Vol. VI No. 15 - Tuesday
June 5, - June 11, 2007
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NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Guilty as charged - High court dissolves TRT party

Locals nab knife wielding bandit

Organic farm opened by Japan’s Consul General

Danish ex-pat found dead

Killer mushrooms claim 4 in Chiang Dao

Alien Employment Act to be amended

Thais smoking less

Mae Chaem storm damages 800 homes

Visakha Bucha day celebrations in Chiang Mai

Guilty as charged - High court dissolves TRT party

Verdict brings shock, tears and cheers

The Constitutional Tribunal has disbanded the political party of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for violating election laws, barring him and 110 party executives from politics for five years.
The court found the Thai Rak Thai party guilty last Wednesday evening of financing obscure parties to run against it in last year’s elections to get around rules requiring a minimum voter turnout.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, Democrat Party leader leaves the Constitutional Court after his party was acquitted. (AP photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Three other smaller parties, two of them hired by Thai Rak Thai, were also disbanded.
“The defendant is responsible for holding up democratic ways ... (using) parliamentary elections only as a means to achieve totalitarian power,” Judge Vichai Chuenchompoonuj said.
“It goes to show that the defendant (Thai Rak Thai) does not believe in the democratic system,” and it has “no respect for the rule of law which is key to the democratic system,” Vichai said.
The harsh but somewhat expected decision was greeted with shock and tears at Thai Rak Thai headquarters, where hundreds had gathered to watch the nationally televised ruling.
The party leader, Chaturon Chaisaeng, said Thai Rak Thai would not dispute the ruling and asked people not to protest.

Chaturon Chaisaeng, Thai Rak Thai’s acting party leader leaves the Constitutional Court after the verdict of the parties’ dissolution case. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
But speaking later outside the court, he said “the whole country is unlikely to accept this.”
“We weren’t treated fairly. The ruling was made on the basis that those who seize power can decide what’s right and wrong even if that power comes from the barrel of a gun,” he said.
The ruling cannot be appealed.
The decision against Thai Rak Thai came hours after the Democrat Party, the country’s oldest and a bitter rival of Thaksin’s party, was found innocent of election law violations.
Besides strengthening the Democrat Party, the court’s decision is likely to unleash a flurry of political activity in the coming months, with new parties springing up to fill the vacuum left by Thai Rak Thai. The military-backed government has promised to hold elections at the end of the year after a new constitution is promulgated.
The court ruled that the Democrat Party did not unfairly malign Thaksin or breach election laws by urging voters to cast a “no” vote, the equivalent of an abstention, in last year’s elections.
It also found that the Democrat Party was not guilty of using a smaller party to trick Thai Rak Thai into violating election laws, and ruled it had not obstructed a parliamentary candidate from registering in a southern constituency.
“There are no legal grounds to disband” the Democrat Party, a judge announced, bringing cheers and chants of “Democrats fight on!” from crowds gathered at the party headquarters.
“Today is the day many of us have been waiting for,” said Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. “I want it to be the day that we close the chapter of confusion, stress and strain in the country. From tomorrow on, we have much to do and our priority is to bring back democracy to the country and go forward with the elections.”
Banning Thai Rak Thai is a stunning end to a party that just two years ago was the most powerful in Thailand.
It was the first party to ever win an absolute majority in the Thai parliament in 2005, and by all accounts remains popular with rural voters for its populist policies.
But its demise began when the military overthrew Thaksin in a last September. The coup came after tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated in Bangkok accusing Thaksin of corruption and abuse of power, and calling for his resignation.
In London, where he is living in exile, Thaksin urged supporters to remain calm ahead of the ruling.
“We have to respect the rules of the game,” Thaksin said. “That is, the rule of the law.” (AP)


Locals nab knife wielding bandit

Injured tourist lands in hospital

Saksit Meesubkwang
Local residents jumped into action last May 24 and apprehended a purse snatcher after he robbed two tourists from the Netherlands on holiday in Chiang Mai.

Thawatchai Tape (left) being interrogated by police after being nabbed by good Samaritans.
The ladies were walking in the alley of Wat Muangmang, Rajachiangsaen road of the Wiang Haeng area of the city when 19 year old Thawatchai Taping and another accomplice threatened them with a knife and robbed them of their shoulder bags which contained cash, ATM cards, digital cameras and other personal items.
One of the ladies put up a struggle with the thieves and was badly injured.
The commotion attracted the attention of passersby who came to the rescue of the tourists and were able to detain one of the bandits until police arrived on the scene. The accomplice was able to flee.

he knife used in the attack against one of the women from the Netherlands on holiday in Chiang Mai.
While both ladies were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment the police charged Thawatchai with committing robbery and causing bodily harm. The robber confessed that he had committed several robberies around the flyover at Wattanothaipayap School.
He is currently in custody at the Muang Chiang Mai Police Station and police are searching for his accomplice.


Organic farm opened by Japan’s Consul General

Linda Ratchai
Mrs. Junko Yokota, Consul General of Japan in Chiang Mai and Mr. Thongchai Wongrianthong, Vice Governor of Chiang Mai attended the opening ceremony of the
Environmental Preservation and Organic Farming Promotion center located in the Chungdoi sub-district in Doi Saket on May 23.

Mrs. Junko Yokota, Consul General of Japan in Chiang Mai plants a tree at the new organic farm in Chungdoi.
The center was constructed with funds amounting to 1,542,200 baht provided by the Government of Japan under its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects Scheme (GGP)
In Chungdoi sub-District, most of the farmers have been using chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides in their farming. The use of chemicals has added much more to the farmer’s annual expenditure and at the same time raised concerns about the negative impact on the environment.
The Administrative Organization of Chungdoi Sub-District started advocating an environmentally protective organic farming system by introducing organic fertilizers which is produced from local organic raw materials, and also by educating the farmers in the reduction of expenditures and the safety of their food products. However, the Administrative Organization lacked a proper facility to educate and train the local farmers.
In response to a request from the Chungdoi Sub-District Administrative Organization, the Government of Japan provided funds for the construction of a learning center which provides theoretical and practical training in environmentally protective organic farming.
Through this assistance, it is expected that more farmers will become aware of the benefits of organic farming.


Danish ex-pat found dead

Foul play suspected

Saksit Meesubkwang
Police from the Chang Puak station were called to the home of 71 year Danish citizen on May 25th after his body was found on the kitchen floor of his home.
Paul During apparently was beaten to death during a struggle according to preliminary findings though an autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death.
During’s body was discovered by neighbors who told police they had heard a shouting and noises coming from his rented home in the Tambon Patan area of Chiang Mai.
The neighbors told police that the loud arguments they heard were between a man and a woman and apparently had to do with the ownership of a pick-up truck.
The victim apparently was married to a Thai woman but they had been divorced for some time. The police questioned the woman but she was later released pending further investigation. She has denied any involvement with his death.
Another woman by the name of June had been living with During but she was visiting relatives in her village during the time the apparent murder took place.
The police added that During may have collapsed in his home and died from injuries inflicted by a fall but they will not reach a conclusion until receiving the autopsy report which may take up to a month.
According to the police, During had lived in Thailand for five or six years.


Killer mushrooms claim 4 in Chiang Dao

Despite repeated warnings from health officials about the dangers of collecting and eating mushrooms that pop up in the rainy season, four people in the Chiang Dao district died after consuming poisonous mushrooms.
Chiang Mai’s public health deputy chief Surasing Wisarutrat said that four villagers in Chiang Dao district died of toxicity after eating poisonous mushrooms and several patients have been admitted to area hospitals in the province.
Doctors have warned the public to avoid eating unknown varieties of mushrooms that they gather in the forest, as a number of residents mistake poisonous mushrooms for edible types.
Last week in Nan province, six people died after eating poisonous mushrooms, while medical staff is monitoring the condition of three other patients.
A total of forty-seven patients have been admitted to Nan hospitals and 17 of them are in serious condition.
Poisonous mushrooms contain toxins that destroy the liver and kidneys resulting in a painful death. (CMM Reporters/TNA)


Alien Employment Act to be amended

The Ministry of Labor is urging for the Alien Labor Act to be amended to suit the Thai industrial sector and to prevent illegal immigrants from being smuggled into Thailand.
The Director-General of the Department of Employment, Mr. Manoon Poonyakriyakorn, reported that over 80,000 foreign workers have entered the country during the past six months while 5,600 people are traveling to and from the country each month.
Due to national security reasons, 21 units of related agencies will work collaboratively to prevent illegal immigrants from entering Thailand. This includes working with entrepreneurs and employers who are currently employing thousands of illegal alien workers.
The labor authority is expediting the amendment of the Alien Employment Act and the Labor Protection and Welfare Act to allocate laborers to work solely in appropriate industries. (NNB)


Thais smoking less

The number of smokers in Thailand has dropped by 38 per cent in the past 15 years due to the government’s success in enforcing anti-smoking laws, according to a senior medical doctor.
Dr. Manit Teeratantikanont, Deputy Permanent Secretary for Public Health and Thawat Suntrajarn, Director General of Department of Disease Control spoke on Thailand’s use of tobacco at a press conference for World No Tobacco Day last Thursday.
Thailand’s enforcement of anti-smoking laws has effectively reduced the number of smokers in the kingdom, they indicated.
According to the National Statistical office, the number of Thai smokers dropped by 38 per cent from 11.67 million in 1991 to 9.54 million in 2006.
Among anti-smoking measures are inspections of public places including tutorial schools, game shops, and karaoke lounges to ensure they adhere to the law banning smoking in public places. (TNA)


Mae Chaem storm damages 800 homes

Strong winds and rain on May 29th blew roof tops off of homes, uprooted trees and sent debris flying during a storm that lasted almost three hours.

A collapsed roof of one of the 800 homes in Mae Chaem district damaged during the powerful storm. Photo courtesy of Thai News.

District Chief Officer Supote accompanied by his administrative team and Vichit Kulruen, Mae Chaem mayor, surveyed the area for damage and found the worst hit areas were in Tambon Changkuang where more than 450 homes were destroyed. In Tambon Bantap more than 150 homes and other buildings rooftops were ruined.
The winds uprooted trees along the Chiang Mai-Mae Chaem road resulting in delays for motorists while rescue teams and volunteers worked to clear the debris.
The storm also caused an electric blackout for the entire area though power was restored three hours later.
Municipal authorities have been busy distributing roof tiles to homeowners and providing assistance as they re-build their homes.


Visakha Bucha day celebrations in Chiang Mai

Linda Ratchai
On the evening of May 30, about 50,000 Chiang Mai people from 24 districts, consisting of students, monks, farmers, elders, children walked up to Doi Suthep temple covering a distance of 14 kilometers before the Visakha Bucha Day so that they could pray for good luck, prosperity and happiness.

Pra Mahasa-nga Teerasangwaro, abbot of Wat Pa Lad temple speaks to students and participants about the importance of Visakha Bucha Day.
The day event was jointly presided over by the Chiang Mai governor Wichai Srikwan, and Mr Udornphan Chantaraviroj, the former president of Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO)
The following day Prathep Visuttikun, the dean monk of Chiang Mai presided as chairman of the “Offering the world Visakha and worship for His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday” celebration at the Royal Flora Garden indoor stadium.
He stated that everyone should perform good deeds by learning, by working, by making merit, by making donations and observe the 5 precepts of Lord Buddha every day and not just on Visakha Bucha day.
His sermon was followed by a talk from Pra Mahasa-nga Teerasangwaro, abbot of Wat Pa Lad temple in Chiang Mai who spoke about words of wisdom and happiness to an audience of students.
Buddhists, he added, have to be joyful and happy when working together such as the students who help each other when cleaning the road up to Doi Suthep temple.
The Visakha Bucha is the day when Buddhists celebrate the birth of Lord Buddha Siddharta Gautama and died when he was exactly 80 years old 2550 years ago.
Lord Buddha achieved his enlightenment with Nirvana, freeing himself forever from the eternal cycle of death and reincarnation which is the fate of lesser mortals. His death occurred on the 15th day of the waxing moon of the 6th lunar month (the 8th month of the Lanna calendar).

Students meditating and reflecting on Visakha Bucha Day.

Residents of Chiang Mai gather at the base of Doi Suthep Mountain to begin their walk up to the temple.



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