Vol. VI No. 10 - Tuesday May 1, - May 7, 2007
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Kingdom of Thailand celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) May 5

British woman robbed by motorcycle gang

Quake shakes the North

Emergency call center to handle all calls

Massive hail storm hits Chiang Rai

Major bust yields 1 porno VCD

Improper behavior by monks sparks investigation

More North Koreans caught at border

Kingdom of Thailand celebrates Wan Chatramongkhol (Coronation Day) May 5

Saturday, May 5 marks the 57th anniversary of the Coronation of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great. The day is celebrated as a national holiday, but since it is a Saturday, all government offices and commercial banks will observe the day (close) on Monday, May 7.
Whist being crowned King of Thailand, the 9th in the Chakri Dynasty (Rama IX), His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great took a sacred oath to rule with Righteousness, for the Benefit and Happiness of the Siamese People, which He has done magnificently, garnering tremendous respect from His people. King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, the longest reigning monarch in the world. Long Live the King!
Each year on the 5th of May, the Kingdom of Thailand commemorates the day when, in 1950, the Coronation Ceremony was held for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, the 9th in the Chakri Dynasty (Rama IX).
His Majesty the King, after studying in Europe, returned to Thailand and was crowned King during an elaborate and highly intricate ceremony that out lavished all previous coronations in Thailand.
A week prior to His being crowned King, on April 28, 1950, H.M. King Bhumibol and Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitayakara were married. Following the Coronation the King returned to Switzerland to continue studying.
The Coronation Ceremony reinforces the stature of the Kings of Thailand. The first such elaborate ceremony was performed when Pho Khun Phamuang succeeded Pho Khun Bangklangthao as the ruling King of Muang Sukhothai. Phaya Lithai, a former leader in Sukhothai, left a historical record in stone describing the coronation ceremony in Sukhothai at Wat Srikhum.
In the beginning of the Ratanakosin era, the first King in the Chakri Dynasty (King Buddha Yot Fa Chulalokmaharach) took the title of Rama I and moved the capital of Siam from Thonburi to the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, and constructed Krung Ratanakosin (Bangkok). In the process of building the Royal Palace and Wat Prakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) the first King in the House of Chakri refined the coronation ceremony, establishing important protocol that has lasted to this day. All Kings to follow not undergoing the coronation ceremony would be unable to assume the term “Phrabat” in front of the King’s title of “Somdej Phrachaoyuhua”, and more significantly, the symbol of the nine-tiered umbrella would also not be permissible or officially recognized.
The elaborate coronation ceremony of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great included all the ancient rituals required for assuming the full title and the nine-tiered umbrella. King Bhumibol Adulyadej then bestowed the honor posthumously on His brother King Ananda Mahidol. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s benevolent act raised King Ananda Mahidol’s regal status from seven to a nine-tiered umbrella.
During the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV), Buddhist monks and Brahmin priests were incorporated into the coronation ceremony to conduct rituals to sanctify the auspicious occasion. Previously the ceremony was arranged and conducted by the Royal Palace staff and members of the Royal Household.
The annual coronation ceremony is currently a three -day affair, starting with a ritual “tham bun” ceremony on May 3 to honor the King’s ancestors. Later on the first day, another ceremony is performed, whereby flags of honor are issued to distinguish various military units.
The following day, Buddhist ceremonies continue with chanting rituals, prayers and Brahman priests announcing the auspicious occasion forthcoming the next day (May 5).
On the 5th of May, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX) conducts a merit making ceremony, presenting offerings to Buddhist monks, and leads a “Wienthien” ceremony, walking three times around sacred grounds at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
In the evening the King conducts another sacred ceremony: changing the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian symbol protecting the Thai people, which was transferred from Thonburi to Wat Phra Kaew by Rama I


British woman robbed by motorcycle gang

One suspect in custody as citywide search for gang leader continues

Ms. Dempsey (center) points at her belongings that were stolen then recovered by the Chiang Mai police. The suspect Ms. Promchanta (seated right) covers her face. Pol Lt. Col. Kittipong Sukwattanaphan (second from left), Deputy Superintendent of Chiang Mai Muang Police station is determined to arrest the at large gang leader and put an end to these latest crimes.

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Chiang Mai police have set up road blocks around the city every evening in an attempt to find and arrest the leader of a motorcycle gang who has been robbing residents and tourists in the city.
The latest victim Ms. Gillinn Dempsey, a British national and resident of Chiang Mai, was robbed of her belongings as she drove home on her motorbike earlier this month.
A thief on a motorcycle grabbed her purse which contained two mobile phones, a digital camera, 12,000 baht in cash and personal documents and then sped away.
Ms. Dempsey was unharmed during the attack and contacted the police who filed a report.
The police then received a tip-off that Ms. Dempsey’s belongings could be found at the Sairung mobile phone shop on Thewan Road.
On April 19th a police team led by Pol. Col. Prachuab Wongsook descended on the shop and discovered a loot of 54 mobile phones, 15 handbags, 8 digital cameras and 1 video camera, all apparently stolen.
The owner of the shop, Ms. Rapeephan Promchanta age 19, was promptly arrested and she and the alleged stolen loot were transported to the police station. The shop owner has been charged for possession of stolen goods and faces time behind bars if convicted.
During the usual police interrogation of the suspect, Ms. Rapeephan revealed that her boyfriend, Mr. Sarawut Oopkham age 33, and a native of Lamphun province is in fact the motorcycle gang leader who has been robbing the residents and tourists in Chiang Mai.
The police promptly issued an arrest warrant based on Ms. Rapeephan’s testimony and launched a citywide search for Oopkham. The police said that this gang of thieves has put a black eye on the good reputation of the city which is normally considered a safe place to live and visit.


Quake shakes the North

A minor quake registering 4.5 on the Richter scale triggered several landslides in the Mae Ta district in Chiang Rai province.
The April 22 tremor was felt in the two provinces of Chiang Rai and Phayao and the epicenter was located approximately 5 kilometers north of Waing Pa Pao.
No serious injuries or damage was reported but some residents were frightened as the earth shook at 1:19pm interrupting peoples lunches and rest time.
Mr. Smith Thamasaros, Director of the National Disaster Warning Center, issued a warning to people in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phayao, and Mae Hong Son to remain cautious in the event of future quakes that might rattle the region.
Mr. Smith said warning towers have been set up at Mae Sai District in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Mae Hong Son and there are plans for towers to be set up nationwide. The warning towers will also be able to detect and alert residents on air pollution.
The Thai Meteorological Department provides a website in English that monitors earthquakes and weather forecasts at http://www.tmd.go.th/en/ (CMM Reporters)


Emergency call center to handle all calls

The government is reforming emergency response services by integrating emergency calls under a single call service center.
The Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Khunying Tipawadee Meksawan hosted the opening ceremony for a meeting to reform emergency call services. The Minister revealed that the government is aware of the importance of calls placed by citizens to report emergencies, grievances, complaints, opinions, and will seek to provide convenient, safe, and rapid responses to all calls.
The Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office said that the public sector is required to provide equal service for all citizens, in a transparent and just manner.
Khunying Tipawadee said that government agencies needed to improve their information technology and communications network with a call center as its core competency. The Minister said that separate call centers for different types of emergencies was redundant, inefficient, and inconvenient.
The Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office believes that many beneficial ideas would be derived from the ‘emergency service call reform’ meeting. (TNA)


Massive hail storm hits Chiang Rai

5000 homeless

A major hail producing storm caused havoc and serious damage in several areas of Chiang Rai province late last week.

A storage building with massive damage on its roof as a result of the orange sized hail that pelted many districts in Chiang Rai. (Photo courtesy of Thai News.)
Hail as large as oranges pelted homes, temples and businesses leaving at last count as least 5000 residents’ homeless and causing widespread panic.
In Ban Huay Phueng at least 300 homes were completely destroyed as the monster hail came crashing through the roof tops of the residents of this hill tribe. Trees were also toppled during the storm.
In the village of Ban Pong Hai at least 42 homes suffered damage.
The Chalerm Phra Kiat School was also badly hit and damage to the structure was severe according to district authorities.
Residents of Therd Thai and Mae Salong Nai region stated they had never lived through such a damaging storm. Their homes were also affected by the hail.
The office of Civil Disaster Prevention in Chiang Rai has been busy trying to assist the people displaced by the storms.
Mr. Boonchai Boonjong, a member of Tambon Mae Salong Nai Administration Organization and a resident there for 70 years said he had never experienced anything like this. He added that the villagers were terrified and panicked during the downpour. (CMM Reporters)


Major bust yields 1 porno VCD

The Deputy Prime Minister led a raid on Pantip Plaza in Bangkok to suppress vice and intellectual property crimes.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Development and Human Security Paiboon Wattanasiritham, conducted an inspection of pornographic vendors at Pantip Plaza and instructed officers to conduct a sting operation resulting in the apprehension of 1 VCD vendor, along with the seizure of 1 pornographic VCD, 30 MP3 discs, and 2 bags of marijuana.
The Deputy Prime Minister then visited entertainment venues along Bangkok’s Patpong district on Silom Road and reported finding no illegal activities. Mr. Paiboon reported that youths under the age of 20 years were not found inside local entertainment venues and bar proprietors and their staff were cooperative.
The Deputy Prime Minister added that he would conduct discussions with Bangkok Governor Apirak Gosayothin and representatives of VCD dealers to arrive at a proper solution to violation of intellectual property rights. (TNA)


Improper behavior by monks sparks investigation

Tourist goes overboard with holiday pics

Saksit Meesubkwang
A Chiang Mai Internet shop owner did more than just provide a service to a female tourist who recently requested that her holiday pictures be transferred to a compact disc for safe keeping while apparently passing through the city.
Unbeknownst to the unidentified woman the Internet shop owner kept a copy of her holiday pictures and then handed them over to The Chiang Mai Buddhism Club sparking furor and uproar amongst its members.
The photograph landed in the hands of Mr. Weerapong Srivichai, President of the Chiang Mai Buddhism Club who was so incensed that he called an emergency meeting to determine just who these monks were and what temple was responsible for allowing this photograph to be taken.
An investigation was launched while the photograph in question somehow made its way onto the Internet and into chat room forums around the country.
The Buddhism Club issued warnings to the temples in Chiang Mai advising the monks and novices about unsuitable behavior and also asking tour company guides to instruct tourists on proper etiquette and behavior when visiting the temples.
Mr. Chamlong Kittisri, Director of the Chiang Mai Buddhism Office took possession of the CD and initiated the search for the culprits who perhaps innocently posed in the photograph with the female visitor who may or may not have known the seriousness of her actions. Apparently the compact disc was loaded with photographs of the monks with the female in many unsuitable positions.
Upon careful inspection Mr. Kittisri concluded that the photograph was not taken in Chiang Mai after all and apparently no violations had been committed within the religious community in Chiang Mai.
The certificates hanging on the wall in the background led the investigator to determine that the monks in question may in fact be residents of a temple in the neighboring country of Laos and perhaps from the historic town of Luang Prabang.
Despite the sigh of relief that was felt by the local Buddhism office after it was determined the photograph was of foreign origin the case took on a new path. The investigators contacted the Thai Foreign Ministry to ask them to contact the government of Laos and inform them of this unsuitable behavior which apparently took place in one of their temples.
The Buddhist religion has strict codes of conduct and all monks and novices must uphold these codes or face punishment and even imprisonment.


More North Koreans caught at border

A group of North Koreans was apprehended by Chiang Khong’s Immigration police and charged with illegal entry to Thailand.
The porous northern border has long been a smuggling route for North Koreans who escape their country via China and then attempt to cross into Thailand from Laos with hopes of being deported to South Korea, their destination of choice.
This latest group was detained by a police team led by Police Captain Phakawat Wethayanon, Sub-Inspector of Chiang Khong immigration checkpoint in Chiang Rai, when they conducted a search operation at the Bus Terminal Station in Chiang Khong after receiving a tip-off that a group of foreigners were trying to make there way to Bangkok.
The 7 North Koreans which included women and children were taken into custody after being spotted at the bus terminal.
According to their testimony made through an interpreter, they began their journey through the southern part of China through Laos and crossed into Thailand’s Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai by the Mekong River.
According to the authorities there are several thousand North Koreans waiting along the China-Myanmar border trying to make their way into Thailand. They are apparently aided by a smuggling syndicate based in Chiang Rai who police are still trying to locate.
The fate of this latest group is still unknown as local police are reviewing their case with government officials in Bangkok. (CMM Reporters)



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