NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Hemorrhagic patients in Chiang Mai increase to 800

Military plane crashes in rice field

No Northern Motor Expo this year

Panda breeding strategies considered

Ayuthaya TAO visits Chang Puek Children’s Development Center

Remote training program via satellite

4 million baht slated for new pagoda at Phan Own temple

Chiang Mai targets aviation hub status

Food and drink sanitation preparation for International Horticulture Expo

Government officials undergo language training

Stone Tree Park in Tak in danger because of flooding

Northern economical community exhibit products

Raw pork leads to deafness

Midnight crash at second-hand goods stalls

Ya ba-knickers bust

Flirting leads to assault for luckless Romeo

Yellow minibus u-turn may have caused crash with motorcycle

Hemorrhagic patients in Chiang Mai increase to 800

Staff Reporter
There has been a marked increase in the number of people suffering from Hemorrhagic Fever, with around 800 patients now undergoing treatment in Chiang Mai. Fortunately, there have been no reports of anyone dying from the disease, but residents are warned to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, especially those who are sitting to work for a long time or sleeping during the day time.
Veterinarian Surisingh Wisarutrat, deputy head officer of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office revealed that during this period most of those who contracted hemorrhagic fever were people who worked nightshifts and slept during the daytime or worked sitting in front of a computer for a long time; and the numbers of such people were increasing. Recently, 800 hemorrhagic patients were undergoing treatment, the highest number for five years. The deputy officer said that hemorrhagic fever is still spreading as the end of the rainy season approaches and now officers of Chiang Mai Municipality are accelerating the operation to spray chemicals in drains and households around the city; as such places are the breeding grounds and the source of these particular mosquitoes.
Residents were also asked for their participation in removing or destroying the likely breeding places of these mosquitoes. There have been a large number of hemorrhagic patients in the north, with almost 200 people contracting the disease in the four districts of Hot, Muang, Mae Chaem and Fang. One or two persons per day were visiting their doctors seeking medical help; and parents were warned to bring their children to see a doctor if they had a high fever; and not to purchase medicine from a pharmacy and medicate themselves, because there was a high risk that children could die if that kind of medicine was mixed with aspirin.


Military plane crashes in rice field

Nopniwat Krailerg
At 1:30 pm on Saturday September 16 an army plane crashed into a rice field at Baan Khun Kong, Hang Dong district. The plane was traveling from Mae Sod in Tak to Pai in Mae Hong Son to support the 7th Infantry Regiment in tracing drug smuggling caravans. The two pilots and mechanic on board the plane were not injured.
The pilot reported that whilst flying over Hang Dong at a height of 1,000 feet the plane’s engines failed. He made an emergency landing in a rice field, breaking the right wing and slightly damaging the left wing. The hull was also slightly damaged. Fortunately, due to the soft ground in the rice field, the damage was not as extensive as it could have been.
Sources within the 3rd Army Region revealed that the T-41 plane was old and had been used for a long time. After the accident thousands of nearby residents came to see what had happened. Naresuan Task Force has sent engineers to ascertain the cause of the crash.


No Northern Motor Expo this year

(From left) Weerayuth Sukhawathako, president of The Federation of Thai Industries in Chiang Mai, Prapong Maicharoenm, Inter-Media Consultant Co. Ltd. CEO and Khwanchai Paphaspong, president of Inter-Media Consultant Co. Ltd., at the press conference, discussing the postponement of the forthcoming motor expo in Chiang Mai.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The 2nd Northern Motor Expo, which was scheduled to be held in January 2007, has been postponed until a permanent site for the show has been built. Organisers claimed that the expense incurred in renting air conditioners, along with proposed Motor Expo dates coinciding with those of the International Horticultural Exposition, meant that the show had to be cancelled.
Khwanchai Paphaspong, president of Inter-Media Consultant Co. Ltd., and president of the Thailand International Motor Expo, highlighted the success of last year’s expo. He said that exhibitions were held by 19 major automobile companies and over 1,000 reservation list cars earned these companies over 2 billion baht. Despite this, Khwanchai said, the organisers lost 10 million baht, in part due to using air conditioning systems from Singapore at a cost of 14 million baht. Construction for a permanent hall for the Northern Motor Expo is expected to be completed in 2009.
In 2007 regional motor expos will be held in Khon Kaen and Southern Thailand before returning to Chiang Mai. In Bangkok the 23rd Thailand International Motor Expo will be held in Muang Thong Thani between November 30 and December 11. Further information can be found at www.autoinfo.co.th
Khwanchai also discussed the automobile market in Thailand. He noted that for the first six months of this year automobile sales had been in deficit for the first time since the economic crisis of 1997. Pick-up truck sales are in deficit by 10%; European sedan companies, such as Mercedes, BMW and Volvo are all reporting low sales. Circulation of small cars such as the Honda Jazz, Toyota Yaris and the Chevrolet Aveo, however, has increased by 15%, and sales of Japanese sedans, were slowly rising.
Khwanchai said “This year it is expected that the market will rise approximately 3%, with overall exports reaching up to 500,000 units. In the next 5 years Thailand will export more than 2 million cars, raising Thailand to the rank of the 10th largest car exporter in the world.”


Panda breeding strategies considered

Chuang-Chuang and Lin Hui in Chiang Mai Zoo (File Photo).

Staff Reporter
Chiang Mai Zoo’s panda couple, Chuang-Chuang and Lin-Hui, are to be subjected to another alteration in their “breeding strategies”. The new attempt follows on the heels of previous “breeding strategy” attempts, such as bombarding the luckless pair with “panda porn”. The new breeding strategy will begin on November 1.
Chiang Mai Zoo acquired the panda couple from China on October 12, 2003. After three years in Chiang Mai, both pandas are of breeding age, yet ultrasound scans have revealed that Lin-Hui is not pregnant. Analysis into panda breeding habits has revealed that pandas rarely become pregnant on their first attempt at mating. A team of expert veterinarians have taken their cue from a maxim of human behaviour that has been commented on for centuries by romantic novelists and poets: passion requires mystery. The new “breeding strategy” will separate the pair from each other in such a way that, although they will still be able to hear and smell each other, they will not be able to come into physical contact. The theory being that their separation will drive the pair into a hormonally induced sexual frenzy that will produce positive results once they are allowed physical contact with each other, rather than the mundane proximity that the pair live through at the moment.
Experts have noted that, in the wild, pandas are not social creatures, and live alone except during the annual breeding season. Chiang Mai Zoo has informed the public that there still remains a month in which members of the public can take photos of both pandas together, although such exposure of their private lives is unlikely to help their “breeding strategies”. From November 1 the pair will be separated.


Ayuthaya TAO visits Chang Puek Children’s Development Center

Chang Puek Children Development Center executives and teachers along with Khan Ham Tambon Administration Organization (TAO).

Saksit Meesubkwang
On September 18, the Chang Puek Kindergarten, following its award of the best children’s teaching centre in 2004, received a number of local government officials, who came to observe their teaching methods. Nuchanart Tansri, director of Chang Puek Children’s Development Centre, welcomed Wandee Muksiklit-nayok of the Khan Ham Tambon Administration Organisation (TAO) in Ayuthaya, along with 150 Tambon chiefs, village headmen and educational officials.
The Chang Puek Children’s Development Centre was opened in 2003, and provides education for children aged between 3 and 5 years old. Now, three years later, the school has 96 children and four teachers. The teaching methods of the school emphasise developing student’s confidence. Activities at the school include reporting on news for the class, listening to English language fairy tales, painting and drawing, playing music and various outdoor activities. In the past three years over 50 groups have visited the Children’s Development Centre, mostly from local administration organisations, educational institutions and foundations from Chiang Mai and other provinces.
Thasanee Buranupakorn, Chang Puek sub-district mayor, said that the Children’s Development Centre had arisen due to an increased awareness of the importance of education for young children. The Children’s Development Centre has been successful because it is close to the homes of many of the students and its fees are reasonable. Chang Puek municipality plans to extend the centre to include Pratom level and is currently looking for a suitable site to build the new centre.


Remote training program via satellite

Preeyanoot Jittawong
On September 14 the Information Technology Service Centre at Chiang Mai University began to broadcast its “Leadership Development for Success” training program. The program, taught by Chulchai Chunchua, managing executive of the High Performance Institute, is broadcasted directly from the Information Technology Service Centre. Although the course has been taught since July, this is its debut on satellite link up.
The program aims to develop management and leadership skills for executives and business owners, in order to help them guide their organisations to success. Participants in the program learn how to think like a leader and become effective decision makers in order to be able to face any problems their organisation may encounter. They also learn techniques to manage staff effectively.
The satellite training program offers a number of advantages. Participants will save themselves the expense of traveling to attend the course. They will also have the opportunity to question experts and receive advice in real time. The Information Technology Service Centre is offering special promotions to members of the government and private sectors who wish to participate in the course. Information can be found at www.it.chiangmai.ac.th or at Tel. 0-5394-3811 and 0-5394-9827 during office hours.


4 million baht slated for new pagoda at Phan Own temple

Nopniwat Krailerg
The committee in charge of rebuilding the Phan Own temple pagoda, which collapsed after heavy rains last month, approved a budget of 4 million baht to construct a new pagoda. The design of the pagoda has been submitted to the Department of Fine Arts, who are expected to reach a decision in a month’s time. The temple’s committee has agreed to cover the entire pagoda with gold.
Sahawat Nanna, director of the 8th Office of Fine Arts, revealed that the new pagoda would be constructed on a steel and concrete base, while the outside architecture would use bricks in a style similar to the old pagoda. Two suggestions were made regarding the pagoda’s gold covering. The first suggested covering half the structure, at a cost of 2.8 million baht; the second suggested covering the entire structure, at a cost of 4.1 million baht. The temple abbot, Phra Kru Amorn Thamathad, revealed that the temple committee had agreed to cover the entire pagoda with gold.
The new pagoda will house the 640 antique figures and a number of bricks recovered from the ruins of the old pagoda. Donations are now being sought to pay for the gold to cover the new structure. Some funds have already been collected and a quantity of gold purchased for the task.


Chiang Mai targets aviation hub status

Sirima Eamtako TTG
Chiang Mai has been undergoing massive changes over the past five to 10 years, and more large-scale developments are on the way.
Chiang Mai International Airport is undergoing a two-billion-baht (US$53.5 million baht) upgrade as part of the government’s plan to turn the city into Thailand’s northern aviation hub.
Its four-year renovation is due to be fully completed next year and the airport will open an international terminal on October 15.
Its runway has also been strengthened and can now handle long-haul flights.
However, the airport said it had not received any requests from airlines to operate direct international flights.
Creative Destination Management managing director, Sumate Sudasna, said Chiang Mai had the potential to grow as a destination but needed more direct international flights to meet the demands of high-end leisure and business travellers.
Now, Chiang Mai only has direct access to Hong Kong and Taiwan.
China Airlines operates three flights weekly from Taipei using a 168-seat Boeing 738 aircraft and Hong Kong Express Airways operates two flights weekly from Hong Kong using 70-seat ARJ 170 aircraft.
Despite this shortcoming, the government has moved ahead with some large-scale projects. The much-hyped Chiang Mai Night Safari – the third of its kind in the world and billed as the largest – opened earlier this year.
Former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra – a Chiang Mai native – said he wanted to build a 15km cable car, a world-class amusement park, a spa village and an elephant village in a bid to turn the city into a major international tourist destination and the country’s “second capital”.
Construction of the state-owned convention centre near the 700th Anniversary Stadium is slated to begin later this year.
Foreign hotel chains have also jumped on the development bandwagon.
A 74-room Meritus resort is slated to open in October while next year’s scheduled launches include a 304-room Pan Pacific in the first quarter, a 362-room Le M้ridien in October and a 280-room Shangri-La in the fourth quarter.
Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts announced it would open a resort in 2009, while M๖venpick Hotels and Resorts said it hoped to open a hotel too.
Meritus Chiang Mai Riverside Spa Resort general manager, Marc Dumur, said the surge in the number of rooms might worsen an oversupply problem.
There were 16,673 hotel rooms in Chiang Mai in 2005, an increase of 18.22 percent on 2004.
The number of rooms has been projected to grow beyond 25,000 over the next couple of years.
Dumur said while most Chiang Mai hotels enjoyed about 90 percent occupancy from November to December and over the Thai New Year in mid-April and 70 percent in March, they suffered for the rest of the year with less than 30 percent occupancy.


Food and drink sanitation preparation for International Horticulture Expo

Staff Reporter
Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office, the organisation responsible for nursing, and food, drink and environmental hygiene during the International Horticultural Exposition, has revealed details of its preparation for the event.
Dr. Rattawut Sukmee, head officer of the Chiang Mai Provincial Health Office, said that the increase in the number of tourists into Chiang Mai, both Thai and foreign, meant that cooperation between the Health Office and local administration organisations regarding hygiene and disease control had to be strictly monitored. Places serving food at the exposition will receive regular hygiene checks to ensure that food and drinks do not become contaminated.
A project entitled “Food Sanitation and Disease Control Supporting Ratchaphruek 2006” was started at the beginning of September. The project aims to increase awareness regarding food and drink sanitation in restaurants and to conduct regular restaurant hygiene checks. The project has also sent a number of food samples for lab analysis. The Provincial Public Health Office has asked all Chiang Mai restaurants to cooperate with the sanitation project.


Government officials undergo language training

Officials at the English language training program.

Preeyanoot Jittawong
The Language Institute of Chiang Mai University, in cooperation with Chiang Mai province, ran a personnel development program on September 18. The program, attended by 150 participants and held in the Fai Kham room of the University Academic Centre, aimed to improve the English communication skills of various government officials.
Assoc. Prof. Thanan Anumarn-Ratchathon, vice-president of Chiang Mai University, opened the training program. Among the participants was Vilas Rujiwattanapong, deputy Chiang Mai governor. The program comprised of a 30 hour intensive course, aiming to improve the ability of the participants to communicate with foreigners. The curriculum for the program was divided into two parts; the first part for using English on an everyday basis with foreigners, and the second part focusing on language needed to communicate with visitors to Chiang Mai, both officially and unofficially. The training program was taught entirely by native speaking teachers who hoped to improve the participant’s ability to solve problems foreigners may face or to establish good relationships with them.


Stone Tree Park in Tak in danger because of flooding

Fossils of stone trees, aged around 800,000 years, are being threatened by flood waters. (File Photo)

Staff Reporters
Flooding in Sam Ngao and Baan Tak districts of Tak Province is still causing major problems, with water 7 meters deep in some places, and the flood water is seriously affecting the Stone Tree Park.
Water levels in Wang River have now risen to 7 meters, due to continuous rainfall. Flash floods in Lampang have swollen the Ping River and caused it to overflow its banks in Sam Ngao and Baan Tak districts. Residents are facing serious shortages of food and drinking water, and the price for these scarce commodities has increased alarmingly. Flood-water from the Ping River has also covered many low-lying flat areas, which are agricultural lands belonging to local residents.
Heavy and continual rain brought about flooding at Khao Phrabat and the affected the famous Stone Tree Park at Tak Ok sub-district. The Stone Tree Park contains the fossilized remains of trees that were still growing around 800,000 years ago. However, officers concerned are rapidly draining the flood-water out from the park in an effort to maintain the good shape of the fossils.
Khom Kruayoo, head officer of the park, expressed his concern that the heavy rainfall had seriously damaged the exhibits, so he had requested a budget to construct a roof over the fossils for their protection, and to drain water from the park to conserve these fossils.


Northern economical community exhibit products

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat (center) presides over the opening ceremony.

Preeyanoot Jittawong
Resident’s Networks of the 17 Northern Economic Community provinces displayed their “One Tambon - One product” (OTOP) products at an exhibition held at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel between September 17 and 20.
Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat presided over the official opening ceremony on September 18. This was the fourth OTOP product exhibition organised by the Northern Economic Community, which represents 85 groups spread over 17 northern provinces. Officials explained that the exhibition provided an opportunity for communities participating in the Northern Economic Community to exchange ideas, promote their products and strengthen their community’s economy.
Suwat went on to say that the exhibition exemplified HM the King’s ideas on sufficient economy and that academics should support the scheme at all levels of the community, sharing knowledge, understanding and ideas.
The Community Development Department sponsored the exhibition to the amount of 1,546,250 baht. The eventual goal of the Northern Economic Community is to ensure that OTOP products are manufactured to within certain standardised guidelines, according to HM the King’s sufficient economy ideas.


Raw pork leads to deafness

20 patients admitted to hospital

Saksit Meesubkwang
Over the course of the last month 20 patients have been admitted to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital after eating raw pork, which led to the sudden onset of deafness, revealed Assoc. Dr. Niramon Nawacharuen, head officer of the auditory department at Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine.
Thorn Singkham, 74, a resident of Hang Dong, was admitted to the hospital on September 3 after suffering from high fever and spasms. Doctors learned that the patient had eaten raw pork with his relatives on August 28. Around 3 days later he began to experience high fever and headaches and was sent to the hospital. Thorn told doctors that he could not hear well from his right ear and, on further inspection, it became apparent that his ear drum had degenerated so badly that he was completely deaf in that ear. Doctors identified the virus causing the deafness as Streptococcus Suis.
Niramon said the Streptococcus Suis is contracted from pork and is usually found in the nose or mouth of pigs. Pigs will catch the bacteria when living in crowded, humid conditions, which weaken the pig’s immune system and allow the bacteria to reach the pig’s bloodstream. He said that humans could contract the disease by coming into contact with infected pig blood while having an open wound themselves, or by eating raw pork. Once inside the human body the bacteria enter the bloodstream and the brain, eventually leading to meningitis. Within three days the patient will begin to experience headaches and fever. Hearing and balance will also be affected. Although meningitis can be treated, any damage to the hearing is permanent.
For the past five years almost 10 patients a year have been affected by Streptococcus Suis. This year 72 patients have been treated at Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital, the majority of whom contracted the disease from eating raw pork.
Doctors have warned residents about the risk of infection and advised people who work with pigs, such as vets, pig farm owners and food manufacturers, to be especially vigilant. To minimise the risk of catching the disease people should not eat pigs that have not been slaughtered, and should not eat pork bought from unknown sources. People should also be suspicious of pork sold at particularly low prices and refrain from eating raw pork.


Midnight crash at second-hand goods stalls

The white Honda, after its collision with second-hand shops lining the road.

Nopniwat Krailerg
At midnight on September 18, residents living behind the Kham Thiang branch of Tesco Lotus were awakened by the sound of a car accident. On arriving at the scene, onlookers found a stationary 3-door white Honda Civic parked on Asdathorn Road. The car was facing the Asdathorn intersection; its left side was severely damaged and had caught a piece of tattered plastic canvas. The driver of the car, a young woman, was in the car telephoning her friend for help.
When police officers from Chang Puek police station, along with the Ruamjai Rescue Foundation, arrived on the scene they found that of the 20 second-hand shops lining the road, 6 were damaged, having had their store fronts ripped away.
The driver of the Honda civic, Sataporn Chaosilp, 25, said that before the accident she was driving past JJ Market heading towards Asdathorn Road. Whilst going around a curve a pick-up truck pulled alongside her and pushed her towards the side of the road. Sataporn said she turned away from the pick-up truck then lost control of her car, mounting the footpath and colliding with the second-hand shops. She was eventually able to get her car under control. She added that she believed this had happened to her as she was 25, an unlucky age according to Thai folklore.
After checking whether Sataporn had been drinking, officers charged her with reckless driving and damaging property.


Ya ba-knickers bust

Staff Reporter
Kesini Sakham, 40, a resident of Fang district, Chiang Mai, was arrested during a drugs search whilst travelling on a tour bus to Bangkok. Police officers discovered 8,000 ya ba pills hidden in her panties.
Chai Prakan police officers, working in cooperation with soldiers of the Pha Muang task force, stopped the tour bus at Pha Hong checkpoint in Chai Prakan district, Chiang Mai. After observing Kesini acting suspiciously, officers searched her and discovered the pills.
Kesini confessed that she was hired by a man based in Bangkok known only as “Hai”. She was to purchase the ya ba then deliver it to him, where she would receive payment of 20,000 baht. Kesini has been charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to supply.


Flirting leads to assault for luckless Romeo

Nopniwat Krailerg and Preeyanoot Jittawong
At a press conference held on September 17 at Chiang Mai police station, officers disclosed details of a case in which a man was assaulted and robbed after flirting with the girlfriend of one of the perpetrators.

Jare Yaya, 21, resident of Mae Hong Son Province, one of the four suspects.

On September 14, Khamchan Kaabkaew, 57, a resident of Chiang Rai, informed Chiang Mai police that his son, Buncha Kaabkaew, 32, was assaulted and robbed by a group of youths. Amongst the possessions stolen was Buncha’s motorcycle. The assault took place at Thapae Gate and Buncha was now receiving treatment at Chang Puek Hospital. Police subsequently arrested the four suspects at a snooker hall on Moonmuang Soi 1.
Three of the suspects were younger than 18, so their names could not be disclosed to the press. The fourth suspect is Jare Yaya, a resident of Mae Hong Son province. The stolen motorcycle was later recovered and the four were charged with assault and robbery.
One of the suspects, known by his nickname, Eakaluck, told police that while visiting Thapae Gate Buncha approached him and began flirting with his girlfriend. Eakaluck then phoned the three other suspects and organised the assault. All four denied stealing any of Buncha’s possessions other than his motorcycle.


Yellow minibus u-turn may have caused crash with motorcycle

Residents take care of the injured while waiting for his ambulance.

Nopniwat Krailerg
At 10:30 am on September 19, Mae Rim district police station received information regarding a car crash occurring in front of Sinpranee Leasing Co., Ltd., Baan Pa Tiew on the Chiang Mai-Fang road.
On arriving at the scene officers found a yellow Mae Rim district minibus in the middle of the street, its front right fender damaged. A black Honda motorcycle lay in the road, with parts of its mudguard and headlight lying around it. The rider of the motorcycle, Aphichai Sae-yang, 25, a resident of Mae Taeng district, was sitting at the side of the road. He had a broken leg and a cut on his face and was crying out in pain. The rescue services took him to Nakhorn Ping Hospital for treatment.
On further investigation police discovered that before the accident Aphichai had been riding his motorcycle home during a rain storm. He said that as he was driving his bike when the yellow minibus in front of him suddenly turned into the middle of the road. Aphichai tried to stop his motorbike, but crashed into the side of the minibus. The minibus driver claimed on questioning that he had not seen the motorbike while turning his vehicle. Further investigation will determine whether the driver will be charged with reckless driving.
Residents said that this area of the road sees many accidents caused by minibuses from a nearby minibus stand making u-turns in the middle of the road.