Vol. VI No. 25 - Tuesday
August 14, - August 20, 2007



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Her Majesty the Queen urges Thais to unite

“I want to make Chiang Mai a great place to live”

Police search leads to 50 kilos of pure heroin

Ask the Mayor

Drug trafficking on the rise

National park employee shot dead

Thai tech students win big at Imagine Cup 2007

Thailand signs pact on human trafficking

Community radio stations reminded of their responsibilities

Government announces extra holiday

 

Her Majesty the Queen urges Thais to unite

Photo courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, who celebrated her 75th birthday on Sunday, urged Thais to unite for the country to continue to prosper and she also expressed concern about environmental problems, including continued deforestation in the country.
In her speech on Saturday on the occasion of her birthday, she also spoke about the role of Buddhism, that every monarch is sworn to protect Buddhism with his life, that she believed religion should be separate from politics, and that the status of Buddhism should not be defined in the constitution.
Expressing her concern over the contamination of the Chao Phraya River which flows through Bangkok, Her Majesty the Queen said that freshwater fish and other life forms in the river could become extinct because the river had been polluted by chemical discharges from factories and rubbish.
She called on concerned government agencies and people to restore the river to its former state as a source of food for Thais.
It the situation is not managed properly, Thailand may have to purchase water from other nations and the poor will suffer the most, she said.
Some 15,500 persons, including members of the Royal family and cabinet members attended HM the Queen’s birthday, held at Chitrlada Palace’s Dusitdalai Pavilion. TNA

 

“I want to make Chiang Mai a great place to live”

Madame Mayor grants first interview to the Chiangmai Mail

Well wishers greet the new Mayor on her first day in office.

Roy Blom
On her first day as the officially certified new Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr. Deuntemduang na-Chiengmai sat down with the Chiang Mai Mail in her first interview as leader of the city.
She had just arrived from the City Council office dressed in her official Mayor’s uniform where she tried to deliver her policy agenda to the members of the council. She couldn’t, as 12 council members failed to show up and the meeting was postponed.
Not the best way to start the first day but when I asked if she was concerned, “No, I performed my duties as established by protocol, if some of the council members didn’t show up, I am not concerned,” she said as we sat in her new office surrounded by baskets of flowers sent in by well wishers.
The new Mayor will have to work with the city council to have her projects and budgets approved.

On her first official day as Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr. Deuntemduang na-Chiengmai spoke to the Chiang Mai Mail about her agenda and her vision for the city.

Many of the council members still hold alliances to the former mayor. The existing council members have seven months left in their term and these next few months may prove challenging for the Madame Mayor.
She admitted it will be a more difficult situation than for previous mayors but she trusts that the elected officials will work for their constituents, for the people who put them to office.
A new law that went into effect recently will give the Mayor’s office more decision making on where and how budgets are allocated and spent.
Dr. Deuntemduang na-Chiengmai is serious and determined in her demeanor. She is engaging and forceful and has four years to get her agenda rolling.
“Several of my projects can be accomplished in the long term, but we must start now,” added the Mayor who speaks excellent English.
On her agenda for the next four years is preparing the city for floods. She is not shy to admit it will continue to be a problem for the city until proper flood management teams are in place followed by a workable drainage system. On this front she will work with agencies of Chiang Mai province and the national government.
“I want to make Chiang Mai a great place to live,” said the Mayor.
She is all to aware of the growing traffic issues affecting the city, after all she does get stuck in traffic and gets annoyed when coming across double and triple parked vehicles on the narrow streets of Chiang Mai.
“We need more enforcement from the authorities so people begin to respect the rule of law, perhaps changing the way the police deal with this needs to be explored,” said the Mayor. “I am looking into this and will make improvements,” added the Mayor.
A multi-year study on mass transportation is being worked on at Chiang Mai University. The Mayor stated she will be meeting with those working on the feasibility study but it does not mean their mass transit plan will get the green light. Other avenues must be explored she said.
“Traffic, congestion and lack of parking all have to be dealt with in a master plan and with the cooperation of the adjoining districts and towns,” she said.
The problem we face is that many commuters travel into the city everyday and the current infrastructure cannot handle them,” she stated. “I need to work on expansion plans with our neighboring districts and towns, where residents in all areas can benefit from equal facilities and the burden would not just be left to the city of Chiang Mai.
When asked about how the city will tackle pollution, the Mayor cited that education is the primary factor, not just with city residents but farmers and villagers in the province.
“If we don’t have a proper garbage collection service for our residents then they will burn their trash.” “Campaigns are ongoing and I plan to improve garbage pick up so we are not exposed once again,” she said.
The schools will be instructed to teach the young children on the damaging effects of trash burning, pollution and how it affects all levels of society. This is one of her long term projects and she is realizes it will take time but, education is key.
Another project is to educate the citizens on preparing for earthquakes. The city has been rattled by several quakes this year and most of the residents don’t know what do if Chiang Mai suffers a major quake.
“I want the residents of Chiang Mai to be prepared, to store drinking water, have a flashlight and know what do to in case of a major earthquake.”
Does mismanagement exist at City Hall I asked? Without hesitation she replied, yes. “In the short time I have been Mayor it has been brought to my attention. My office has the power to initiate investigations and we will. Should evidence of wrongdoing surface during these investigations it will then be presented to the national anti-corruption agencies for due process.”
What is her opinion about foreigners living in Chiang Mai? “The truth is half our businesses depend on foreigners who visit and live here. I consider them part of us, as Chiang Mai people,” she said.
The city needs many improvements and has many problems admitted the Mayor but she confident in her abilities to begin tackling those issues and making the city a better place as it grows and grows.
Voted in with almost 60% of the eligible voters she has a mandate and will perform to the best of her abilities. She said she was elected by the people and she will serve the people of Chiang Mai.
When I asked her what was the one thing she loved most about Chiang Mai? “The people,” she replied.
Dr. Deuntemduang na-Chiengmai’s honest approach and eagerness to respond to every question put forward during our interview was, I felt, genuine.
Call me “Pang” (her nickname) she said as she wrote down her cell phone number on a piece of paper. (Her business cards had not been printed up yet.) As she accompanied me into her office foyer on my way out the furniture was just being delivered, she then turned to one of the movers and struck up a conversation…he is after all one of the people of Chiang Mai.


Police search leads to 50 kilos of pure heroin

Saksit Meesubkwang
Police in Lampang struck gold when a further search of two truckloads of onions led them to 50 kilos of pure heroin at a checkpoint on Pholyothin Road, kilometer marker 551 on August 6th.

The detained suspects sit behind the 50 kilos of pure heroin worth 15 million baht as they were presented to the media last week.

A blue Nissan pickup, registered in Phayao, and a Blue Toyota pickup registered in Chiang Mai were stopped for a routine inspection last Wednesday.
According to the police, the passengers of the vehicles appeared nervous and the police determined a more thorough inspection of their onion haul was warranted.
The vehicles and the occupants were taken to the police station were a search revealed the drug haul hidden in the chassis of the pick-up trucks.
The 50 kilos of heroin is worth an estimated 15 million baht on the Thai market and its worth increases as it is smuggled into other countries.
Members of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5th, Chiang Mai, Police Maj. Gen. Chiruj Phrommobul, Commander of Lampang Police and the arresting officers presented the suspects at a news conference where they also showed members of the media the discovered stash wrapped in plastic bags with the name Globe Brand on the packaging.
According to the police all the suspects are members of the Hmong Hilltribe of Viang Papao District in Chiang Rai province. The suspects have been charged with possession with intent to sell.
Further questioning of the suspects revealed that they had been offered 90,000 baht to transport the heroin to the Talad market in Pathum Thani province. Based on gathered information the police arrested an additional 4 suspects from Bangkok with alleged ties to a heroin trafficking ring said the police.
Lt. Gen. Kittitach Ruenthip, Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5th said that this was the largest number of heroin traffickers arrested in Region 5 in the past 5 years.
The police said that the heroin originated from a processing lab on the Thai –Myanmar border.


Ask the Mayor

Chiang Mai Mail readers will have a direct line to the Mayor of Chiang Mai via a new exclusive monthly column “Ask the Mayor.”
The Mayor of Chiang Mai has graciously accepted to answer reader’s questions about the city, her agenda, policies, problems, insights, suggestions or any questions our readers may have for her.
Please send in your questions via email to: [email protected] and include your name and contact number, though it can be withheld on request.


Drug trafficking on the rise

The Commissioner of the Narcotic Suppression Bureau revealed that authorities are increasing security measures to suppress drug smuggling.
Pol. Lt. Gen. Suwat Chan-inthikul reports that drugs and narcotics are increasing in severity in several regions of Thailand due to an increase in drug smuggling incidence. The majority of drug smugglers are Cambodian, Laotian, or Myanmese who travel into Thailand with drugs concealed among their personal property. Authorities are increasing efforts to suppress drug smuggling operations, intercepting drug transporters, and rehabilitating drug addicts.
The Commissioner of the Narcotic Suppression Bureau added that the number of drug rehabilitation centers is insufficient to treat Thai drug addicts. The Royal Thai Army is assisting in the matter by setting up drug treatment camps. Pol. Lt. Gen. Suwat affirmed that effective drug rehabilitation will greatly reduce the flow of illegal drugs into Thailand. NNB


National park employee shot dead

Khajohn Boonpath
An employee of Pa Hin Tang National Park in Mae Hong Son was killed while on his way to a meeting.
The victim was identified by police as Mr. Somchai Anulom, “Toy,” 55, a resident of Ban Huay Dua, in Mae Hong Son.

Forensic police investigate the murder scene where park employee Somchai was killed.

Police discovered the body of Toy in his pick-up truck at Ban Huaypakeed. He had been shot through the head.
Initial investigations by the police have led them to believe Toy was acting as a middleman for wood traders and mining employees along the Thai-Myanmar border and his death may be related to some alleged bad business deals.
Robbery was ruled out as police found 1,516 baht on the front seat of the pick-up and 6,000 kyat of Myanmar currency in his pocket.
Toy’s wife told police her husband had received a phone call the night before his death about a meeting he was to attend at a local mining company.


Thai tech students win big at Imagine Cup 2007

Microsoft Corp. announced the winners of Imagine Cup 2007, after a week of intense competition among finalists chosen from a pool of more than 100,000 students from over 100 countries.
Prachaya Phaisanwiphatpong, Vasan Chienmaneetaweesin, Jatupon Sukkasem, Pathompol Saeng-Uraiporn from Thailand’s Team 3KC Returns/Project LiveBook! celebrated their first-place finish in the worldwide Software Design Invitational and were awarded a $25,000 cash prize.
Imagine Cup, the world’s premier competition for technology students, gives students the chance to unlock their creative genius and build solutions that tackle real-world issues facing society today.
“Imagine Cup provides a forum for university students around the world to explore new ways to use the power of software to help address some of the world’s toughest problems,” said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft.
The 55 software design finalist teams created applications using the Microsoft(R) platform and Microsoft tools based on the Imagine Cup competition theme: “Imagine a world where technology enables a better education for all.”
A total of 344 students from 112 teams representing 59 countries were ultimately selected to participate in worldwide Imagine Cup finals. CMM Reporters


Thailand signs pact on human trafficking

The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) and
Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development signed a counter-human trafficking pact extending a decade of cooperation.
The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) endorsed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in the Implementation of Projects Addressing Trafficking in Persons and Assistance to at- Risk Groups.
The MOU will facilitate and strengthen the establishment of a cooperation framework focusing on five areas:
1. Cooperation in establishing care and assistance programs for victims of trafficking, including: victim screening and identification procedures; building referral mechanisms and institutionalizing ‘good practice’ shelter management arrangements; and establishing operational standards and arrangements for the return of victims.
2. Training and other capacity building support to Thai MSDHS staff, other relevant government officials, and others responsible for implementing national policies and programs on human trafficking.
3. Extending bilateral and multilateral cooperation between Thailand and other concerned countries on the issue of return and reintegration of victims.
4. Help to develop bilateral and multilateral agreements, MOUs and standard operational procedures supporting bilateral cooperation on trafficking between Thailand and other countries in the best interest of the victims.
5. Developing national awareness-raising and prevention strategies to reduce vulnerability to trafficking though cooperation with the ministry’s provincial offices. TNA


Community radio stations reminded of their responsibilities

Saksit Meesubkwang
Lt. Gen. Jiradech Khacharat, Commander of the 3rd Army Region presided over a seminar for community radio station operators titled, “Security 2007,” where he told the radio stations to act responsibly when broadcasting news about the vote on the referendum for a new constitution.

Lt. Gen. Jiradet Khotcharat, Commander of the 3rd Army Region, was in Chiang Mai to address community station operators and remind them of their duties as members of the media.

More than 500 radio operators turned up to at the Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew on Huay Kaew road to listen to the Commander who stressed that the military is not involved in framing the new constitution.
The Commander added that only one member of the military works on the draft committee though many reports on community radio stations have stated otherwise.
These nonfactual reports create misunderstanding among the listeners as is the case with an alleged group handing out 2000 baht per household if they agree to vote against the draft constitution.
Deputy district chiefs, village headmen and other leaders have been told to keep a close eye on any illegalities during the next days leading up to the referendum vote.
Lt. Gen. Jiradech said if groups opposed to the new constitution campaign within the rule of law no action would be taken.
It is estimated that in the Northern provinces some 70% percent of eligible voters will go to the polls on August 19.


Government announces extra holiday

The Thai cabinet agreed to establish an extra holiday on August 20 to encourage the public to vote in a constitutional referendum on August 19, according to Prime Minister’s Office Minister Dhipavadee Meksawan.
Khunying Dhipavadee said after the Thai cabinet’s weekly meeting that it was decided to declare a three-day weekend in order to help the public make the journey safely with sufficient time to travel without worrying about missing a day of work. TNA



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