Vol. V No. 18 - Saturday April 29, - May 5, 2006
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by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 

 


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailand celebrates Coronation Day on May 5

Chiang Mai public transport staying afloat on bio-diesel?

Father sues Nakornping Hospital over stillborn twins

Chiang Mai – the lung cancer capital of Thailand?

Study to ascertain Mae Ping riverbank land holding is almost complete

So what will happen to the Chiang Mai International Convention Center?

The Ministry of Culture discusses new guidelines

Senate election results in Upper Northern region

Bio-diesel becomes the new hope for local people due to its low price

International Horticultural Exposition progresses

Dept of Disease Control extinguishes the weed in Chiang Mai

Burmese army assaults Tai tribe base: Thai army assigned to set up a strong force at the border

Drug dealer arrested, with 8,200 ya ba pills

700 drink-drivers arrested in Chiang Mai during Songkran

Drug dealers arrested after bus bust

Football gambling agents in Chiang Mai arrested

Suicidal patient rescued in Chiang Rai

0.5 mio baht of copy CDs seized at Mae Sai

Border Cavalry stymie drug transfer from Red Wah

Thailand celebrates Coronation Day on May 5

The Kingdom of Thailand celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) on Friday, May 5 which marks the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great. The day is celebrated as a national holiday, and all government offices and commercial banks will be closed to observe the day.

During his coronation, the new King of Thailand, the Ninth in the Chakri Dynasty (Rama IX), took a sacred oath “to rule with Righteousness, for the Benefit and Happiness of the Siamese People” which He has done magnificently, garnering tremendous respect not only from his own people but the world-at-large.

As of May 5, King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great becomes the world’s longest- reigning monarch. Long Live the King!

His Majesty the King, after studying in Europe, returned to Thailand and was crowned King during an elaborate and highly intricate ceremony that out-shone all previous coronations in Thailand.

A week prior to His being crowned King, on April 28, 1950, H.M. King Bhumibol and Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitayakara were married. Following the Coronation the King returned to Switzerland to continue studying.

The Coronation Ceremony reinforces the stature of the Kings of Thailand. The first such elaborate ceremony was performed when Pho Khun Phamuang succeeded Pho Khun Bangklangthao as the ruling King of Muang Sukhothai. Phaya Lithai, a former leader in Sukhothai, left a historical record in stone describing the coronation ceremony in Sukhothai at Wat Srikhum.

In the beginning of the Ratanakosin era, the first King in the Chakri Dynasty (King Buddha Yot Fa Chulalokmaharach) took the title of Rama I and moved the capital of Siam from Thonburi to the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, and constructed Krung Ratanakosin (Bangkok).

In the process of building the Royal Palace and Wat Prakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) the first King in the House of Chakri, refined the coronation ceremony, establishing important protocol that has lasted to this day. All successive Kings who did not follow the strictures of the coronation ceremony would be unable to assume the term “Phrabat”. This title precedes the King’s title of “Somdej Phrachaoyuhua”, and more significantly, the symbol of the nine-tiered umbrella would also not be permissible or officially recognized.

The elaborate coronation ceremony of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great included all the ancient rituals required for assuming the full title and the nine-tiered umbrella. King Bhumibol Adulyadej then bestowed the honor posthumously on His brother King Ananda Mahidol. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s benevolent act raised King Ananda Mahidol’s regal status from seven to a nine-tiered umbrella.

During the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV), Buddhist monks and Brahmin priests were incorporated into the coronation ceremony to conduct rituals to sanctify the auspicious occasion. Previously the ceremony was arranged and conducted by the Royal Palace staff and members of the Royal Household.

The annual remembrance of the coronation ceremony is currently a three -day affair, starting with a ritual “tham bun” ceremony on May 3 to honor the King’s ancestors. Later on the first day, another ceremony is performed, whereby flags of honour are issued to distinguish various military units.

The following day, Buddhist ceremonies continue with chanting rituals, prayers and Brahman priests announcing the auspicious occasion forthcoming the next day (May 5).

On the 5th of May, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej conducts a merit-making ceremony, presenting offerings to Buddhist monks, and leads a “Wienthien” ceremony, walking three times around sacred grounds at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

In the evening the King conducts another sacred ceremony: changing the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian symbol protecting the Thai people, which was transferred from Thonburi to Wat Phra Kaew by Rama I.

Many rooms in the Royal Palace are opened for public viewing on Coronation Day. Auspicious ceremonies are performed and displays depicting Royal achievements are exhibited to reconfirm the King’s stature.


Chiang Mai public transport staying afloat on bio-diesel?

Red minibuses freeze fares

Red minibuses in Chiang Mai agree to maintain the old minibus fee even though gasoline costs are increasing.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Fuel oil prices continue to rise, and operators of public transport and freight services are feeling the pinch. Minibus drivers serving in different districts of Chiang Mai have appealed to the government to help them because they were having great difficulty in continuing to bear the high fuel oil costs. A spokesman said that most drivers could previously run all day on about 500 baht but now fuel costs have risen to 700 baht per day, but the bus fare still remains the same, the fee having been adjusted once already this year. They want the government to maintain the fuel oil price and not let it increase, and they could contain this increase in running costs. Tour bus owners who increased their bus fares just two months ago said that they might have to increase bus fares, if gasoline costs went any higher.

Motorcycles serving as taxis at Chiang Mai Bus Station said that they were still managing to maintain the same fare structure, but if the benzene price rose to 30 baht per liter they too would have to increase fares by 5-10 baht.

Singhkham Nunti, president of Lanna Transport Cooperatives, the trade association serving red minibus, metered taxis and air-condition vans in Chiang Mai told Chiangmai Mail that the higher cost of fuel oil was affecting every form of public transport service; and even though the fares had been adjusted in January from 10 to 15 baht, his members were also suffering. However, he confirmed that his cooperative would try to maintain the fares at their present level for as long as possible, but would be looking to increase them if the price of diesel exceeded 30 baht per liter (diesel cost was 27.33 baht on April 24).

The cooperative’s metered taxis were not so badly affected, because most of taxis were using gas (NGV) that is only 10-11 baht per liter. Red minibus owners had previously tried to convert to gas, but there were problems and it did not become universal, but some vehicle owners, in cooperation with Gas Company, are studying this issue. Currently all red minibuses are now using bio-diesel that is cheaper than ordinary diesel by 50 satang per liter.

The president added that the cooperative was considering a large project to set up their own gas station serving both fuel oil and gas, which will cost around 20 million baht. It will be used primarily to serve members of the cooperatives, which could help them to save money on fuel costs.

Fuel oil prices in the world market have been steadily increasing and recently, crude oil reached a peak of US$ 75 per barrel. There are several underlying reasons for this price rise including the uncertainty in the world market over the nuclear project in Iran, a decline in the stocks of benzene in the USA and internal problems affecting fuel oil exports from Nigeria.


Father sues Nakornping Hospital over stillborn twins

Grandfather (left) and father (right) showing a record of the pregnancy and the two babies which died while being delivered.

Saksit Meesubkwang
A distressed father, Sommai Boonsem and his family members, informed officials at Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office of the death of his twin boys who had died during childbirth at Nakornping Hospital, Chiang Mai.

Sommai disclosed that he and his wife arrived at the hospital on April 16, with his wife already in labour and hemorrhaging profusely. Doctors at the hospital declined Sommai’s requests to operate, claiming an operating theatre was not available and saying that the mother, Watcahree Yoohae should carry on and give birth naturally.

After half the day had passed by, the mother’s condition worsened so the doctors finally decided to operate, but sadly, the twin babies had already died before delivery.

Later, the father informed Mae Rim Police Station and appealed for justice from the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office; and commenced legal proceedings against the hospital for the sum of three million baht. He believed it was carelessness on the part of the hospital staff, particularly regarding the doctor, who denied any responsibility for the tragedy.

Mongkol Manusthitikul, Sommai’s father-in-law and an officer of the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said that this kind of event had occurred several times in the past because the hospital staff considered his daughter was Karen, so the doctor did not pay enough attention to her. The doctor had treated his daughter several times before when she had been in labour and always offered very believable excuses spoken in complicated medical jargon after baby had died, so relatives did not sue the doctor. He said if the doctor did not admit responsibility for the twins’ death, he would sue the hospital for three million baht and would pursue the matter to the end. He would like to make an example of this case for doctor to realize that it is his duty to treat his patients to the best of his ability, despite their ethnic origin or background.

Ai Ruantone, deputy head of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office assured the distraught family that he would inform his superiors of the matter and would press Nakornping Hospital to explain the issue before continuing to verify the truth of the unfortunate incident.

Doctors of Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital carried out a post-mortem examination on the twin babies to ascertain the cause of death and the two bodies would remain at the hospital until the case comes to the end.


Chiang Mai – the lung cancer capital of Thailand?

CMU voices warning on air pollution

Saksit Meesubkwang
Asst. Prof. Pongthep Wiwatanadet, from the Department of Community Medicine, Chiang Mai University said that the number of patients with respiratory diseases in Chiang Mai is currently very high. The incidence of patients developing lung cancer is higher than any other form of cancer in Chiang Mai, and the city heads the list of having the highest number of lung cancer patients of any city in Thailand

Although lung cancer is usually associated with tobacco consumption, it is thought that air pollution in Chiang Mai is a major contributory factor to the high incidence of respiratory problems in the city. The poor air quality is caused mainly by burning garbage and vehicle exhausts. Worldwide studies have shown that there are several substances which cause lung cancer that are found in the gases given off in any incineration process and from vehicle exhaust emissions.

Asst. Prof. Pongthep said that researchers are studying the relationship between air quality and respiratory diseases by examining 200 asthma sufferers in Chiang Mai and Lamphun. Each of these patients undergoes a daily lung function measurement, which is compared with air quality information, which is also collected daily.

According to the comparison statistics over the last 6 months, it has been shown that the patients’ lung function decreases in direct proportion to diminished air quality. However, this study has still to be completed before any firm conclusions can be drawn. Asthma patients are particularly at risk because their lung function is lower than that of healthy people.

The Department of Community Medicine has proposed several preventative measures to diminish and eventually eradicate air pollution in the city. The local Administration Organizations; such as Chiang Mai Municipality, PAO and TAO, still has no effective garbage collection service in certain areas, causing local people to solve their own problems by incinerating. If these areas were provided with an effective garbage-collection service it would obviate the need for incineration.

They also proposed that all vehicles should submit to random roadside checks and be tested for exhaust emissions. Any vehicle found to be below a certain standard should be taken off the road until such times as the owner has improved the efficiency of the engine and resubmitted the vehicle to a further test.

Furthermore, they recommended that an efficient public transport system should be put in place; and commuters be encouraged to leave their cars at home and travel into town by public transport. By both improving the efficiency of car engines and reducing the number of vehicles on the roads, it will go a long way to reducing the pollution in the city and make Chiang Mai a cleaner and healthier place to live.


Study to ascertain Mae Ping riverbank land holding is almost complete

Mae Ping being dredged.

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
Gen. Surin Phikulthong, on behalf of the chairman of the group tasked with solving the Mae Ping River encroachment reported on the progress of the investigation.

Gen. Surin said he had assigned the Land Development Department, Department of Lands, Marine Department and Royal Irrigation Department to work together, combining information on the Mae Ping riverbank landowners. Their remit included gathering information about land-owners on both riverbanks, covering a distance of 20 kilometers from the city of Chiang Mai. The information gathering process is almost 80 percent completed and expected to finish in the next two weeks.

The Royal Irrigation Department and Marine Department have been assigned to study old records showing the original width of Mae Ping River for the 20 kilometers, where the river flows through the city of Chiang Mai. The whole study is based on academic information that has long been a matter of public record. The study makes abundantly clear that the Mae Ping River should be widened to an average of about 90 meters and this is the basic information that will be used to clear up any objections to the process.

“We shall be able to verify riverside land holding before presenting the results of the study to the PM’s Office for the cabinet to consider how to eradicate the disastrous flooding of last year,” Gen. Surin said. The records show that the river has become narrower over the years; in some places due to natural deposition but in others this process has been assisted by the actions of the land owners. It now becomes the right of the government to restore the river to its former dimensions, thereby improving the watercourse to cope with the increased flow during the rainy season.

Concerning the river dredging at the points where it was most narrow, Gen. Surin stated that if necessary, they would seek the participation of police to ensure there were no problems during the dredging process. At some points the river was only 60 meters wide, although records showed that it was 160 meters wide in the past.


So what will happen to the Chiang Mai International Convention Center?

Saksit Meesubkwang
Pheerapong Euasoonthornwattana, director of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau disclosed that the government had assigned the bureau to come up with a business plan for the Chiang Mai International Convention Center, which will be finished in 2007.

There are several options. The government could manage the entire operation, the government could sell the management rights to the private sector (similar to the Sirikit Convention Hall); the government joins with a private operator to manage it or to let the local administration organization manage it. In Pheerapong’s personal opinion, the best choice would be to let the private sector manage the convention center.

The final choice would not be made until the construction of the convention center was completed. If the decision is made to let the private sector manage the convention center, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau will offer the position to management teams from Thailand and overseas in the final months of this year. The bureau is fully aware of the need for a professional management team and by offering this position to the private sector world-wide, it would broaden the choice and increase the likelihood of finding a suitably experienced management team.

The director added that when there is a world class convention centre in Chiang Mai, the beauty of the area and its natural surroundings will attract organizers to consider this convention center for holding their activities in the city.

TAT was given the responsibility to design and construct the convention center, with a budget of around 1.3 billion baht. The center will have 4,500 square meters of display area and be capable of seating 3000 people.


The Ministry of Culture discusses new guidelines

Khunying Tipawadee Mekhasawan presided at the seminar.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Guidelines for monitoring standards for TV, CDs and DVDs and movies were the discussion points at a seminar held in Chiang Mai, with 300 interested parties in attendance.

The aims of this seminar were to campaign and promote understanding of cultural monitoring, especially as this comes under the Act of Tape and Television Medium Control, 1987, but there have been many amendments and additions since then. A cabinet decision made in November 4, 2003, required the Ministry of Culture to promote the use of TV as an aid to education for children youths and families. This requires asking for cooperation from television stations on every channel to extend the length of broadcasting television programs for children and youths.

Regarding online games and Internet centers, the Ministry of Culture has fixed a regulation for children who are under 18 years old to be prohibited from playing games and using Internet services after 10 p.m. each day and are also prohibited from using these facilities before 2 p.m. from Monday to Friday, except holidays. Moreover, children under 18 are prohibited from playing computer games for more than three hours a day. The Ministry of Culture also has a plan to extend a cultural monitoring network in academies as well as commercial online games shops.

Khunying Tipawadee Mekhasawan, Permanent secretary of Ministry of Culture presided over the seminar which lasted 2 days.

Participants at the seminar


Senate election results in Upper Northern region

Very obvious political ties compromises impartiality of Senate

Saksit Meesubkwang
In the recent senate elections in Chiang Mai, 74 percent of those eligible to vote turned out to place their X against the candidate of their choice. There were also 60,666 voided ballots, or 7.07 percent; and there were 62,348 no votes, or 7.34 percent.

Dr. Krai Dabtham, an outstanding local doctor and an ex-director of Mae Ai Hospital who has dedicated his life to the public good, received the greatest number of votes, with 145,196. The other four senators to receive substantial votes were Prapan Buranupakorn, Pakorn Buranupakorn’s elder brother, a Chiang Mai Member of Parliament; Busaba Yodbangteui, Intharat Yodbangteui’s wife, a former senator; Amnuay Yotsook, a former Chiang Mai MP and Udom Suwitsakdanont, a former PAO councillor and owner of Nim See Seng Co., Ltd. but Poruethai Shinawatra, the PM’s sister-in-law could only manage 7th place, and in Chiang Mai, there can only be five senators, she missed the cut.

In Phayao, the candidate who received the most votes was Aree Tanbanchong, with 37,578 votesfollowed by Suwit Wongsriwong, 30,646 votes. In Phayao, there were 23 hopeful candidates, vying for the positions of only 2 senators. 72 percent turnout was recorded, plus 12.5 percent no or voided votes.

In Lampang, candidates from each of the 13 districts competed for only two senate positions. The electorate of 599,705 eligible voters stated their preference going to Dr. Tarnthong Thongsawad, with 76,375 votes. The 2nd place was filled by Peera Manathat, with 52,081 votes.

In Phrae, there can only be 1 senator, but there were 7 candidates. Niyom Wiwornthanaditkul, got the highest number of votes, achieving first place with 57,541 votes, with Kwanchai Panomkwan, candidate number 4, coming a close second with 54,703 votes.

In Mae Hong Son, from 446 election areas, the winning candidate was Anan Wanchaithanawong, with 44,003 votes.

Chiang Rai required four vacant senate seats to be filled. These went to Salakchit Tiyapairat, the wife of Yongyut Tiyapairat, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment; Worakiat Somsoi, Jirawan Wattanasiri, and Pluem Supapanya,.

In Nan, the candidate achieving the highest number of votes was Chaiwoot Kooariyakul, and there is only one senate position for Nan.

In Lamphun, Songchai Wongsawad, was elected with 63,685 votes.


Bio-diesel becomes the new hope for local people due to its low price

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
Residents of Tambon Nhong Kaew in Hang Dong district are doing their bit to save the planet by producing bio-diesel. They are supported in this endeavor by Chiang Mai University.

The bio-diesel process involves buying used vegetable oil from local people at 10 baht per liter. When it is mixed with other raw materials and a chemical mixture, the total investment is 17 baht per liter. At the moment, bio-diesel is only being made in small batches, but production can be increased to make 150 liters at a time. The residents have been producing bio-diesel for almost two months and have stockpiled more than 3,000 liters of this fuel. It is on sale at 21 baht per liter, which is six baht cheaper than the current market price. People who have bought bio-diesel said that after using the fuel for more than 1 month, they had experienced no problems with their engines, no black smoke, and it was just the same as ordinary diesel.

Officers from Chiang Mai Measurement Center randomly checked fuel dispensing pumps at petrol stations in Chiang Mai city; to check that pumps are dispensing the correct amount of fuel, to prevent the station owners taking advantage of customers. It was found that some petrol stations close the petrol pumps, saying that the petrol has just run out; but the new batch they have just received is at a higher price. In some petrol-stations the inspectors found notices saying that customers must buy at least 50 bahts-worth of petrol, because it is not economical in terms electricity and personnel to sell less.

Buncha Phooamorn, deputy chief of Chiang Mai Measurement Center said that there are 384 petrol stations in Chiang Mai, with a total of 2,882 petrol dispensing pumps. From the beginning of this year, the oil price has risen continuously and many entrepreneurs can no longer bear the burden, so that 10 percent of petrol stations have been forced to close.


International Horticultural Exposition progresses

Model of International Horticultural Exposition

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

An ebullient Sudarat Keyuraphan, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives issued an upbeat progress-report on the construction of the Haw Kham Luang Building that is to be used to house the International Horticultural Exposition (Ratchaphruek 2006), which will take place from November 1, 2006 to January 31, 2007, to honor HM King Bhumibol as one of the world’s longest serving monarchs. Now, the preparations, at 62%, are ahead of schedule; and it is predicted that the building will be ready to be handed over to the Chiang Mai Organizer Company in July according to the planned target.

The main room will be used to display agricultural produce and developmental work of His Majesty and is separated to eight zones. Zone 1 will lead visitors to pictures of the king visiting citizens in different areas. Zone 2 shows his project “Jitralada” with examples of a rice farm, bio diesel production and coral. Zone 3 will show various royal projects where the king has tried to solve water problems, both flooding and drought, including purifying polluted water to relieve the water supply of Thailand’s citizens. Zones 4, 5, 6 and 7 will stress on the six development centers that have been set up throughout the country on His Majesty’ s initiative, to help residents of each area to have a productive occupation. Zone 8 will conclude with all the works the king has initiated for all citizens to earn sufficient money to enjoy a good standard of living.

There will also be an art exhibition of both paintings and sculptures created by well known artists. The budget for organizing the exhibitions and decorating the building is about 40 million baht. The exhibits are to be on permanent display and information will be disseminated by multimedia and become a source of knowledge for students and the public, including foreign tourists; for everyone to learn of the dedication of His Majesty; and his graciousness since he occupied the throne of Thailand 60 years ago.


Dept of Disease Control extinguishes the weed in Chiang Mai

But VIP smoking OK?

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
The Disease Prevention and Control Office visited Chiang Mai, after being told that restaurants in the airport were allowing smoking in air-conditioned areas. Dr. Samna Foo-trakul, head of Disease Prevention and Control Office 10 carried out the inspection and gave suggestions to the owners of restaurants inside Chiang Mai International Airport.

From the inspection, it was found that several restaurants had illegally provided smoking areas for their customers. The Non-smokers Protection Act 1992, strictly states that air-conditioned restaurants must be non-smoking areas, and should not contain any smoking areas. This includes every room inside the airport, with the exception of personal work-rooms or (astoundingly) VIP lounges. The owners of the restaurants accepted they were at fault and promised to improve.

Officers also examined cigarette retailers in Chiang Mai city to give advice about correct selling methods and make sure that shop-keepers do not sell cigarettes to young people.


Burmese army assaults Tai tribe base: Thai army assigned to set up a strong force at the border

SSA force seen parading on the anniversary of their establishment. (file photo courtesy of S.H.A.N.)

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
The Burmese army savagely attacked the Loi Kawwan base of the Tai tribe and there is every probability that the ensuing battle may continue for a long time. Recently, additional Burmese forces from Tachilek added their support to the soldiers fighting the Tai tribe.

A report from Chiang Rai province said that the Burmese army, made up of elements from Mongyawng based Light Infantry Battalion 311 and Tachilek-based Light Infantry Battalion 526, commanded by Lt. Col. Gawnzuen, assaulted the Tai tribe base of Shan State Army (SSA) at Loi Kawwan, opposite Mae Fa Luang district of Chiang Rai. There were sounds of heavy fighting which continued for almost three hours, but the outcome of the battle was not known.

Later, the Burmese army in Tachilek opposite Mae Sai, Chiang Rai moved an additional force with heavy weapons to the war zone to support the Burmese force that was battling with the Tai tribe. Tai tribes-army close to Chiang Mai border are ready to send an army to support their compatriots at Loi Kawwan, Chiang Rai to fight off the Burmese attackers.

This engagement has long been predicted by the Third Army Region Intelligence, so the Thai army has been assigned to strengthen security along the Thai border in this area. This was the first time this year that Burmese forces have attacked minority groups nearby Mae Hong Son and Chiang Rai.


Drug dealer arrested, with 8,200 ya ba pills

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
Soldiers of the Pha Muang Task Force, together with Chai Prakan police officers in Chiang Mai were tipped off by informers of a possible drug shipment in their area. They mounted a checkpoint at Baan Pha Hong, and kept a look out for two suspicious cars. When these particular vehicles, arrived at the road block, the officers pulled them over and thoroughly searched both cars. They found 8,200 ya ba pills hidden in a sticky rice container and the three occupants who belonged to the Lahu tribe, confessed that they were drug dealers from the same gang.

Police officers took all three mules into custody along with the evidence and sent them for interrogation at Chai Prakan Police Station, Chiang Mai to face charges.

From the interrogation, the police officers learned of more drugs at the house of I-Sue Ma in Mai Ai. A search team went to the address and found 20,000 ya ba pills hidden there, but unfortunately I-Sue Ma’s husband, Weerapong, one of the biggest drug dealers at the border area had got wind of the raid and had left the premises ahead of the team’s arrival. Police have applied to Fang District Court for a warrant for Weerapong’s arrest.


700 drink-drivers arrested in Chiang Mai during Songkran

Nopniwat Krailerg
During the Songkran Festival, over what were considered to be the 10 most dangerous days from April 7 to April 16, 694 people had been arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol. They were sent to the Chiang Mai District Court, where they were each sentenced to one month imprisonment and ordered to pay a 2,500-3,000 baht fine.

Rommanee Klanbida, director of Chiang Mai Detention Office said that the incidence of drink-driving was higher than the previous year. Last year, 500 drinkers were arrested, but this year, the number rose to almost 700. The miscreants covered a wide range of society, including government officers, students, university students including working people whose average ages were 35-45. The persons who were charged with drink-driving will have to report to officers four times a year and their behavior will be monitored.

Director of Chiang Mai Detention Office also said that those who were drunk and caused injury to third parties will be in detention for two months under more strict conditions; and will also have to do community services.


Drug dealers arrested after bus bust

Chiangmai Mail Reporter
Police officers on duty at Chiang Rai Provincial Bus Terminal received an urgent radio call from their commanding officer Pol. Col. Charan Worapattananant, Superintendent of Chiang Rai Provincial Police Station, to be extra vigilant. This was after being informed that there would be a drug-shipment on a bus from the Thai-Burmese border from the Red Wa tribe during the Songkran Festival.

Police officers spotted two suspicious men loading their baggage into the air-conditioned bus and decided to search their baggage, and found 10,000 orange ya ba pills inside five packages. They arrested the two couriers, later identified as Pichai Trakulpitakij, 23, and Somsak Saetern, 20, both of them residents of Nan.

They were taken into custody and sent to face charges. The two men confessed that they had been hired by a financial backer to pick up the packages from the border in Chiang Rai and transport them to a Mr Big at Talad Thai, Pathum Thani. They were to get 45,000 baht in wages and had already been paid the first installment of 5,000 baht.


Football gambling agents in Chiang Mai arrested

Nopniwat Krailerg
Many people like to gamble in Thailand, as they do elsewhere in the world. Some are content with having a flutter over a friendly game of Mah Jong or putting a few baht on their local lad in a bout of Muay Thay. But a growing number of punters are risking their hard-earned satangs on the outcome of overseas football league matches. The gamblers get to know where these events are being shown on satellite TV, at shops or houses owned by the agents who will take their bets. Children and young people also gather at these gambling houses and the authorities are concerned that by becoming involved in such activities, it will affect their studies and cause problems in their family and social life.

With the aim of stamping out these illicit gambling dens, police officers were ordered to crack down on these places. A posse of police went to check on a house located on Ratchiangsaen Road in Muang, Chiang Mai, after learning that the premises were being used for football gambling. They they arrested three people in the process of accepting bets on the outcome of football games, later being identified as Thanasak Nantasane, 32, living in Chom Thong district; Chiang Mai and Chamaiporn Teerachai, 23, resident of Pua district Nan and Suwit Kong-ngern, 31, resident of Tambon Thasala in Muang, Chiang Mai.

Baht 36,250 was found in their possession along with 300 betting slips used for football gambling. Later, the same force searched a nearby house on Wua Lai Road and arrested the owner Yuthana Chaiwong, 30 for similar offences. This time, 1,460 baht and 52 football betting slips were seized, plus a bank account that was being used for gambling. All the offenders were taken into custody at Muang Chiang Mai Police Station awaiting further prosecution; and the only betting certainty is that it’s an odds-on sure thing that they would not be joining the Songkran Festival this year.


Suicidal patient rescued in Chiang Rai

Chiangmai Mail Reporter
The recent hot weather in Chiang Rai caused a patient in Chiang Rai’s Prachanukroar Hospital, to overheat and climb up on the rooftop of the hospital laundry building in a suicide attempt. Staff members of the hospital engaged him in conversation for approximately one hour to prevent him from jumping, before the patient finally accepted the assistance of other officers who were climbing up to help him.

Unfortunately, getting down from his precarious perch did not seem as easy as climbing up, because the roof was very steep. Consequently, the hospital staff had to coordinate with rescuers from Chiang Rai Municipality who sent a fire truck and trained rescue workers to bring him down.

The drama was not yet over as unfortunately, fire truck’s ladder could not reach the patient because there were high voltage cables in the way. So the rescuers laid a ladder on the truck and eventually brought the deranged patient safely back down to earth.

Following his rescue, medication was administered to alleviate his distress and he was placed under close observation to prevent further roof climbing incidents.


0.5 mio baht of copy CDs seized at Mae Sai

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
Mae Sai Customs in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai confiscated 21 boxes of Thai Look Tung and Thai pop music MP3 CDs including a famous Korean series, Dae Jang Kuem, numbering around 10,000 CDs costing 500,000 baht. It was indicated these were produced in and imported from Burma.

After a tip-off, Kitti Suthisamphan, assistant of Mae Sai Customs’ head officer together with customs officers searched a Mae Sai post office.

The officers seized 21 suspect boxes and took them to the customs office, and found they contained copy CDs.

After checking destinations of these boxes, they were to be delivered to several provinces covering central part, north-east region, and north and south regions as well. The addresses written on the 21 boxes were given to investigation officers of Mae Sai Police Station to follow.

Post office staff said that all the boxes were delivered by Burmese men to the post office but the boxes were too heavy and suspecious so the staff had called the customs officers to check them.


Border Cavalry stymie drug transfer from Red Wah

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
Acting on a tip-off, Lt. Col. Domsak Khamsaisang, commander of the special task force of 3
rd Calvary Regiment, Pha Muang Task Force in Chiang Rai set up a roadblock. The officers had been informed that ya ba belonging to the Red Wah would be transferred from Burma in a green Hi-lux pick up driving from Muang Mai 46, the area where the Red Wah was known to operate.

On approaching the roadblock, the pick-up turned yellow and drove away at high speed when the officers requested a search. The soldiers followed the pick up closely and finally caught it up. After searching, 1,400 orange color ya ba pills were discovered as well as a package of raw opium and heroin. The three occupants of the pick-up were arrested, later identified as Aso Wojue, 21; Longong Wuisue, 50; residents of Mae Suai district and Awue Bese, 38, livng at Tambon Terdthai in Mae Fa Luang, Chiang Rai, all three being members of the Lahu hill tribe. They were sent to Mae Fa Luang Police Station and charged with drug trafficking.

During interrogation, Longong and Aso, the father and son admitted that they had traveled to Burma to purchase ya ba from the Red Wah because several of their usual drug sources were proving difficult to reach, due to the obstructive actions of the drug-suppression teams in the area. They met Awue, who was a member of border drug gang in Mae Fa Luang, to contact the Red Wah for purchasing ya ba. They intended to distribute these drugs to several areas to fulfill orders, but were arrested before could complete that part of the operation.



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