Vol. V No. 2 - Saturday January 7 - January 13, 2006
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by Saichon Paewsoongnern, assisted by Teeraphon Deepet.
 

 


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

New Year Festival results in 12 fatalities

Security main issue during Thai-Burma border conference

Children who do not hold Thai nationality can carry on studying

Burma’s ethnic groups draft their own constitution

Chiang Mai police installs surveillance cameras on 5 main roads to make trust for foreign tourists

Minister meets villagers displaced by Mae Maw power project

Malaysia’s Ministry of Wildlife visits Mae Sa Elephant Camp

Another 100 minibuses planned for loss-making mass transit system

Mega projects benefit only a small number of rich people, academic says

Kenya nulls contract to supply 175 wild animals to Night Safari

Local Thai journalists critical of Chiang Mai’s many failed projects

A revamp will transform Chiang Mai’s 2,000 phone booths

Village wins award for measures to keep the air clean

Human Rights Commissioner checks out garbage plant grievances

PM Thaksin flies North to distribute blankets and clothing to residents at risk from cold

Burmese armies open fire on Karen Kaya base on Christmas Day

Prison officer caught smuggling ya ba into jail

14 year old girl caught selling ya ba from city hotel

Lonely Swiss man commits suicide at Christmas

All clear in search of Central Prison

Third gold shop robbed in Chiang Mai

Sugar prices capped and stores will be monitored

Thai elephants bring exported illegally

Bird flu equipment presented by PAO

Huge drug store discovered in Burma waiting for transfer across the border

New Year Festival results in 12 fatalities

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai’s road toll over the New Year Festival was the second highest in Thailand, with 12 deaths, one less than Nakhon Ratchasima. The Chiang Mai Governor immediately claimed that traffic rules were strictly adhered to.

Accidents in Chiang Mai during the New Year Festival.

The Road Traffic Accident Prevention and Mitigation Operation Center of Chiang Mai has summarized the deaths and injuries, as a result from traffic-related accidents, between December 29, 2005, to midnight of January 1, 2006, as following: 12 deaths, of which 11 are male and 1 female; 111 injured, of which 87 are male and 24 female. There were 97 accidents, mostly occurring in the outer area, caused by drunk driving and deaths and injuries came from the fact that many were not wearing helmets.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat had tightened the rules and told the district administration to not organize New Year celebrating fairs in areas nearby main roads, as most of the accidents used to happen on main roads, such as in Fang district where five people died when a pick-up truck ran into the crowd.

On the city’s main routes, check points looked for drunk drivers, to ensure the safety for tourists who travel to Chiang Mai.


Security main issue during Thai-Burma border conference

Saksit Meesubkwang

Border issues, particularly the matter of security during the pending visit of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit this month, were very much to the fore during the Thai-Burmese Conference (TBC) which was held at Tambon Mae Sai municipality office in Chiang Rai on December 29.

The meeting, which took place only 2 kilometers away from the border, was headed by Col Somsak Nilbunjerd-kul, president of Thai TBC and commissioner of the 3rd Calvary Regiment of Pha Muang Task Force. Also participating were Chalermwut Rakkhatiwong, Mae Sai district chief officer’s assistant, Pol Col Jetsada Yaisoon, superintendent of Mae Sai
Immigration and Choochai Udompode, head of Mae Sai Customhouse. Almost 20 Burmese officials, headed by Lt Col Teng Tey, commissioner of Burmese special task force 359 and president of the Burmese TBC, joined the conference.

Thailand asked Burma to be particularly vigilant regarding the border areas at Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai during January, when Her Majesty Queen Sirikit will visit the border area.

Thai officials also brought up the subject of a building being constructed on the Burmese side near the second bridge at Baan Pak Hee,
in Mae Sai. Thailand has helped in the construction process and later the Burmese customhouse will be responsible for it. Sub Lt Prapat Limpraphan, assistant of the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs said the ministry would like both countries to jointly work at the Thai-Burmese border as soon as possible. Thailand recommends opening the second bridge on January 21, a recommendation that Burma accepted.

The Burmese side was
requested not to let an event like the one that took place on November 25 happen again. The Burmese army had bulldozed a route through a kilometer of land at Doi Lang in Mae Ai, Chiang Mai. Owing to that action, there is now disagreement as to which side the land belongs. If any movement is needed, the Burmese should inform Thailand before taking any action.

The Burmese said that Thailand had invaded its side by setting up 32 bases on an area there. Thailand replied that the area in Doi Lang had already been clarified several times and confirmed those bases were on Thai soil. The Thais added that at a conference held between September 5-7, 2001, organized in Chonburi, both sides agreed to maintain forces at that area, and if either side wanted to withdraw their forces it had to be done by informing the commissioners of both sides. Each country was able to patrol but it had to be only in its own area to prevent misunderstanding.

Burma claimed that Thai soldiers shot four residents on November 16 in an area north of Fang, Chiang Mai. On December 7, SURA troops attacked the Burmese army at Baan Nam Pong, injuring 11 officers who had to be sent to Hin Tak Hospital in Mae Fa Luang, Chiang Rai. Four of them had subsequently died. The Burmese believed Thailand supported the troop carrying out the assault, but the Thais denied any involvement in either of the two cases.


Children who do not hold Thai nationality can carry on studying

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Mae Hong Son Area 1 Education Office has declared that children who do not hold Thai nationality can study until they graduate at university level.

Director of the office Koson Prakham said that the Ministry of Education allows the children to study from elementary level to university. There are 3,429 children in Mae Hong Son who do not have Thai nationality and they are able to study the same in general as Thai children.

The Children and Community Development Network Center in Sop Moei said it will mark National Children’s Day on January 6-8. Chil-dren’s problems will be discussed and there will be performances by hill tribe singers.


Burma’s ethnic groups draft their own constitution

Saksit Meesubkwang

Ethnic groups in Burma have drafted their own constitution to protect the rights of the minorities but as the Burmese government is currently drafting a new constitution of its own there are doubts from many quarters that the ethnic document will be respected.

A reliable source from the border reported on December 22 that in the beginning of December many of Burma’s ethnic groups had cooperated in drafting a new constitution based on the opinions and needs of each side, giving equal rights to the ethnic groups within the country.

Written by the FCDCC (Federal Constitution Draft Coordinating Committee), an organization under the control of the ENC (Ethnic National Council), the draft has totally 28 pages, 14 chapters, and 189 sections. It is the first constitution drafted by the ENC and has no relation to the constitution currently being drafted by the Burmese national assembly.

The ethnic draft is based on eight principles agreed at a conference during the previous January, the most contentious of them, as far as the authorities are concerned, likely to be that sovereignty must come from the citizens, that every race has equal rights, and that the political system must be democratic.

The draft also states that no serving military officer can participate in a political party and cannot apply for a political position. Further, the army and the National Intelligence Agency must come under civilian control.

The FCDCC will meet again this month to consider the feedback.


Chiang Mai police installs surveillance cameras on 5 main roads to make trust for foreign tourists

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai police installs surveillance cameras to reassure tourists in New Year occasion reducing crime and resolving traffic jam problem also. The installation performed at 5 main roads which have congested foreign tourists.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Jiruj Promobol, Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police, said that now Chiang Mai Provincial Police rushing installing surveillance cameras along the roads in Chiang Mai municipality area and bus terminal which will install at 5 important point of Chiang Mai first. After that the police will expand installation to cover over the province. Because installing surveillance camera is permanent to help making trust to tourists who visit Chiang Mai. It is a secure measure that Chiang Mai police will do for tourists because in preceding period there were many criminal problems happened in the area often with tourists especially with foreigners. It damaged the images of Thailand and affected to tourism industry also.

The first points that will be installed are the main roads that have congested tourists such as Loy Kroh road, Ratchadamnern Road,
Moon Muang Road, and Ratchawithee Road which police could watch over and take care of tourists and citizen better and more effective. Further more police could rush to the scene to stop the crime or follow the offender easily. It will help reduce the criminal problem and traffic jam problem also.


Minister meets villagers displaced by Mae Maw power project

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Yongyut Tiyapairat, Minister of Natural Resources
and Environment, has visited Lampang to check the progress of the relocation of four villages affected by the Mae Maw power plant.

Residents are being moved to a new locality according to a cabinet resolution in 2004, in which the government will pay for the costs of removal and provision of new housing, but will not pay any compensation. The removal has not yet been carried out because there is a problem with land allocation. The budget for building the houses and public utilities under the National Housing Authority is projected at more than 600 million baht.

Yongyut said that from meeting and talking with the villagers, almost all of them agree with the solution. There will be 493 immigrant families, and the costs are now being worked out. The villagers will build the houses themselves within the agreed budget, or will be allowed to hire others to do so. Regarding land allocation, there will be a drawing of lots for each village and each house that should satisfy everybody.

The minister said that he will order his staff to coordinate with the province and the Ministry of Interior about public utilities building, electric systems, roads, and water supply.


Malaysia’s Ministry of Wildlife visits Mae Sa Elephant Camp

Saksit Meesubkwang

Elephant specialists from Malaysia visited Mae Sa
Elephant camp in Mae Rim district, Chiangmai, where the knowledge and expertise of the keepers and the mahouts of Mae Sa make it an ideal school to learn how to manage elephants in captivity.

The officials from Luala Kanda Wildlife Conservation Centre in Pahang, Malaysia plan to train 1,400 wild elephants in an effort to attract tourists. Salman Bin Saman, Asst. Director of the National and Peninsular Park, Malaysia, said that 600 sq. km. had been set aside for the conservation of many forms of wildlife, of which elephants would be the principal attraction.

Anchalee Kalmapijit, Director of Mae Sa Elephant Camp, said that many foreign zoos had visited the camp to study selective breeding methods and artificial insemination (AI) techniques, in which his staff had unrivalled expertise. This breeding program would help to increase the elephant population in Thailand which had fallen to approximately 2,000 animals.

There are currently 12 female elephants that have bred successfully using AI. The most recent arrival was born to Pang Noi 2, weighing in at a whopping 90 KG, and 95 cm tall. Both mother and calf are doing well.


Another 100 minibuses planned for loss-making mass transit system

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Municipality will this year spend 150 million baht buying another 100 minibuses for its loss-making public transport system, in the belief that with a better service the number of passengers could rise by 50 percent.

Mayor Boonlert Buranu-pakorn said that minibuses started running along five routes from October 31, but the service has been losing money because of a lack of passengers. With only 26 minibuses in service, he said, the system is unable to provide a convenient means oftransportation. Passengers have to wait more than 15 minutes for a bus, which is far too long, and there are not enough routes. Consequently, residents who have cars are reluctant to switch to the public service.

Route adjustments are planned along with the proposal to buy another 100 minibuses, an investment that will add up to about 150 million baht.


Mega projects benefit only a small number of rich people, academic says

Saksit Meesubkwang

Mega projects planned at enormous expense for Chiang Mai do little to help the local people and will only bring them unskilled work, instead of enhancing the quality of their lives, a respected academic told a seminar audience.

Wildlife Fund Thailand in cooperation with the Chiang Mai Lovers Association held the seminar on December 26, under the theme “Night Safari and Chiang Mai Development” at the Thong Kwow Room in Chiang Mai University.

The seminar topic “Night Safari and Chiang Mai Development” was interested from 500 people in all type of career at Chiang Mai University

Five hundred people including academicians, writers, students and local residents took part in the seminar.

Nithi Iawsriwong, a Midnight University lecturer, gave a talk in which he said that the big recognized development projects in Chiang Mai, totaling 14 that are known of and with several other unidentified projects mooted, are considered important and will require huge investment, but that the people of Chiang Mai have not even been consulted about them.

Even the Senate or the House of Representatives rarely know anything about the projects until they are announced as a commitment, for the decisions are made within the administration. Interest has now been aroused as to how this situation can have arisen, and subcommittees are asking for information.

The projects are designed to increase tourism but the government has forgotten to consider that quality of life of the local inhabitants is also important. Chiang Mai residents can see investments of tens of millions of baht going into these mega projects, but they are not going to bring any benefits to the local people beyond the provision of unskilled jobs. The benefits instead will be in the form of profits for a small number of business people.

“Tourism businesses can make a profit easily because the government invests in tourism promotion. Projects such as the Night Safari use tax revenues but they benefit only a small group, making a profit only for rich people,” Nithi said.

Some of the projects also use up local natural resources, said Nithi, such as drawing water from artesian wells and thereby affecting the ground water level, which has repercussions on local agriculture.


Kenya nulls contract to supply 175 wild animals to Night Safari

Inappropriate conditions for care of wildlife cited for decision

Nopniwat Krailerg

Kenya has vetoed a contract to supply animals to Chiang Mai Night Safari, following pressure from its own citizens and from non-governmental organizations that conditions at the Safari are inappropriate for African wild animals.

Animal display zones in Chiang Mai Night Safari.

The high court of Nairobi ruled that the contract between Thailand and Kenya was just for wildlife research and development, and not for transferring the animals to Thailand, and that it was therefore null. The decision followed an embargo on the transfer of 175 animals that had initially been intended as a New Year gift to the Night Safari.

Yongyut Tiyapairat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said that the Thai government would not intrude upon Kenya’s domestic affairs and that what happened next was a matter for the Kenyan government to decide.

Supoj Methapiwat, director of the animal management office, said that the decision not to send the animals to Chiang Mai would not greatly affect the Night Safari. Of the species anticipated from Kenya, 25 can be obtained from elsewhere as they include animals such as the giraffe and hippopotamus. The agreement between the two countries was for more animals to add to the attraction of the Safari, said Supoj.

Currently there are 900 animals of 90 kinds on display, all of them from zoos in Thailand. Additionally there are plans to import animals such as the kangaroo and wallaby from Australia during the next two months.


Local Thai journalists critical of Chiang Mai’s many failed projects

Rate the debacles in a Top 10 list

Saksit Meesubkwang

Chiang Mai journalists have released a list of the 10 headline items that have done least to enhance the province’s image and the reputation of its officials. They have also awarded nicknames that will be a source of great discomfort to the recipients.

Journalists discussing the Top 10.

The list was devised during a meeting of senior media representatives at The Gallery in Muang Chiang Mai, at the end of December. Amongst those present were journalists from Thai News, Siam Rath, Manager, Polamuang Nue, Pak Nue, Helping Hands radio station, FM 100 MHz and others including Insom Panyasopha, the president of North Newspaper Association of Thailand, Surachai Liew-sawadipong, director of Polamuang Nue and Amnat Jongyodying, editor of Pak Nue.

Number one in the Top 10 is the story of the floods. The most damaging floods in the past 30 years revealed many shortcomings in the Chiang Mai administration, including flood control works to the Mae Ping River that had been ignored for far too long until it was too late, delays in upgrading the city drainage, and lack of an early warning system for the impending disaster.

The story that rated second only to the floods concerned the scandal over longan prices, a situation that has continually reoccurred and which has resulted in some arrests of small fry, but clearly not of the larger figures manipulating from behind the scenes.

The Night Safari ranked at number three. In conceptual terms this seemed like a perfect project, approved by the cabinet as a way of promoting tourism and bringing more income into the province. However the construction process had not gone according to plan and the project parameters were continually being changed. Local residents were excluded and often could not even access information. Finally, notoriety surfaced at home and abroad when a suggestion was made that the Safari would have a “Predator” restaurant specializing in an exotic animals menu, and the odd dog.

Number four was the on going garbage story, with waste disposal supposed to have been resolved yet the lingering bad aroma persisted over the entire year. The process reflects the inefficient management of the local organizations, especially Chiang Mai municipality, which had hoped to establish a garbage disposal plant in conjunction with a British company.

The sluggishly moving tunnel construction project at Khuang Singh and San Dek intersections and the underground electricity cable installation at Thapae Road rated number five in the year’s news stories. Both intersections have been faced with insufficient budgeting. A private company has been contracted to carry out part of the works but these are not the main or primary works.

Number six on the list is Chiang Mai’s mass transport system, promised for the past 10 years but still inefficient when it did arrive. The buses are running on routes that are not useful for residents, so consequently the system is under-utilized. The municipality mean-while loses money every day.

The ludicrous ‘wedding’ of the two pandas rated number seven. These two goodwill ambassadors between Thailand and China were put through a wedding ceremony that even though the organizers stopped short of calling it a wedding was still in every other respect an auspicious ceremony designed for humans. In the quest for publicity it was vulgar and demeaning.

Number eight was the ID card counterfeiting case at Mae Tang district, which revealed that corruption is still rife amongst officialdom despite the much publicized government policy to eliminate it. The arrest of alien laborers in Chiang Rai uncovered systematic abuse of official powers by community leaders, government officials and even the district chief officer. Many people believe that similar cases exist in many other areas too. The story of taking away Thai nationality from various Mae Ai citizens and then granting it back was also ranked alongside the ID story, reflecting how people had to fight for their rights, and that even when they had succeeded they still had to battle officialdom.

Unsolved serious crime added up to ninth place on the top ten list. During 2005 there were many examples in Chiang Mai of major cases that remain unresolved by the police, or which had taken too long to solve, causing residents to question the security of their lives and property. One example was the murder of a young girl by strangulation and the hiding of her body. Another was the audacious robbery at Yaowarat gold shop
in Tesco Lotus Khamtiang Market branch, which took place in broad daylight and in view of security cameras, yet the thief is still at large.

Number 10 on the Top 10 is the disfiguring of Chiang Mai by large advertising hoardings. Many had appeared on the footpath near the Ping River and in the center of the city. There is a large hoarding in front of Wat Jed Yod and another on top of a Chiang Mai municipality carpark that is an ugly addition to the skyline.


A revamp will transform Chiang Mai’s 2,000 phone booths

Nopniwat Krailerg

Public telephone booth in the old pattern served all the citizens in nowadays in Chiang Mai Municipality area.

Chiang Mai’s 2,000 public telephone booths are to undergo a makeover during the next three months, following the signing of an agreement by Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn and Damnern Boonyasophat, customer service manager of TOT Corporation Public Company Limited.

The phone boxes, which according to the mayor are currently regarded by residents and tourists alike as one of the least attractive things about the city, will become a standardized design appropriate to their surroundings.

This will be the first time such a project has been carried out with Thailand’s telephone boxes.


Village wins award for measures to keep the air clean

Kittiyaporn Kanjam and Pinutda Suwanchaisri (student trainees MFLU)

Results of the judging of the clean air contest organized by the Social Research Institute at Chiang Mai University were announced on December 27 at CMU’s Sa Ra Son Thed Convention Room.

The Moo Ban Rak Arkad Dee contest, or “villages love good air” was designed to raise the profile of the air pollution problem in Chiang Mai and Lamphun and encourage residents to understand they can make a contribution to keeping the air clean.

The contest period was November 6 to 30 with the results announced on De-cember 27. Assoc Prof Dr Phairote Wiriyajaree, vice president of CMU was chairman of the committee that consisted of representatives from both the government and private sectors and totaled more than 15 persons. Judging criteria was based on information from health volunteers in each village, and a survey by the committee.

Champion was Ban Tha Kway, in Tambon Nong Tong, Hang Dong. The village receives 10,000 baht and a plaque sponsored by the Pollution Control Department. The presentation ceremony will be held on January 20 at Tha Phae Gate.


Human Rights Commissioner checks out garbage plant grievances

Nopniwat Krailerg

The National Human Rights Commissioner has visited Papong Doi Saket to gather information and opinions in relation to the garbage disposal plant that Chiang Mai PAO wants to build there but where local opposition has halted the project.

Plans for the project are now being adjusted, with 465 million baht budgeted for 113 rai of land at Baan Pa Tueng Noi, at Tambon Papong in Doi Saket.

Commissioner Surasee Kosonnawin found that most villagers disagreed with the project and they had not been given full information on what the likely effects of the garbage plant would be.

A permit for the project was originally issued in 2001. The project was then put on hold by the Chiang Mai governor, who ordered a survey and directed that a new site be found. Later, in 2003, the plant was reconsidered but at Baan Papong 139 villagers along with around 2,000 residents of seven other villages in the area objected.


PM Thaksin flies North to distribute blankets and clothing to residents at risk from cold

Nopniwat Krailerg

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra traveled by helicopter to Chai Pra Karn district on December 31 to present a donation of blankets and warm clothing to villagers who are at risk from the cold weather.

Accompanying the prime minister were Interior Minister Kongsak Wanthana and his deputy Sermsak Pongpanit, and Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat with his deputy Kongeak wilad Rujiwttanapong.

More than 5,000 villagers gathered to accept the donation. The prime minister told them that when he attended the mobile cabinet meeting in Sukhothai the previous week, he felt the weather there to be cold and he thought then about the people of the North, where the weather is even colder.

The blankets and clothing handed out had been collected in cooperation with the Provincial Office. Prime Minister Thaksin distributed 2,000 overcoats for senior citizens, 100 items of clothing for students, and 5,000 blankets for district representatives who included the Village Headman Association of Chai Pra Karn, Fang, Mae Ai, and Chiang Dao
district.


Burmese armies open fire on Karen Kaya base on Christmas Day

Saksit Meesubkwang

A Karen Kaya Base, near the villages of Baan Mae Suay Oo and Baan Yam Chai Daen, Tambon Pha Bong in Muang, Mae Hong Son, came under attack from mortar and machine gun fire. The attack, mounted by Burmese soldiers of 94th Battalion, 55th Light Infantry, located near the Thai Border lasted 10 minutes and was heard in Mae Hong Son where the Deputy P.M., Wissanu Krea-Ngam was opening the Red Cross Winter Fair.

Maj. Gen. Bee Too, Commissioner of Karen Kaya, (KNPP) said that the Burmese attack had caused little damage to his base and was probably intended to demoralise his troops who were celebrating Christmas, or as a diversionary attack whilst the Burmese Army delivered supplies to its border soldiers.

He went on to say that Burmese soldiers in association with Red Star Troop had recently burnt out 93 households in the Maw Chee district, rendering 1000 KNPP homeless. This took place after Lt. Col. Teng Seng 1st Sec. Gen. of the Burmese S.P.D.C. visited Loy Kaw, capital city of Kaya State and announced that he intended suppressing minor groups in the area, especially those located near the Thai border.

The leader of the Karen Kaya added that to perform this action the Burmese soldiers had joined with both the Red Star Troop and the Karenni National Solidarity Organisation, (KNSO) to suppress 48 target villages to the west of Flu So district in the Loy Kaw near the border of Kaya State. During this suppressive action almost 20 Karen Kaya had been killed including both women and children.


Prison officer caught smuggling ya ba into jail

Nopniwat Krailerg

An officer of the Corrections Department in Lamphun has been caught smuggling ya ba pills that police say he sold to the prisoners.

Narcotics control officers had been keeping a red Isuzu pickup truck with Lamphun license plates under close observation for several hours after a tip-off that drugs were being transferred to a Corrections Department vehicle at Kham Thieng Market in Chiang Mai, where other goods for the prison were being collected.

When the owner of the pickup arrived the officers surrounded him. He was identified as Jeeraphan Pharasut, 53, a Corrections officer in Lamphun. Jeeraphan was taken to Chang Puek police station. Investigating officers found 176 ya ba pills hidden in the wheel cover. At first Jeeraphan denied involvement, saying he was only performing his duty.

Police have discovered that some of the Corrections staff who were close to the offender also smuggled ya ba into the jail by hiding it in the Corrections products truck.


14 year old girl caught selling ya ba from city hotel

Nopniwat Krailerg

A 14 year old girl who was selling ya ba pills to other teenagers and laborers in Chiang Mai city has been arrested.

Officers carrying out an undercover operation by buying drugs from various suppliers, discovered the girl who was working from a hotel room in Chang Puek Road.

Pol Capt Thanapong Pha-dungkarn, deputy inspector of investigations at Chang Puek said that the girl, given the alias of Aom, admitted she was dealing drugs for a living. He had directed an undercover officer to contact the girl on her mobile phone to buy ya ba pills. The girl was arrested at the Venus Hotel with two ya ba pills in her possession. Police found another eight pills in the hotel room.

She was taken to the police station and officers called her parents. The girl said she had run away from home and that she stayed in the hotel room to sell ya ba at 200 baht per pill to people in the area.


Lonely Swiss man commits suicide at Christmas

Nopniwat Krailerg

A Swiss man whose Thai wife had left him and who could not stand the idea of being lonely over Christmas killed himself in his own home by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Officers from Doi Saket were called out on December 25 to an address at Tambon Luang Nue. At the house they found a vehicle parked outside. Gas from the vehicle’s exhaust had been fed into the house via a 16 meter long hose, and the body of the foreigner man was found in a storeroom on the first floor of the building. The man was identified as Peter Vaterlus, 51, a Swiss national. Police estimated he had been dead at least six hours. Letters written by the dead man were discovered.

Investigations revealed that Vaterlus had been married to a Thai lady named Lek and that she had left him. He had tried to find her but was unsuccessful. Faced with a lonely Christmas he had taken his own life.


All clear in search of Central Prison

Nopniwat Krailerg

A snap search of Chiang Mai Central Prison on December 28 by almost 100 officers failed to turn up any illegal substances or weapons.

The 2,000 prisoners where searched without any advance warning and was carried out because of fears of drug abuse or unrest during the New Year period. Officers took away several wooden and other items that could have been used as weapons, but otherwise nothing illegal was found within the prison.

Chuchat Chailert, commissioner of Chiang Mai Central Prison, said that officers were also on the lookout for mobile phones that could be used to call outside contacts for drug supplies.


Third gold shop robbed in Chiang Mai

Saksit Meesubkwang

On December 24, a gold shop in front of the Boriboon Market on Chotana Road was robbed, making it the third gold shop robbed in Chang Puek.

Forensic police checking the scene.

After the alarm was raised, police interviewed the three shop assistants, who said that a man in good clothes rode a motorcycle and parked in front of the shop. He came into the shop and asked to see two
gold necklaces weighing three baht.

Janthana Wangnan, 32, informed the police from the Chang Puek Police Station that when she showed the necklaces to the man he grabbed them and fled. Staff said that the thief was wearing a dark blue and cream color sweater, black jeans and white sneakers but did not record the license plate of his motorcycle. The loss to the shop was around 60,000 baht.

Police believe that the current high gold value is the reason for the frequent robberies and advise gold shop owners be very vigilant during this period.


Sugar prices capped and stores will be monitored

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

A careful watch is being kept on the price of sugar in Chiang Mai to prevent hoarding and profiteering as market forces reduce supplies.

Wairak Walairat, head of Chiang Mai Provincial Chamber of Commerce said that sugarcane production had been reduced and at the same time rising fuel costs worldwide had caused demand to increase as many countries were using it as an alternative fuel source.

“Normally, Chiang Mai imports between six and seven thousand sacks of sugar per week, with 50 kilograms in each sack, but at present only 1,700-1,800 sacks are able to be imported. Therefore, the committee for goods and service prices of Chiang Mai has set a maximum on the retail price of sugar and will keep a continual check on stores to make sure the price levels are followed,” he said, adding that this move is also intended to prevent the hoarding of supplies.

Residents and tourists who believe sugar is being hoarded or sold at an unreasonable price should inform the office or call the 1569 hot line.


Thai elephants bring exported illegally

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Soraida Salwala, Secretaty General of the FAE (Friends of the Asian Elephant), disclosed that Thai elephants continue to be exported, both legally and illegally. Her investigations revealed that at least 30 elephants had left Thailand bound for destinations that included Asia and Europe, or nearby countries such as China and Japan.

Records show that 40 years ago, there were 40,000 elephants in Thailand. This number has diminished drastically to leave only 2,600 in the wild. She said that as the elephant has such a prominent place in Thai history and culture, greater efforts should be made to maintain the present elephant population and certainly not for it to be reduced.

She had recently learned that more than 100 Thai elephants were slated for export, and called for their sale to be banned.

It was common knowledge that the illegal export took place on the Northern Thai border where the mountainous terrain made observation and control difficult. But the FAE will be more vigilant and report suspicious movements of elephants to the authorities.


Bird flu equipment presented by PAO

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai PAO has supplied injection equipment and chemical disinfectants for protection against avian flu for use throughout the province.

PAO president Thawatchai na Chiang Mai presented the supplies to deputy governor Kritsadaporn Siampakdee. The delivery comprises 48 injectors and 20,530 liters of disinfectant. The equipment will be distributed to district level officers. Fears are that the winter will see an outbreak of the disease.


Huge drug store discovered in Burma waiting for transfer across the border

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

A special task force of Burmese soldiers stationed at Tachilek together with narcotics control officers searched a warehouse and uncovered a large haul of drugs belonging to the Red Wah and awaiting shipment to Thailand over the New Year holiday.

Col Somsak Nilbunjerd-kul, commissioner of the 3rd Calvary Regiment Pha Muang Task Force in Chiang Rai received an urgent notice from the Burmese authorities that armed officers had searched the building after learning that drugs were being stored there.

It was reported that four men identified as Burmese and Wah were arrested in the building. Investigations revealed about one million orange colored ya ba pills packed in fertilizer sacks and hidden in fruit boxes, along with 70 bars of pure heroine weighing about 100 kilograms. The drugs have an estimated value of 200 million baht and the four men were sent for investigation to see if they could provide information on the backers and the distribution network.

Col Somsak said the warehouse was a storage base where the drugs were collected prior to being smuggled across the border at Chiang Rai.



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