Vol. IV No. 48 - Saturday November 26 - December 2, 2005
Home
Automania
News
Business News
Book-Movies-Music
Columns
Community
Happenings
Dining Out & Entertainment
Features
Academia Nuts
Letters
Social Scene
Sports
Travel
Who's who
 
Free Classifieds
Back Issues
 

 


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Night Safari in a stew over so-called “Menu from Hell”

Unlucky police box sees another fatal shooting

Drug Center examines the effectiveness of the fight against narcotics

Rescue center set up to help casualties of cold weather

Middle ring roads ease travel across the city

320 million baht would be needed to reopen Phrae’s mothballed airport

Dentists undergo training for treatment of elderly

Mae Fang comes out top in national parks contest

400 election candidates under threat of legal action over expenses

Local travelers slow to use bus service

Last Post and red poppies to remember those who died in two World Wars

Lovers of Chiang Mai Association want info on projects

Language tuition arranged for Night Safari staff

More North Koreans found smuggled across the border

Police investigate longan scams

Fah Ham TAO opens new office with fanfare

Larger budget is sought by the municipality to resolve garbage problem

Flower festival dates set for Feb 3-5

Thailand scores highly in Conde Nast magazine reader survey

Police collecting ‘dirty books’ again

Gold thief stars on video camera

Tambon chief officer arrested on drug charges

More surveillance cameras to fight crime and traffic jams

ONCB chief praises work of Police Bureau Region 5

Bomb explodes outside the offices of Manager newspaper

Tour bus found with 64,000 ya ba pills in luggage hold

Night Safari in a stew over so-called “Menu from Hell”

Puts foot in mouth and bites off more than it can chew

Nopniwat Krailerg and Preeyanoot Jittawong

A suggestion that Chiang Mai Night Safari serve exotic animal meat at one of its restaurants as an added attraction for visitors drew an angry response from animal conservation groups throughout the world.

Within Thailand, Sangduen Chailert, the elephant conservationist who has been selected by TIME Magazine as an Asian Heroine, has spoken out, and representatives from Lanna Dog Rescue, Northern Wildlife Conservation Foundation, and the Thai Animal Guardian Association (AGA) gathered to protest in front of the Night Safari entrance at Tambon Mae Hia on November 21.

Previously, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had led almost 200 businessmen to visit the Night Safari on November 16 and Plodprasope Surasawadee, assistant minister of the PM’s Office and the director of the Night Safari suggested an idea to the media there should be a menu of exotic foods at one of the restaurants. For a mooted 4,500 baht per set, several kinds of animal such as zebra, crocodile and lion would be cooked and served there, although the meats would be imported legally from countries such as Kenya. Immediately the idea was broadcast it was condemned by animal conservationists around the world.

Sangduen, just before flying to Taipei to receive her Heroine of Asia award, said that she was contacted by the Born Free and Care for the Wild organizations and advised they had sent officers into Thailand to follow this issue. Born Free condemned Thailand, saying that this strange menu was from hell. For herself, she believed that the person who came up with this idea did not think it over carefully first, and has given Thailand a bad image around the world.

She said that the common perception overseas is that the Thai people agreed with this idea. It was important now that Thais make it very clear they are against the scheme too. Sangduen said that she will have a lot of explaining to do when she arrives in Taiwan to collect her award. “I am really disappointed in this idea,” she said.

Nikhom Puttha, coordinator of Northern Wildlife Conservation Foundation, said that this idea had already been canceled and it was good to learn that the Thai government listened to the opinion of Thai citizens. The government should think carefully if they would like to benefit from wildlife and should try and understand what methods are appropriate for business, conservation, researching and visiting.

It was also obvious from the thousands of protests world-wide, that the original concept was exceptionally poorly thought out. Websites lambasted the government decision and threatened future tourism to Thailand.

The coordinator of Northern Wildlife Conservation Foundation added that after seeing around the Night Safari he found the standard of the animal cages and enclosures to often be low. For example, the jaguar cage was too small and some kinds of animals need to have shade for sleeping during daytime. He saw sharp items in a cage that might lead to an accident. A crane that was hurt was ignored because staff did not notice. Nikhom said he was really concerned about the animals and said that Chiang Mai Night Safari should be treating its animals better.

With all this controversy, plus the double pricing policy financially disadvantaging foreigners and tourists, it would appear that not only has the Night Safari put its foot in its mouth, but may have shot itself in its foot as well.


Unlucky police box sees another fatal shooting

Saksit Meesubkwang

A Frenchman snatched a pistol from a policeman and shot and killed himself in a bizarre act of suicide in Muang Chiang Mai on November 21.

Pol Maj Gen Jiruj Promobol, Chiang Mai Provincial Police commander questioning monks from Wat Ram Pueng.

Phuping Police Station received a call reporting that a shooting had taken place in front of the Suthep police box on Irrigation Canal Rd. Police and forensic specialists rushed to the scene where they found the body of Martial (sic) Gaudout, 29, a French national, lying in front of the police box. There was a 9 mm automatic weapon in his right hand while the left hand was holding a knife. There was a gunshot wound to his head, from the base of his right ear and through the nape of his neck.

The pistol belonged to Pol. Sgt. Sawat Khamloon, duty policeman at the police box. He stated that Gaudout had sat on a chair beside the box without speaking. Sawat believed that the man was studying dharma at Wat Ram Pueng. He decided to inform the temple by calling from a phone box nearby and as he passed the seated man Gaudout snatched his pistol. The officer saw a knife in the man’s hand and could not take his weapon back, so he fled the scene along Irrigation Canal Road. He halted when he heard a gunshot and returned to the police box, where he found the corpse.

Phra Kru Phawana Wichai, the abbot of Wat Ram Pueng later arrived at the scene with a French monk. The abbot told police that Gaudout had stayed at the temple for a month to practice the dharma. Normally, he would not speak, and a French monk always communicated with him. Police have informed the French Consulate.

This police box has seen violent action on an earlier occasion, when two men also seized a gun from a policeman there and shot and killed the officer.


Drug Center examines the effectiveness of the fight against narcotics

Nopniwat Krailerg

Ya ba pills and drugs are still being smuggled across the border.

A detailed report on the war against drugs and its effectiveness during this year has been published by the Chiang Mai Drug Combating Center.

The report claims that 1,072 drug sellers were arrested, of which 40 were significant sellers and 738 came into the category of small sellers. Main drugs seized as evidence were ya ba pills, heroin, hashish, opium, ecstasy, and inhalant substances.

There were 48 cases of property seizur e adding up to about 117 million baht, and 15 extrajudicial killings. To get addicts off drugs, 532 people were sent on forced rehabilitation courses, while 1,058 went willingly and 83 were released without treatment.

Noting that drugs are still being imported, the report says that although there is close cooperation with Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son to guard the border, the problem is that the clandestine connections remain.

During October this year, temporary and permanent checkpoints were set up on 1,005 occasions, netting eight offenders, 11 suspects, and 15,415 ya ba pills. Blockades were set up at high risk areas 16 times, seizing 10 offenders and 201,131 ya ba pills, and resulted in three extrajudicial killings.

Police carried out 1,022 checks of entertainment places, karaoke pubs, games shops and internet cafes, and 1,214 checks of alcohol shops, resulting in the arrest of 500 offenders.


Rescue center set up to help casualties of cold weather

Saksit Meesubkwang

Mae Hong Son Governor Direk Konkleep has announced that the province is setting up a rescue center at city hall to help those who encounter hardship as temperatures plunge across the North.

Seven district chief officers have been assigned to extend urgent help to those affected by the cold weather, with 70,000 people estimated to be at potential risk. The governor has also arranged with the Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation to hand out blankets and sweaters to hill tribe people living in the highlands.

Dr Suwat Kittidilokul, head of Mae Hong Son Provincial Public Health Office said that hospitals and public health centers in all areas have been placed on alert for an influx of patients suffering from influenza and other afflictions due to the cold. The villagers themselves are also advised to take every precaution.

Head of the Mae Hong Son Meteorological Center, Thada Satha has announced that cold weather from China passing over North Thailand will bring thunder showers and gusting winds, followed by even colder weather.


Middle ring roads ease travel across the city

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Head of the Department of Rural Roads for Chiang Mai Apinan Porananon has issued a review of progress on the middle ring roads that began construction on October 14, 2003, saying that they are now complete and in service.

Chiang Mai middle ring roads are able to support traffic from both within and outside the city, enabling vehicles to cross the city without creating jams in the streets. They have been constructed on different levels with underpasses in some places so that traffic can continue to flow evenly through junctions.

The total budget for this project stood at 5,060 million baht, with the major elements comprising six lanes of road, two bridges crossing the Mae Ping River, a bridge crossing the northern railway, and different levels of route on the Chiang Mai-Lampang Road. Underpasses were built at eight junctions along the Chiang Mai-Mae Rim, Chiang Mai-Doi Saket, new Chiang Mai-San Kamphaeng, Chiang Mai-Lamphun and Chiang Mai-Hang Dong roads.

The ring roads came into full service on October 27 this year and an official opening ceremony will later be presided over by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.


320 million baht would be needed to reopen Phrae’s mothballed airport

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

A budget of 320 million baht is being mooted to reopen Phrae’s abandoned airport and allow the province to develop its tourism potential.

A meeting has been chaired by Phrae Deputy Governor Sukitja Karunanont to discuss the work that would need to be done. Also participating in the meeting, held at Wiang Koe Sai Convention Room in Phrae City Hall, was Chaisak Angsuwan, director general of the Aviation Department.

Discussions revolved around developing the airport buildings, enlarging the runway, and searching for airlines to fly into Phrae a minimum of three times a week. If the points of origin, and the number of flights and passengers are sufficient, the airport could have a very positive effect upon the tourism strategy for Phrae and consequently on the local economy.

Phrae’s airport is at Tambon Na Jak, in Muang district. It covers around 516 rai of land. The airport, which is under the Aviation Department, was opened in 1952. Flights ceased arriving there on January 30, 2004, because the 1,500 x 30 meter runway could not support the larger aircraft.

The administration has earmarked a budget of 320 million baht to purchase another 84 rai of land and erect more buildings. Of this, 150 million baht would be used for adding 300 meters to the runway length and 15 meters to the width, and 170 million baht for improving the parking aprons and the entrances and exits, and for extending the drainage and lighting systems. These improvements would be sufficient to allow the landing of a Boeing 737-400.


Dentists undergo training for treatment of elderly

The tooth fairy comes to CMU

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Dentists underwent special training in the techniques of making artificial teeth at the Faculty of Dentistry, Chiang Mai University, under a Royal Projects granted program. The training took place on November 21-22 and will be held again on 28-29 in Mae Hong Song.

Established by the Ministry of Public Health, the training is for dentists working at hospitals under the Ministries of Public Health, Interior and Defense, the Princess Mother’s Medical Volunteer Foundation, universities and the private sector. These organizations have programs to treat the dentition of elderly patients, with 80,000 persons due to have false teeth. The program began in October last year.

The CMU Faculty of Dentistry will make false teeth for 400 elders during 2006 and is responsible for training dentists in the eight far Northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Nan, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Lampang, Phrae and Mae Hong Son.

The first intake of Chiang Mai and Lamphun dentists was trained on October 27-28 and November 3-4. October 31-November 1 and November 7-8 saw Chiang Rai and Phayao dentists undergo training. November 10-11 and 17-18 saw training in Lampang, with Lampang and Phrae dentists. Mae Hong Son’s sessions were on November 21-22 and 28-29.


Mae Fang comes out top in national parks contest

Nopniwat Krailerg

Mae Fang National Park is considered the best national park for its service and tourism aspects, according to the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.

The department organized a nationwide contest to find the best national park of 2005. The competition was divided into categories, with Mae Fang in Fang district coming out on top for its service and tourism, and Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park in Phetchabun as first runner-up.

Mae Fang National Park covers areas of Fang, Mae Ai and Chai Prakan districts. The weather there is cool, and waterfalls and hot springs are popular features. The office of the park is located at Tambon Pong Nam Ron in Fang, and there are areas there for accommodation and camping plus mineral water bathing and a Thai massage service.

Interesting sites of the park are Tad Mok, Pong Nam Dang and Mae Tueb waterfalls, Doi Pha Hom Pok Mountain, Huay Pon Cave and Mae Jai Creek. The main tourist season is from October to February.


400 election candidates under threat of legal action over expenses

Will it be many happy returns?

Saksit Meesubkwang

The Election Commission of Chiang Mai is threatening 400 former candidates of the Local Administration Organizations (LAO) with legal action if they do not make an official report of their expenses before the deadline of November 28.

Election director Theerawat Sinthuboon said that polling took place in 121 areas on July 31, and the election committee confirmed the results on August 30. Under the election laws candidates for LAO membership or for local elections must report revenues and expenses accrued during the elections to the Chiang Mai Election Committee within 90 days. That period will expire on November 27.

Candidates who have not yet filed a report are urged to do so before the specified date. If they do not, the Election Commission is obliged by law to initiate legal proceedings. Out of a total 6,341 candidates, 400 have yet to file their returns.


Local travelers slow to use bus service

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai’s new buses are not quite the hit with the public that it was hoped they would be, and people seem reluctant to forsake their cars and take to the mass transport system.

The map showing the current routes around Chiang Mai.

The 26 municipal buses and 100 red minibuses of Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives and the buses of Baan Kwan Wiang have been running for more than 20 days on five routes since October 31, but the opinion of residents is that the system is not winning too many converts.

One reason is that most people do not know the details of the five routes and are a little confused about the service, owing to its newness. Most of the passengers are students attending Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, Montfort College and other schools along Jareunprated Road.

Pornchai Jitnavasathien, Chiang Mai deputy mayor, said when the bus service was launched that one reason he would like residents to take buses was to save fuel and fuel costs. This has fallen on deaf ears, it seems.

Fares for the municipal and Baan Kwan Wiang buses stands at 10 baht, and 15 baht for red minibuses. There is a five baht discount for students in uniform.

More information about routes 2 and 6 under responsibility of Chiang Mai municipality is available at 0 5325 9107-8 (office time) and hot line 0 5325 9199. Routes 4 and 8 are served by Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives at 0 5327 9291 and route 10 under Baan Kwan Wiang is at 0 5343 6474.


Last Post and red poppies to remember those who died in two World Wars

Preeyanoot Jittawong and Kittiyaporn Kanjam (Student Trainee MFLU)

Rev John Butt praised the courage and sacrifice of those who gave their lives for everyone.

On November 11 at 11 a.m. every year, the traditional Last Post and Reveille is played by a bugler at the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery, and homage is paid to the memory of all the soldiers and those who gave their lives in the two World Wars (and all wars).

Remembrance Day is held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as that was when the Armistice was signed in 1918 to end World War I (then thought to be the “war to end all wars”). Most participants in the ceremony wear a red poppy in their lapel, chosen as a reminder of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields in the Great War.

The Rev John Butt, director of the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture at Payap University, led the ceremony. First he praised the courage and sacrifice of those who gave their lives for everyone. Then he described World Wars I and II, and the suffering the conflicts brought to millions of people around the world.

“Death signifies what life means and the death of all those people represents the inspiration to all of us to live our life, because they died for us to continue living,” he said.

The Remembrance Day ceremony has been held in Chiang Mai for the past nine years. This year it was attended by more than 40 people, including Thai and Western residents of Chiang Mai.

Hon British Consul Jon Glendinning placed a red poppy on the memorial.


Lovers of Chiang Mai Association want info on projects

Saksit Meesubkwang

More dissenting voices are being raised about the Chiang Mai Night Safari in the wake of the prime minister’s visit on November 16.

Chaiphan Praphaswat, director of the Community Rights Institution and representative of the Khon Rak Muang Chiang Mai Association (people who love Chiang Mai Association) said that although the prime minister had said the safari will open soon, the association believes this project is not complete and is not ready to open.

The association did not meet with the prime minister during his visit, and believes he did not want to meet them. Further, the association had petitioned the governor in the middle of October to ask for clarification on all the Chiang Mai development projects because they were afraid that the projects will affect the environment and quality of life in Chiang Mai.

There was, however, no reply from the governor. The National Human Rights Committee, the Commission of Social Development and Human Stability, and the Senate have now been approached.

Chaiphan said that Chiang Mai residents have a right to information on the developments because the projects affect their lives. Further, the Thai people in general have a right to know more, because it is their tax money that is paying for the schemes.


Language tuition arranged for Night Safari staff

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

The Language Center at Chiang Mai University has given training to staff at the Night Safari in languages including Chinese, Japanese and French to ensure they will be able to communicate with foreign visitors. The training was carried out by native speakers.

This curriculum went further than language training and pronunciation, showing staff how to improve their personality, make-up and information presentation. The idea is for staff to be thorough all-rounders, adding to the charm of the experience for visitors.


More North Koreans found smuggled across the border

Chiang Rai the new smuggling hub?

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

More North Koreans have been found in Chiang Rai, having entered the country illegally via China, in the hopes of being deported to South Korea.

On November 20, Pol Lt Col Pramote Jornamon, duty inspector of Chiang Saen Police Station, together with a force of officers rounded up a group of 12 North Koreans who had been smuggled across the Mekong River into Chiang Rai. Several of the group of four men and eight women captured were from the same family.

The North Koreans had entered China and then traveled by boat along the Mekong to the Chiang Saen border. They had disembarked at Mom, in Laos, where agents had taken care of them and sent them over to Thailand. The immigrants thought that the Thai government would deport them, in which case they would request sanctuary in South Korea.

Chiang Rai has emerged as the hub of this illegal traffic, the first cases having been reported in 2003. The immigrants say they face persecution if they are returned to North Korea.

Chiang Rai MP Itidet Kaewlong has asked for a special investigation to be set up as a matter of urgency.


Police investigate longan scams

Saksit Meesubkwang and Preeyanoot Jittawong

Pol Gen Sereepisut Temeeyawet, inspector general of the Royal Thai Police (right), Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 (left) jointly give information about longan cheating.

More than 2,000 people have been caught cheating over the purchase of longans over the past 18 months, involving a staggering 380 million baht.

Royal Thai Police officers headed by inspector general Pol Gen Sereepisut Temeeyawet working in cooperation with inspector general Pol Lt Gen Kittichai Reunthip, deputy commissioner Pol Maj Gen Somwong Lipipan and deputy commissioner of divisions Pol Maj Gen Chatchawan Sooksomjit have investigated cases of cheating and corruption during last year and this.

In one notorious case, 11 government officials and a private company were caught colluding in price fixing. Other cases have included false declarations over registration of longan growers, under-supply of goods contracted, false accounting, and irregularities in quality control.

Between August 8 and 10 this year, 546 persons were prosecuted for cheating the Marketing Organization for Farmers out of 70,472,225 baht. On September 6, another 619 persons were prosecuted over scams that added up to 145,062,439 baht, and on November 4 officers investigated 116 longan purchasing points in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Lampang and Nan that involved 1,108 persons. Prominent figures involved include five local politicians, district chief officers and village headmen.

The total number of persons prosecuted stands at 2,273 and the value of money cheated is put at 380,176,353 baht.

Agriculturalists have also been involved in swindling, with 822 caught cheating with goods valued at 100 million baht. The volume of longan was put at 50,069 tons, detected at 151 purchase points, with the amount cheated estimated at 2,183,620,307 baht.

Police have named companies involved in the price rigging and other nefarious activities as Paw Heng Trade Company, 11 persons of the Bunthip Foods Product Company, Agro Product Network Company, TD International Company, Phisit Industry Company and Chee Ter Partnership. These companies will be called for investigation in Bangkok in December.


Fah Ham TAO opens new office with fanfare

Nopniwat Krailerg

Yaowapha Wongsawat (middle), deputy leader of Thai Rak Thai Party and PM’s consultant, presided over the ceremony and pushed the button to open Fah Ham Tambon Administration Organization Office with Thongchai Wongrianthong, Chiang Mai deputy governor (second from right), Boonlert Buranupakorn, the mayor (left), and Preecha Worakul (right).

Fah Ham Tambon Administration Organization held an opening ceremony for its new offices on November 5, the building having cost more than 9.9 million baht.

Yaowapha Wongsawat, deputy leader of the Thai Rak Thai Party and the prime minister’s consultant, along with Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong, and Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor, presided over the ceremony.

Preecha Worakul, president of the Fah Ham Tambol Administration Organization, led the honored guests, many from the tambon, in the celebrations

Fah Ham TAO, Muang district, Chiang Mai was promoted from Tambon Fah Ham Council in 1995, and its areas of responsibility include the economy, social services, education, local culture, basic structure, water resources, public health, environment, tourism, and administration.

Over the past decade, Fah Ham TAO has developed the area under its responsibility to have water, lights, and good roads. Income tax is growing along with incomes and currently totals more than 5 million baht per year. In 2005, the TAO will collect about 5,145,289.97 baht (give or take a satang or two), support funding will come from the government to the tune of 2,557,929 baht, and other taxes will total 12,130,670 baht. In all, the total income is 19,833,885.71 baht.

Fah Ham TAO Office building used the entire 9,905,000 baht budget in the construction process. The building is reinforced concrete. There are three floors, 16.50 meters in width, 26 meters in length, and 11.30 meters in height, and the area covers more than 1,115 square meters. There are more than 60 staff members.

Fah Ham Tambon Administration Organization Office.


Larger budget is sought by the municipality to resolve garbage problem

Saksit Meesubkwang

Local administration organizations’ representatives share opinions on how to eliminate garbage.

Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization organized a seminar so that opinions on garbage disposal, long an area of contention, could be aired.

About 200 people including local administration organization representatives attended the seminar which took place on November 11 at Chiang Mai Phu Kham Hotel.

Kanapon Pinkaew, deputy chief executive of Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization, said that committees were set up to systemically solve the garbage problem in 1998, and the Ministry of Science Technology and Environment had at that time also conducted a special program. Subsequently, Chiang Mai province and local administration organizations had signed an MOU with the ministry in line with the policy of the program.

Garbage disposal is separated into three zones. In the north zone, Wiang Fang municipality works in coordination with three local municipalities and 17 tambons in Fang, Mae Ai and Chai Prakan districts. In the central zone, Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization is responsible for five municipalities and 31 tambon administrative organizations in Doi Saket, San Sai and San Kamphaeng districts and Mae On sub-district. In the south zone, Chiang Mai municipality is taking care of six tambon municipalities in Muang, Hang Dong and San Pa Tong districts and Doi Lo sub-district.

The Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization has studied appropriate garbage disposal methods in each area to see how they affect the environment and is now seeking a budget of 465 million baht to apply the program.

The deputy chief executive said that the Pollution Control Department had determined methods and measures as to how to manage the environmental conservation aspect, and decided that a compost factory would be established to deal with these problems.


Flower festival dates set for Feb 3-5

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Kritsadaporn Siampakdi headed a meeting at city hall to begin the arrangements for the 30th Flower Festival 2006.

The usual dates for the festival are the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of February, and this coming year the event falls on February 3-5. Main activities include a flower exhibition and competition, flower parade, a Kad Mua or market at a garden beside the Chiang Mai governor’s residence, a Miss Flower contest and a Miss International Flower contest at Suan Buak Had Public Park, the festival photo contest, a Chiang Mai OTOP display, a music performance at the public park, and a floral route.

The opening ceremony will be held on February 4, to be presided over by Governor Suwat Tantipat.


Thailand scores highly in Conde Nast magazine reader survey

Bangkok and Phuket gain top Asian ratings

Saksit Meesubkwang

A reader survey by Conde Nast Traveler, the US leading travel magazine, has placed Bangkok as the best Asian city and Phuket as the best Asian island. Chiang Mai was rated fifth amongst the Asian cities, listed after Hong Kong, Singapore and Kyoto.

Amongst the favorite resorts in Asia, the Four Seasons Chiang Mai was rated third, with two resorts in Bali taking the top two places.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat said that the new attractions being built, such as the Night Safari, are going to raise the profile of the province in the future.

Bangkok came out above Hong Kong and Singapore as a city people most wanted to visit, while Phuket took the top spot amongst the Asian islands, above Bali and Mauritius. Thailand is very much a world favorite destination, said the governor.

The results were compiled from returns from 28,000 readers who love traveling and have considerable touring experience in different countries in Asia.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand said that of the 13.5 million tourists who visited the North of Thailand, 10 million were Thais. On average, visitors stay in the North for two and a half days. The favorite cities are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phitsanulok.


Police collecting ‘dirty books’ again

Saksit Meesubkwang

Pol Lt Gen Phantuwat Srilalai, deputy commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 (right) and Pol Maj Gen Jiruj Promobol, Chiang Mai Provincial Police commander (second right) check obscene books and CDs.

Eight business owners have been arrested for selling obscene books and CDs and a large quantity of lewd material was seized as evidence during raids in central Chiang Mai.

Pol Maj Gen Jiruj Promobol, Chiang Mai Provincial Police commander, said the crackdown on pornography had been ordered by the commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5. Along with the eight offenders, a total of 30,956 pornographic CDs, 146 books and three computers were seized.

A police spokesman said that the bureau was following the government’s policy of eliminating pornography. Will they have more success than they have had with drugs and human trafficking?


Gold thief stars on video camera

Saksit Meesubkwang

A photo taken from surveillance camera footage shows the thief (on top) crossing the showcase to cut camera wires and take gold ornaments.

An audacious robber who jumped on the counter of a gold shop to cut the wires of a surveillance camera before fleeing with gold worth more than 500,000 baht still managed to leave his image on tape.

The robbery took place at the Krungthep Yaowarat gold shop in Tesco Lotus Khamthiang Market branch on November 15. Police officers who rushed to the scene found five frightened saleswomen in the shop. The manager, 26 year old Phanee Suthipongsuwan, said that she was serving a customer when the robber walked in. She described him as being about 27-30 years old and 170 centimeters tall. He wore a cap, gray shirt and white pants, and had a plaster on his left cheek.

The robber had a knife, and he leapt onto the counter to cut the leads of the surveillance camera before smashing a glass cabinet and snatching 22 gold bracelets worth in total more than 500,000 baht.

He escaped down the escalator. Plainclothes security guard Jirawat Somdam, 23, said he tried to stop the fleeing man but the robber chopped at his left hand with the knife. Wilaiwan Saenjaban was on the escalator in the criminal’s way, and was knocked down. Police officers sent the two injured people to the hospital.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, viewed pictures taken by surveillance cameras. He said it would not take long to find the criminal because he left so much evidence along with video footage, and he is probably still within the vicinity.


Tambon chief officer arrested on drug charges

Saksit Meesubkwang

A Mae Hong Son tambon chief officer has been arrested on drug charges, but insists he is innocent.

Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 arrest tambon chief officer Bunyong or Kamnan Jit Lawka, 48, suspected of drug dealing.

A court order was issued on November 19 for the arrest of Kamnan Jit Lawka, 48, of Tambon Huay Pha in Muang, Mae Hong Son. A group of villagers surrounded the arresting officers and Serm Lawka, chairman of Mae Hong Son PAO assembly, requesting them not to take the chief officer. The officers said they were carrying out their duty, and Kamnan Jit, also known as Bunyong, was taken for investigation to the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 office in Chiang Mai.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, has been heading investigations. He said police have been pursuing Bunyong for a long time, believing him to be involved with a major drug dealing gang and to be part of a network of the Maha Ja and Maha Sang gangs. Investigation of the network had recently uncovered a haul of 23 kilograms of heroin.

The commissioner also revealed that Bunyong is believed to be involved in the Thongdee Tongpe murder. With enough evidence now collected police had applied for an arrest warrant.

Bunyong has denied all charges and declared that he has been framed. He said that he has been an honest cattle trader for more than 30 years. Bunyong has on a previous occasion resigned from his post as tambon chief officer when drugs charges surfaced, but took up the position again when he was declared innocent. Citizens are following the latest development with interest.


More surveillance cameras to fight crime and traffic jams

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said that the municipality has installed more surveillance cameras at various points along roads and intersections. Another 20 have just been installed, adding to the existing 40, in an attempt to prevent crime and help reduce traffic problems.

The cameras have been developed to link with a VDO conference system so that residents can inform the authorities as a crime is being committed or an accident happening, and officers can then be dispatched to immediately deal with the problem, “rushing to the scene” as is their wont.


ONCB chief praises work of Police Bureau Region 5

Nopniwat Krailerg

The secretary general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board has praised the work of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, saying that drug suppression in the region is proceeding well.

Pol Lt Gen Kritsana Pol-Anan, having inspected the bureau’s initiatives, said that the checkpoints that had been set up were especially effective. The amount of drugs being smuggled in from neighboring countries had as a result decreased.

Kritsana said that one of the main concerns now in the region is that many temptations exist for youngsters to try drugs, and that close family support is one of the main ways of preventing youth from going astray.

Kritsana said that the work of Region 5 was a good example for other regions to follow.


Bomb explodes outside the offices of Manager newspaper

Saksit Meesubkwang

A bomb exploded outside the Chiang Mai offices of Manager newspaper on November 18, two hours after the broadcast of a program that criticized the government.

The explosion happened 20 meters away from the office as staff was clearing away after the broadcast. Flying debris hit nearby vehicles but no one was hurt and no serious damage was reported.

Police rushed to the scene 30 minutes later and spoke to a witness who said he was talking with friends nearby when he heard the explosion and saw items being hurled about 10 meters. Turning towards the sound he saw white smoke and pieces of plastic, which may have been used to wrap the bomb.

Police say the device was possibly a homemade grenade set off with the intent of acting as a threat to the Manager newspaper, or that it might have been a giant firecracker of the kind used during the Loy Krathong festival. Forensic officers are examining the remnants.

Initially, the controversial Muang Thai Rai Sapda program was broadcast on Channel 9 by Sondhi Limthongkul and Sarocha Porn-Udomsak, but later it was ordered to be withdrawn because it criticized the government. Subsequently it has been organized as mobile program and broadcast through cable TV and the internet. It is believed that cable TV channels which broadcast this program face the threat of closure.


Tour bus found with 64,000 ya ba pills in luggage hold

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Police have seized a drug dealer who was using the bus service to transport 64,000 ya ba pills to Bangkok.

Nan Provincial Police arrested Supaphon Singhaphan, 36, a resident of Chanthaburi, with 64,000 ya ba pills found hidden in deodorant cans. The five packets were covered with plastic and put in a black-grey suitcase in the baggage hold of a Bangkok-bound bus. Also in the case was 7,700 baht in cash, a mobile phone, and a gold necklace.

Police had been informed that a man named only as Ohm, and who was a dealer in ya ba, would be driving a pickup which he would park near the bus, at the start of its Nan-Bangkok route. He would be carrying a medium black-grey suitcase which he would place in the luggage hold. With this information, officers went to inspect the bus but it had already left the bus station.

The officers radioed ahead to inform Huay Nam Oun check point, in Viang Sa district, to intercept the bus. The vehicle was stopped and searched at 8 p.m., but nobody admitted to being the owner of the suitcase. All the passengers were questioned but Supaphon behaved suspiciously. However, police produced a video tape from the Tesco Lotus supercenter showing Supaphon buying five yellow deodorant cans that matched the evidence.

Supaphon confessed that he had acted as ya ba courier for Yongsin (or Ohm) Chansuk and Punyaphat (or Thep) Pongphalinphisarn on two occasions, for which he received a fee of 30,000 each time.

Nan Governor Prinya Panthong said that the imminent festival season could give dealers more opportunities to transport drugs, as they assume police will be too busy elsewhere to pay much attention to them.



Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
189/22 Moo 5, T. Sansai Noi, A. Sansai, Chiang Mai 50210
THAILAND
Tel. 053 852 557, Fax. 053 014 195
Editor: 087 184 8508
E-mail: [email protected]
www.chiangmai-mail.com
Administration: [email protected]
Website & Newsletter Advertising: [email protected]

Copyright © 2004 Chiangmai Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Advertisement