NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Police set up checkpoints around the city

Chiang Mai Mayor quits abruptly

Scores injured in messy Mae Jo road crash

Tourists targeted as criminals increase attacks

Myanmar PM returns home

Who will blink first?

Police set up checkpoints around the city

Locals afraid to go out at night claim police

Saksit Meesubkwang
Vehicles and motorcycles are being subjected to searches as police have set up a number of checkpoints around the city in an attempt to crack down on drivers without proper identification.
Pol. Lt. Col Chamnan Ruadraew Deputy Superintendent Traffic Chiang Mai Police ordered four police stations; Amphur Muong, Mae Ping, Chang Phuok and Phu Ping to set up checkpoints to target vehicles used by Thai Yai and migrant laborers from Myanmar after receiving complaints from the public who they claim are too afraid to leave their homes at night.
Pol. Lt. Col Chamnan Ruadraew stated that he has received calls from the public that a group of Thai Yai youths were roaming the city at night causing accidents that have resulted in injuries and death of innocent drivers. Therefore a dragnet was instituted where police are not stopping vehicles and motorcyclists to ensure drivers are carrying proper identification.
Thai Yai is the name given to people who come from Shan state in Myanmar or who live in the northern districts of Fang, Chaiprakarn and Mae Ai. The majority does not carry identification cards and are subject to arrest and deportation. Those who have settled in the northern districts of Chiang Mai province are issued colored coded documents by the Thai district officials but these documents do not allow them to travel or re-settle in Chiang Mai city. In special cases some may obtain work permits but most that live in Chiang Mai are illegally employed.
In the past six days the police have confiscated 54 vehicles and 2 of them were involved in purse snatching incidents said the police.
Driving a vehicle in Chiang Mai without proper identification can result in fines of 2000 baht and possible jail time.


Chiang Mai Mayor quits abruptly

Governor to name acting Mayor

Long time Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn, in office since 2002 and elected by popular vote in 2004, threw in the towel on Friday after his city councilors walked out on him in a show of dissatisfaction.

Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn seen here in his official photograph
The Mayor’s abrupt resignation caused the Municipal Council to be dissolved and the future of city politics to enter into a new era of government leadership.
Tensions had been brewing at City Hall for the last two months after council member
Pornchai Jitnawasathian of the Chiang Mai Khunnatham group resigned his post apparently under pressure by the former Mayor and his family.
Pornchai had expressed interest in running as a Member of Parliament for the Constituency number 1 in the next general election. This decision did not sit well with the former Mayor’s family who has had a stronghold in this precinct according to insiders.
It is now up to the Governor of Chiang Mai to appoint an interim Mayor while the city’s Election Commission will begin preparations for an election in 60 days.


Scores injured in messy Mae Jo road crash

Saksit Meesubkwang
A Mitsubishi pick-up truck collided with a Honda Sedan sending the vehicles skidding into a group of motorcyclists stopped at a red light on the Mae Jo- Chiang Mai Road at the Likitcheewan intersection (second ring road) at 8 p.m. on May 1st causing a number of injuries as motorbike drivers and passengers went flying in the air and crashing into the pavement.

One of the injured motorcycle drivers being attended by medical rescue personnel before being transported.
Witnesses quickly assisted the injured as the awaited the arrival of police and medical rescue teams.
The accident was due to the carelessness of the drivers according to Pol. Lt. Col Settachai Kamnoi, police inspector of Sansai police station, who arrived at the scene along with ambulances from the nearby Teppanya Hospital.
The injured motorbike riders were transported by ambulance to Teppanya Hospital and fortunately none of their injuries were live threatening.
The police seized the damaged vehicles and motorcycles and impounded them at the Sansai police station as they await the outcome of the investigation. The vehicle owners were fined 500 baht each and will need to compensate the injured motorbike drivers. The compensation amounts to cover the medical bills and the damaged motorbikes will be at the discretion of the parties involved.


Tourists targeted as criminals increase attacks

Pol. Col. Prachuab Wongsuk, Superintendent of the Chiang Mai police shown here at an urgently called meeting to discuss ways to put an end to these attacks on foreigners.

Saksit Meesubkwang
Chiang Mai is quickly losing its reputation as a safe city as criminals have begun targeting tourists on a daily basis. This very rare type of crime against foreigners has steadily increased in the past few weeks and the attacks occur in seconds leaving tourists and foreign residents stunned.
Thugs on motorbikes approach unsuspecting tourists and foreign residents who stroll around town or ride their motorbikes. In a matter a seconds, hands go towards purses, satchels and shoulder bags and suddenly the victim loses their valuables.
Ms. Candice Elizabeth Firth, age 24 and from England, was the latest victim to report to the police about her attacker that left her in shock while walking on Sriphumi Road.
Ms. Firth was out touring the sights of the city when suddenly a male on a motorbike snatched her bag and sped off. His motorbike did not have a license tag. She screamed for help but the attacker escaped with 129,000 baht worth of personal belongings including her passport.
Pol. Capt. Supot Shalat, duty officer at the Chiang Mai Municipal Police Station received the call for help and dispatched officers to interview Ms. Firth who was in a state of shock when the officers arrived at the Eagle House apartments.
Apparently the police have had just about enough of these daily occurrences and Pol. Col. Prachuab Wongsuk, Superintendent of the Chiang Mai police, called a urgent meeting with 300 of his police officers and instructed them to do what they can to put an end to these attacks which are tarnishing the image of Chiang Mai.
Until these thugs are rounded up it is recommended to carry only a copy of your passport photo page, the money you will need and to remain vigilant while exploring the city.


Myanmar PM returns home

Prime Minister Gen. Soe Win returned home late last week after seeking medical treatment for more than two months in Singapore, witnesses said.
Soe Win arrived aboard a commercial flight at Yangon’s International Airport, where he was greeted by a host of military leaders including junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe, according to the witnesses who insisted on anonymity for fear of disclosing official information without authorization.
The 59-year old prime minister was taken straight to a military hospital in Yangon, witnesses said.
Soe Win went to Singapore late February on what Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said was “a private visit.”
The Myanmar Embassy in Singapore later said Soe Win was being treated for a “serious health matter.” Family sources of the prime minister said Soe Win was suffering from acute leukemia.
His current condition was not known and it was not clear if he would be able to resume his duties.
Soe Win is the second of Myanmar’s ruling junta to seek medical care in Singapore this year. In January, Than Shwe, 74, was treated at the same Singapore General Hospital for an undisclosed medical condition.


Who will blink first?

Update on “Syndromes and a Century”

Mark Gernpy
Neither side has blinked in the stand-off between Apichatpong Weerasethakul and the Thai censors over his award-winning film, Syndromes and a Century. They still require four cuts, and he refuses to comply and has withdrawn his film from distribution in Thailand.
Meanwhile, worldwide reaction to the censorship has increased. Here at home, an urgent seminar was held April 23 attended by a number of big names in the Thai entertainment business, who rallied in supporting Apichatpong and in freeing Thai cinema from the control of the censors. The seminar was held at House of Rama, the arthouse theatre operated by the country’s biggest studio, Sahamongkol Film. Two more academic seminars are scheduled at two leading mass communication universities, Thammasat and Chulalongkorn.
One group, thaicinema.org, reported calling the censorship office for updated information about the return of the Syndromes print to the filmmaker. An officer repeated over and over the statement, “It is now in the legal procedure.”
The public revolt and rebellion includes a petition to the National Legislative Assembly to abolish film censorship in Thailand. As of last Thursday, there were over 5,000 signatures. You can join the crusade by visiting their website: http://www.petitiononline.com/nocut/petition.html