a strategic point in preventing the smuggling of drugs such as ya ba, heroin and ice from neighboring countries. A vehicle fitted out with X-ray equipment at a cost of 47 million baht is based there for checking incoming traffic, and officers are briefed to keep a continual watch on visitors crossing the border. Governors in Chiang Rai province are cooperating with the Chiang Rai Provincial Police commander in what Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has described as a “magic twins” relationship in suppressing the spread of drugs and drug use.

All officers are urged to beware of fake ID cards because alien drug dealers often use them. Neighboring countries have been asked to participate in pursuing drug dealers who have slipped across the border.

Pol Lt Gen Kritsana also discussed the recent cooperation between Thailand and the USA in which the possessions of Wei Hseuh-kang and his relatives, valued at around 400 million baht, were seized.


All smiles as Mexican Sunflower festival blooms

Saksit Meesubkwang

Direk Konkleep, Mae Hong Song governor, presided over the opening ceremony of the Mexican Sunflower festival at Doi Mae Oo Kho in Khun Yuam on November 5, the start of the season when the fields are at their dramatic best.

Direk Konkleep, Mae Hong Song governor presides over the opening ceremony of Mexican Sunflower festival in Mae Hong Son.

On the same day another prime attraction for visitors, the caravan rally that negotiates all the 1,864 curves on the famously winding road from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son got underway.

The governor said that the Mexican Sunflowers had become one of Mae Hong Son’s favorite sights, along with Wat Doi Kong Moo, the long-neck Karen village, and Tham Pla Cave. Several new service aspects have been provided for visitors to Doi Mae Oo Kho this year, including camping accommodation.

Mae Hong Son is examining other ways to attract visitors to see its natural beauty. The governor said the administration is working to encourage the development of hill tribe culture and eco-tourism, with local people acting as guides.


Alcohol advert not appropriate, say citizens

Nopniwat Krailerg

Residents have protested against the display of a giant advertising hoarding for an alcohol brand on the top of a car park building near Ton Lamyai Market. They say it is inappropriate for the area, which is beside the Mae Ping River.

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that he had already arranged for the signboard to be checked to see if it had been erected without authorization. The advertisement, however, was later withdrawn during the checking process.

The mayor said the municipality could not forbid the advertising of specific products, only to force the advertisement owner to construct a signboard to comply with an authorized size. If any sign was larger than the specified size, a demand would be made for it to be replaced.


Conference will discuss Khong River basin management

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Chiang Rai has been chosen to host the 12th international Khong River Basin management conferences, which will take place at the Dusit Island Resort from November 28 to December 2.

Nopporn Tornrap, Chiang Rai deputy governor, said that the Department of Water Resources, on duty as secretary general of the Khong River Committees of Thailand, would organize the conference timetables. There will be an open discussion forum on November 28 and 29, followed by senior government official conferences. Yongyut Tiyapairat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, will preside over the conference opening.

The conference will bring together senior government officials from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.


“Shotgun” marriage for Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui

Bride and groom given no options

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Is it true love? It sure looks like it, at least with the Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui mascots.

The “wedding” of Pandas Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui was the reason for the five-day celebration that began on November 8 at Thapae Gate.

A parade with floats bearing images of the two bears made its way to Chiang Mai Zoo the following day, with dancers, Northern drum players and students in Chinese and Lanna costumes. The procession wound its way along a route outside the city canal to the Chinese Consulate, passing Watthanothai Payap School and receiving a couple of pillows as a gift from Kad Suan Kaew department store before entering the zoo.

Sophon Damnui, director of the Zoological Park Organization, gave a presentation on the history of the zoo, describing what its founder Harold Mason Young had achieved. After that, Thai and Chinese ceremonies were held and guests wrote messages of congratulations which will never be read by the panda couple.

Amongst the guests were Chinese Consul General of Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai MP Payap Shinawatra, Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat and Dr Chao Duang Duan na Chiang Mai, plus representatives from Chiang Mai municipality, Tourism Authority of Thailand, AIS, Thai Airways International, and Chiang Mai University.

Governor Suwat said that the two pandas had lived in Chiang Mai for two years and had a happy home at the zoo. Now they were ready to have little pandas as a gift for the Thai people.

Fruit-ice cake was given to the two pandas inside the display room but because the flash lights from the cameras made Chuang Chuang a little unhappy, he just walked around and let Lin Hui eat the cake alone. Let us hope she continues to be fat and happy.

The panda parade from Thapae Gate to Chiang Mai Zoo attracted a throng of spectators.

Dr. Chao Duang Duan na Chiang Mai performs a Chinese wedding ceremony for the two panda mascots.

Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui discover the fruit-ice cake.


Night Safari opening is set for New Year’s Day

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Night Safari tested its lights on November 16 and is all set to open officially on the first day of the New Year.

Sa-nga Euatrakoon, specialist working on the Night Safari had a few days earlier, on November 8, given an update on progress of the project. Construction work was completed. The entire budget of the project as authorized by the cabinet on October 28, 2004 was 1,155.9 million baht, with a year and six months assigned as the construction period. The actual construction cost came in at 646.7 million baht. The Lanna Village cost 180 million baht and the rest was for designing and animal accommodation. There are 61 species of animal coming to join the 704 already on display.

Front area of Lanna Village at Chiang Mai Night Safari.

Most of these animals are from the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department and the private sector. This safari will be the third night safari and the third biggest safari in the world and it is predicted the capital spent will be recouped within the next seven years.

Ticket prices to see the Predator Prowl, Savanna Safari and Jaguar Trail zones is 250 baht for adults, 125 baht for children and 400 baht for foreigners. Other activities will be provided, such as elephant riding, water music and jumping jets. Water supplies are from five wells containing 290,000 cubic meters, 15 ground water points that are 180-300 meters in depth and contain 1,552 cubic meters, 350 cubic meters of public water and 2,800 cubic meters from Mae Hia Weir. Environmental systems are in place to protect residents and the surrounding area from polluted water and garbage.

A small model of the 15-kilometer cable car is on display.

On November 16, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra introduced the safari to 200 Thai businessmen to ask their participation toward animal support, and to see the lights that were tested on that day. Students and residents also witnessed the switch-on. The official opening will take place on January 1, 2006.

A cable car 15 kilometers in length linking the International Horticultural Exposition, Chiang Mai Night Safari, Elephant Park, City View Point and Kru Ba Sri Wichai Monument will be constructed. A study has been commissioned at 50 million baht while 1,200 million baht will be spent on the construction. The Elephant Park is also being in process of an environmental study as it is due to be relocated in a national park, in an area covering 6,600 rai. An expenditure of 600 million baht is projected.


World’s biggest orchid park will be feature of expo

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

The world’s biggest orchid park is to be set up on six rai of land at the International Horticultural Exposition of Ratchaphruek.

A-nan Dalodom, Surat Thani senator and chairman of the exposition, said that the park will be a huge showcase for Thai orchids, allowing orchid collectors, academics and the general public to see for the first time in one place just what diversity is flourishing in the kingdom.

The Orchid Park is separated into four groups, namely the Thai orchid exhibition, mixed orchid species, an orchid contest and international orchid zones.

“To have an area for an orchid display park in this 470 rai expo area is an opportunity for growers to show Thai orchids to the world,” said A-nan. “We anticipate that this will be one of the most popular parts of the exhibition, and that the park will generate great interest amongst academics, breeders and collectors.”

A conference is to take place that will be attended by delegates from 15 or more countries, and predictions are that the event will lead to greater cooperation amongst agriculturalists internationally.


40 expat tourist police volunteers take to the beat during Yee Peng

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Pol Lt Col Nattawut Chotikanchanawat, tourist police inspector (2nd from left) and tourist police volunteers patrol on walking street.

Forty foreign tourist police volunteers were working alongside regular Chiang Mai tourist police during the Yee Peng festival to ensure that overseas visitors are given full support in terms of information and other services.

Tourist police inspector Pol Lt Col Nattawut Chotikanchanawat said that when the idea was first mooted, it was discovered there was a large number of expatriates, many of whom had lived in Chiang Mai for a long time, who were interested in acting as volunteers. Eventually, about 40 were chosen, and they are from a variety of nationalities including American, Indian, Chinese, British, Canadian, Swiss, Dutch, German, Burmese and Japanese.

The volunteers have undergone training and wear a dark blue uniform. They help regular tourist police to communicate with people from their own backgrounds, and are also able to give information on Thai culture and events. The 40 volunteers have a love of Chiang Mai and are reported as being very happy for the opportunity to help visitors to the city.


Cellphone agent seized for supplying porn downloads

Nopniwat Krailerg

Officers from Phuping Police Station arrested Woranut Buaban, 27, a mobile phone shop owner in a well known department store located on Huay Kaew Road and seized two computers that had been used to upload 400 obscene images and 35 pornographic video clips. The pictures and clips were for clients to download to cell phones.

Pol Capt Anupap Chaisiri, deputy inspector of Phuping Police Station, who led the team that arrested Woranut, said that many parents had complained there were cell phone agents supplying pornographic pictures and video clips, charging between 300 and 500 baht for each download.

Woranut has been charged with possession of obscene material, an offense that carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a fine of 6,000 baht.


Police nab 85 aliens smuggled in by human traffickers

Human traffickers not caught

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Illegal laborers who were trucked in across the Burma border hidden under canvas were seized when a village headman alerted the police.

On November 13, a police officer at Tha Sai sentry box was informed by the headman of Wiang Klang, in Muang, Chiang Rai province, that more than 100 Burmese were hiding out in a deserted resort.

Pol Col Jaran Worapatthananan, superintendent of Muang police station, led a raid of more than 50 police officers and volunteers at the resort in Tha Sai village. Seeing the officers, the alien laborers attempted to flee. However, within 30 minutes the police had caught 85 of them, including five women and five children.

Investigations have revealed that the workers had entered the border from Chiang Tung, in Burma, where there is a community of Tai tribe people. Human traffickers smuggled them in under canvas and kept them at the abandoned resort prior to sending them to work in Chiang Rai and nearby provinces, mainly in orange orchards. Before traveling, the workers had to pay 2,000 baht to the trafficking gang, although they claimed not to know who the organizers were.


Teenage burglars arrested

Saksit Meesubkwang

Pol Col Chamnan Ruadreuw, Chiang Mai Provincial Police deputy commander checking evidence.

Police have arrested a gang of teenagers who were spending their nights stealing motorcycles and household goods from Chiang Mai homes.

The gang members, who were identified under aliases of Noi, Thid and Chen, are all 17 years old and resident in Chiang Mai. Police seized four motorcycles along with VCD players and many household supplies, valued at 400,000 baht, as evidence. The youths stole from houses during the night.

Chiang Mai Provincial Police deputy commander Pol Col Chamnan Ruadreuw held a press briefing on November 11 in conjunction with Muang, Chang Puek and Mae Ping police stations to announce details of the case. Pol Col Chamnan said that the police stations had liaised to arrest the gang. He said it was the duty of every police officer to take care of the security of residents and their possessions, and that information received from members of the public was of vital use in helping the police with their duties.


Crime appeared to pay for villager, until he was caught

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

A Chiang Rai villager was doing well out of the ya ba trade until police caught him and discovered that he had assets worth about 100 million baht, slightly more than the average villager has in his bank account.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Jamnong Kaewsiri, commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police, announced the arrest of Boonchuay Suprakarn, a 34 year old villager of Tambon Pa Sak, in Chiang Saen district. Seized as evidence during the raid were 240,000 ya ba pills, two Toyota pick-up trucks, 40,000 baht in cash, and two mobile phones. Pol. Maj. Gen. Jamnong said that he had been sending the ya ba to customers in Central Thailand.

However, smelling a good haul, Chiang Rai police investigated further, with the help of Mae Sai and Chiang Saen district police stations and the ONCB Northern Region, and discovered that Boonchuay had a considerable amount of property, including a large Thai style house, the title deeds to 71 plots of land amounting to 872 rai, eight trucks, four pickup trucks, four motorcycles, and 1,200 cows. The total vale of the property is estimated at about 100 million baht.

The commander said that the street value of the ya ba seized would in Bangkok have been not less than 50 million baht. It is believed there may be other property elsewhere and police are continuing their search. Let us hope they also find the next link in the distribution chain.


Obscene books and VCDs seized in porn raids

Chiang Mai to be squeaky clean in future

Nopniwat Krailerg

Police in a crackdown on pornographic material raided several premises on November 3 and made a number of arrests.

Officers first headed to Sri Don Chai Road, where 266 obscene magazines and cartoons plus five VCDs were seized. A further search of a bookshop in the Thapae area netted 120 VCDs, 10 calendars and 55 books. A third raid on a VCD rental shop at Tambon Mae Hia uncovered 28 CDs.

The owners of each outlet were charged with possessing pornographic media, an offense that usually carries a penalty of 6,000 baht and up to three years in prison.

Police said the raids were in line with government policy on eliminating obscene media. Search warrants had been obtained from Chiang Mai Provincial Court before the officers searched the shops and vendor stands. The materials seized had been found packed in plastic bags and hidden from sight, waiting for buyers.

Sources did not advise what will happen to the 266 magazines, 153 CDs, 55 books and 10 calendars.



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