NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Opium farm in Mae Chaem district destroyed

Chiang Mai municipality gets government budget for some projects

Cabinet spending 20 mio baht to restore the World War II Japanese Museum

New village being built for about to be displaced Mae Maw people

600 visitors to Chiang Mai Health Hub and Beauty Expo’06

Burma and Thailand agree to open Baan Nam Piang Din Trading Market, Mae Hong Son

Over 1000 aliens in Mae Hong Son to be naturalized

St Valentine’s Day – a celebration of marriage vows and roses

Mobile cabinet conference at Chiang Mai Night Safari result

Chiang Mai Mass Transport loses three million baht from municipality coffers

Editor of Chiang Mai News passes away

Chiang Mai residents to worship 18 pieces of Lord Buddha’s relics

Hi-tech thief hacks bank’s database and extracts millions of baht

One side of the analysis of the Thai-US FTA talks

Underground electricity cables for in Mae Sai

A million baht for agony, but no ecstasy, at the Mae Sai border

Mae Sai Custom House seize 2 mio baht contraband

San Pa Tong monk murderer revealed as monk from the same temple

Death during elephant show

More drug problems, with nurses selling for pocket money

Italian chef cooks his own goose ferrying ya ba

Burmese drug dealers arrested in Chiang Saen

Opium farm in Mae Chaem district destroyed

Saksit Meesubkwang

In their ongoing war to stamp out opium growing in northern Thailand, Maj. Gen. Kanittipon Mantaporn, Asst.commissioner of the Anti-Drug and Security Center led a force to eliminate an opium farm belonging to a Hmong tribe at Baan Mae Yod, near Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai.

In the interim, Col. Apichet Suesat, commander of Ranger 36, on duty in Mae Sariang reported another opium farm destroyed in Khun Yuam, Mae Hong Son.

Knowing that opium harvesting time was January to March, Ranger 36 had checked Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son provinces searching for opium farms. Some rangers were sent to live with villagers to get to know where the opium was planted, before returning to base and guiding a taskforce of officers to the location to destroy the plants. This year the rangers had eliminated two opium farms on three rai of land and arrested one Hmong tribesman, living at Baan Pang Oong, Tambon Mae Suek in Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai. According to statistics, destroyed areas growing opium were 49.42 rai in 2002, one rai in 2003-2004, 5 rai in 2005 and two rai destroyed so far this year

Because of the actions of the drug suppression units, opium farmers are being harried and suppressed continually. Soldiers and officers have organized activities for youngsters to play sports and villagers are encouraged to plant alternative crops instead of the opium poppy. Meanwhile housewives are supported in having alternate occupations; to keep them from resorting to drugs as a means of earning a living.

Maj. Gen. Kanittipon said that opium growing has decreased in the northern region because of actions of soldiers, police, border patrol police and drug suppression officers. Some villagers tried to disguise the fact they were growing opium by mixing the poppies among the vegetables. However, the Third Army Region is aware of this subterfuge and has destroyed a total of 609 rai of land to date planted with opium in the north. The area where this activity was most prevalent was at Doi Yang in Chiang Mai province where 10 rai were discovered. The officers learned that businessmen were funding the entire operation, and said they would pursue their enquiries and bring everyone involved before the courts, but that has not occurred yet.


Chiang Mai municipality gets government budget for some projects

Nopniwat Krailerg

Boonlert Buranupa-
korn, Chiang Mai mayor, presenting a red rose
to the media hoping
to avert the negative criticisms of last year.

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor, proclaimed that the municipality had worked hard for its citizens during the previous year, so several aspects had improved for the better, and that the current year 2006 would continue in that vein.

The recent mobile cabinet conference in Chiang Mai had authorized budgets for several projects under the care of Chiang Mai municipality. The project the Prime Minister paid most attention to was the Study Center in front of Chiang Mai train station, on eight rai of land, with a funding of 150 million baht. The PM wishes this area to be a Life Library, to persuade youngsters into attending good activities instead of spending time on online games, or gathering to make mischief. He wants to see Chiang Mai youths better educated, by learning from the Study Center of Thailand.

The mayor added that another 67 million baht was approved to develop the city area to be a city of flowers, especially around the canal, and 20 year old lanterns are to be replaced with new ones. The concrete surface around the canal has degenerated and is now ugly and needs to be renewed, and the PM agreed to improve this point to give us the most beautiful city canal in Thailand.

He informed the media that busses would be staying for Chiang Mai citizens even though the municipality is losing money on this public transport. Routes served by the busses are to be improved and more mini-busses will be added. Three more routes are about to be opened to meet the needs of citizens. There will be new routes to deal with traffic jams on roads from Mahanakorn Cinema to Wat Pa Phaeng and other roads are now being planned.


Cabinet spending 20 mio baht to restore the World War II Japanese Museum

Saksit Meesubkwang

World War II Japanese Museum.

Direk Konkleep, Mae Hong Son Governor disclosed that the cabinet ministers had discussed Mae Hong Son Province’s request for a budget for several projects including the World War II Musem, flood solving, the construction of another road linking Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son and the Thai-Burmese trade project.

He was delighted to announce that the cabinet had authorized 20 million baht for conserving and restoring the World War II Japanese Museum in Khun Yuam district. This museum is at present a depository for artefacts from that era, with the hulks of vintage vehicles, equipment, clothes and eating utensils left by the Japanese soldiers, all being taken care of by Khun Yuam municipality and residents. With the money approved by the cabinet, a new building will be constructed to house and display these fascinating objects and promote it as a new tourism destination.

The remains of a vehicle used by the Japanese army during World War II.

The governor requested any resident who came across anything of interest relating to the Japanese army during the WWII, to present them to the museum. The museum will offer a fair price to purchase any interesting item. Furthermore, the province is to send officers to survey routes used by the Japanese soldiers at that time. The governor expressed the hope that both Thai and foreign tourists would visit.


New village being built for about to be displaced Mae Maw people

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

To allow construction of the Mae Maw Power Plant to go ahead, construction workers are hastening to prepare the basic utilities for a new village, including streets, water supply, and the electricity system and have already spent more that 47 million baht of the 70 million baht budget for this project.

Wanchai Suttiworachai, Lampang deputy governor said after the conference with the Mae Maw area citizens committee, more than 1,400 rai has been prepared for citizens, but unfortunately 72 squatters had trespassed onto the prepared areas. Officers of his staff had explained the situation in detail and most of the squatters had left already, but there are 2-3 trespassers who still create a problem. In an effort to prevent trespass in the area, Wanchai had caused notices to be posted in the locality announcing the purpose of this conservation site.

He expected that all the basic utilities will be finished construction by September, 2006. Work has commenced to drill an artesian well to test the water volume, with four more artesian wells yet to be drilled. Both major and minor streets are being laid and mapped; and estimates have been drawn up to budget the cost of property for the people who will come to live in the new town. EGAT will foot the bill for this project.

Lampang deputy governor also said that on the orders of the PM, he has speeded up the operation of every sector concerned, and will issue a weekly progress report to the working group every Tuesday. Privatization of EGAT still seems just around the corner!


600 visitors to Chiang Mai Health Hub and Beauty Expo’06

Pinutda Suwanchaisri-Kittiyaporn Kanjam (Student Trainee MFLU)

Free physical testing and consulting services from the hospitals in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Health Services Promotion Association and Chiang Mai Travel Business Association organized the Chiang Mai Health Hub and Beauty Expo ‘06 which was held at the Convention Hall, Chiang Mai University and opened by Anuthin Chanweerakul, the Deputy Public Health Minister.

Five organizations set up booths offering health products and services, which were patronized by more than 600 visitors. The aim of “Chiang Mai Health Hub and Beauty Expo’06" was to encourage residents to look after their own health, to develop the quality of health products and services and to promote Chiang Mai as a health center.

Crowds visited the booths and exhibitions in Chiang Mai Health Hub and Beauty Expo’06 at Convention Hall, Chiang Mai University.

There was a variety of activities at the Expo’, including physical fitness testing, together with experts from hospitals all over Chiang Mai province counseling people on health and beauty treatments and dental services, with academic seminars by doctors and lecturers. There were Thai massage demonstrations, yoga practice, healthy foods, exercise equipment, aroma therapy, and music therapy, with cosmetics and beauty services booths from 120 shops.


Burma and Thailand agree to open Baan Nam Piang Din Trading Market, Mae Hong Son

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Mae Hong Son opened the border for trading with Myanmar near Baan Nam Piang Din, Mae Hong Son province at which, Thailand will import antimony and teak from Myanmar and export second hand cars and whisky.

Direk Konkleeb, the Mae Hong Son Governor signed the authorization document to open the border for trading, which will create four trading posts at Baan Nam Piang Din; Baan Huay Ton Nun, near Khun Yuam; Baan Mae Sam Lab, near Sob Moei; and Baan Huay Phueng, in Tambon Huay district. The opening of these trading routes will be considered as temporary for the first six months and will be monitored closely with regard to stability around border area.

Sunda, president of the Karenni National Peoples Front (KNPLF), which
has been allowed by the Myanmar junta to control Kaya State around the Thai border in Mae Hong Son Province, said that allowing trade between Thailand and KNPLF especially at Baan Nam Piang Din, is the idea of Tunjor, vice president of KNPLF, who has responsibility to control the local economy, after talks with municipal officers of Mae Hong Son. The opening of this trading point did not go before the central governments of the Union of Myanmar and Thailand, but was just a verbal agreement between high level officers of the east regional military army and the army headquarters of Loi Kaw.

The products that will be exported through the controlled area of KNPLF to Mae Hong Son include antimony and dried chili product. Also teak will be transferred from Myanmar to Thailand but that has to be authorized by the central government first. The products exported from Thailand during this trial period include vegetable oil, whisky, and agricultural machinery and second hand Japanese cars.

It remains to be seen if these are the only products to cross the borders.


Over 1000 aliens in Mae Hong Son to be naturalized

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Mae Hong Son province is to offer Thai nationality to 1,406 aliens and on February 9, Sangkhom Khad-chiangsaen, the district Assistant chief officer explained how the documents should be prepared for the 158 aliens the Ministry of Interior has already authorized to have Thai nationality, as well as for another 86 people who have been legally living in Thailand since 1985. After the conference, Mae Hong Son district chief officer assigned personnel to provide appropriate documents to the people concerned and to check each applicant’s evidence to verify their eligibility to receive Thai nationality.

ACM Kongsak Wantha-na, Minister of Interior set this process in motion on December 7, 2005,offering Thai nationality to a tota1 of 1406 aliens living in every district of Mae Hong Son, with a further group waiting for the next authorization. However, there are almost 50,000 illegal laborers to be found around Mae Hong Son, many of them working in the mountains with local hill tribe people who already have Thai nationality; with most of them living along border next to Burma.


St Valentine’s Day – a celebration of marriage vows and roses

Nopniwat Krailerg and Kittiyaporn Kanjam (student trainee MFLU)

Students are selecting bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day at Chiang Mai’s flower market.

Since early morning of February 14, Valentine’s Day for the romantics of the world, almost 100 couples gathered at Muang district office, Chiang Mai, to register their marriages on this day. Both Thais and foreign couples were welcomed by Thanin Supasaen, Muang district chief officer who was the registrar for these lovers who registered amidst the sound of Thai love songs.

Many couples said they decided to register their marriage on Valentine’s Day because it was the day to celebrate love, the world over. Some of them were couples who had lived together for several years and were renewing their vows, even accompanied by their children.

One of 100 couples registering their marriage at the Muang district office, Chiang Mai.

As well as registering on Valentine’s Day, many were able to enjoy special offers on honeymoon suites in some of Chiang Mai’s five star hotels, plus romantic dinners and photographs of the special occasion.

Of course, Valentine’s Day is also a special day for flower sellers, with the atmosphere behind Waroros Market, the biggest flower market of Chiang Mai, being very lively. Purchasers included school students, university undergraduates, workers and even tourists. In this free market economy, it
was obvious that the price of flowers seemed to have risen as fast as gasoline prices, but in the day for lovers, who was going to count the cost.


Mobile cabinet conference at Chiang Mai Night Safari result

Chiang Mai stands with its hands out

Saksit Meesubkwang and Preeyanoot Jittawong

PM Thaksin Shinawatra led the mobile cabinet conference in Chiang Mai.

The mobile Cabinet meeting, headed by the PM Thaksin Shinawatra, was recently held at the Chiang Mai Night Safari. The PM reported that immediately prior to the meeting, he had consulted with French President Jacques Chirac, who confirmed he would officially visit the Chiang Mai on
February 17-19 and would hold a conference to discuss Thai-French association in relation to tourism, fashion and the possibility of Thailand purchasing weapons from France.

At the meeting, cabinet ministers debated how to deal with the problems of the 16 Northern provinces. The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) requested the ministers to consider these provinces’ development strategies, especially those concerning economy, trade, investment and the conservation of Lanna culture.

The board would like to have authorization to go ahead with urgent projects such as Wiang Law Ancient City conservation project, which in the second half of the year will need 27.6 million baht of the central part of the budget; and 32.4 million baht of the annual budget for 2007-2008 on 13 other important projects. Some of these are the Chiang Mai-Lamphun railway branch-line construction project; the Mae Hong Son airport development project; longan canning technology and the development of Chiang Saen, Nan and Hariphunchai as world heritage sites. There are 23 other projects on the agenda, including trade routes, tourism with GMS countries (Laos, Vietnam and South China), a trade and investment service center and the Nan High Points project that is source of art, culture, handicraft and OTOP.

Chiang Mai province was asking for a 2006 budget for these projects, and a new Knowledge Learning Park and an irrigation canal for the Karen community at the source of the Mae Tuen River in Omkoi district.

On top of all this, there are 38 projects requiring funds for 2007 and 42 more important projects which require a little further study and it is predicted that a requirement of 8.5 billion baht will be needed to cover their cost. Moreover, Ministry of Culture asked the cabinet to consider enhancement of the Chiang Mai-San Kamphaeng Culture Road. It would like to spend 175 million baht to improve the roadside scenery and set up statues on either side of the carriageway including constructing the Khong Gate, wall and Culture Park at the gateway to San Kamphaeng.

With regard to the far more important plan to solve the flooding in Chiang Mai, this is split into 36 parts requiring a total of 13.6 billion baht spread over the three years 2006-2009, to deal with the situation; and the agenda outlining these plans was put before the ministers. Furthermore, 20 projects to solve flooding in the areas; Pai River Basin in Mae Hong Son, Wang River Basin in Lampang, Mae Korn River Basin in Chiang Rai, Ing River Basin in Phayao and Yom River Basin in Phrae, requiring 1.7 billion baht of funds, were presented as well.

Private organizations from the eight Lanna provinces, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nan, Phayao, Phrae, Mae Hong Son, Lampang and Lamphun had talks with the Prime Minister at the Chiang Mai Travel Business Club, about the government’s offer to link tourism routes in these eight provinces and developing Chiang Mai to be the hub. Marketing strategies and public relations issues were discussed also, to promote these Lanna provinces to become well known at international level. Tourism Department resources will be set aside to cover the cost of marketing these ideas. The government was asked to set up an organization with overall responsibility for this project, with the local industry playing a major role.


Chiang Mai Mass Transport loses three million baht from municipality coffers

Saksit Meesubkwang

Chiang Mai municipal busses that have served local residents for three months

The last time Chiang Mai had proper buses was 15 years ago, but since then only the red mini busses (songthaew’s) have operated in the city, but they have been criticized by residents for stopping erratically to pick up passengers, causing traffic jams and accidents. Successive mayors have had requests to have busses serving residents and students, instead of songthaews. This idea was strenuously resisted by the Nakorn Lanna Transport Cooperatives, led by their president, Singhkham Nunti, but nevertheless, busses were eventually introduced into the municipality.

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor asked for funds from the government to provide residents with buses as they requested. There are six routes operated by the municipal bus service, totally separate from areas served by the red mini-buses. The service started in November 2005 and the standard municipal bus fare is only five baht. During the three months the service has been operating, few residents have used the
service and sometimes there are it carries no passengers at all.

The mayor reported that the municipality had lost almost three million baht in these three months, but was prepared to spend a further 10 million baht over the next 10 months. Furthermore, the municipality is to provide yet more buses, to bring the total to 100, operating on routes between the suburbs and the city.

Residents say that the municipal buses were an improvement over the songthaews, but most citizens did not know the routes the busses serviced, so were afraid they would not arrive at their intended destination if they caught a bus.

The general opinion of everyone is that the municipality has failed to adequately publicize bus routes and timetables, and has not taken into consideration passengers travel patterns and requirements; and should think carefully before going ahead and spending what is, after all, tax-payers money.


Editor of Chiang Mai News passes away

Nopniwat Krailerg

Attendants at the funeral ceremony of Thanee Suwattana, Chiang Mai News editor, at Hai Ya Graveyard, Chiang Mai.

Thanee Suwattana or Pom, was a journalist who had worked in the media fraternity for more than 30 years. He recently accepted the editorship of the Chiang Mai News, a daily newspaper presenting northern news and events in the Thai language. Sadly he passed away from a heart attack aged only 56, at his home on February 5, 2006, amidst great sadness in his colleagues in northern media circles. His body was taken to Wat Muang Ma for the religious funeral ceremony and then moved to Hai Ya Graveyard on February 9 for cremation. Journalists, government officials, politicians, relatives and many who had the privilege of knowing Pom, attended the funeral to say their last goodbyes.

Thanee Suwattana was Chinese and studied journalism in Bangkok and his first job was writing for the Khon Muang Newspaper. He moved to several other companies, eventually joining a daily newspaper called Thin Nua and later worked for Thai News. As his experience grew, he became head of Raming Daily Newspapers, at the same time running a publishing company producing off-set four color newspapers for the first time in Chiang Mai.

Later he became head of the Siam Newspaper editorial department, but only held that post for a short time before moving to Chiang Mai News, where he worked briefly as editor before his death.


Chiang Mai residents to worship 18 pieces of Lord Buddha’s relics

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Residents go to worship Lord Buddha’s relics.

To mark the occasion of the 60th anniversary of HM King Bhumibol ascending the throne and to recognize both his 80th year and the honor of being the 9th King of the Chakri Dynasty, the Buddhist Supreme Patriarch of Sri Lanka has permanently presented nine pieces of the Lord Buddha’s relics to Phansawalee Kittiya-korn. She then informed the Thai Buddhist Supreme Patriarch of her actions, who on hearing the news, donated a further nine pieces.

The presentation ceremony took place in Bangkok on December 29, 2005 at Don Muang Technical College, before being separately put into safe keeping at vocational institutes in different locations, to offer the opportunity for residents to come from all over Thailand to worship them. On February 1, 2006 some relics were brought to Chiang Mai Vocational College to give local students and citizens the opportunity to worship them until February 15.

When the Lord Buddha’s relics arrived in Chiang Mai, provincial administrators hosted a religious ceremony in which residents walked around a platform that held the relics. Having a chance to adore these 18 relic pieces is believed to be an act equivalent to worshipping the Lord Buddha directly; and persons who have already done so experienced a feeling of warmth and felt they would have good luck.

After these relics have been displayed in every province, they will be kept permanently in “Phra Barom Chedi Pairee Pilad”, Chaiyaphum province, and 80 statues of revered monks will be erected there. There will be an inscription on these 80 statues telling how Lord Buddha admired them in different ways. The statues will also be inscribed with the tenets of Buddhist teaching.


Hi-tech thief hacks bank’s database and extracts millions of baht

Nopniwat Krailerg.

A Chiang Mai businessman was recently dismayed to discover that the balance in his bank savings account was reducing rapidly without his knowledge or consent. He took his complaint to Pol. Lt. Col. Thanarat Chumsawat, deputy investigation superintendent of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 in cooperation with Wiset Chaichan Police Station, Ang Thong Province, along with his bank statements showing regular withdrawals of several thousand baht each time, that he swore he had not made.

Mae Ping police checked with the bank and found that withdrawals had been made over a 4 year period, from local ATMs to various cell phone accounts to recharge SIM cards, but the bank account owner denied withdrawing any money by ATM. The sums now totalled several million baht.

With the bank’s cooperation the Provincial Police discovered that the money was being withdrawn and credited to the account of a telephone subscriber, Chaiyode Chat-amornwiset, 36, a citizen of Wiset Chaichan. The police traced Chaiyode to his house in Ang Thong Province and brought him in to Chiang Mai for questioning. He explained that he had traveled to Chiang Mai to sell a thousand SIM cards to clients in the Night Bazaar.

Chaiyode also admitted that he used his cell phone to hack into the security protection system of ATMs on the internet and download information on the files of different users, then money in the accounts of the bank’s customers could be transferred electronically into his cell phone and these amounts of money could then be transferred to other people, charging them a suitably low price. Another method he employed was to copy bank customer’s personal information, which he picked up from ATM booths; and link this information with his cell phone and transfer money into the SIM cards before distributing these pre-loaded SIM cards at a bargain price.

The police learned that Chaiyode suffered from a brain problem while at school and struggled to achieve 4th grade, so his parents did not continue to support him in any further study, but let him sell snacks nearby Rong Thong Joss House. However, even at a young age he was interested in cell phone technology and became an expert concerning all functions such as how to download cartoons or games and transcribe porn pictures onto VCDs and to continue selling them.

It makes one wonder that instead of charging this man with theft; the bank should seriously consider giving him the job of beefing up their own electronic security measures, and the businessman needs a new accountant!


One side of the analysis of the Thai-US FTA talks

Duangkamol Doncha-um (HDN network)

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations held recently in Chiang Mai, followed by many in newspapers and TV broadcasts have been viewed with contrasting opinions. At the last NGO Forum, the Northern NGO Coalition on AIDS (NNCA) together with Suteerat Treemanka, Deputy Director of AIDS Access, and Supanee Tha-neewut, PRAFA Project Coordinator presented a history and analysis of the movements from their perspective from the first round of negotiations to the sixth in Chiang Mai, last month.

When talking about free trade, many people still have little understanding, preventing free trade from becoming a public issue. The FTA protest movement has tried to consistently follow the issue of free trade between Thailand and the US, especially on the matter of drug patents and free agricultural trade, acting as a watch dog on behalf of the public.

The third meeting held in Pattaya, Chonburi was the first time that the public took notice. About 2,000 people, including networks representing HIV infected people, agricultural workers, slum dwellers, and laborers demonstrated to protest and raise public awareness about the FTA issue.

The sixth meeting held in Chiang Mai was considered to have great significance, as Supanee stated, “If we miss this round, we will not have another chance again in movements from the masses and we might only have one chance left before pen meets paper.”

This time, much effort was put into creating an understanding with the public. A factor that has positively affected the campaign against the FTA is the experience of free trade with China, which has directly affected agriculture in the north. Onion and garlic farmers, in particular, were drastically affected when the government ordered production to stop because it could not be sent to China. These things have made the public more aware and willing to acknowledge the issue.

There are two issues in this round of free trade negotiations that the U.S. seem unwilling to compromise on. Firstly, the agriculture issue and secondly drug patents, both of which involve in enormous profits. These two issues dominated the negotiations this time.

In an analysis of benefits and losses resulting from the demonstrations, Khun Supanee suggested, “The only thing we lost were funds spent to run and operate the campaign. One beneficial result was a change in the way the media worked. Many newspapers and TV news channels followed the issue and presented in depth details on what the issues relating to drug patent and free agricultural trade are. This allowed us to create a better understanding with the public. In this round, there were people from 12 different networks involved, representing groups with varied viewpoints. The FTA protests have taken civil society to a new level, in terms of impact on policy. This will raise political awareness and participation in policy issues by the public.”

The goal of the FTA awareness-raising campaign from now on is not just to protest but to publicize information about the impact of the agreement. It appears that there are more parties that are involved in assessing the FTA talks, such as academics and economists. Sureerut Treemonkha said, “Expanding public understanding of the FTA is what we will do to create more awareness and agreement on the matter. Those who don’t agree, don’t have to. There are always things people won’t agree on in this world. However, if everyone can judge things fairly for themselves that is what we are working towards, whether as an organization or as individuals.”

For anyone interested in following the different issues of the FTA negotiations they may go to www.ftawatch.org or the Partners Thailand [email protected]

The NGO forum takes place on the last Tuesday of every month at the HIV/AIDS Action Centre. For more information or suggestions of topics, please contact Duang-kamol Doncha-um at Health and Development Networks, 053 418 438 # 110 or email: [email protected], [email protected]


Underground electricity cables for in Mae Sai

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Dr. Wichai Thaweeworadet, the mayor of Mae Sai, unveiled the municipality’s plans to run electrical cables underground in Mae Sai district and their ideas to enhance the appearance of Mae Sai Gate.

The electricity posts will be removed as far as the Mae Sai-Chiang Saen bypass crossroads from the entrance to Mae Sai, a distance of 300 meters and will greatly improve the appearance of the location. Furthermore, the municipality intends to set up a 30 meter high Lanna flagpole, on which will be carved the 12 signs of the zodiac. The work to enhance the appearance of the gateway to the city will be carried out with the cooperation of Mae Sai municipality and the Highway District Office.

The area where the Lanna flagpole is to be erected will soon be cleared of electricity poles and the project is expected to be completed before March 31, 2006. If everything goes well, the plan will be applied in other areas and Mae Sai will be clear of electricity posts in the future.


A million baht for agony, but no ecstasy, at the Mae Sai border

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Police mounted a sting operation after being tipped off about a drug shipment being transferred from Burma to clients in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai.

On February 9, Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 Com-misioner was alerted by informants, that drugs were about to be transferred from Burma to clients in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai. According to his informant the transfer of drugs would take place under a bridge near the Mae Sai border. He quickly formulated a cunning plan and assigned Pol. Lt. Col. Somboon Homnan to lead a force to quietly surround the location and wait in ambush for the drug traffickers to appear.

Police officers posing as the clients waited under the bridge carrying a bag containing one million baht to purchase drugs from the dealers. Eventually a Burmese man carrying a bag arrived at the scene and after being shown the money by the bogus drug clients, produced 20,000 white ecstasy tablets which he offered for sale to the police. The police surrounded him and he was arrested and the drugs were seized.

The offender, identified as Mong Tun , 32 informed the police that an accomplice called Kole was waiting for him at the Golden Triangle Port of Chiang Saen, so the police quickly informed officers at that location who swiftly responded and arrested him as well. They were both taken to Mae Sai Police Station, Chiang Rai, where they were detained awaiting prosecution.

The arresting officers learned that these ecstasy tablets were produced by the Red Wah, after they changed from producing ya-ba to manufacturing ecstasy instead. Thai clients, especially those in high society, preferred ecstasy, so it made economic sense to produce it, rather than ya-ba.


Mae Sai Custom House seize 2 mio baht contraband

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Customs Officers at Mae Sai put on show the total seizures of illicit goods that they had made in the month of January this year. The exhibits included almost 3,000 orange colored ya ba pills, and 1,700 pornographic VCDs in several languages including Thai. Also in the haul of illicit products were 1,100 pitated copies of foreign pop song DVDs, and 9,000 products which were manufactured in China. The total value of all the exhibits amounted to 1,972,323 baht.

Chuchai Udomphote, head of Mae Sai Custom House said that there was a well established gang operating around the Thai-Myanmar Border in Mae Sai district, with many manufacturing facilities situated close by in Burma. Here in Mae Sai and in the neighboring country Burma, there are both Thai and Burmese investors, whose money is used to back up the gangs. The illegal products are copied in huge quantities before transferred to agencies around the border and funneled through Tachilek and Mae Sai district. Mae Sai has become notorious around the border area for selling pornographic movies and pirated copies of foreign pop songs, so the Customs have not intercepted all of them.

The head of Mae Sai Custom House also said that the seizure of all these illegal products would not have been accomplished without the cooperation his officers with the military, the police, and check point officers exchanging information and planning strategies to thwart the activities of the gangs operating around the border area. In the last two years Customs officers of the Mae Sai district have seized drugs and illegal products worth 286 million baht. But with goods still freely available, there is obviously more work to do to unearth the dark influences.


San Pa Tong monk murderer revealed as monk from the same temple

Nopniwat Krailerg

The murderer of a Burmese monk named Phra Somchai Mahawaro, 27, has been arrested. It became apparent during police investigations, that both the victim and the perpetrator were monks in Tha Cham Pee Temple governed by an elderly abbot called Kru Ba Duang Dee, almost 100 years old. The victim had lived in this temple for two years prior to his murder on the night of February 4.

Pol. Col. Aksorn Wongyai and his team, questioned about 50 local residents and monks living in the vicinity of the temple. Their enquiries quickly led them to suspect 50 year old monk Ma Boonpan, who, after inter- rogation, confessed to the murder of the monk, Somchai.

He said that he had lived with the abbot in this temple for more than ten years and been responsible for feeding the pigs and horses of
the temple. He became antagonistic toward Somchai, and harbored the erroneous belief that Somchai cast a black magic curse on the abbot causing him to catch many diseases. He had informed other monks of his suspicions, but no one believed him, so he planned to kill Somchai. He sharpened a knife and waited until Somchai left the abbot’s residence. He hid behind the bell tower and then jumped out and cut his victim’s ear off and slit his throat, causing him to die immediately. He then dug a hole and buried the knife before going to bed, rising the next morning and feigning innocence when the victim’s body was found.

He showed the police where the knife was buried before confessing his crime before several hundred monks and residents. He was charged with the murder of Somchai, however during their investigations, the police had also learned that the murderer had a history of previous mental problems, having been a patient in Suan Prung Psychiatric Hospital. After being charged he was taken into custody and held there, pending psychiatric evaluation.


Death during elephant show

Nopniwat Krailerg

We all know what delightful animals elephants can be and we delight in their clever acts at the many elephant camps around Chiang Mai. We marvel at their massive strength and applaud their cute tricks as they play football or paint pictures and constantly demonstrate the rapport developed from thousands of hours of contact with their trainers. But on February 5, at the Pong Pattana Elephant Show one of these gentle giants showed what can happen when it becomes annoyed or irritated by the actions of someone, when it turned on a man and gored him with its tusks.

The victim was initially admitted to Doi Saket Hospital before being transferred to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital owing to the severity of his wounds. He later died at the hospital and was identified as Sawat Sritaluan, 41, living at Tambon Cheung Doi, Doi Saket district.

The incident happened where performing elephants were showing off their abilities at Tambon Doi Saket Municipality Stadium. During the show, Sawat (alleged as having mental problem), took a microphone to an elephant as if wanted him to sing. The elephant turned away but Sawat followed and took microphone closer to the elephant, which then gored him in middle of the chest. Several mahouts had to warn villagers not to come near the elephant to prevent further casualties, and took the injured man to hospital.

However, police have charged Phat-anan Phanwiset, 22, the elephant’s care taker, with negligence for keeping a dangerous animal and causing the death of another person.


More drug problems, with nurses selling for pocket money

Saksit Meesubkwang

Traffic police, whilst at a checkpoint on Thapae road on the lookout for the usual traffic offences, such as failure to wear crash-helmets or fasten seatbelts, observed a motorcycle driven by a woman with a man sitting behind her, evade the barrier and attempt to escape. Police officers followed them and finally stopped them. The lady’s was Waranya Suk-
jinda, 26 and her passen-ger’s name was Surasak Metha, 24. The two were acting suspiciously, so the traffic police officer handed them over to investigation officers ascertain the reason for their suspicious behavior.

When searched, Waranya was found to have 200 ya ba pills hidden in her underwear. Further enquiries revealed that she worked as a nurse at a Hospital in Chiang Mai and she received the ya ba pills when she picked up her boyfriend after work. The two offenders were arrested and charged with possessing drugs.

Pittaya Jinawat, director of Northern ONCB said that On February 7, ONCB cooperated with police officers and had a conference about known and new drug dealers and the methods employed by the drug traffickers. Recently Burma has arrested more drug dealers; with the result that fewer drugs have been transported into Thailand. There will be an evaluation every 3 months and the results will be published in September.


Italian chef cooks his own goose ferrying ya ba

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

While conducting a routine check on February 8 at Chiang Rai bus station, police officers observed a foreigner acting suspiciously while sitting in the Nakornchai Air bus destined for Chon Buri province. The officer questioned the man, an Italian named Anthony Ardissone, aged 29 who, when searched, was found to be carrying 718 ya ba pills in a plastic package hidden in his underwear. The man was arrested and charged with possessing drugs.

He claimed he was a chef at a famous hotel in Rome and he had traveled to Thailand and married a woman in Pattaya. He observed that Pattaya was crowded with foreigners, so he came to Chiang Rai to buy drugs to take back to Pattaya and sell. He had been arrested for similar offences once before. Perhaps too much Chianti had dulled his powers of rational thought.


Burmese drug dealers arrested in Chiang Saen

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Two Burmese drug traffickers were picked up by a joint task force of the ONCB and other affiliated officers, in the Golden Triangle port of Chiang Saen on Feb-ruary 9.

The two offenders, Mee (surname unknown), 20; and Aitee (surname unknown), 20, were both Tai tribesmen from the Tachilek area. After a search, the men were found to be carrying over 20,000 amphetamine tablets.

When interrogated the two men admitted they were smuggling the drugs for delivery to clients along Golden Triangle border. Both men were placed under arrest and taken to Chiang Saen Police Station, Chiang Rai, where they were detained and charged with drug trafficking.