NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Kingdom celebrates Chulalongkorn Day

3rd Army Region inspects cause of flashflood in Fang

Time for a break

Prepare your jackets! Winter weather expected mid-October

Reservoir crack rumours unfounded

Chiang Mai recognised as 5th most attractive tourism destination in the world

1 Million baht spent on World War II museum

Third Army Region donates supplies to villagers affected by burst reservoir

Chiang Mai province appoints Thai elephant committee

Chiang Mai prepares for World Interhash 2006

Chiang Mai cleans streets to prepare for Ratchaphruek 2006

Pandas’ living quarters renovated

CMU opens Jatropha Bio-diesel demonstration centres

Mad monk defrocked

Vandals terrorise San Kamphaeng again

Recent flashflood sweeps away 4 disabled in Mae Hong Son

Three radio stations temporarily closed

Mae Sai police confiscate 100,000 ya ba pills

Laotian Hmong found dead in Phetchabun

Ya ba dealer busted at Golden Triangle with 80,000 ya ba

Police seize 46,000 ya ba after gunfight leaves 1 dead

Kingdom celebrates Chulalongkorn Day

Remembering a great King

His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great

Chulalongkorn Day, October 23, is a national holiday and ceremonies will be performed throughout Thailand to mark the day that the great King passed away in the year 1910.
To observe the holiday, banks, government offices and many businesses will be closed on Monday, October 23.
King Chulalongkorn was instrumental in modernizing the Kingdom of Thailand and is credited with many visionary accomplishments, including the establishment of the Council of State, setting up 12 different ministries which reorganized the government administrative system and the abolition of slavery.
King Chulalongkorn’s other ambitious achievements included establishing trade and diplomatic contact with foreign governments, and introducing revolutionary changes throughout the kingdom regarding police security, a postal system, hospitals, and railroads.
The great King also was instrumental in maintaining the nation’s sovereignty during a critical period in history when powerful nations were expanding their influence and colonizing neighboring countries.


3rd Army Region inspects cause of flashflood in Fang

Saksit Meesubkwang
After the flashflood in Fang on October 8 left eight residents dead and caused millions of baht worth of damage to houses, property and livestock, Third Army Region Lt. Gen. Jiradej Kocharat issued orders for soldiers to inspect the area and provide emergency relief for those affected.
Soldiers have since started distributing dried food, drinking water and using a backhoe excavator to remove soil that has covered houses and roads.
Lt. Gen. Jiradej has also ordered officers to inspect the headspring to ascertain the real cause of the flashflood. He added that if anyone is found to have been encroaching on the forest they would face prosecution.
Northern region private sector development coordinator Nikhom Phuttha said that over the last 15 years this part of Fang district had seen a proliferation of mandarin farms and royal projects that planted their crops in a row. He explained that in the wild trees grow in a dense and random manner. When farms plant their crops in a row it means that when a flashflood occurs there is no obstacle to slow down the flow of the water.
He added that the local administration organisation had recently dredged the river in a straight line, destroying the river’s underwater plant life; when dredging it is recommended to dredge in a zig-zag pattern, as this will slow down the flow of the water.
“In order to find a long term solution a committee involving residents, academics, and public and private sectors must be formed to manage the headspring and the river.
“Also mandarin farming and the use of pesticides must be restricted in order to preserve as much of the natural forest as possible. Trees need replanting in the damaged areas and Vetiver Grass should be used to cover the soil along riverbanks.
“Most importantly the government needs to take environmental problems seriously and order provincial and district officers to work in cooperation with residents to solve problems, both potential and actual,” Nikhom added.


Time for a break

Today marks Chiangmai Mail’s 4th anniversary, and for the past 4 years we have worked tirelessly to make sure we never missed appearing on your local newsstand on Saturday morning. Two hundred and nine straight weeks without missing a beat. Unfortunately, our unbroken record will come to a temporary end this coming week.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, management has decided it is time for a much needed break to regroup, restructure, and return, bigger and better than ever.
We’ve come to realize how many of you depend on us, and we regret any inconvenience this may cause. At this point in time, we do not know how long we will be away. It may be two weeks or two months, but we will be back to bring you the local news, sports, special features, columns and puzzles that you’ve grown to enjoy.
NB: For subscribers who wish to cancel your subscriptions, we will cheerfully refund your subscription price based on the amount of time remaining on your subscription. For those of you who wish to continue, the time we are away will be credited to your account.
We thank you for your patience.
All the best from all of us at Chiangmai Mail


Prepare your jackets! Winter weather expected mid-October

Staff Reporter
The Northern Meteorological Centre has announced that the forthcoming winter in the northern region will begin in mid-October. Thunderstorms are expected at the end of October and hoarfrost is likely around the new year period.

Hoarfrost seen during winter on the mountains.

The centre said that cold winds from China would blow across the northern region causing cloud cover, thunderstorms and strong winds. Following this the temperature would decrease and remain constant throughout November.
In December and January fog is expected in many areas. The coldest period of the year is expected to be the end of December and the beginning of January, with temperatures at around 13ฐC, dropping to between 3 and 9ฐC on mountain tops.
The winter will end in mid-February when the winds from China weaken. During winter people should take care during the thunderstorms and the strong winds. There is also the chance of hail and hoarfrost, which may damage agricultural products. Motorists are advised to be especially careful while driving in foggy conditions.
Residents of the northern region, especially in risky areas, should be prepared and plan for dangers the cold weather might bring. Weather reports are available at Tel. 0-5327-7919, 0-5392-2365 and 0-5328-1271. Information on rainfall can be found at www.cmmet.com


Reservoir crack rumours unfounded

Staff Reporter
Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Vilas Rujiwattanapong addressed concerns following rumours that cracks had formed on Huay Manao reservoir and the structure was in danger of collapsing.
He revealed that irrigation engineers had recently checked the reservoir and found no evidence of any cracks, nor had there been any evidence of cracks at any time since the reservoir was constructed 10 years ago.
Irrigation engineers also reported that the water level was not too high and that the water gate was not in any danger of overflowing.


Chiang Mai recognised as 5th most attractive tourism destination in the world

Ranked second in Asia after Bangkok

Doi Suthep, a popular Chiang Mai tourist destination.

Saksit Meesubkwang
“Travel and Leisure” magazine, a USA based tourism magazine with a circulation of 900,000 announced that its readers had voted Chiang Mai the fifth most desirable destination in the world, and the second in Asia, with Bangkok in first place.
Each year “Travel and Leisure” conducts a survey of its readers as to the most desirable tourist destinations via online questionnaires. The survey takes into account value for money, the level of arts and culture, and the general environment of the location. This year Bangkok was voted as Asia’s most desirable tourist destination for the fifth year running, with Chiang Mai following in second place. Chiang Mai also ranked fifth in the world’s desirable tourist destinations, with Florence and Rome in Italy taking first and second place respectively, Bangkok third place and Sydney, Australia in fourth place. The top five Asian cities were voted as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, followed by Kathmandu of Nepal, Kyoto of Japan and Hong Kong. The award was warmly received in Chiang Mai, after the disappointing news that Chiang Mai had dropped in the ‘World’s Most Livable Cities’ index to 10th place.
Chiang Mai mayor, Boonlert Buranupakorn expressed happiness and, displaying a hitherto unsuspected fascination with roads, declared that Chiang Mai would be “more interesting” after construction and repair of several routes was completed. Meanwhile, Chiang Mai governor, Suwat Tantipat welcomed the award, saying that he hoped the prize would encourage residents to take more care in conserving the arts and culture of their city.


1 Million baht spent on World War II museum

Staff Reporter
The World War II Japanese Soldier museum in Mae Hong Son is due to open on November 1, along with Mae Hong Son’s Mexican Sunflower Festival. The Mexican Sunflower festival is due to run from November 1 to December 5.

Direk Konleep, Mae Hong Son governor

The museum opening, which will presided over by Mae Hong Son governor, will feature a talk from the wife of a former Japanese soldier, Angsumalin, whose story has been made as a movie as well as several TV series.
Mae Hong Son Governor Direk Konleep revealed that over 1 million baht had been spent on improvements to the museum. A multimedia room, in which visitors can watch documentaries about World War II is ready, and adjustments have been made to the entrance to the museum, including the planting of Thai Sakura plants in order to give the museum a Japanese feel.
The opening will feature various traditional performances, including Ran Nok Ram Toe, Ging Gala and a Tai people cultural show. Visitors will have the chance to learn about how World War II affected Thailand. Almost 200 Japanese weapons and equipment will be on display, including sweaters, samurai swords and remains of trucks. Around 20 women who were kept as “wives” of Japanese soldiers will be present to give visitors a taste of the atmosphere of the period.
Nimit Raiklongkru, special activity assistant of the Khun Yuam chief district officer, informed reporters that information regarding the museum opening and the Mexican Sunflower Festival could be obtained by phoning tel. 053-691265, 053-691108 or Nimit’s cell phone on 087-1807811.


Third Army Region donates supplies to villagers affected by burst reservoir

Col. Nopporn Ruanchan, deputy commander of the 7th Infantry Regiment, presents supplies to Baan Mae Pok villagers.

Saksit Meesubkwang
On October 7 100 officers of the Third Army Region led by Col. Nopporn Ruanchan, deputy commander of the 7th Army Regiment, presented to supplies to villagers of Baan Pok, Samoeng district, Chiang Mai. The supplies, which were transported to the village by five 10-wheel trucks, included rice, food, water buckets and shoes.
The village had been partially destroyed by the bursting of Huay Kong reservoir on September 30.
In addition to providing supplies the army constructed eight temporary residences along with a kitchen and a store for food and drinks.
The army was helped in their task by the Phuan Phueng (Pha) Yam Yak Foundation and the Thai Red Cross.
Col. Nopporn said that the Samoeng area had initially been the responsibility of the Pha Muang Task Force, before being transferred to the Naresuan Task Force of the Third Army Region, 7th Infantry Regiment. He said that since the transfer the Third Army Region had taken good care of the area. Troops have been active in tracking down illegal logging gangs and drug dealing gangs.
At the moment three companies of soldiers are providing security and assistance for the villagers, insuring that they will not be unduly affected by the approaching cold weather. They have also been educating villagers about the dangers of drug abuse and playing football with local village youths.


Chiang Mai province appoints Thai elephant committee

Staff Reporter
Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat announced that the former committee to safeguard elephant’s welfare is to be reestablished. The original committee had been formed in 2001 to safeguard elephant’s welfare in the Chiang Mai city area.
Quickly and decisively, the committee formed a sub-committee which was almost immediately rendered toothless during one of the municipality’s periodic reforms.
The new committee will be responsible for cutting down on the numbers of mahouts bringing elephants inside the city to beg for food, elephants found being used in forest encroachment and to provide food sources for the elephants in their care.
The Chiang Mai local administration has received numerous complaints about elephants begging for food in the city, an activity which causes distress to the elephant and degrades their status as a national symbol, Suwat said.


Chiang Mai prepares for World Interhash 2006

Staff Reporters
Chiang Mai municipality urged Chiang Mai residents to give a warm welcome to the anticipated arrival of more than 8,000 hashers from all over the world during the World Interhash 2006, which will be held in Chiang Mai from October 23 to 29.
The World Interhash is a biannual event participated in by hashers from all over the world. Chiang Mai was selected to be the host of the 2006 Interhash at the last such event two years ago.
Each time the Interhash is held a charity run is organised to help raise funds for the host city. This year Chiang Mai Hash House Harriers have arranged the “Red Dress Run”. The run will take place on October 26, beginning at 2:30 p.m. from the Three King’s Monument. Participants are asked to dress in red or fancy dress and begin congregating at the statues at 1 p.m. It is expected that between 1500 and 2000 hashers will take part in the Red Dress Run.
Secretary to Chiang Mai mayor, Pornchai Jitnawasathian, said that the route for the Red Dress Run will follow the canal road, giving hashers the opportunity to experience the Lanna way of life and see some of the temples along the road.
Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn said he hopes that Chiang Mai residents would also participate in the run.


Chiang Mai cleans streets to prepare for Ratchaphruek 2006

Saksit Meesubkwang
In preparation for the International Horticultural Exposition Ratchaphruek 2006, Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn has ordered municipality officers to clean Chiang Mai’s streets.
Municipality officers have also been given the task of organising the decoration of every city gate, canal and corner with flowerpots. The process of beautification for Chiang Mai has now been going on for three months. The placing of the flowerpots will begin this month.
Boonlert also issued orders for officers to remove the concrete walls and sandbags from areas around the Ping River that were put in place as flood prevention measures.


Pandas’ living quarters renovated

Praserksak at the press conference.

Saksit Meesubkwang
Prasertsak Boontrakulphuntavee, head of Panda Research and Exhibition in Thailand informed reporters that Chiang Mai Zoo is now preparing to divide the Panda living quarters into two in order to separate Chuang-Chuang and Lin-Hui, in preparation for their new breeding plan beginning in early 2007.
The alterations to their living quarters began on October 14 and will take approximately two weeks. The separate sleeping areas will be linked to an outdoor exercise area by tunnel. Iron poles decorated as bamboo will separate the pandas from each other. An electronic curtain will be installed under a glass roof to prevent too much heat from entering the exercise area. The total cost of the alterations is estimated at 5 million baht.
Prasertsak said that there will be no visiting restrictions on the pandas and that following the alterations visitors will be able to view the previously unseen panda’s personal living space along with the outdoor exercise area. The new visiting schedule will begin on October 14.


CMU opens Jatropha Bio-diesel demonstration centres

Jatropha granules used to manufacture bio-diesel.

Saksit Meesubkwang
With rising fuel prices an increasing concern, a number of Chiang Mai organisations have started to experiment with locally produced fuel sources. One of the most effective of these has been bio-diesel.
In Chiang Mai bio-diesel is mostly made from the Physic nut (Jatropha energy plant), which is grown by local farmers. Production of bio-diesel has, however, been sporadic, as knowledge regarding Jatropha and bio-diesel manufacturing is not widely known.
Chiang Mai University and the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency have been conducting a bio-diesel development project using Jatropha in eight regions of Thailand. The project involved setting up demonstration centres staffed by academics and experts who train local people in Jatropha planting and harvesting, oil extraction, bio-diesel manufacturing and setting up communal enterprise schemes. They hope to eventually enable local communities to manufacture and use their own bio-diesel.
Farmers who wish to learn more about Jatropha can contact any of the eight demonstration centres. These are: Rayong demonstration center, Wang Nam Khiaw demonstration center in Nakhon Ratchasima, Khuang Nai demonstration center in Ubon Ratchathani, Kud Bak demonstration center in Sakon Nakhon, Sahaskhan demonstration center in Kalasin, Baan Dung demonstration center in Udon Thani, Nhong Chang demonstration center, and Baan Rai demonstration center in Udon Thani.


Mad monk defrocked

Staff Reporters
On October 9, Phra Ajarn Wiboon Dhammadecho, abbot of Doi Kong Khao Temple, Chiang Rai, led a group of police, soldiers and novice monks to defrock Phra Singhkham Buddhadhammo, 37, who had been sleeping at the temple since October 5. Phra Singhkham had displayed signs of unusual aggressive behaviour since arriving at the temple, hurling insults at monks and laymen alike and vandalising a monk’s chamber.
After escorting Phra Singhkham off the temple grounds his room was searched. He was found to be storing dedicated offerings in his bathroom. Additionally a number of psychiatric medicines were discovered.
The order to defrock Phra Singhkham came from Phra Khru Khanti Phladhorn, dean of Chiang Rai temples. Initially Phra Singhkham refused to be defrocked, and had to be forcibly removed from the temple grounds.
According a various reports Phra Singhkham, a resident of Nan, had been moving around various northern temples. Most recently he was staying at a temple in Lampang before moving to Chiang Rai. Phra Ajarn Wiboon said that Phra Singhkham had to be defrocked in order to protect Buddhism.


Vandals terrorise San Kamphaeng again

Staff Reporter
A teenage gang is suspected of being behind a spate of incidents of vandalism on the San Kamphaeng-Chiang Mai cultural road. On October 9 a total of 19 lampposts; the repairs will cost approximately 146,300 baht.
San Kamphaeng district police station was informed on October 9 of the vandalism by San Kamphaeng district highway chief Veerames Siriwong. On further investigation police found that eight lampposts in front of Nhong Khong School, five lampposts at Baan San Mahokfa, four lampposts at the entrance of Baan Maekhapookha and two lampposts in front of Kinnaree Shop in Ton Sao sub-district had been vandalised.
Veerames said that he had received numerous complaints from residents of a teenage motorcycle gang that gathered at night and vandalised public property and occasionally attacked people. He added that they seemed to be more active during the school holidays. Despite the numerous complaints, police have still to arrest any members of the gang.


Recent flashflood sweeps away 4 disabled in Mae Hong Son

Saksit Meesubkwang
On the night of October 11 four disabled people were swept away by a flashflood at Doi Lai, Baan Khun Huay Dua. The bodies of three were later found at Baan Huay Sua Thao Elephant Camp in Muang Mae Hong Son. The fourth remains missing.
The victims have been identified as Ruay Moonnamchai, 37, Fapratharn Moonnamchai, 2, and Songsri Jitnapasuriyakul, 29. Ruay’s wife was still missing, though a rescue foundation in Mae Hong Son is searching for her.
Village headman Uthid Tayanont said that on the night of October 11 heavy rainfall at Doi Lai, Baan Khun Huay Dua caused a flashflood at Huay Sua Thao stream. At that moment the four victims were returning by motorbike from a Tai tribal festival in Mae Hong Son. When they passed the stream they were swept away by the tide, although one of their passengers, Benjakalyanee Moonnamchai, 7, survived.
Uthid added that Ruay and Songsri were both disabled and used their motorbike as a mean of transportation. They painted landscapes around Baan Huay Sua Thao and sold them to visitors and tourists.


Three radio stations temporarily closed

Staff Reporter
Chuchoke Thongtaluang from Chiang Mai Public Relations revealed that Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat has temporarily closed three local radio stations after numerous complaints that the stations had not followed the regulations stipulated by the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM).
The Security Administration Department of 3rd Army Region had assigned 16 regulations for local radio stations. They will be closed if found in violation of any of the 16 regulations.
Chuchoke also said that there were many frequencies that do not follow the regulations and are therefore facing temporary closure. If they were found guilty, they will be closed immediately.
Governor Suwat had issued closure notices to three frequencies: 100.5 MHz Wasuthep, 101 MHz, and 104.75 MHz due to numerous complaints that these frequencies disturb main frequencies. If they still do not improve and solve their problems, they will be closed permanently.
The governor also issued orders to remove promotional signs of some local stations at light posts, traffic lights, and electricity pylons saying that they were an eyesore and a blight on Chiang Mai’s environment.


Mae Sai police confiscate 100,000 ya ba pills

Staff Reporter
In a rare instance of useful cooperation between Thai police and Burmese military, Mae Sai district police were able to arrest both the drug supplier in Burma and the customer in Thailand.
The bust was organised following the arrest of Thong Rungraksa, 52, a resident of Chachoengsao, who was discovered with 50,000 tablets of a new type of ya ba named “Tiger” hidden in his car stereo speakers.
During questioning Thong revealed that he had bought the ya ba from a Burmese man named Sai-lah, or “Boon”. He was to deliver the narcotics to an agent in Chachoengsao.
Officers told Thong to arrange the purchase of another 50,000 ya ba pills and have him deliver them to the second Thai-Burmese border bridge at Baan San Phak-Hee in Mae Sai district. When Sai-lah arrived at the designated point officers arrested him, but then came under attack from Sai-lah’s guards. A gunfight took place lasting about five minutes, after which Sai-lah’s guards fled. Thai police coordinated with Burmese military, who were able to arrest one member of the gang.
Following the gunfight police transferred Sai-lah, who had received a gunshot wound in the leg, to Chiang Rai Regional Hospital. Luckily, no officers were injured, and over 100,000 ya ba pills were seized.


Laotian Hmong found dead in Phetchabun

Doctors fear spread of HFMD

Saksit Meesubkwang
Third Army Region Intelligence officers recently received reports that a Laotian Hmong child staying at Hoi Nam Khao temporary shelter in Phetchabun had died, and another was seriously ill with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). Additionally, a number of children have started to display symptoms similar to those found with HFMD patients.
Officers from the Department of Epidemiology have been sent to Baan Huay Nam Khao in Khao Khor district, Phetchabun to ascertain if the disease is indeed HFMD.
A foreign volunteer doctor who is head of the medical staff taking care of the Laotian Hmong in Baan Huay Nam Khao said that there were more than 20,000 Laotian children to care for and that since conditions in the temporary shelters were cramped, infectious diseases could spread rapidly.
The volunteer doctors are now coordinating with Khao Khor hospital and Phetchabun Hospital to monitor the possible outbreak.


Ya ba dealer busted at Golden Triangle with 80,000 ya ba

Staff Reporter
On October 8, in a joint operation involving officers of the Chiang Rai provincial police, the Pha Muang Task Force and the Narcotic Suppression Centre, 80,000 ya ba pills were intercepted after being dropped off on the bank of the Mekong two kilometres from Golden Triangle viewpoint in Chiang Saen district, Chiang Rai.
After receiving information of a possible drug deal, officers waited in the area and eventually observed a long tail boat approaching from Laos. Two men on the boat dropped a blue bag on the shore then returned to Laos. Jiraboon Sawaskhunakarn, 51, a resident of Phetchaburi, retrieved the package and began to drive away in his blue Toyota pick up, only to be intercepted by police. Inside the truck police discovered Phayoon Sawaskhunakarn, Jiraboon’s wife, along with 40 packages of pink and green ya ba pills. Jiraboon and Phayoon were arrested and taken to Chiang Saen police station for questioning.
Jiraboon revealed that he had previously sold clothes in Bangkok’s Bo-Be Market and had made one previous trip to purchase ya ba, which he sold to fishermen in Phetchaburi. He said that before collecting the ya ba he had been taken by boat to pay 1.5 million baht to a Laotian man living on Don Sao Island. His pick up was confiscated, after it was found that he had used 300,000 baht of profits from drug sales to place a down payment on the vehicle.


Police seize 46,000 ya ba after gunfight leaves 1 dead

Staff Reporter
A gunfight between police officers and a drug smuggling caravan at Baan Suan Pa, Mae Fa Luang district, Chiang Rai, left one man dead. Police seized 46,000 ya ba tablets during the battle.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Suthep Dejraksa, commander of Chiang Rai provincial police said that an investigation team from Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 along with Chiang Rai provincial police and the Pha Muang Task Force had received information on the smuggling route and had prepared an ambush. They spotted five armed men approaching wearing trekking gear. When asked to stop the group opened fire on the police.
The battle lasted for five minutes, after which the smugglers retreated back into Burma. Following an inspection of the area, a body with no ID, but believed to be a 30 year old Tai tribesman, was found with a gunshot wound in his left chest. Next to the body was a rucksack containing 46,000 ya ba pills and a 9 mm pistol.
Pol. Maj. Gen. Suthep said that the victim was a member of a drug smuggling network that operated around Baan Huay Nam Khun, Baan Sa-jeh, and Baan Huay Rai Samakkee in the Mae Fa Luang district of Chiang Rai. He also said that a number of arrest warrants for Thai citizens connected with the smugglers had been issued.