NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Fuel tanker explodes at a gas station killing one and injuring another

16 resident organizations want to oust PM Thaksin Shinawatra

Chiang Rai Rajabhat Uni trains tricycle chauffeurs in English conversation

Burma wants Pai River Bridge to boost tourism and commerce

CCC signs historic MOU with European market

34 mio baht to combat human trafficking in Phayao province

Grubs eat 200 million baht giant teak trees

Report on drug suppression in the north

Customs Regional Bureau 3 moves into the IT era

Forest fires in Mae Hong Son occurring earlier due to drought

TV show discloses alien laborers in Chiang Mai

Deputy Minister confers with 17 Northern province governors to cope with drought

Will new route to Tee Lor Su Waterfall support or blight tourism?

Coal Institute trying to clean up its black image

50 Chiang Mai residences and condos on blacklist

Three million baht for Kong Poo Ja Festival in April

Precious Buddha images discovered in Lamphun and Chiang Mai

Finance officer disappears – and so does 50,000 baht

10 entertainment places in Chiang Mai on the ONCB black list

Khamthiang Market coral shop owner arrested

Three Thais arrested in Tachilek

Intellectual Property Pirate Suppression officer pounces

3 kg of Ice makes mind-blowing snacks

Illegal alien found hiding ya ba in ladies shoes

Fuel tanker explodes at a gas station killing one and injuring another

Nopniwat Krailerg

An explosion at the Sawai Service branch of a PT gas station located on the Bo Sang-Doi Saket Road, Baan Mae Ka Tai, Tambon Talad Yai caused the death of one person and injured another. The incident occurred on February 18 and police attending the scene found a truck and trailer belonging to Kao Charoen Petroleum Limited.

It became apparent that the tank on the trailer had exploded and its inspection cover had blown off. The explosion injured Nattawit Yeepeng, 38, living in Doi Saket and working as technician at the gas station. The blast caused the inspection cover of the tank to be hurled 100 meters, unfortunately landing on a house belonging to Udorn Thamboontop, 29, killing him instantly. Two other vehicles parked nearby were also damaged. Eye witnesses said that Udorn had only just parked his car in front of his house and walked inside but immediately the iron cover struck his house causing his death.

The tanker had just delivered 32,000 liters of oil to the station and before leaving, a problem with tailpipe was discovered, so Nattawit repaired it. In his opinion whilst carrying out repairs to the pipe, oil vapor remaining in the tank ignited, causing the explosion. Damage to the truck was estimated to be 700,000 baht but the overall cost of the incident including the damage to the other vehicles, stood at more than one million baht. However, the forensic team continued their investigation to ascertain the actual cause of the incident and if the explosion was found to be the result of negligence, the persons concerned will be charged with causing the death of Udorn Thamboontop.


16 resident organizations want to oust PM Thaksin Shinawatra

Saksit Meesubkwang

Leaders from different organizations gather at a press conference.

Sixteen disgruntled Northern Residents associations led by Saurian Thongnu-iad, secretary of the Northern individual development organization, held a meeting at Chiang Mai University on February 18 to voice their dissatisfaction with PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

Amongst the many residents groups were representatives of the Northern Agriculture Federation, the Resident Organization network, Northern AIDS Net, Nan Community Forest network, Northern Agriculture Allies, Mae Wang villager’s college, Upper Tang river resource, cooperation committee Northern AIDS, Chiang Mai Lover association, Drugs related worker Network and the quaintly named No Thaksin Group.

The common grievance of the resident’s organizations was that they were all being adversely affected in different ways by PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s government policy.

Jointly they came to the following conclusions; 1. Errors of government in every aspect, adversely affecting the lives of citizens, farmers, poor people and laborers and believe PM Thaksin Shinawatra is not fit to be Prime Minister any longer. 2. They will set up a coordination center on behalf of resident’s organizations that have been affected by Thaksin Shinawatra’s government policy, and publish the results of government’s policy concerning these citizens and campaign for real democracy to be given back to the people. 3. They will cooperate with other resident alliances to stage political rallies calling for reform at national and local levels. They are ready to support the resident’s alliances movement calling for national democratic reform, or even join with national protests anywhere in the country.

Suriyan Thongnoo-iad said that alliances in the north jointly signed petitions calling for the PM to be relieved from his post. They will support any action organized in every province in the northern region; and might choose Chiang Mai to be the Hub of Dissent to link information among the different organizations.

“On February 26, we ask anyone who has been affected by PM Thaksin’s policies to join with us at Sanam Luang in Bangkok,” he said, “but everybody must go there of their own free will.”

The representative of the Chiang Mai University students calling themselves the “No Thaksin Group” said that over the last two days, they had collected a large number of signatures calling for Thaksin to step down. The petition had been started in the Faculty of Social Sciences and then had continued throughout the city and they will join with other universities of the northern region.


Chiang Rai Rajabhat Uni trains tricycle chauffeurs in English conversation

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Tricycle used in local province attracting great interest from tourists.

Chiang Rai Rajabhat University opened an English conversation course for pedicab riders in response to the governments Khong river tourism center policy.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Manop Phasitwichaitham, President of Chiang Rai Rajabhat University said that tourism was set to expand after the government proposed the North to be a center of commerce, investment, and tourism in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, which was approved in the mobile Cabinet conference in Chiang Mai on February 6-7. Chiang Rai is one of Thailand’s important tourist destinations and many Thai and foreign tourists come to look around the area, but there are not enough tour guides that can speak English.

Chiang Rai Rajabhat University organized an English course for about 100 pedicab operators who work in Chiang Rai, so that they could converse with foreign tourists interested in using the tricycles as a means of viewing the city.

Worasarit Pingmuang, Vice President of Chiang Rai Rajabhat University who is the project’s representative said that the project had started on February 14; and has prepared programs to teach basic English conversation, and how to describe the various tourist destinations in Chiang Rai. The tricky tricyclists joined the English course because it would increase their income from their tourist tricycle service.


Burma wants Pai River Bridge to boost tourism and commerce

No trading restrictions the attraction

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Direk Konkleeb, Mae Hong Son Governor announced the opening of five temporary permit areas with Burma, as business at these border locations was booming; with many people, both Burmese and Thai flocking to buy and sell products in that area.

In the Burmese town of Baan Huay Pong Lor Ka, Ka Ya state, opposite Baan Nam Piang Din, Muang district, Mae Hong Son; Burmese soldiers urgently began to construct a temporary bridge over the Pai River to join with Mae Hong Son, because Burma was eager to trade with Mae Hong Son.

The Governor also reported that Mae Hong Son had insisted that border
entrepreneurs enter their names on a trading register at the Command center; and over 50 businessmen have already done so.

Most of the traders prefer to use the Baan Nam Piang Din route because they can trade on both land and water; and because of its proximity to Pyinmana, the new capital city of Burma, 210 kilometers away from this crossing point.

Tun Jor, vice president of KNPLF and Burma’s government representative who manages the economy in Ka Ya state, said that Burma planned to finish building the Pai river bridge connecting Burma to Mae Hong Son by 2009.

They will also continue to develop Baan Lor Ka, the Burmese town directly opposite Baan Nam Piang Din, including creating tourist destinations in Ka Ya state at Pha Hom Nam and will take great care to guarantee tourists’ security.

However, businessmen in Ban Nam Piang Din locality complained that speculators had bought land in the town, pushing the cost of building plots in the area so high, that they could not afford to buy land on which to build new trading premises in Baan Nam Piang Din.


CCC signs historic MOU with European market

Preeyanoot Jittawong and Pinutda Suwanchaisri (student trainee MFLU)

(From right) Narong Kongprasert, secretary of Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce; Narong Tananuwat, president of Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, and Somsak Wanitkajorn, vice-president of Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce.

Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce (CCC) announced the signing of a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), forming a partnership with the Lyon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, France.

Staff of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce had visited their counterparts in Lyon, France in 2004; and observed that Lyon city and Chiang Mai are similar in many respects, Lyon being the second largest city in France. Both Chiang Mai and Lyon have a long cultural history and are the centers of textile production and handicrafts. The Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce believes that close ties between the two cities could lead to the development of trade, investment, and exchanges of culture beneficial to both.

This cooperation could extend trading and investment collaboration in Chiang Mai and 8 Lanna provinces. It also opens a new market, especially for Thai OTOP products in France and promotes the SMEs business to develop to international level.

The historic signing of the MOU was jointly witnessed by PM Thaksin Shinawatra and Jacques Chirac, the President of France.


34 mio baht to combat human trafficking in Phayao province

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Adul Pholpra-In, Phayao Deputy Governor disclosed that the government’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking and reduce poverty are concentrated in Phayao. From analyzing the situation surrounding human trafficking in the province, it was found that the main causes are family debt, lack of land for farming, lack of education, unemployment, and labor immigration.

Every year to date, Phayao province has provided 8 percent of CEO’s annual budget to support those strategies. This year the moiety of the CEO’s budget is 27 million baht, with 4 million baht coming from Phayao Provincial Social Development and Human Security Office and 3 million baht being provided by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Anira Thinont, head of the Phayao Residents for Children and Family said that they did their best to help the most vulnerable members of society, especially women and children, who are the victims of human trafficking, or are faced with the usual social problems which lead them to becoming the victims. Some families found it impossible to get back on their feet after becoming involved with the traffickers, such was their burden of debt. He strongly advocated that society should rally to help them and make every effort to prevent the problem; urging anyone with information of children or women, who might be the victims of traffickers, to immediately inform the authorities.


Grubs eat 200 million baht giant teak trees

Officers hope they get indigestion

Saksit Meesubkwang

Forest in Mae Hong Son damaged by insects.

Yongyut Tiyapairat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment together with his entourage, surveyed the forest around the Yuam River basin near Baan Mae Pang, Tambon Mae Pang in Mae La Noi district, Mae Hong Son, taking a helicopter from the Royal Forest Department.

His aerial reconnaissance led him to ask Direk Konk-leep, Mae Hong Son governor to call a meeting with Pongsak Yensangjan, director of the Office of Protected Forest Management Region 16.

At the meeting Yongyut reported that according to his consultant, Gen. Udomchai Ongkhasingh, many large teak and Mai Kraya trees in the area had been found to be infested with grubs. The incidence of infestation amounted to 1,500 trees in Sop Moei, 1,781 trees in Mae Sariang, 1,155 in Mae La Noi, 1,463 in Muang, 99 in Pang Mapha and 48 in Pai; totaling 6,239 trees, valued at around 200 million baht. Local people had been hired by businessmen to cut down these trees.

The minister and entourage then traveled by road to survey along highway 108, and found burnt trees according to report. The team then visited Mae Yuam-Mae Sam Pheng Forest at Baan Nong Haeng in Khun Yuam, Mae Hong Son before taking to helicopter once more to survey the forest, during which further grub infestations were detected.

The Minister said he would present this worrying situation to cabinet and the sectors concerned to formulate a plan to combat the loss of the trees to these insects. He also stressed that officers concerned should pursue the businessmen who had hired local residents to cut down those trees and to prosecute them according to law without any exception.


Report on drug suppression in the north

Nopniwat Krailerg

Pol. Gen. Phiewphan Damapong, Deputy Commissioner-General summarized the activity of his drug suppression teams in the eight Northern provinces. Narcotics Suppression Division Chiang Mai reported that in these last four months, officers had arrested 500 drug traffickers in 414 separate cases. These numbers included 56 major drug dealers from 24 networks and seizure of 1.5 million ya ba pills, 66 kilograms of heroin and 52 kilograms of ecstasy. At the same time, property valued at 53 million baht had been seized.

The report also revealed that dealers still smuggled narcotics through the border, but had changed their methods, delivering smaller amounts more frequently instead of trying to deliver large shipments at one time. The delivery routes had changed, with the drugs tending to be brought in through the Laos border instead through the Thai-Burma border.


Customs Regional Bureau 3 moves into the IT era

Saksit Meesubkwang

Dr. Sathit Limpongpan, Director-general of the Customs Department (left) and Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai Governor (right) presided over the opening ceremony.

Dr. Sathit Limpongpan, the director-general of the Customs Department, said that the Customs Department has improved its role in facilitating trade and commerce. The department has brought in an ICT system in which all transactions will be recorded in one central database and the ICT system would help to increase the efficiency of the whole customs department. These records will be accessible to both the customs department and private sectors as laid down in the “Transparency-Unity Program” established to promote cooperation and coordination between each customs office, aimed at reducing corruption problems.

Anek Orathanalai, director of Customs Regional Bureau 3 Chiang Mai said that his office was responsible for monitoring the operation of 10 border customs houses in the Northern region including, Chiang Kong, Chiang Saen and Mae Sai custom houses in Chiang Rai. Chiang Dao cus-tom house in Chiang Mai; Lamphun custom house and Thung Chang custom house in Nan; Mae Sod custom house in Tak and Huay Phueng custom house in Mae Hong Son. These are the important control points through which the legal exportation and importation of goods takes place.

The top four imported goods are beef, processed timber, apples machinery. The top four export products are vegetable oil, dried Longan, monosodium glutamate and ribbed vulcanized rubber sheets. The Customs Regional Bureau 3 has also been responsible for policing these border checkpoints and has arrested offenders who have attempted to smuggle contraband valued at 19,279 million baht. For this reason, it has become necessary to increase the size of the office since the government had determined that Chiang Mai International Airport should become the center of trade, air transportation, and tourism of the Northern region.

Dr. Sathit presided over the opening of the new office of the Customs Regional Bureau 3, Muang District, Chiang Mai. The opening ceremony on February 15, was attended by many guests of honor and government officials, including the Chinese and Japanese Consuls.


Forest fires in Mae Hong Son occurring earlier due to drought

Saksit Meesubkwang

A Fire fighter working to control forest fire. (File photo)

The forest fires that unfortunately occur every year around Mae Hong Son started earlier than usual this year. On February 13, Prapat Rattanatraipakdee, head of the Office of Disaster Prevention, dispatched two fire engines to a fire that had developed near Mae Hong Son prison. When the fire-fighters arrived at the scene they found that the fire had spread to the forest area of Baan Na Mak Pin, around the back fence line of the central prison. Several houses were also ablaze, but fortunately nobody was living in them at the time. It took officers from Tha Pong Dang Forest Fire Control Station more than an hour to bring the fire under control.

This forest fire was the first of the season and it started earlier than last year, due to the abnormally dry weather conditions which causes trees to shed their leaves. These leaves are tinder dry and the slightest spark can cause a fire to spring up easily.

Direk Konkleep, Mae Hong Son governor said that the province has a policy to conduct controlled burns in the forest, to prevent inflammable material accumulating that can easily cause a forest fire to spread rapidly. Furthermore, there is also a policy that requires villagers to inform the chief of their village before they burn their rice fields. Failure to follow these policies will affect the economic system of Mae Hong Son, especially for tourism, because the smoke will prevent planes from
flying into Mae Hong Son airport. The smoke also affects the health of local citizens.

The governor added that this year he has taken steps to try to decrease the forest fires and has commanded the Forest Fire Control Division to be on 24 hour standby, ready to move the moment a forest fire occurs. He has also ordered Mae Hong Son Provincial Natural Resource and Environment Office to keep look out for anybody causing unauthorized fires in the forest, warning that anyone found doing so would be prosecuted.


TV show discloses alien laborers in Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

After becoming aware of many illegal laborers working in the city, on February 15 Chiang Mai immigra-tion police checked around Khamthiang Market in Muang, Chiang Mai and found several alien laborers smuggled from Burma to work there. Seven people were arrested and found to be holding forged Thai ID cards and fake highland ID cards and alien labor cards. Five more were taken into custody for holding highland ID cards but were outside the controlled area.

More were found working doing odd jobs at residences and guest houses and some were working on Thapae Road in Muang, Chiang Mai. They had paid 6,000 baht to an agent to get work there and earned a wage of 170-200 baht per day.

The next morning, 50 police officers spread out to search and arrest alien workers living around Chiang Mai municipality area at five different points. Almost 30 were found to have entered Thailand illegally, with most of them living outside the controlled area without permission, working as day laborers.

Pol. Lt. Col. Anusorn Chuwasilp, inspector of immigration police Chiang Mai disclosed that during these last two months, four aliens holding fake Thai ID cards had been arrested and now police were pursuing enquiries to ascertain who was responsible for making the forged cards for the alien laborers. These fake ID cards cost anything from 5,000 to 10,000 baht depending on the type of card and affected the security of the country.

This police crackdown occurred after the Thai TV channel ITV had investigated a story about alien laborers in Chiang Mai and broadcast the program throughout the country, sparking the immigration department to be seen to act quickly.


Deputy Minister confers with 17 Northern province governors to cope with drought

In eight months it will be flood

Saksit Meesubkwang

Sermsak Pongpanit, Deputy Minister of Interior consults with governors at Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel.

Sermsak Pongpanit, Deputy Minister of the Interior consulted with the governors of the 17 Northern provinces, at the Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel on how to cope with the forthcoming drought. Also attending the meeting were Irrigation Department officers, police, soldiers and forestry officers.

Sermsak said that it was the government’s policy to ensure that residents had sufficient water for drinking and household use. This year, it was predicted that there will be sufficient water for every household in the Northern provinces, with the Irrigation Office reporting that the reservoirs in the region had filled to capacity during the rainy season.

Nevertheless, if any area or province is short of water, or their reservoir could not store enough water during rainy season, they should contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, who will in turn contact other sectors, to make artificial rain for that area. The deputy minister asked each governor to take steps to ensure swift coordination between local administrative organizations and residents, to bring immediate help to anyone requiring assistance.

It is reported that citizens throughout the country who need help this year are in 43 provinces, 318 districts, 1,931 Tambons, and 16,474 villages.


Will new route to Tee Lor Su Waterfall support or blight tourism?

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Tee Lor Su Waterfall in Tak Province.

Wildlife Protection Area Office in Oom Phang district, Tak province has constructed a new 1.5 Km. route to Tee Lor Su Waterfall, called the Board Walk, at a cost of 7 million baht, to support tourism and assist visitors who come to see the waterfall.

Suchat Janhomhuan, the owner of the Too Ka Soo resort and travel agency in Oom Phang, Tak reported that tourist numbers visiting Tee Lor Su Waterfall had increased continually since the new route opened in November 2005. There have been 40,000 visitors in the last three months, mostly visiting during long weekends. The journey to see the waterfall and return used to take several hours and could only be undertaken by people with a high level of fitness. The initial target group was teenagers, but today the location’s image has changed; with the board walk making the waterfall accessible for families and the elderly.

However, people in the travel business in Oom Phang district are concerned that the increased tourist numbers will disturb the delicate balance of the ecosystems in the area. They also say that many attractive points of Tee Lor Su Waterfall have disappeared due to the Wildlife Protection Area staff constructing the Board Walk.

Suchat added that residents and travel agents were not informed about the construction. The Wildlife Protection Area Office never asked local people for their opinions, to jointly consider if constructing the boardwalk would affect tourism. The attraction of this waterfall was that it was known to be a difficult route, requiring an adventure reach a beautiful destination. He said that in his opinion, only some parts of the route should have been constructed with the walkway, for example where the path is obstructed by tree roots; and the rest should have been left. “I’m not sure whether this boardwalk supports or blights tourism,” he said. Many tourists also expressed their opinion, saying that they preferred the natural route amidst the beautiful scenery surrounding Tee Lor Su waterfall.

Concrete route or Board Walk to Tee Lor Su Water-fall.


Coal Institute trying to clean up its black image

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Sahai Rakyao, deputy MD of Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) disclosed that all sectors concerned should urgently create a new image for coal because nowadays it was good quality and was being continually developed. Private electricity companies and organizations involved in the fuel business are jointly setting up an in dependent authority to promote the use of coal in Thailand. This organization advocates that Thailand should collect, exchange and analyze information regarding the coal industry both at home and overseas. It will have a public relations center to disseminate information about coal, with the purpose of creating an increased awareness in residents of the benefits of coal when used as a fuel to produce electricity for industry and everybody in the country.

Sahai added that the main purpose for promoting the use of coal was that the increased price of alternative fuels such as gas and oil had made coal an economical proposition. He felt that residents should be made aware of the importance and necessity of coal and be informed of the effect that burning coal would have on the environment. He said that technology had come a long way to make coal a cleaner fuel and the government would ensure that the necessary devices were installed in any power station using coal as a fuel. The coal institute will also put pressure on neighboring countries where pollution from their power-stations is affecting Thailand, pressing them to reduce their emissions by installing the appropriate technology.

Sectors concerned have pushed for the establishment of a coal institute four times already and one more conference is to be held very soon. It will be joined by EGAT, Department of Mineral Fuels of Energy Policy and Planning Office of, Pollution Control Department, Energy Research Institute of Chulalongkorn University, Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) and private electricity companies.


50 Chiang Mai residences and condos on blacklist

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Manusporn Phamornboot, head of Social Development and Human Security Office of Chiang Mai, reported the results of a check of residences condominiums and rental houses, carried out by his officers in the vicinity of education institutes in Chiang Mai province. The officers found that there were over 50 places that allowed underage drinking; with drug-taking and sexual activities being condoned on the premises. These places were noted and entered on a blacklist.

Because Chiang Mai is a University City, there are 1,200 dormitory residences in the city at present, but only 700 places are legally registered, while the rest have not been inspected and declared suitable for student accommodation. There have been several new dormitory residences built along Huay Kaew and Irrigation Canal roads that are not yet registered. The owners have until the end of March to register these properties, otherwise, if they take in students without first registering, they will face prosecution with the possibility of prison for six months or being fined 2,000 baht, or both.

The Social Development and Human Security Office of Chiang Mai has asked the police and sectors concerned to pay more attention to dormitories and condos, including urging the owners to keep an eye on teenagers who live in these places.


Three million baht for Kong Poo Ja Festival in April

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Paithoon Ratlertrope, director of Lampang Provincial Culture Office announced that a million baht had been authorized by Lampang province and two million baht approved by Ministry of Tourism and Sports to organize the Kong Poo Ja Festival on April 2-4, 2006.

Kong Poo Ja is a worship drum; Kong means drum and Poo Ja is worship in the local northern language. Kong Poo Ja drum playing is a feature of Buddhist religious worship and is an attractive aspect of the culture of local people in the north. The Festival will feature a drum playing competition, both by teams and solo performers, selected from 13 districts of Lampang province; and 61 Kong Poo Ja performances will be shown on a large stage.

This is the fifth time the festival has been held and this year it has been organized on April 2 to honor HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, that day being Thai Heritage Conservation Day. There will be an exhibition of the princess’ history and work, a Kong Poo Ja parade competition, students’ talent contests and OTOP booths.


Precious Buddha images discovered in Lamphun and Chiang Mai

Nopniwat Krailerg

Buddha images of the Hariphunchai period have been discovered by the
8
th Fine Arts Department. They were found whilst restoration work was being carried out on two temples and are now to be promoted as world heritages.

Officers of 8th Fine Arts Department Chiang Mai have been involved with restoring the ancient buildings at Wat Phra Yuen, Tambon Wiang Yaw in Muang, Lamphun. While the officers were digging around the main pagoda they came across the head of a Buddha image. Realizing the significance of their find, they continued carefully excavating and discovered several other pieces, including many more Buddha images of Hariphunchai period. They are around 1,000 years old and are impossible to value.

Wiwan Saengjan, a noted archaeologist, said that the area of Wat Phra Yuen used to be a location in the Hariphunchai Kingdom and later was restored in the Sukhothai period. This was evident from remains and buildings that match with records in the Wat Phra Yuen chronicle making these Bhudda images at least a thousand years old. These will be promoted as a tourism destination in Lamphun and will be nominated as world heritages.

Precious Buddha images were also found last year, during restoration work in Wat Phra Thad Sri Chom Thong in Chom Thong district, Chiang Mai. In the beginning of February, rings and other artifacts were discovered, including eight gold Buddha images, 69 silver images and 59 Chin Tree images. Archaeologists also came across four
glass vessels containing 37 pieces of Lord Buddha’s relics. Altogether more than 90 ancient articles were unearthed and the Fine Arts Department registered these items for safe-keeping. They were being kept in protected storage in the temple under strict security.


Finance officer disappears – and so does 50,000 baht

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

An audit carried out by Sombat Chummuang-in, a representative of the Teen Toke Royal Project Agriculture Cooperatives located at Tambon Huay Kaew in Mae On Sub-District, revealed that 50,000 baht was missing from 24 accounts and he suspected Pensri Puapan, a finance officer of stealing the cash.

Sombat said that the cooperatives had been operating for several years and this annual audit revealed the discrepancies in the accounts. The finance officer, Pensri Puapan, 25, responsible for these accounts had also disappeared and could not be contacted. She has therefore become the prime suspect, and on February 13, Pol. Lt. Col. Suthone Saenpaeng, duty inspector of Mae On Sub-District Police Station, Chiang Mai was informed of the situation and requested to investigate the matter.


10 entertainment places in Chiang Mai on the ONCB black list

Saksit Meesubkwang

Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai Governor ordered that entertainment places be made to check for the ID cards and take urine samples.

Over 50 ONCB officers and Chiang Mai Public Health officials raided a club, located in the basement of a Chiang Mai hotel, on February 11th, on the orders of Suwat Tantipat, Chiang Mai Governor. Pol. Maj. Gen. Jiruj Promobol, Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police led the raid and tested the 31 patrons of the club for addictive substances. They found two people who tested positive and they were then taken to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital for further checking, but doctors there failed find any evidence of addictive substances.

Suwat Tantipat stressed that this inspection was done to prevent the spreading of drugs in Chiang Mai, especially in entertainment places which are only licensed to sell alcohol. The police then checked to see if there are any patrons under 18. From now on, police officers will also check the off-license liquor shops, for which the law stipulates that shop-owners must ensure that alcohol is not sold to anyone under 18. The ONCB would like all entertainment places to make more effort to prevent drugs being taken and check the ID cards of anyone who they suspect of being under age.

The Governor said that 10 local pubs had been threatened with closure because they had persistently served alcohol to under age drinkers. They were being closely monitored and it was highly likely that their licenses would not be renewed.

Pittaya Jinawat, director of the Northern Narcotics Control Centre Region 5 (ONCB) reported that 10 pubs were on a black list of entertainment places in Chiang Mai, after anonymous reports from in-formants that drugs were available for sale on the premises. Drug addicts were actually taking drugs there and waiters were selling drugs for the clients to mix in their drinks. It is claimed some of these entertainment outlets were owned by Red Wah and operated with the collusion of corrupt government staff. The ONCB has given the owners and staff of these establishments one month to clean up their act. The incidence of drug taking in Chiang Mai appears to have decreased by 70 percent, but everyone should be on the lookout for Ecstasy and Ice which are being sold to adolescents by the drug dealers.


Khamthiang Market coral shop owner arrested

Nopniwat Krailerg

Officers of the Fishery Resource Administration Office Chiang Mai searched a shop selling exotic fish in Khamthiang Market, after learning that hard and soft coral, both prohibited items, were available for sale there.

The shop was allowed to have a certain amount of coral, with the strict provision that it should only be used for display purposes. On February 16, when Udom Tidchai, together with officers from the Fishery Resource Office, searched the shop, they found a large amount of the prohibited coral available for sale. Despite the owner claiming that all the coral there was only for show, they chose not to believe him and seized the entire consignment for further verification.

Udom disclosed that his officers had been tipped off by local residents that Ti Pla Tha Lae and Chiang Mai Marine shops, had been illegally dealing in coral for a long time and the amount of coral in the shop was far too large. The shop owner had a permit entitling him to have only 16 designated species of coral in his shop for display purposes. The officers found coral far in excess of the amount shown on the permit, so it was all seized and the owner was taken to Chang Puek police station to face charges.

This coral has been taken from the sea in east of Thailand. They are highly sought after by people who use them to decorate their aquaria, but this kind of activity damages marine natural resources.


Three Thais arrested in Tachilek

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

The Public Relations Department Region 3, Chiang Mai reported that on February 11, Burmese police had checked the residences of known minority groups in Tachilek, looking for arms, during which 67 weapons had been seized. Whilst Burmese ONCB officers were checking the house of a known weapons dealer in Noh-kham in Tambon Hong Leuk, Thachilek, they came across three Thai men at that address. Two of the men
were monks and the other a lawyer from Phayao. Because of they were found at this address, they were accused of entering Burma to receive drugs and weapons; and to stage an uprising in Burma.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Jamnong Kaewsiri, commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police, was informed of the arrest of the three men by the Burmese authorities and ordered his police officers to investigate the situation. The three men said that they entered Burma for the purpose of buying metal amulets and had been directed to that address. Apart from being at the wrong place at the wrong time, officers found no evidence of anything illegal, so requested that the Burmese authorities release the three men into Thai custody. The police officers assured the Burmese police that Thai officials would fully investigate the background of the three persons and report back to Burma.


Intellectual Property Pirate Suppression officer pounces

No more one legged seafarers with parrots

Saksit Meesubkwang

Police officers and company’s representatives counting pirate CDs.

Suspecting that many stores were selling pirate videos and illegal CDs in Computer Plaza, on Maneenoparat Road, Tambon Sriphum in Muang, Chiang Mai, police decided to conduct a friendly raid on the premises. On February 15, Pol. Maj. Apirak Juisamran, Intellectual Property Pirate Suppression officer of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, together with representatives of the Grammy Company headed by Santi Sangwanna, manag- ing director and Theera-det Seeniang, head of the company’s pirate product searching team, posed as customers in Computer Plaza, Chiang Mai.

During this operation, police found four un-named stores whose owners had somehow been tipped off and fled but had left behind almost 10,000 MP3 and Karaoke CDs, including many pornographic CDs hidden inside their shops, all of which the officers seized as evidence. Investigation revealed the shop owners did not name their shops and hid the naughty CDs in cardboard boxes under the stairs near the ladies and gents toilets.

Prasert Srikitrat, president of Chiang Mai Music Club and owner of Mai Muang Store is also a singer with Grammy Company, traveled with the officers to the Computer Plaza and found his own songs on pirated MP3 and Karaoke VCDs. He urged the officers to continue to crack down on this illegal dealing. All the illegal material was sent to Chang Puek Police Station to be retained as evidence and police are continuing their investigations to pursue the sprinting shop owners.


3 kg of Ice makes mind-blowing snacks

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

A taxi was stopped and searched at a drug interception point on the Pahon-yothin Road, near Mae Sai, manned by police officers and soldiers of Pha Muang Task Force, on February 17. A search of the boot turned up a snackbox containing Ice. They were packed in 31 small snack bags, weighing a total of 3 kilograms. Its resale value in the Northern border area was 250,000-300,000 baht and would be higher if sold in the city.

The owner of the drugs was known to the police, and was identified as Techit Sri-sukthana, 25, from Nakhon Pathom. He was arrested and the taxi driver was released, after proving that he was innocent of any involvement with this drug shipment.

After a chat with the arresting officers, Techit confessed to being hired by a drug trafficking gang and was paid 50,000 baht to travel from Nakhon Pathom province to the Mae Sai border, to negotiate with a drug dealing gang in Mae Sai. After negotiation, he was given a black plastic bag filled with Ice, which he then repacked into the snackbox, before calling the taxi driver to take him to Chiang Rai Airport, where he intended catch a plane to transport the drugs to Bangkok. He was arrested and taken to Chiang Rai police station, charged with drug trafficking, leaving him somewhat less than ecstatic.


Illegal alien found hiding ya ba in ladies shoes

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Officers of the 337th Border Patrol Police, manning a checkpoint in Mae Sariang district, Mae Hong Son, stopped a vehicle traveling to Sop Moei district. There were both Thais and foreigners in the vehicle and a search of their belongings revealed a pair of blue ladies shoes containing a plastic bag hidden inside. The plastic bag was found to contain 4,000 amphetamine tablets the person admitting to be the owner of the shoes was arrested.

This person, identified as Tui, 37, a Burmese national, said that he lived in Lang Boi in Burma and had illegally entered Thailand through Tha Song Yong district, Tak, before traveling to Samut Prakan province to work with friends. On the way, a Thai man whose name he unfortunately could not remember, had given him these ya ba tablets and told him he would be met by a person in Bangkok, who would pick up the ya ba tablets and pay him. He was placed under arrest and charged with illegal entry into Thailand and with possessing drugs and a pair of ladies shoes.