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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailand celebrates the 55th birthday of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn

Royal Flora Expo reopens as a permanent tourist attraction

Colorful parade marks beginning of Buddhist Lent

Full steam ahead on Super Highway underpasses

Cost concern over North Korean refugees

Pai police to overhaul protection services for tourists

Pickled bamboo shoot gases kill two

Heavy rains trigger landslides and highway closures

Major management shakeup at TAT expected

Weekend quake rattles Mae Sai

Thaksin launches new website and pens book

Korea opens consulate in Chiang Mai

 

Thailand celebrates the 55th birthday of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn

Peter Cummins,
Photos courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household

Born on 28 July 1952 at the Royal Dusit Palace in Bangkok, HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is the second of four children, and the only son of Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and Queen Sirikit.
His Majesty the King conferred the title of “Somdech Phra Borama Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman” on December 28, 1972, designating his son as the Crown Prince and Heir to the throne.
HRH the Crown Prince underwent primary schooling at Udorn Hall of the Dusit Palace and attended secondary school in Sussex and Summerset, England. In August 1970, he attended the King’s School, Paramatta, Sydney, Australia. In 1976, he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Military Studies at the University of New South Wales. In 1978, he attended the Royal Thai Army Command and General Staff College, graduating in 1978 and, later that year, received a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Sukhothai Thammatirat University in Bangkok.
Then, in 1990 he attended training at the Royal College of Defense Studies in the United Kingdom and subsequently military training courses in Australia and the United States, with observation tours in England, Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
HRH the Crown Prince has been schooled in many other military operations, including aviation in helicopters and high-performance aircraft, special warfare, demolition and parachute training, as well as courses in small arms and other weapons used in modern warfare.
Special assignments have included: Commanding Officer of the King’s Own Bodyguard Regiment and Command, Commanding General of the Royalty Security Command and Instructor Pilot of the F-5 E/F. He has also engaged in actions for counter-insurgency purposes in the North and Northeast areas of Thailand, as well as for protective purposes in areas around Cambodian refugee camps at Khao Lant, Trat Province.
HRH the Crown Prince has continued the Royal Family’s assistance programs to underdeveloped areas around the country and visited depressed urban areas around Bangkok, distributing food and necessity items to people in need. One such undertaking was participation in a fertilizer preparation project in Suphan Buri Province, using natural ingredients to enrich the land in support of the country’s great agricultural pursuits.
As farming is a highly-significant and noble profession in Thailand, the Royal Family takes an active role in advancing the vital industry of agriculture and HRH the Crown Prince has contributed considerably in these and many other projects.
For example, two years ago, HRH the Crown Prince visited people in the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwas to listen to their problems and find ways to assist them. To this end, he met and entered dialogue with Muslim priests, local community leaders, volunteers, the dedicated mobile medical teams and their doctors and the public in general. Here, he urged the officials to improve irrigation systems to aid farmers and foster other agricultural activities.
In July, 2005, he travelled north to mark the opening of Poppy Hall in Golden Triangle Park, in Chiang Saen district, Chiang Rai, constructed under the patronage of the Mae Fa Luang Royal Project. In the past, hill tribe residents grew opium for their living, but after mutual efforts by the Royal Family, government and local community heads, today the people understand the bad affects of opium. Consequently they have changed to the farming of fruit, vegetables and other cash crops, resulting in a vast reduction of the number of opium growers in the country.
A highlight of HRH the Crown Prince’s recent past - in fact, a blessing for all the Royal Family and the Kingdom at large - was the birth, on April the 29, 2005, of a son, when HRH the Crown Prince and Mom Srirasmi Mahidol became the proud parents of a baby boy - their first child.
Thus, on the auspicious occasion of the 55th Birthday of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, we at the Pattaya Mail, Pattaya Blatt, Chiangmai Mail and the Pattaya Mail on TV join the Kingdom in humbly conveying our best wishes to his family and a very happy birthday to HRH the Crown Prince.

 

Royal Flora Expo reopens as a permanent tourist attraction

Commerce Minister Krerkkrai Jiraphaet presided at the opening of the OTOP SELECT 2007 at the Royal Flora Expo.

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Royal Flora Expo which attracted millions of visitors to Chiang Mai during its three month run from last November through the end of January this year reopens its doors to the public on August 1st as a permanent tourist attraction.
The 80 hectare site will become Chiang Mai’s year round botanical and multi-activity center with a number of scheduled attractions that will certainly increase the slumping number of tourists back to the city.
The first activity which took place as a warm-up to the grand re-opening was the OTOP SELECT event which attracted hundreds of visitors during its five day run last weekend.
OTOP which means One Tambon (village) One Product allowed craftsmen and artisans to display and sell their products during the pre-opening event.
The Minister of Commerce, Krerkkrai Jiraphaet, who presided over the opening, said this event would help boost the economy and develop the country’s OTOP products in communities that produce quality wares. He added the five day event was expected to generate 60-70 million baht in revenue.
The Governor of Chiang Mai, Wichai Srikwan was pleased with the hundreds of booths on display that highlighted products made of wicker, handicrafts, garments, leather and other handmade items.
Adisak Srisarnpakitch, director-general of Agriculture Department extended an open invitation for organizations to hold their events and activities at the botanical center.
As of August 1 the Royal Flora will open to the general public daily from 9am until 5pm and the admission fee has been set at 50 baht.


Colorful parade marks beginning of Buddhist Lent

The carriage transporting 1,800 Lent candles to Wat Phrasingha as the Buddhist Lent ceremonies get underway in Chiang Mai.

By Saksit Meesubkwang
The Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) organized the annual Buddhist Lent parade that made its way through the streets of the city on July 23rd.
The procession started at the Chiang Mai Railway station and made its way along Charoen Muang, Tha Pae, Kotchasarn, Moolmuang and Ratchadamnoen road, to end at Wat Phrasingha. Ten thousands of onlookers lined the streets to get a glimpse of this yearly colorful parade.
The parade included a marching band, klong jum drummers and over 100 dancers. Participants also carried the Buddhist Lent robes which are used for the traditional bathing customs.
Some 400 students in local dress also participated as well as sword dancers, sa budchai drummers and the busabok carriage which transported the 1,800 candles Lent candles.
At the Wat Phrasingha Temple, Mr. Thawatwong na Chiang Mai, President of the Chiang Mai PAO, presided over the ceremony where he presented the Buddhist Lent candles and robes to the monks.
This year, the Buddhist holy days of Asarnha Bucha and Khao Pansaa fell on July 29 and 30. Both are recognized public holidays, and therefore banks and most businesses were closed. Many activities took place throughout the city, especially at our temples.
Asarnha Bucha Day is worshipped because of three important events occurring on the day. Called the “Triple Gem” (the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), these commemorate the first sermon given by the Buddha, called the “Dharmachakapavattama Sutta” concerning the “Four Noble Truths” presented to the Buddha’s first five disciples. The sermon set in motion the “Wheel of Dharma”, which is the meaning of “Dharmachaka”.
Secondly, the day is considered to be the birth of Buddhism, as the Buddha departed the location where he obtained his enlightenment two months earlier and then, coming to a forest area in the city of Pharansi, he showed favor to five ascetics who became his followers.
The third of the Triple Gems is the Sangha. On this same day, the first person listened to the Buddha’s sermon, realizing the truths contained therein and becoming the first Buddhist monk. This created the Buddhist order “Sangha” and the day is known as “Sangha Day” as well as Ahsala Bucha Day.
The Thai government established the observance of Asarnha Bucha Day in 1958. Buddhist temples throughout the Kingdom arrange ceremonies venerating the important historic events in the past. Devout Buddhists participate in the ceremonies by presenting offerings to monks, listening to sermons and performing ritual prayers.
The entire day is revered and certain precepts are adhered to by the more devout Buddhist, and by those who have the inclination and opportunity to do so. The Wientian ritual ceremony is performed in the evening as many go to nearby temples bringing candles, flowers and joss sticks, completing three trips walking around the temple area sacred grounds.
The day following the start of Buddhist Lent (Asarnha Bucha Day) another important Buddhist Holy day begins in Thailand with the custom called Khao Pansaa.
The term “Khao Pansaa” can also translate to entering the months of the rainy season when monks return to the temple for the duration of the rains, usually to the temple where they were ordained. They stay there for approximately three months.
The custom of Khao Pansaa has continued on to this day with three classes of ceremonies, a Royal ceremony conducted by HM the King, ritual ceremonies for devout followers of Buddhism throughout the Kingdom and ceremonies performed by monks in the temples.


Full steam ahead on Super Highway underpasses

They may finish ahead of schedule!

Saksit Meesubkwang
The Pichit and Khon Kaen construction units are working at lighting speeds and may be able to finish the two remaining underpasses on the infamous Super Highway months before their original stated deadline of December.

It can be done and may be completed ahead of schedule.
If there a will there’s a way and that seems to be the motto the workers are following.
After years of delays, court injunctions, lawsuits and you name it, the two remaining projects that will ease motorists movements around town will finally come to fruition.
According to Borital Rattanakul, of the Chiang Mai road construction department, an impressive 85 per cent of the work at the Kwang Singh junction is completed. At the Sundek junction, 77 per cent is done. Some 200 construction workers are laboring on each site in two shifts: 7am to 4pm and 4pm to 10pm.
The rainy season has interrupted the construction work at times as groundwater at the Sundek junction keeps the wall coverings from drying. Another delay occurred when some parts of the construction performed by the previous contractor had to be torn down because of irregularities. Borirak promised that both sites will be finished within the stated time and maybe even by the end of September.


Cost concern over North Korean refugees

Commander of the Third Army Region, Lt Gen Jiradej Kotcharat speaks about the North Korean refugee situation affecting Chiang Rai,
 Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong.

Saksit Meesubkwang
To date 287 North Koreans have illegally crossed into Chiang Rai, Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong and though the number of refugees seemed to have dropped in the past month the economic burden to the local Thai authorities has become worrisome.
Lt. Gen. Jiradej Kotcharat, Commander of Region 3 spoke about the refugee situation and said more cooperation from neighboring countries is needed.
The Chiang Rai police department is responsible for all costs and expenses while refugees are detained in their custody. For each refugee the police department must provide 50 baht for food and 500 baht for the cost of an interpreter.
Discussions are underway for the possibility of having the army take responsibility for the refugees and therefore absorb the costs involved.


Pai police to overhaul protection services for tourists

Following an attempted rape of a German tourist on July 23, the police in Pai have re-structured their methods and will institute new measures to safeguard tourists who visit the famous town up north.
Police Col. Wanchai Suwansirikate, Superintendent of the Amphur Pai Police Station, announced that new guidelines in cooperation with the Tourist police will take effect and more information on safety and security will be provided to tourists.
Police Col. Suwansirikate added that cooperation from guest house owners, resort operators and restaurant owners is crucial to maintain safety in the city. He has requested that they report any suspicious incidents or behavior as well as unlicensed tour guides that prey on visitors. CMM Reporters


Pickled bamboo shoot gases kill two

A second worker from a pickled bamboo shoot factory died in hospital, following the death of another worker last week.
Nine workers lost consciousness in a pit containing pickled bamboo shoots and were sent to hospital.
Pipat Pratuangpol, a son of the factory’s owner, succumbed at hospital, following severe damage to his brain tissue, according to a medical doctor. The second victim was identified as Pin Raksachua.
The Ratchaburi provincial social security office will dispense compensation to all employees.
Meanwhile, medical authorities will perform autopsies to determine what caused the deaths of the two workers.
Normally, the toxic gases found in pickled vegetable pits are hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide.
According to the Bureau of Epidemiology, Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla said from 2003 to 2006, toxic gases in factories have killed 24 workers and injured 30 others in eight incidents.
He said that most incidents were caused by the lack of safety measures at workplaces. TNA


Heavy rains trigger landslides and highway closures

Torrential rains that pounded the Me Chaem district of Chiang Mai early last week triggered landslides on the Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son highway forcing its closure for three days.
The highway closure cut off access to travelers and residents while workers and volunteers labored to clear the heavy traveled road.
The provincial authorities requested urgent help from Mr. Thawatwong na Chiang Mai, President of Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization for assistance in the clearing the mud and debris produced by the landslide.
The landslide was triggered on July 25 and affected approximately 100 meters of the highway between kilometer marker 15 and 16 in Tambon Panghinfon in the Mae Chaem District.
Some 12,000 residents in 24 villages in Tambon Panghinfon, Tambon Ban Thab and Tambon Mae Suek were hit the hardest from the recent deluge.
At press time the authorities had planned to inspect the highway on July 30 and give the green light to reopen it following safety checks. Thai News


Major management shakeup at TAT expected

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is in the process of a major restructuring which will see at least 50 directors being reshuffled in the first round in September.
Apart from the 50 directors being reshuffled in September, the TAT is in the process of laying out a plan to shake up the entire organization without compromising its operations and efficiency.
Governor, Ms Phornsiri Manoharn, was quoted as saying in local daily Manager that the TAT had initiated a new policy to reshuffle staff and management at all levels every four years “to offer an opportunity for all staff to learn different working environments in other departments and to encourage a proactive working attitude”.
She said some staff had been working in the same department for more than 20 years or nearly their entire working life, which had impacted on their work attitude, making them rather “inactive and non-creative”. TTG


Weekend quake rattles Mae Sai

An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter originating is southeastern Myanmar was felt by residents in Mae Sai Saturday afternoon.
The quake was reported at 12:52 and the authorities have not reported any injuries or damage.
Tremors have become more frequent due to the earthquakes in the Sumatra Island region which has caused the earth’s crust around Thailand to shift, according to the Director General of the Meteorological department, Mr. Suparerk Tansriratanawong. CMM Reporters


Thaksin launches new website and pens book

To celebrate his birthday last Thursday, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has launched a new website aimed at informing those loyal to him, his legal advisor announced.
Thaksin was born July 26, 1949 in Chiang Mai and is now 58 years old.
The family attorney Noppadol Pattama told a press conference in Bangkok that initially the new website, www. truethaksin.com, would be prepared in both Thai and English and that the site would be available as of last Friday.
At press time the site was operational and accessible in Thailand but only the home page had been produced with the message “the truth shall set you free.”
Mr. Noppadol said the new website was not aimed at attacking individual figures and would not affect Thailand’s security.
Declining to disclose the expense involved in preparing to launch the website, Mr. Noppadol said the domain name was registered overseas as it provided a better rights.
Referring to his new book named ‘Thaksin’s 24 hours after the coup’, published in Chinese and officially launched in China at the Hong Kong Book Fair on Monday, Mr. Noppadol said an English version of the book would be available in three to four months.
Meanwhile, the Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, Asst. Prof. Thirapat Serirangsan, has indicated that a new website aimed to inform foreign countries on the current government’s issues and policies to the international community more accurately will be in full swing within a week. The move came in response to Thaksin’s website truethaksin.com which became operational late last week. TNA/NNB


Korea opens consulate in Chiang Mai

Direct flights to Seoul to start in October

The new Honorary Consul for the Republic of Korea in Chiang Mai Mr. Wachara Tantranont (3rd from left) and the Korean Ambassador to Thailand, Mr. Lee Moon Gouk (4th from left) surrounded by foreign diplomatic representatives and local dignitaries at the recent opening of the Consulate.

The Republic of Korea officially opened the Korean Consulate in Chiang Mai and named Mr. Wachara Tantranont as the Honorary Consul.
The Consulate was officially opened by His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Mr. Lee Moon Gouk and his wife.
This grand opening ceremony was also attended by several guests of honor including Deputy Chiang Mai Governor Wilas Rujiwattanapong, US Consul General Bea Camp, Honorary Canadian Consul Dr. Nit Wangwiwat, The Honorary French Consul Mr. Thomas Baude, the Indian Consul General Anil Varma, the Honorary Australian Consul Michael Joseph Walther, Chinese Consul General Hui Qing Wu and the British Honorary Consul Jon Glendinning and many local dignitaries.
The event was followed by a reception given by Mr. Wachara Tantranont at the Khum Kantoke Restaurant.
There are currently 700 Koreans who live in Chiang Mai. Beginning in October Korean Airlines will start operating 4 weekly direct flights between Chiang Mai and Seoul. The Consul will work closely with the Korean Association of Chiang Mai and one of their goals is to increase the number of Korean tourists to the city. One of the main reasons for Koreans to visit Chiang Mai is their love for golf and the reputation of the excellent golf courses in Chiang Mai. The Korean Consulate will also promote Korea as a holiday destination for Chiang Mai residents.
At Ratchapat University there are currently 152 students studying Korean language and it also includes a student exchange facility between Korean and Thai students.
The Consulate is looking for a Korean/Thai/English speaking person. Anybody interested in applying for the position should contact Dr. Charnsiri 053-223-119.
The Consulate is located at 50 Huay Kaew Road at the Hillside 4 office complex and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 5:00pm. Their telephone is 053-223-119.