NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thousands gather to protest against Thai-US FTA talks

Road toll down over New Year

“Heaven on Earth” in Mae Hong Son?

Thailand in accord with Burma over timber imports

Concert raises funds for blankets and clothing

Government “Blue Flag” cheap food arrives in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai brings in 45 tons of sugar to sweeten the market

Hmong New Year cart racing injures spectator

Government supports sweet pepper farmers offering 200 rai for pilot plan

Villagers stage protest and demand resignation of district chief

Mae Hong Son survey reveals that 20 villages are stateless

ONCB catches more drug runners, but Ya Ba amounts down

Notorious drug dealer Jack Chang Klan killed by border police

Two dead in Nan bus crash

Vanished couple were drug dealers, police believe

Bomb at Chiang Mai Winter Fair with six wounded

Prompt arrest of Chiang Mai thief pleases residents

New Year’s Eve drugs haul for Mae Sai customhouse

Thousands gather to protest against Thai-US FTA talks

Nopniwat Krailerg and Saksit Meesubkwang

Thousands of protesters gathered in front of Chiang Mai railway station on January 9 to protest against the free trade negotiations due to begin that day between Thailand and America.

Protesters against FTA holding wreaths with the Thai Prime Ministers and the US President’s names, passing the US Consulate in Chiang Mai.

Many local organizations were represented, including the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, the Alternative Agriculture Network, the Federation of Consumers (Lumpang), the Federation of Northern Farmers, the 4 Regions Slum Network, the Council of People Organizations of Thailand, the Assembly of the Poor, the Student Federation of Thailand, the Southern Community Forest Network, the Southern Land Reform for the Poor, Confederation of State Enterprise Labor Union and the FTA Watch.

Protesters demanded that Thailand cancel the 6th FTA negotiations with the US that were due to be held in Chiang Mai between January 9 and 13, at the Imperial Mae Ping and Sheraton hotels.

They said that the US’s requests concerning intellectual property, free trade of service and investment and an opened agricultural market will have a negative effect on local citizens and that agriculturists will go bankrupt.

In addition, medicine patent rights that the US wishes to extend from an initial 20 years to 25 years will cause patients and consumers to pay higher prices, for example HIV, cancer, diabetes and patients with other chronic illnesses who need to take medicine continually will be in trouble if medicine prices increase.

Additionally, plant seeds and biological resources in an opened agricultural market will impact agriculturists. Demonstraters said that Thailand will lose its abilities in self-sufficiency in food production if the country needs to import from overseas.

Thousands of protesters from throughout the country crowded into the area in front of Chiang Mai train station in the morning before moving on foot along Charoenmuang Road to Waroros Market to present a petition to the US Consulate appealing the FTA talks be canceled. A traffic jam built up because of the crowds, and two effigies of Thai and US negotiators were beheaded in front of the consulate. The petition was
presented to Scott Hansen, US Consul in Chiang Mai. Hansen said he would present it to the US government and

commented that people have the right to peaceful protests under Thai law. After handing in the petition, the crowd moved on to Thapae Gate, with some branching off to gather outside the two host hotels.

Phat Apaimoon, president of the Alternative Agriculture Network, said he disagrees with Thailand negotiating with the US because Thailand is a developing country and that citizens would be affected very disadvantageously by any agreement.

Kamon Upakaew, president of the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS said that he would like FTA negotiations with the US canceled because he believed that Thailand’s technology development potential cannot be compared to that of the US and that Thailand will lose in every way. It is, he said, not beneficial for the poorer citizens and will help only some people.


Road toll down over New Year

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Operation Center for Prevention and Reduction of Highway Accidents during New Year Festival has advised on the number of deaths and injuries (15 and 157 respectively) during the “seven precautionary days” of the festival (December 29, 2005 to January 4, 2006).

The death toll is marginally lower than last year (17 deaths in 2005) while
the number of injuries has dramatically dropped to only one-third of last year’s figure (516 injuries in 2005).

New Year Festival’s road toll was down in 2006.

The highest recorded statistics were in Fang district (six deaths) followed by Mae Taeng and Hang Dong districts (two deaths each). Hot, Saraphi, Chom Thong, Chiang Dao and Mae Chaem recorded one1 death each. There were no deaths reported in Muang district where the New Year celebrations were at their highest and the traffic congestion was acute. However, this district in the heart of Chiang Mai had the highest number of road accidents reported (50 incidents and 56 injured). Doi Tao and Wiang Hang districts reported no accidents at all.

Motorcycles were the type of vehicle involved in most in accidents. Those injured were reported as having been speeding, under the influence of alcohol and not wearing a crash helmet, or all three. Most deaths occurred on a main road.

The largest accident happened in Fang district in which five persons were killed including three adults and two children. A pick-up truck driver lost control and ran into a group of people who were celebrating New Year Festival by launching a candle balloon to get rid of bad luck.

The decrease in the road toll is partly through the government’s public relations policy through various media “When Drunk Don’t Drive”. It also showed the success of the cooperation among personnel from different agencies such as the police, administrative officials, public health personnel and the staff from pro-vincial transport office in setting up checkpoints and checking alcohol level of motorists.


“Heaven on Earth” in Mae Hong Son?

Bio-Tourism in Long Neck Karen Hilltribe Villages

Saksit Meesubkwang

Home stay house built with bamboo and tree leaves for tourists.

Yuthachai Pansri, President of Community College, Mae Hong Son, is advocating Bio-Tourism, a new concept in tourist homestay in
a the Long Neck Karen village of Baan Huay Poo Kang,Tambon Pha Bong in Muang, Mae Hong Son. This type of tourism is aimed at attracting visitors according to strategies devised by the Mae Hong Son Provincial Committee and according to the Mae Hong Son Governor, Direk Konkleep, is for visitors to the villages to experience, “Heaven on Earth in Thailand.”

Young long neck Karen guides waiting to serve tourists

Yuthachai Pansri said that the villagers of Huay Poo Kang would be instructed in the requirements of its foreign visitors at a non formal education center in the Province. He stressed the importance of educating all tribes in how to best establish Bio-Tourism and maintain a homestay style of vacation for its visitors which would provide a steady income for the village.

This type of tourism would provide its guests with B&B accommodation in houses or tents. A good standard of service would be provided and guests would be assured of their personal security. Recreational activities would be available in the form of bamboo rafting, exploring caves and visits to local World War II museums.


Thailand in accord with Burma over timber imports

Saksit Meesubkwang

The Township Border Committee (TBC) is to allow a Thai company to invest in the timber business in Chan State.

It was announced in Chiang Rai on December 29 that Gen Somsak Nilbanchertkul, commander of the 3rd Cavalry Task Force, Patcharadit Sinsawat, head of the Chiang Saen customhouse, and Anon Maksin, a frontier businessman, had been authorized to import teak across the Chiang Rai border.

At the 44th conference of the Thailand-Burma Committee at Mae Sai municipality office, Chiang Rai, the director of the Burmese side has permitted the importing of 620 logs of wood, valued at about 100 million baht. All logs have to go through Chiang Saen customs storehouse.

Patcharadit said he believed that in the future if there is wood imported from Burma, it can increase the tax revenue for the government. Previously, Chiang Saen imported teak from China to the value of almost 100 million baht per year.

Anon Maksin, a director of Siwa Co Ltd, said that there are big timber businesses in Burma exporting wood from Yang Kung city to 167 countries around the world. If Chiang Rai permits Burma to export the wood, it will bring in a large income because Thailand lacks timber.


Concert raises funds for blankets and clothing

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Chiang Mai municipality in cooperation with Thai and foreign musicians and companies in Chiang Mai organized a free concert on January 7 to raise funds for sending blankets and warm clothes to three villages in Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai.

People living in remote areas are especially at risk during the current cold weather and the government and private sector have been organizing support missions. However, help is still needed because many residents are lacking sufficient blankets, warm clothing and medicine. The concert, which included other activities and food sales, was therefore an effective way of supplementing the relief drive budgets.

The three villages were Baan Khun Yuam, Baan Samawjabon and Baan Samawjalang at Tambon Mae Suek in Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai. Funds raised for the 73 households here totaled 150,000 baht. Projects will be continued to reach other villages.


Government “Blue Flag” cheap food arrives in Chiang Mai

Another populist policy to make people vote with their stomachs?

Nopniwat Krailerg

Food vending carts carrying a “Blue Flag” symbol to indicate “economy price”, are to be found in several locations of Chiang Mai City. The food will be sold at a real economy price, as low as 10 baht per serve. Initially, there will be 29 carts during this pilot period, with more carts promised to cover all districts of Chiang Mai in the near future. Of the 1,000 carts planned as the target for covering all 76 provinces across the country, 580 are already in place. It is anticipated that this target can be completely met by the end of this month (January 2006).

People buying food from the Blue Flag vending carts.

On January 5, Chiang Mai Deputy Governor, Kongeak-wilad Rujiwattanapong, presided over the opening of the “Thong Fa (Blue Flag) Economy Cooked Food Project” at Chiang Mai City Hall. Food vending carts were handed over to vendors participating in the project.

This new project is being implemented with the cooperation of the Department of Internal Trade (Ministry of Commerce), the Government Savings Bank, PTT Cooking Gas, Chiang Mai Skill Development Center and Chiang Mai Vocational College. Vendors with proven ability in cooking Thai food are eligible for the project. The vending carts and equipment are prepared for them to standard specifications, at the price of 12,000 baht, which they can pay by monthly installments to the Government Savings Bank, (600 bath per month for 20 months). More than 40 items of popular Thai dishes have been listed on the cart menus. The government believes each vendor in this project can earn 400-500 baht each day from selling these cooked foods.

Fuengfah Tulathamakul, head of the Office of Internal Trade Chiang Mai, stated that this project is being implemented by the Government as an effort to reduce the cost of living for people. The project started on October 4th, 2005, and a total of 63 people applied to participate in the project. So far, 29 have completed training courses on “The Hygienic Way for Cooking Standard Dishes” and “Production and Distribution of Quality Products” through the Chiang Mai Skill Development Center and Chiang Mai Vocational College. These courses aim to ensure that the food sold at the Blue Flag carts will be cooked properly, hygienically and to a high standard.

Currently, people can buy food from these vending carts stationed in Muang, San Sai, San Khampaeng, Hang Dong and Mae Rim districts. It has already been observed that the usual food carts have already had to lower their prices in these regions. The government believes this situation can only be beneficial to all (other than those previously trying to make a living selling food).


Chiang Mai brings in 45 tons of sugar to sweeten the market

Nopniwat Krailerg

Apparently Thailand is in the grip of a sugar crisis, but this is more imagined, than real say government spokespersons. Fuengfah Tulathamakul, head of the Office of Internal Trade Chiang Mai, revealed that she did not find a scarcity of sugar in Chiang Mai, because there are many shops and department stores in the city where people could buy sugar for 14.50 baht per kilogram.

White and brown sugar are running short in the market-place all over country.

To resolve the perceived shortage of sugar in the marketplace, however, Chiang Mai Provincial Office of Internal Trade has brought 45 tons of sugar, to add to the present stocks. This sugar will be trickled into the market gradually.

Fuengfah also advised people who could not buy sugar, to please contact her Officers at the Office of Internal Trade Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai City Hall, where they could buy sugar for 14.50 baht per kilogram. From surveys conducted by the larger Supermarket chains, consumption of sugar by Chiang Mai’s citizens is around 300 tons per week. On December 27, 2005, the Office of Internal Trade Chiang Mai issued a communiqu้ requesting all businesses that held stocks of sugar of more than 10,000 kilograms or 10 tons, to inform her office of the quantity and location of their stocks. Officers sent to check these stocks found nothing unusual. If people find sugar being sold at an unreasonable price, or shop-keepers hoarding sugar, they should ring the Hotline (1569), and report the offender.

Chiang Mai has never experienced a sugar shortage before. Checks on shops have revealed that even stocks of brown sugar are running low, but white sugar can be substituted in its place. The Office of Internal Trade Chiang Mai has provided staff to inspect and monitor the sugar price
situation in markets everyday.


Hmong New Year cart racing injures spectator

Nopniwat Krailerg

Manufacturing wooden traditional carts, used by the Hmong, is a traditional Hmong skill, the carts being used for transporting goods and produce over difficult jungle terrain. As well as practical use the local vehicle is used during the Traditional New Year Fair. They are brightly painted and used for racing.

The races were keenly contested by 44 participants from 12 Hmong villages. It was a knockout competition of 22 races over a 300 meter course, during which both drivers and spectators suffered minor injuries. The only serious injury reported was to a 40 year old spectator who fell down the mountain and had to be taken to hospital for treatment.

This years winner was Montri, a Hmong from Ban Nong Hoi Mai, who retained his championship trophy, having also won last year, and pocketed 13,000 baht which can be used for more racing modifications.

Thawatwong Na Chiang Mai, President of Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization, presided over the opening of the Hmong New Year Traditional Fair at Ban Nong Hoi Mai, Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai. There were cultural parades, local recreation and a wooden cart parade. The Fair also featured sports competitions such as playing tops. Each year the venue of the fair changes, next years hosts will be Ban Mae Sa Mai, Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai.


Government supports sweet pepper farmers offering 200 rai for pilot plan

Nopniwat Krailerg.

On January 5th, Sudarat Keyuraphan, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives visited hydroponic sweet pepper farms at Baan Pong Yang, Tambon Pong Yang in Mae Rim, Chiang Mai . These farms are managed by Lanna Oriental Hydroponics overseeing 174 farmers working 200 rai of land.

The company and each of the farmers have jointly agreed to farm the land, and will receive financial support from the Department of Agriculture. At present, sweet peppers are being promoted as an OTOP product, raising the Mae Rim district to 4 star status. It is anticipated that the project could realize an income of 50 million baht per annum.

The Minister said that sweet peppers would be grown as an alternative crop to garlic and onions in northern regions due to the favorable climate. Furthermore, because of a shortage of sweet peppers in the world market and the higher reward realized from the product as opposed to that of onion and garlic it made pepper growing a far more lucrative crop.

The 200 rai plot set aside for this project is a pilot area to study the economics of growing this crop. The Government has already contacted five companies in Japan for sweet pepper trading. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is also to support a favorable low interest loan for the farmers.

The sweet pepper growing period lasts for nine months. Harvesting commences three months after planting and goes on for five to six months. An investment of 100,000 baht per rai is needed with an expected return of 600,000 baht per rai which equates to 9,600 KG of produce harvested every three days. The current price for sweet peppers is between 15-50 baht per kilo, depending on quality, when exported to Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan.


Villagers stage protest and demand resignation of district chief

Saksit Meesubkwang

A hundred villagers gathered in protest against the Doi Tao district chief officer on January 6, saying that he is ignoring a miscarriage of justice.

The villagers of Tambon Pong Toong in Doi Tao were led by their headman Boonpeng Talue, and gathered in front of Chiang Mai City Hall to appeal to the governor.

Boonpeng Talue, the village headman from Doi Tao district presented a petition to Kongeak-wilad Rujiwattanapong, Chiang Mai deputy governor.

Doi Tao Police Station had earlier accused Boonpeng of trespass in national parkland without a permit and possessing more than 20 cubic meters of modified wood without permission. Officers had seized 23 pieces of timber along with a car and motorcycle. Villagers however said the car and motorbike did not belong to Boonpeng and they asked for help from Suraphon Satayarak, the Doi Tao district chief officer. Suraphon, they claim, ignored them and denied Boonpeng any help. Consequently they staged the demonstration and asked that he be removed from his post for ignoring his duty as district officer to help residents.

The villagers are also asking for the government to manage their land for doing agriculture, as they have worked on this national park land for more than 50 years.

Kongeak-wilad Rujiwat-tanapong, Chiang Mai deputy governor, listened
to the villagers’ complaints and said he will act upon them.


Mae Hong Son survey reveals that 20 villages are stateless

Saksit Meesubkwang

A survey of stateless people in Mae Hong Son has revealed that as many as 20 villages are officially located outside Thai territory and that their residents have no nationality, says Santipong Moonfong, director of the Children and Community Network Development Center in Mae Hong Son province.

One example is Ban Mae Dee in Tambon Mae Kong, Mae Sariang district. There are 26 families in this village and a total of 38 children who are not holding the nationality of any country. The villagers do not hold blue cards either (the card officially issued to highlanders) except for two persons. It seems that the government has not been able to extend its services to cover a number of villages, said Santipong.

The current number of stateless children in Mae Hong Son province is estimated at ten thousand. They are living in the forest along the Thai-Burmese border in places such as Sop Moei, Mae Sariang, Mae La Noi, Khun Yuam, Pang Mapha and Pai districts. Though they were born on Thai soil they have not been nationalized as Thai citizens. Their parents are uneducated and unable to speak Thai. When they contact Thai government agencies, they cannot communicate well with officials. Hence, their children have missed the opportunity for nationalization.

There are 4,777 stateless children currently enrolled in schools, excluding those who are enrolled in non-formal education systems and those being taken care of in childcare centers in Mae Hong Son. The government must take action immediately otherwise this problem will be more complicated
and difficult to solve, said Santipong.

Sitthichai Prasertsri, Mae Hong Son deputy governor, said that chief officers of all seven districts of the province have been assigned to check for the persons who have missed the chance for nationalization. They are advised to investigate these persons again with the assistance of village or district headmen in confirming the length of stay on Thai soil of such persons. This is to prevent ineligible persons from using their names to apply for nationalization. When the process is completed, these persons will be nationalized.

It is also reported that a lot of hill tribe children have finished primary and secondary school (Por 6 and M.3 respectively). However, they cannot enroll in senior high schools because they do not hold any official document certifying Thai nationality.

These stateless persons include people from various ethnic minority groups such as Karen, Tai tribe, Musso (Lahu) and some other tribes.


ONCB catches more drug runners, but Ya Ba amounts down

Nopniwat Krailerg

Pol. Lt. Gen. Kritsana Pol-anan, Secretary General to the ONCB reported a 50 percent reduction in drug related activities for 2005, which he attributed to the increasingly hard line, zero tolerance approach, adopted by his officers.

Heroin transferred in Burmese wall hangings discovered in 2005.

He added that due to efforts of his officers although a significant increase in cases was reported, the actual amounts of Ya Ba seized were considerably less, indicating a reluctance by traffickers to be caught possessing large quantities. There were 81,953 cases reported by officers in 2005 an increase of 20,000 on the previous year. Most of those caught
were alien laborers and tourists.

Thailand provides a gateway for three other countries for other substances including heroin, hashish and ice. Ever changing consumer habits and the laxity of the law in neighboring countries makes Thailand aware of its vulnerability to the movement of these drugs. The area of greatest risk is considered to be the Northern Border where officers must be continually on alert to the tricks employed by the traffickers. In an effort to discourage drug dealers, officers are calling for a change in the law giving them greater powers to expropriate the personal property of those found guilty of drug related crimes.


Notorious drug dealer Jack Chang Klan killed by border police

Nopniwat Krailerg

A notorious drug dealer known to narcotics control officers as Jack Chang Klan was killed in a Mae Taeng lychee orchard on January 6, by border police patrol.

Mae Taeng Police Station officers were called out directly after the shooting, and being in remote hill country between Baan Ton Kham and Baan Pha Poo Jom, it took two hours for them to reach the scene.

The body of Anuwat Meklom, 33, a resident of Muang Chiang Mai was found next to a motorcycle. Anuwat was known to be a primary drug dealer, going by the alias Jack Chang Klan, and police had been hunting him for a long time. He was holding a .32 weapon in his right hand and had been shot in the neck and face. Small Buddha images, magic charms and one homemade grenade were found on the body, along with 4,000 Ya Ba pills.

Police reports state that the 33rd border police learned there would be a drug transfer passing through Chiang Dao and Mae Taeng district. A patrol was sent there and found a man riding a motorcycle, who they stopped with the intention of searching. Abandoning his motorbike the man had run into the lychee orchard and shot at the officers seven or eight times. They returned his fire for five minutes until silence fell. Checking the scene, the officers found Jack Chang Klan dead, another example of the pin-point accuracy of the upholders of the law.


Two dead in Nan bus crash

Chiangmai Mai Reporter

Two people were killed and more than 40 injured when a Chiang Mai-Nan bus came off a steep road 20 kilometers from Nan city.

The accident occurred at a curve in the road, with the driver unable to change gear and brake sufficiently to slow the bus, which was loaded with 70 passengers.

The vehicle, a green bus, belonged to Pattanakit Transportation Co., Ltd. On January 3 it had left Chiang Mai en route to Nan and had reached Tambon Sa Nian when the accident occured. Nan police and rescue officers sent 42 injured people to Nan Hospital, where 12 were detained for treatment. Two others were killed in the crash.

Driver of the bus Khamnuan Chapat, 47, said that he was driving at high speed on the steep road and that he could not brake sufficiently on the curve.


Vanished couple were drug dealers, police believe

Nopniwat Krailerg

A husband and wife couple who vanished mysteriously leaving a pickup truck packed with 30,000 speed pills are urgently being sought by police.

Chai Pakarn Police Station officers found the pickup with a Chiang Mai province license plate abandoned at Baan Mai Nong Bua. The vehicle had been there several days. Hidden inside the space cab were 15 packets
of amphetamines totaling 30,000 pills. The owner was identified as Manote Thepwong, 40, of Tambon Sri Dong Yen. He and his wife Buakiew have disappeared. Police have applied for an arrest warrant.

Manote and his wife had driven the pickup from their house to Chiang Mai
city, after which relatives informed Chang Puek Police Station in the beginning of January that both had disappeared. Police found the truck parked in the Chinese Haw village in Chai Pakarn district, and after checking believed the couple were involved with a Northern drug dealer network.

A drug dealer arrested with 49,000 speed pills in Kamphaengphet told police that the couple were drug dealers, but no one is yet able to ascertain whether or not they are still alive.


Bomb at Chiang Mai Winter Fair with six wounded

Nopniwat Krailerg

On January 3, 2006, there was a bomb explosion at the Chiang Mai Winter Fair during the Bodyslam concert, which was attended by around 1,000 people. The incident occurred at the end of concert, when fighting broke out between several teenagers at the front of the stage. The police quelled the fracas and arrested three of the protagonists.

This photo was taken moments before the detona-tion.

At the same time, there was the sound of explosion, causing the audience to scatter in panic. Of the six people wounded in the incident,
one of them was Niphon Chaicheun, 16, a Chiang Mai resident, who suffered injuries to his head. Jetsada Ruengwit. 26, and Yiamyut Deetermkaew, 19, were also seriously injured and another three were found to have sustained damage to their eardrums.

Investigation by police officers revealed that the bomb was a home-made device, which they believe was assembled by a group of teenagers, to cause disruption at the concert. Three teenagers are under investigation.

Chiang Mai people are angry, as something like this happens every year during the winter fair. They blame the event organizer’s lax security, insisting that, with the event’s prior record for trouble, all people entering the venue should have been subjected to a body search. Many people have stopped attending the event, in fear of their safety from the mindless, disruptive actions of a small number, whose childish behavior is both malicious and anti-social.


Prompt arrest of Chiang Mai thief pleases residents

Saksit Meesubkwang

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 and Pol. Maj. Gen. Jiruj Promobol, Chiang Mai Provincial Police commander checking the evidence.

A series of robberies in the Muang area of Chiang Mai were investigated by Police Officers from the Muang Chiang Mai Police Station, led by Pol. Col. Yuthachai Puaprasert. Following information from local residents, their enquiries led them to an address in Tambon Padad in Muang Chiangmai, where they suspected that the occupier, Thanad Chai-nganmuang, 26, was the perpetrator of these crimes.

With search warrant, the police descended and found 122 stolen items, including a black Mitsubishi car, gold ornaments and computers with a value of 50,000 baht, awaiting sale.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, Commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, praised the officers whose efforts had led to the arrest of the offender. He also thanked the many residents who had lost their possessions for assisting the Police in their enquiries. He promised to continue his investigations, with the aim of locating the offender’s accomplices and bringing them to justice.


New Year’s Eve drugs haul for Mae Sai customhouse

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Officers at the Mae Sai-Tachilek customhouse, having received intelligence that a drugs transfer was to take place across the border on New Year’s Eve, remained on duty until midnight with the intention of catching the smugglers.

Led by Mae Sai customs officer Choochai Udompod and his assistant Kitti Suthisamphan, narcotics control officers kept a discrete vigilance. Around midnight, a foreign man was heard conversing with a Burmese man at the inbound gate. Officers intervened and detained the two, identified as a Taiwanese named Hung Chiang and a Burmese named Ajung.

Searching the men, officials found 400 grams of pure heroin and 20,000 cash. They were taken to Mae Sai police station. Ajung confessed that another Taiwanese, who lives in Tha Chi Lek, introduced him to Hung who asked Ajung to deliver heroin to him at the Thai border. They were foiled by the customhouse extending its usual office hours.