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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Mobile cabinet to meet in Chiang Mai and resolve local problems

New fair will promote Chiang Mai as health and beauty hub

Cabinet ministers to meet in Chiang Mai to discuss local problems

2nd Thailand-EFTA Free Trade Area negotiation in Chiang Mai

Second Friendship Bridge to Burma at Mae Sai border in Chiang Rai

CMU academic criticizes events in Lumpini Park

The animals are coming hurrah, hurrah!

60 vehicles used to transport students found to be faulty

Governor to present plans for flood mitigation and details of mega projects to mobile cabinet meeting in Chiang Mai

Children’s Day accident injures 30 children

North to stage its own motor expo

Northern ONCB reviews drug situation in 2005 and 2006

Policeman defames prison officer

Police believe local network is helping North Koreans enter Chiang Rai

Mae Hong Son opens learning center for war refugees

Unsatisfactory TBC Conference between Thailand and Burma

Laos PDR hosts Thai-Laotian border conference

Mayor begging for 100 mio baht

Chiang Mai Municipality arranges 5th China Town Chiang Mai

Drug courier killed and 20,000 ya ba pills discovered

Mother and daughter led drug dealing gang

Hot Citroen in central Chiang Mai

Canadian found dead in a central Chiang Mai apartment

Troops flown in by chopper to eliminate remote opium farm

14 students found gambling and taking drugs

Hmong tribesman arrested with 18,000 speed pills

Burma increase vigilance after intercepting drug haul

Mobile cabinet to meet in Chiang Mai and resolve local problems

Flood control high on the agenda with 1,200 mio baht budget needed

Nopniwat Krailerg

Mae Ping River at the Rama 9 Bridge in Chiang Mai municipality, a narrow area that is now being widened

Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Liptapanlop traveled to Chiang Mai on January 23 to discuss issues facing the eight far Northern provinces so that he can present them to the mobile cabinet that will be headed by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on its official visit to Chiang Mai on February 6-7.

The cabinet will meet at the Waree Khun Chorn conference room, Chiang Mai Night Safari. Local organization representatives and the eight Northern governors gathered to confer with the Deputy PM and he revealed after the conference that there are main three issues, namely solving the flood problems in Chiang Mai, strategies to improve the eight provinces economically, and strategies to develop the basic structure of Chiang Mai province.

Suwat Liptapanlop, Deputy PM and Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor at the conference.

Suwat said that three recent flooding episodes had occurred in Chiang Mai and badly affected the province’s economy. He was assigned by the cabinet to be responsible for resolving this issue. There are 35 projects planned for flood prevention, 33 of them in Chiang Mai and two in Lamphun, and these had been separated into urgent, temporary and permanent categories. If all the plans are implemented, flooding will certainly no longer occur in Chiang Mai, he said.

Emergency plans include gathering information and setting up an advance warning system, and slowing down the stream from the upper north of Chiang Mai province by constructing reservoirs, drainage pipes, dams and weirs. Improvement works to the Mae Ping River need to be carried
out as soon as possible to prevent flooding in the city, with drainage, dredging and heightening of the riverbank walls all necessary.

The Department of Public Works is now drafting two sets of plans to construct walls outside the city for 14 kilometers and inside the city for 6 kilometers. The department has asked for 1,200 million baht for the 20 kilometers of walling, said the minister, but consideration has first to be given to the environmental and tourism aspects.

Some more strategies to improve the province’s basic infrastructure concern water purifying, garbage disposal, the mass transport system and transportation management including strategies in relation to tourism, the handicraft sector, and large projects under the national government such as the International Horticulture Exposition, the Night Safari, and the international convention center.

There are five strategies to develop the eight provinces to stimulate the local economies and link the provinces with overseas markets, along with encouraging tourism and human resource development. In total there are 105 projects planned, the majority in Chiang Mai.

The cabinet will separate to visit different districts in Chiang Mai to learn problems concerning the govern-ment’s basic policies such as poverty elimination and the 30-baht medical service. On February 6 an evening meeting will be held to discuss the various issues. After that, all the issues will be presented to the cabinet meeting on February 7.


New fair will promote Chiang Mai as health and beauty hub

Preeyanoot Jittawong and Kittiyaporn Kanjam (Student trainee MFLU)

An international fair to promote Chiang Mai as a hub of health care and beauty treatments will be held between February 9 and 13 at the Chiang Mai University Convention Hall.

The Morning Kids team, one of the representative teams, demonstrate their aerobics and dancercise skills.

Announcing the event, head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Health Office Dr Rattawut Sukmee said it was being organized in conjunction with the Chiang Mai Health Services Promotion Association and Chiang Mai Travel Business Association.

The Chiang Mai Health Hub and Beauty Expo 2006 will feature many health activities, services, and products. The objectives of the fair are to
help develop Chiang Mai’s potential to be a health services center and a destination for health tourism. Phinij Jarusombat, Minister of Public Health, will preside over the opening ceremony.

Dr Rattawut also announc-ed that the Provincial Health Office will be helping to fund three representative teams from the North who will be competing in the national level Aerobics and Dancer-cise Thailand Champion-ship 2006, under the To Be Number One project. The three teams are Morning Kids, Power Kids, and Praw. They will compete on February 4 and 5 at Fashion Island Department Store, Bangkok.


Cabinet ministers to meet in Chiang Mai to discuss local problems

But will they have any answers?

Saksit Meesubkwang

PM’s consultant, Yaowapa Wongsawat (first right) confers with government officials and private sector.

A conference was held on January 17 at Chiang Mai government center, with cabinet ministers attending to consider problems presented by officials from both the government and private sector, from the eight Northern provinces

According to the consultant to the PM, Yaowapa Wongsawat, said that as for Chiang Mai Province, it would be placed at the top of the list for improvements, ahead of any other district in the northern area.

Three issues that are of primary importance to Chiang Mai were presented to the cabinet ministers and they are to come up with a permanent solution to the flooding in Chiang Mai, the mass transport system and garbage management. Owing to its pre-eminence as a tourist destination, these three issues need to be addressed urgently otherwise they may affect tourist numbers.


2nd Thailand-EFTA Free Trade Area negotiation in Chiang Mai

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

The second Thailand Free Trade Area (T-EFTA) conference was held in the Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel, Chiang Mai, attended by representatives of the member countries of Europe; Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland and Thailand.

The conference, held during January 16-20, heard heated debate concerning several topics, namely agricultural products, product source, plants and livestock hygiene, impediments to investment, intellectual property, purchasing by government and competition policy. At this round of talks, the Thai contingent requested a more equitable trading policy among the member countries covering agricultural products especially rice, cassava, frozen chicken and sugar, also industrial products for which the EFTA had previously confirmed would be an open market for Thailand. Also, Thailand would like the EFTA to reduce import duty on a further list of products and lift restrictions on Thai industrial goods.

Kruekkrai Jiraphad, Assistant Minister of Tourism and Sports, who led the Thai negotiators, said that EFTA and Thailand had enjoyed a good working relationship for a long time and this conference would carry on the good work of previous negotiators, with each country’s representatives vigorously defending their own position, but willing to compromise slightly to achieve a mutually agreeable solution.

Over the last three years, Thai-EFTA trading value stood at 8 billion baht or only one percent of the entire export product of the country, despite the fact that the other member countries have greater purchasing power. This negotiation was advantageous for many Thai products, especially modified industrial goods, electronics parts and materials and capital goods.


Second Friendship Bridge to Burma at Mae Sai border in Chiang Rai

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

In an effort to ease congestion at the Mae Sai-Tachilek Burmese border crossing, a second Friendship Bridge was opened on January 22, at Baan San Pak Hee, also in Mae Sai. Choochai Udompode, head of Mae Sai Customs, said that the second bridge was more substantially built than the first one, and would carry the heavier vehicles necessary for exporting Thai products such as oil and other miscellaneous goods from Mae Sai to Tachilek, Burma and continuing on to Chiang Tung, Muang La and Southern China including India.

Choosak Upanan, Mae Sai district chief officer said that the second Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge would be more beneficial for trade and international investment. By continuing to use the first bridge for pedestrians and light traffic and transferring heavier goods vehicles to the new bridge it will reduce the potential for accidents that usually occur when drivers change from driving on the right hand side of the road in Burma to the opposite side in Thailand. Furthermore, by speeding up the flow of commercial traffic, it should help to reduce journey times, and
encourage business to invest more readily in the import and export of commodities.

Thailand had constructed a customhouse building in Burma valued at 11 million baht, with immigration and temporary plant checking facilities on the Thailand side of the border. There are other continuing construction projects in the pipeline with a total of seven organizations planning buildings valued at almost 400 million baht.


CMU academic criticizes events in Lumpini Park

Saksit Meesubkwang

A senior academic at Chiang Mai University has hit out at what he says are government-organized disturbances at a public meeting in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park on January 13.

Dr Thanet Chareunmuang of the Faculty of Social Sciences said that agitators who disrupted the 13th Mobile Muang Thai Rai Sapda program, and who have been widely reported as being supported by the government, are sowing the seeds of further trouble and that any escalation could lead to acts of violence.

He said the government should explain or give information about the program instead of inciting a mob to break up the gathering. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should also tell the public whether or not the trouble-makers were supported by the government, instead of leaving it to rumor.

He added that the incident in which a group of people marched from Lumpini Park to Government House and tried to forcibly enter the building was also inappropriate. Not only was it an act of violence, it could lead to suppression of further protests as police acted to maintain civil law.


The animals are coming hurrah, hurrah!

Night Safari receives a male hippopotamus from Frankfurt Zoo

Nopniwat Krailerg

Ki Bo Ko, the new member of Chiang Mai Night Safari.

On January 18, 2006, Chiang Mai Night Safari welcomed Ki Bo Ko, a male hippopotamus weighing 1,450 kilograms, which came from Frankfurt Zoo in Germany. This new hippo is the latest addition to the hippopotamus family which already has two males and seven females.

Phisarn Wisuwanit, Director of Chiang Mai Night Safari Administrative Office said that this animal was given free of charge. Thai Airways generously took care of Ki Bo Ko’s trip from Germany to Chiang Mai; and he arrived here in good health and it is expected that he will soon adapt to his new environment. In the first couple of weeks, staff will feed the hippopotamus on dried grass, after which period he will be slowly introduced to fresh grass.

Phisarn also said that on January 20 and 21, 2006, more animals are expected from foreign countries and at the beginning of February, several animals from Guang Zhou Zoo in China will arrive including four white tigers, and Burkina Faso is sending two African elephants in the near future. The staff believes that the inclusion of these animals will make Chiang Mai Night Safari more and interesting.

Preecha Rattanaporn, Deputy Director of Chiang Mai Night Safari Administrative Office said that the German hippopotamus will improve the breeding program as the two male hippos already here are from the Dusit Zoo.


60 vehicles used to transport students found to be faulty

Nopniwat Krailerg

Ausathai Rattanadilok Na Phuket, Head of Chiang Mai Provincial Transport Office said that officers from the Department of Land Transport had carried out spot checks on over 200 school transport vehicles and found around 60 of them to be unfit for service.

The main faults were incorrect lighting or the red and yellow lights not being switched on while transporting children. Some drivers were carrying too many passengers and allowing students to swing from the bars whilst standing on the rear of the vehicle and even allowing some children to sit on the roof!

Other irregularities included operating the vehicle for hire without it being licensed for that purpose, and failing to carry the appropriate tools and equipment. Drivers of such vehicles that did not come up to scratch were fined and ordered to either repair them and re-submit them for inspection.

Chiang Mai Provincial Transport Office warns all school transport vehicle owners to follow the regulations of the Department of Land Transport or they will be fined and punished.


Governor to present plans for flood mitigation and details of mega projects to mobile cabinet meeting in Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai governor

A mobile cabinet meeting is to be held in Chiang Mai on February 6-7 and the Chiang Mai governor has decided the most suitable venue would be the Night Safari. Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai Governor said that this was the 1st Provincial Integration Administration Conference 2006. The main purpose of this conference was to prepare the agenda of what to present to the cabinet members.

It was decided that the agenda should include plans for solving the flood situation in Chiang Mai and continuing projects that the government has already invested in, including the airport extension, Chiang Mai Night Safari, the International Horticultural Exposition, the International Convention and Products Center, cluster innovation project and one province - one agricultural-industrial product initiative.

Whilst in Chiang Mai the Cabinet members will take the opportunity to visit other areas nearby, so district chief officers will provide economic and district social information to report to the cabinet with the Director of Northern Economy and Social Development Office being the man responsible for collecting the information before it was sent to the province on January 16.

On February 6 the Cabinet will visit 22 districts and 2 sub-districts. The province will set a schedule to discuss the problems of each district by considering the degree of urgency and the Cabinet then will assign officers to deal with it.


Children’s Day accident injures 30 children

Saksit Meesubkwan

Eaknarin Inchai, 9, sufered the most serious injury. He was sent for observation to Nakornping Hospital.

An inflatable slippery-slide was one of the attractions at the Children’s Day Party of Tambon Mae Rim, near Chiang Mai. The equipment was hired by the Tambon Mae Rim municipality, through an agent who erected the slide for the children to play on. However, shortly after the party started the slide deflated, causing injuries to around 30 children. The police were called to the scene and found that many of the children were only slightly hurt, with the exception of Eaknarin Inchai or Ice, 9, living near Mae Rim, who was apparently unconscious. He was sent for observation at Nakornping Hospital and was later reported to have recovered completely.

Pol. Maj. Alongkorn Phormta, duty inspector of Mae Rim Police Station, ordered the seizure of the slide for examination. The agent said that he was hired by Tambon Mae Rim municipality to install the playthings on Children’s Day. At 10 a.m. he started to erect the slide by pumping air into it and asked the municipality officer to keep an eye on it for him, whilst he attended to something else. However about 30 minutes later, a crowd of children were playing on it when a plug became dislodged causing the slide to deflate and the children were injured jumping off it. It is believed that the final responsibility rests with Tambon Mae Rim municipality, the event organizer.


North to stage its own motor expo

Show is planned as an annual event

Saksit Meesubkwang

The Federation of Thai Industries, Northern Region and the Federation of Thai Industries Chiang Mai Provincial Chapter in association with Inter-Media Consultant Co., Ltd. jointly held 1st Northern Motor Expo press conference at the Empress Hotel, Chiang Mai.

The first Northern Motor Expo is to be held from February 9 to 19 at Chiang Mai 700 Year Anniversary Stadium.

Organized by the Federation of Thai Industries’ Northern Region and its Chiang Mai Provincial Chapter in association with Inter-Media Consultant Co., Ltd. the show will be the biggest of its kind in the North.

Saroch Ratanawadee, president of the Federation’s Northern Region said that Inter-Media has more than 20 years of experience in organizing motor expos and that this event will be comparable to the huge expos held in Bangkok.

Inter-Media president Kwanchai Papatpong said eight auto companies have already confirmed they will be attending, namely Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Isuzu, Mercedes-Benz, Ssan-yong, Subaru and Toyota. Two truck companies, Hino and Nissan UD, will also be there. Confirmation is awaited from other manufacturers. Predictions are that 1,000 vehicles will be sold during the show, along with accessories and spare parts, which will also be on display.

Yuttapong Jiraprapapong, president of the Federation of Thai Industries Chiang Mai Provincial Chapter, said the province is a center of investment and that it is able to support a major event such as a motor expo. Plans are to hold the expo every year as a way of promoting tourism, trade and investment. In future, there will be an international convention and product display center so the next motor expo will be organized as a national level event.


Northern ONCB reviews drug situation in 2005 and 2006

Saksit Meesubkwang

Pittaya Jinawat, ONCB Northern Office director, in his continuing efforts in the war against drugs, invited various agencies whose work is in drug suppression and members of the media, to exchange ideas. He said that by getting journalists, with their insights concerning the end users of drugs, together with ONCB, police, and soldiers who are active at the sharp end of drug suppression, to discuss the various issues with each other, could formulate a cohesive policy on the way forward in eradicating the scourge of drugs.

Despite the fact that drug transfers from producers in Burma are almost a daily occurrence, Pittaya reported that there had been a great deal of cooperation between Thailand and Burma in their efforts to solve the drug problem in recent years with Burma having been far more forthcoming in exchanging information about drug sellers including arresting more drug traffickers and handing them over to the Thai police. He added that the economic and social conditions of the two countries being so different did not help matters, but the aims of the ONCB and their counterparts in Burma remained the same, namely to thwart the efforts of those people who continue to smuggle drugs into Thailand.

Col. Supot Buranajari from Pha Muang Force, said that the efforts of his soldiers on the border has drastically reduced the shipment of drugs along the regular routes. The traffickers are having to resort to more roundabout and difficult routes to escape the attention of the border guards and have shifted their operations from the North to the Northeast route instead.

Pol. Col. Athakit Kornthong, Chiang Mai Provincial Police Deputy Commander said there has been a spate of arrests of more minor sellers, usually of alien laborers, who were importing the drugs.


Policeman defames prison officer

Saksit Meesubkwang

Narcotics suppression officers of Chiang Mai Provincial Police, acting on a tip-off given to them by another policeman, Pol. Sgt.Manoon Jaruenmitsakul, searched the car of Jiraphan Pawasutti, head of prisoner career training. They found 176 ya ba pills hidden in the rear wheel arch of his pick up, which at that time was parked in the Kam Thieng Market, where he was displaying products made by prisoners. On discovering the speed pills, officers arrested both Jiraphan and the Commissioner of Lamphun Provisional Prison, but Jiraphan denied all charges and claimed he would prove he had been falsely accused.

However, when officers dug deeper they learned that Pol. Sgt. Manoon Jaruenmitsakul, special task force officer of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, was himself implicated in the case. Several prior instances came to light where this policeman had persecuted the prison officer, because Jiraphan had a conflict with a builder. This person, who was a personal friend of Pol. Sgt. Manoon, and had asked him to plant the ya ba. Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong demanded Manoon’s imme diate arrest and instantly terminated his employment as a government official.

Pol. Sgt. Manoon admitted that he had hidden ya ba in wheel-arch of Jiraphan’s pick up, claiming he did it alone. However, Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong said that the police would continue their enquiries and all those
concerned would be prosecuted, adding that Pol. Sgt. Manoon’s confession had cleared Jiraphan and it had become obvious it was a case of malicious persecution by the agent, because of a conflict concerning
bidding for the construction of the prison.

Jiraphan thanked the officers who had investigated the case and all the prison staff who had spoken up and helped to clear his name.

Prior to his arrival at Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, Pol. Sgt. Manoon Jaruenmitsakul, 35, had initially worked in Chiang Mai, involved with the suppression of obscene and pirate CDs and later assigned to work in traffic police relations.


Police believe local network is helping North Koreans enter Chiang Rai

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Four more North Koreans have been found in Chiang Rai, having entered Thailand illegally with the express purpose of being deported to a third country.

They were apprehended on January 18 by Pol Lt Col Tossaphum Jareunphon, deputy superintendent of Muang Chiang Rai Police Station. The Koreans said they had intended surrendering themselves to Chiang Rai tourist police. They told investigators they had been smuggled across the North Korea border into China. From there they had been taken to southern China and then boarded a Chinese ship that had brought them to Chiang Saen, from where they had traveled into Chiang Rai’s city center. There they had given themselves up.

Police say that usually illegal North Korean immigrants are found at Chiang Saen port area but that this group had managed to travel right into the city. This indicates that there is now a network of some kind that is helping the illegal trade.

Pol Maj Gen Pornphat Suyanan, commissioner of immigration police, said that immigration officers in Mae Sai, Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong have been given a special brief to be alert for North Koreans.


Mae Hong Son opens learning center for war refugees

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

A recent survey revealed that there are 50,000 refugees at Pang Tractor War Refuge, Tambon Pang Moo, near Mae Hong Son, unable to read Thai, making the task of the Thai staff whose job it is to help them, more difficult. Mae Hong Son Non-Formal Education Center has taken on the task of teaching the refugees to read Thai with cooperation of foreign organizations.

Pang Tractor War Refuge is also the center for other war refugees, which when it first opened, held 300 occupants but has steadily filled to the present number of 50,000.

The Mae Hong Son governor said that the funds for this project have come from foreign organizations and when the refugees have finished their schooling at the learning center, they will be better equipped to live in Thailand.


Unsatisfactory TBC Conference between Thailand and Burma

Saksit Meesubkwang

On January 14, the 10th Local Township Border Committee (TBC) Conference between Thailand and Burma was held at Baan Mae Jae in Bolakae district of Loy Kaw province in Burma, 10 km away from the trading point at Baan Sao Hin, in Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son.

Thailand asked for Burma’s participation in three issues. 1. Burma should take more care when burning forests in the winter, as both the flames and the smoke may cross into Thailand, affecting Thai citizens’ health and Mae Hong Song’s tourism, plus being a danger to air traffic approaching Mae Hong Son airport. Secondly, Burma must not shoot at any aircraft in the vicinity of the Thai-Burmese border; and thirdly Burma should be very protective and increase their vigilance in the border area, especially during Queen Sirikit’s upcoming visit to the Thai border area.

This conference was set-up and managed by Thai-Burmese border relation officers, but it was found that Burma could not attend to any of Thailand’s requests, as their officers proclaimed they needed to wait for higher command. Meanwhile, Burma allowed only Thai side of the border crossing to open at the relented trading point, only allowing minor groups in Burma to trade with Thai business men.

The Burmese side claimed that Thailand supported minority groups such as the KNPP and the ABSDF (Burma calls them terrorists) and pointed out that these two troops are collecting weapons in emigration centers in a number of Northern districts. Thailand denied this and promised to shed some light on this matter, also mentioning an event where a Thai officer was strangled in a Burmese area nearby Baan Doi Saeng, Tambon Pang Moo in Muang, Mae Hong Son in 2002. Thailand had frequently requested the Burmese to pursue this case but so far, no pro-gress has been made in the matter.


Laos PDR hosts Thai-Laotian border conference

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Thailand and Laos recently conferred about border security cooperation between Chiang Rai province and Baw Kaew, to work together at local level and to conclude the question of where to construct a bridge across the Mekong River.

This was the seventh conference held to discuss the mutual local problems. While Laos PDR asked Thailand and Chiang Rai province to give them information about terrorists and drug dealers hiding along Thai border, the main topic under discussion was a feasibility study for the siting of a bridge linking the two countries, spanning the Mekong. Of the 12 possible sites, eight had already been studied leaving four requiring further consideration. Both countries agree that a bridge to link the R3E Road with roads across the Mekong in Laos would be mutually in their best interests and would provide an artery linking Thailand with Southern China. Both countries are however anxious to determine the most favourable site for the bridge before commencing construction.

Worakiart Somsoi, Chiang Rai governor headed the Thailand team and Kham Man Soonwilert, governor of Baw Kaew presided over the conference.


Mayor begging for 100 mio baht

Nopniwat Krailerg

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor disclosed he was ready to ask cabinet ministers for a budget for improving the city when they attend a conference in Chiang Mai to be held on February 6-7, 2006.

One of the issues that will be presented to the ministers is the Chiang Mai Mass Transport Plan that was applied for three months ago and was agreed by the Deputy Minister of Transport. This is to purchase more than 100 transport vehicles from Bangkok to serve throughout Chiang Mai.

Regarding the mass transport plan, he expected it would require 18 million baht for studying routes and systems and predicted he would have this amount by this mid year. This budget will be applied to achieve a much improved transport system by using electric cars.

The mayor also said that there were several other projects that would benefit Chiang Mai in various aspects. They are to beautify the province and to make it the most impressive city in this region. Some plans concern tourism projects such as supporting Chiang Mai Night Safari and the International Horticultural Exposition and some highlight particular local activities in the province such as Songkran and Loy Krathong.

He added that another 20 million baht would be asked for to achieve a green city to coincide with the forthcoming International Horticultural Exposition. Another 30 million baht for canal development to impress and attract tourists, with the whole packaged designed to enhance the image of Chiang Mai as the capital of the north.


Chiang Mai Municipality arranges 5th China Town Chiang Mai

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Chiang Mai Municipality, cooperating with Chinese-Thais, is preparing the 5th China Town Chiang Mai festival to showcase the traditions and culture of Chinese-Thais in Chiang Mai.

Pornchai Jitnawasatian, Chiang Mai Deputy Mayor reported that Chiang Mai Municipality joined with many local Chinese organizations, including the Chinese in Chiang Mai Club, to arrange “China Town Chiang Mai Festival”. To celebrate the Chinese-Thai festivities there will be many activities such as a Chinese Boy-Girl contest; 4-6 years old and 7-9 years old; it giving the opportunity to Chinese-Thai boys and girls to show their special abilities.

Chiang Mai Municipality hopes that everybody, residents and tourists, Thais and foreigners will join the activities “China Town Chiang Mai Festival” which will take place on January 29-31, 2006, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on Wichayanon Road.


Drug courier killed and 20,000 ya ba pills discovered

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chai Prakan Police Station officers, led by Pol. Col. Panudet Boonruang, Superintendent of the station, having learned of a probable drug shipment on January 18, prepared to arrest the traffickers.

Information received led the police to believe that the shipment would take place at Baan Doi Law, a village near Chai Prakan, Chiang Mai. The police set up a check point and stopped a man on a motor cycle, who they suspected of being involved with the gang. Upon being requested to submit to being searched, the man attempted to flee on his motorcycle, but the police cornered him in a nearby orchard. He was called upon to surrender but, instead of doing so, he opened fire at the police, who returned fire hitting the man, who died immediately. It was later learned that he was Jahae Chahae, 38, living at Tambon Mae Talop in Chai Prakan in Chiang Mai. No police were injured in the making of the ambush.

A search of his bag revealed 20,000 ya ba pills. The bag and its contents were sent to the police station to be retained as evidence.
The body was sent to the morgue.


Mother and daughter led drug dealing gang

Saksit Meesubkwang

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 commissioner and Pol Maj Gen Jiruj Promobol, Chiang Mai Provincial Police commander are checking seized possessions.

A drug dealing gang led by a mother and her daughter has been broken up by Chiang Mai police.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Sing-hara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, held a press briefing on January 18 to announce the arrests.

He said that officers from Chiang Dao Police Station had been in pursuit of this gang which was headed by a woman named Nongkran or Nakha Jasee, along with her daughter Thanyaluck Suphan. Investigators had found more than a million baht deposited in their bank account in Nakhonpathom.

Another member named Saowanee Makmeesuk had been arrested on the bus while traveling from Fang to Chiang Mai, and 8,600 ya ba pills had been seized. Later, officers had searched Nong-kran’s home and discovered 84 methamphetamine pills along with 1,600,000 baht in cash, a kilogram of gold ornaments, documentation for 12 bank accounts, and a motorbike and a car. Goods to the value of more than three million baht were seized.

This gang was cooperating with networks in the central and western parts of the region, said Panupong, and officers are now pursuing enquiries that should uncover other dealer.


Hot Citroen in central Chiang Mai

PM’s relative runs a ‘Blue Flag’ BBQ

Nopniwat Krailerg

Police officer interviewing Boonipha Shinawatra, after her car caught fire.

On January 15, Pol. Maj. Prinya Pechmee, duty inspector of Muang Chiang Mai Police Station learned of a car on fire at Somphet junction opposite The House Restaurant. He immediately informed Chiang Mai fire brigade before hurrying to the scene.

There he found a blue Citroen Xantia with a Chiang Mai license plate, with the front of the vehicle on fire. Local residents helped to extinguish the blaze using both water from the nearby canal and a chemical extinguisher. Shortly after, a fire engine arrived on the scene and made doubly sure that the fire was out.

The owner of the vehicle, a local business woman Boonipha Shinawatra, 50, incidentally a close relative of the PM Thaksin Shinawatra, disclosed that she was driving to work that evening from Sriphum Corner, when another motorist pointed at the front of her car where smoke and flames were issuing from the radiator grill. She immediately stopped the vehicle and got out to inform police. She said that this car had only just returned from the garage, where it had been for a few days after having a problem with the fuel oil tank. She thanked the people who had come to her assistance and the fire fighters for arriving so promptly.


Canadian found dead in a central Chiang Mai apartment

Saksit Meesubkwang

Police were called to an inner city residence after an odor was detected. Pol. Maj. Prinya Pechmee, duty inspector of Muang Chiang Mai Police Station, rushed to the scene together with the Ruam Jai Rescue Team and doctors from nearby Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital.

On arrival at the scene they found the body of a man wearing a black shirt and short pants, which was judged to have been dead for six hours. The corpse was identified as Christopher Robert Davies, 46, a Canadian national. There were medicine bottles found at the scene which were identified as vitamins and painkillers, also a small bag containing white powder which the officers took away to be analyzed.

Further enquiries revealed that the man had rented the room since January 12 this year, and had last been seen alive on January 14, after returning from a night out. He usually appeared for breakfast every morning and his absence from the breakfast table was noted by the staff, who went to check in his room and found he had died.

The initial police surmise is that after returning from his evening on the town he suffered a heart attack and collapsed. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital to establish the cause of death before informing the Canadian Consulate to contact his relatives.


Troops flown in by chopper to eliminate remote opium farm

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

An opium farm hidden in deep forest within Chiang Rai has been destroyed by a force of troops from the Third Army Region, who flew in by helicopter to raze the crops.

Maj Gen Kanittipon Mon-taporn, assistant commissioner of the Drug Combat Center said the operation took place on January 16, when two helicopters were used to transport personnel to the 20-rai area of farmland at Baan Phraya Koha, at Tambon Sirtoy in Mae Suai.

He said the farm was located in the remote forest but that his force had been provided with good information by villagers in the area. Both opium and cannabis were being grown at the site, interspersed with vegetables. Maj Gen Kanittipon said that personnel on the farm had already fled.

The opium crop had been almost ready for harvest, he added, and that had the farm not been eliminated it would have continued to be a supplier to the drugs trade in the region. Opium planting in the North has decreased greatly in recent years and narcotics suppression officers are continually on the alert for information that will lead them to illicit farms.


14 students found gambling and taking drugs

Nopniwat Krailerg

On January 18, police from Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 led by Chiang Mai provincial student Inspector went through apartments on Huay Kaew Road in Muang, Chiang Mai after learning from informants that teenagers were gathering there. The officers found 12 girls and two youths, aged between 15 and 18, in three rooms, gambling, smoking, taking drugs and watching porn movies. Seven ya ba pills were discovered along with cigarettes, drug taking equipment, many condoms and playing cards; also ten pornographic VCDs were seized. All these items were taken to the police station and retained as evidence for prosecuting those persons found to be in possession of drugs.

The officers also revealed that some of these girls had engaged in sexual activities to get money to purchase drugs. They were taken to hospital to be checked for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.


Hmong tribesman arrested with 18,000 speed pills

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

A Hmong hill tribesman arrested by police was found to have 18,000 ya ba pills in his possession.

Pol Col Amnuay Puaksanit, superintendent of the 32nd border patrol police, organized a press briefing at Phaya Ngam Muang Camp to announce the arrest, which had been the result of cooperation between the 32nd and 326th border patrol police units.

The arrest took place on January 18 in Chiang Rai, near a checkpoint at Baan Rom Fah Thai on the Baan Huak-Phu Chee Fah Road. The offender was identified as Puttichai Sawkong, 24, a Hmong living at Chiang Kham, in Phayao. Officers found 18,000 ya ba pills with a value of 3.6 million baht in his possession, and they also seized a motorcycle, cellphone, and 9,500 baht.

Pol Col Amnuay said that Puttichai was a retailer purchasing drugs from a primary dealer in a neighboring country to sell in central Thailand. A man accompanying Putti-chai had fled and had so far evaded arrest.


Burma increase vigilance after intercepting drug haul

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Burmese soldiers of 359 Battalion and police officers on duty at the Thachilek border checkpoint arrested two SSA soldiers who were found to be carrying 1.4 million ya ba pills and several concealed weapons, on January 9.

Officials there check all belongings, including the shopping bags of everybody who enters or leaves Burma, to prevent drugs and weapons being smuggled. Burmese officials of the ONCB already knew that Norkham, the SSA soldier who they had just arrested, was heavily implicated in distributing weapons and drugs in Thachilek province before shipping them across the border to customers in Thailand. His photograph had been brought to the Thai border so that the Pha Muang Force guarding the Thailand-Burma border at Mae Sai could recognize him.