NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

World’s largest jet to land in Chiang Mai

Uncollected motorbike taxes top 434 million baht

A resounding YES vote to draft constitution

Counterfeit bills found in Chiang Mai

www.chiangmai-mail.com adds search function

Large turnout at colorful referendum rally

CMU students denied chance to vote

Phayao province celebrates 30th anniversary

Chiang Rai floods

29 tourists rescued from flash floods

Thaksin’s drug war deaths to be probed

Rights for Hill tribes still ignored

Prosecutors brainstorm for ways to extradite Thaksin

 

World’s largest jet to land in Chiang Mai

Superjumbo to arrive on Sept. 1 says Airport official

The Airbus A380 will embark on a world tour beginning next week and Chiang Mai is included in the itinerary as one of the five Asian airports that will host the mammoth plane.
Arriving first at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on August 31st the A380 is then scheduled to arrive in Chiang Mai on September 1st according to the deputy chief of the Airport Authority of Thailand at Chiang Mai airport.
The flight, designated as test aircraft MSN 007 is equipped with a full passenger cabin with space for 520 passengers in three separate classes.
The demonstration tours are part of the extensive campaign to prepare the A380 for a smooth entry into service. Operating under typical airline conditions, the aircraft will undergo airport compatibility checks, ground handling and maintenance procedures to confirm its readiness to enter service.
The A380 has already visited more than 45 airports and by 2011, more than 70 airports will be ready for A380 operations.
According to Airbus, The A380 will provide more comfort in every class and more open space for relaxation than any other aircraft while benefiting from the quietest cabin in the sky. The aircrafts efficiency and advanced technologies will result in outstanding economics and higher operational flexibility as seat-mile costs are 20 percent lower and range 15 percent greater compared to today’s existing large aircrafts.
Airbus says that per passenger, the A380 is as fuel efficient as a small economical family car. Requiring shorter runways for take off and landing, the A380 also provides vital extra passenger capacity without increasing the number of flights.
To date, total orders and commitments for the A380 are 173 by 14 customers. The first customer A380 will be delivered to Singapore Airlines on October 15.
Singapore’s A380’s inaugural flight has been scheduled for Oct. 25 to Sydney, the carrier said. The airline announced it will auction all seats on the first A380 flight on eBay and donate the proceeds to charities.
The “superjumbo” will depart Chiang Mai and fly to Hanoi, Hong Kong and Seoul ending its Asian tour on September 7th.
At press time, officials at the Chiang Mai airport were unable to provide the exact time of the landing or how long the A380 will remain on the ground.

 

Uncollected motorbike taxes top 434 million baht

Police stations overflowing with confiscated motorbikes

Saksit Meesubkwang
Police stations throughout Chiang Mai are overflowing with hundreds of motorcycles that have been impounded for traffic violations. The owners have refused to come and collect them forcing the police to assign guard duty round the clock.

Motorbikes rotting away at the police impound lot as owners refuse to show up and pay their taxes.

Rather than impounding motorcycles, police have now turned to recording license plate numbers or confiscating driving licenses to solve the problem.
An incredible statistic revealed by the Chiang Mai Transport Department showed that 996,986 motorbikes in Chiang Mai have not paid their taxes. The amount due according to the officials at the transport office totals a staggering 434 million baht.
In a desperate attempt to try and collect the millions of baht owed, the Land Transport Department inspectors have begun to set up checkpoints around the city of Chiang Mai but the department says the situation is so severe they are requesting the police to assist in their efforts.
Police Colonel Chamnan Ruadraew, Deputy Superintendent of the Chiang Mai Police who is responsible for Chiang Mai traffic said that police checks fall under the Road Traffic Act. Tax offenses are the responsibility of the Transport Department, but if they request help the police are ready to cooperate because police set up checkpoints on a daily basis said the police colonel.
The four police stations that are running out of space due to confiscated motorbikes include the Amphur Chiang Mai Police Station, Chang Phuok District Police Station, Phu Pingkrachnivet Police Station and Mae Ping District Police Station.
The Transport Department meanwhile has announced that tax payments can be made at department stores such as Central Airport Plaza. The Department has also speeded up tax payment procedures whereby motorcycle owners don’t even have to get off their motorcycles and can pay their taxes at booths set up at the Chiang Mai Transport Department Mondays to Friday between 08.30-16.30 hrs.


A resounding YES vote to draft constitution

PM reaffirms election to be held late 2007

One of the busiest polling stations was the Sala Ang Kaew at the Chiang Mai University campus . Photo shows students and residents checking for their names on the register of eligible voters.

A new Thai constitution that is to usher in December general elections and end military rule was approved by millions of voters in a nationwide referendum Sunday.
The state Election Commission’s count, stopped for the night just before 11 p.m. Sunday, showed 14.08 million votes, or almost 57 percent, in favor of the charter, and 10.29 million votes, or more than 41 percent, against it.
The tally represented about 95 percent of the total vote, said Election Commission chairman Apichart Sukhagganond. Turnout was more than 54 percent among the country’s 45.6 million eligible voters, according to the commission.
Interim Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont Sunday affirmed that the general election will be held late this year shortly after exit polls showed that the draft constitution was approved in the national referendum held earlier in the day.
Gen. Surayud said the exact date for conducting the general election is still under consideration and that he believed the most suitable date was following His Majesty the King’s birthday on December 5.
The victory in the referendum for the draft constitution - held for the first time in Thailand - showed that the government had passed its test and it is now a good opportunity for people to listen to policies of the political parties which will contest in the election, said Gen. Surayud.
The old power clique would now have less political opportunities while other parties will have chances to perform political activities if the referendum is considered as decisive factor, said Gen. Surayud.
Gen. Surayud said his government would now look after national security, the economy and issue new laws while awaiting new government which would come from the election.
He said he personally believed that the new constitution should be enforced between four to five years and amendments could be made later if problems were found.
(TNA-AP)


Counterfeit bills found in Chiang Mai

A shop owner on the Sunday walking street got taken last week when a crooked customer paid for their 2000 baht worth of merchandise with fake 500 baht notes.
The bogus 500 baht bills had apparently been printed on regular paper but lacked some of the characteristics of the legal tender such as the silver hologram with the Royal initial emblem “Phor Por Ror” of H.M. the King and the numbers “500” which can be seen in different reflecting colors and in various dimensions when viewed at different angles as the note is flipped back and forth.
Another safety feature used when printing the 500 baht notes are the Arabic numerals indicating the denomination “500” printed in optically variable intaglio ink that change from green into violet when the lower edge of the note is flipped.
The shop owner contacted the police and it was then revealed that in addition to the fake 500 baht notes in circulation, bogus 20 baht notes have been found.
Mr. Oab-au Kruthanooch, Senior Director of the Bank of Thailand confirmed the circulation of bogus notes and urged merchants to contact police. CMM Reporters


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Large turnout at colorful referendum rally

Politicians, members of the military and local dignitaries turned out for the campaign to vote on the Constitutional referendum.

Saksit Meesubkwang
More than 100,000 residents and visitors from neighboring provinces gathered at Chiang Mai’s Sport Complex stadium last Wednesday to participate in the campaign to encourage the public to vote on the Constitutional referendum which was held last Sunday. The Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont presided over the event and encouraged all eligible to go to the polls and vote for continued Thai democracy.
At the event, two elephants from Mae Sa painted a “vote on 19 August” canvas which brought on the applause of the dignitaries and the public.
The Prime Minister’s speech to members of the Development for Democracy Volunteers was complemented by a flyover with aircraft from the 41st Chiang Mai Air Command as a large hot air balloon that hovered over the stands.
The Governors of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Lampang, Mae Hong Son and Lamphun delivered a flag from the Development for Democracy Volunteers to the Prime Minister before heading back to Bangkok at noon.


CMU students denied chance to vote

Student representatives presented documents to the Election Commission of Chiang Mai to request an investigation into the revocation of voting rights of 800 Chiang Mai University students.
Student representatives of Chiang Mai University are requesting an inquiry into the reason behind an incident in which over 800 Chiang Mai University students were denied the right to vote in the public referendum. The students’ names were transferred from the University House registration to the Central University registration resulting in the loss of the right to vote.
Officials of the Election Commission of Chiang Mai have affirmed that they will investigate the matter and coordinate with Chiang Mai University staff and students. NNB


Phayao province celebrates 30th anniversary

The government will organize activities in celebration of the founding of the Phayao Province on August 28th which was founded 30 years ago. Religious ceremonies will be held in front of the provincial shrine and five city gates during this auspicious occasion.
Phayao Governor Thanasek Assawanuwat said the traditional and religious ceremonies will be held from 7:00am hours and continue throughout the day. The birthday celebrations will be held to give a morale boost and luck to the local people of Phayao province. Following the ceremonies, local academics and scholars will discuss the past, present and future of the province. NNB


Chiang Rai floods

Five districts declared disaster zones

Heavy rainfall has caused flooding in Chiang Rai province leading to widespread damage to homes, closing schools and closing roads to traffic in widely dispersed areas.
The province of Chiang Rai declared disaster zones in five districts hit by flood while schools flooded in other provinces closed indefinitely.
Chiang Rai’s deputy Governor said the districts were hit by severe flooding.
About 5,000 homes, some 3,200 acres of farmland, and 500 fish ponds have been affected by the flood. Provincial authorities are assessing the cost of damage.
Over 500 houses in Phaya Mengrai district have been damaged by meter deep floodwaters, and at least five schools have closed indefinitely, although the flood has receded.
Meanwhile, Army engineers and soldiers from the Armed Forces Development Command have repaired cracks in a damaged reservoir in Wiang Chiangrung district. TNA


29 tourists rescued from flash floods

Khajohn Boonpath
A group of 29 tourists from Spain were rescued in Mae Hong Son after heavy rains produced flash flooding along the Pai river.

One of the lucky Spaniards who was rescued by emergency personnel who spent 4 hours stranded after flash floods along the Pai river.

The Governor of Mae Hong Son ordered rescue services to aid the tourists as heavy rain stranded them along the banks of the Pai river in the Pang Mu sub-district.
Rescue workers used ropes to reach the Spaniards and then one by one brought them to safer ground on the opposite side of the river bank, a distance of 150 meters.
The rescue operation took 4 hours to complete and no injuries were reported.
The torrential downpour on August 16th also flooded the Long Neck Karen Village in Ban Nai Soy and destroyed some 100 homes along the Pai river.


Thaksin’s drug war deaths to be probed

The cabinet approved an independent committee to conduct a retro-investigation into some 2,500 extra-judicial killings carried out during former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s ‘war on drugs campaign’ launched nationwide by the former Thaksin administration several years ago.
Human rights groups say at least 2,500 people died during the notorious campaign held in 2003 and 2004.
Government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said the committee, headed by Kanit na Nakhon, former attorney general and includes permanent secretary for Justice Jaran Pakdithanakul and former Senator Kraisak Choonhavan, will look back over the last several years during which time the Thaksin government’s anti-drug campaign had seen hundreds of suspected traffickers of drugs, especially speed pills, gunned down by the police in extrajudicial fashion in all parts of the country.
The Justice Ministry’s Department of Special Investigation will collaborate with the Kanit panel which will gather information pertaining to the alleged overkills under the drug campaign from members of the public and take into account the alleged abuses of human rights during the drug war. TNA


Rights for Hill tribes still ignored

Saksit Meesubkwang
Over 30 Hill tribe groups gathered at a Chiang Mai University sponsored seminar to discuss the lack of progress when it comes to their human rights.

Mr. Johnny Odochao, a Karen Hill tribe member and chairman of World Hilltribes Day said they are still treated like third class citizens.
The 1st World Hill tribes Day meeting was presided by the Thai National Human Rights Commission who made it clear that past governments have continually ignored the one million members of Hill tribes throughout the country.
Khunying Amphorn Meesuk of the National Human Rights Commission stated that Hill tribe people are entitled to the same human rights as everyone else in this country. She added that the government has shown very little interest in hill tribes people and do not recognize their cultural value.
Government leaders only see them as minority groups and not as people who have their own culture, traditions and way of life unchanged from ancient times.
Governments change their way of life and try to introduce technology into their villages as a way to help yet this help leads many of these communities to eradicate their traditional ways of life that have existed for centuries.
Past governments introduced policies to evict the hill tribe people from forests, claiming that they were living there illegally, even though it had been their home for generations. The government found new places to live for them, even though the new locations were unsuitable for agriculture and lacked water.
Another long standing unresolved issue is the question of nationality. Most Hill tribe members are not considered Thai nationals and in effect are people without a country.
This problem is most prevalent in the north according to Mr. Johnny Odochao, a Karen Hill tribe member and the organizing chairman of World Hill tribes Day.


Prosecutors brainstorm for ways to extradite Thaksin

Public prosecutors plan to brainstorm for ways to seek the British government’s cooperation in extraditing deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojaman to face trial in Thailand.
Speaking during a morning news program on Modernine TV (Channel 9), Sampan Sarathana, director-general of the Attorney General’s Office in charge of foreign affairs, revealed that the office would brainstorm to pool opinions of legal experts regarding ways to seek the extradition of the ousted premier and his wife, who faced arrest warrants issued by police.
Mr. Thaksin and his wife Pojaman failed to appear before the Supreme Court for its hearing Tuesday on the corruption charges involving a 772 million baht (US$ 23.4 million) sale of land in Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek area from the Office of the Financial Institutes Development Fund to his wife Pojaman.
Both cited their fear that their personal security could not be guaranteed as the reason for their failure to appear for the hearing on the charge.
Mr. Sampan said there would be a consideration of whether the litigation the prosecutors filed with the court could be applied to any case in Britain.
“Actually, we have had an extradition treaty with Britain since 1911. Under the treaty, the British government may consider extraditing the accused to Thailand if the litigation has a similar nature to that in Britain,” he said.
He conceded Britain’s extradition process is rather different from those of other countries.
“On our part, we will consider the litigation we filed with the court can be applied with any case in Britain. So, we will brainstorm to pool opinions of public prosecutors graded from Britain and seek views from legal experts in the country on the matter,” he said. TNA