White elephant fountain moved after seven year dispute
One of the city’s famous landmarks which was first built in the 1950’s then
mysteriously disappeared in the 1990’s and then was rebuilt in 1999 has been
relocated after a seven year dispute between the Municipality and the Fine
The white elephant fountain which marked the entrance of the Chang Puak
North gate was quickly removed last week and will be re-built at its new
location at Suan Lanna Rama IX Park.
Famed astrologer Sukit Phutasin led the dismantling ceremony with a ritual
apologizing to the spirits before workers began to bring down the famed
The city received a final order to remove the fountain as it obstructed the
city’s ancient wall and prevented the work on uncovering ancient artifacts
believed to be buried in the area.
The North gate is a historical site and was used as the entrance to the old
city by royals and their guardian spirits in the times of the Lanna kingdom.
When the Fine Arts department completes their work the area will be
transformed into a tourist attraction similar to that found at Tha Pae gate.
The original fountain which graced the area for 40 years disappeared
overnight in the 1990’s and has never been found.
Cyber crime law goes into effect
The Information and Communications Technology Minister
Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said the new cyber crime law, implemented for the
first time last Wednesday, to counter cyber crimes, will not affect the
public’s use of computers or Internet services and was only designed to
combat crimes involving national security, lese majeste, medical and
The ICT minister said the new law will by no means violate individual
freedom to surf cyberspace or deny normal public access to Internet and
E-mail services, only content considered detrimental to national security
and the monarchy or violating medical ethics and pornography will be scanned
and tracked to those who may have generated it.
Controversial content may be logged in files for future probing by the
authorities during a 90-day timeframe. Penalties for individuals, who may
have committed such offenses, including those who live overseas, will be
severe, according to the ICT minister.
However, he said, under the 2007 Computer-related Crimes Act, the
authorities cannot seize any computer system, personal or corporate, on such
criminal charges without court orders.
The cyber content to be controlled by the law does not only refer to
messages in the computer but also pictures, sounds and files purveyed to an
individual’s websites as well as short-message and multi-media systems
currently available with cellular phones. TNA
Simon Cabaret says goodbye to Chiang Mai
A file picture of Simon
Cabaret which it opened in Chiang Mai five years ago.
The long time venerable tourist must see show stopper
closes its doors on July 31st after a five year run entertaining crowds with
their “I can’t believe those are not really women” venue.
Simon got its name from the former Mayor of Pattaya more than 20 years ago,
whose nickname used to be ‘High Sigh’, which turned into ‘Simon’, and stayed
as such ever since.
Simon at that time was founded to show stage beauty, acting, dancing and
light, and it became so successful that it quickly became an institution and
famed tourist attraction. Simon moved to Phuket and opened its doors in 1990
and 12 years later Simons Cabaret came to Chiang Mai. The Phuket venue will
remain open and the management from Chiang Mai will be transferred there
next month. CMM Reporters
A farewell message from US Consul General Beatrice Camp
It has been a great honor to represent the U.S. in Chiang
Mai for the past three years. I want to thank the Chiangmai Mail for
giving me this chance to say goodbye and reflect back briefly on these
Having first come to Chiang Mai University on a teaching fellowship over 30
years ago, I felt extremely fortunate to return as Consul General in 2004.
Although I often hear people say how much the town has changed, in fact I
tend to notice the similarities more than differences. The rainy season
sunset is just as stunning and the sight of Doi Suthep just as comforting.
Speeding motorcycles still constitute the biggest threat to life and limb
while wats still offer a quiet refuge. Although there are many problems
facing Chiang Mai and Thailand today, this remains a special place. I am
happy that the Chiangmai Mail and groups such as the Expats club exist today
to help foreign residents and visitors appreciate the rich culture and
The U.S. Consulate was established in 1950, in the historic compound of the
last prince of Chiang Mai. One of our primary missions is the protection of
American citizens. We began issuing visas in 1986 and are now the sole U.S.
consular presence outside of Bangkok.
Over the years we have developed strong cooperation with Thai partners on
everything from agricultural development to narcotics suppression to
HIV/AIDS research. We have also been active in educational and cultural
areas, supporting English teaching, organizing a U.S. election watch party
in 2004, inviting students to create Earth Day murals in 2005 and hosting
the New Orleans All Star Band in 2006. More recently we celebrated the
completion of the first project in northern Thailand funded by the
Ambassador’s fund for Cultural Preservation and published a small book,
American Threads in the Lanna Fabric, in recognition of the many valuable
connections between our two countries. The booklet and other information is
available on our website at http://bangkok.usembassy
My stay here has spanned the tsunami of 2004, the floods of 2005, and the
coup of 2006. In all these crises, as well as in the good times, I have
learned to appreciate the support of this community and in particular the
superb staff of the U.S. Consulate. David and I will always treasure
memories of Chiang Mai and the many wonderful people that we have come to
Thank you and goodbye for now,
U.S. Consul General
Government to give Chiang Mai a much needed tourism boost
The Minister of Tourism, Dr Suvit Yodmani, announced he
will accelerate the construction of a dedicated Chiang Mai Convention Center
by pushing for the completion of the venue’s blueprints to be finalized by
the end of this year and for the project to be finished within two years.
He made his comments at a meeting in Chiang Mai, which was attended by
Thai-based airlines, representatives of the city’s leading international
hotel brands, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Chiang Mai office
officials, the Thai Hotels Association Northern Upper Chapter and members of
the local press.
Discussions for the long-delayed project took place long before former Prime
Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted in a coup last September.
Apart from the initiative to push for the construction of a Chiang Mai
Convention Center, Dr Suvit also announced the re-launch the Royal Flora
Ratchaphreuk site as a botanical garden on August 3rd and the introduction
of a Walk Street Festival next year. It is also likely the minister will
endorse a plan by international branded hotels to launch an International
Food Festival in September next year to be promoted by TAT.
Tourism in Chiang Mai has been facing a decline since the end of the Royal
Flora Ratchaphreuk expo. While the three-month expo attracted about 2.6
million local and international tourists between November 1, 2006 and
January 31, 2007, the city experienced a sharp drop immediately in February.
Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association president, Mr Songvit
Ittipattanakul, said May was the worst month, with the number of tourists
falling 30 to 40 per cent to a 10-year low. CMM Reporters/TTG
Protesters try to serve a coal lunch
Over 100 anti-coal protesters gathered in front of the Novotel Hotel on
Chotana road where an ASEAN Forum on coal was being held.
impromptu coal lunch placed at the entrance of the venue was then removed by
The protesters wanted to send a message to the ASEAN delegates about the
hazards of coal use and the benefits of developing and using alternative
energies that do not produce health hazard.
To stress their point the protesters from Mae Moh community and civil
society groups laid out a coal-buffet for the delegates’ lunch.
The lignite fired power plant of Mae Moh is considered to be the worst of
its kind in Asia and according to the protesters has had adverse and
irreversible effect on the health and environment of the local community.
The protesters also submitted petition letters to the Governor of Chiang,
Mai Wichai Sriwan and the President of Chiang Mai University Prof. Dr
The orderly activists stressed they did not need coal mines in the country
were representing the communities they said are negatively affected from the
coal mines such as Mae Moh district of Lampang, Wiang Haeng District of
Chiang Mai, Bor Nok Tabsakae community of Prachuab Khirikhan. Members of
Green Peace were also present and organized parallel meetings to provide
their points on the hazards of coal use.
Dr. Boonrod Satchakulnukitch, the expert on renewal energies of the
Renewable Energy Development and Energy Preservation Department, said the
meeting was held to consult and exchange ideas and experiences with
representatives from 10 countries in the ASEAN group. Representatives from
China, India, Japan and USA also were invited to take part in the meeting.
Up for discussion at the meetings was how to implement new technology to
control the emissions and provide for cleaner sources of energy.
At present, electricity generated by coal in Thailand is regarded to be well
under control for its standard, he added.
Stall owners up in arms as
city orders them out
A group of 800 stall owners who sell their wares to tourists at Tha Pae Gate
and the “Sunday Walking Street” are incensed by the Municipality’s decision
to have them ordered out of the area while renovation projects take place.
The city government issued an order which took effect July 23 ordering all
sellers to suspend their activities as city workers will begin repaving
streets, install street lamps and build barriers.
The incensed stall owners have petitioned the Governor pleading that they
will lose their only source of income during the renovations. They have also
asked the Governor to provide them an alternate area in the city where
tourists can have access to their goods while works are made to beautify the
Tha Pae and Walking Street areas.
Apparently the stall owners were taken by surprise as Tasanay Saechue,
Chairman of the Tha Pae Traders Club, said they had no advance notice about
having to suspend their activities.
Saechue added that more than 1000 families will be affected as they depend
on tourists who purchase their products. He wants the city government to put
the renovation projects on hold until viable options can be provided to the
traders who will be put out of work.
The city did not state how long the renovations would take or when the stall
owners would be able to return to the area.
All vehicles, remove stickers by August 1
Mr. Chanchai Keelapaeng, the Head of the Chiang Mai Provincial Land
Transport Office has issued a statement stating that all private transport
vehicle operators whether transporting passengers, animals or other goods,
must remove their stickers and paintings on the vehicles by August 1.
on all vehicles must be removed.
He said that due to all the fancy designs on cars, it was impossible to
identify the original color of the vehicles when they came in for their
The decorations have also made it difficult to identify them when accidents
take place or when the vehicles flee the scene. Camouflaged vehicles can
also be used for illegal activities to hide from the authorities. He added
that there were plenty of pictures painted on the vehicles which are deemed
inappropriate to be seen on the streets.
He said that there are 221 vehicles registered are in Chiang Mai for the
purposes of tour operations and passenger transport. In addition there are
9078 registered 6, 8 and 18 wheel trucks.
Chiang Mai ranks second after Bangkok in vehicle registrations, followed by
Nakhon Rachasima, Chonburi, Nakhon Pathom and Songkla.
Push for ban on
alcohol ads continues
The Anti-Alcohol Network has asked an ad-hoc committee
overseeing the alcohol control bill to ban alcohol advertisements on all
forms of media, including television, publishing, and billboards.
More than 100 representatives of the Anti-Alcohol Network gathered in front
of the Parliament House in Bangkok, calling on the committee to pass the ban
and allow people to take part in the drafting process of the alcohol control
bill. They propose that the committee appoint representatives of non-profit
organizations against alcohol, children and women groups, as well as
consumer protection organizations, to be its new members.
The network earlier kicked off a campaign to send letters and postcards
warning of the adverse effects of alcohol consumption to the National
Legislative Assembly (NLA) and requested it to support the alcohol control
In August the network is scheduled to call a meeting of regional
anti-alcohol networks to prepare measures to deal with distortion of the ban
on alcohol advertisements. NNB
Italian arrested for not paying hotel bill
Police in Chiang Rai charged an Italian tourist for
refusing to pay his hotel bill.
Police Lt. Col. Yuthasit Bunkla, a Chiang Rai Tourist Police Inspector,
received a call from the Star Bright Hotel on Wang Kham Road informing him
that a tourist had checked out without paying. For unknown reasons the
tourist refused to pay his room bill and then vacated the hotel. Two Tourist
Police Patrol officers were instructed to track the tourist down and soon
after the suspect was spotted standing in front of 7-Eleven, next to Pizza
Hut Chiang Rai.
According to the police the suspect tried to evade arrest, but was taken
into custody for questioning. He was identified as Leonado John Fisaniaw,
41, of Italy. His passport had for 6 days prior to his arrest. The hotel
staff was called in to identify him and they provided a positive
Talks with atomic agency underway
The Prime Minister announced that discussions are
underway with the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
to construct a nuclear power plant in Thailand.
Prime Minister Gen Surayud Chulanont reported that the IAEA Director General
Dr. Mohamed El Baradei recently attended a seminar on the development of
science and technology in a bid to construct a nuclear power plant in
Gen. Surayud said that preparations are underway to train personnel and
create understanding among citizens on the issue. The IAEA Director General
affirmed his belief that Thailand will be fully capable of developing
nuclear technology for peaceful endeavors.
The Prime Minister said that the world is undergoing radical changes, many
of which can be attributed to scientific and technological causes.
Gen Surayud advised adherence to the self-sufficiency economic principle,
grassroots development, the establishment of a regional market,
environmental conservation, and strengthening of all sectors. NNB
Lets all get happy
Deputy Prime Minister Piboon Wattanasiritham emphasized
the government’s commitment to include the happiness index into Thailand’s
next National Economic and Social Development plan for 2007-2011.
The minister offered his assurance in his opening speech of a two-day
international conference on Happiness and Public Policy, organized by
Thailand’s Public Policy Development Office at the regional United Nations
Bhutan’s Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs, Lyonpo Jigme Thinley,
meanwhile, stressed the significance of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as
contrasted with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a contribution to measuring
the development and implications of public policy.
He said that Bhutan has for decades adopted the approach of GNH to measure
the progress of development, adding that economic, social, environment and
culture are the four indicators to the country’s sustainable development.
Funds sought to predict earthquakes
Smith Thammasaroch, advisor to Thailand’s Information and
Communication Technology Minister, is preparing to request a budget of 200
million baht for studies of 14 potentially disruptive faults in the earth’s
crust nationwide within 2008.
The budget would be allocated to four leading institutions, Chiang Mai, Khon
Kaen, and Chulalongkorn Universities and the Asian Institute of Technology
with each receiving 50 million baht.
“All of these institutions are ready to conduct the studies as soon as the
government approves the budget allocation,” said Mr. Smith, the former
Meteorology Department head.
Chiang Mai University will assess faults in the country’s upper northern
region, Khon Kaen University will study the lower northern and western
regions, Chulalongkorn will probe faults in Kanchanaburi and Bangkok, while
the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) will probe faults in the southern
In addition to 13 previously existing faults, Mr. Smith added, an additional
fault was identified recently, extending through some areas of Bangkok.
“We know very little about these faults, despite the fact that they can
cause violent earthquakes and hence serious destruction. That’s why we must
conduct a thorough study of them,” according to Mr. Smith. TNA
Dengue fever warnings issued
Deputy Public Health Minister Morakot Kornkasem expressed
his concern that dengue fever this year is more widespread and is likely to
worsen during the continuing rainy season.
“Dengue fever is still critical because it is likely to spread even further
during the rainy season,” Dr. Morakot said.
The rainy season usually runs from June through August.
In the first six months of 2007, there have been 23,653 dengue fever
patients and 21 of them died. The central region is the hardest hit area
with 8,177 patients, followed by the northeastern region with 6,816
patients. Eighty per cent of them contracted the deadly disease at home.
Government web site hacked
The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology
(ICT) has traced and identified unnamed hackers who violated the ministry’s
website despite a new law just enforced to counter cyber crimes, according
to the Ministry spokesman.
The hackers had inserted pictures of ex-prime minister Thaksin and coup
leader Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, Chairman of the Council for National
Security, on the main page of the ICT ministry’s www.mict.go.th web site.
The intruders also added criticisms of the military junta and the
The cyber raids occurred one day after a new law was enforced to combat
cyber crimes considered detrimental to national security, the monarchy,
medical ethics and pornographic.
Ministry spokesman Wissanu Meeyu said the authorities had traced three
unidentified computer hackers but declined to say if they were within the
country or overseas.
However, the ministry planned to ask police to take legal action against the
hackers who might face a maximum five-year jail term or a maximum fine of
100,000 baht or both.
Mr. Wissanu admitted the ministry’s website security was not
state-of-the-art and is to be enhanced shortly. TNA
to be installed countrywide
The Thai cabinet meeting gave the green light to a
project to install a surveillance and censor system across the country, said
Prime Minister’s Office assistant spokesperson Chotechai Suwannaporn.
Closed circuit television cameras and other surveillance systems used at
London’s Heathrow airport will be installed to increase Thai efficiency in
preventing smuggling, checking suspicious parcels and collecting
A facial scan system and infrared cameras to scan vehicular license plate
numbers will be included in the surveillance network proposed by the
Ministry of Finance.
CCTV cameras will be installed at 1,199 spots at permanent border
checkpoints, customs checkpoints, ports and international airports.
The government has a five-year contract with state-run CAT Telecom and a
budget of 740 baht million to run the project.
Meanwhile, The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) in cooperation with
the private sector is installing closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in
a prime shopping area for the safety of Bangkok residents and tourists.
Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin and Ratchaprasong Square Trade
Association Chairman Chai Srivikorn signed an agreement for a safety system
development project at the shopping street in the Ratchaprasong area.
Under the phase one project, a budget of more than 20 million baht will be
spent on CCTV camera installation in public areas, including sidewalks, and
pedestrian bridges connecting building to the BTS elevated train stations.
The CCTV surveillance system will be linked to the Metropolitan Police
Bureau to monitor the area around the clock. TNA