HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Happy Birthday Princess Ubolratana

The city prepares for Songkran

Truck lands into the Ping River

Skies will clear up for Songkran vows the Governor

Gas prices up again

Whistleblowers will be rewarded

First it was a diet, now its porn

Sheraton Chiang Mai becomes Holiday Inn

Trainees from 9 Asian nations fight child cyber-sex abuse

A most happy birthday to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

The Kingdom of Thailand on April 2 celebrates the most auspicious occasion of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s birthday. We at the Chiangmai Mail join in with our most humble wishes for HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for a long, healthy and happy life on this occasion of the Royal Anniversary of Her Birth.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was born on April 2, 1955, the third child of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand.HRH the Princess studied from kindergarten to high school at Chitralada School in Bangkok. She ranked first in the National School Examinations in the primary level (grade 7) in 1967 and in upper secondary level (grade 12) in 1972.Ranked fourth in the National University Entrance Examination, HRH the Princess enrolled in the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, first class honor, and a gold medal in History in 1976.
She continued her studies in two graduate programs concurrently, obtaining an M.A. in Oriental Epigraphy (Sanskrit and Cambodian) from Silpakorn University in 1978, and an M.A. in Pali and Sanskrit from Chulalongkorn University in 1980. She enrolled in a doctoral program at Srinakharinwirot University (former College of Education) in 1981, and was awarded a doctoral degree in Developmental Education in 1987.The principle of using education as a means for community and social development, which HRH the Princess acquired during her doctoral studies along with her former experiences in the field, has provided her with a solid base for her subsequent involvement in community development activities.In addition to her formal degree programs, HRH the Princess has attended several training courses and workshops to enhance her knowledge and skills in effective integrated development.
These subjects include computer, cartography, meteorology, survey and photogrammetry, remote sensing and geographic information system and nutrition.HRH the Princess has acquired first-hand experiences in working on development projects initiated by Their Majesties the King and Queen. These projects involve a number of diversified fields including health and hygiene, education, water resource development, agriculture and cottage industry by regularly accompanying Their Majesties on visits to remote areas since the age of sixteen.From these experiences, HRH the Princess has developed special interests in agricultural extension to improve school children’s nutritional conditions; supports education from pre-school to tertiary levels; and mother and child care. She has also concentrated on helping the handicapped, especially in using information technology (IT) to develop independent living and learning skills.HRH the Princess runs several philanthropic organizations and foundations. She has been Executive Vice President of the Thai Red Cross Society since 1977; Executive Chairman of the Chaipattana Foundation (in charge of His Majesty’s development and environmental preservation projects), Ananda Mahidol Foundation (to promote higher education), the King Rama II Foundation (to conserve and promote Thai Culture); President of the Sai Jai Thai Foundation (to support disabled veterans), Prince Mahidol Award Foundation (to award prizes annually to members of the international community for outstanding performances in the fields of medicine and public health); and Adviser of the Committee of Thai Junior Encyclopedia Project by Royal Command of H.M. the King.HRH the Princess began her teaching career in 1979 when she started teaching the General Education Program at Chulalongkorn University. A year later, she joined the Department of Law and Social Sciences, in the Academic Division of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. Presently she is Director of the Department of History, and has played an active part in revising its curriculum. She also supervises the Thai Music Club at the Academy. Occasionally HRH the Princess gives special lectures at several other institutions and regularly attends academic conferences and seminars both in and outside the country.
In addition, HRH the Princess represents Their Majesties in various royal functions. She also presides over ceremonies as well as other social and charity functions all through the year. In 1991, HRH the Princess was awarded the Magsaysay Award for Public Service.HRH the Princess likes to travel around the Kingdom and abroad to obtain knowledge of physical geography and peoples’ varied lifestyles. One of her favorite pastimes is writing articles, poetry and short stories. Proceeds from her written accounts of her overseas travels are the main source of income for the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Foundation which was set up in 1979 to support needy students in schools, vocational colleges and universities.HRH the Princess loves Thai literature and studies literature of other countries. She enjoys playing classical Thai instruments and practicing Thai classical dancing. She also paints and is keen on sports, including jogging, swimming, biking and trekking - which gives her an opportunity to learn about plants, trees and geographical features of the areas.In addition to her knowledge of Pali, Sanskrit and Cambodian, HRH the Princess is communicative in both English and French and has been learning Chinese, German and Latin.PHOTOS: The entire Chiangmai Mail staff joins the Kingdom of Thailand in humbly wishing HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn a long, healthy and happy life on this occasion of the Royal Anniversary of Her Birth.

Happy Birthday Princess Ubolratana

Chiangmai Mail humbly joins the Kingdom of Thailand in wishing Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Phannavadi a most happy birthday on April 5. Princess Ubolratana was born on April 5, 1951, in Lausanne Switzerland. She is the eldest daughter of HM the King and Queen.

The city prepares for Songkran

Drunk drivers beware

The Mayor of Chiang Mai with local officials and beauty queens meet the press to outline plans for Songkran.

Saksit Meesubkwang

Municipal agencies are in high gear preparing for Songkran as safety is being promoted to make this year’s water festival an enjoyable one for everyone. The local government is set to implement strict measures on alcohol consumption and drunk driving.

Police will be setting up checkpoints on Doi Suthep road and other main routes in Sankamphaeng, Sanpatong and Mae Rim to inspect drivers and attempt to prevent drunk drivers from operating their vehicles during Songkran. Drivers caught under the influence will face steep fines and jail time.

Even bus terminals in the city will introduce a sobriety checkpoint for on-duty drivers.

Last year it is estimated that more than 10,000 bottles of booze were sold over the Songkran period. This year police will also be monitoring shops where alcoholic drinks are sold in an effort to prevent sales to minors.

Mr. Somboon Wisetchaichan, manager of Ratsana Shop said these new measures would represent a decline in the sale of booze compared to the same period last year.

Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn noted that his department has cleaned out the waste in and around the city’s moats and has emptied the moats twice in order to remove any waterborne diseases.

The Disaster Prevention Unit composed of 200 officials will de dispersed around the city and be ready to assist local and tourists in emergency cases. Local hospitals will be providing fully equipped ambulances in strategic areas and offer first aid to those in need.

Deputy Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Traffic Police Pol Col Chamnan Ruadriew disclosed that more than 4,000 police would be in all spots around the moats to prevent and relieve some unexpected events. The roads circling the city’s moats would be temporarily closed from April 13 through April 15 to allow the crowds to enjoy the festival in a safer environment.

Truck lands into the Ping River

Onlookers watch as workers using cranes try and remove the 16 wheeler out of the Ping River.

Staff Reporter

Crowds gathered and traffic came to a crawl near the Superhighway Bridge in Faham, Chiang Mai last Sunday as sightseers watched cranes attempting to lift a 16 wheeler truck that plunged into the Ping River.

The accident apparently occurred when the driver of a loaded truck lost control while making a slow maneuver near to the crash scene. No injuries were reported at the time.

Skies will clear up for Songkran vows the Governor

Everyday an average of 200 foreigners have been seeking treatment at Chiang Mai’s hospitals since the city was subjected to hazardous polluted skies.

The Director of Chiang Mai Hospital, Dr. Woraphan Unachak said the smog covering the city has increased the number of patients by 100%, most suffering from breathing difficulties.

The Governor of Chiang Mai, Vichai Srikwan is meeting every morning with provincial authorities to assess the smoke situation and has vowed that the skies will be completely clear before Songkran begins on April 12th.

The Governor said there is no need for Chiang Mai to be declared as environmental disaster zone again as he says the situation is improving.

The annual water festival celebration hopes to draw hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world to the city and he promised that attendees will not be affected by the haze or otherwise be disappointed.

Apparently the message on banning fires has not reached everyone in the Northern provinces as burn-offs continue and pollutants are still being recorded at high levels in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.

Northern regional environmental office director Apiwat Khunarak said smoke continued to rise from open-air burn-offs and forest fires, and that a special artificial rain-making unit is continuing it’s operations to reduce the smoke in the northern skies.

Forest fire in many areas bordering Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son contributes to low moisture in the area, which have made it difficult for cloud seeding.

Just across the border in Tachilek, Myanmar an Army General took a new approach to put an end to the widespread fires in his region.

When Lt.General Kyaw Win was forced to travel 160 kilometers by car because the airport in Tachilek was closed due to poor visibility he arrested some 60 villagers accused of setting fires and polluting the environment. Quoted by one news agency, the Lt. Gen. said he was frustrated and angry that he wasn’t able to fly back and forth between Kengtung and Tachilek. (CMM Reporters/TNA)

Gas prices up again

Fuel stations nationwide increased prices for all fuel types last Thursday.

The PTT Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Chaiwat Churit, attributed the price increase to unrest in Iraq and Nigeria, which has added burden to the operating costs of fuel station operators.

The PTT Deputy Managing Director reported that other fuel companies followed suit in the price increase, with fuel prices rising by 40 satang. Fuel prices for Benzene 95 now sells for 27.99 baht per liter, Benzene 91 at 27.29 baht per liter, Gasohol 95 at 25.49 baht per liter, and Diesel fuel at 24.14 baht per liter. (TNA/CMM Reporters).

Whistleblowers will be rewarded

The Ministry of Industry is calling on people to provide evidence concerning factories illegal actions which pose a threat to the environment. If authorities can successfully file lawsuits against factories that are polluting or endangering the environment, those who provided evidence will receive a cash reward.

Deputy Minister of Industry Piyabutr Cholvijarn revealed that the Ministry has amended the 1992 Factory Act to address people’s participation in preventing pollution problems caused by factories. It has instructed the Department of Industrial Works and provincial industrial offices across the country to initiate projects to campaign for people’s participation.

The Director-General of the Department of Industrial Works, Ratchada Singkalavanit says the ministry will grant a reward of 100,000 baht to those who provide evidence leading to factories illegal actions. Moreover, they will receive 15 percent commission of any fines imposed on polluting factories. The whistleblower hotline set up by the Department of Industrial Works is 0-2202-3994. (TNA/CMM Reporters).

First it was a diet, now its porn

Zoo officials trying to get pandas excited

Chuang Chuang the panda has been spending his days in front of a television watching panda porn.

Authorities at the Chiang Mai Zoo hope the images will encourage him to mate with his partner, Lin Hui, and serve as an instructional lesson in how to do it right.

So far, it’s been a tough sell, the zoo’s chief veterinarian, Kanika Limtrakul.

“Chuang Chuang seems indifferent to the videos, he has no reaction to what he’s seeing on TV,” Kanika said. “But, we’re continuing to show him videos and hoping they will leave an impression.”

Everyday for the past week, Chuang Chuang has been taken from his outdoor environment of rocks and trees to an indoor cage set up in front of a big screen television. Animal experts then put on a DVD that shows pandas mating.

At first, they kept the sound off but noticed that the images alone were not grabbing Chuang Chuang’s attention, so they turned the volume up, said Prasertsak Buntrakoonpoontawee, head of the zoo’s panda project.

“Before he might have been clumsy and not known how to approach and react to a female panda. Now he will remember and imitate the video,” Prasertsak said.

The exercise will continue for about another week. Then Chuang Chuang will be reunited with his partner. Zoo officials say the two pandas have been kept separate since late last year as part of efforts to spark some romance between them.

Chuang Chuang was recently put on a strict diet because zoo officials said he was too heavy to mate. The diet trimmed him down from 150 kilograms (331 pounds) to 142 kilograms (313 pounds).

Thailand rented 6-year-old Chuang Chuang and 5-year-old Lin Hui from China for US$250,000 (€188,000) in October 2003 for 10 years. They are expected to generate millions of dollars (euros) in revenue from Thai and foreign tourists visiting the zoo.

There are as few as 1,600 giant pandas in the mountain forests of central China, according to the zoo. An additional 120 are in Chinese breeding facilities and zoos, and about 20 live in zoos outside China.

Pandas are threatened by loss of habitat, poaching and a low reproduction rate. Females in the wild normally have a cub once every two to three years. (AP/CMM Reporters)

Sheraton Chiang Mai becomes Holiday Inn

Pictured centered is the newly named Holiday Inn Chiang Mai.

InterContinental Hotels Group introduced its Holiday Inn brand to Northern Thailand when the Sheraton Chiang Mai became the Holiday Inn Chiang Mai on 1 April 2007.

The 25-storey, 526-room hotel is Chiang Mai’s tallest building, and located along the Chiang Mai-Lumphun Road, on the bank of Ping River. Offering easy access to the business district and shopping areas including the famous Night Bazaar, the hotel is a five-minute drive from the city centre and ten minutes from Chiang Mai International Airport. Its rooms average 45 square meters in size and other features include more than 3,300 square meters of meetings space.

Jan Smits, chief operating officer, Southern Asia and Korea, InterContinental Hotels Group Asia Pacific, said, “There is a strong and growing demand for branded mid-scale hotel accommodation in Chiang Mai, a lively and prosperous city that is widely regarded as a gateway into Northern Thailand and the Mekong region. Right in the heart of the action is Holiday Inn Chiang Mai, which will undoubtedly appeal to travelers to this region.”

The hotel is owned by the Chiangmai Riverside Plaza Hotel Co., Ltd. One of the company’s owners, Kasem Shaikh, said: “With the strength of a respected industry leader like InterContinental Hotels Group and the appeal of a world-renowned brand like Holiday Inn, we are confident that the re-branded hotel will be a great success.”

Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts is the world’s most recognized hotel brand and the winner of Business Traveller Asia Pacific’s Best Mid-Market Hotel Brand in Asia Pacific and Best Mid-Market Hotel Brand in the World awards for six consecutive years. Holiday Inn Chiang Mai will be the sixth Holiday Inn hotel in Thailand.

Trainees from 9 Asian nations fight child cyber-sex abuse

Child protection advocates from nine Asian countries gathered in Bangkok for training on combating child sex abuse in cyberspace.

Fifty-four child protection advocates including police officers, lawyers, judges and NGO workers from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam attended an international workshop jointly organized by the British embassies in Cambodia and Thailand and Microsoft Corporation.

The regional workshop was part of an ongoing commitment by the British Government to work with a wide range of partners to combat child sex abuse throughout the world, in connection with cyber pedophiles, according to the UK embassy in Bangkok.

The workshop was aimed to instruct participants about techniques used by pedophiles to target victims through the Internet, and offer practical advice on how to combat it. The training also broadens international co-operation, and aid capacity building and information sharing within and between the countries of the region, said embassy officials.

Although children in some countries like Cambodia have difficulty accessing the Internet, they are still vulnerable to be sexually abused. Pedophiles use the Internet to find locations to get easy access to children, according to Microsoft Asia Pacific executive Katherine Bostick.

They post photos of children abused by relatives and friends on the Internet and profit from selling them, she said.

Quoting a report from the US news program NBC’s Dateline, Ms. Bostick said there are 50,000 child pornography predators online at present. “The Internet connects children and pedophiles. There is no border, but it’s a global problem,” she said.

The training held at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, was designed and delivered by experts from the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) in partnership with associate members from the Virtual Global Task Force (VGT). VGT is an international alliance of law enforcement agencies from Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, working to protect children from sexual exploitation. (TNA)