Vol. V No. 36 - Saturday September 2, - September 8, 2006
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by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 

 


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Delays to Mae Ping River dredging expected

Natural gas service stations planned in the north for 2007

Change to Thailand’s mobile telephone numbers

Red minibuses to be prosecuted if they stop at prohibited stopping points

Land shrinks and cracks for 500 meters in Nan

Accept Taiwanese investment or face revocation of citizenship, villagers told

Museum exhibition celebrating six decades of HM the King

Recaptured wolf dies from lung infection in Thai zoo

Long Neck Karen to gather at Huay Poo Kaeng

Myanmar postpones opening Thai-Burmese Relationship Bridge

Website and post box set up to monitor possible breaches of election law

Elephants and wildlife export to China resisted

HRH Princess Siribha Chudhabhorn hands out survival packs in Nan

Tribes should be accepted and offered basic rights

Stolen car fence arrested

Large numbers of teak planks seized in Pai, Mae Hong Son

Former well known boxer arrested for ya ba

Police officer punished over alien laborers transfer

Blaze at Mae Hong Son Customs office

Road accident kills one, injures seven

Chinese acupuncturist demands 2 million baht from his patients

Delays to Mae Ping River dredging expected

Staff Reporter
The Mae Ping River dredging project is expected to encounter delays as many of the contractors have yet to get their dredging equipment in place.
Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn revealed that the plan to dredge seven flood-prone points of the Ping River in Chiang Mai may have to be postponed as the responsible organisations do not have their equipment in place. He added that there were several places where dredging could not begin until the government purchased private land that would be damaged by the dredging process.
The mayor went on to say that although already partly dredged, the narrow point of the river opposite the offices of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 faces further delays as they have not yet received a permission form from the Treasury Department authorising the purchase of new buildings to replace those affected by the dredging.
Fortunately, Chiang Mai municipality has provided sand sacks and built temporary river walls at the seven points in case floods occur before the end of rainy season.


Natural gas service stations planned in the north for 2007

Preeyanoot Jittawong
Plans to increase the availability of NGV (Natural Gas Vehicle) fuel in the north were discussed at a meeting last weekend at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. The Energy Policy and Planning Office of the Ministry of Energy said that it hopes to open 320 NGV service stations throughout the country in 2007 and increase this number to 740 by 2010.
The meeting, entitled “Direction of Thailand’s Energy”, took place on August 25th and was presided over by Metta Buntheongsuk, director of the Energy Policy and Planning Office. The meeting aimed to share opinions on the NGV scheme, disseminate policy and act as a pilot meeting for other future NGV meetings to take place around the country.
Metta drew the meeting’s attention to the unstable energy situation, where fuel prices are increasing and at the mercy of volatile Middle-Eastern politics. He pointed out the NGV fuel could be produced domestically and is almost 30% cheaper than regular fuel oil. He accepted, however, that Thailand still has to take a number of measures before it would be ready for widespread NGV fuel use, including establishing service stations and amending energy laws. He said that the commercial sector would be offering free installation of NGV gas tanks for taxis and buses in Bangkok.
The meeting outlined its hope that in the future NGV fuels would supply most of Thailand’s energy needs. It was pointed out that although there is a demand for NGV fuels, the service stations and other infrastructure aspects are not yet in place. Many drivers use Liquid Petroleum Gas (LGV), which is also cheaper than fuel oil, but this benefits from government subsides and may well see its price rise in the future.
The Energy Policy & Planning Office plans to set up 320 NGV service stations throughout the country in 2007 and increase this number to 740 by 2010. It also hopes to see 171,000 NGV vehicles in operation by 2007 and over 500,000 by 2010.
In the northern region the Energy Policy & Planning Office aims to establish NGV service stations in Nakhon Sawan, Kamphaeng Phet, Tak, Lampang and Chiang Mai in 2007. These stations will mainly support trucks and vehicles running on regular routes to reduce costs for business owners. The natural gas distributed in the northern region is from a natural gas source in Kamphaeng Phet Province.


Change to Thailand’s mobile telephone numbers

From the Thai National News Bureau Public Relations Department: Thailand has changed from a 9-digit to 10-digit mobile telephone system, which started on September 1.
Setthaporn Khusripithak, a member of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said the change, approved by the telecoms regulator, was in response to the rapid expansion of the use of mobile telephones.
With the 10-digit system, the country will have enough mobile telephone numbers for the next 30 years, Mr. Setthaporn said.
Beginning September 1, users of all mobile telephone systems will have to dial the prefix 08, he said.
For example: the number 01 123 4567 will change to: 08 1123 4567; the number 09 123 4567 will be: 08 9123 4567. (Tip: a new mobile number will always start with 08 followed by 2 groups of 4 digits.)


Red minibuses to be prosecuted if they stop at prohibited stopping points

Saksit Meesubkwang
Many disgruntled residents are becoming increasingly fed up with the traffic jams caused by red mini-buses at two busy locations.
Complaints are filing in to the media about red minibuses stopping at Chiang Mai Gate and in front of Kad Suan Kaew Department Store, causing traffic chaos, even though police have placed a “Stopping Prohibited” sign at both locations. Many drivers simply ignore the signs.
The residents would like police to deal with this hazardous situation, because it causes huge traffic jams, especially during morning and evening rush hours, and it affects the city’s image in the eyes of tourists.
Pol. Col. Atthakit Kornthong, deputy commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police, responded that Chiang Mai traffic police have already been ordered to pay attention to this issue, especially in light of the upcoming International Horticultural Exposition.
A communiqu้ will be issued to all red minibus drivers, asking them to strictly observe the police “No Stopping” signs.
Pol. Lt. Col. Phitak Sutthikul, Chiang Mai’s traffic police inspector, added that red minibus drivers who do not follow the rules will be prosecuted. Police officers will check on each route, especially around the two choke-points at Chiang Mai Gate and in front of Kad Suan Kaew department store.


Land shrinks and cracks for 500 meters in Nan

Staff Reporter
A ground contraction in the Chiang Klang district of Nan caused large cracks to appear over a 500 metre stretch of land, damaging roads and houses. A total of 288 residents have been evacuated from Baan Kok, Tambon Chiang Klang and the Department of Mineral Resources warned that four other villages may also be at risk and face evacuation. Further cracks were discovered in the mountains behind Baan Kok. It is believed that the ground contraction was caused by the heavy rains between August 18 and August 20.
Suklit Suta, a resident of Baan Kok, said that the ground contraction had badly damaged his house, cracking walls and floors and breaking the struts. He said that at the time of the incident he, along with his wife and mentally disabled son, were in their house when they heard a loud crack, like something breaking. On inspection he found that the walls and floors and cracked so he evacuated the house.
Charnchai Suta, village headman, revealed that 38 families (approximately 290 residents) had been evacuated to a shelter at Phuwae National Park. He said that as this kind of disaster had never occurred before, residents were worried and government officials seemed uncertain as to how to proceed.
Thawat Petchweera, chief of Nan Disaster Prevention and Relief, told reporters that officers of the Department of Mineral Resources were investigating the cracks, but at present were not certain as to their cause. He went on to say that residents of Baan Nam Kor, and Baan Nam Chun in Phetchaboon may also face evacuation.


Accept Taiwanese investment or face revocation of citizenship, villagers told

Khajohn Boonphat
Local politicians in Baan Rak Thai allegedly are using strong-arm tactics to get villagers to approve a project that they have already turned down.
Sawat Suwan-aram, member of the Mok Cham Pae Tambon Administration Organisation in Mae Hong Son, said that that villagers had been threatened with revocation of their Thai citizenship if they do not accept a Taiwanese proposal to invest in their village.
The disputed project involves Taiwanese investors growing temperate climate plants in the village, which is being assisted by some local politicians. The villagers had previously turned down the project because it had encroached on a temple and a bamboo forest under auspices of HM Queen Sirikit. They also claimed that a local village headman had deceived them, first by not informing them of the project in advance, and then, without their knowledge, he had entered their names on a list of people who had allegedly agreed to the project.
Sawat revealed that at a meeting with Mae Hong Son district officer, Decha Satthapon, he was told that the villagers had to either accept the Taiwanese business proposal or face the prospect of being stripped of their Thai citizenship. He also said that he was told villagers would be accused of drug dealing and forest encroachment.
The mainly Chinese Haw villagers of Baan Rak Thai have said that they would leave their village if forced to accept the investment project proposed by a group of Taiwanese businessmen. Villagers have said that they wish to support investment in the province but would move out of Baan Rak Thai if the proposed investment went ahead. They requested that the province provide them with land for housing and farming. The villagers are still awaiting the settlement of a case in which the project was given the go-ahead, but subsequently encroached on the village temple and nearby bamboo forest. The villagers said that if the case was not resolved they would protest at Mae Hong Son City Hall.
Suwat went on to say that a meeting would be held with Decha, Thinnakorn Chaidee, head officer of Mae Hong Son provincial prevention, and the villagers. The meeting would request that the villagers accept the investment proposal and that the project be handled by Thongchai Jarujit, president of Mok Cham Pae TAO.


Museum exhibition celebrating six decades of HM the King

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chiang Mai National Museum is holding an exhibition displaying the art and literature of HM the King as part of the 60th anniversary of his ascension to the throne celebrations.
Director of Chiang Mai National Museum, Wiset Phetpradup, revealed that the exhibition, which will take place until September 10th, hopes to attract many visitors, both young and old, who wish to experience this important part of Thailand’s heritage.
Wiset added that a special exhibition of ornaments and Siamese decorative arts, consisting of items on loan from museums throughout the country, will be on display from now until July 2007. The museum is open daily, excluding holidays.


Recaptured wolf dies from lung infection in Thai zoo

Bangkok, Thailand (AP) - A Canadian gray wolf that was recently recaptured after escaping from a zoo in northern Thailand has died of a lung infection, a zoo keeper said Wednesday.
A tracker shot the wolf with a tranquilizer pellet on Aug. 6, about a month after the animal escaped from Chiang Mai Night Safari. The wolf, which is believed to have roamed nearby forests feasting on local chickens during its weeks of freedom, was then returned to the zoo but kept in quarantine as a precaution to protect the other wolves.
Supot Methawiwat, who looked after the animal after it was returned to the zoo, insisted however that the animal did not die of bird flu.
“The wolf suffered from a severe lung infection and died six days after we recaptured him,” Supot said. “It is 100 percent guaranteed that the wolf did not die from bird flu.”
He said he did not know how the animal caught the infection, and that the zoo’s five other wolves are in excellent health.
The night safari is located near the city of Chiang Mai in a vast national park that is dense with mountains and forests.


Long Neck Karen to gather at Huay Poo Kaeng

Khajohn Boonphat
Mae Hong Son’s governor has confirmed his intention to relocate Long Neck Karen to new homes at Baan Huay Poo Kaeng. “Doing so,” he said, “would prevent influential people taking advantage of the tribe and help to conserve their culture and tribal ceremonies.”
Direk Konkleep, Mae Hong Son governor disclosed that it was necessary to manage the Long Neck Karen in order to protect their lifestyle. Long Neck Karen tribes-people at present living in Baan Nai Soi Village, Tambon Pang Moo and Baan Huay Sua Thao Village, Tambon Pha Bong of Muang, Mae Hong Son are to be relocated to Baan Huay Poo Kaeng now that the province is responsible for doing the village planning.
The task of re-homing them is being organized by Mae Hong Son Provincial Public Works Office.
The main reason for moving the tribes-people is to prevent influential groups taking advantage of them and to change the perception of certain ill-informed people that the Long neck Karen are being treated like animals.
The new living place of the Long Neck Karen is separated into three zones and visitors will be invited to join the tribe’s activities for which there will be a small charge. Artefacts produced by the tribe will be offered for sale and will receive OTOP support. A bridge across the Pai River is to be constructed to give access to tourists visiting the new village and a portion of the revenue from these tourists is to be spent on their welfare.
Governor Direk said that some groups, afraid of losing income, are fiercely resisting the planned relocation and are inciting the Long Neck Karen to protest against their relocation.
However, the province has tried to be sympathetic about every aspect of the situation and if any tribes-people do not wish to move out from the old villages, the authorities will not force them to do so, he said.


Myanmar postpones opening Thai-Burmese Relationship Bridge

Staff Reporter
Myanmar has asked for a postponement of the re-opeing of the Relationship Bridge crossing the Mei River between Mae Sot and Myawadi in Myanmar because they are waiting for approval from the central government. Thailand has given their ok to use the bridge, but is waiting for approval from the Burmese government before declaring the bridge to be fully open.
A meeting was held on August 25 between the two committees responsible for the Thai-Burmese Relationship Bridge at Myawadi in Myanmar; jointly chaired by Chanchai Techathong, an engineer involved with survey and design from the Department of Highways and Watchara Taengcham, director of 2nd Tak Highways Center (Mae Sod district) on the Thai side and Ne Aung Ye Myint, an engineering executive from the Department of Public Works on the Burmese side.
The purpose of this meeting was to reach an agreement for the re-opening of the bridge after both countries had cooperated to carry out structural repairs since July. Thailand had requested 3.8 million baht from the Department of Highways for the initial repairs. Although the bridge has been repaired and Thailand opened the carriageways on the Thai side on August 25, vehicles were only allowed to travel to the middle of the bridge.
The Burmese side claimed to have some problems with protocol at Myawadi that made it necessary for them to have to seek confirmation from the central government for official permission to completely re-open the bridge. Myawadi reported that they were awaiting a swift reply and expected that the bridge will be fully open within the week.
Watchara said that repairs to the bridge were considered necessary to strengthen the structure so that it was safe for heavy vehicles to use. Engineers had observed undermining of the bridge’s footings caused by erosion of sand around the base of the bridge supports.
Although strenuously denying it, Myanmar had been observed dredging sand from near the bridge supports to use as landfill on the Mei River shore. Myanmar claimed that they had not dredged the sand for years, but many people had noticed the dredgers operating in the vicinity of the bridge at this time.
However, the bridge supports have now been successfully reinforced by putting concrete at the base, but this had to be discussed with Burmese officials and a proposal made to their central government.


Website and post box set up to monitor possible breaches of election law

Saksit Meesubkwang
In the run up to the general election, a website and post box have been established to accept information on contraventions of the election law by the Thai Rak Thai party. Meanwhile, police say they are ready to deal with demonstrations by people both supporting and criticising acting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Surapong Towijakchaikul, Thai Rak Thai parliamentary candidate, presents a petition to Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayuthaya; commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5.

Suriyan Thongnu-iad, coordinator of the Alliance for Northern Political Reform Network, revealed that the website www.thainovote.com and Chiang Mai University PO box 164 had been set up to let people who boycotted the April 2nd election share information regarding Thai Rak Thai breaches of election law.
The website and PO box were set up to coincide with Thaksin’s “Nok Khamin” tour of the northern provinces. There were a number of reports of places where residents were told that they had to be present to welcome Thaksin when he arrived in their areas.
Suriyan said that information was always checked to ensure its reliability, and that the website would continue until the election was completed. The information would then be complied and presented to the new members of the election commission.
In the meantime, Surapong Towijakchaikul, a Thai Rak Thai parliamentary candidate, along with 20 residents, presented a petition to Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara Na Ayutthaya, commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, asking him to deal with troublemaking opponents of Thaksin. Panupong said that he had already commanded police officers of the eight northern provinces to be ready to manage demonstrations, whether they were pro or anti Thaksin.


Elephants and wildlife export to China resisted

Saksit Meesubkwang
Five elephants, several chimpanzees, five color leaf monkeys and a number of gavials are to be exported from Chiang Mai Night Safari in exchange for two white tigers from China, attracting strong objections from the Asian Conservation Alliance: ACA. The director of animal management of the night safari stated that he did not know whether these animals would be exported but the white tigers had already arrived at the safari.
On August 22, Soraida Salwala, secretary-general of Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) revealed that the ACA, expressing the united view of 40 networks in 10 Asian countries, spoke out against the proposed export of five Asian elephants and other wildlife which was to be sent to Chime-Long Night Zoo of China.
“The number of Asian elephants in Thailand has fallen to unprecedented levels, which is scandalous considering the elephant is a revered national symbol. Therefore the ACA is trying to stop the export of these animals to China and not allow them to follow in the footsteps of the eight elephants recently exported to Australia,” she said; adding that the five elephants from Chiang Mai night safari had already been transferred to Bangkok, in order to be convenient for continuing their shipment to China.
Wattana Wetayaprasith, director of Wildlife and Plant Conservation Bureau stated that the night safari had asked for permission to exchange animals with China two months ago but the bureau had not yet approved the export of the elephants. A license to allow their export was still under consideration according to the law. Although there were documents confirming that microchips had been subcutaneously implanted in those five elephants, it still needed other certificates and documents that would prove that the five elephants had been bred in captivity.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment staged a meeting concerning the recording of the appearance and individual characteristics of captive bred elephants. Chawan Taphikorn, deputy director-general of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department exposed that the recording of each elephant’s appearance would be applied to new born elephants, commencing after it was 30 days old and continuing up to each animal’s eighth year, to confirm the real relationship of the mother and baby elephant; and this information would be recorded on the implanted microchip.
This resolution will be presented to the cabinet soon and a census registration of elephants is to be renewed. The record will also keep a picture of each elephant and a log of other details to positively identify each animal’s appearance.
This is the first time microchips have been used, after 67 years of keeping records of captive-bred Asian elephants.


HRH Princess Siribha Chudhabhorn hands out survival packs in Nan

Staff Reporters
On August 26 in Nan, HRH Princess Siribha Chudhabhorn, president of Siribha Chudhabhorn Aviation and Rescue, distributed 5,000 survival packs to unfortunate residents who have been affected by recent floods. The princess has travelled throughout the province, visiting those who have been flooded.
People who wish to donate consumer goods or money to help people affected by the flood in Nan can give their donations to Siam Commercial Bank, Acc. No. 067-2-10402-8 on behalf of HRH Princess Siribha Chudhabhorn.
People in the central region can make donations at the HRH Princess Siribha Chudhabhorn Volunteer Aviation and Rescue Center. For more information, contact Sura Homchit, chief of the HRH Princess Siribha Chudhabhorn Volunteer Aviation and Rescue Center, tel. 0-1343-9783.
People in the northern region can make donations at the Conservation and Thai Aviation Development Club, Wing 41, 3rd Squadron, Chiang Mai. For more information, contact Col. Weerachat Palee, chief of the Conservation and Thai Aviation Development Club, Wing 41, 3rd Squadron, Chiang Mai, tel. 0-1028-4663.


Tribes should be accepted and offered basic rights

(From left) Sawaeng Wongsriwichai, Mae Ai district chief officer’s assistant; Hannarong Yaowalert, member of the Assistant Council of National Economy and Society, and Wiwat Tamee, secretary and officer of the Center of Highland People Problem Resolution want the government to take better care of its hill tribe people.

Preeyanoot Jittawong
Many tribes in Thailand that have been living in this country for a long time, and their even children born in the kingdom, still have not received Thai nationality. Therefore, a request has been made to the government to pay more attention to tribes-people living in Thailand with a view to accepting them as Thai citizens and offering them basic rights similar to other Thai nationals.
A seminar concerning the status of hill tribes-people was held on August 19th at Chiang Mai Phukham Hotel, attended by representatives of the various tribes, staged by the Assistant Council of National Economy and Society. The Center of Highland People Problem Resolution and Northern Hill Tribe Network have studied the many problems faced by hill tribe or highland people attempting to achieve Thai nationality since 1999. They concluded that around 220,000 hill tribes-people who have emigrated to Thailand since October 3 in 1985, have still not received Thai nationality, although the authorities claim they have tried many times to deal with the matter.
They are now treated as displaced persons or illegal aliens and could not legally improve their lives or circumstances. It has been found that one cause of this problem is that there are difficulties with communication between the authority officers and the hill tribes, resulting in the hill tribes and their children not being accepted to have the same rights as other Thai citizens.
However, the real cause that prevents the hill tribes from gaining Thai nationality is the blatant corruption of government officials, the seminar concluded. The officials drag their feet when participating with the private sector to solve these problems. Many of them ignore their duties, make deliberate mistakes when filling out documents and neglect to impart relevant information to the hill tribes, by not making them aware of the different organizations that are in place to look after their welfare.
Not having full Thai nationality infringes the basic human rights of the hill tribes, affecting their freedom to travel outside controlled areas and find higher paying jobs. After finishing education at each level, hill tribe students only receive a “knowledge certificate” that lasts only 3-6 months; and not an educational level certificate. This causes a lot of trouble for students when they want to continue their studies or apply for a job.
Another problem experienced by hill tribes-people concerns their lack of rights to public health benefits. The government denies approving health insurance for these people on the grounds that they do not have Thai nationality despite the fact that it is a basic human right that all should be protected. The government’s 30 baht scheme that could heal all diseases has been rescinded for 280,000 hill tribes-people who do not hold Thai nationality. This places a very heavy burden on these people if they become ill, because they have to pay the full cost of treatment, despite the fact they are very poor.
Furthermore, their human rights are further eroded as they cannot pass on land to their family and have no land possession rights. The government needs to address these problems urgently, and should stop treating the hill tribes-people as second-class citizens.
The representatives attending the seminar announced they would like the government to treat the hill tribes as a part of Thai society, instead of constantly accusing them of causing problems and affecting national security. Instead of treating them like social pariahs, the government should start to seek their cooperation and good will; and to adjust policy and laws to support these people instead of alienating them further by discriminating against them.
The government ministers should offer the hill tribes the opportunity to participate in the resolution of the problem and listen closely to their point of view. The government should realize that one of the basic human rights of the people who were born in Thailand is to be accepted by law; and they should be treated as citizens of this kingdom and should have the same rights as any other Thai person, especially in matters of public health, freedom of speech and travel. By allowing these problems to go on, the government is failing in its duties and could be building up a far greater problem for the future.


Stolen car fence arrested

Staff Reporters
Chiang Mai police arrested a stolen car agent and confiscated 10 stolen cars. The cars were to be modified and supplied with fake registration before being sent to be sold. According to the investigation, approximately 100 cars had been stolen and illegally modified.
Police brought the 10 cars to the Chiang Mai Provincial Police Office. The cars consisted of 5 as-new pick-up trucks, 4 used pick-up trucks and 1 sedan car. The accused was identified as Sorasart Khlongphanich, 29, a resident of Chiang Mai. Police arrested Sorasat at a garage in Saraphi district. Unfortunately, Sorasart suffers from anemia, and was taken to hospital before legal proceedings could commence.
Chiang Mai Provincial Police received information from Saraburi Provincial Police that led to Sorasart’s arrest. Sorasart acted as an agent for car theft groups in central Thailand who sent car’s to him to be modified, registered and resold. During the investigation police learned that Sorasart’s garage was used as both a place to hide cars and to store them. Some of the modified cars were sent to a parking area near Arcade Bus Terminal, Chiang Mai, before being sold.
Pol. Col. Chamnan Ruadrew, Chiang Mai Provincial Police deputy commander, said that according to the accused and the initial inspection of the evidence, Sorasart had committed this kind of crime for some time. There were approximately 100 cars that had been stolen. People who think that their cars might have been stolen can check the evidence at Chiang Mai Provincial Police Station.


Large numbers of teak planks seized in Pai, Mae Hong Son

Khajohn Boonphat
After being tipped off that a large consignment of teak was to be transferred through their district, officers set up an ambush and waylaid a pick-up carrying teak planks. The driver managed to escape, but his violent evasive maneuvers caused the vehicle to fall over a 100-meter cliff. Three more pick-ups following the first one made a hasty U-turn and fled at high speed after spotting the officers and they also managed to escape.
The ambush took place on August 20 after Chamlong Nenyaem, the district chief officer, and Pongsak Wuttisarn, head officer of the National Park were informed of the timber smuggling on the route linking Baan Tan Jed Ton and Baan Huay Chang Thao in Tambon Wiang Nua, Mae Hong Son. A truck loaded with teak drove into the ambush and the officers jumped out of hiding to ask for a search. The driver tried to flee, but drove the vehicle over a cliff. The officer checked the bottom of the cliff where the truck had fallen down but only the teak was found, the driver having disappeared. All 22 teak planks were seized.
Pai district chief officer in cooperation with the officers of Pong Nam Ron National Park 2 disclosed that if any more teak was cut in Pai district, it would surely affect the natural eco-systems and endanger tourism in the future. He added that this was not the first time the gang had cut teak in Pai district. Only last year, in association with Ranger Force 36, he had arrested a gang of tree cutters and found that two of his own officers had been involved with the gang. They are no longer on the force.


Former well known boxer arrested for ya ba

Staff Reporters
Officers form Border Patrol Police 33, Chiang Mai recently arrested Wilai Longsri, 29, for possession of 2,000 speed pills and 5 cell phones, all of which were seized by the police.
Wilai Longsri is better known as Lai Siam Soe Pattanacheep, a former boxer from Lamphun Province. His sister, Kanokwan Thianthong, 46, and Namfone Mantino, 30, were also arrested. They were captured on the Mae Malai-Pai Road in Baan Papae area, Mae Taeng District of Chiang Mai.
Police enquiries revealed that Namfone had been employed to transfer ya ba from a hill tribe village in Pai to Chiang Mai. On being stopped at the checkpoint, she threw the drug into a nearby grove on the wayside. She later asked Wilai and Kanokwan to pick up the ya ba that she had thrown into the grove, and all three were subsequently arrested. When interrogated, they admitted that they had done similar drug runs four times previously and each time had received 20,000 baht as wages.
Pol. Col. Pongsak Sawangpon, superintendent of the Border Patrol Police 33, Chiang Mai stated that he believed around 10 million ya ba pills were still being kept in villages along the border, and that drug traffickers try to transfer the narcotics in small batches to clients in the major cities of each province. Sometimes the drugs were concealed in vehicles carrying agricultural products for delivery to the central part of Thailand.


Police officer punished over alien laborers transfer

Staff Reporter
The commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police recently issued orders to arrest a Pol. Lt. Col. in his division after learning of his involvement in transferring illegal alien laborers over a period of time. He will be charged on disciplinary grounds and suspended from duty until he is sentenced.
Pol. Lt. Col. Wichian Maiman, an interrogation officer at Doi Luang sub-district Police Station in Chiang Rai, stands accused of smuggling 9 illegal alien-laborers into Thailand. He was arrested in front of the Mae Sai branch of Tesco Lotus and charged with illegally providing a hide-out for alien laborers.
His fellow police officers found that Pol. Lt. Col. Wichian had allegedly used his position to smuggle many alien laborers from Burma into Thailand. Police officers reported this matter to their commander, who planned for his arrest. They observed Pol. Lt. Col. Wichian whilst he picked up 4 alien laborers in front of a hotel and another 5 in front of Tesco Lotus department store and arrested him as he prepared to send them to a financial backer in Chiang Rai.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Chamnong Kaewsiri, commander of Chiang Rai Provincial Police said this case sullied the reputation of the entire police force, as the accused was a high-ranking police officer. This matter has to be reported to Chiang Rai Provincial Police commanding department with a recommendation for instant dismissal.


Blaze at Mae Hong Son Customs office

Arson suspected

Khajohn Boonphat
A fire at Mae Hong Son customs office has badly damaged a filing cabinet and an air conditioning unit. Firefighters from Mae Hong Son municipality said that an initial investigation of the scene showed no signs of electrical cables or anything else that might have started the blaze. Investigators believe the fire was started deliberately in order to destroy important documents.
At 8 p.m. on August 24 Mae Hong Son police station received notification of the fire at Mae Hong Son customs office, Khun Lum Prapat Road, Tambon Chong Kham. On arriving at the scene police, together with the fire department, discovered the fire in the offices administration room. Firefighters took 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze, which damaged an air conditioner and a number of filing cabinets.
Sources inside the police department revealed that Mae Hong Son forensic police are still investigating the cause of the blaze. Pradit Srithananant, Yuwadee Thepkaew, and Somboon Rangseechan, the customs officials responsible for security at the time of the blaze, are also being questioned.
A firefighter present at the scene said that there was nothing nearby the filing cabinets that might have started the fire accidentally. He also said that the distance between the filing cabinets and the air conditioner was too great for the fire to have spread there on its own. Consequently, the fire is being treated as arson.
Intelligence officers in Mae Hong Son believe that the blaze may have been started in order to destroy certain documents. The day before the fire, 844 boxes containing 10,128 bottles of various foreign alcoholic drinks were exported to Burma at the Baan Huay Phueng border crossing. Additionally, a number of Japanese cars have recently been illegally exported to Burma at the same point.


Road accident kills one, injures seven

Valued at 1.7 million baht

Staff Reporter
On August 21, Chiang Rai police were informed of a road traffic accident involving two vehicles, resulting in dead and injured on the Chiang Rai-Chiang Mai Road at Baan Cham Bon, Tambon Mae Chedi Mai. The police sent a forensic team and an ambulance from Wiang Pa Pao Hospital to tend the injured and identify the dead body.
At the scene of the accident, officers found an air-conditioned bus belonging to Thai Pattanakij Transport Co. parked on the street. It had been plying the Mae Sai-Hot route. There was evidence of a glancing collision at the front of the bus and seven passengers had suffered injuries requiring treatment at Wiang Pa Pao Hospital.
Approximately 15 meters away from the bus, a black Toyota Vios was overturned in the bushes. The car was in a bad condition with extensive damage to the engine compartment at the front of the vehicle.
When police checked the interior of the car, they found the driver to be dead from extensive injuries to his head and chest as a result of coming into heavy contact with the steering wheel. The driver’s seatbelt was not fastened and he was later identified as Hugo Panero, 49, an Italian national. Officers brought the body to the mortuary at Wiang Pa Pao Hospital and coordinated with the Italian Embassy to contact the dead man’s relatives to reclaim the body.
Pol. Maj. Col. Boonrat Buayen, duty inspector said that according to the evidence of the skid marks made by both vehicles prior to the collision, it was found that braking point and crash point were in the middle of the carriageway and strongly indicated excessive speed and carelessness on the part of both drivers.
Police charged the bus driver Somnuek Thipjai, 50, resident of Chiang Mai, with reckless driving and causing an accident, with a second charge of causing loss of property, injury and death.


Chinese acupuncturist demands 2 million baht from his patients

Staff Reporter
Two Chinese men were arrested on August 26, accused of demanding 2 million baht ransom for the son of an elderly patient. Chiang Rai Provincial Police busted Afang Sae-lee, 55, a Chinese acupuncturist and his accomplice Yangsin Sae-yang, 40, both from Yunnan, China and charged them with kidnap. They were accused of demanding 2 million baht for the release of Nathaphon Jiwakulcharoen, 36, son of Ko-lang Sae-Chao, 80.
Two months prior to their arrest, Ko-lang Sae-Chao’s relatives had contacted Afang to cure the octogenarian, who was in a lot of pain from a tendon pressing on his nerves. Afang agreed to provide treatment to Ko-lang and asked to be allowed to stay at his house.
At the end of July, Nathaphon’s wife, Xian-yun Jiwakulcharoen informed the police that Nathaphon had disappeared from his home, along with his new unregistered Toyota pick-up truck. His relatives had tried to look for him, but found no trace of the missing man.
On August 21, they received a phone call at Nathapon’s house from a person speaking in a Chinese dialect with a Tai tribal accent, informing them that Nathaphon had been arrested by police from the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB). The caller said he would be released if his relatives paid 2 million baht as a ransom.
The caller also gave instructions that the relatives should pay the ransom to Afang who was the acupuncturist who had cured Nariya Jiwakulcharoen, a sister of the victim. Nathaphon’s relatives managed to negotiate the ransom down to 300,000 baht and then chased Afang out of their house because he had caused so much trouble to the family.
The kidnapper made a further call and told them to bring the 300,000 baht ransom to Afang at Hmuang Daeng-Koh Chang Nai Road, Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai. After receiving this final instruction, the relatives informed the police and demanded they arrest Afang.
Police located Afang and his gang at a resort, but his accomplice A-sang, a Tai tribesman had already fled. Afang confessed that he had kidnapped Nathaphon and held him to ransom. Afang also admitted that he had previously been involved with narcotics and had turned to acupuncture, offering cures to Chinese and Thai people.
The victim, young Nathaphon, was returned safely home, a bit shaken but otherwise unharmed.



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