NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Animal rights activists protest against Thai export of elephants to Australia

Crime of Passion!

Hopes for 53 mio flood compensation remain unanswered

Greenpeace calls for rejection of Salween River Dam project

Regional Border Committee members appear to agree

So now it’s Thollywood!

North University offers a chance for Chiang Mai workers to work in southern hotels

Barking deer ‘laab’ poisons 38

Student buses checked after numerous accidents

Lin Hui still not pregnant

Residents reject Night Safari Elephant Park

Worm swarms in Chiang Rai

Animal rights activists protest against Thai export of elephants to Australia

Associated Press
Dozens of animal rights activists demonstrated Monday outside the Australian Embassy in Bangkok, calling for its government to scrap plans to import eight Asian elephants from Thailand.
The protesters want the Thai government to conduct DNA testing to determine if the elephants were born in the wild which would prevent their transfer but Thai authorities have not agreed.

Australian zoo official Laurie Pond consoles an elephant, one of the eight to be transferred to zoos in Australia, at their quarters of a quarantine station in Saiyok district of Kanchanaburi province, western Thailand. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Trading of wild elephants is not allowed under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna. Those involved in the transfer insist they were born in captivity.
“Stop buying Thai elephants,” read an English-language sign held by one Thai activist at the embassy.
“We do hope you would appreciate that our beloved elephants, the Thai nation’s symbol, should remain in Thailand,” the activists said in a statement.
Early last month, a group of protesters stopped trucks carrying the elephants from leaving a quarantine station in the western Thai province of Kanchanaburi for Bangkok’s airport, where they were to have been flown to Australia.
Although only a handful of demonstrators blocked the trucks, officials took the animals back to their quarters after an overnight standoff.
The animals have been sold to zoos in Sydney and Melbourne where they are supposed to enter a conservation breeding program. They have been kept in quarantine in Kanchanaburi for more than a year as animal rights groups in both Thailand and Australia have fought to prevent their transfer.
In December, an Australian court cleared the way for the move to Sydney’s Taronga Zoo and Melbourne Zoo in Victoria state as long as they met certain conditions guaranteeing the elephants’ welfare.
“It is definitely not a requirement for DNA testing to be performed,” Lisa Keen, a Taronga Zoo official arranging for the transfer of the elephants, said in a telephone interview.
“In terms of any sort of transfer like this, these elephants have gone through the most thorough, rigorous investigation of their origins and captive-born status,” she said.


Crime of Passion!

American millionaire shot dead by ex-companion

Staff Reporter
On July 2, police officers at Chiang Mai Police Station were informed that an American had been shot opposite the Whole Earth Restaurant, on Sri Don Chai Road near the Night Bazaar area. He was not killed immediately, but died later in hospital. He was identified as George Patrick Dubie “Daniel”, 56, an American citizen and who had been shot in the chest and left arm.
Pratchaporn Monpeng, 30, the Thai wife of the deceased American informed the police that they had lived together for seven years, residing at a house in Hang Dong district, Chiang Mai. Before the fatal shooting, Daniel told her that Margaret ‘Gina’ Crane, 48, his former companion, arranged to meet him at the Whole Earth Restaurant on Sri Don Chai Road to discuss a private matter.
Witnesses in the restaurant told the police that they had heard the couple arguing, after which they walked out to the parking area. The American hit the woman and threatened her with a pistol, but she grabbed the weapon. Daniel ran to the opposite side of the road, but she followed him and fired the weapon in his direction. She then got into a car and drove off.
At the same time that the incident was taking place, Pratchaporn was waiting for Daniel at the Starbucks Coffee Shop on the Night Bazaar and received a phone call that her husband had been shot. She went to the scene and followed the ambulance to the hospital.
Police officers immediately broadcast an All Points Bulletin (APB) for the vehicle. Police at Pa Tan Bridge noticed the woman’s car and observed the female driver get out and throw what looked like a pistol into the river. She returned to her car and drove off at high speed with police officers in pursuit. They finally managed to stop her in front of Weera Panich Co. on Chiang Mai-Lampang Road, Tambon Fah Ham.

A witness at the scene of the shooting identifies Ms Crane as the person who shot Daniel Dubie.

Officers took her into custody, but when questioned, initially the woman denied everything. Eventually, she confessed that she committed the crime in a fit of fury. Ms Crane told police that there had been a scuffle when Daniel dropped the gun, but she grabbed it before he could and chased him across the street where she fired the gun.
Sineeporn Phantawong, Daniel’s personal lawyer and close friend said that Daniel owned many businesses in the U.S.A. He was also an advisor to the United Nations (UN) and a special news reporter of a foreign news agency. He was also involved with many organizations in the US providing support to those unfortunate people involved in the Tsunami catastrophe.
He had planned to invest one billion baht in land and a home stay business in Chiang Mai and Phuket. He visited Thailand a couple of times a year and told officers that Daniel had been threatened many times by his former Ms Crane.
From the investigation, police officers focused on the quarrel, which had accusations of adultery and violence. One of witnesses said that Daniel took care of six children. He had a house in Palm Spring Place Village in Muang Chiang Mai. Previously, they had often argued. Until this visit, Daniel had never visited his Ms Crane. She became furious which led to the fatal shooting.


Hopes for 53 mio flood compensation remain unanswered

Flood in Chiang Mai in August 2005 (File Photo)

Nopniwat Krailerg
At the government’s request, a report was made on the damage from the three major floods that occurred during August – October 2005, including a list of the people who were affected by these floods. In addition, a list was made of properties in Chiang Mai Municipality that suffered damage from the inundation.
After the first big flood in August, Chiang Mai Municipality requested 50 million baht of support funds from the Government Lottery Office to provide help to those people whose livelihoods and homes and businesses had incurred damage. There was no immediate response to this request.
Shortly after, there were two more large floods. Subsequently, the municipality coordinated with the Office of Social Development and Human Security, Chiang Mai to summarize the results of the flood. This survey revealed that there were 5,189 families who were affected by the floods in the Chiang Mai Municipal area, which caused damage amounting to 53,113,417 baht.
A request for this amount was sent to the Secretariat of the Prime Minister office on February 3, 2006, but the request has received no response or acknowledgement.
A further urgent request was submitted at the end of May 2006, but again, received no response. Those affected by the floods had enquired about the supporting fund many times, but the municipality has had to inform them that so far, there has been no progress in this matter.


Greenpeace calls for rejection of Salween River Dam project

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) is cooperating with the MDX Company, an energy company, the Burmese government, and China Sino Hydro Corp. Company, the biggest dam construction company in China, to construct another dam across the Salween River in Burma.
This dam will block the Salween River which is the longest river in Southeast Asia, with its source in Tibet, flowing through China into Myanmar. The Salween River dam is expected to cost around 1 billion US dollars (approx. 40,000 million baht) and, according to the agreement, MDX will receive approx. 85 percent of the electricity generated, from an output of 7,000 megawatts from the first dam, which will be the largest one in Myanmar. EGAT will receive 60 percent of the electricity from Hat Ka Yee Dam. It is expected that MDX’s dam construction will be finished by 2012 while the Hat Ka Yee Dam is still being surveyed, a process that it is expected to be finished within the next twelve months.
However, this construction project has come to the attention of several countries who are calling for its rejection on the grounds that this project will support the Burmese government’s economy, which is still being sanctioned by US due to human rights violations in the Myanmar; specifically the prolonged detention of Aung San Suu Kyi. Conservationists from Green Peace have also strenuously voiced their objections to this project, indicating that it will destroy the ecology in the Salween area; with in excess of 7,000 different kinds of plant and over 80 species of rare fish and wildlife will be jeopardized.
Thara Buakhamsri, an executive of Green Peace in Thailand said that the dam construction will severely affect the river’s ecology. Moreover, it is believed that the Burmese government will eliminate or forcibly remove all the Karen people from the area affected by this project.
Thara also said that EGAT construction area is in Hat Ka Yee is in the Karen State in the west. This has been regarded as an elimination area by the Burmese government since last February. The Burmese Army has planted the area indiscriminately with landmines and one of the EGAT officers had been killed after stepping on a mine.


Regional Border Committee members appear to agree

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Thai-Burmese Regional Border Committee (RBC) meeting was held, with the topics on the agenda being Thai-Burmese border economy, social problems, political problems, security problems and military problems affecting both sides.

General of 3rd Army Region shaking hands after signing the 23rd Regional Border Committee.

After conference, Lt. Gen Saphrang from the Third Army said that both sides expressed sincerity and a desire for a good relationship. If there is border problem, they will not simply accuse each other as they each have done in the past, but they will make every effort to get to the root of the problem and find a solution. The army leaders of both sides are considered new generation people with a modern informed outlook on the delicate situation along the border. The Army will not cause any trouble to people and they will be happy to meet and trade with each other due to their similar culture and traditions.
Lt. Gen. Saphrang also said that from now on, the Burmese side would rearrange their border matters to give greater consideration to minority groups and pay more attention to narcotic problems. Both countries have promised to cooperate more fully and send useful information to each other for their mutual benefit. Both countries realize that by doing so, it will ease the tension in the area and will maintain a better relationship than in the past.

Conference participants of both sides take a photo after finishing the conference


So now it’s Thollywood!

Preeyanoot Jittawong
The Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) has invited applications from creative people in animation, multimedia, and cell-phone games to submit their works for a competition in the “SIPA Pitch 2006; Episode II” program to win two million baht in a supporting scholarship. This is part of a project to push for Thailand to become the Hollywood of Asia.

Dr. Panuthat Techasen, Acting Director of Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) Chiang Mai branch.

Dr. Panuthat Techasen, Acting Director of SIPA: Chiang Mai branch said that “SIPA Pitch 2006: Episode II” would develop the potential of personnel to reach international levels. Competitors have to present their work and working methods, including marketing activity on the competition day to win the scholarship. It is also to encourage the winner to continue competing in Singapore at end of this year to win the guarantee symbol that shows the designer’s work has reached international standards.
SIPA Pitch 2006: Episode II has divided the competition into two classes: Animation multimedia and cell-phone games. Those who want to submit their work must be of Thai nationality and the project they submit must be original. The day for submitting entries for the first round is July 14. The list of works which are chosen for the second round will be published on July 21.
Those who are interested can submit their work at the Office of Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), Technology Broadcasting Department, 89/2 Moo. 3, TOT Public Company Limited, Building 9, 11th Floor, Changwattana Road, Thung Song Hong district, Lak Si, Bangkok, 10210.
More information is available at the Technology Broadcasting Department, Office of Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Tel. 0-2554-0446 (-8).


North University offers a chance for Chiang Mai workers to work in southern hotels

Narong Chawasintu, president of North Chiang Mai University (2ndfront left) and Sith Tanthawanit, president of TNC (2nd front right) witnessed by Kritsadaporn Siampakdi, Chiang Mai deputy governor (center back), signing the contract.

Preeyanoot Jittawong
North Chiang Mai University in cooperation with the Thai Southern Hotels Association is supporting Chiang Mai residents to be trained to work in four and five star hotels in the southern region. After completing their instruction, the trainees will be offered jobs immediately in the “THA-NCU Cooperation for Human Resources Development: TNC” project.
This project aims to deal with the labour shortage in Southern hotels after the tsunami inundated the south of Thailand. North Chiang Mai University accepted is offering to train and develop residents from Chiang Mai and the Northern region to work for hotels in the south. Meanwhile, Thai Southern Hotels Association will cooperate with hotels to provide jobs for the trainees.
The training program will take on 80 persons at a time to bring the students to the high standard of qualification needed to work in a five star hotel. It will require four months of training; two months training at North Chiang Mai University to learn about five star hotels, including training in the basics of languages such as English, Japanese and Korean, before traveling to work in Phuket. The Thai Southern Hotels Association will take care of such things as residence, safety and travel. All those interested in joining this course must have achieved a high vocational education or bachelor degree and must be a minimum of 18 years old. The cost of the course is 50,000 baht per person and will be very worthwhile because, after working in Southern hotels trainees could expect to receive wages of between 18,000-30,000 baht a month. Trainees could also join a program “Study Before - Pay Later” at North Chiang Mai University. The first training course will start on July 1 and other courses will continue after that. The university will issue further information by telephone on 053-819999.
On June 25, Narong Chawasintu, president of North Chiang Mai University signed the contract with Sith Tanthawanit, president of TNC to jointly develop the human resources of both institutes, witnessed by Kritsadaporn Siampakdi, Chiang Mai deputy governor and Dr. Chao Duang Duan Na Chiang Mai.


Barking deer ‘laab’ poisons 38

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
Locals in two villages in Phu Sang Sub District, Phayao Province ate ‘laab’ made from barking deer meat and 38 had to be taken to hospital with seven in serious condition. Provincial public health officials inspected the two villages and found that the villagers had become infected with botulinum, the same bacteria that was earlier discovered in bamboo shoots which caused some deaths.
Dr. Puntumit Mathanavin of Chiang Rai Public Health Authority said that locals had made the ‘laab’ from barking deer meat that was imported from the Lao PDR. In the Laotian dialect, ‘laab’ means ‘lucky’ but this was not the case this time.
Inspectors found that before consuming the meat they put the internals of the barking deer in a black plastic bag and left it until it started to emit a slightly putrid aroma of the ‘laab’ in the same manner as the bamboo shoots were stored.
Fourteen botulinum anti-toxin medications have been delivered by Nan Province, and volunteer researchers from the United States are going to research the bacteria and provide 30 additional sets of the anti-toxin. Chiang Mai University are also interested in taking part in the research.


Student buses checked after numerous accidents

Nopniwat Krailerg
After the new semester started in June, there have been several accidents involving student buses in Prachin Buri and Korat in Nakhon Ratchasima which have caused injuries and deaths amongst students. This has prompted government organizations to pay stricter attention to new safety measures for student buses. The checks revealed that in Chiang Mai, there are many academies that violate the student-bus safety control measures.
In Chiang Mai, on June 26, Pol. Col. Atthakij Kornthong, Deputy Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police called student bus business owners of 200 student buses in Muang district, Chiang Mai to join a training program which emphasized observing and conforming to the traffic regulations, with particular emphasis on providing safety for students during the new semester.
Chiangmai City Municipality Area Traffic regulations stipulate that student bus business owners in Chiang Mai must prepare their vehicles to be suitable for carrying students and there must be signs and signal lights attached to the bus informing other road-users that this is a student bus. Students must not hang on to the exterior bars or sit on the roof of the bus. Moreover, there must be adequate space in the bus to comfortably carry the number of students.
Traffic police officers will not only arrest those who violate the regulations, but will also campaign to highlight the safety measures, cooperating closely with the various academies on this issue. However, according to the survey of student-bus business owners, it was found that on the whole, Chiang Mai student buses were generally in good condition, with traffic regulation violations rarely seen.


Lin Hui still not pregnant

Officials think the boudoir too public

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Chiang Mai Zoo vet team who are responsible for pandas at the Zoo, together with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Chiang Mai University have found that “Lin Hui”, the female panda was still not pregnant, after ultrasound examination.

Sophon Damnui, Director of Zoological Park Organization gave the ultrasound results.

“Lin Hui”, the female panda had been acting as if she were pregnant after their brief 116 day courtship, but the veterinarians felt that if consummated the first signs of pregnancy should have appeared by now. The Vet team and the teachers from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Chiang Mai University decided to examine Lin Hui using ultra-sound to check if she was pregnant or not. The result of the tests showed clearly that the female panda is still not pregnant. Sophon Damnui, director of Zoological Park Organization (ZPO) said.

Vet team using ultrasound equipment to examine Lin Hui’s womb and explaining to the media about the process.

Sophon also revealed that the probable reason why she is still not pregnant is because she is quite young and not yet ready for breeding. Also, both pandas need more privacy and a calmer environment. The solution to this problem is to provide an outdoor exercise area for both pandas so that they can exercise more often and have more time for relaxation.
If these measures still do not bring results, artificial insemination will have to be considered as being the best way. However, the vet team has no experience of panda AI and will have to get advice from professionals from China or the U.S.A., who have more experience in impregnating pandas.


Residents reject Night Safari Elephant Park

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
100 local residents of Tambon Nhong Khwai and Baan Pong in Hang Dong district and Tambon Mae Hia in Muang Chiang Mai gathered to protest about the Elephant Park at Chiang Mai Night Safari. The Community Rights Protection Coordination Center submitted the signatures of about 1,000 local residents to Sagnuan Jaisom, Nhong Khwai TAO calling for the rejection of the Elephant Park project which is to be a feature of Chiang Mai Night Safari.
Local residents living nearby are afraid that this project will affect their homes and environment because earth moving machines have been brought in to destroy the forest near the villages to construct the Elephant Park. There has been no survey carried out to show the extent of the intrusion on the local residents, despite many requests to Ngong Khwai TAO to elaborate on the project’s details.
The petition for the rejection of the Elephant Park comes from the residents of five villages; Baan Fon, Baan Tong Kai, Baan Nhong Khwai in Tambon Nhong Khwai, Baan Mae Hia Nai in Tambon Mae Hia, and Baan Pong in Tambon Baan Pong who live close to the project. They claim that officers illegally destroyed the forest area to make way for the Elephant Park. Local residents are afraid that if the project goes ahead, there will be problems of water shortage as the amount of water in the area becomes insufficient to cope with the increased demand. They are also afraid that the large number of elephants in the park may destroy the richness of the forest; and that people that up until now have depended on the forest for their livelihoods, may no longer be able to do so.
Moreover, it seems that this there has been some underhand issues with this project because the earth moving machines were brought in to prepare the area in early 2005, with no public hearing to ask the opinions of local residents. People living in the area still insist that they do not want this project, as they believe that it will cause many problems.


Worm swarms in Chiang Rai

Chiangmai Mail Reporters
A strange incident occurred in Chiang Rai on June 29 when residents became aware of an unusual infestation of worms in their houses causing widespread consternation and panic. In the house belonging to Chaiyuth Khamnoi, officers found multi-colored worms in various shades of red, green, and black spreading all over the dwelling. Alerted by his officers, the president of Mae Korn TAO in Muang Chiang Rai urgently requested staff of the Horticultural Research Center in Chiang Rai carry out an investigation.
The pest control officers attempted to eradicate the worms by spraying strong insecticide, but to no avail. They then decided to spray benzene which certainly caused the worms to die, but in hind sight was considered a bit over the top as the slightest spark would have eradicated the house as well. Further investigation revealed that the worms were spreading all over bamboo forestsand the fruit orchards of Pang Rim Korn residents. The investigators also found that the worms were living in cracked and rotting timber as well as underground. Agricultural experts collected several specimens of worms for closer examination.
One of prevention officers said that these worms had spread just recently. It was a large infestation and the worms had many colors and looked strange. If they were observed in a bright area, they appeared to be green, but if seen in a dim area or in a tunnel, they appeared to be black and green. Nobody in the area had ever seen them before and there had been no reports of infestations elsewhere. The only good thing was the worms did not appear to cause injury or eat human beings.
Chaemchan Nolak-ngern, the Tambon Mae Korn agricultural officer reported that after being closely examined by officers of the Horticultural Research Center in Chiang Rai, it was found that this kind of worm was a species of millipede, with life cycle of only one year. The oldest millipede among the swarm was red-colored. This kind of worm has been found before, but never so much as this time. The factors causing this sudden infestation is that the area’s soil is rich in nutrients and contains no insecticides enabling the worms to breed and spread rapidly. However, he reassured residents that the worms were not dangerous, but lived on decomposing vegetable and animal remains.