Vol. VI No. 14 - Tuesday
May 29, - June 4, 2007
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Light at the end of the Superhighway tunnels

Locals lobby PM for a convention center

Former deputy Mayor gets jail

World famous exiled monk visits Chiang Mai

Cobra Gold wraps up

Volunteers to tackle corruption

Preparing for the flood season

Up with People performs June 5th

Its mosquito season

Light at the end of the Superhighway tunnels

To be completed in 6 months says Govt. official

Saksit Meesubkwang
Motorists can finally start counting the days as someone has put a completion date to the Superhighway saga that has lasted for more than five years.
That someone is Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongchaum who boldly promised that the underpass construction projects at Kuang Singh and San Dek intersections will be completed within six months.

Fishing anyone? The work stopped in February and has served as a rain collection reservoir.
The original contractor, Jirathep Partnership, was awarded the task in 2002 and was obligated to complete the project by May of 2006. The contractor then claimed the company was adversely affected by higher prices of fuels, construction materials and transportation causing him cash flow difficulties and work on the Superhighway came to a halt in February of this year.
After a careful consideration, the Highway Department agreed that the contractor was unable to complete the project and the contract was terminated.

Motorists have long faced dangerous obstacles like this dug up hole along the Superhighway ready to swallow a car or motorbike.
Jirathep Partnership Construction Company now faces a 50 million baht lawsuit and has been blacklisted by government agencies from future work.
“The criteria for contractors should focus on their experience and financial status, whereas Jirathep Partnership will be blacklisted from future government bids,” said Songsak Paecharoen, the Director General of the Highway Department.
The Kuang Singh intersection is now being completed by the bridge construction unit from Phichit province and the San Dek intersection will be completed by the bridge construction unit from Khon Kaen province.
The construction at the Kuang Singh underpass is 67 percent complete and the San Dek intersection currently stands at 70 percent.


Locals lobby PM for a convention center

Mr. Narong Tanannuwat, right, President of Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce presents a letter to Premier Chulanont lobbying for a convention and exhibition center to be built in Chiang Mai. (CMM Photo)

The Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce (CCC) urged Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont to support the construction of a new international convention and exhibition center.
The Prime Minister was told by members of the CCC that a new convention center would bring in 2 billion baht in the local economy and boost tourism arrivals.
The group of local business leaders led by President of CCC Narong Tanannuwat also acting as Chairman of Joint Public and Private Sectors Consultative Committee (JPPCC) submitted the petition in a letter to PM Gen Surayud Chulanont during his visit to the city where he presided over a seminar for 500 participants of the Northern mass media entitled in “Government meets local Press”.
The JPPCC, composed of Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, Chiang Mai Federation of Thai Industries and Chiang Mai Bankers Club believe the project is essential to boost the provincial economy and other Northern provinces.
Currently the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has set aside funds for a convention center worth about 600 million baht in its budget plan of 2008. (See story page 5)
However, the project might fail as the government has not set up a bid process for the site. (CMM Reporters)


Former deputy Mayor gets jail

Poolsawat Worawan, a former deputy Mayor of Chiang Mai was handed an 8 year 6 month jail sentence for his role in helping embezzle funds from a Chinese couple who sought illegal refuge in Chiang Mai.

The Chinese couple shown here in a file picture after their arrest and deportation.
His cohort, former municipal council member Pitak Tantisak was given 12 years and 6 months behind bars while Phichit businessman Prasit Jiamchit was sentenced to 18 months.
Charges against four other defendants were dropped in this case that has been in the courts for years before finally reaching a verdict.
The story began in 1995 when Shen Mun Sung, also known as Ar Liew and his wife entered the country illegally with massive amounts of stolen cash. The Chinese couple befriended the former politicians and businessman who helped them launder the loot.
The fugitive couple was then able to obtain Thai citizenship, purchase homes, cars and at least 10 aliases with the help of the convicted trio.
The former deputy Mayor went as far as to give Ar Liew employment as a consultant to the Municipality of Chiang Mai.
Five years later Ar Liew and his wife Nipa Somjai (her Thai alias) were arrested, apparently after the Thai government was tipped off by the Chinese government. The couple provided the Thai authorities with a detailed account about their fugitive life and the overly generous politicians in Chiang Mai before being deported to China where they were jailed. (CMM Reporters)


World famous exiled monk visits Chiang Mai

Monks and nuns gather in chant at Wat Suan Dok temple in Chiang Mai. (CMM Photo)

Linda Ratchai
Thich Nhat Hanh, a world famous Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk living in exile in France, visited Chiang Mai last week to lead prayers and give talks on the occasion of the worldwide Visakabucha day, the day of religious observance in commemoration of the birth, the enlightenment and the death of the Buddha.
Thich Nhat Hanh arrived in Chiang Mai on May 22nd and met the faculty of senior monks followed by a visit to the famous sites in Chiang Mai. That evening he spoke about Buddha with hundreds of followers at the Wat Suan Dok temple.
Thich then spent five days of prayer activity at Lanna Human Resources Development Centre in San Kamphaeng district before returning to Bangkok where he will joined leading Buddhist monks from over 60 countries who participated in the fourth International Buddhist Conference on the United Nations Day of Vesak 2007. At least 10,000 Buddhist monks, both Mahayana and Theravada attended the conference.
The discussions covered several topics involving the Buddhist Contribution to Good Governance and Development.
The theme has been selected by the organizing committee in line with the development activities of His Majesty the King which have been recognized by the United Nations as models of sustainable development and was presented by Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh.
As this year coincides with the 80th birthday anniversary of His Majesty the King, the Buddhist leaders will assemble for chanting and meditation at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to offer blessings to His Majesty the King.

Thais and foreigners fill the temple to listen to Thich Nhat Hanh.


Cobra Gold wraps up

Representatives from Thailand, the United States, Singapore, Japan, and Indonesia attended ceremonies marking the closing of multilateral military exercise Cobra Gold’07 that took place from May 8-18, 2007 and was hailed as a success by all of the participants.
Deputy Supreme Commander Gen. Pairoj Panichsamai, U.S. Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce, Singapore Ambassador Peter Chan Jer Hing, Japan Deputy Chief of Mission Jun
Niimi, and Indonesian Minister Wisnu Edii Pratignyo attended the closing ceremony at the Ambassador City Hotel Jomtien, Chon Buri province.
US Ambassador Boyce said, “I’d also like to underscore the fact that the work you do in this exercise can help us save lives in future contingencies, peace keeping deployments, and responses to disaster.”
Representatives from all of the participating nations also presided over a ceremony to dedicate multipurpose buildings at Wat Ban Nai Rai School and Ban Nong Krub School in Rayong province.
During Cobra Gold ’07, troops built four multipurpose buildings and conducted seven medical, dental and veterinary clinics in villages throughout the exercise area including Rayong, Petchaburi, and Prachuap Khiri Khan. (CMM Reporters)


Volunteers to tackle corruption

Chiang Mai Governor Wichai Srikwan opens the training seminar for the volunteers.

Volunteers pledge and sign the rosters as they begin their courses.

By Linda Ratchai
The Governor of Chiang Mai has inducted 506 volunteer citizens to work as corruption busters in the province.
Governor Wichai Srikwan held a training seminar for the volunteers who will subsequently be trained on how to identify unlawful activities, suppress corruption and promote the government’s national agenda, set forward last year by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.
During the preliminary stage, the training will be carried out in two Chiang Mai districts, namely Muang and San Pa Tong. The network includes a total of 506 volunteers from the private and public sectors in regional and local levels.
Their duties will include promoting ethics, morality, good governance and honesty.


Preparing for the flood season

Residents will get a 12 hour warning

By Linda Ratchai
The Hydrology and Water Management Center for Upper Northern Region will now provide a 12 hour advance flood warning to residents living along the Ping River.
Monitoring stations have been set up in the Chiang Dao district on the Mae Tang and Mae Ngad rivers which flow into the Mae Ngad reservoir.
If the flow levels on these rivers exceed 400 cubic meters per second, an alert will go out to the residents along the Ping River in Chiang Mai which will give homeowners and businesses 12 hours to prepare for eventual flooding.
An additional monitoring station in Ban Mae Tae in the Sansai district will provide another measuring of the water flow and update residents at least 6 hours before the Ping River exceeds its normal levels.
Mr. Thada Sukhapunnaphan, director of the Hydrology and Water Management Center for Upper Northern Region said that flooding usually occurs from July to September during the monsoon season. He added that the current water level at the monitoring station in Chiang Dao is at 3.7 meters and is considered normal.
The Governor of Chiang Mai, Mr. Wichai Srikwan, has ordered all local and provincial agencies to be prepared to deal with flooding and landslides during the rainy season.
According to the Governor there are 892 villages at risk in the province should Chiang Mai receive major rainfall this season.
Mr. Prajon Prajsakul, head of Chiang Mai’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Provincial office said that there are 113 high risk villages, 319 medium risk villages and 460 low risk villages.
A flood warning system has been installed in 238 areas around the province and at least 718 volunteers have been trained to assist villagers for early signs of flooding.
Meanwhile the military divisions based in the city have offered up to 1 million sand bags should they be needed to line the banks of the flood prone Ping River.


Up with People performs June 5th

Concert to benefit Support the Children Foundation

Host dad Poh Noi, host mom, Mae Mitra with members of the Up with People advance team who spent two months in Chiang Mai preparing for the June 3rd concert; Samantha Roman, Paloma de la Vega and Carla De la Vega.

By Linda Ratchai
The worldly musical group Up with People will perform at Chiang Mai University’s Main auditorium on June 5th at 6:00pm.
This special evening will benefit the Support the Children Foundation which cares with children who are affected by HIV and the blind and deaf.
Dr. Prakong Vithayasai of the Executive Committee Support the Children Foundation said that the Up with People International Concert and their young international volunteers from 19 countries have helped many charitable causes and organizations around the world. During their stay here not only will they perform but also assist Support the Children Foundation.
Up with People was founded in 1968 to provide young adults with an international and intercultural experience through community service and the performing arts. In its 40 year anniversary UWP has visited over 68 countries and has 21,000 alumni for over 96 countries. The UWP show has been seen by over 20 million people on 6 continents and the international music and dance is presented in a format that celebrates diversity and hope.
For free tickets and or for donations to the Support the Children Foundation, please call 053-408424 or look for more details in www. Support-the-Children.org and www.upwithpeople.org


Its mosquito season

Foggers out in force

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Division of Sanitation of the Chiang Mai municipality has urgently launched an operation to eliminate mosquitoes during the wet season.
The Deputy City Permanent Secretary of Chiang Mai municipality Yongyuth Praphat, said that workers have been spraying chemicals around the city to rid mosquitoes and their larvae since the beginning of the rainy season.
Fogging or area spraying is primarily reserved for emergency situations to halt epidemics or rapidly reduce adult mosquito populations when they have become severe pests. Fogging and area sprays must be properly timed to coincide with the time of peak adult activity.
Meanwhile, residents are being asked to aid in this campaign by emptying containers with stagnant water which is a prime source for mosquito breeding. The larvae may be destroyed by filling depressions that collect water, by draining ditches, or areas to remove standing water. Container-breeding mosquitoes are particularly susceptible to source reduction as people can be educated to remove or cover standing water in cans, cups, and rain barrels around houses.
While outdoors it is helpful to use spray repellents on outer clothing as well as the skin. Protection generally may be expected up to 6 hours following application.
Oil of citronella is another type of mosquito repellent for space repelling. Oil of citronella is the active ingredient in many of the candles, torches, or coils that may be burned to produce a smoke that repels mosquitoes. These are useful outdoors only under windless conditions. Their effectiveness is somewhat less than repellents applied to the body or clothing.
For keeping mosquitoes away in the garden try planting Thai lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) which is a natural and very effective mosquito repellent. It contains the natural oil, citronella, which is safe and effective. It grows readily into a decorative clump about 15" across and about two feet tall.
Some common sense rules to follow when using repellents include: Wear long sleeve shirts and pants outdoors during peak mosquito activity time periods. Apply repellent sparingly only to exposed skin or clothing. Keep repellents away from eyes, nostrils and lips: do not inhale or ingest repellents or get them into the eyes. Avoid applying high-concentration (less than 30% DEET) products to the skin, particularly of children. Avoid applying repellents to portions of children’s hands that are likely to have contact with eyes or mouth. Pregnant and nursing women should minimize use of repellents. Never use repellents on wounds or irritated skin. Use repellent sparingly; one application will last approximately 4-6 hours. Saturation does not increase efficacy. Wash repellent-treated skin after coming indoors.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Health Office has already called for a meeting with the directors of all hospitals in every district to discuss ways on preventing hemorrhagic fever and malaria in the rainy season, especially people living in the mountains. Village volunteers will be a focus for training under this project.
Basic medicine will be offered to infected patients before reporting to the district medical officer and further treatments in hospitals said Dr. Surasingh Witsarutratana, Deputy Chief Medical Officer.



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