Vol. VI No. 12 - Tuesday May 15, - May 21, 2007
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

High tech CCTV cameras help patrol the city

Australian dies from apparent overdose

German woman found dead in pond

Human trafficking victims now on national agenda

Iran opens tourism and trade office in Chiang Mai

City prepares for rush on pawn shops

Teakwood smuggling on the rise

Nan Deputy Governor killed in car wreck

Sexually arousing materials leads to clampdown

Wild mushrooms send 13 to hospital

Thai-US military exercise “Cobra Gold” begins

High tech CCTV cameras help patrol the city

Saksit Meesubkwang
A total of 32 close circuit TV cameras have now been installed and are operational around the city of Chiang Mai.
According to the police this latest weapon against crime is working well and has produced some quick results thanks to the monitoring at strategic locations in the city.
You may have spotted some of these cameras but not all of them are visible to the public. There are installed at the Chiang Mai International Airport, several bus stations, the train station and at major tourist attractions.
Just how good is the definition, zooming potential and clarity of these cameras?
Recently a foreign tourist was enjoying a cocktail at a bar on Thae Pae Road. His companion, apparently a katoey, (lady boy) laced his drink and proceeded to rob him. The entire episode was recorded by one of the CCTV’s and the katoey was arrested the following day.
The camera system also known as the Rapid Spanning Tree Ring (RSTP) network had to be built, spanning over 20Km of fiber optics. The network was built solely utilizing high performance MPEG-2 video codec’s. The harsh tropical environment in combination with fully closed non-air conditioned roadside boxes proved to be of no concern for the equipment.
All video streams return to one control center for real time surveillance.
Interfaced to fully pan, tilt and zoom, the cameras resolution and DVD-quality provide extremely high video quality and helps the local government get precise, accurate object identifications for both road traffic and street surveillance.
The Chiang Mai police are thrilled to have this added layer of protection as it is easier to determine who as at fault when road accidents occur and locating fleeing offenders by their mug-shot or license plate on film has sped up investigations.
According to Police Colonel Montree Sanbunyanont, deputy Commander Chiang Mai Municipal Crime Suppression Police, the 30 million baht project makes the public feel safer. He added that during Songkran no incidents were reported or caught on camera after residents had been informed they were operational.


Australian dies from apparent overdose

Police and forensic experts inspecting Mr. Dyer’s body before it was removed from his room. (CMM Photo)

Saksit Meesubkwang
Malcolm Ian Dyer, 38 years old and a native of Perth, Australia, died of an apparent heroin overdose late last week.

Malcolm Ian Dyer found dead at age 38. (CMM Photo)
Police were called to the SN Resident Condominium in Chiang Mai’s Chang Puaks area after his body was discovered by the building security guard sprawled on his bed.
Security guard Ruangchai Srichai stated to the police that he had not seen Mr. Dyer for about three days so he decided to check in on him.
Police Major Puthi Montian, Inspector of Chang Puak police station arrived at the scene accompanied by a doctor from Maharaj Nakhon hospital, emergency rescue staff and members of the Tourist police.
The initial cause of death is an apparent drug overdose as authorities discovered one gram of heroin, two grams of marijuana, five unused syringes and one used syringe found under his bed.
The victim’s body was transported to Maharaj Nakhon hospital where an autopsy and toxicology test will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.
Meanwhile the Australian Honorary Consul was notified and arrangements for contacting Mr. Dyer’s family and transporting the body back to Australia are underway.
According to the authorities, heroin which is available in Chiang Mai is usually sold in pure form which can be lethal even in small doses.


German woman found dead in pond

Saksit Meesubkwang
Ms. Emmanuel Butmann, 38, was found dead on the 8th May at night in a pond of water about 10 meters away from her home.

Ms. Emmanuel Butmann’s body was discovered in this pond about 10 meters from her home in Mae Tang district.
Her body was discovered by a neighbor in Baan San Pa Tueng, Mae Tang district of Chiang Mai who notified the police.
Ms. Butmann had apparently been stabbed in the throat by a sharp object and also suffered a wound above her right eyebrow.
Police searching the area for clues discovered a knife at the bottom of the pond.
The authorities added that it was too early to determine if Ms. Butmann had been a victim of murder or suicide and they will await the final autopsy report before making a conclusion as to how the victim died.
Police Colonel Tanasarn Plaitho, Chief of Mae Tang police station notified the German Honorary Consul in Chiang Mai who will notify the victim’s family in Germany.
Apparently Ms. Butmann had been previously treated at Chiang Mai’s Psychiatric hospital for mental problems and she had attempted suicide in the past.
According to neighbors the victim purchased her home about 5 years ago and traveled frequently. When she was in residence she kept to herself and apparently preferred to remain alone.


Human trafficking victims now on national agenda

The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Plan Thailand, signed the memorandum of understanding with the 17 northern provinces of Thailand to help the victims of human trafficking.

Mr. Wallop Ploytubtim, Permanent Secretary for Social Development and Human Security speaking at the recent signing ceremony in Chiang Mai.

State officials and representatives from the private sector also joined signed the agreement. The signing ceremony took place at The Empress Hotel in Chiang Mai on May 8th.
The Permanent Secretary for Social Development and Human Security, Mr. Wallop Ploythabthim, said human trafficking has become a more complicated and serious problem.
Meanwhile, the Thai government has announced that it will protect all victims of human trafficking and this issue has also become a national agenda. Moreover, other agencies in Thailand and abroad recognize the importance of this problem and have decided to sign the agreement to solve it cooperatively and seriously.
Mr. Wallop says this MOU will be enforced in 17 Northern provinces, 18 Northeastern provinces, 14 Southern provinces and eight Eastern provinces. In addition, Thailand will also sign the MOU with neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and China so the coordination for the prevention of human trafficking would be more efficient. (CMM Reporters/NNB)


Iran opens tourism and trade office in Chiang Mai

In an effort to boost bilateral trade, tourism and cooperation, the government of Iran has opened a tourism and trade office in the city.
Mr. Mohsen Pakaein, the Iranian ambassador to Thailand, accompanied by Wilas Rujiwattanapong, Deputy Chiang Mai Governor co-presided over the opening ceremony of the office located on Mahidol Road.
Each year some 50,000 Iranians visit Thailand and the government of Iran wants to promote its country as a travel destination for Thais and at the same time attract potential investors.
Thailand exports up to 700 thousand tons of rice to Iran every year and this brings in revenues of about 1 billion baht.
Iranian officials who were in town for the opening might show interest in some of Chiang Mai’s key exports such as furniture, wood products and handicrafts.


City prepares for rush on pawn shops

Saksit Meesubkwang
As the beginning of the 2007 academic year fast approaches the Municipal government has set aside 40 million baht in reserves to provide parents enough cash to pay for their children’s tuition, books and related educational expenses.
Thousands of parents who are short of cash resort to pawning their belongings such as motorbikes, television sets and other personal items to cover school expenses.
The city government provides this service so that residents will stay away from borrowing money from loan sharks at un-payable interest rates.
The three city run pawn shops will offer loans of up to 10,000 baht per person with repayment terms of 1 baht per month and a 5 month repayment period.
If loans do not exceed 5,000 baht then the interest will not exceed 0.75% a month.
The daily cash payouts at these pawn shops around the city reach 3 million baht per day. The sale of items with expired loans averages between 200-300,000 baht per day.
The beginning of the school term in Chiang Mai also brings out the police who set up motorbike helmet checks at busy intersections.


Teakwood smuggling on the rise

The Mae Sot Customs House reports that smuggling along the Thai-Myanmar border is increasing as major seizures of smuggled teakwood from Myanmar have taken place in the past week.
Mae Sot Customs House Chief Seri Thaichongrak revealed that customs officials recently seized smuggled goods, comprising of 37 teakwood window sills and 1,800 pieces of teakwood in Pob Phra district of Tak province. Authorities also apprehended Mrs. Karnee Kamdang who illegally smuggled Buddha statues and 31 articles of woodcraft valued at over one million baht in Tak’s Mae Sot district.
Mae Sot Customs House official reports that smuggling is increasing along the Thai-Myanmar border along Tak province during this period, causing great loss to the state’s customs revenue collection, and increasing competition to Thai business operators. The main reason for smuggling stems from fighting among ethnic minorities in Myanmar, and high demand for exotic goods in the Thai market. (TNA)


Nan Deputy Governor killed in car wreck

Nan Deputy Governor Prasert Leksakuldilok died after a car accident in Nan Province.

Mr. Prasert Leksakuldilok, The Deputy Governor of the neighboring province of Nan was killed in a car accident in Ban Nam Krae, Bo Klua district, Nan on the 6th of May. Tragedy struck as the Deputy Governor and his entourage departed early Sunday morning from the city of Nan to attend a mobile-medical unit event marking the birthday of Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana.
The Toyota vehicle in which they were traveling left the road and plunged 50 meters into a valley. Mr. Prasert died while being transported to Bo Klua hospital.
Nine others were injured of which two remain in a coma; Mr. Nisan Harnkla, assistant district office and Mrs. Kesinee Tung-ngern, assistant nurse. (CMM Reporters)


Sexually arousing materials leads to clampdown

Rampant pornographic material available at local markets around the country has prompted the Ministry of Culture to cooperate with police more closely in suppressing them, said a senior ministry official.
Permanent Secretary for Culture Vira Rojpojchanarat said several complaints regarding entertainment magazines showing lewd pictures which could arouse sexual sentiment had been lodged.
These pictures could lure youngsters to copy, according to Mr. Vira, adding that he had raised the issue with Deputy National Police Chief Pol. Gen. Wongkot Maneerin on ways to suppress pornographic media and whether they had violated the printing law of BE 2484 (1941).
A ministry committee met recently to discuss seven types of media which could violate the law, including print media, the Internet, radio, television, TV materials, motion pictures and mobile phone applications, all of which offer opportunities to distribute materials which could be sexually suggestive.
Violations of the media-related media could face a maximum imprisonment of three years and a fine of 6,000 baht. (TNA)


Wild mushrooms send 13 to hospital

When the first rains of the season arrive so do the wild mushrooms and the threat of picking and eating the wrong ones.
Last week thirteen villagers in Muang district of Nan province ventured out to collect wild mushrooms in forests following the recent rains. They boiled and ate them and soon after fell ill. Nauseated and shivering they were admitted to Nan Hospital but fortunately the mushrooms they have chosen were not the fatal ones as no poisonous substances were found in their bodies. Doctors allowed them to return home one day after being admitted.
The Permanent Secretary for Public Health, Dr. Prat Boonyawongvirot, warns people not to eat wild mushrooms during rainy season as they can be life-threatening.
Dr. Prat says each year a number of people have died from eating wild mushrooms during rainy season, especially from May to August in the northern and northeastern regions. He has ordered the public health officials nationwide to warn people about eating wild mushrooms during this time of the year. (CMM Reporters/TNA)


Thai-US military exercise “Cobra Gold” begins

Members of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 perform routine maintenance on an F/A-18 during Exercise Cobra Gold 2007 in Korat. (Photo by: Lance Cpl. Noah S. Leffler)

Thailand and the United States began their annual joint exercise code-named “Cobra Gold 2007” to strengthen the military relations between the two countries and to build up regional cooperation.
Thai Supreme Commander General Boonsang Niampradit and Alexander A. Arvizu, Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy jointly presided over the launching ceremony of the exercise at Jomtien Beach in the eastern province of Chonburi.
Cobra Gold 2007 marks the 26th anniversary of the annual exercise held to promote regional peace and security. The exercise is slated to take place in various locations throughout Thailand from May 8th until the 18th.
Cobra Gold is a Thai and United States sponsored exercise designed to train a multinational Combined Task Force.
In addition, there will be a joint Thai-Japanese-and-Singapore United Nations Force Headquarters Planning Cell. The exercise will demonstrate US Pacific Command’s ability to deploy a joint task force rapidly to conduct joint and combined operations, conduct transition planning with a UN force, and improve multi-national military-to-military relationships among Pacific allies.
Events held during Cobra Gold 2007 consist of a computer simulated staff exercise, senior leader’s seminar, various field training exercises and 11 humanitarian and civic action projects consisting of four engineering construction projects and seven medical, dental and veterinary clinics.
Singapore, Japan and Indonesia also sent the military personnel to participate in the exercise with more than 5,000 staff involved in the training which would cover the eastern provinces of Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Prachuab Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi and Lopburi.
Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei and India attend the exercise as observers; Gen. Boonsang said adding that the exercise had developed from a bilateral exercise into a multilateral exercise with an aim to increase the capability of peacekeeping missions under a United Nations mandate. (TNA)



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