NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Heavy rain causes temple pagoda to collapse

Thailand ready to counterattack Myanmar

Military needs efficient equipment to assist rescue operations

Thaksin checks progress of horticultural expo

International Vocational Training Centre opened in San Patong

280 million baht budget to solve Mae Ping flooding problems

OTOP Chiang Mai Festival to honor HM the King

Sex-slave trafficking campaigner speaks in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai International Airport ready to support horticultural expo

Heavy rains bring flash flood to village and mudslide to Doi Suthep

Crash on Mae Rim Road leaves one dead, another seriously injured

Largest flood in 30 years hits Nan

Residents in Chiang Dao taken through escape from battle area rehearsal

Tourist punch-up results in one hospitalised

Three students die as a result of tour bus accident

Mae Sai Customs seize illegal brand-name products

Amphetamines packed in sanitary napkins

Heavy rain causes temple pagoda to collapse

Nopniwat Krailerg and Preeyanoot Jittawong
The pagoda at Phan Own temple collapsed on August 18 following heavy rains. The pagoda, which was about 505 years old and dated from the Meng Rai dynasty, collected water in fissures in its bricks. On August 18 the increased weight meant the structure was no longer able to support itself, leading to the collapse.
Phra Kru Amorn Thamathad, abbot of Phan Own temple, told reporters that the 17 metre high pagoda was last restored 27 years ago. The temple was making preparations to restore the pagoda again after fractures were discovered in the bricks. The restoration, which was to be paid for with donations, was due to be completed in 2007 as part of HM the King’s 80th birthday celebrations.
Klitsadaporn Siampakdee, Chiang Mai deputy governor, visited the temple to inspect the damage. He said that the pagoda is not on the Department of Fine Art’s list of protected structures so the province will approve a budget for the construction of a new pagoda.
Officers from Chiang Mai municipality were also sent to the temple in order to protect Buddha images amongst the ruins from collectors. A number of Buddha images have already been moved to a safe place.


Thailand ready to counterattack Myanmar

Khajohn Boonphat
The commander of the 7th Infantry Regiment Special Task Force recently issued orders to prepare helicopters in readiness to counterattack if Thailand was assaulted again by the Burmese army.
This was in response to the Burmese government reneging on their promise of full reparation for a Thai chopper that was shot down several weeks ago by a Burmese soldier. The Burmese authorities now claim that the Thai helicopter had flown over Myanmar airspace.
The commander also disclosed that cross-border human trafficking gangs engaged in smuggling young people from Myanmar to Thailand would be suppressed, and authorities would come down hard on drug dealing networks that were starting to enter local administration organizations with a hope that it could protect them from the law.
On August 14, Col. Suthas Jarumanee, commander of the 7th Infantry Regiment Special Task Force reported to the media at the Montalaeng headquarters in Mae Hong Son that the Burmese authorities had gone back on their word that they would pay for the damage inflicted on the Thai chopper that was shot down whilst peacefully engaged in transferring victuals to Thai soldiers on duty along the Thai-Burmese border near Mae Hong Son.
He said that the Burmese authorities now claimed that the Thai helicopter was in the wrong, because it had trespassed into Myanmar airspace. This has caused the incident to become a big problem which now needs to be sorted at national level. Instead of it remaining a local conflict it was now up to the governments of both countries to come up with a solution to deal with it.
In anticipation of belligerent action by the Burmese Army, he had issued orders to the Infantry Regiment Special Task Force to install weapons on every helicopter in readiness to counterattack if Thailand was assaulted in any way. Heavy weapons were also being prepared to protect the country should the need arise.
The commander also drew the media’s attention to the prevalence of cross-border human trafficking by Thai and Burmese gangs. Furthermore, it had become evident that certain members of some government organizations were involved in it and were turning a blind eye to the illegal dealing; however, the task force already knew the identities of many people in the trafficking network and he promised that it would be suppressed shortly.
Moreover, it was recently found that drugs were also being transferred together with the human trafficking process, so the task force is going to participate with Mae Hong Provincial Police to jointly suppress the activities of these gangs.
Some villagers in Baan Na Pla Jad, Tambon Huay Pha in Muang of Mae Hong Son had become concerned that the human trafficking network in Myanmar, especially in the northern region and central parts of the country, was smuggling young people into Thailand. Young Burmese girls were being forced into prostitution, while most boys were sent to work as laborers at construction sites in the main cities of Thailand; others worked for the fishery industry. Drugs were also being transferred along with these young people, who walked for 7-10 days from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai.


Military needs efficient equipment to assist rescue operations

Third Army Region: five out of six helicopters unfit for use

Saksit Meesubkwang
Lt. Gen. Saprang Kanlayanamit, commander of the Third Army Region, stated that the military plays an important role in rescuing residents affected by natural disasters. In order to carry out this role effectively, Saprang said, it needs to have efficient equipment. He added that all sectors of local administration must be ready to assist the victims of natural disasters, and contingency plans should be in place before the disasters occur.
Lt. Gen. Saprang made these comments on August 16 at a meeting entitled “Cooperation in Public Disaster Prevention and Relief in the Northern Region.” During the meeting, officers from disaster prevention agencies, along with governors of the 17 northern provinces brainstormed plans for disaster prevention and relief in the northern region. Around 200 people attended the meeting, which was organised by the Third Army Region and Security Administration Region 3.
Several events were held up as examples of what happens when this is not the case. Saprang cited recent events in Uttaradit province when, due to lack of useable equipment, officers were unable to help disaster victims. Although this was a small event, Saprang said, the consequences would be more serious if a disaster on the scale of floods in Bangladesh or the earthquake in China took place. He added that the army also needed to be prepared for terrorist incidents, such as those currently plaguing the deep south.
The commander revealed that when the acting prime minister visited Uttaradit, he had already requested a budget of 1.3 billion baht to repair the Third Army Region’s helicopters. The Third Army Region initially had 6 helicopters, but currently only one of them is operational. An additional three helicopters were provided by Singapore during the Uttaradit floods.
Saprang also brought the meeting’s attention to the recent incident in which Burmese military fired shots at a Thai army helicopter flying along the border. Although compensation has been requested from Burma, Saprang believed this was, at best, a minor issue. He asked for greater attention to be paid to the need for clear communications between the Burmese and Thai military officers in the areas concerned.


Thaksin checks progress of horticultural expo

Acting PM Thaksin Shinawatra consults with the horticultural expo organisers.

Preeyanoot Jittawong
Acting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra presided over a meeting of the International Horticultural Exposition organisers on August 14 at the Royal Agricultural Research Centre, Tambon Mae Hia. He received reports on the progress of preparations for the expo and stressed the need for all sectors of Chiang Mai’s infrastructure to make preparations to support the visitors.
Thaksin particularly emphasised the need for firm plans to be put in place regarding transportation and accommodation for the expected visitors. He said that organising teams need to find a way to transport the maximum amount of people with the minimum number of vehicles in order to reduce traffic problems. He also said that parking areas need to be prepared and that Chiang Mai’s mass transport system should make arrangements to pick up visitors to the expo from several points within town.
Organisers informed Thaksin that the buildings and utility systems for the exposition were more than 80% complete, and well ahead of schedule, while display zones for various international organisations were 70% complete. He also heard details of the various special features, such as the “night light garden”, which will give night time illumination to three separate parts of the exposition. Also planned is the “Flora Fantasy Electric Parade” and a light and sound water show. A Bohd tree will be planted and visitors will have the chance to inscribe blessings on brass plates to be hung from the tree as a demonstration of their faithfulness to HM the King.
Sudarat Keyuraphan, minister for agriculture and cooperatives, revealed that the entire preparation process was 80% complete. She said that the expo will run for 92 days and would be open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. She added that tourists should book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.


International Vocational Training Centre opened in San Patong

Nopniwat Krailerg
On his recent visit to Chiang Mai, acting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra opened the new International Vocational Training Agency, located in the grounds of Chiang Mai Agriculture and Technology College in San Patong district.

Thaksin Shinawatra, acting prime minister, demonstrates how to make a large water jar.

The International Vocational Training Centre will be used as a base at which to train participants in the Asset Capitalisation Project; a government initiative aimed at supporting local community enterprises and creating new producers. It is hoped that the Assets Capitalisation Project will expand the economic base and stimulate job creation within local communities.
The International Vocational Centre also hopes to train graduates from vocational colleges how to set up and run their own businesses and act as a centre for the exchange of ideas concerning the production, modification, service and marketing of new products.
At the opening of the centre Thaksin praised the natural atmosphere of the campus. He said that this would give students the opportunity to both study and play sports. He also suggested that the nearby lagoon could be developed as a tourist attraction.


280 million baht budget to solve Mae Ping flooding problems

Preeyanoot Jittawong
Acting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra approved a budget of 280 million baht to widen the Mae Ping River at seven locations. The budget was approved following a brainstorming session between Newin Chidchop, minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, Chiang Mai’s governor and the head officers of the relevant governmental organisations, on August 13. The project aims to avoid the widespread flooding that caused chaos in the city last year.

Acting PM Thaksin Shinawatra consults with Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 5, concerning Mae Ping River dredging.

Through dredging, officials hope to widen the river to 90 metres at the seven points. The first place to be dredged will be the section of the river adjacent to the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 offices. Participants at the meeting suggested that the offices be removed and allocated 90 million baht to relocate. It was also suggested that only 30 metres of the area around the provincial police officers be dredged, in order to avoid damaging structures such as the memorial to police officers who have died in the line of duty and police residences.
Initially, Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 only wanted 10 metres of the river to be dredged, citing possible damage to buildings as a reason for caution. Thaksin stated that initial dredging of the area should be completed, then new locations should be sought for police residences. Following this, the dredging should be completed and a new location for the bureau’s offices should be sought. Thaksin emphasised the need for Chiang Mai residents to see that the government was participating in the dredging process and working towards solving Chiang Mai’s flooding problems.
There are 200 residents who hold land rights across the seven proposed dredging points, and of these, 20 will have their lands purchased by the authorities. At present the dredging project is to be presented to the cabinet for further authorization.


OTOP Chiang Mai Festival to honor HM the King

(From left) Somsak Sutthisarn, head officer of Chiang Mai Provincial Development Office, Thongchai Wongrianthong, Chiang Mai deputy governor and Ongkarn Chai-ongkarn, chairman of Indeed Creation Co., Ltd., the organizer of the festival jointly announce the fair during a press conference.

Nopniwat Krailerg and Preeyanoot Jittawong
The OTOP Chiang Mai Festival is to be organized this year at JJ Market in Chiang Mai, from August 30 to September 3, to honor HM the King on the occasion of his 60 year anniversary of ascending the throne. OTOP stands for One Tambon One Product and the 400 or so OTOP producers will put their 3-5 stars products on display in the festival.
There also will be an exhibition about HM the King and 9 OTOP villages, as well as a Lanna mixing market called “Kad Mua”, including entertainment performances by well known stars. The opening ceremony will be presided over by Somchai Soonthornwat, deputy minister of interior on August 30, at 5 p.m.
Thongchai Wongrianthong, Chiang Mai deputy governor said that OTOP was produced by using the local wisdom of general residents with the added advantage that the widely differing products they created could be exported, thereby bringing income directly to the villagers who made each product; and it was a method used by the government for solving poverty in the rural districts.
The value of OTOP products exported from around Chiang Mai stood at 200 million baht in 2001 and has increased annually to reach 1.7 billion baht in 2005. This year, the amount is expected to exceed 2 billion baht; mainly because producers have gained in knowledge and experience and are continually enhancing the quality of their products.
In the meantime, Somsak Sutthisarn, head officer of Chiang Mai Provincial Development Office said that the organizing committees will ensure that the products on display this year would be different from several previous occasions. He confidently predicted that the revenue from this festival during the five days and nights would be at least 20 million baht.


Sex-slave trafficking campaigner speaks in Chiang Mai

Elle Faraday
Sometimes in life, you meet someone who makes everything you’ve done in your life seem insignificant compared to what they’ve achieved. Norma Hotaling is one of these people. Norma is the founder and director of SAGE, an organisation dedicated to helping those living on the streets and involved in prostitution. Her story is an incredibly powerful one.

Norma Hotaling

Norma spent 20 years on the streets of San Francisco as a heroin addict and prostitute. In 1989, she was released from prison and vowed to turn her life around. She enrolled on a detox and support programme and moved into a ‘sober living’ programme.
In 1990, Norma began seeing a counsellor who helped her to see that she wasn’t a bad person, just a tragic victim of circumstance. She had been abused as a child and her subsequent life spent on the streets was linked to this early experience. Her drug and alcohol addiction was merely a way to numb the pain she felt rather than dealing with it.
Just over two years after leaving prison, Norma earned herself a degree in Health Education and shortly after that, in 1995, she founded SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation) which was set up to “provide services locally and to advocate for an end to trafficking people for sex both nationally and internationally.”
Norma is “committed to the creation of alternatives to homelessness and the incarceration of women, girls, men and boys.” She wants to help ease as many people’s suffering as she can and use her experience to show others that there is a way out.
With the support and organisation of the United States Embassy, Norma has just finished a five day tour of the country where she was sharing her story and offering help and support to those who need it. She has been to Thailand four times before and each time learns a little bit more about what she described as a “wonderful country”. During her present trip, she has visited the many support groups in Thailand that are committed to helping the country’s many prostitutes. I was lucky enough to be present at a press conference that Norma gave in Chiang Mai last week.
She has specifically asked for her story not to be sensationalised so I hope I can document the facts accurately and paint an honest picture of a subject which is highly controversial as well as being incredibly shocking.
After explaining what SAGE is and what it hopes to achieve, Norma began by explaining that “Trafficking at its core is a supply and demand issue. The girls that are now being recruited and drugged and trafficked into Thailand are feeding a 30 million dollar trans-national organised crime ring.” This was a bold statement to make but was not made without its research. She went on to say, “It is so important to remember that the 30 million dollars is paid for one dollar at a time by men who have decided to buy a human being. They are the demand … We are taught to keep silent and protect the demand side of trafficking … How is this right? These men are feeding organised crime.”
Norma went on to explain that during her visits to the numerous support centres around Thailand, she found out that they are seeing more and more young boys who are being trafficked into the sex slave industry. She wants to see the authorities “really focus on the men who are buying children, both girls and boys.” She believes that in order to be effective, “It’s really important to look at the issue as a whole – then we start to see the oppression that exists.”
She understands that to get people to listen takes time. She has been writing about the plight of trafficked girls in the US since 1992 and only now are people sitting up and listening. “It comes down to the same point as I was making at the beginning; take away the demand and you are left with nothing.” She has been working with the authorities in San Francisco and they are now arresting the men who are picking up the girls as well as the girls themselves. Men have to pay a stiff fine if they are caught with a prostitute. This fine goes towards one of the programmes which Norma has developed to help completely rehabilitate the girls and boys on the streets.
Norma gave a moving account of her own life story - hiding nothing, simply telling the facts. She has moved forward and wants to help as many young people as she can move forward with her. “It’s a horrible, horrible legacy for our children and its time for all of us around the world to join together and say we are going to stop this. Sex with children, taking advantage of their vulnerability and abusing power is wrong.” She wants people to judge these men very critically and not hide behind the fact that it is a taboo subject. She asked for Thailand to be the leader, “To step forward and protect its girls and boys who are being used to serve the huge sex industry here. If Thailand leads the way, many other countries will follow.”
I found her talk fascinating as did everyone else present. She was asked many questions, mainly on how to handle the vast number of tourists travelling to Bangkok on holiday and who do not see anything wrong with what they’re doing. Norma responded by saying, “It’s important for the people of Thailand to decide for themselves on what to say about that and what they think about it. I know what I think about it – it’s a racialised sexism because how these men justify it is by saying ‘Thai women like it…’ The men that do this look at women and children in very narrow ways. They take advantage of Thai people’s polite and kind nature. It’s up to Thailand to turn around and stop it.”
One of the last and possibly most powerful questions asked was how old are these children that are being sold into prostitution. She simply said, “5 or 6 years old.” We were all shocked into silence and the reality of this problem really sank in.
Norma was leaving Chiang Mai to continue her excellent work in the US where she sees over 300 people a week walk through her doors. She is an inspiration to thousands and hopefully some of the girls she encounters will look to Norma and turn their lives around just as she has done.


Chiang Mai International Airport ready to support horticultural expo

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai International Airport has laid out plans for security and accommodation measures in preparation for the International Horticultural Exposition 2006, to be held in Chiang Mai at the end of the year.

Chiang Mai International Airport ready to protect security of visitors.

At a meeting presided over by Flight Lieutenant Suthara Huangsuwan, director of Chiang Mai International Airport, and attended by airlines and other relevant parties, the groups brainstormed ideas to prepare for accommodation, transport, traffic and security in light of the expected increase in visitor numbers. Suthara said that the security measures would be similar to those employed during the APEC conference in Chiang Mai. He reminded the attendees that the horticulture exposition was in honour of HM the King.
Passengers on all flights will not be allowed to carry sharp objects or liquids onto the flights and checks will be performed thoroughly. Suthara said that although this might inconvenience some passengers, security concerns take top priority.


Heavy rains bring flash flood to village and mudslide to Doi Suthep

Staff Reporters
Heavy rains on the night of August 13 caused large trees to fall onto the road leading to Wat Phra Thad Doi Suthep. Monks and local residents cleared the road the next morning. In addition, a mudslide occurred at Khun Gan curve near the temple, making 50 meters of the road impassable to large vehicles. Tourists taking large tour buses to the temple had to be taken by minibus. Again, with the help of local residents the road was cleared and normal transportation resumed in the evening.
Meanwhile, a flashflood swamped the village of Baan Don Pin, Tambon Mae Hia, muang Chiang Mai, damaging over one hundred houses. Residents of 20 houses did not have time to remove their belongings, resulting in further damage to household goods, including motorcycles.
President of Tambon Mae Hia administration organisation, Thanawat Yodjai, said that he believed the flashflood was caused by changes made to local waterways by the Night Safari and the International Horticultural Exposition. He said the two projects had diverted water into Mae Hia creek. The rains meant that the increased volume of water did not have time to flow away, causing the flood.
Thanawat went on to say that to prevent this happening again the creek would have to be widened for five kilometers to allow the water to drain to the Mae Ping.


Crash on Mae Rim Road leaves one dead, another seriously injured

Chiang Mai PAO to blame?

Nopniwat Krailerg
A motorcycle accident that left one teenager dead and another seriously injured occurred at around midnight, August 20, outside the Special Forces Regiment 5 on Chiang Mai-Mae Rim Road.

Inadequate safety procedures on the part of the PAO caused a fatal accident on Chiang Mai-Mae Rim Road.

On receiving news of the accident officers from the Mae Rim district police station, along with Prakaiphruek rescuers from Mae Rim municipality were dispatched to the scene. Upon arrival they discovered the body of a teenager, aged approximately 18 years old, with another teenager who had sustained serious injuries. The passenger was sent to Nakon Ping Hospital. Nearby was a heavily damaged red Honda motorcycle. Officers were unable to find ID on either of the casualties.
Following an investigation police discovered that the pair had been riding their motorbike from Chiang Mai to Mae Rim. The accident was caused by the bike colliding with construction steel being used for repairing pipes by the Chiang Mai provincial administration organisation (PAO). The steel had been laid in the road and there were no warning lights indicating its presence.
Nearby residents laid the blame squarely at the doorstep of the PAO, citing their lack of adequate safety measures until a serious accident had occurred as the cause of the accident.


Largest flood in 30 years hits Nan

Staff Reporters
A low pressure front in the northern region has caused several days of heavy rain in Nan province. Flooding has been reported in a number of areas, especially the Tha Wang Pha district. Residents said that the floods were the largest in over 30 years. Many people were unable to move their belongings to safety in time, leading to widespread damage.
Two people are reported as missing from the flood, one in Bor Kuea and one in Tha Wang Pha.
In the Tha Wang Pha district, the hamlets of Pakha, Sri Phum, Saenthong, Pha Thong, Tarn Chum and Pha Tor were hit by floods. At Baan Na Tao water levels reached almost four metres. 280 families sought safety on the roofs of their houses and waited to be evacuated.
The province has begun to evacuate residents using boats, but due to the extent of the flooding they lack enough boats to carry out the task effectively. The province has asked Phrae province, the Disaster Prevention and Relief Centre and the 3rd Army Region in Phitsanulok for assistance in providing boats, helicopters and personnel.
Nan Governor Prinya Pangthong, together with staff from the Disaster Prevention and Relief Centre, provided help to those affected by the flooding. Initially they were given survival sacks containing food and other essential items. Later they established coordination centres to assist in the directing of resources to flood victims.


Residents in Chiang Dao taken through escape from battle area rehearsal

Nopniwat Krailerg
Pha Muang Task Force held a rehearsal for 1,000 Chiang Dao residents on August 17. The purpose of the exercise was for the villagers to be prepared for unexpected events that might take place along the border.
The scenario of a battle with a heavily armed enemy was supposed at the Kew Pha Wok trade area, where Chiang Dao is close to the Burmese border. As the simulated situation became more violent, the army raised the alarm and warned administrative officers to be ready to move residents from Baan Arunothai Village to assemble at Baan Nawai School, Tambon Muang Na, which 10 kilometers away from the battle scene.
Resident numbers were then counted and first aid was administered to the injured, including admitting patients in a serious condition to Chiang Dao Hospital. The purpose of the rehearsal was to save residents from the consequences of the battle if a real event took place.
Kew Pha Wok trade area has been opened for more than 2 years, and now is only used by vehicles of a few companies authorized to transfer construction supplies from Thailand to Myanmar, and soldiers of the Pha Muang Task Force, who are responsible for that crossing point.


Tourist punch-up results in one hospitalised

Saksit Meesubkwang
Two foreign tourists in Chiang Mai, while visiting a beer bar near the Night Bazaar on the evening of August 13, had a difference of opinion which unfortunately got out of hand and resulted in blows being exchanged. Police were called to the scene and confiscated the passports of both antagonists until the conflict is suitably resolved.
Pol. Lt. Col. Thanadon Noisuwan, duty inspector of Muang Police Station, Chiang Mai, told Chiangmai Mail that the argument took place at the Peak Bar on Thapae Road, between two foreigners; Brian Pern and Lewis David Cohen, both from the U.K. Eyewitnesses told the police that Lewis had visited the bar with his girlfriend and Brian Pern had come into the bar in the company of a male friend. The eye witnesses stated further that after the two men had exchanged a few heated words, Cohen walked over to Pern and punched him. The bar owners and several helpful customers sent Pern to Chiang Mai Ram Hospital for treatment.
The police seized the passports of both assailants, but had to wait for Pern to be discharged from the hospital and Cohen to return from travelling in different areas before they could satisfactorily resolve the situation. Cohen will be charged with assault, but the cost of the damage depends on negotiations between the two men.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Jiruj Promobol, commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police stated that because Chiang Mai is a popular tourism destination, it attracts many visitors, some of whom unfortunately become belligerent, especially after drinking alcohol. He impressed upon his officers the need to take good care of the visitors’ security, and especially to watch out for the improper acts of some foreign tourists. He said also that beer bars must abide by licensing laws, otherwise the business could be seized and the owners could lose their license.


Three students die as a result of tour bus accident

Staff Reporters
Three students were tragically killed when one of a convoy of five tour buses transferring 250 students of Kenneth Mackenzie School returning from a visit to Science Week in Bangkok crashed. Ten others were seriously injured.
On August 20, Mae Phrik Police Station of Lampang Province was informed of an accident that had occurred at kilometre 492-493 at Tambon Phra Bat on the Phahonyothin Road. Police dispatched to the scene found a blue and white tour bus had overturned; and a 10-wheel truck had suffered damage to the back of the vehicle. Three students were found dead and around 30 students were injured, some seriously, all of whom were admitted to hospital.
During the trip back from Bangkok, four buses parked at a market to give the students the opportunity to do some shopping but the fifth bus did not park and carried on. It was believed that the driver fell asleep at the wheel, causing the bus to crash into the back end of the truck driven by a man called Athid. As a result of this collision, the tour bus overturned.
The truck driver was there waiting for the police to arrive, but the tour bus driver had fled the scene of the accident.
The three deceased school children were all 14 years old and studied in grade 8 at Kenneth Mackenzie School, Lampang.


Mae Sai Customs seize illegal brand-name products

Valued at 1.7 million baht

Staff Reporter
Customs officers at Mae Sai discovered 32 sacks containing thousands of counterfeit products outside Mai Lumkhon School on Muang Daeng Road in Mae Sai. The discovery was made on August 18, as officers searched the soi adjacent to the school.
Of the counterfeit products confiscated by the police there were 2500 fake Billabong trousers, 10 fake Louis Vitton handbags and 2000 fake Chanel and Louis Vitton purses. The total haul had a street value of approximately 1.7 million baht.
Chuchai Udompode, Mae Sai customs officer, presented the fake goods at a press conference. He said that the seize had occurred as a result of the director general of the Ministry for Customs ordering a crackdown on untaxed and illegal products entering the country from Mae Sai.


Amphetamines packed in sanitary napkins

Staff Reporters
Chiang Rai police were tipped off that a number of ya ba was to be transferred from Chiang Rai to Bangkok on August 16 on a tour bus. Acting on the information received, the officers stopped and searched a tour bus of Cherdchai Tour Company.
All the passengers were subjected to a search and the police noticed two women wearing sunglasses acting nervously. A search of their belongings revealed 4,200 speed pills packed in sanitary napkins hidden in a bag. The two offenders were identified as Bang-earn Jareunphon, 25, resident of Rayong Province and Nichapa Chuachoom, 31, living in Bangkok.
Bang-earn stated that she was a waitress working in a karaoke shop and Nichapa worked as a motorbike taxi-rider. They said that somebody suggested to them to transfer some drugs and they agreed to do it because it earned a good income.
They were hired for 90,000 baht, with instructions to purchase ya ba from a hill tribe gang at a bungalow in Chiang Rai. They then packed the drug in sanitary pads and intended to travel to Bangkok and distribute the drugs, charging 350 baht for one pill.
It is well-known by the local police that Chiang Rai terminal bus station is a point that drug dealers often use for transferring drugs to Bangkok; and in the past, many traffickers have been arrested there.