Vol. V No. 4 - Saturday January 21 - January 27, 2006
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chiang Mai NGO’s protest US-Thai FTA negotiations

Thai-US FTA negotiations in Chiang Mai explained

Night Safari in even more trouble

Drunk monks should be disrobed, say angry residents

50 percent of pre-paid SIM card users have not registered

Hotel lobbies, train carriages and spa to be smoke-free

Night Safari attempts to dazzle with statistics

White Angel project hopes to decrease the road toll

Natural resources and environmental management on Mekong River basin

Khun Sa crony discovered, but escapes

Chiang Rai authorized to give 268 residents Thai nationality

Horticultural Expo 70% complete and 19 nations now confirmed

Border trade between Thailand and Burma gets a boost

4.4 billion baht for water supply in Mae Hong Son

More grenades at Chiang Mai Winter Fair

Another pair of small-fry drug dealers arrested

Goods smuggled from China detected in Chiang Rai

Illegal alien laborers arrested and employers prosecuted

Policeman’s notebook computer goes missing on flight to Chiang Mai

Flying Dutchman arrested in San Sai

Phayao trying to resolve the human trafficking problem

Chiang Mai NGO’s protest US-Thai FTA negotiations

People power claims victory

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

On January 9th, 2006, almost 10,000 protestors gathered in front of the Sheraton Hotel, Chiang Mai, where the US-Thai FTA negotiations were being held.

A coffin and an American flag were burned in front of the hotel where the negotiations were being held. (photo by Saksit Meesubkwang).

On the morning of January 10, leaders of the protest group vociferously expressed their opinions against both country’s governments concerning the Free Trade Agreement, requiring the efforts of 800 police officers to keep control of the situation.

Police were able to prevent concerted attempts by the protestors to get into the conference room, and later, the situation deteriorated further when around 20 members of the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS tried to reach in the hotel by swimming across the Mae Ping River. Police lining the river bank were able to contain this move, during which there were injuries to both swimmers and police.

Nit Phiboonsongkram, head of Thai FTA negotiators meeting the crowd (photo by Saksit Meesubkwang).

Meanwhile, the crowd in front of the hotel shouted that they wished to talk with Nit Phiboonsongkram, head of Thailand’s representatives at the negotiations, at the same time making repeated efforts to gain access to the hotel by force. Riot police needed both shields and truncheons to repel the attack, but stood firm and the effort failed. Later, Nit Phiboonsongkram met with the protestors and told them he would not cancel the talks, but nevertheless, he would try his hardest for Thailand to benefit from the negotiations and would maintain the country’s advantages. He said that he was a Thai and his sole interest was to maintain and improve the country’s position at the negotiation table. However, the protesters seemed rather dissatisfied with his reply, saying that they has pursued this issue for a long time and demanded that the talks be canceled.

Police officers trying to control the protest. (photo by Preeyanoot Jittawong).

The following morning, the protestors burnt a coffin inscribed with Nit Phiboon-songkram’s name, also setting fire to an American flag in front of the hotel.

The police meanwhile, concerned for the safety of the negotiating teams, had spirited them out of the hotel. This was accomplished by disguising the teams as tourists and taking them out in vans from the rear of the hotel. Later it was learned that the negotiations had been moved to Chiang
Mai-Lamphun Golf Course in Baan Thi district, Lam-phun.

Nursing staff gave first aid to an unconscious woman. (photo by Preeyanoot Jittawong)

The crowd continued to protest outside the Sheraton Hotel and eventually disbanded, proclaiming a victory for their movement. They claimed their actions had drawn the attention of the Thai people to the FTA negotiations and reminded the Thai government of their promise to look after the interests of the country.

The protestors drew everyone’s attention to the words of Surapong Seub-wonglee, when he announced on behalf of the Prime Minister, “PM Thaksin Shina-watra stressed that the negotiators would keep the interests of our country’s citizens uppermost in their minds, and no agreement would occur if it was disadvantageous towards the Thai people, at the same time making every endeavor to consider the opinions of the protestors.”

Police keeping control of the protest situa-tion.
(photo by Saksit Meesubkwang).

Main issues causing concern to the protestors were the increased price of medicines due to the proposed scrapping of cheaper generic brands and anxiety about Thai farmers being adversely affected because of the US position in not allowing an open agricultural market, to protect its own farmers.

The Thai government’s vow has been made to all Thai citizens, witnessed by journalists, that the government would not allow any decision to be made at the FTA talks that will adversely affect Thailand’s position. The spokesperson said “The 11 people’s networks will continue to monitor the FTA until its conclusion in April this year.”

He added, “If the FTA causes damage, it will mean that PM Thaksin Shina-watra’s government has broken its vow and does not respect the promise it has made to its citizens. These 11 organizations will gather once more at Government House and they will be in greater numbers, probably ten or a hundred times as many, and we will continue protesting until the government sits up and takes notice.”


Thai-US FTA negotiations in Chiang Mai explained

Nopniwat Krailerg

The Thai-US FTA negotiations have concluded, with Nit Phiboonsongkram, Head of the Thai negotiating team, explaining the situation after the meeting. According to Nit, intense bargaining at the negotiation table forced a result that enables Thailand to import products from USA without paying import duty on 8,100 of the 10,500 products listed, amounting to a saving of USD 12,800 million. This list of products includes electronics, glass, ceramics, gems and textile products. In return Thailand has offered the US to reduce the export of agricultural products to America and the easing of restrictions on other products to balance what they had won in the negotiations.

Two other issues were also resolved at the conference, namely that of intellectual property and product brand protection. The main points under discussion were to protect brand names concerning the fragrance industry and the recording industry and to cancel regulations that demand product brands to be registered with the Department of Intellectual Property. Thailand agreed with electronic products brand registration but it needs further consultations on this issue as well as protection of its biological products such as Jasmine rice and Thai silk. The US reciprocated in seeking similar regulations covering its alcohol and wine products.

The US has appealed to Thailand to pay much stricter attention to copyright laws and now this is being considered by Food and Drug Administration. Also the US wants Thailand to source textiles and associated products used in garment manu-facture, from countries nominated by the US, but Thailand would prefer to be allowed to import the material from third world countries.

Thai Customs Department, agreed to publish the new rules and measures quickly so that businesses would learn in advance, what steps to take to stay within the law. By strictly observing these rules it will enable the private sector of Thailand to export into USA.

Thailand has appealed to the US to accept measures concerning copyright that requires them to seek prior permission before taking Thai products to use. However, this issue is still under discussion and as yet, no conclusion has been reached.

The US would also like US nationals to be allowed to run life insurance businesses in Thailand, with sole American ownership. Thailand in return has asked the US to allow Thai life insurance to be sold in all states of America. However, Pojanee Thanawa-ranit, Director-General of the Department of Insurance disclosed this request could not be authorized due to the fact that Thailand at present allowed foreigners to run a business in Thailand by holding 25 percent maximum ownership, (now being considered to change this to 49 percent), with no further changes for ten years.

However, these are just two of the many requests that each country has made to the other and more consultation is needed before agreement is reached and the situation is ratified. In the meantime, 11 protest organizations are monitoring this situation and say they will move again if any issue is found to adversely affect Thailand’s interests.


Night Safari in even more trouble

Accused of dispossessing villager of her land

Saksit Meesubkwang

Sunee Chairos, of the National Human Rights Committee revealed that her office had received a petition from Dawan Saosena, 48, a Baan Tong Kai villager at Tambon Nong Kwai in Hang Dong, Chiang Mai. The petition states that Chiang Mai Night Safari had purchased property from the resident Dawan, who alleges that the transaction was unjust. Dawan said she had sold only six rai of the eight rai of land that she owned. The purchasers were the owners of Chiang Mai Safari, who bought the land for 25,000 baht, to dig a reservoir to hold water for the Safari Park.

Chiang Mai Night Safari disputed land area

She initially understood she could still farm the remaining 2 rai area, but when she tried to do so she was accused of trespass, arrested and her possessions were removed. She has already incurred expenses of almost 50,000 baht spent in endeavoring to resolve her case, but to no avail so far. She has been cautioned to not trespass on the land again, as to do so would risk being fined or being sent to jail.

She believes that Safari authorities had no right to remove her property and had broken the law by doing so. At present, the Safari has already taken elephants into that area.

After receiving the petition, the National Human Rights Committee conferred with Chiang Mai province and Chiang Mai Night Safari’s administrators. The committee requested the safari to explain its position, giving details of the transaction regarding their purchase of the land. When both sides have had the opportunity to put their case, the Human Rights Committee expects the situation to be resolved.


Drunk monks should be disrobed, say angry residents

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chang Moi residents complained to police on January 2 that a noisy party was being held at the house of a monk at Wat Chai Sri Phum, in Tambon Chang Moi.

Pol Capt Manas Theudee, deputy inspector at Muang police station, led a team of officers to the front of the temple where they heard music coming from the house of deputy abbot Pornchai Sanyapasathuno. Four monks, including Pornchai, together with a novice and two male housekeepers were dancing, and beer cans were scattered on the ground.

Officers checked the refrigerator and found 10 more cans of beer, and confiscated them, together with a karaoke stereo system, which would have to be considered entertainment from hell. The abbot was then informed. Following this, the abbot had a meeting with the temple committee and the monks concerned, and probation was agreed as it was a first time transgression.

Local inhabitants have criticized this decision heavily, saying that it was improper behavior, and the media has also covered the event extensively. One survey revealed that 95 percent of the people wanted the monks disrobed.

Pornchai has since left the monkhood of his own accord, and has gone into karaoke training.


50 percent of pre-paid SIM card users have not registered

Saksit Meesubkwang

The Government has not achieved great success in enforcing its policy forcing people to register the SIM card of their pre-paid mobile phones. Six months have passed, but only 50 percent of subscribers have registered so far. Those who object to registering their SIM card, claim that it is their personal right to use the pre-paid phone for personal business communication. The government should not intervene or force them. Meanwhile, the ICT Minister is trying to come up with measures to work this out amicably, together with mobile phone service providers.

It is well-known that terrorists in the three southern provinces of Thailand have used a mobile phone as a means of remotely detonating a bomb. In an effort to deal with this problem, the Government launched its policy in May, 2005, announcing that all subscribers of the pre-paid mobile phones, must register their SIM cards with the authorities.

The period for the registration of “new” SIM cards was set from May 10, 2005 to December 31, 2005. Subscribers failing to do so, would have their mobile phone service cut off by the company. However, as of January 1, 2006, only 3.5 million subscribers out of 7 million have registered their SIM cards. Because of this lack of compliance ICT Minister, Sora-at Klinpratoom, is urging officials to take some measures to encourage people to comply with the registration policy.

Thana Tienatchariya, the Vice President for Business Development of Total Access Communication Co. (DTAC), stated that the management of the company would confer internally, to find ways to encourage all their customers to come for the registration. However, DTAC has decided not to cut off the Mobile phone service of its customers who have not yet registered. They argue that the announcement regarding this policy by the government had not been made clearly enough. Each Cell-phone service provider does not want to lose any of its customers. They maintain that they will only cooperate with the Government if it sets out the aims of its policies in a clearer manner.

An anonymous subscriber of a pre-paid cell phone, living in Northern Thailand, told the reporter, “Using a cell phone is deemed the personal right of an individual. For those who do not want to register, the Government should not force them, because, after people register their SIM cards, I am concerned that officials would listen to the private conversation of specific subscribers. Anyway, people in the North have not been involved in the unrest in the South at all.”


Hotel lobbies, train carriages and spa to be smoke-free

TNA

The Ministry of Public Health is planning to enforce a law banning smoking in all hotel lobbies, train and health service establishments including spa.

Public Health Minister Pinij Jarusombat said the move, which he hopes could be enforced by end of January is part of the Ministry’s policy direction that emphasizes disease prevention. The number one cause of death for Thailand at the moment is cancer, which kills 45,759 people a year, or five every hour. Smoking or second-hand smokers by inhaling cigarette fume constitute one major cause of death and there are currently 11.3 million smokers in Thailand.

Mr Pinij said he has just signed two ministerial orders on to designate more types of smoke-free areas and to increase the size and visibility of no-smoking signs.

Once announced in the Royal Gazette, these two orders will prohibit smoking in all hotel lobbies that are air-conditioned; all establishments that offer traditional medicine and health related services including spa, massage and beauty retreatment parlours. All train carriages will also be smoke-free. Prior to these orders, smoking is banned only in air-conditioned compartments.


Night Safari attempts to dazzle with statistics

Claims 1 billion baht flowed into Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

Plodprasope Surasawadee, the embattled Administrator of Chiang Mai Night Safari, said that in the six weeks period during which residents were offered free visits to the Safari, there were 1.1 million visitors and if they had been charged, the revenue would have been 250 million baht.

There were 500,000 people from different provinces, who all required overnight accommodation in Chiang Mai, each of them spending an estimated 2,000 baht. According to him, it could be said that Chiang Mai Night Safari made money for Chiang Mai Province in this period, to the tune of about 1 billion baht, although the Safari was not officially open. He believed that the Safari Project would prove to be a worthwhile investment and would recoup the investment capital within seven years.

Chiang Mai Night Safari has been visited by 1.1 million people in six weeks.

On January 7, Natural Resources and Environment Board of Commission and MPs, headed by Nopadol Ponsane, Chairman of the Board visited Chiang Mai Night Safari, to see the progress being made and to look for any unforeseen problems.

The board stressed that every effort would be made to run the project according to the high standards laid down, with particular concern being given to its impact on the local environment. Also, that the Safari should be promoted more clearly, to prevent any misunderstandings with the local residents, for whom the impact of increased numbers of tourists would be greatest.

Dr. Premsak Phiayura, a Board Commissioner and MP, wished to assure those living nearby, that their concerns about dangerous animals escaping and environmental problems, such as increased noise, garbage and water pollution, were being stringently addressed. Every effort was being made to prevent these possible occurrences before they became a problem.


White Angel project hopes to decrease the road toll

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai Mayor, giving his address,

The “White Angel”, project aims to prevent traffic accidents by educating children and youths to realize the dangers to be found on the roads and to modify their risky driving habits, which has led to the ever increasing number of young people being killed or injured on the roads today.

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai Mayor, presided over the opening ceremony of the project at Central Airport Plaza, Chiang Mai and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pharadee Nanasilp, from the CMU Faculty of Nursing described the details of the project.

Mayor Boonlert said that the most common causes of traffic accidents were speeding, running traffic lights on red and general lack of consideration for other road users. All people should be aware that the vehicles we drive can turn into a lethal weapon in the blink of an eye and a moment of carelessness or aggressive behavior can cost innocent lives. Pedestrians are equally at risk, especially when they are trying to cross the road on the recently introduced pedestrian crossings. Because motorists and especially motorcyclists are so conditioned to running red lights they are making these crossings (which were intended to make crossing the street safer), an extremely hazardous place to do so. He said the motto for all road users should be, “Take more care on the roads and think more of others.”

The White Angel traffic accident project was organized by the Faculty of Nursing, Chiang Mai University in association with Chiang Mai municipality, Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, accident prevention organizations of Chiang Mai, Traffic Center of Chiang Mai Provincial Police and Central Airport Plaza Department Store.


Natural resources and environmental management on Mekong River basin

Saksit Meesubkwang

On January 15, Yongyut Tiyapairat, Minister of Natural Resources spoke at a seminar concerning natural resources and environ-mental management on the Mekong River basin. It was held at Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai and attended by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wanchai Sirichana, President of Mae Fah Luang University and representatives of Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, Burma, Laos and China.

This was a continuation of the previous GMS conference held in China last year. The minister would like other countries to realize the importance of conserving natural resources and Thailand, because of its particular location, would lead the way in promoting this concept among all countries in the Mekong River basin.

It is hoped there will be urgent resolution to the problems of managing the natural resources and environment of the river basin. Educational groups and university institutes will participate in the process by assisting with the development and showing the residents of the region how to manage their natural resources.


Khun Sa crony discovered, but escapes

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

SHAN News Agency reported on January 10, 2006 that Military police and militia authorities in Tachilek raided the home of an associate of the warlord Khun Sa.

The haul included some 150 assorted weapons, (1N-60 mm mortar, 1 SAM-7 launcher, AK 47s and M-16s), 2 compressors and “countless numbers” of methamphetamine pills, according to militia sources. “The amount, if sold, could buy the whole town,” claimed one. Also taken into custody were eight members the platoon of Captain Naw Kham, 46, militia leader of Hawngleuk, Tachilek Township, who however escaped.

Naw Kham, a former supply officer based in Mae Sai during Khun Sa’s Mong Tai Army (MTA) days, has been living in Tachilek since 1996, following the group’s surrender.

He is the fourth leading member of the former MTA to be acted against by the authorities in the past two weeks. He, together with the Nampong militia leader Yishay, was reportedly close to some prominent members of the ruling military council.

Prior to the raid, Ah Ling, one of Naw Kham’s confederates, was arrested on 27 December with 40 kg of heroin, said sources.

The crackdown coincided with a three-day anti-narcotics conference which began on January 10 in India, with Burma, China, India, Laos and Thailand taking part.


Chiang Rai authorized to give 268 residents Thai nationality

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

The Ministry of Interior has authorized 484 aliens to receive Thai nationality, and there are 268 people in Chiang Rai included in these numbers.

Sanit Phoosangthong, Muang district chief officer of Chiang Rai said that he had assigned the officers to prepare ID cards for 44 people living in Muang Chiang Rai who are now allowed to have Thai nationality.


Horticultural Expo 70% complete and 19 nations now confirmed

Preeyanoot Jittawong and Kittiyaporn Kanjam (Student Trainee MFLU)

A visit to the site of the International Horticultural Exposition by Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Sudarat Keyuraphan on January 4 has revealed that the exhibition grounds and exhibits are 70 percent complete. The minister stressed that everything should be finished by March or April. The expo will open on November 1.

Sudarat Keyuraphan, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives (2nd left) checks the progress of International Horticultural Exposition while Preecha Sananwatananon (left) briefs her on the details.

The minister said that after checking, the team found many aspects of the exposition are already completed, and that design and construction had been finished ahead of schedule.

There are now 19 countries who have officially confirmed they will be joining the expo, with confirmation awaited from another 10. With another 11 months to go before the opening, the organizers are confident of reaching their target.

The International Horticultural Exposition has been categorized as A1 standard by the Bureau of International Expositions, which has a membership of 98 countries.

Sudarat said the full public relations campaign will roll out on August 5. The expo occupies 470 rai of land at Tambon Mae Hia in Muang, Chiang Mai and will be open between November 1 and January 31, a total of 92 days.


Border trade between Thailand and Burma gets a boost

Saksit Meesubkwang

Direk Konkleep, Mae Hong Son Governor disclosed that after a border conference held on January 9, 2006 at Mae Hong Son City Hall, it was confirmed that seven districts around Mae Hong Son had a common border with Burma, amounting to a total length of 480 Km. It was decided that it was in the interests of both countries to get merchants who wished to conduct cross-border trade, to register for trading at the Mae Hong Son border center. Such registration would make verification easier and would help to prevent problems and misunderstandings concerning national security or drug trafficking.

The governor added that the Province would open four trading routes with Burma. They are at Baan Huay Phueng, Tambon Huay Pha in Muang; Baan Nam Piang Din, Tambon Pha Bong in Muang; another at Baan Huay Ton Noon in Khun Yuam district and the last one at Baan Mae Sam Lap in Sop Moei district. Trading is able to start immediately but facilities to ensure security and safety have yet to be put in place. Goods imported
from Burma will need to be checked rigorously to prevent illegal products entering Thailand.

The governor claimed these trading routes would enhance the area’s relationship with Burma and would improve the economy in the province, owing to the fact that the primary source of income in Mae Hong Son was from border trade and tourism. Furthermore and most importantly, both countries would enjoy stronger ties of friendship.

Despite world opinion, Thailand is going for the pragmatic approach, it seems.


4.4 billion baht for water supply in Mae Hong Son

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Somsak Kuenkaew, Head of Natural Resources and Environment Office, Mae Hong Son revealed that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is looking at the water problems in outlying villages. The aim is to establish a public water supply to these villages utilizing underground water sources, before 2008.

There are 349 Mae Hong Son villages which need a public water supply. Their needs would be met by further development of existing water systems and the installation of new infra structure. A 4.4 billion baht budget has been set aside for this purpose. Residents of each village will be encouraged to confer to ascertain their particular needs for projects to be tailored to meet their needs. These findings will be passed on to local administrative organizations so that an overall coherent plan can be coordinated and implemented.

Somsak Kuenkaew added that conferences would be held to ensure that a comprehensive approach and understanding of the situation would be adopted by all parties concerned, including the TAO and PAO and other similar organizations within the province. Chana Naksuriya, Deputy Governor of Mae Hong Son stressed that residents would be able to participate fully in the decision making processes at every stage so that a mutually agreeable outcome for each village is achieved.


More grenades at Chiang Mai Winter Fair

Authorities seem to have no answer for the youth violence

Nopniwat Krailerg

Once again youngsters threw grenades during Chiang Mai’s Winter Fair, (organized December 29-January 12 behind Chiang Mai City Hall). There were many activities and performances, such as concerts attracting almost 1000 young people to attend the event every night. One evening, while the popular band, Bodyslam, were performing on stage, some teenagers fought in the auditorium and threw bombs, causing six teenagers to be injured, one seriously. They were taken to the nearby Nakornping Hospital for treatment.

Many local residents blamed lax security at the venue, but the organizers insisted they had done all they could to prevent weapons being brought into the event.

On the evening of January 9, another outbreak of violence occurred at the Bump Car Zone, a place youngsters always gather, resulting in four young people being injured. Sapaluck Kotakham, 17, suffered severe lacerations to the left foot and right leg and Kittikorn Suriyachaiphan, 16, received cuts to the head. The injuries suffered by both youths were considered serious and gave cause for concern. The other two casualties were Niraporn Kiewkad, 18, and Nootchanat Wonghorn, also 18, both suffering cuts and bruises to the body. All four were admitted to Nakornping Hospital for treatment.

Questioned by the police, the consensus story from all four was that after enjoying Zeal band’s concert, they visited the Bump Car Zone that was also opened as a discoth่que. Some trouble developed between two groups of teenagers, during which, grenades were thrown. They said that the violence occurred out of sight of the security officers, who were mainly keeping an eye on the stage.


Another pair of small-fry drug dealers arrested

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Choochai Udompode, Head of Mae Sai Customhouse, Chiang Rai, together with Kitti Suthisamphan, an officer of the Customhouse, in association with Pha Muang Task Force, Third Army Region, was manning the customs checkpoint at the Mae Sai border opposite Tachilek, Burma. Information had led them to believe that a
drug shipment was coming through the checkpoint and later a sniffer dog’s barks alerted the team to a Burmese man walking into Thailand.

He was searched and found to be carrying 2,986 methamphetamine pills hidden in the base of his shoe so he was arrested. Known as Sai-ong Gook, 23, a Burmese national, he confessed that he intended to deliver the ya ba to Somboon Eueydee, 20, living at Tambon Wiang Pang Kham in Mae Sai. The officers persuaded Sai-ong Gook to proceed with the delivery to Somboon and observed the transaction which took place opposite the Mae Sai Police Station, after which, both men were taken into custody.

Sai-ong Gook was a member of Burmese drug dealing gang hired by the Wah to transfer drugs. Somboon was a regular client in Mae Sai distributing drugs to students and the general public.


Goods smuggled from China detected in Chiang Rai

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

A checkpoint on Pahon-yothin Road, (city centre lane), Chiang Rai had been set up and observed a suspicious looking green car with black windows, being driven from the direction of the border at Mae Sai, with even more suspicious occupants.

The officers stopped the car and learned that the driver was Winai Hoykerd, 35, a Phetchaburi resident and accompanied by two passengers Jiraporn Mongkonkarn, 41 and Suri Tiangtrong, 59. After search-ing the vehicle, the officers discovered almost 400 items including portable game players, calculators, driers and tablecloths to the value of around 500,000 baht. The entire contents of the car were seized in order that their source could be checked at the police station.

When questioned, Jiraporn claimed she was the owner of these articles and she had purchased them at the Thai-Burmese border in Mae Sai for further distribution and sale in Central Thailand. Although she recognized that the goods had originally come from China, she was unaware of any obligation to pay import duty on them.


Illegal alien laborers arrested and employers prosecuted

Nopniwat Krailerg

A squad of 50 officers of Pha Muang Task Force and Border Patrol police raided an eight storey building on Chang Klan Road, Tambon Chang Klan. There, nine Burmese men were found to be working for Pinit Phanphong, 45, living in Ubon Ratchathani who was running a construction agency business. All the illegal aliens were arrested.

After arresting the Burmese men, the enforcers moved on to a place on Kamphangdin Road, Soi 3 at Tambon Haiya. Here, several men and women were found working for their employer Surphon Dansa, 41, living in Muang Chiang Mai. The employer and his illegal workforce were also arrested and sent to Muang Chiang Mai Police Station for prosecution, where the two employers were charged with offering residence to illegal laborers and the laborers were charged with entering the Kingdom of Thailand illegally.


Policeman’s notebook computer goes missing on flight to Chiang Mai

Local police and THAI officials unable to find it

Saksit Meesubkwang

On January 13, Pol. Lt. Col. Jaruek Chotiko, Investigation Officer of Muang Chiang Mai Police Station informed Pol. Maj. Witthaya Winya-yong, Phuping Police Station Investigation Officer that his notebook computer had vanished on the plane whilst he was traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

Lt. Col. Jaruek Chotiko, Investigation Officer of Muang Chiang Mai Police Station informed police of his missing notebook.

Pol. Lt. Col. Jaruek disclosed that he took Thai International Airways (THAI) flight TG100 departing Bangkok at 6 a.m. On arrival in Chiang Mai, he reclaimed his luggage but immediately noticed that the bag in which he had packed his notebook computer felt too light. On opening the bag he found the notebook was missing. He informed the airline staff of his loss, but, despite an exhaustive search, the computer, valued at 55,000 baht, was not found. He immediately informed police at Chiang Mai Airport and contacted the THAI office to report the incident, asserting that they were responsible for the security of his luggage whilst he was in transit in their aircraft, but this was ignored.

The policeman said that he had repeatedly asked the officers to investigate the theft as swiftly as possible, but after a month had elapsed without finding the thief or the stolen computer, hopes of a successful outcome to the case were diminishing. In an effort to get THAI to admit responsibility he went to their Northern Branch Office to present a petition to Thanawat Hiranyalekha, manager of northern marketing but he was in a conference, so Thipwan Yode-in, deputy manager of Chiang Mai International Airport received the petition instead. She expressed her regrets about the theft and promised she would bring the case to the attention of the CEOs.


Flying Dutchman arrested in San Sai

Police popped his balloon!

Nopniwat Krailerg

The tourist police had learnt from informants that there was a business conducting balloon flights for both Thais and foreign tourists without the necessary permits, and they were afraid of the balloon falling causing injury and death, with the subsequent adverse effect this would have on Thai tourism.

On January 11, Pol. Capt. Nanthawat Nakjaroong, Deputy Inspector of the Chiang Mai tourist police, together with a squad of his officers, arrested the Dutchman, Daan Hasker-land, 34,who had just landed his balloon in farmland in San Sai district, Chiang Mai.

The tourist police investigated the case and found Mr. Haskerland, together with some other foreign colleagues running the business. The brave police, posing as tourists, booked a flight in the balloon, despite their fears that it might fall out of the sky. Mr. Haskerland, piloted the balloon, taking off from Wiang Ping Village on the Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai Road near Doi Saket, Chiang Mai.

After the balloon landed, the police revealed their identities to Haskerland and informed him that he was under arrest for not holding a flying business permit and for not having the necessary air commu-nication authorization. After his arrest the police seized the balloon and a pick-up truck and took them to the tourist police station to be kept there as evidence. He was sent to Immigration officers where he faces further prosecution. Here it was learned that he initially entered the Kingdom as a tourist.


Phayao trying to resolve the human trafficking problem

Saksit Meesubkwang

Many social problems are causing a steep rise in the incidence of human trafficking in the Phayao area, revealed Sampan Suwan-nathub, Head of Social Development and Human Security Office of Phayao.

Research shows that in Tambon Pasang Dok Kham Tai District, Tambon Lor and Tambon Thung Ruang Thong Jun District Phayao province, the number of women and children that fall into this situation has risen here due to three main important factors. The first is that 90 percent of families in the community have fallen into debt after being unable to keep up with repayments on loans. Secondly, many families have large living expenses with only a small area of land for agriculture, insufficient area from which to earn a living. The third reason is people are unable to earn sufficient money locally and believe they will solve their debt problems by going abroad to find better paid work.

Having realized the cause of this dilemma, the province has put into place three measures to prevent and resolve the human trafficking problem in the area. They have set up Anti-Human Trafficking Centers and Operations in seven districts and two sub-districts. Prevention is achieved by placing officers in each of the 68 Tambons in the community as well as publicizing and giving knowledge about the dangers of human trafficking. On top of that the province also supports the education by presenting 5,900 scholarships for children from low revenue families and sending staff covering every area in Phayao province help the families as well as providing support groups for women and children who have been victims of trafficking.



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